A curious one as my first blog post but storytellers are storytellers and none more so immense than these two.
Tuesday saw me sat in the Freemason’s Hall in London awaiting #GeorgeandRobin in conversation (HC’s #). After missing LonCon3 over the weekend and so many others in the run up this summer, I was ready to swap hats and don my fictional cloak of fantasy novels and listen in on George RR Martin and Robin Hobb talking about their lives as writers and as readers, their struggles early on and their successes. And frankly their ability to willfully axe characters right when the reader doesn’t expect it.
Freemasons Hall I discovered is an awe inspiring, vast venue; decked out in marble, ornate seating and gold leaf paintings along the ceiling and an apt setting for this meeting of giants, I salute whoever’s idea that was. I took a friend along and we were both in agreement on one thing their gilded chairs – thrones really – could very well have been brought in for the occasion but frankly, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were already there as features of the room. Not only were the Cosplayers costumes a facination whilst we waited the room was to.
I discovered Robin Hobb as a teenager well over a decade ago, on one of those off chances I’d been left alone in the bookshop with my own money (still not a good idea – I am guaranteed to walk out with a bag full and a lighter bank account!). I fell in love with Fitz and the Farseer trilogy from the first page. It was right at the time when The Tawny Man books were being published so not only did I have 7 books to catch up on, I had to wait for the next two! Her character’s humanity, their emotion and their struggles just draw you in and keep you there, I have always had to force myself to put the books down just to sleep, no matter how many times I read them. Only one of her pen names (she writes as Megan Lindholm) she talked about how each pen name has its own voice an couldn’t write the characters under any other.
I can’t actually remember picking up A Game of Thrones, it was during university, but whether it was another of my internet trawls or yet another trip to Waterstones, who knows. My escape from classic literature and media theories was yet more reading! I loved Martin’s quip about a well adjusted family – who in GoT could even be well adjusted!
‘I could have written a story about a well-adjusted family… Ned Stark comes down and solves all the problems, the Seven Kingdoms have a great period of prosperity and occasionally there’s a currency crisis or something.’
‘Conflict and danger and all these things are good strong spices that we want… They’re part of what makes life, life.’
I’ve my own theories about those who will survive to the end of A Song of Ice and Fire and who’ll be sat on the Iron Throne but don’t we all…
Both writers spoke of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and how it had influence and affected them, George on the fact that it had never meant to be a trilogy but the publishers had split them and Robin on just how it had been a revelation to her reading as she had grown up. They agreed on just how Tolkien is very much the “Elephant in the room” when it comes to fantasy.
I could have sat there for much longer just really listening to their lives and snagging writing tips. An evening I won’t be forgetting any time soon and its just the excuse to curl up and re-read all the books again!