George R.R. Martin Has 400 or 500 Pages to Go on ‘The Winds of Winter’

George R.R. Martin.
George R.R. Martin. / Kevin Winter/GettyImages

It’s been over a decade since A Dance With Dragons came out, and Game of Thrones fans are still eagerly awaiting The Winds of Winter. George R.R. Martin recently gave an update on the long-anticipated novel.

The Song of Ice and Fire author appeared on Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News, where animated host Dr. Ike Bloom (voiced by Ikechukwu Ufomadu) roasted Martin for his slow writing speed. Martin also got some tough love advice from none other than James Patterson, the bestselling author known for churning out novels with clockwork regularity. (These days Patterson uses an army of coauthors to keep up that reputation, but that’s beside the point.) You can see the interview in the video below.

Martin was a pretty good sport as Dr. Ike Bloom lambasted him for being “a struggling writer—let me revise that, truly pathetic—who is having trouble meeting deadlines.” The back-and-forth between Patterson and Martin was pretty funny, as Martin filled in the renowned crime fiction writer on his situation. Martin admited that his deadline was “11 years ago”—that’s part of the gag, as 11 years ago was when A Dance with Dragons came out and there’s no way Martin’s deadline for Winds was that same year.

Martin also recounted his process for Patterson, including how he writes on his trusty DOS computer with the Wordstar word processing program, which has been his habit for years. The highlight came when Patterson asked Martin how many pages he has done, to which Martin replied, “Eh, like 1100, 1200, something like that … it’s not done yet though. I need another 400 [or] 500 pages.”

Patterson had a suggestion for how Martin could solve his issue: “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,” he said.

That’s not dissimilar from what happened with Martin’s last two Song of Ice and Fire books. A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons were originally supposed to be one book; they were broken up as deadlines came and went.

Martin has made a lot of progress on Winds over the past few years, and has been talking about it more openly in public of late. Recently he said the book was around “three quarters of the way done.” But given how long it took him to get there, there’s no guarantee there will be any kind of sprint to the finish.