‘I’ve been struggling with it for a few years,’ Martin said in an interview with The Guardian that published Friday. ‘The Winds of Winter is not so much a novel as a dozen novels, each with a different protagonist, each having a different cast of supporting players and antagonists and allies and lovers around them, and all of these weaving together in an extremely complex fashion. So it’s very, very challenging.’
The first volume of Fire & Blood, the 989-page Targaryen family history he’s about to publish, wasn’t as complex, Martin said.
‘Fire and Blood by contrast was very simple,’ he said. ‘Not that it’s easy, it still took me years to put together, but it is easier.’
Martin also says he uses charts to keep track of his complicated characters and plots, and occasionally verifies facts with two superfans, Elio M. Garcia Jr. and Linda Antonssen, who wrote the Martin-approved ‘The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones,’ and run Westeros.org.
Martin also said the first chapter of the first book, A Game of Thrones, in which the Stark family finds orphaned direwolves, came to him ‘out of nowhere’ in 1991 and he thought it might make a good short story. Nearly 30 years and a blockbuster hit franchise later, the ‘short story’ is still going on.