Throwback Thursdays: Working with George R.R. Martin

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

George R.R. Martin, in addition to being the author of the Song of Ice and Fire series, is the editor of the Wild Cards novels, and of the children’s book The Ice Dragon. In October of 2007, consulting editor Wanda June Alexander wrote a piece for us about the process of creating The Ice Dragon. Enjoy this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!

By Wanda June Alexander, Consulting Editor

George R.R. Martin has become a literary celebrity — the American Tolkien, according to Time magazine — and he just keeps getting better. His long and illustrious writing career includes short stories, novels, and teleplays as well as countless awards from fans and his peers. Recently George was inspired to try writing for the children’s market and created a marvelous tale, The Ice Dragon, released as a fully illustrated children’s book.

Originally published in 1980 in Dragons of Light, The Ice Dragon is a delightful and engaging tale. It is a story about, well you guessed it, a dragon — a very special dragon. Commonly dragons are hot and fueled by flaming arrogance, but George’s dragon is composed entirely of ice, the very essence of winter. Yvonne Gilbert’s incredible artwork vividly brings this gelid dragon to life.

I had the privilege of working with George on this project, and it was a very exciting time for me. George was busy working on A Feast for Crows, the fourth installment of the Song of Ice and Fire series, and though he was eager to see The Ice Dragon reach its new audience, it was a struggle to find the time to give this project the attention it deserved. That’s where I came in. I live close enough to George to bug him when necessary, and far enough away to not do it too often. Most of our editorial work was done over the phone — a roundabout from New York City to Grants, New Mexico, to Santa Fe and back again. Occasionally I would drive to Santa Fe, pages in hand, to beg audience with the Master. George always found a few minutes to focus on The Ice Dragon, guiding it to completion.

Transforming a short story into a children’s book took hard work from the writer, the entire editorial team, and the fabulous artist. George’s unfailing sense of what works kept us all on track. It was my privilege to act as liaison between Tor and George; it was exciting to create the working manuscript that started the process even though I worried about whether my suggested changes were for the best. Thankfully, George thought they were. Along the way, there were moments of doubt, exhilaration, and frustration. But the end result, a beautifully illustrated book suitable for children of all ages, was well worth the effort. Working with George, Kathleen Doherty, Susan Chang, and all the good folks at Tor was definitely the highlight of my year.

This article is originally from the October 2007 Tor/Forge newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox twice a month!