George R.R. Martin's Tale About an Elvis Impersonator

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Since 1991, George R.R. Martin has been busy killing off your favorite characters from the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. But before he was writing about the kings of Westeros, Martin paid the bills by writing about a different king: Elvis.

After spending a decade or so selling short stories and writing a few novels, Martin figured his fourth book, a tale called Armageddon Rag, would be the one to really hit it big. It wasn’t. The book “essentially destroyed my career as a novelist at the time,” Martin has said.

Despite being a commercial flop, Armageddon Rag was optioned for a movie. Though the film never made it to the screen, it did result in Martin being recruited for another Hollywood gig: The Twilight Zone. “I made a lot of money but got very little [TV] made,” he said.

Among the episodes that were produced was “The Once and Future King,” a gem about an Elvis impersonator who wakes up from a car accident to find himself hitching a ride from the real deal. 

Post-Twilight Zone, Martin found himself writing for a string of TV series, including Max Headroom and Beauty and the Beast. Though he was making a good living, the author was discouraged that so much of what he wrote never got produced: “No amount of money can really take the place of ... you want your stuff to be read. You want an audience and four guys in an executive office suite at ABC or Columbia is not adequate.”

Lack of production and no audience? Those certainly aren't problems Martin faces anymore.