George R R Martin has announced that the latest instalment in his A Song of Ice and Fire saga is "months away" from being finished and will not be published before the sixth season of the "Game of Thrones" TV show airs in April.
“The book’s not done,” Martin said in a blog post. “Nor is it likely to be finished tomorrow, or next week. Yes, there’s a lot written… But there’s also a lot still left to write. I am months away still… and that’s if the writing goes well.”
The sixth book in the fantasy series entitled The Winds of Winter, was due to be published in March 2016 to coincide with the sixth series of the TV show, but Martin has missed the final deadline for this to happen.
“Unfortunately, the writing did not go as fast or as well as I would have liked,” Martin said. "The book is not done, not delivered. No words can change that. I tried, I promise you. I failed. I blew the Halloween deadline, and I've now blown the end of the year deadline. And that almost certainly means that no, The Winds of Winter will not be published before the sixth season of 'Game of Thrones' premieres in April."
The author attributed some of his difficulty in writing to the stress of deadlines but praised his editors and publishers for their support.
He said: "No one else is to blame. Not my editors and publishers, not HBO... It's on me. I tried, and I am still trying... I can't tell you when it will be done, or when it will be published. Best guess, based on our previous conversations, is that Bantam (and presumably my British publisher [HarperCollins] as well) can have the hardcover out within three months of delivery, if their schedules permit. But when delivery will be, I can't say. I am not going to set another deadline for myself to trip over. The deadlines just stress me out.”
He added: “It will be done when it's done. And it will be as good as I can possibly make it.”
Given that the sixth series of the TV show will air before the sixth book is published, Martin discussed the likelihood of the show now "spoiling" the books. He said: "Inevitably, there will be certain plot twists and reveals in season six of 'Game of Thrones' that have not yet happened in the books. For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true.
“The case of 'Game of Thrones' and A Song of Ice and Fire is perhaps unique. I can't think of any other instance where the movie or TV show came out as the source material was still being written. So when you ask me, 'will the show spoil the books,' all I can do is say, 'yes and no.' Some of the 'spoilers' you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all... because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so.”
The fifth Game of Thrones book, A Dance With Dragons, was published in the UK by HarperVoyager in 2011. HarperCollins UK said it had no comment to add to George R R Martin's blog post.