George R R Martin delighted a sell-out audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last night, discussing his A Song of Ice and Fire series with writer and literary critic Stuart Kelly. The author talked about his love for British medieval history and the influence of Scottish authors including Nigel Tranter and Sir Walter Scott on his writing. He explained how A Song of Ice and Fire had come about partly as a response to the disneyfication of historical events that has often occurred in fantasy fiction and that he enjoyed breaking rules as a writer, injecting the fantasy genre with a dose of the real-life grit and bloodiness that has occurred throughout history.

He joked that perhaps comic writer Stan Lee had been his biggest literary influence, sparking his interest in creating interesting characters through comics such as the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, and cited Boromir and Saruman from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as some of his favourite fictional characters because of the moral challenges they face.

Perhaps the biggest revelation of the evening was that some of Martin’s female fans have asked him to include more explicit gay sex scenes in his writing. When asked why the Game of Thrones TV series was more explicit than his books he explained that because he writes from a ‘viewpoint’ perspective readers are restricted to seeing only what the character he is writing as at the time sees. He noted that "a television show doesn't have those limitations” and went on to say “Will that change? It might. I've had letters from fans who want me to present particularly an explicit male sex scene – most of the letters come from women."

The event was streamed live on BBC Arts and will be available to watch again through the BBC Arts site ( or BBC i-player from tomorrow.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival continues until Monday 25 August with writers, poets, politicians and thinkers including Gordon Brown, Haruki Murakami, Simon Armitage, Martin Amis, Sarah Waters and many more.  Full details of the programme can be found at

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