George R.R. Martin Dislikes ‘Grisly’ Speculation About His Death, Says He’s ‘Making Progress’ on ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’

American novelist George R.R. Martin published the first installment in his A Song of Ice and Fire series in 1996; a sprawling 694-page book called A Game of Thrones. Little did he know that his novel would inspire one of, if not the most successful, fantasy shows of all time: HBO’s Emmy-winning fantasy epic Game of Thrones.

Years later, the A Song of Ice and Fire series has yet to be completed. But recently, Martin confirmed that he is making progress on the next book. He also commented on fans’ speculation that he might die before finishing the novel, calling the remarks “grisly.”

George R.R. Martin has been writing ‘The Winds of Winter’ since at least 2010

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the best-selling author reassured fans that work is underway on the long-awaited next installment in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter.

“I’m making progress, but I’ve given up on any hope of predicting the end,” said Martin. “Every time I do, I don’t make it and everybody gets mad at me, and there’s no sense.” 

Fans have famously criticized the 73-year-old author for his lack of progress writing the fantasy novel. According to Town & Country Magazine, Martin has worked on The Winds of Winter, the second-to-last book in the series, since at least 2010.

Many have blamed the poor reception of HBO’s Game of Thrones finale on the fact that Martin wasn’t able to release new novels in time with the show’s pace. Therefore, he couldn’t provide showrunners with adequate source material. Martin’s books inspired just five out of the series’ eight seasons. This led to what many viewers still consider today to be a messy, scraped-together conclusion.

But even though Martin hasn’t released a new installment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series since 2011’s A Dance of Dragons, the author has repeatedly confirmed that a new book is on the way. He also teased that his ending will be “very different” than the show in a recent interview with the New York Times.

Martin continued, “It’ll be done when it’s done,” before quipping, “Hopefully, COVID won’t kill me, so we won’t have that issue. I do find it a little grisly, people speculating online about what’s going to happen to the rest of the books when I die. I don’t like to speculate about that. I don’t feel close to dying.”

How the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged George R.R. Martin to write more

George R.R. Martin speaks onstage during HBO's "House of the Dragon" panel at Comic Con 2022
Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin at Comic Con 2022 | FilmMagic/FilmMagic for HBO

While speaking with Vanity Fair, Martin opened up about his recent experience having the coronavirus and how two years of “enforced isolation” encouraged him to write more.

Right before the premiere of House of the Dragon, Martin tested positive for COVID-19. He said of the illness: “I’m OK. Yeah, I have some symptoms. I have sniffling, and I’m sleeping a lot, but yeah, other than that I feel no worse than I’ve felt with many colds in my life. Aside from being quarantined and going a little stir-crazy, I’m good.”

During a panel at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con back in July, Martin told attendees he’s “barely left” his house since the pandemic’s start. However, being confined to his home has seemingly helped the author to direct his focus entirely on writing The Winds of Winter. 

“Oddly enough, although I hate having COVID here, the two years of enforced isolation enabled me to get a lot more writing done,” he said, “because I was doing a lot less traveling and public appearances and speeches and all of that stuff.”

‘House of the Dragon’ and other ‘Games of Thrones’ spinoffs in the works at HBO

HBO is currently airing its first GoT spinoff, House of the Dragon. The show is based on Martin’s 2018 novel Fire & Blood, and tells the history of House Targaryen roughly 200 years prior to the events of its predecessor series. Matt Smith, Milly Alcock, Rhys Ifans, Paddy Considine, and Emily Carey lead the cast, among others who will star in episodes.

Martin serves as an executive producer and co-creator on the show, along with GoT veteran Ryan J. Condal. Unlike the latter seasons of Thrones, Martin revealed he was “a lot more involved in House of the Dragon,” meaning he likely had much more creative control in the new show, via the New York Times.

So far, House of the Dragon is proving to be a massive success for the network, with an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It seems to be faring well with both critics and fans alike and indicates a positive start to HBO’s full-blown GoT TV franchise.

A Jon Snow sequel series led by Kit Harrington will soon come to HBO. Other rumored spinoffs include The Sea Snake, Ten Thousand Ships, and The Tales of Dunk and Egg, per Entertainment Weekly.

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