Thursday, 5 April 2012

I treat all my characters badly!

I have this funny feeling I'm about to invoke some mega-nerd rage from those among my readership who weren't at St Michael's Church in Bath last night. There's a particular Battlestar Galactica and Harley Quinn fan stuck in the deep recesses of Wales that I believe was rather angry with me when I visited Caerdydd this one time and showed her the tickets to this event. You see, last night, at the aforementioned church, legendary sci-fi and fantasy author George R.R. Martin (that's right, Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones) was doing a talk and then book signing.

Oh and he read an extract from his sixth book, The Winds of Winter.

*Ice and Fire fans everywhere explode with rage and grab various items of Valyrian steel*

Naturally, in honour of this momentously awesome occasion, my usual Joss Whedon quotation title tradition has been set aside for the words of George R.R. Martin himself. The title was his response to the question "Why do you treat Tyrion so badly?" Despite having only read A Game of Thrones so far (my signed hardcover copy of A Clash of Kings now awaits me on my bookshelf), I think that's a fair assessment.

I also think it's a fair assessment to say that last night was frakking awesome!

Thanks here go to Topping & Company Booksellers, an independent bookshop in Bath (with another shop in Ely, Cambridgeshire) and the ever wonderful SFX magazine, who through means I've not questioned managed to secure George R.R. Martin's visit to Bath. Kudos, ladies and menfolk. Kudos. Also, much thanks to SFX for laying out copies of issues 219 and 220. I'd already bought 220 for the Jane Espenson interview, so nabbed a copy of 219. Discovered when I arrived home that it had an exclusive Joss Whedon interview. I don't suppose, if anyone from SFX reads this, we could get a Joss Whedon event? Or maybe William Gibson? Pretty please?


So, last night.

It was awesome.

Did I mention that before? Yes? Oh well. It's worth mentioning again.

I'm not sure how much to say about the evening, given that I imagine SFX have some manner of exclusive scoop lined up in their next issue (which I'll totally buy so I can say "I should know. I was there.") So I'll just babble. It's what I do in all my other blog posts and it seems to work out well for me.

I'm always a little bit taken aback at how genuinely funny authors are and I don't know why. I'm going to digress a second - about a year ago I read Douglas Adams' Salmon of Doubt and it made me wish I could have seen him giving a talk before he had passed away (sadly, I had no idea about his awesome writing until long after he passed), as the things he wrote that we collected into Salmon of Doubt were absolutely, genuinely hilarious.

George R.R. Martin was definitely not one to disappoint in the "genuinely hilarious" category. His thoughts on what would have happened should Conan have wandered through the Shire were particularly amusing, as was his insight on the difference between plagiarism and research, now immortalised in the back of my notebook (where all awesome lines that I must use one day go). And, somewhat predictably I imagine, as a writer I found myself listening very attentively to the things he was saying about his characters and what he does with them (this being in the elaborated response to "Why do you treat Tyrion so badly?") and thinking "I might need to take some of these lessons on board."

I also found myself entertaining delusions of one day doing a talk that big when I'm a rich and famous sci-fi author. Not sure I should really be admitting to that...

Now I'd like to digress and take the opportunity to talk a little bit about my thoughts on the Song of Ice and Fire series...well, I say my thoughts on the series. My thoughts on A Game of Thrones.

I came to Song of Ice and Fire sort of through the TV series Game of Thrones. I will say now, I haven't watched it, but my housemates have, they raved about it and when one of my best friends thought she couldn't make the talk yesterday because of a Korn concert (conveniently the day before, it turned out), I offered to go in her stead and get her book signed. From what everyone had been saying, I was kind of intrigued by the sound of Game of Thrones (TV series) and since we'd bought one of our housemates the paperback boxset of the books, it was only natural that after buying tickets for the event that I borrowed A Game of Thrones.

This was, conveniently, around the same time my laptop died.

With nothing to while away the hours I wasn't working but the pleasure of reading, I powered through A Game of Thrones in about a week. I loved it. I geeked out with a regular customer (now good friend) at work about my progress through the book. I found myself rooting for individual characters, not their houses. Definitely despise the Lannisters, with the obvious exception of Tyrion. He's an intriguing, brilliant and devious character, but above all it's his perceptiveness that I enjoy most of all. He has an incredible eye for the frailties and strengths of those around him. His rapport with Jon Snow, another favourite character, is definitely one of the more interesting character dynamics. But above all, I found myself really rooting for Daenerys. It might be that I like dragons. It might be that the word Targaryen rolls off the tongue so nicely that I think she should take the Iron Throne back. Maybe it's the fact that, in the beginning, you're keenly aware she's a thirteen year-old girl who matures into this incredibly strong and wise woman - I could easily believe she aged ten years through the course of the book, even though I'm pretty sure she's fourteen by the end of things.

There's so much more to say, but I fear saying it will risk spoilers, so my digression ends there. In fact, I think this a good place to wrap things up, so it's time for a Jerry Springer-style final thought.

Seeing George R.R. Martin speak last night and briefly meeting him as he signed my book...AWESOME!

*Alien Dave now goes into hiding to avoid geek-rage backlash...*

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