The Night I Met George R.R. Martin

It’s strange to meet a man who is a God to some, an unknown mortal to others. News that I was meeting George R.R. Martin was met by friends and family with two reactions. One was ‘wow, you’re so lucky’, the other was ‘who is George R.R. Martin?’.

And that is the world of genre fiction. Authors are deified by some, unknown to others. If you’re a fan, you’re more than just a fan. If you aren’t, you nearly go out of your way to proclaim ignorance.

As I write this I realise I’ve put all people into two categories, neither of which I actually fall into. Of course I have heard of George R.R. Martin and I was incredibly excited to meet such a huge cultural figure, a wonderful writer, a magnificent storyteller. At least that’s what I’ve been told. You see…

…I haven’t read any books by George R.R. Martin. I am an observer. I love the TV show. Admire him, absolutely. But read him? No, not for me.

So it was with equal parts excitement and trepidation I made my way, along with John Purcell, Christopher Cahill and our Sci-Fi & Fantasy specialist Mark Timmony, to the offices of George’s Australian publishers, HarperCollins. Our game plan was simple. Meet George.

Typically at these events the talent makes a late appearance to a soundtrack of whispers, but George R.R. Martin isn’t your typical talent. Our wine barely had a chance to breathe before a bearded man in suspenders began to work the room.

George had entered stage left, and even the ushers didn’t notice him.

It’s easy to miss him in a crowd. He’s a little guy, not prone to loud sweeping conversation. He mingled for a while, pretending not to notice the room who in turn pretended not to stare at him. He sipped his drink and nodded humbly as people told him how much they loved his books. He slowly made his way down the far side of the room before finding refuge in a set of chairs and sat down. It was then we were told our time had come.

‘There he is.’

‘He’s sitting down, this is your chance.’

image(5)And so we made our move. We dashed across the floor towards George who had now found himself in conversation with a woman talking so fast with excitement I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I doubt George could either, but he smiled and nodded, raising a glass with her as we stood awkwardly nearby.

Eventually his conversation stopped and he turned to us and put out his hand.

‘Hi, I’m George.’

The conversation was a blur of fantasy references, questions about Booktopia, and Australia’s weather. Christopher and George bonded over their love of J.R.R. Tolkien as John and I took photos of them chatting. It was surreal, being in the company of such an idolised, influential figure. And as quickly as it started, it was over. George still had to press the palms of many more people that night, and we disappeared into the crowd.

So what did we learn from our night with George?

Christopher Cahill meets George

- He has been to Australia quite a few times, both for business and pleasure.

- He has signed 10,000 books since landing here 5 days ago.

- He loves a good champagne.

- His favourite book is Lord of the Rings.

- His biggest influence writing The Song of Ice and Fire Series was the War of the Roses.

- The next book currently has a working title (which has not been finalised) and is close to being finished.

And that was that. After signing a few books and posing for some photos, George left, and soon after so did we.

So what becomes of a casual observer after a chance meeting? It just so happens this morning I put in an order for The Game of Thrones Boxset.

I mean, now that George is a close personal friend, I owe it to him to at least read his stuff, right?

Australian Romance Author Showcase with…Tracey O’Hara

As part of Australian Romance Month, Romance Specialist Haylee Nash will be interviewing one Australian Romance author per day. Much like a beauty pageant, each author will be using their charm, wit and grace (and the power of social media) to take home the Booktopia Romance Bestseller crown. Booktopia invites bestselling urban fantasy author Tracey O’Hara to the stage.

1. Describe the perfect date.
Watching a movie and eating take away Thai food with my Hubby. I prefer a good night in. :) Continue reading

Game of Thrones vs Harry Potter

It was the battle of the epics at my house last night.

First up was the advance screening at Harper Collins of episodes 1 & 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which is going to be unleashed on the real world of cable TV watchers on Sunday night.

Let me say from the outset that this ticks all the boxes. It has stunning visuals, lots of snow and wolves, gorgeous fur coats that never seem to get muddy, spooky armour and (according to my teen son, particularly innovative shields), a Draco Malfoy equivalent platinum blonde bad boy, a feisty sword wielding little girl, a brooding unproven bastard son, pouty lipped women, muscly men (who are frighteningly unimaginative when it comes to sexual positions), complicated relationships between rival houses of power, scary dark skinned warriors from ‘across the narrow seas’ and a so-far-unseen unspeakable evil beyond the wall in the wintery wastelands of the north. Oh, and we get to see Boromir again – I mean, Sean Bean, looking suitably older and craggier since his last incantation in Lord of the Rings. Clearly Game of Thrones has all the elements and it is going to be big, big, big, just as it was in the UK and the US.

As I say, epic stuff. Inevitably however, it did leave me with a taste for the real thing, and by that I mean, the books. As big as the screen version may be, it has come to us via the creative mind of the author, George RR Martin, and it is his books,  which culminated yesterday in the release of the tome A Dance with Dragons, which are the stuff of legends. The books, and there are now five of them in the series A Song of Ice and Fire, are grand epic fantasy of the tense, surging, insomnia-inflicting kind. Colossal, intoxicating complexity, staggering – all those words and more. See the HBO series definitely but I defy you to read the first book, Game of Thrones, and not come back for more.

Go here to read more about the series, to take advantage of Booktopia’s great prices and to see details of the individual books.

Game of Thrones was first published in 1996. Six months later another fantasy novel snuck onto the shelves, although this one was aimed at an altogether younger audience. Seven books, and now eight movies later, JK Rowling’s (what is it about fantasy authors and initials?) Harry Potter juggernaut has blitzed all records. Last night was the midnight screening of the final, final movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

HP has made a big impact in my house. My kids have grown up with Harry. They read all the books on release day (well, from book 3 on release day). The books remain their go-to comfort books – when all else in life fails, re-read Harry Potter. They have gone to all the movies, dressed in character, on opening day. The fact that my daughter can dress as Mrs Weasley from pieces entirely sourced from my own wardrobe is sadly true.

As for last night’s movie, the reports back at around 3am this morning were of laughing, crying and a very very satisfying conclusion and, and … it is never quite the same as the book. The movie is to the book is what fast food is to fine dining. If you want the complexity, the humour, the irony, the cruelty, the ends all tied up, the references – in other words, if you want the real thing – you have got to read the book.

Want to test out the theory? I have a stack of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to sell at rrp of $22.99, each of which comes with a free movie pass. Yep, the book plus a movie pass for 23 bucks. Go ahead and indulge but you better be quick. This one is not going to last.

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin is available from today…

As you most probably know, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire sequence is a masterpiece of fantasy writing. The HBO series, Game of Thrones , airing in Australia in July, will ensure the whole world comes to recognise this fact, too.

What is certain, because of the TV extravaganza more and more people will turn to the books to get the full story. And to celebrate (and to encourage) George RR Martin’s Australian publisher, Harper Collins, and Booktopia have joined together to  seriously cut the RRP of the A Song of Ice and Fire back catalogue paperbacks. Booktopia’s price is a mere $9.50 each.

And for fans of George R.R. Martin there is even more good news. The fifth volume of A Song of Ice and Fire: A Dance with Dragons is available from today.

Click Here to Order A Dance with Dragons $31.95 SAVE 20%

Out today, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, the fifth volume in the hugely popular and highly acclaimed epic fantasy A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE (see all the books in the series)

The last of the Targaryons, Daenerys Stormborn, the Unburnt, has brought the young dragons in her care to their terrifying maturity. Now the war-torn landscape of the Seven Kingdoms is threatened by destruction as vast as in the violent past.Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf with half a nose and a scar from eye to chin, has slain his father and escaped the Red Keep in King′s Landing to wage war from the Free Cities beyond the narrow sea.

Jon Snow is Commander of the Black Watch on the frozen Wall. Pledged to protect the Seven Kingdoms from the Others as winter approaches, his enemies want his head.

The last war fought with dragons was a cataclysm powerful enough to shatter the Valyrian peninsula into a smoking, demon-haunted ruin half drowned by the sea.

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS brings to life dark magic, complex political intrigue and horrific bloodshed as events at the Wall and beyond the sea threaten the ancient land of Westeros.

We  recently posted a blog about the upcoming HBO TV series, Game of Thrones – click here to see pics, reviews and the trailer…

Click here to visit our George RR Martin author page

HBO brings George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones to the small screen

During 2011, the first volume of George R R Martin’s glorious high fantasy, A Song of Ice and Fire, will be aired in Australia as an HBO series on Foxtel.

It premièred on Sunday in the USA & UK and pulled in 4.2 million viewers

You have the chance to read the trilogy before it screens here in Australia…

Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

A Game of Thrones : Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the centre of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come Continue reading

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