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George R.R. Martin at the Golden Globes

January 16, 2012 |  1:02 pm
George R.R. Martin took time during HBO's Golden Globes afterparty to talk about books and writers in Hollywood

This bookish book reporter found herself Sunday night at the glamorous HBO Golden Globes afterparty, thanks to the generosity of one of our television editors. I really had no reason to speak to Idris Elba or Jon Voight or Michelle Forbes or the cast of "Modern Family" or Dominic West or Lisa Bonet or Peter Dinklage, but when I spotted George R.R. Martin at a corner table, I thought, "Wow! I hope I can talk to him."

It took a while. An intent woman in a blue sequined gown had taken the only available spot near the author of the Song of Ice and Fire series. Sure, it was a fancy Hollywood party, but writers have fans too.

With a short window of opportunity and a notebook and pen at the ready, I asked Martin if the portrayals he'd seen in "Game of Thrones" -- like, say, that of Peter Dinklage, who'd just won a Golden Globe for his performance -- made him think about the characters differently. "Not Peter specifically," Martin said. "Peter is very close to the character described in the books."

One performance did make him see a character he'd created in a new light: Natalia Tena as Osha. He said he went from thinking she was "completely wrong" for the role to now finding her "mesmerizing," and he promised that the character is coming back. 

But mostly, these characters are "firmly fixed in my head," Martin said. "I've been living with them off and on since 1991. It's hard to displace them."

That's good, as the series is highly addictive to readers. "A Game of Thrones," "A Clash of Kings," "A Storm of Swords" "A Feast for Crows" and "A Dance with Dragons" total about 4,000 pages, and still readers want more. Two more volumes are planned in the series, although it takes a lot longer to write a George R.R. Martin book than it does to read one.

This was not Martin's first trip to the Golden Globes -- he was a writer on "The Twilight Zone" and "Beauty and the Beast" in the 1980s. When he was last at the awards, and Ron Perlman won for his role in "Beauty and the Beast," they celebrated in exactly the same room. "It's glitzier now, more crowded," he said.

Martin may have taken a break from Hollywood while writing novels, but he's quite positive about the experience of being an author in this glamorous world. "Writers have always run television," he said. "Being a book writer is a somewhat different part of the process," he allowed, adding he couldn't say enough good things about his relationship with show runners David Benioff and Dan Weiss -- who are book writers themselves.

In addition to writing the original material, Martin is credited as a co-executive producer on HBO's "Game of Thrones."


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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: George R.R. Martin and his wife, Parris McBride, at the 2011 Emmy Awards (couldn't bring myself to ask him to pose for a photo in the middle of this year's HBO Golden Globes afterparty). Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times