George R.R. Martin’s reaction to bad TV experience: Writing ‘Game of Thrones’


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If it hadn’t been for a bruising decade in the TV business, George R.R. Martin might never have started writing the epic fantasy novel series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ and HBO wouldn’t have a buzzy project in the pipeline that’s being referred to as ‘The Sopranos in Middle-earth.’

Martin, who’s now deep into the fifth novel of the planned seven-book series, said he took an emotional beating during his time in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s writing for network TV shows like ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘The Twilight Zone’ and a jettisoned pilot called ‘Doorways.’ He also had a feature development deal in which none of his projects ever made it to fruition.


Once he got out, he started creating worlds filled with knights, dragons, nobility, sorcery and sex that would’ve been way too outsized for the small screen, he told Maureen Ryan over at her blog, the Watcher.

‘I wrote the books almost as a reaction to my years in television. My scripts were always too long, they were always too expensive. I was always having to cut them. So when I went back to books, I said, ‘I don’t care about any of that anymore. I’m going to write a story that’s going to be as gigantic a story as I want. I’m going to have hundreds of characters, gigantic battles, magnificent castles and vistas -- all the things I couldn’t do in television.’’

Irony is, Martin finds his work back on TV, though with the considerable freedom of premium cable. HBO plans a 10-part series based on the first bestselling ‘Ice and Fire’ novel, ‘A Game of Thrones,’ and plans to produce additional seasons covering each book in the franchise. Martin is set to write one of the ‘Thrones’ episodes, and he told Ryan, ‘My level of involvement is great.’

That’ll be reassuring to his rabid fans, who’ve snapped up more than 7 million copies of the ‘Ice and Fire’ series worldwide and have made the TV adaptation of ‘Thrones’ a hot topic a year in advance of its airing.

The ‘Thrones’ pilot stars Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Mark Addy, Sean Bean and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. In keeping with Martin’s grand and exotic vision, it was shot last year in Northern Ireland and Morocco. This summer, filming kicks up again in Belfast, Ryan reports.

See more here of the extensive interview with the guy that Time magazine called the American Tolkien.


T.L. Stanley