George R.R. Martin's longtime editor Anne Groell recently answered some fan questions about her editing process, Martin's writing timeline, and the future of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The big takeaway? Groell thinks there might be more than seven books.
I begin to wonder — though 7 is what we currently have under contract. I remember when he called me, years and years back, to confess that his little trilogy was … well … no longer a trilogy. He predicted four books. I said Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Then he said five books. I said Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Then he went to six. I said … Well, you get it. Finally, we were on the same page. Seven Books for Seven Kingdoms. Good. Only, as I recently learned while editing THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE (another awesome thing you must buy when it comes out!), there are really technically eight kingdoms, all having to do with who has annexed what when Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros. So, maybe eight books for Seven Kingdoms would be okay. Also, he has promised me that, when he finally wraps this great beast us, I can publish the five page letter outlining the bare bones of the "trilogy."
Despite the ongoing battle of how many books will be in Martin's sprawling series, Goell says that otherwise she and Martin rarely butt heads. In fact they only had one minor beef when working on A Dance With Dragons. "I did try to get him to take a few 'words are wind' out of ADWD, but he got stubborn again," Groell says. "Characters said it 14 times in [the book]. I tried to get him to cut it down to 6-7. No dice."
As for when the sixth book, The Winds of Winter, will come out, Groell still doesn't know — but she says that Martin at least appears to be plugging away. "I currently have 168 pages that he submitted back in Feb 2013 in order to receive a contracted payment, but I know more exists, because he keeps talking about chapter he hasn't yet sent me." Oh, that George R.R. Martin. Always with the high jinx.