Architects, Gardeners and Game of Thrones

In perhaps our most anticipated event of 2013, Game of Thrones fans had the chance to meet creator George R.R. Martin and one of the actors who brought his fictional universe to life: Michelle Fairley (aka Catelyn Stark). They spoke to host Dan Debuf about the process of bringing the books to life on the screen, and George R.R. Martin talked about how he writes. You can watch the video of the event below.

Michelle Fairley hadn’t read the Game of Thrones novels (‘to my shame’, she said) but she has now. When she came on board for the show, she was intrigued by the quality of the pilot. ‘And it was being made by HBO, so you knew you were going to get quality.’

George R.R. Martin and Michelle Fairley on stage

George R.R. Martin and Michelle Fairley on stage

‘I’m working on the sixth book of my trilogy’

George R.R. Martin said that when he began writing the Game of Thrones series of books (published as A Song of Ice and Fire), he didn’t know what he had.

‘At first, I thought it might be a short story or a novella. I sold it as a trilogy. Now, I’m working on the sixth book of my trilogy.’

His appearance on the Wheeler Centre stage marked his ‘fifth or sixth’ visit to Australia: he first came in 1990, for a science fiction convention. He remembered staying in a ‘fleabag hotel’ in St Kilda, opposite Luna Park.

Asked about his writing process, he said that he knows where his story ends and the fate of the principal characters. ‘No, I’m not going to tell any of you.’ But the considerable amount he discovers in the process is ‘the fun of writing’.

Game of Thrones Lego, on display at the event

Game of Thrones Lego, on display at the event

The architect and the gardener: Writing types

Martin drew on an analogy he often makes, of the two types of writers as he sees them: the architect and the gardener. An architect plans a novel like he would a building. He knows how many stories it will have, how many windows, how it will be heated, where every light switch and plug will be. He works it all our and blueprints (or plots) it, before he drives the first nail (or picks up a pen).

A gardener digs a hole in the dirt, throws in some seed, waters it with his blood and hopes something interesting will come out. The gardener knows certain things - like whether he planted a potato or a geranium - but a lot is discovered in the process.

‘All writers are some combination of these two, but tend one way or another, depending on their personality,’ said Martin. ‘I’m much more on the gardener side.’

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