I Asked George R.R. Martin a Question
During the past weekend we attended the Adelaide Supanova convention. Like many geeks we love these events. We mingle with like-minded people, buy awesome collectibles, admire the cosplayers and meet the artists and actors we look up to. Entering these events as both a geek and a journalist I have the bonus of being able to sit down with some of those people and chat with them. I spend half an hour discussing the Ultimate Spider-Man animated show haters with the creators of Ben 10 while they sketched for their young fans. It was a real thrill getting insight from these artists while watching them work.
Flying into Adelaide I had one person who, more than anyone else, I wanted to talk to. I had so much admiration for the man, I was so involved with his stories and I had so many questions for him. If you read the title to this article you can surely guess who I’m talking about, but just in case you have a blindspot for obvious words, I’m talking about George R.R. Martin.
A Song of Ice and Fire and the television adaptation Game of Thrones is undoubtable one of the hottest properties on the planet right now. Having the creator and author of the in-progress series, with the sixth book being very highly anticipated, travelling to our shores is a remarkable opportunity. Just the notion that I may be able to land an interview with the man was enough motivation for me to shell out the cost of an airfare, kiss my children goodbye and head across state lines for the weekend.
After arriving at the convention grounds and obtaining my media credentials – the magic lanyard that granted me access to the floor – and got to know my surroundings. There wasn’t access to the guests or any signings on the opening night, but while the stalls got stocked up I found the spot Martin’s booth was to be, along with the very large space marked out for the line. In ran down the entire length of the building and doubled back on itself a number of times. At first estimate it would take about three hours to run through a full line.
Bright and early the next morning (geek early, so about 9am) I made my way back to the convention. Already a crowd in the hundreds gathered around the gates waiting for the 10am opening. Jedi’s jostled with clones of Daenerys while impatient looking security guards stood in front of the red velvet ropes. With a heavy camera around my neck and a case of equipment I flashed my pass and squeezed through. Although the con was yet to start stall owners and volunteers scurried around posting signs and displaying their wares.
Upon learning that the media liaison, and by extension the media room, was not yet available I needed a place to put down my heavy artillery, and I could think of no better place where George R.R. Martin would be signing. Although the volunteers were none to pleased to have me in their way they did inform me that I would be waiting at least an hour. I was resolved to be first, so I stayed put.
Before long some VIP guests joined me, dedicated fans who paid a bit extra to get quick access to their heroes. They brought with them a number of expensive merchandise items that they were happy to show. The atmosphere was friendly, with stories about past cons and celebrity encounters were swapped while we shared the impression we’d had of Martin. By all accounts he was an affable fellow, always giving time to fans. Even with this knowledge we could still see the growing crowd behind the velvet barrier and knew that time would be a valued commodity.
When the gates opened the queue behind us filled in a matter of seconds. George R.R. Martin was the biggest draw at this event and most people with tickets were here to see him. Punters were settling into their place, waiting for the esteemed author to appear.
Appear he did, amid an orbiting cloud of volunteers and escorts. At the front of the line I waited, clutching my Game of Thrones Season 2 blu-ray cover, for Martin to get comfortable and collect his sharpies. It was a nerve-wracking moment. Suddenly this genius was in front of me very much human. My mind raced with different ways I could great. Eventually he looked up and said ‘Right…whose first today?’
I stepped up and presented my offering, babbling incoherently about how important his stories were to me. Suddenly everything indicated that it was time to move aside. I was suddenly feeling lost. Was that it? It was over so quick! I had so much to ask! But I couldn’t hold up the line, I was just one of many fans desiring the same thing.
Eventually I encountered the media liaison and we discussed potential interviews and promotions. He asked who I wanted to talk to.
“How about Ge…”
The rest of the day was spent collecting autographs (Martin’s was joined by King Baretheon, Bronn and Catelyn Stark), buying comics and shooting the breeze with the local comic artists. The highly unusual lime-mayo and Cajun spice fries was hesitantly sampled and discovered to be one of the greatest food stuffs ever created. Rising star of DC Tom Taylor was harassed until we obtained copies of the new Injustice hardcover. An inflatable remote control Dalek was obtained for Funk Jr. The night ended with a take-away pizza and an American Horror Story marathon while the days cosplay photos were transferred to the computer.
Bright and early next morning (9:30am) I had breakfasted on coco-puffs and returned to my place in line. A couple of costumed VIPs were already in place, but word soon reached us that Martin wouldn’t be returning to his booth until 11am. With this news the fans already in line took the chance to hold each other’s places while we darted away to buy tokens and check on stalls.
Time flew quickly as cosplayers were photographed and merchandise shared. When Martin started his day the line quickly pushed me before the man and my copy of A Game of Thrones paperback was signed and again I was shuffled out of the line.
Damnit, still didn’t ask anything.
Well, nothing for it but to get on with the day. We interviewed Terry ‘Davros’ Molloy and The Hobbit’s Dean O’Gorman. There was one more opportunity to question Martin on the books – a seminar with a brief Q&A. Inserting ourselves in the front row we had the pleasure of hearing Martin was lyrical about the series’ themes and characters, addressing the issue of violence and sex in the show and the process of adaptation. By the end I was more intellectually intimidated by the man than ever before. In the remaining few minutes they would take questions from the audience. I was the third person in line to ask one.
They had time for two.
I went back to work. Interviews, photographs and buying action figures. In a moment of extreme nerdness I bought a Mockingjay pin to affix to my archery quiver. But it wasn’t enough. I had to get at least a little one on one with Martin. But I had nothing left to be signed, and there were many signs indicating that nothing other than books and official merchandise would be accepted. Fortunately there was plenty on offer. I grabbed a small volume – The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister – and headed back to the queue.
After I while it was my turn at the front of the line again. Martin gave no indication that he recognised me despite my persistence. By all reports he’d been signing about 450 items an hour between reading chapters from The Winds of Winter. With a dozen questions racing through my mind I put my new book on the desk.
“Can I ask you a quick question?” I ventured.
“Sure, go ahead,” the suspenders wearing, beret clad author responded.
“Out of all the characters in the television adaptation, which one best represents your vision of the character?” I hurriedly asked.
George R.R. Martin indicated the book he was returning. “This one”, he replied.
And that was it.