George R R Martin is funding a new annual scholarship at a science fiction and fantasy six-week course to “help the next great fantasist on the long journey ahead”.
The Game of Thrones author will provide tuition, fees and lodging for one student at an “intensive” six-week workshop at the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle, US.
The ‘Worldbuilder scholarship’ will “not be limited by age, race, sex, religion, skin color, place of origin, or field of study,” wrote Martin on his blog. The winner will be selected every year in a blind judging process, as demonstrating financial need and a talent for worldbuilding and the creation of secondary universes.
The multi-million pound-selling author also described how “the world is more need of wonder than ever before” and this provided inspiration for the scholarship. He emphasised the importance of “worldbuilding” in literature, praising J R R Tolkien’s ability to create fantasy realms, and wrote that “every great story requires interesting characters, an engrossing plot, evocative prose, an important theme... but epic fantasy also requires a memorable setting”.
“A ‘secondary universe’, as J R R Tolkien termed it, a world both like and unlike our own, with its own rich history and geography and customs, its own beauties and terrors. Tolkien himself was a worldbuilder without peer.”
“I remember very well what it was like to be a writer starting out, struggling for sales, and counting every dime,” Martin wrote. “It is my hope that the Worldbuilder Scholarship will help the next great fantasist on the long journey ahead. As Tolkien himself wrote, every journey begins with a single step.”
The Clarion West Writers Workshop is a non-profit literary organisation and the six-week summer course aims to help students “prepare for a professional career as a writer of speculative fiction”.
In July, the author revealed he was “months away” from finishing the next Game of Thrones novel and said it could be published in 2018 alongside another series. The eighth and final season of the popular, long-running HBO adaptation is reportedly scheduled to hit screens in 2019. He has also been working on four Game of Thrones prequel scripts with HBO, which will be new stories set in a "secondary universe".
In total, Martin has sold 5.5 million books for £42.5m, with his bestseller is A Game of Thrones (HaperCollins, 2011 edition), shifting 455,022 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan.
A Game of Thrones: The Illustrated Edition was published by HarperCollins in the UK in October 2016. The books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series are published in the UK by HarperVoyager.
The deadline for scholarship applications for the workshop is 1st March. For more information, visit clarionwest.org/workshops/summer.