Game of Thrones fans got a fresh look behind the scenes of the lauded show this week in James Hibberd's new book Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon: Game of Thrones and the Official Untold Story of the Epic Series. Hibberd compiled wide-ranging interviews with writers, producers, directors and actors on the show for his book. He also spoke with author George R.R. Martin, who recalled the moment when he realized that Game of Thrones was completely different from his novels, A Song of Ice and Fire.
Martin said that it was during the reshooting of the Game of Thrones pilot episode when he realized he would not get much creative input on the series. He recalled being on set when "there was some crisis that occurred. The director called [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] over, and they were having some discussion about ten feet away about how to handle it. And that was when I realized my baby wasn't entirely my baby anymore, because I wasn't part of that discussion."
"The director was talking to Dan and Dave," Martin went on. "Nobody was saying, 'George, come over and tell us your opinion."
Martin had a career as a TV screenwriter himself long before writing A Song of Ice and Fire, and he knew how the business worked. He said that he did not take it personally, but he recalled the sad pang of realization that this project was out of his hands.
"I didn't throw a tantrum or anything," he said. "I just came to the realization: I gave my baby up for adoption and now there is a parent-teacher conference and I'm not invited."
The quote comes from a conversation that Hibberd and Martin had in a quiet restaurant, though it is not clear whether it was before or after Game of Thrones Season 8 had aired. Either way, fans pounced on this quote online, condemning Benioff and Weiss for leaving Martin out of the conversation. Martin himself has said on many occasions that he does not begrudge them their distance, as he knows that running a TV show is difficult. He also acknowledged that he was busy during that time trying to finish his book series before the show could catch up to it.
Just about everyone who talked to Hibberd addressed the pivotal moment when it became clear that Martin's next book would not be done in time for the show to adapt it. Even HBO executives remarked on their "angst" and anxiety around the problem. Martin, as always, was candid and vulnerable in admitting that the success of the show contributed to a creative block on his part.
Today, however, Martin is isolated in a private cabin where he reports that he is making steady progress on the next book in his series, The Winds of Winter. Martin even told Hibberd a bit about how his books will differ from the ending of the series. Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon is available now in print, eBook and audiobook formats.