In the summer of 2016, two genre titans came together for an epic, eccentric meeting of the minds. A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin and Stephen King interviewed each other at the Kiva Auditorium in Albuquerque, New Mexico in front of a vocally supportive audience. Nearly two years later, the video is still a fascinating look at how two of the most influential writers of our time got their start, and how their writing relates to other important areas of their life.
The nearly hour-long conversation opens with King and Martin—who met as young men during card games at sci-fi and fantasy conventions—discussing King's son Joe Hill. Hill is a terrific sci-fi and horror writer in his own right, and had recently published the apocalyptic novel The Fireman at the time the interview occurred. King shares several embarrassing but endearing anecdotes from Joe's childhood, and talks about the writing tradition inherent in his family.
Both King and Martin also reveal what their parents thoughts of their writing ambitions. King has vivid memories of reading books like Jekyll & Hyde with his mother; his father was an aspiring writer who abandoned the family when King was still very young. Martin's father was a longshoreman who encouraged his son to do whatever he could to not wind up working on the docks. From relatively early on, the Song of Ice and Fire author had a rich internal life and was drawn to creating fantasy worlds as a means of escaping his reality.
The pair also discuss King's Bill Hodges mystery series, as well as a controversial moment in Game of Thrones. In Season 1 of the influential show [spoiler alert] Sansa is made to look at the severed head of her father Ned Stark. Martin says that to save money, the show purchased a used box of props for the scene. "Everything was fine," Martin says, "except one of the severed heads was George W. Bush."
At 50:08, you’ll also hear King’s response to a question that so many people have for the author: "How the fuck do you write so many books, so fast?"
After expressing how big a fan he is of King's books, Martin tells King he wishes he wrote as quickly as him. Given the prolonged wait for the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, many fans would agree—but Martin's works are always worth the wait. And King, who faced intense pressure from fans during the long wait between books in his fantasy The Dark Tower saga, empathizes with the tremendous pressure that comes with writing a commercially successful ongoing series.