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A New Award for Old Words

Saturday was fun. I drove down to the beautiful Tamaya Resort on the Santa Ana Pueblo, north of Albuquerque, to attend the annual gathering of the HWA... no, not that HWA (the Horror Writers Association, who had their own gathering in May on the Queen Mary), and no, not that other HWA (the Historical Writers Association) either... but the newest HWA, the Historical Writers of America. My faithful minions Lenore Gallegos and Marisa X. Jimenez came with me.

Tamaya is just stunning, and the food was amazing for a hotel banquet. The company was great as well. I love a good historical, and I was pleased to meet some of the people who write them. And my dear friend Melinda Snodgrass was the featured speaker after the feast.

And then they gave me an award: I'm the first (well, one of the first) recipient of the PastWords Award for Historical Fantasy. HWA had a rather handsome bronze trophy made up, with a writer and a reader flanking an hourglass. I'm told the award was designed by Gage Prentiss, the artist who designed the H.P. Lovecraft Statue that's to go up in Providence (for more info about that project, see here: http://www.weirdprovidence.org/statue.html )

The other winners of this year's PastWords Awards were a distinguished lot, whose number included Larry McMurtry and Congressman John Lewis, both of whom I would have loved to meet. Alas, neither one was able to attend.

Here's a shot of Melinda and me at the awards banquet with HWA founder Theresa Guzman Stokes (who goes by 'Soni'), and a close up of the award.

It was a fun evening.

If you'd like to know more about the Historical Writers of America, they have a website here: http://historicalwritersofamerica.org/

I do think they need to change their name, though. All these HWAs are confusing. Way back when, I was actually a founding member of the horror writers group under its original name: the Horror and Occult Writers League, or HOWL. A much more original and creative name, I thought, but they got stuffy and opted for 'dignity.' They should go back to HOWL, I say... and maybe one of the historical groups should call itself the Historical Authors instead of writers, which would make them HAA... but then they'd get confused with a comedy writers organization... oh, well, I don't know.

In any case, I appreciate the award, and all the kind words about my work. It's kind of cool to learn that even writers of honest to god real historical fiction and non-fiction enjoy my own fake histories.


Sep. 26th, 2017 03:24 am (UTC)
It's kind of cool to learn that even writers of honest to god real historical fiction and non-fiction enjoy my own fake histories.

Did historical mysteries influence the way you created and developed your fictional mysteries in ASOIAF?

For instance, it's a mystery in our world exactly how, from where, when, by whom, and in what sequence North America was originally settled. Clovis First is no longer seen as doctrine.

Did you have anything like that in mind for Westeros, so that while there may be a commonly accepted story that it was the First Men (hence the name), in reality there may have been earlier, smaller groups who never had anything resembling a continent-wide impact and have been largely forgotten as predecessors by the time of the novels?

Edited at 2017-09-26 03:25 am (UTC)
Βαγγέλης Ντόβας
Sep. 26th, 2017 06:22 am (UTC)
Congratulations!! Again. How many awards have you really taken ?

Edited at 2017-09-26 06:23 am (UTC)
Sep. 26th, 2017 10:26 am (UTC)
Well done, George!
And as a historian/art historian, I'd like you to know that I prefer your fantasy-histories to a lot of what passes for real-world historical fiction. When the latter changes things, or shows crass lack of understanding of real-world cultures, or messes about with the characterisation of real people I care about, it upsets me deeply because they were real. Your fantasy universe has echoes of real historical events and people, but exists on its own terms and has its own validity and internal logic. I can enjoy it without having to be on my guard.
Rasmus B Wayne
Sep. 26th, 2017 12:26 pm (UTC)
Off-topic, but do all houses look like that in New Mexico? In every photo I see of NM, all I see are those square clay-looking houses. They look cozy though.
Sep. 26th, 2017 06:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Houses
Adobe and fake adobe. Yes, they are one of the main architectural styles in NM. There are several popular styles, including Spanish Colonial and Territorial, but Pueblo is number one.
Ann Seeber
Sep. 26th, 2017 02:07 pm (UTC)
Congratulations GRRM!
I guess since I was long a fan of historical fiction (via Sharon Kay Penman @ The Sunne in Splendor - War of the Roses stuff) it's clear now why I veered to ASOIAF as it seems REAL the way you write it.. dragons and magic notwithstanding. Keep up the good work! ;)
Sep. 26th, 2017 06:52 pm (UTC)
Getting Fake History Right
I too appreciate your efforts to get the "history" right - even if its "fake". Fantasy authors can be rather indifferent to this sort of thing but for those of use who know some history its quite jarring.

Medieval military history is esp. tricky - movie versions are generally awful. A famous wargame designer who I do development work for has sniffed that most fantasy authors don't know the difference between a pike and a spear. Its nice to read battle scences that ring true and I'm glad the historical authors also recognized this (and other historical stuff as well I'm sure). Historians need to get out more in the world and have an impact on popular understanding - it can really help around election time.

One need only look as far as the HBO adaptation of your work to see the influence. Their battle sequences are much superior to most of what has gone before on small or big screen (compare them to say Braveheart).

Keep up the good work - its not gone unnoticed by fans or professionals.

(Would also love to meet Larry McMurtry - just started another one of his books.)

Thomas J. Thomas
Simmy San
Sep. 26th, 2017 07:13 pm (UTC)
well deserved!! and happy belated birthday george!!
William Gicking
Sep. 27th, 2017 02:07 am (UTC)
Congrats on the award man you're looking slimmer too dude good stuff
Sep. 27th, 2017 02:24 am (UTC)
Great photos.
Sep. 27th, 2017 06:50 am (UTC)
I was driving from Grants to Sandia and saw the same double rainbow. It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Nothing new to see beautiful sites in New Mexico though. You have more than your fair share in the land of enchantment.
Sep. 27th, 2017 08:49 am (UTC)
Adobe is an ancient building material, but sometimes the old ways are the best ways. It offers economy, natural insulation, high durability, reliability, and a lack of paint/chemicals/dust/other crap. As long as it's in a dry climate (which New Mexico definitely is), and it's reinforced against earthquakes, adobe is ideal or close to it.

As for historical fiction/fantasy, one of my hobbies is absorbing the details of fictional worlds. ASoIaF has been a banquet in that regard.
Sep. 27th, 2017 03:20 pm (UTC)
Congrats George
Congratulations George, very cool construction of the award device as well. I agree regarding the HOWL name too, a return to the original idea would be appropriate now IMO.

I love NM construction. I plan to move there, as one side of my family hails from Santa Fe, once I'm finished with life here in Canada. I took my first steps there, and want my last to be there. There is so much to love about NM and SF especially.
Daniel Iron Skill Gonzalez
Sep. 27th, 2017 06:54 pm (UTC)
That award design though
There's something about that minimalist design that would make me want to put it on a coffee table or use it as a bookend, just to show it off lol Love this type of work. Congrats to you from Bergen County!
Sam Henrie
Sep. 27th, 2017 10:24 pm (UTC)
Congratulations, and an invitation to the Tucson Festival of Books!
Congratulations on the PastWords Award! Larry McMurtry is a Tucson resident and a Tucson Festival of Books Founders Award winner. If you attend the Festival in March 2018, I'll do everything in my power to get you two together.

Here's the email invitation we sent you earlier via email:

Dear George R. R. Martin,

On behalf of the Tucson Festival of Books, I would like to invite you to participate as a presenting author in our 10th annual 2018 festival, which will take place March 10-11, 2018, on the campus of the University of Arizona.

We would love for you to be a speaker on panels regarding the book-to-TV show process, as well as feature your book series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

The Tucson Festival of Books is now the third largest book event in the country, and the only major book event that is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literacy. We host upward of 400 authors, and last year, we had crowds in excess of 100,000 per day. If you're curious, check out our web site. Let me know if you have any questions. I would also be happy to give you references from other authors you may know who have attended the festival in the past. We try to make it an interesting and enjoyable experience for authors, as well as for readers. We would love to welcome you to Tucson in March.

In addition to participation in the speaker panels, we can offer you a solo event.

We are happy to cover your airfare, hotel, and ground transport.

I can send a brochure and formal invitation to any email address that you designate.

Thanks for your consideration.

Sam Henrie
Lead of Book/Movie Biz Genre
Book & Author Committee
Tucson Festival of Books
Sep. 27th, 2017 11:18 pm (UTC)
Well deserved for sure

Edited at 2017-09-27 11:19 pm (UTC)
Sapio Elie
Sep. 28th, 2017 01:34 pm (UTC)
Historical fiction
Hello Georges, since it is somewhat on topic, you should definitely check out Jean-philippe Jaworski's work, 'Rois du monde' which translates in english in 'Kings of the world'. He is writing up a story in the antic celtic realms of Gaul, focused on a legendary character who may have (or not) existed. This is totally historical fiction right here with a bit a fantasy elements added here and there. The background is really interesting as it favors the building of a story surrounded with myths & legends where gods and witches were walking among men.
Sadly there is no english traduction as for now but still I thought you might have some interest if by any chance you have no trouble reading french.
Sep. 29th, 2017 03:22 pm (UTC)
; )
good on you, man! congratulations for being recognized for you accomplishments. many writers dream of this. most dream of electric sheep...

i have no idea how i came upon this post, as it dawned on me, oh, "that" george martin! the only thing i come close to game of thrones is the movie mockingjay and that was hunger games "franchise"? and another author suzan collins. you are not she. so this is your moment of fame! one of them. funny thing in america, becoming a "franchise"? are you also a franchise, ie. game of thrones? i like the trophy, it's kind of goth looking. something with substantial weight that one could write into a murder mystery!

i anticipate you have some insight into celtic or nordic folklore, judging by the language used in fire and ice.

did you give a speech? why did you say? was it only about acronyms? was it well attended among HAW's? you strike me a a modest fellow, but i would like to hear in one sentence what it was like for you to receive that recognition..at risk of answering my own question, i am curious to know from your pov why do you think we humans relate so much to fantasy? to the point of avoidance of real life drudgery. i myself am an artist and have not sought fame, for me the satisfaction is in the doing. a labour of love when i can finally come to it. i have had this life long dilemma between reality and my own imagination. i have rarely found them to be compatible. as they say, life gets in the way too often. and then i feel diminished by my inability to gain focus on my creativity. it is more complicated, but that is the gist of it. that stupid ego getting in the way and stopping me from creating. just wonder if you might have any insight into that nature of our creative struggle?

as for albuquerque, my only reference to it was watching bugs bunny as a kid. it looks like a highly spiritual place.

anyway, congratulations!
Oct. 2nd, 2017 04:37 am (UTC)
Congratulations on the award! Neat design. The hourglass is a nice touch.

On the topic of things historical, I’m writing my PhD dissertation on sixteenth-century Baltic mercenaries, and I’ve noticed a gradual increase in the use of the word “sellsword” as a synonym for “mercenary” among my colleagues (especially the younger ones). I know it’s a term you like to use to describe the profession, and I suspect that your books are probably what popularized it in my field. Anyway, I thought you might be amused to know that, after drawing so much inspiration from history, your writing is now influencing the next generation of historians in some weird and surprising ways. Academia imitating art!
Ginemmy Jardon
Oct. 2nd, 2017 06:46 am (UTC)
Congratulations! You deserve it. :)


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

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