George R.R. Martin, the author behind the immensely popular "Game of Thrones" fantasy TV show, announced he has completed a new book to be published later this year.
But devoted fans expecting to read The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga from which the “Game of Thrones” TV show is adapted, will likely be surprised.
Martin's new 250-page book, titled Sunday Games, follows the trials and tribulations of the Bayonne Wolves, a fictional amateur football team in Martin’s New Jersey hometown, and the players’ attempts to overcome all odds at turning professional and joining the National Football League.
Martin described Sunday Games, which will be published this November, as an “inspirational, feel-good book that will appeal to every sports fan, whether you have played on a sports team and/or enjoy the thrill of watching sports as much as I do.” If this book is successful, Martin hopes to turn it into a series.
Martin – an avid fan of the New York Giants and New York Jets – said it’s been a dream for years to write a book about football, a passion of his.
“Sunday Games has elements that appeal to everyone,” Martin said in a telephone interview from his home in New Mexico. “You have heroic players who overcome adversity and racism; an underdog team you can root for; a down-and-out coach with a last chance; and greedy NFL officials and corporate team owners who want the Bayonne Wolves to fail.”
The premise is in stark contrast to his A Song of Ice and Fire books, in which Martin has long eschewed predictability, cliches and characters who are clear-cut good or evil, and often killed off important characters. "Game of Thrones" viewers recently got a taste of this when three major characters were betrayed and murdered at a wedding.
But aside from the word ‘game’ in the title and a reference to wolves, Martin admitted that’s where Sunday Games’ similarities to his popular fantasy series end.
“I’ve been writing A Song of Ice and Fire since 1991 and I got bored with all the doom and gloom, the death and violence,” he said. “I wanted to write something more upbeat.”
Fans inspired new book
The 64-year-old Martin noted that frequent criticism from his fans regarding the time it takes him to write his books, as well as the debate regarding his health and ability to finish the series, prompted him to write Sunday Games.
“About a year ago I was at a book signing in Portland, Oregon, and somebody asked me if I could hurry up and finish A Song of Ice and Fire before I died,” Martin said. “I was about to rip this person a new one when I thought, ‘You know what? Maybe my fans are right. I might not have much time left on Earth.’
“I thought about the kinds of stories I wanted to write before my time ends. Sunday Games was a story I had thought about for a long time, so I sat down to write it and the words just flowed. It was wonderful. Since these books are short, I could churn one out a year.”
When asked if he is still working on The Winds of Winter, Martin said it’s been “put on the back burner for a while,” though he might return to it at a later date.
Martin also isn’t concerned about how writing Sunday Games has affected the HBO series, which is catching up to his books.
“I’ve already told the producers how the book ends, so if I don't finish the books I’m sure they’ll come up with something that satisfies everyone,” he said. “I’ll still write the occasional script, so fans will have that at least.”