George R.R. Martin is notoriously slow. Though lauded for his expansive, enthralling book series A Song of Ice and Fire (which was adapted into the HBO series Game of Thrones), the author is often criticized for his pace, which has yielded two books in the series over the past eleven years. The fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, was released shortly after the first season's conclusion in 2011; if Martin continues at this pace, the next entry, The Winds of Winter, will be released after the seventh season of the HBO series -- at which time the plot of the adaptation will surpass that of the original material.
Martin himself has acknowledged the risk, but doesn't seem to be doing too much about it. The author is juggling a lot of other projects, he tells HBO.com, meaning that the danger of being passed by the series is very, very real. "It's a slow process, the way I write," he remarks, "especially books of this size that are as large and complex as they are."
"I am aware of the TV series moving along behind me like a giant locomotive, and I know I need to lay the track more quickly, perhaps, because the locomotive is soon going to be bearing down on me," he says. "The last thing I want is for the TV series to catch up with me. I've got a considerable headstart, but production is moving faster than I can write. I'm hoping that we'll finish the story at about the same time... we'll see."
Martin is touchy about criticism of his pace, but it certainly seems like it's in his best interests (and the best interests of fans) to put aside his side projects ("we're also coming out with a big concordance called "The World of Ice and Fire," which is about the whole history of Westeros and will be lavishly illustrated. So I've been filling in some of the histories of the kings who ruled 200 years ago or 500 years ago. We've also been doing a map book, and I'm working on a new novella about Dunk and Egg, the prequel series I have," he says) for the moment and focus on the main series.
If Martin falls behind and doesn't finish the final books in time, fans of the HBO series need worry not. He's already passed along notes to executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, giving them some idea of the future of the series in case the need arises for them to plot their own course.
Game of Thrones season 3 will premiere in spring 2013.