Nerdist podcast 385 with George RR Martin

So this morning I updated my podcast reader on my phone and noticed that there was a new Nerdist podcast that was recorded at SDCC last weekend.  This was an interview with George RR Martin in the privacy of his hotel room with the Nerdist Guys and the master himself.  I felt that the content might not be exactly Ice and Fire centric, but that the topics they discussed are inclusive of the Ice and Fire phenomenon, and were definitely valuable to anyone who is as invested in this series and its creator as I know anyone who reads a blog and listens to a podcast about is must be.  So without further ado, here is a breakdown of the podcast: links to the podcast and the websites for both Martin and Nerdist will follow:

Introduction: Fascinating take on the comic convention as it is now versus how ‘it used to be’.

Around the 20 minute mark they start talking about how GRRM’s roleplaying group in the 80s informed the writing of his series Wildcards.  This series was collaborative writing with Martin as editor… compared it to a jam session for writers.

30 minute mark, start discussing the complexities of adapting books to screen… having been on both sides of the issue he understands the value of making changes to the original versus the desire to keep the teleplay close to the original.  He talks about the ability of authors to say no to hollywood, and the difficulty in maintaining creative control as the original author versus just taking the first dump truck of money that arrives at your door.

40 minutes in, Martin talks about how imitative hollywood is, and hopes that this adaptation of Game of Thrones can spawn other epic fantasy series on network television because he grows weary of all the cops and lawyer shows.  The joke is then made that he should collaborate with Dick Wolf on what is immediately coined “Law and Order and Carcasonne”.  Just imagine the possibilities…

— >> Martin tosses out a couple of period mystery stories: John Maddox Roberts’ SPQR (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/spqr_series) , and Steven Saylor’s (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/steven_saylor) Gordianus series.  Both of these are stories about private detectives solving crimes in ancient rome.

45 minutes in, the conversation turns to the fans and their perceived ownership of him and his work: demands of increased productivity due to their unreasonable expectation that he works on nothing else.  He hadn’t forseen this problem because before Ice and Fire he had never written an ongoing series, all one-shots.

— >> He describes the career of writing being more about just writing.  He isn’t sure if this is a net positive (doing interviews, signing appearances), but that it is all necessary distractions from the process of putting pen to paper. Or, in his case, fingers to keyboard on his old DOS computer running WordStar.

51 minutes: “You can teach craft, but you cannot teach talent” in response to the question of “Can you teach writing?”  Amazing how this holds true about virtually every creative or performance-based career choice.  Writing is about constant action… it isn’t a career for someone who wants/needs security…

— >> a person doesn’t choose a career in writing, writing chooses you.

53 minutes – taking ama questions from reddit.

“Fantasy and Sci-Fi and to a certain extent Horror are all derivative from an old genre called Romantic Fiction” on how Fantasy and Sci-Fi are two sides of the same coin.  An interesting segment on the differences between fantasy and sci-fi authors, and their opinions of one another.

56 mintues, Martin is asked about the future – after Ice and Fire.  He talks very lovingly about the short story and how he would love to have the freedom to write a series of short stories.

63 minutes: Chris Hardwick asks: “Is there anything you look back on the original Game of Thrones and you’re like ‘Shit, I wish I hadn’t done that!’?”  Martin: “Yeah, there are.”

65 minutes: “Youve become so accustomed to character death, which leads a fan to become less invested in the characters and more invested in the sources of power behind those characters.  Was this by design?”  Martin: “My overall take is more people should do it I guess.  I mean, that’s weird, you can’t get attached to characters because they might die?  Does that translate to real life too?  You don’t get invested in people because they might die?  That is a part of the wonder of the human race, we form attachments and we lose people and we find new people.  We live our lives in defiance of the darkness that looms over us all.  Winter is coming for all of us.”

66 minutes: “I believe that people write the books they would want to read; as a person who reads books and watches movies […] I like things to be unpredictable.”

All in all a pretty fascinating discussion with Mister Martin, not focusing on “Game of Thrones” as a creative series, but rather on the process and the craft that has led him to Ice and Fire.  He was forthcoming about the process and his writing history without getting bogged down in the minutiae of talking the characters or the plot of the books.

http://www.georgerrmartin.com is his homepage and he also has a livejournal (grrm.livejournal.com) for non-writing things; sports and hobbies.

All credit for the content in this post goes to Chris Hardwick (@nerdist) and Nerdist Enterprises (www.nerdist.com)

The podcast can be found at http://www.nerdist.com/2013/07/nerdist-podcast-george-r-martin/

Any questions or comments can be posted below or emailed to castinthedarkness@gmail.com. You can also contact the blog on twitter @castinthedark

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