Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Day I Saw George and Robin

For once I have a good excuse to be late with my blog post; I've got a lot of deadlines for stories and one of them is the 31st August. Cue much furious typing and trying to get the thing finished to submit. For only a 3000 word story it's been hard to make the time to write. I of course blame the day job (and not my own inclination to watch TV episode marathons) but things are looking good. I'm on track to have it finished, rewritten and edited before the due date.

The other thing that ate into my time, but was welcome to, was an event I went to last Tuesday evening; HarperVoyager UK presenting George R.R. Martin and Robin Hobb in conversation. As these are two of my favourite authors, and the event was happening about ten minutes walk from where I work, I couldn't say no. Tickets weren't cheap, at £45 each, but then again how often are you likely to see not one but two of your beloved authors in the same place, talking about their own work and asking each other questions? I can safely say it was worth the price of admission.

I decided to get there a bit early, as I had a feeling this was going to be a popular event. Turns out I was right; it was totally sold out. I got my wrist band and stood in line for over an hour but old HarperVoyager had arranged some entertainment for the crowd; cos-players wandering about as characters from A Song of Ice and Fire.

My favourite was "Cersei". She completely got into the role, pulling a straight, disdainful face whenever anyone took her photo and then smiling and laughing as soon as the pictures were done.

Caught Cersei laughing here. Next to her is I think Arya (doesn't look much like her but the clothes would indicate that's who she's meant to be), Sansa, Daenerys and a very emo John Snow.

Ooh, spoilers for those who haven't read the books! As someone who has, I cannot describe how happy I was seeing Lady Stoneheart. The woman playing her was great too - she made hideous wheezing noises whenever she walked past.

After waiting in line forever (it was cool, I had a book. Not a Martin or Hobb book mind - I was reading old-school weird fantasy by Tanith Lee) they let us into the venue: the Freemason's Hall. It is a stunning building that has existed in some form or other since the 1700s. I had the pleasure of being in once before (thank you Amazon, my benevolent benefactor) and it was just as stunning the second time around. Just imagine every single occult motif you can think of and picture it all slammed together in no particular order and you'll get an idea of how stupendous this place is.

Even the lighting is bizarre. I have no idea what the above is other than the most extravagant standing lamp I've ever seen. I want one for my flat.

Finally entering the hall itself and this is what greeted me. HarperVoyager had done a wonderful job of decking the place out, and I love the thrones (ha, I see what they did there). Sansa was greeting people as they came in and generally being Sansa-ish and elegant.

On the way in I made sure to nab my prize; Robin Hobb's latest book, continuing the Fitz and Fool story. I can't wait to read it and I'm also dreading it, as Fitz was in a really good place at the end of the last book. I really, really don't want him to be tortured anymore. And yes I am aware I'm talking about a fictional character as though they are real.

Seriously, have I mentioned how AMAZING the Freemason's Hall is? I wonder if they accept women yet… I'd be willing to learn the handshake if it means I can come into this building and take more pictures. Or even better do a painting of it...

The thrones await the important bums that are due to sit on them…

Finally we were off, with George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb and Jane Johnson in their places. Jane is the editor for both writers and is a published author herself, and she led the questions when needed, but largely let the two stars have a conversation. There are some great snippets on Buzzfeed with much better pictures than I could get from my vantage point and on my phone, and some transcripts of highlight moments on Tor's site that's well worth reading if you wish you'd been there or are interested in the writing/story making process.

My personal favourite quotes from the night:

"I never finished any of my early stories. They were all beginnings, an endless number of beginnings." - George R.R. Martin (This got a lot of laughs. There was a lot of pain behind those laughs for those of us waiting - endlessly it seems - for the next Game of Thrones book.)

"It's like chasing butterflies and trying not to crush them." - Robin Hobb (This was in a discussion about ideas and creating a story. This really resonated with me, as a lot of the learning to write process seems to involve crushing butterflies and then trying to put them back together again.)

“The way my books are structured, everyone was together, then they all went their separate ways and the story deltas out like that, and now it’s getting to the point where the story is beginning to delta back in, and the viewpoint characters are occasionally meeting up with each other now and being in the same point at the same time, which gives me a lot more flexibility for killing people.” – George R.R. Martin

And on what they would do differently or tell their younger self:

“Start writing sooner. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t hesitate.” – Robin Hobb

“I’d be anonymous. That’s what I’d do differently.” – George R.R. Martin

(Don't know what this is but it was sitting outside the
main hall and was so beautiful it demanded a picture)
It was a really interesting and inspiring event overall, and the thing I loved was how much it humanised these two powerhouses of the Fantasy genre. Both seem like genuinely nice, modest people, who are a bit bemused by the love and attention they get. Martin in particular is clearly really uncomfortable with fame, and considering Robin Hobb, is also Megan Lindholm, and keeps her own name quiet, it's clear neither want to be front and centre. Their love of stories was really obvious (including each others work) and it was lovely seeing the crafters of some of my favourite books in their human, everyday form.

There are clips from the night on Blinkbox's youtube channel and I highly recommend fans of the writers to check it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment