Met George RR Martin today! First he met us in the room at 4 PM where we have lectures and critiques, and he discussed four important aspects of building a successful writing career: talent, craft, professionalism/business sense, and luck. He was honest about the ups and downs of a writing career. By the time my roommate, an intellectual property attorney, asked GRRM about fan-related content, I already knew what GRRM would say. I had known that he takes a strong stance against the idea and practice of writing fanfiction. So it was no surprise to hear him go on a crotchety schpiel on the subject. As someone who had been writing fanfiction since I was 11, I thought it best to keep quiet. After the talk, my class took photos with GRRM to reenact the Red Wedding. Or should I say, the Red Workshop?
At 7 PM we had dinner with him at a Peruvian restaurant called Mikuna Grill. We all weren’t sure why there was live belly dancing at a Peruvian restaurant, but the dancer killed it on the dance floor and we tipped generously. For the first hour I sat next to GRRM, across from Zhou Wen, and we had a great conversation about all sorts of stuff. He mentioned to me that a Vietnamese woman had used her UN translating experience to translate his work to French, and he had visited Saigon (props to him for not saying Ho Chi Minh City!) during a cruise around southeast Asia. He told a funny story of how an Italian translator had wanted to “up the fantasy,” and wrote the direwolf scene so that the direwolf had been gored by a unicorn horn instead of a stag’s antlers. GRRM said that he does plan on legitimately including unicorns in a future work. I asked if they’ll be scary and will kill lots of people. He said yes, of course (to which I pumped my fist in anticipation).
I got to ask him if he partly based the Dothraki on the Mongols. He confirmed my guess, and cited inspiration from a hodgepodge of other peoples like the Huns and Native American tribes whose names I can’t remember. I had brought the Game of Thrones series plus the History of Ice and Fire along for the Taos trip, and GRRM had signed all of them! According to his assistant Sid, apparently he doesn’t give out signatures often, so this was a treat, for sure. 22 of us sat at a long table, so Nancy tried to divide our table into thirds and have our “sections” rotate so we all had a fair chance of chatting with GRRM. The waiters handing out food and managing checks must have been a nightmare for them, but things worked out.
After dinner, Sid came over to my classmates’ suite to hang out and talk about her very busy yet intriguing day-to-day life of helping out GRRM. What a day. GRRM’s by far the most famous writer I’ve met, and even when I have photos and my signed books to prove it, I can’t believe it really happened.