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Three Tales, Three Women, One Film

"There is a girl who goes between the worlds."

"You can buy anything you might desire from Gray Alys. But it is better not to."

"When he finally died, Shawn found to her shame that she could not even bury him."

Some of my younger fans and readers may not realize that my career did not begin with A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. Truth be told, I had been a professional writer for twenty years before I typed the first lines of the as-yet-untitled story that would grow to become A GAME OF THRONES. I had published four novels and half-a-dozen collections, won the Hugo and the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award, written science fiction, horror, and high fantasy.

Most of it in the form of short stories.

The lines above were the openings of three of those short stories:
-- "The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr,"
-- "In the Lost Lands,"
-- "Bitterblooms."

"Laren Dorr" is the oldest of the tales, and probably counts as my first foray into high fantasy. It is a deeply romantic tale, a reworking of a character that I had originally five years earlier, for a story in a comic fanzine that never appeared. I had the notion that I would write a whole series of tales about Sharra, the girl who goes between the worlds. Never got around to that, alas, but in 1992 I revived the concept for another dangerous young woman with the same power -- Cat, heroine of my failed ABC pilot DOORWAYS.

"In the Lost Lands" was supposed to launch a series as well. I had in mind a series of loosely connected tales about the enigmatic witch woman Gray Alys, and those who were brave or foolish or desperate enough to treat with her. But I never wrote that second story.

"Bitterblooms" was science fiction rather than fantasy, set on a distant planet in the far far future, and part of my Thousand Worlds sequence... albeit somewhat tangentially. There is a starship in the story, but it's a derelict, no longer capable of flight. The setting is a world locked in the grip of a deep winter, a winter that lasts for years.

"Laren Dorr" was published in 1976, "Bitterblooms" in 1977, "In the Lost Lands" in 1982. Old work, certainly, but I was always fond of those three stories, and of the three women who starred as the protagonists: Sharra, Gray Alys, and Shawn of Carinhall. None of the stories had anything to do with A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, of course, nor even with each other... but a careful reader can find hints and shadows and seeds of many of the ideas that would later bloom in Westeros in each of them. Still, even so, they remained obscure, known only to a few.

But maybe not for much longer. The German filmmaker CONSTANTIN WERNER, a director, producer, and screenwriter whose previous credits include PAGAN QUEEN, BETTIE PAGE: DARK ANGEL, and DEAD LEAVES (you can learn more about him from his IMDB page, here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1127897/ ) optioned the three stories a few years back, and has woven them together into a screenplay, under the title IN THE LOST LANDS.

And now the project appears to be moving toward production, with the exciting new that Myriad Pictures has signed MILLA JOVOVICH to play Gray Alys.


Milla is best known to science fiction fans for her starring turns in FIFTH ELEMENT, RESIDENT EVIL, and ULTRAVIOLET. Constantin tells me she's a big GAME OF THRONES fan too. It's a thrill to have her be a part of this, and I will look forward to seeing her bring Gray Alys to life. (Maybe I will be so inspired that I'll finally write those other Gray Alys stories... but no, not until I finish A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, calm down, friends).

For more details about IN THE LOST LANDS, check out the reports in the trades:




JUSTIN CHATWIN will also star in the film, a German-Canadian co-production scheduled to film in Germany. More casting to come, of course.

If any of you would like to read the three original stories, you can find them all in my massive collection GRRM: A RRETROSPECTIVE, also published as DREAMSONGS.



Dennis Staples
Feb. 4th, 2015 02:24 am (UTC)
I didn't believe the initial reports but now that it's here, I'm more optimistic! Laren Dorr is probably my favorite story of yours, so here's hoping the essence of that one makes it on screen.
Feb. 4th, 2015 02:24 am (UTC)
Looking forward to seeing Fevre Dream as a series/movie as well. It has a certain "True Blood" flavour in it, can't understand why it hasn't been picked up by any channel yet.
Feb. 4th, 2015 02:26 am (UTC)
Great! But when will they make a Haviland Tuf series?
Please make them do it! I´d love to see Conleth Hill playing Tuf.
Feb. 4th, 2015 02:27 am (UTC)
Great news!
Happy to have another thing of yours to look forward to... love Jovovich.
Feb. 4th, 2015 03:11 am (UTC)
I saw this on IMDB yesterday and posted a comment re Gray Alys and Milla Jovovich, because quite literally I re-read "In the Lost Lands" 2 days ago, on Sunday afternoon, in Fantasy for Good, and I *like* her being "ageless, shapeless." That is, not young and pretty. So I'm kind of grrrrr on this one, I have to say.

Though I'd be happy to read more stories about her {g}. And I also must refer to my copy of GRRM: A RRETROSPECTIVE to remind myself of "Bitterblooms" ("Laren Dor" I think I remember)....
Feb. 4th, 2015 04:02 am (UTC)
Mila is the best. Thank you, Comrade Martin :)
Feb. 4th, 2015 04:51 am (UTC)
Do you think it's at all realistic nowadays someone could support themselves as a professional writer in the same way you seemingly did when you started? Knowing your history makes it all sound so plausible, but 1970 is not 2015. The Internet, in particular, has completely changed the landscape.
Feb. 4th, 2015 05:47 am (UTC)
Times have changed, and so have career paths.

And it is worth noting that I sold my first story in 1971, but did not go full time until 1980. So I can't claim to have supported myself with my writing for the first decade of my career.

Even after I made the leap, there were bumpy times. My whole career crashed and burned in 1984-1985, after the failure of THE ARMAGEDDON RAG.
Feb. 4th, 2015 04:00 pm (UTC)
e.t.a. the commercial failure of THE ARMAGEDDON RAG.
Feb. 4th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the response. :)

I imagine it must be tricky for a successful writer to respond to someone who dreams of writing professionally, just as it is for a successful actor or musician. On the one hand, you don't want to give them any illusions about how hard it is to make a living in that field or how much competition they'll be facing to get published. On the other hand, if everyone were to be as practical as they can be and become accountants or engineering majors, where would the next generation of great writers come from?

Even though times have changed, I'm guessing the best approach is still roughly the same. Be realistic and acknowledge how unlikely it is you'll ever make much money writing while having enough passion for it that you do it anyway, holding a more stable job to pay the bills and writing whenever you have the opportunity.
Feb. 4th, 2015 05:02 am (UTC)
Did any of those stories make it into the Dreamsongs anthology? They sound familiar. I have the full, at least most recent, Dreamsongs on audio, and listen to them while doing leather projects.

Edited at 2015-02-04 05:02 am (UTC)
Feb. 4th, 2015 07:02 am (UTC)
They are all in DREAMSONGS.
Feb. 4th, 2015 05:36 am (UTC)
I'm floored (but not actually) by this news. Milla Jovavich has been a personal favorite of mine since Joan of Arc! I loved Fifth Element and she was great, but fell in love with her in Joan of Arc and THEN, she was in a little film a friend of mine was the production designer on called Dummy, with Adrian Brody and from THAT role she became familiar and then everything she's done, from her humanitarian support to her own fashion line to Resident Evil has been Magic in my eye's. I love that she'll be doing a project of yours George! Magic is brewing in a hot Cauldron.
Feb. 4th, 2015 06:01 am (UTC)
I loved the pilot for Doorways, and for years wished it had been taken up as a series. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing In The Lost Lands
Feb. 4th, 2015 06:48 am (UTC)
It was a crushing disappointment for me when DOORWAYS was not picked up for series... but in hindsight, it was probably for the best. At the level of technology that existed in 1993, it simply would not have been possible to do the quality of show I wanted to do on a network one-hour budget.

And if DOORWAYS had lasted any length of time, I might never have written GAME OF THRONES, so...
Feb. 4th, 2015 06:56 am (UTC)
You're right about the tech available back then not matching today's quality. As a fan of both tv & reading I'm glad that Game of Thrones is around and that the show is such high quality.
Peter Poole
Feb. 7th, 2015 11:02 pm (UTC)
... is probably one of my all time favourite TV items, and the UK VHS copy is one of the dozen or so things that keep my player from ever going to the scrapyard in the sky...

If memory serves, didn't people have something like half a dozen scripts/outlines ready for if it did go to series? I'm guessing that time and legal logistics make it unlikely, but if someone ever collated that together into a chapbook or whatever, I'd probably offer up at least one significant body organ to snag a copy...?

Feb. 7th, 2015 11:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Doorways...
Yes, we had six backup scripts ready to film... one by me, the other five written by Michael Cassutt, Steve deJarnett, Edward Zuckerman, J.D. Feigelson, and James Crocker.
Feb. 4th, 2015 06:58 am (UTC)
Totally looking forward to this; probably 3 of the best semi-connected stories to forge a connection between.

But I would also love to see a Haviland Tuf movie (and how many fundamentalists would you piss off?), and a few others that don't exactly lend themselves to the long form ("A Song for Lya", "With Morning Comes Misfall".)
Feb. 4th, 2015 07:03 am (UTC)
Hurray! Finally, a movie to see. I was recently complaining (after watching Seventh Son) that for some unknown reason producers don't use HUGE amount of existing good-old-fashioned American sci-fi and fantasy as a base for screenplays, creating instead some second-hand stories repeating (badly) blockbusters of times of my childhood.
Etay Livne
Feb. 4th, 2015 07:24 am (UTC)
Great news! I like all these stories and I happened to reread In The Lost Lands last week, so these news came to me at a good time. To be honest, I've been waiting for someone to notice your older works and realize it too is ripe for screen adaptations.

However, I'm not sure I understand the details here. While all three of these stories feature women, the setting and style of each is different than the others. Are they all going to be made into one story? Or will each of them be presented separately but with connecting themes - like say in Clod Atlas?
Feb. 4th, 2015 08:16 am (UTC)
So now I'm finally 'feeling old' :) Or at least like an older fan. I first read your stories in an anthology (borrowed from library when I was just a little kid) and 'In the Lost Lands' has been a favourite of mine long long before I encountered A Song of Ice and Fire, and even longer before I actually started to read it. I'm feeling a bit ambivalent whether I want those almost 'unknown stories' (at least to the majority of GoT fans) to be 'stolen from our imagination' and brought to silver screen. But in the end, I do the same with my illustrations :) Milla was great in Joan and The Fifth Element (not only), so hopefully she will make a memorable Alys.

Edited at 2015-02-05 12:04 pm (UTC)
Feb. 4th, 2015 09:22 am (UTC)
I consider myself one of your younger fans (I'm about to turn 22). 2 years ago I found the Dreamsongs and I love 'em! I hope this movie might open the eyes of more younglings, cause they're really missing out. Agree with precious post about Haviland, Tuf Voyaging would make a great mini-series!
Greetings from Sweden
(Deleted comment)
Steven Townshend
Feb. 4th, 2015 08:26 pm (UTC)
I've always wondered which song inspired Bitterblooms. It's one of my very favorite stories.
Feb. 4th, 2015 10:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, papersky nailed it.

"In the Lost Lands" was inspired by a song as well. That one is much more obvious.
Carey Wilson
Feb. 7th, 2015 04:53 pm (UTC)
Song guesses?
Well, can't pass up that tidbit without a couple song guesses. America's, "A horse with No Name"? Fleetwood Mac's , "Rhiannon"?

Edited at 2015-02-08 02:55 am (UTC)
Feb. 9th, 2015 04:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Song guesses?
Based on that opening line, I would guess that Gray Alys might be a proprietor of a restaurant, and perhaps lives at a church nearby that is full of garbage...
Feb. 4th, 2015 02:44 pm (UTC)
Would've preferred Milla to ScarJo as the Black Widow. She's hot, can act, AND can do a Russian accent.
Feb. 5th, 2015 05:29 am (UTC)
Jim and I can hardly bear the wait! Congrats!
raz greenberg
Feb. 6th, 2015 01:34 pm (UTC)
It's funny that Milla Jovovich is set to star in an adaptation of the story that inspired "Doorways", because when I saw "Doorways" one of my first thoughts was "has Luc Besson seen this?" The relationship between the characters portrayed by Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich in Besson's "The Fifth Element" bear strong resemblance to those of Thomas and Cat in "Doorways". Of course, this is just one of many later works that show how "Doorways" was ahead of its time - it may be the most influential TV show never made... I wrote about it in my review of the pilot (and the comic-book adaptation) at SFsignal: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2011/08/guest_post_raz_greenberg_looks_at_george_rr_martins_doorways/
Shannon C
Feb. 7th, 2015 07:22 am (UTC)
The Messenger
I know hardly anyone is familiar with Milla's portrayal of Joan of Arc on The Messenger, but that's where I found her and it's still a favorite. I remember reading about the hard work and dedication she put into understanding the character and was impressed. If she still works like that, I have little doubt it will be great!
Ronald Grimsson
Feb. 7th, 2015 07:44 am (UTC)
I really hope this become a success for several reasons. One of them is the possibility that it could lead to similar movies that consist of several independent segments rather than a single story. There are so many interesting short stories out there that would look great on the big screen, both fantasy, science fiction and horror, that are too short to be made into a whole feature, but could be justified if their combined length were 90 minutes or more.
Some older examples are Twilight Zone: The Movie and Creepshow, but it has been a while since something similar has found it's way to the theatres. Should it even lead to big budget projects of segmented movies, even better.
Feb. 7th, 2015 10:41 pm (UTC)
i actually remember a LOT of your earlier works. i look forward to any of them being produced (or heck, re released at all)
congrats and hugs from an old SF/F fan
Wessel Mansveld
Feb. 11th, 2015 01:58 pm (UTC)
great news!!
"You can buy anything you might desire from Gray Alys. But it is better not to." Still one of the best openings of a story, I ever read. It says so much with so little words. Love that story to death too. That one and Meathouse Man are definitely my favourite stories from the Dreamsongs compilations. I any of you guys haven't read those do so, you will not be dissapointed! (seriously a Song of Ice and Fire isn't the only good stuff Martin's written, check out some of his earlier work.) Big fan of Jovovich as well, even though I dislike most of the films she's in, so my hopes are up for this one!
Hafa Ball
Feb. 21st, 2015 10:02 pm (UTC)
Can't wait to see it. And Milla Jovovo, that's awesome! Just don't watch Dragonball Evolution... Chadwick is much better than that.
Feb. 23rd, 2015 02:58 am (UTC)
Great news!
I look forward to seeing all three stories on film.

But what I'm dying to see filmed is...

Meathouse Man!

Good luck finding a director with the stones to make that one!

Feb. 23rd, 2015 09:36 pm (UTC)
I must admit i haven't ready any of your earlier work, but i was a bit suprised when i saw the name "Laren Dorr" and "the girl that moves between worlds". The reason is I'm currently reading the "Witcher" series by polish author Andrzej Sapwkowski (great read btw), and one of the main characters is a child of prophecy with the power to move between worlds, and her name is Ciri; the daughter of a "Lara Dorren".

If this is a coincidence then it's certainly a curious one. Considering Sapwkowski's books where published in the early 90's, perhaps he drew inspiration from your work?


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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