Friday, 13 April 2012

A Night with George

This is a little out of order, as I had forgotten I'd not had time to blog it immediately after the event!
Last Wednesday saw me headed in Bath, to St Michael's Church (St Michael Waitrose, as it tends to be known, due to it's location) in order to hear George RR Martin speak.

George was visiting prior to his appearance as Guest of Honour at EasterCon, and clearly also has a lot of fans in or around Bath!

They had wedged in all the chairs the church could possibly hold, and they were, soon, all full. I managed to find seats for myself and Cheryl near the front, and settled in to wait.

This being a Toppings event in a church, the evening began with the obligatory slightly uncomfortable prayer. This time, the vicar (I think a different one from last time) was a little more aware of the fact that not everyone in the building was necessarily christian, or religious, which I suppose is progress.

Then the meat of the evening! The first half of the evening was George being interviewed, with the second part being a short QandA and a short reading from the newest, and as yet unpublished, book.

George started by taking a little about his childhood, and how he started out making up stories about feuds and intrigues amoug his pet turtles (partly to explain why they so frequently died), then later discovered fiction, and in particular science fiction and fantasy, and Tolkien.

He moved on to speaking about his books, and his inspiration - he explained that he reads historical fiction and popular history, and that he became frustrated that in so many fantasy novels, writers take a quasi-medieval setting, but import 20th C American characters and attitudes, where peasants can give kings a good talking too. He wanted to make fantasy more realistic. He also explained that he is inspired by real events and places - for instance, a visit to Hadrian's Wall led him to consider how much more impressive the wall would be, if it were much, much taller, and made of ice...

In the QandA he revealed that he had a cameo role in the pilot episode of the TV series, (wearing an enormous hat) but the footage wasn't used, as a different actor was cast for the full series. And that he wanted to be a severed head on the wall, but apparently making severed heads of actual people is expensive..
He also talked about killing characters. He said that it was always difficult. He also pointed out that Joe Abercrombie, who, he said, "makes [me] look like Mary Poppins" was in the audience!

It was a fascinating evening. As we were seated near the front I was able to queue to get a book signed without having to wait for too long (and it would have been a very long wait).

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