George R.R. Martin on The Winds of Winter: 'The book’s not done'

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Jan 11, 2016, 4:28 PM EST (Updated)

Fans have been clamoring for the next book in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, but the author has some bad news to report as 2016 kicks off: The latest Game of Thrones book isn’t done, and it isn’t close enough to be finished anytime very soon.

Amid rumors he hadn’t even started the book (those are totally bogus, by the way), Martin took to his official website to issue an update for fans. He apologized for missing his past two deadlines, which were Halloween and the end of the year, but noted he remains hard at work on Winds of Winter. According to Martin, the reason for the delay is obvious — he’s had a busy 2015, with a ton of distractions and outside projects taking up his time. Hey, it happens. The guy has a life, too, you know.

Here’s an excerpt from his statement:

“Believe me, it gave me no pleasure to type those words. You're disappointed, and you're not alone. My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed... but no one could possibly be more disappointed than me. For months now I have wanted nothing so much as to be able to say, "I have completed and delivered THE WINDS OF WINTER" on or before the last day of 2015.

But the book's not done.

Nor is it likely to be finished tomorrow, or next week. Yes, there's a lot written. Hundreds of pages. Dozens of chapters. (Those 'no pages done' reports were insane, the usual garbage internet journalism that I have learned to despise). But there's also a lot still left to write. I am months away still... and that's if the writing goes well. (Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't.) Chapters still to write, of course... but also rewriting. I always do a lot of rewriting, sometimes just polishing, sometimes pretty major restructures.”

Of course, that revelation brings up to the big question fans have been asking for the past year or so: Will the upcoming sixth season spoil the future of the books? Not surprisingly, the answer is a complicated one. According to Martin, the upcoming season will almost certainly include some details from the future of the book series, though the two mediums have diverged so much that it shouldn’t ruin either of them.

Here’s Martin’s explainer:

“Maybe. Yes and no. Look, I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books, but it has. The show moved faster than I anticipated and I moved more slowly. There were other factors too, but that was the main one. Given where we are, inevitably, there will be certain plot twists and reveals in season six of GAME OF THRONES that have not yet happened in the books. For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that... hey, that's up to you. Look, I read Andy Weir's novel THE MARTIAN before I saw the movie. But I saw the BBC production of JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL before I finally got around to reading Susanna Clarke's novel. In both cases, I loved the book and I loved the adaptation. It does not need to be one or the other. You might prefer one over the other, but you can still enjoy the hell out of both.

Of course, there's an aspect to our situation that did not apply to either the Weir or Clarke cases. Those novels were finished before they were optioned, adapted, and filmed. The case of GAME OF THRONES and A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE is perhaps unique. I can't think of any other instance where the movie or TV show came out as the source material was still being written. So when you ask me, "will the show spoil the books," all I can do is say, "yes and no," and mumble once again about the butterfly effect. Those pretty little butterflies have grown into mighty dragons. Some of the 'spoilers' you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all... because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so.”

Martin makes a few good points. Does it kind of suck that the books aren’t finished? Sure. But you’re not entitled to Martin’s art. This series, this world, is his creation — he can take as long as he wants to finish it. Which, most fans would prefer he do just that, because the last thing anyone wants is a rushed-off book that doesn’t live up to expectations.

So take a chill pill. We still have some time to wait, but that’s no reason not to enjoy next season. Just be patient. Martin will get there … Probably. 

(Via George R.R. Martin)