"Things are pretty grim in the Seven Kingdoms… but maybe not as grim as they may become here," the author wrote on his website

By Sam Gillette
March 19, 2020 04:16 PM

The coronavirus pandemic is making life feel like a science-fiction novel, but there is one positive development. George R. R. Martin, the author behind the culture-changing show Game of Thrones, has so much solo time that he’s once again focused on writing — hopefully, the long-awaited The Winds of Winter.

“Truth be told, I am spending more time in Westeros than in the real world, writing every day,” Martin, 71, wrote on his website on Tuesday about the sixth book in his seven-part series, A Song of Ice and Fire, on which the show is based. “Things are pretty grim in the Seven Kingdoms… but maybe not as grim as they may become here.”

The world became obsessed with Martin’s fantasy saga when HBO aired its TV adaptation from 2011 to 2019. The latest finished book in the series, A Dance With Dragons, was published in 2011, and since then, fans have waited impatiently for Martin to finish The Winds of Winter. The author has caused anticipation surrounding the book to spiral for years by promising to meet and then missing publication deadlines. His original intention was to finish the book and its follow-up, A Dream of Spring, before the show’s finale. But that didn’t come to pass.

Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty

In January 2016, with Game of Thrones season 6 approaching, Martin announced on his blog that he wouldn’t meet his deadline to finish The Winds of Winter. Though he had written “hundreds of pages,” he was far from done. No one was more disappointed than he was, the author wrote.

“Look, I have always had problems with deadlines,” Martin explained. “For whatever reason, I don’t respond well to them.”

Now, the author is in a different space entirely.

“Strange days are upon us,” Martin wrote on Tuesday. “As ancient as I am, I cannot recall ever having lived through anything like the past few weeks.”

He’s decided to close his cinema, the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and his non-profit, the Stagecoach Foundation. Martin’s bookstore, Beastly Books, is being kept “open for the time being” and they will maintain their mail order service, according to his website. Martin also gave an update for fans fearful about his wellbeing.

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Emilia Clarke as Daenerys in Game of Thrones
Courtesy of HBO

“For those of you who may be concerned for me personally… yes, I am aware that I am very much in the most vulnerable population, given my age and physical condition,” he wrote. “But I feel fine at the moment, and we are taking all sensible precautions. I am off by myself in a remote isolated location, attended by one of my staff, and I’m not going in to town or seeing anyone.

“Some days, watching the news, I cannot help feeling as if we are all now living in a science fiction novel,” Martin continued. “But not, alas, the sort of science fiction novel that I dreamed of living in when I was a kid, the one with the cities on the Moon, colonies on Mars, household robots programmed with the Three Laws, and flying cars. I never liked the pandemic stories half so well…”

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