This weekend, the seventh season of Game of Thrones will start airing on HBO. While we've all been focusing on Sansa this, and Jon Snow that, this day means more to one person than it might any other: George R.R. Martin, the man who first started writing the books the series is based on, way back in 1991.
Time Magazine did interviews with the cast and the writers over the last two weeks, but it saved the interview with Martin for last. Martin, as we know, is in a very unusual position for a writer. Most of those who have their works adapted for screen have usually finished the series before the adaptation starts. Only J.K. Rowling has done the same, agreeing to allow a series to start filming before the books were done.
But while Rowling kept a frantic pace and stayed ahead of the Harry Potter films, Martin procrastinated, feeling that he had time before they caught up with him. Until, one day, he didn't.
Though fans around the world now have very fixed ideas about the characters he's still working on shaping, he insists it doesn't effect him.
The walls are up in my mind. I don't know that I was necessarily there from the beginning. At some points, when David and Dan and I had discussions about what way we should go in, I would always favor sticking with the books, while they would favor making changes.
And those changes, to him, truly began when they chose to cut a character he was very attached to: Lady Stoneheart.
Martin admits he was very attached to Catelyn Stark as a character. So much so that when it came time to write the Red Wedding in A Storm of Swords, he skipped it. The entire book was finished, and he still hadn't written it.
It was just so hard to write that scene, because I'd been inhabiting Catelyn for so long, and of course I have a lot of affection for Robb, too, although he was never a viewpoint character, and even for some of the minor characters... It was some of the hardest writing I've ever done, but it's also one of the most powerful scenes I've ever done.
He says part of the reason he created Stoneheart was because he couldn't let go of Catelyn. But, despite wanting to bring her back, he knew he couldn't just resurrect her.
Unlike J.R.R. Tolkien, or others who bring back characters who died in their novels, Martin wanted to make sure that having been dead touches the character in some way, be it Stoneheart, or Beric Dondarrion, or even Jon Snow.
Even without Lady Stoneheart in the show, he says he's very proud of how his female characters have touched readers.
I do a lot of book signings, and I think I have probably more women readers than male readers right now. I see women readers at things and they love my women characters. I'm very proud of the creation of Arya and Catelyn and Sansa and Brienne and Daenerys and Cersei and all of them. It's one of the things that gives me the most satisfaction, that they've been so well-received as characters, especially by women readers who are often not served.
Game of Thrones Season 7 starts Sunday, July 16 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. As for The Winds of Winter, we hope to hear about it soon.