George R. R. Martin is an American novelist and short-story writer in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres, a screenwriter, and television producer. He is best known for his international bestselling series of epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was later adapted into the HBO dramatic series Game of Thrones.
Let’s see some interesting facts about him!
1. George Raymond Richard Martin was bornSeptember 20, 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey.
2. He is the son of longshoreman Raymond Collins Martin and his wife Margaret Brady Martin. He has two younger sisters, Darleen and Janet. His father was of half Italian descent, while his mother was of half Irish ancestry.
3. He also has French, English, Welsh and German roots.
4. The family first lived in a house on Broadway, belonging to Martin’s great-grandmother.
5. In 1953, they moved to a federal housing project near the Bayonne docks. During Martin’s childhood, his world consisted predominantly of “First Street to Fifth Street”, between his grade school and his home, this limited world made him want to travel and experience other places, but the only way of doing so was through his imagination, so he became a voracious reader.
6. When Martin’s family moved to a larger apartment after his sister was born, he also had a view of the waters of the Kill van Kull, where freighters and oil tankers flying flags from distant countries were entering and leaving Port Newark.
7. Martin had an encyclopedia with a list of flags, and when using it to figure out where the ships came from, he would find himself dreaming of traveling to these remote locations.
8. After the sun went down, the lights from Staten Island would shine across the water, which in his imagination was Shangri-La and “Shanghai and Paris, Timbuctoo and Kalamazoo, Marsport and Trantor, and all the other places that I’d never been and could never hope to go.”
9. The young Martin began writing and selling monster stories for pennies to other neighborhood children, dramatic readings included. He also wrote stories about a mythical kingdom populated by his pet turtles; the turtles died frequently in their toy castle, so he finally decided they were killing each other off in “sinister plots”.
10. Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and then later Marist High School. While there he became an avid comic-book fan, developing a strong interest in the innovative superheroes being published by Marvel Comics.
11. A letter Martin wrote to the editor of Fantastic Four was printed in issue No. 20 (Nov 1963), it was the first of many sent, e.g., FF #32, #34, and others, from his family’s home at 35 E. First Street, Bayonne, NJ. Fans who read his letters then wrote him letters in turn, and through such contacts, Martin joined the fledgling comics fandom of the era, writing fiction for various fanzines, he was the first to register for an early comic book convention held in New York in 1964.
12. In 1965, Martin won comic fandom’s Alley Award for Best fan fiction for his prose superhero story “Powerman vs. The Blue Barrier”, the first of many awards he would go on to win for his fiction.
13. In 1970, Martin earned a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude; he went on to complete his M.S. in Journalism in 1971, also from Northwestern.
14. Eligible for the draft during the Vietnam War, to which he objected, Martin applied for and obtained conscientious objector status, he instead did alternative service work for two years (1972–1974) as a VISTA volunteer, attached to the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation.
15. An expert chess player, he also directed chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association from 1973 to 1976.
16. In the mid-1970s, Martin met English professor George Guthridge from Dubuque, Iowa, at a science fiction convention in Milwaukee. Martin persuaded Guthridge (who confesses that at that time he despised science fiction and fantasy) not only to give speculative fiction a second look, but to write in the field himself.
17. Guthridge has since been a finalist for the Hugo Award and twice for the Nebula Award for science fiction and fantasy. In 1998, he won a Bram Stoker Award for best horror novel.
18. In turn, Guthridge helped Martin find a job at Clarke University (then Clarke College). Martin “wasn’t making enough money to stay alive”, from writing and the chess tournaments, says Guthridge.
19. From 1976 to 1978, Martin was an English and journalism instructor at Clarke, and he became Writer In Residence at the college from 1978 to 1979.
20. While he enjoyed teaching, the sudden death of friend and fellow author Tom Reamy in late 1977 made Martin reevaluate his own life, and he eventually decided to try to become a full-time writer.
21. He resigned from his job, and being tired of the hard winters in Dubuque, he moved to Santa Fe in 1979.
22. Martin began selling science fiction short stories professionally in 1970, at age 21. His first sale was “The Hero”, sold to Galaxy magazine and published in its February 1971 issue, other sales soon followed.
23. His first story to be nominated for the Hugo Award and Nebula Awards was “With Morning Comes Mistfall”, published in 1973 in Analog magazine.
24. In 1975 his story “…for a single yesterday” about a post-apocalyptic timetripper was selected for inclusion in Epoch, a science fiction anthology edited by Roger Elwood and Robert Silverberg.
25. Martin is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), Martin became the organization’s Southwest Regional Director from 1977 to 1979, he served as its vice-president from 1996 to 1998.
26. George R. R. Martin has always had deep philosophical problems with war. He avoided the Vietnam War draft as a conscientious objector. Instead, he served in a 2-year alternative service with the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation from 1973 to 1976. He opposes the idea of glorifying war and deliberately depicts the harsh realities of warfare in his novels.
27. Long before Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin was an award winning sci-fi and horror novelist. The unexpected and commercial failure of his fourth book, The Armageddon Rag (1983), “…essentially destroyed my career as a novelist at the time,” Martin recalled. The Armageddon Rag is a mystery-fantasy novel that was co-published in 1983 by both Poseidon Press and The Nemo Press and reprinted numerous times.
28. Even though the book was nominated for the Locus and World Fantasy awards, it was a complete commercial disaster. It was one of those projects that were near and dear to Martin’s heart. He was so distraught at the commercial failure of one of his favorite novels, that he wrote less and ultimately went into writing for television. Even worse, he did so to stay afloat artistically and financially.
29. As any fan of Game of Thrones knows, the stories have a historical resonance to them. He’s said that his story is a reimagining of England’s War of the Roses infused with other elements of medieval history.
30. It’s shaped as a historical magnum opus that has been wrapped in fantasy. It’s no coincidence that Martin is a history buff. He minored in history and has amassed a collection of books of his own.
31. In 2009, he bought a home across the street from his own in Santa Fe and had a library tower built on the site. It also serves as his office space. The city wouldn’t allow him to build it any higher than two stories, but it’s still an impressive site. The main characteristic of the structure is a set of stained-glass windows with sigils of five houses from the Seven Kingdoms.
32. In Santa Fe, where George R. R. Martin resides, he purchased a struggling little cinema called The Jean Cocteau Cinema. It was established in 1976 as the Collective Fantasy Cinema.
33.In 1983, it was purchased by Brent Kliewer who had it renamed Jean Cocteau in honor of the French filmmaker and artist. The theater changed hands and went through some renovations till Martin purchased it in 2010.
34. After some more renovations and upgrades, the Martin’s Jean Cocteau Cinema reopened in 2013 where it serves as not just a place for independent films, also as a local venue that supports independent artists and writers.
35. It has special screenings of classic films and holds book signing events. It hosts live music and book readings.
36. It also has a full-licensed bar. A small lounge area where a nearby bookshelf holds many of Martin’s books but mostly up and coming authors which he supports. In said lounge, the walls feature various works by grassroots artists and photographers. The cinema shows its films in 35mm and in digital.
37. A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t the most-extended fantasy series ever or anything (Wheel of Time represent), but it’s certainly notable – Martin had originally planned the story to take place over three books, but in the midst of the third book realized he needed more room to do justice to this story. Four, four books should do it. Then – wait, no, it’s gonna be six. Yes, six is the magic number.
38. Two trilogies that tell one overarching story of power and greed. Then came A Dance with Dragons.
39. A Dance With Dragons nearly broke Martin completely – it was a huge and unwieldy book, far too long and sprawling to be published in the state it was originally intended to be, so Martin (on the advice of a friend) split the book in two (by character and geography) and A Feast For Crows was born. Also, that brought the total planned to seven.
40. Beyond that, there’s rumors that the series could end up being EIGHT books long, since the final two books are looking increasingly like they’re too large.
41. After Martin had made his way off of Beauty & The Beast (non-Disney version starring Sarah Connor), he floated around Hollywood – figuratively – pitching scripts and writing specs, but was continually frustrated at the limits of TV budgets forcing him to scale back the action and characters in his scripts.
42. He started working on a potential sci-fi series entitled Avalon in 1991 – and while writing it, he claims to have had an idea simply pop into his head: a young boy watching a man get beheaded, and then finding some wolves in the snow.
43. The boy, of course, soon became Bran, and the story became the first (non-prologue) chapter of Game of Thrones.
44. Martin wrote up this initial chapter (in the broad strokes, at least) and it dawned on him that this was part of a larger universe and story.
45. He began doing research and visualizing the world of Westeros, but couldn’t get very far – ABC had him produce a show he’d pitched called Doorways, about a doctor and a woman from a parallel universe having to travel to other parallel universes to escape her pursuers. Although Martin spent a few years working on it, ABC ultimately never aired any episodes.
46. Once that fell apart, Martin re-committed to Game of Thrones, and submitted the first packet of pages to his agent in 1994.