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George R.R. Martin says he only has another 500 pages to write on Winds of Winter

Stephen Colbert’s Tooning Out The News roasts Martin for the delay, calling him ‘truly pathetic’

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Tasha Robinson leads Polygon’s movie coverage. She’s covered film, TV, books, and more for 20 years, including at The A.V. Club, The Dissolve, and The Verge.

By now, fans of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books — the novels adapted into the HBO Max series Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon — are used to mildly exhausting updates on his progress on the 11-years-overdue next novel in the series, The Winds of Winter. An episode of the Comedy Central series Stephen Colbert’s Tooning Out The News has the latest from Martin, who says — sounding fairly sincere about it — that he’s written around 1,100 to 1,200 pages of the book so far, and just has “another 400, 500 pages” to go.

In this exclusive clip from Martin’s episode of the show, now streaming on the Comedy Central website, animated host Dr. Ike Bloom (voiced by Inspector Ike’s Ikechukwu Ufomadu) takes Martin to task, calling him “a struggling writer — let me revise that, truly pathetic — who is having trouble meeting deadlines.” He calls up hyper-prolific crime writer James Patterson, asking him for advice about how Martin can turn his work around faster.

Patterson first asks how far past his deadline Martin is, and seems taken aback to hear how long the book has been delayed. He suggests that Martin has “writer’s constipation,” and advises him to change up his writing methods, in terms of still using a DOS computer and the WordStar word processor: “Try something else, then, ’cause that’s not working.”

Martin has frequently expressed that he’s exasperated with fans and interviewers constantly nagging him about his slow progress on The Winds of Winter, which keeps getting sidelined as he works on other HBO shows and projects. But here, he seems to at least try to force a sense of humor about the whole thing, with some awkward laughs at the roasting. What he doesn’t address is why he doesn’t, as Patterson blithely suggests, separate Winds of Winter into releasable sections, given that a 1,700-page book isn’t really a physical possibility. “Problem solved!” Patterson says. “You break down the 1,100 pages into three books… You submit one book per year, they’ll be happy, and suddenly you’ll be ahead of schedule!” Martin just laughs.

Stephen Colbert’s Tooning Out The News is currently in its third season. The series is streaming on Paramount Plus and the Comedy Central website.

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