tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera January 25, 2015 11:30am-12:01pm EST
we'll see you next time. very few people get up in evil. what evil can i do today? >> he wrote the epic novel, a song of fire and ice, the basis for the hbo series "game of thrones" now in its fourth season, george r.r. martin is working fotin issue the series. >> there are days i wonder if i bit off more than i could chew. did it have dotcoms? >> his characters are often consumed with power struggles making them blind to the greater threats to their kingdom did.
found. >> we have things going on our world right now like climate change that's, you know, ultimately a threat to the entire world. >> the author who first wrote for television decades agoing talks about the script feedback he received back then. >> would you please cut these 107 characters down to 6? and, you know, this giant battle you have at the evened with 100,000 me. >> could you make that a dual between a hero and a villain. >> he teamed up with two fans of his work to create his latestbook which doc youths history of the fictional world. >> they displayed from the first an obsessive knowledge if to my world would to the extents i have often said they know it better than i do. we spoke to him as the world of ice and fire was being published. >> you started writing it in 1991. it got published in 1996. it took 20 years from the time you started writing until it hit the "new york times" number 1 best seller.
what do you think accounts for that delay? >> did built slowly. "game of thrones" didn't hit any bestsellers, the second "clash of kings" was the first to hit any best seller list. it was number 13 on the list for a week and then was gone. that was a thrill. when they sent me for a book tour for that and when i returned to new mexico, my wife was waiting for me by the gate with a clip out of the page with a sign that said, you are number 13. i was very thrilled to be number 13 and each book is doing better than the book before it. and when the t.v. show came on all bets were off. >> can you describe that burning passion to create such a sophisticated and complex project of game of thrones, song
of ice and fire and what it takes? >>n some ways, it came out of my 10 years in hollywood and there was a pattern of how my scripts were received. >> every time i would turn in a first draft, producers would say this is great. we love it. but, you know, it's like 5 times our budget. do you please cut these 107 characters down to 6? and, you know, this giant battles you have at the end with 100,000 people, could you make that a dull between the hero and the villain? i was buster. it's my work but they had to rein me in. you do a lot of rewriting in hollywood. after doing that for 10 years, i was sick of doing that know. i preferred the first draft, big
and rich and expansive when i decided it was time for me to return to prose, my first love, i thought this is great. i am writing books again. i don't have to worry about a budget. i don't have to worry about a shooting schedule. i can make as big as my imagination and i am going to make this big. i am going to make this epic. i am going to have giant castles and battles and drag owners and dire wolves and a cast of hundreds or maybe thousands. >> that's quite an imagination. we all have imaginations. >> that's off of the charts. >> yeah, well, what can i say? i don't know where it comes from but there it is. i suppose it's my gift. i certainly relish it. >> for people who are not familiar with your work, the series takes place in an imaginary world. there is a struggle for control of the kingdom, this dine attic
war is one of three main plot lines. there is the other involving the other as far as the super human characters and then there is the exile targarian daughter who seeks the return of her ancient throne. lines?? >> well, of course, the two outlying ones, the things that are gorth north at the wall and the nearest targarian on the other continent with her dragons are, of course, ice and fire of the title the stuff that's happening in the middle in king's landing, the capitol of the seven kingdoms, is much more based on historical events, the historical fix, loosely drawn from the wars of the roses and some of the other conflicts around the 100 years' war with fantasy twists. one of the dynamics i started with there was the sense of
people being so consumed by their petty struggles for power within the 7 king dotcoms. who is going to be king? on the small council, to determine the policies, that they are blind to the much greater and more dangerous threats that are happening far away on the periphery of their kingdoms and, of course, you can see that all through history. it's a common dynamic that takes place in history, you know, the greek city states enterbefore the birth of christ, you know, fighting with each other, squabbling with each other even as phillip of macedon built up his armies to conquer them all. in modern times, political struggles in the france under the third republic while the nazi threat is rising but the french politicians would
almost rather bow friend nazis and other. maybe less options in modern day. who knows? we have things going on our world like climate change that's it matly a threat to the entire world. people using it as a political it football instead of, you know, you think everybody would get together as something that can wipe out possibly the human race. i wanted to do an an local log not specifically to the modern day thing but as a general thing thing. >> you started off with nine different characters and points of view and expanded that to 35. how do you do that? >> there are days i wonder if i bit off more than i can choose where i sit around telling myself, did it have to be seven king dotcoms? why couldn'ts i have been five king dotcoms? five would have been a lot. having thrown the balls in the air, i feel compelled to keep on juggling
them. i use the point of view structure as a limited thifrd person point of view. so each chapter is seen from through theizes of a particular point of view character and you only -- you hear his thoughts or her thoughts. you see the things they see. you hear the things they hear. son unless one of my point of view characters is present at a particular ernt or conversation or battle, you can only hear about it second-hand though you can only here rumors that might be distorted. >> that's been the structure i really have most -- most of my writing. when i was a younger writer back in the '70s, i experimented with other things like ommicient point of view or first person but i settled on this which i think is most eventive, this tight viewpoint structure, third person. and i think it's the best way to tell a story because that's the way all of us perceive the story.
we each look through our own eyes, can only hear what we are hearing and we are not god to switch between them. i have never found the ommicient point of view persuasive. but with a big story, you know, you need multiple poifz points of view. i am writing the equiv length of a medieval world war ii. how do you white a novel about world war ii? who's point of view? hitler's? view? you can't tell the story of world war ii from any single point of view. you need all of those points of view into cutting between them to assemble a mosaic that comes close to telling the entire story. do. >> the divenlings being that in world war ii, there have been tens of thousands of hist occurs who have collected those points of view with king's lands, it's you. how do you keep it straight and be able to adjust and reflect
the points of views in so many different ways? >> i have glibly said with increasing difficulty but that's not far from the truth. it is big. i have charts, jeanologies, maps, various files. i refresh myself. i am aided by the fact that i think my brain is wired differently than a normal person's. i use brain sin answersynapses. i forget real people instantly. i will remember some guy who appeared briefly if a book that i wrote fwrefl years ago. >> still ahead, we will ask george r.r. martin how the series ends. stay with us. >> al jazeera america presents a breakthrough television event. borderland. six strangers. >> let's just send them back to
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i am david shuster speaking with george r.r. martin who wrote "game of thrones". >> is it difficult to do a brook project like you have done "the world of ice and fire" and have to rely or collaborate on fans, people who are so obsessed with your ten that they can fact check and help? >> a bit unusual for many authors. >> it is until some the sciencefication. those who worked with me on the land of ice and fire have been fans of the ice and fire books since the begin can, since the first one came out in '96. they formed the website, the premier fan website devoted to this. and they displayed almost from the first an obsessive knowledge and dailied knowledge of my world to the extent that i have often said they know it betted everyone i do.
i -- they first wrote me, they were pointing out mistakes i had made in my could not newty where i had gotten little details screwed up. actually. >> the book is very much of a coffee table sort of book. it's got illustrations. >> well >> i love fantasy art work. i grew up when i was a kid with illustrated books, things like the adventures of robin hood and tales of king author and his knights and i willstrated books have gone out of fashion, but i always try to get them back and when the fans started asking me for something like this book when i started getting these e-mails with these questions about the history and the ledge enltsdz ends and could be tell us more about this and we would like to know the whole story of that, i decided that as other fantasy authors had done before me, that we would do a concordance for a world book. i was determined it would be a heavily illustrated book with art on every page. and we would get some of the
best fantasy artists in the world and i think we have done that. in some cases, i was is able to work closely with them to try to get the visions in my head to, the things described in the could. >> that's certainly true with the castles and specially through with the iron throne. no one got it writeright but the one that was the closest was mark simonetti. we worked together and went back and forth half a dozen times until he got the iron throne the way i saw it. right now, i mean, in most of the world, hbo's iron throne has become iconic. it's a nice-looking iron throne. but it's actually quite -- as large as it seems, it's quite small compared to the monstrous throne described in the books which is huge and towering and dominates the whole and the king
has to climb up a ladder to sit in it and he is 10 feet -- 10 feet tall, 10 feet above the head of everybody else looking down on him. it's got no but but it's a symbol of domination and conquest and its meant to overall the people who stand under it, and that, i think, is what mark finally, captured in what i regard as the definitive iron throne. >> after spending that much time and working with the illustratos and artits, what was the feeling when you had to work with hbo and some would be simplified or as you mentioned, it would be quite different or the characters such as peter dinklage and how that character compares to your books? >> i can describe a character. the reader'sing imagination fills in the blanks, you know. so i can describe a character as hand some and you cast an actor for it and the fancy will start saying, i thought he was much more handsome. it says in the book he is really
handsome. this guy is only semi handsome but, you know, some of that is subjective. you are never going to get a character who walks in who looks exactly what you described in the book. you know, and in the case of tirian, yes, peter dinklidge is considerly better looking that the terian who is described as ugly. he is taller. tierian is at least probably a foot shorter than peter. but nonetheless, peter is tirian. when we -- when david bany. and danwise went around here peter dinklidge was the only name considered for terian. >> time magazine wleet distinguishes martin and marks him as a major -- what makes him as a major force for he of lucien in fantasy is his refusal
to embration the vision was world as a struggle between good and evil. do you agree? >> i think the struggle between good and evil is central to fantasy and indeed in some ways central to most fiction. it's certainly a worthy subject for fiction. where i think i differ is i regard the struggle between good and evil as being waged within the individual human heart. it's not waged as favent see would have it like the dark lord gathers the evil people together and puts them in black clothing and you know they are evil because they are really ugly and all of the good people are handsome and they wear white and meet on a big battlefield. in the real world, they are not that complex. very few people get up in the morning and say, oh, i am evil. what evil can i do today? i am going to cover the world with darkness and my leak options of evil will rule all. >> that's silly. you know, the greatest mon store
of history as we look back on them thought they were the heroes of the story, you know, the villain is the hero of the other side as sometimes said. >> doesn't mean that it's all morally relative. >> doesn't mean all things are equally good and evil. i think there is good in the world but, you know, it's sometimes a struggle to tell one from the other and to make the right choices and all of us, i have always been attracted to great characters. maybe because that's what i see world. i read about it in history books, news or just people i meet. i mean all of us have it within ourselves to be heroes. all of us have it. most of us have also done selfish things, cowardly things, things that we are ashamed of in later years.
and to my mind, that's -- i don't know, the glory of the human race. we are mixed up creatures that about. >> most of us have the potential to be anarchists it seems in game of thrones the anarchists are having the most fun. >> anarchy can thrive in a chaotic situation. well see who is having fun at the end. >> speaking of the end do you have a -- as you are writing -- has your writing slowed down over the years? >> i think it actually has. some of it is the shear size of this that we spoke about earlier and how complex it is. there is a lot of checking and so forth. some of it also may be the fact that i am, of course, older than i was when i started this back in 1991. some of it is the number of
distractions. successize bringswith it other obligations, you know, neatings and introourz and a book doors and all of this stuff. there is actually part of the job of being a writer that goes beyond the simple writing, and it takes up time and distracts me from the books, but that doesn't mean it's stopped me. >> do you have an ending already in mind? >> i have and have had since the beginning, yeah. in broad strokes. you know, i don't have -- i know the fates of all of the major characters but not necessarily the fates of many of the minor characters. and things do change sometimes, as you approach the finish line, you come up with a better idea or a twist you hadn't thought of when you start. so, i leave it open that i may change a few things when i get to the last book, but for the most part, yeah, i know. i know how it's going to ends. >> coming up, george r.r. martin talks about the red wedding and
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♪ i am david shuster. you are watching talk to al jazeera. our guest a son of ice and fire, george r.r. martin. >> one of the dramatic moments and i think there was a youtube video of people watching the red wedding and what happened. the video of people watching that became viral. were you surprised that that's the entry point that a lot of people made into both the series and to your work? >> i was surprised by the videos. i was not surprised by the reaction to it because i had been through a similar reaction when the book came out, "a song of swords" prior to it. i remember one tweet someone posted the day after the red wedding episode aired that said, "now you know why your nerdy friend was really depressed 13 years ago.
there was a certain amount of truth to that. i got letters at that time saying, you know, i hate you. i threw your book across the room. again. i threw your book in the fire. that was a good one because it was -- i threw your book in the fire and three days later, i went out and bought a new copy because i had to find out what happened next. now, you are talking about millions of people reacting to it. the red wedding was brutal in the book, but in some ways, it was even more brutal on t.v. because david and dan, the show runners, did turn it up to 11 by adding the elisa character and her unborn child who don't exist in the book. rob is married, but he has a different wife, and she's not pregnant, and he doesn't bring her to the wedding. he says, no, it's going to be dangerous here so he keeps her at riverrun, where he knows she will be safe. so by including her, they made
the scene even more brutal, which i think increased the reaction to it even more. but the most astonishing thing was those videos. the fact that people who knew what was going to happen actually set up their wives and husbands and children and parents and brothers and sisters and friends and loved ones to capture their dismay and shock at the moment that that wedding hit was something i never could have anticipated. i don't think anyone did, but it was pretty amazing. >> a great feeling? >> yeah. yeah. it's, you know, when you are -- when you write, when i write anyway, i want to -- i want to engage my readers' emotions or my viewers' emotions. you don't want, you know, death -- death is a big thing, you know, when we experience death in real life, it affects us, you know. when a spouse dies or your parents die, your brother dies,
your dog gets run over or god forbid, one of your children dies, it rips your heart out. it affects you emotionally. if we are creating characters that we really care about, we should react in a similar way when they die in fiction or on television. it shouldn't be just, oh, okay. that character is dead, let me go out and get a sandwich during the commercial. i mean then you are not doing your job. i want to grab a hold of my readers and make them cry and make them grief and make them laugh as well and experience joy, experience the world on the them. >> that's the dream of me at least and i think most writers. >> pop do you recall has grabbed game of thrones. it's been featured in the simpsons and southpark. what goes through your mind when you see these references and what happens? >> well, i think it's tremendously cool, of course.
it's nice to be doing something everybody is so aware of and that has entered the cultural zeitgeist in that manner. the only aspect of it that really aston issues me is not that the characters and the story is being parodied or referenced in these various places but to the extents which i personally am. i mean when i see myself as a character on southpark or i see monihan imitating me with the suspenders and the hat on saturday night live, when i see companies selling halloween costumes, not halloween costumes to be john snow or deneris but to be me, that's pretty freaky. that's something i could never have anticipated and i still don't know what to think of it. >> congratulations on all of your success. thank you so much for being on "talk to al jazeera." we appreciate it? >> my pleasure.
thank you. hi, i am richelle carey. coming up at the top of the at the top of the ♪ at least 20 demonstrators killed on egypt on the fourth anniversary of the revolution that how fast hosni mubarak. you are watching al jazeera live from our headquarters in doha. also ahead, polls are closing in grease in a vote that could pitch the country into a new battle over its international bail-out. the u.s. secretary of state warns nigerian presidential contenders about election violence and boka haram attacks a major northern