Monday, March 2, 2015

Three Things I Didn't Know About George R. R. Martin

George R. R. Martin, one of the great writers of our times. A man of many mysteries, including what is that second R for. I first became aware of him when Game of Thrones became a TV series on HBO. That didn't do him justice. Now, years later, I look back a him in wonder, because he was a master of his craft long before Game of Thrones was even a glimmer in a fan girl's eye. Here are three things I didn't know about George R. R. Martin that might be important to note. For those, like me, who came to the bandwagon late.

1. He has a career that spans four decades. 

If you’re like me and don’t really get out much, you probably heard about George R. R. Martin when Game of Thrones became a household name. I have somehow managed to only read one small short story set in Westeros, but I’ll see about changing that in the future. What I and probably a lot of people didn’t know was that it took George a number of decades to have his breakout hit. He started out in the 1970’s publishing science fiction. He even detoured into horror and television before Game of Thrones became a thing. All of this was news to me, but guess what you learn when you read. 

He’s been published in such magazines as Analog, Omni, and others over the course of his career. In 1996, 25 years after his first publication, A Game of Thrones came out. Which perhaps will come as a surprise to some since it’s very easy to forget that authors often have a past of some kind when they come into print. I, for one, found it good to know that George was already well published prior to Game of Thrones. It validates the theory that if you continue to work hard, you can still get somewhere. 

2. He was an award winning author before Game of Thrones

Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, World Fantasy Award, and Life Achievement are all awards George has won over the course of his career before Game of Thrones was ever even a thought. In fact, he’s won the Hugo and the Nebula multiple times. For those of you who have no idea what those awards are, click on the name and it will take you to a page regarding them. He won his first Hugo in 1974 with a novella, called “A Song for Lya.” He won his first Nebula and two Hugos in 1980 making him the first author to receive two Hugos for fiction in the same year. Quite a feat. The first Hugo and the Nebula in 1980 were for “Sandkings.” The second Hugo was for “The Way of Cross and Dragon.” He would go on to win another Nebula in 1985 for “Portraits of His Children.” During his time writing in the horror genre, he snagged the Bram Stoker award for his story, “The Pear-shaped Man.” In the same time frame, he received the World Fantasy Award for “The Skin Trade.” More recently, in 2012, George was given the Life Achievement Award by the World Fantasy Convention. 

 I am wondering how hard it would be the find some of George’s earlier works to see what his writing was like in those days. Might be an interesting little sidebar. 

3. Game of Thrones isn’t the first time his name has been on a television show. 

The end of the 80’s brought a lull in Martin’s career. His most ambitious horror novel didn’t pan out. The horror market all together was failing. So he took a detour into television working as story editor or producer on such things as the new Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast. Not quite what you would expect from a successful print author, but it was a place for him to spend a decade preparing for his comeback. And what a comeback it was. George R. R. Martin is such a big deal now that Saturday Night Live has a version of him on the show.

What have I learned from looking at the life of this master storyteller? Persistence pays off. Once again. Always a good lesson to learn. Always keep writing. Another good lesson for an aspiring novelist, you don't know what will sell and perhaps even make it big. Finally, consider a career in television if the novel writing doesn't pay off. Wait, maybe that's not a good idea, but he did it and that means it's possible. Always go with what's possible. 

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