As we wait for news of a potential Game of Thrones prequel series, and of course the release date of Winds of Winter, read up on A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin with these 68 fascinating facts!
From interesting information on his wife Parris McBride to what his life was like growing up, we have lots of interesting GRRM facts to share.
George R.R. Martin trivia and fun facts
- He was born George Raymond Martin, and added the second R (for Richard) at age 13.
- Martin’s father was Italian, and his mother was half Irish.
- Martin isn’t afraid of getting political, and recently wrote a blog post celebrating immigrants, and reminding U.S. citizens that most (including himself) are descended from immigrants themselves.
- He has described his father as “a functioning alcoholic,” which influenced his writing.
- As a child, Martin chiefly wrote stories about a mythical kingdom inhabited by his pet turtles.
- He kept the turtles in a toy castle, and as they often died, Martin began to imagine that they were all scheming to kill each other off. And thus, the first seeds for ASOIAF were planted.
- As a kid, he made up stories and sold them to neighborhood children for pennies. He also did dramatic readings of his own works, which echoes the early years of Hans Christian Andersen.
- He was a huge Marvel and DC Comics fan as a child, and became an active member of pre-Internet fandom, contributing to fanzines and chain letters.
- One of his first published works was a fan letter in Fantastic Four #20.
- In one letter, he said Stan Lee was a better writer than Shakespeare. Martin has since been compared to Shakespeare himself.
- Since finding success, Martin has met Stan Lee “a dozen times” at conventions. Unfortunately, Lee “doesn’t have the vaguest idea who the hell I am.”
- His commitment to the comics fandom went deep: Martin was first in line for the first ever New York City Comic Convention in 1964, and received a “#1 comic-fan” badge for his trouble.
- He’s kept many of the comics he collected, and still owns the prized first issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, which he says (rather ironically) could fund his retirement.
- He was particularly fond of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, and one of his favorite characters was the short-lived Wonder-Man.
- The superpower he most desired was Green Lantern’s. “I wanted to find this ring that I would be able to put on and have the power to do anything I imagined, as long as it was green,” he explained. “Finding a ring seemed less painful than the Flash [being struck by lightning].”
- He continues to be outspoken about the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, using his not-a-blog to exalt the virtues of Ant-Man, while conceding that recent big-screen Marvel villains haven’t been up to snuff.
- Martin is staunchly opposed to ASOIAF fanfiction, yet when he was young, he wrote and even won prizes for his own Marvel fanfics.
- He claims the difference between his own early writing and ASOIAF fanfiction is that he created original characters and plots. Read his full argument here.
- George R.R. Martin is a trained journalist, with a degree from Northwestern University.
- A conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, Martin has acknowledged that war brings out the “best and worst” in people. This is heavily reflected in his canon.
- He’s an avid sports fan, and his teams include the New York Jets (football) and the New York Mets (baseball).
- When he was young, he worked four summers as a sports writer, covering baseball for a parks and recreations department.
- He is also — which should come as no surprise to ASOIAF readers — an expert chess player.
- Early in his writing career, he subsidized his income by running local chess tournaments.
- Martin was born in New Jersey, but has lived in Santa Fe since 1979.
- In 2010, Martin bought a struggling indie cinema in Santa Fe named The Jean Cocteau Cinema. It re-opened in 2013.
- The cinema made headlines in 2014 when it became one of the most prominent American independent cinemas that dared screen James Franco and Seth Rogen’s The Interview despite North Korean threats.
- Before delving into fantasy fiction, Martin wrote sci-fi stories, many of them set in an imagined future known as “The Thousand Worlds.”
- His first novel, Dying of the Light (1977), reflects the same desolation and desperation that defines the ASOIAF series, having been described as “senselessly tragic.”
- He has also dipped his toes in vampire fiction, releasing Fevre Dream in 1983.
- In 1984, the commercial failure of his fourth novel The Armageddon Rag almost ended his career as a novelist. Heartbroken, he decided to become a television writer instead.
- George R.R. Martin served as a writer-producer on the short-lived CBS drama Beauty and the Beast starring Ron Pearlman and Linda Hamilton.
- He also wrote for The Twilight Zone.
- Martin began writing ASOIAF in 1991, and originally imagined it as a trilogy.
- The HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones, holds the record for most Emmy Awards won by a single TV series.
- George R.R. Martin is a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, but has criticized his partial namesake for his “Disneyland” depiction of the Middle Ages.
- Despite this, Martin has teased that the ending of ASOIAF will reflect the ending of Return of the King, telling readers to “expect something bittersweet.”
- He did have one complaint about Lord of the Rings: He wanted Gandalf to die. “I never liked Gandalf the White as much as Gandalf the Grey, and I never liked him coming back,” Martin admitted. “I think it would have been an even stronger story if Tolkien had left him dead.”
- Further worrying devoted ASOIAF fans, Martin has previously said he has an “instinctual distrust of conventional happy endings.”
- Martin’s favorite ASOIAF character is (obviously) Tyrion Lannister. Remember this fact, because as he explained in an impassioned blog post, he doesn’t want to be asked about it ever again.
- His top three favorite sci-fi films are Forbidden Planet (1956), Aliens (1986) and Blade Runner (1982). Read his full top 10 list here.
- Martin still writes on a WordStar 4.0 computer, which runs on a DOS operating system. Fellow authors who use the same system include Anne Rice, Robert J. Sawyer, and William F. Buckley Jr.
- He’s also fond of Livejournal, the home of his Not A Blog blog.
- In conversation with Stephen King earlier this year, George R.R. Martin famously asked him, “How the f*** do you write so fast?”
- Martin himself is not a fast writer, by his own estimation, and often wistfully references authors with more regimented writing habits than himself.
- On the other hand, he drew the entire map of Westeros in “about 30 minutes.”
- This perhaps isn’t surprising when you realize that Westeros is just a super-sized Britain with an upside-down Ireland tacked on underneath.
- George R.R. Martin is obsessed with wolves, and is a supporter of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary charity in New Mexico. In order to get fans to donate to the organization, he even offered those who donate more than $20,000 the chance to be named — and killed off — in The Winds of Winter.
- Despite earning upwards of $15 million a year, Martin lives a relatively frugal lifestyle.
- For an example of this, you only need to look at his car: Martin still drives an old Mazda.
- He does have a pretty impressive library tower though.
- The ASOIAF character Sir Patrek of King’s Mountain was invented because Martin lost a bet. (The character was later killed by giants, in retaliation.)
- Although Martin was confirmed at age 13, he considers himself a “lapsed Catholic.” He finds religion and spirituality “fascinating,” but he says most would consider him to be an atheist of agnostic.
- He had a cameo (and died violently) in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! in 2015.
- He also cameoed in Z Nation as a zombie version of himself.
- One of his favorite TV series was HBO’s Rome, which ran from 2005-2007: “I wish HBO had given it three more seasons ’cause I would have loved to continue watching it.”
- When former Beatles band manager George Martin died in March, ASOIAF fans went into a panic. George R.R. Martin had to issue a statement to clarify that he was not, in fact, deceased.
- You almost definitely know this one, but for good measure: The A Song of Ice and Fire series is largely based on famed British history event the War of the Roses. In Martin’s own words: “I’ve drawn from French history, and Scottish history, and other things, but at the center of it all is the Wars of the Roses. I have the Lannisters and the Starks, and in real life it was the Lancasters and the Yorks.”
- The Wall in the series is based on Hadrian’s Wall in Scotland, which the Romans erected to keep the Scots out of the Roman Empire.
- When he was young, George R.R. Martin dated fellow sci-fi author Lisa Tuttle, and the pair co-wrote The Storms of Windhaven before splitting up. (Tuttle has also dated other sci-fi writers, including Christopher Priest and Steven Utley).
- Martin first met his current wife Parris McBride in 1975, the same year he married his first wife Gale Burnick. George and Parris finally tied the knot in 2011.
- The song that played at Martin’s first wedding was Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” And troubled the waters were: The pair got divorced in 1979.
- The Red Wedding was inspired by real life — though luckily not his own. Like many other parts of ASOIAF, he took his cues from real history. The Red Wedding is a combination of two gruelling Scottish family feuds.
- He has described the Red Wedding as “the hardest scene I’ve ever had to write … it was like murdering two of your children.”
- According to Reddit, the most used word in the ASOIAF series is “Lord,” which occurs 6861 times. The most oft-written character name is Jon, which occurs 2904 times.
- The Game of Thrones showrunners know how the book series ends, but as the show is set to finish before Martin releases A Dream of Spring, the endgame will likely (and hopefully) diverge.
- Martin recently said he has “thousands of pages” of Westeros backstory, that he may one day develop into other spin-off stories.
- But first, ASOIAF. And, if Martin were to pass away before the conclusion of the series, he has left firm instructions that all his notes and manuscripts be destroyed, so no other author can finish the story in his place. (Yikes.)
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