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Powell's Q&A

George R. R. Martin

Describe your latest project.
Dreamsongs Volume I and Volume II are a retrospective collection that spans my entire life as writer.

I've been many kinds of writers in my career: novelist; tele-playwright; short story writer. As a high-school student I wrote amateur pieces for fanzines, and I've written for Hollywood. Dreamsongs allows me to show the scope of my writing — with personal commentary that puts the works in context and includes some autobiographical details intended to reveal how each piece came to be, what it represents, and how it has formed, or been informed by, my philosophy of writing.

Dreamsongs isn't complete (for example, there are no novels included). Nor is it intended to be a "best of" showcase, although many award-winning pieces are included. Rather I selected these pieces to show scope, or identify a transition in my career, or because they represented a "first" for me — something that was important.

Dreamsongs is my career in a nutshell.

  1. Dreamsongs, Volume I
    $30.00 New Hardcover add to wishlist

    Dreamsongs, Volume I

    George R. R. Martin
    "Science fiction, fantasy and horror fans alike will be blown away by the diversity and quality of stories as well as by Martin's extensive and frank commentary about his life and experiences in the publishing and television industries..." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  2. Dreamsongs, Volume II
    $27.00 New Hardcover add to wishlist

    Dreamsongs, Volume II

    George R. R. Martin
    "Dreamsongs is the ideal way to discover one of genre fiction's finest writers....Martin is a writer like no other." The Guardian (U.K.)
  3. A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4)
    $4.95 Used Mass Market add to wishlist
    "Martin has created a full, rich and interesting world filled with colorful characters." The Oregonian

    "[T]hat rare, once-in-a-generation work of fiction that manages to entertain readers while elevating an entire genre to fine literature." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Writers are better liars than other people: true or false? Why, or not?
True. Everything we (fiction writers) do is based on a lie or lies. But all fiction has to have a certain amount of truth in it to be powerful.

How do you relax?
I watch NFL football on Sundays. I enjoy gaming with friends, meaning role-playing games; I still enjoy going to conventions, and traveling. But... I'm always late on my publisher's deadlines. So there's always the latest book to complete, and it is whispering in the back of my head. Always. I'm a writer, and what I do is this work. My work is really what defines me.

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
I probably bought it or it was sent to me. I get sent a great number of books, but I still love to browse in bookstores, to see what's new and to pick it up and to feel a book in my hands. The last good book might have been one I came across in a store, but now that I have something of a name I do have publishers and authors sending me books for blurbing — and that's another way I discover new authors.

Describe the best breakfast of your life.
The best breakfast is one I can sit down and order — I don't have to make it for myself. I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, so very little can compete with a delicious breakfast burrito — hot, filled with eggs, peppers, cheese, and smelling so good. There's also a local restaurant in my town that makes a version of Eggs Benedict not with Hollandaise sauce but with chile con queso. That's delicious.

Name the best television series of all time, and explain why it's the best.
This is a tough question. I have liked a lot of television through the years, and of course I have to exclude the programs I've worked on myself (e.g. Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast). I was very impressed with Rome on HBO; I found it riveting, both brilliantly written and brilliantly acted. I am interested in ancient Rome so another contender would be I, Claudius, produced by the BBC, that aired on public television three decades ago (1977). It was produced on sound stages so it hasn't got nearly the HBO production value, but again the writing was superlative, as was the acting, so it holds up today.

Who's wilder on tour, rock bands or authors?
Rock bands. We authors aren't really a wild bunch.

On a clear and cold day, do you typically get outside into the sunshine or stay inside where it's warm?
I live my entire life sitting in front of a computer, so I am rarely aware of the weather outside. It is one of the hazards of the writing life.

Aside from other writers, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration and talk a little about their work.
I've drawn a lot of inspiration from music — the word "Song" appears in many of the titles of my works (DreamSongs, A Song of Ice and Fire, A Song for Lya, even The Armageddon Rag). So perhaps I would be a songwriter. Unfortunately, I can't sing, carry a tune, or make words rhyme. There have been many artists who have influenced me: Kris Kristofferson, as an example, had great influence on me in the '70s. Some of my short stories, collected in Dreamsongs, were inspired by songs: a sharp-eyed reader will discern which ones they are.

If you could have been someone else, who would that be and why?
I've always wanted to be Batman, the playboy crime fighter. But I never made it: I haven't any superpowers, nor am I a millionaire. So, Batman is ruled out.

Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.

5 Novels That Should Have Won the Hugo Award

Strangers by Gardner Dozois

Replay by Ken Grimwood

The Year of the Quiet Sun by Wilson Tucker

Brittle Innings by Michael Bishop

A Storm of Swords by me

÷ ÷ ÷

George R. R. Martin sold his first story in 1971 and has been writing professionally since then. He spent ten years in Hollywood as a writer-producer, working on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and television pilots that were never made. In the mid '90s he returned to prose, his first love, and began work on his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. He has been in the Seven Kingdoms ever since. Whenever he's allowed to leave, he returns to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with the lovely Parris, a big white dog called Mischa, and two cats named Augustus and Caligula, who think they run the place.


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