As fans continue to protest the long wait for the sixth installment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin's publisher defended the Winds of Winter delay in a Newsweek exclusive. Readers have been waiting for Martin's next book since A Dance with Dragons was released in 2011, but their ire has increased since HBO's TV series adaptation, Game of Thrones, surpassed the books' narrative with its sixth season, despite Martin's assurance that the show would not spoil The Winds of Winter.
To be fair, ASOIAF readers initially believed they would have the chance to read The Winds of Winter before Game of Thrones returned for Season 6. Martin regretfully admitted that would not happen in a January 2 blog post:
Here it is, the first of January. The book is not done, not delivered. No words can change that. I tried, I promise you. I failed. I blew the Halloween deadline, and I've now blown the end of the year deadline. And that almost certainly means that no, THE WINDS OF WINTER will not be published before the sixth season of GAME OF THRONES [sic] premieres in April (mid April, we are now told, not early April, but those two weeks will not save me).
Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the first ASOIAF novel, A Game of Thrones. Martin announced a new book on his LiveJournal blog, but it was not The Winds of Winter. Rather, it was a special, illustrated anniversary edition of A Game of Thrones, with an introduction by The Areas of My Expertise author John Hodgman.
Martin also told fans that he was "still working on book six." His U.K. publisher, Jane Johnson, spoke out in his defense, saying, "I'm like Jon Snow: I know nothing! ... All I do know is that George is working very hard. And as soon as we possibly can after he delivers, we'll publish the book."
The Winds of Winter delays don't mean the book isn't on schedule. In 2014, The Washington Post estimated that the sixth ASOIAF installment would arrive sometime in 2017, based on the book's length. According to WaPo's data, Martin is actually more productive than many beloved fantasy authors.
That Martin is working with exceedingly long books isn't lost on Johnson: "It's worth saying he's written the best part of two million words of this series in the past 20 years ... So given the average length of a novel is around 100,000 words, that's 20 novels in most writers' worlds."
Winter is still coming, folks. You've just got to wait for it.