George R. R. Martin Talks About “Romance” at Norwescon


Recently I attended Norwescon 38. It is a science fiction conference that features a spotlight artist, writer and editor each year. This year’s writing guest of honor was George R. R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones. Although there were many interesting panels and presentations, George R. R. Martin was definitely the highlight and many of the panels revolved around his worlds and writing. Considering he has made fewer appearances due to his busy schedule working on his book, this was a treat to get to see him in person. (He is the tiny person wearing black with white suspenders as a crowd mobs up close to take photos of him.) For tips related to attending a conference like Norwescon, see the last blog post.

One of the things that stood out about George R. R. Martin’s talk (besides waiting in a long line and being told that they were only going to allow the first two hundred people in and that limit ended right in front of you—but, ha ha, they were just kidding) the author related a story about a female “fan” who told him how mad she was that she was told his Game of Thrones series was romance—and he argues that it is also—but she felt cheated because it didn’t have a happy ending. Martin asserts that Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights and Gone with the Wind are all romance. He says he likes romance and his Game of Thrones series is/includes romance.

By Romance Writer of America standards, as well as many agents and editors I have pitched to and spoken with at conferences, they would disagree. A book isn’t romance if it doesn’t have a happily-ever-after or at least a happily-for-now ending. If it ends in any other way, it is considered a tragedy. It might even be a love story—but with a tragic ending. They are different genres.

At Norwescon George R. R. Martin talked a lot about history and his love of grit, showing realism of war and history (though he says he tones down the violence). Other highlights from the Q & A include how he spoke about was all the other projects he is working on like screenplays and television pilots.  Yep, all the other projects instead of finishing the last book in his Game of Thrones series. I’m sure that made some people happy.