Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin struggled to write the final books in the series due to stress caused by the TV show’s success.
The 70-year-old novelist published A Game of Thrones, the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, in 1996, and released the fifth instalment, A Dance with Dragons, shortly after the fantasy show debuted on HBO in 2011.
Since then, George has failed to complete The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring – the two full books he has promised will conclude his stories – and blames his struggles on the stress caused by the TV series’ popularity.
“There were a couple of years where, if I could have finished the book, I could have stayed ahead of the show for another couple of years, and the stress was enormous,” he tells British newspaper The Observer. “I don’t think it was very good for me, because the very thing that should have speeded me up actually slowed me down.
“Every day I sat down to write and even if I had a good day – and a good day for me is three or four pages – I’d feel terrible because I’d be thinking: ‘My God, I have to finish the book. I’ve only written four pages when I should have written 40.'”
The programme came to an end in May after eight seasons, and George now feels more at ease – as he doesn’t feel under any pressure to rush his writing.
“But having the show finish is freeing, because I’m at my own pace now,” he explains. “I have good days and I have bad days and the stress is far less, although it’s still there….I’m sure that when I finish A Dream of Spring you’ll have to tether me to the Earth.”
The ending to the Game of Thrones TV show was controversial, as disappointed fans raged over how several characters’ storylines were concluded. However, George says the fallout won’t affect his approach to penning the final novels.
“It doesn’t change anything at all,” he adds. “As Rick Nelson says in Garden Party, one of my favourite songs, you can’t please everybody, so you’ve got to please yourself.”