At this point, asking when George R.R. Martin is finally going to publish The Winds Of Winter has become something of a running joke among the author's fans. The sixth novel in the Song Of Ice And Fire series — the books that inspired HBO's Game Of Thrones — has been a long time coming. The fifth novel, A Dance With Dragons, was published way back in 2011 and there is still no publication date set for TWOW. So why does it sometimes seem like Martin is doing everything except for writing his highly-anticipated book?
Look, I know that churning out thousand-page fantasy epics is no easy feat — much less churning out five of them stuffed full of compelling characters and jaw-dropping plot twists. And I also realize that it must be even harder to figure out how to coalesce several dozen disparate plot threads into one satisfying conclusion. It's no wonder that it's taking Martin longer the closer he gets to the finish line... but that doesn't make it any easier for the thousands of readers who just want to know if Jon Snow will be resurrected, when Daenerys Targaryen will finally invade Westeros, and whether their favorite characters will make it out of the saga alive. (Yes he will; hopefully soon; and probably not.)
Martin made sure to be very public about his decision to not personally script any episodes for Thrones' fifth or sixth seasons, as well as his decision to not appear at Comic Con this year — all ostensibly so he could spend more time writing TWOW. So why does he seem so busy with trivial things like...
1. Cameoing In Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
This Wednesday night, those lucky enough to tune in to Syfy's toothy magnum opus were graced with a cameo by the ASOIAF author. While attending a film appropriately titled Shark Wedding, poor Georgie was disemboweled — and then decapitated — by flying great whites. Was the catharsis of watching the man who'd offed so many beloved characters get offed himself worth the time it took him away from writing? Debatable.
2. Complaining About Marvel Movies
Immediately preceding his Sharknado appearance, Martin made headlines for a blog entry he'd posted lambasting Marvel Studios for their lack of compelling villains. While he admitted that, "Ant-Man has a proper balance of story, character, humor, and action," he went on to complain that, "I am tired of this Marvel movie trope where the bad guy has the same powers as the hero. [...] Yawn." Funny. That's exactly how a lot of us felt about A Feast For Crows: yawn.
3. Complaining About The Emmys
When the 2015 Primetime Emmy nominations were announced this past week, he quickly made his displeasure known in another blog post. While he congratulated the Thrones team on their staggering 24 nominations, he bemoaned the lack of recognition for some of his personal favorite shows. "Where is Masters Of Sex? The Knick? Halt And Catch Fire? How about Vikings?" he wrote on his Live Journal. "I really thought Justified might make it, for its final season. And Outlander, how in the world did they overlook Outlander, with its music and its costumes and its cinematography and the incredible performances of its three leads (especially Tobias Menzies in his double role)? Why is Nick Offermann not on the ballot for Parks And Recreation? How could The Big Bang Theory possibly fall off?" Really? We're defending The Big Bang Theory over truly outrageous Comedy Series snubs like Jane The Virgin?
4. Complaining About His Own Books
Last month, Martin gave an interview with Business Insider in which he criticized himself for inconsistencies within his own novels. He didn't go into too much detail about which inconsistencies he was referring to, but he did mention eye color and one time he forgot to include Bran's name in a list of the Stark children. He also wishes he could rewrite Tyrion Lannister's introduction, in which the Imp uncharacteristically somersaults off the the top of a door frame.
5. Complaining About His Fans
I'm sure it must get exhausting having fans pestering you about your progress all the time and asking you questions about the record-breaking, critically-acclaimed television show based on your popular and successful series of novels. It's undoubtedly very hard to be the third most powerful author in Hollywood (ahead of E.L. James but behind Stephen King and J.K. Rowling). That probably explains why he took his ire out on his fans, instructing them that they were no longer allowed to ask him questions about Thrones: "Meanwhile, other wars are breaking out on other fronts, centered around the last few episodes of Game Of Thrones. It is not my intention to get involved in those, nor to allow them to take over my blog and website, so please stop emailing me about them," he wrote last month following the penultimate episode of Season 5, in which young Shireen Baratheon was burned alive.
6. Lobbying For Awards Ceremonies
Earlier this month, Martin found himself distracted by a controversy swirling around this year's Hugo Awards (a prize awarded for science-fiction and fantasy novels). The details are largely unexciting for those not well-versed in the Hugos, but basically a group of right-wing voters calling themselves the Sad Puppies have managed to hijack the nomination process this year and get a bunch of unpopular books included on the short list in the name of anti-affirmative action. Martin has made it his mission to campaign against the Sad Puppies, warning on his blog that "the clock his ticking" and urging "every true fan" to cast a ballot. Of course, fixing the Hugo Awards doesn't really matter because he'll never win one if he never finishes his book.
7. Traveling The World
Last month, Martin traveled to Germany to participate in a Q&A event at the Congress Centrum Hamburg. Fortunately, his sightseeing may be the one thing on this list that actually contributed in some small way to his progress. During the Q&A, the author revealed that being in Hamburg had inspired him to figure out exactly how to kill off yet another character who had apparently been doomed in his mind since their introduction, even if he hadn't quite decided on the manner of their gruesome death until now. (The Hamburg tourism department should definitely include this factoid in their brochures.)
8. Defending Game Of Thrones
Immediately following the episode that depicted Sansa's controversial wedding night, Martin took to both Entertainment Weekly and his own blog to defend the HBO show. "If you’re going to write about war, and you just want to include all the cool battles and heroes killing a lot of orcs and things like that and you don’t portray [sexual violence], then there’s something fundamentally dishonest about that," he told the publication. "Rape, unfortunately, is still a part of war today. It’s not a strong testament to the human race, but I don’t think we should pretend it doesn’t exist." On his blog, he argued that, "There has seldom been any TV series as faithful to its source material. [...] But the longer the show goes on, the bigger the butterflies become. And now we have reached the point where the beat of butterfly wings is stirring up storms, like the one presently engulfing my email." Man, Georgie really has issues handling his inbox, doesn't he?
9. Developing Another HBO Show
Believe it or not, one best-selling series of novels and one blockbuster television series weren't enough for Martin. In April, it was revealed that the author had signed a deal with HBO to develop a second show with the network, a science-fiction show called Captain Cosmos . The show reportedly "centers on a young science fiction writer living in 1949 at the dawn of the age of TV. The writer spends his time penning stories no one else would dare to write." Hey, at least somebody's writing something. Too bad it's a fictional TV protagonist and not George R.R. Martin, author of the most highly-anticipated fantasy novel in the world.
10. Playing With Dolls
Yes, that is Martin, posing for a picture with a plush toy version of himself. Factory Entertainment unveiled these earlier this month and sold a limited number of them at the San Diego Comic-Con for $60 apiece. Apparently, when you squeeze Fuzzy George's belly, he say phrases pre-recorded by Martin himself. Phrases like, "It's a nice day for a Red Wedding!" and "I'm working on it!" Are you, George? Let's see some proof.
11. Talking About Finishing The Winds Of Winter
Of course, Martin's favorite activity to do instead of writing The Winds Of Winter is talking about writing The Winds Of Winter. In March, he told Zap2It that, "It's a double-threat pressure. On one side there’s a pressure to get the books done. My fans want to read the next book and my publishers want it, my editors want it. HBO would like to have it. I’m sure David and Dan would like to have it. I would like to have it, so there’s that pressure. But then there’s the other pressure to make it good. I don’t want want to just rush through it and finish it and it comes out that it’s flawed or bad. I have to make it as good as I can possibly make it."
In April, he told Entertainment Weekly that, "I wish it was out now. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic about how quickly I can finish. But I canceled two convention appearances, I’m turning down a lot more interviews—anything I can do to clear my decks and get this done."
And earlier this month, he responded to someone's comment on his blog asking him if he had finished writing Son Of Kong (an inside-joke title for TWOW): "Never believe rumors. I've said that a thousand times."
Less talking more writing please, George.