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George R.R. Martin's Editor Hints at Eighth 'Game of Thrones' Book

UPDATED: Penguin Random House's Anne Groell discussed the idea of stretching the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series on which the HBO series is based.

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Helen Sloan/HBO
"Game of Thrones"

Game of Thrones fans are already nervous that the HBO drama will catch up to the book series by George R.R. Martin, as the current season follows the second half of the third book. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss reassure that they have a contingency plan in place should the TV series outpace Martin's final book installments -- a possibility that may be more likely than not, according to the author's editor.

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That's right -- Penguin Random House executive editor Anne Groell noted that the A Song of Ice and Fire series might require an eighth book.

When asked in a Suvudu Q&A if seven books is enough to finish the series, she responded, "I begin to wonder -- though seven is what we currently have under contract. I remember when he called me, years and years back, to confess that his little trilogy was … well … no longer a trilogy. He predicted four books. I said, 'Seven books for seven kingdoms.' Then he said five books. I said, 'Seven books for seven kingdoms.' Then he went to six. I said … Well, you get it. Finally, we were on the same page. Seven books for seven kingdoms. Good.

"Only, as I recently learned while editing The World of Ice and Fire [another awesome thing you must buy when it comes out!], there are really technically eight kingdoms, all having to do with who has annexed what when Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros," she continued. "So maybe eight books for seven kingdoms would be OK. Also, he has promised me that, when he finally wraps this great beast, I can publish the five-page letter outlining the bare bones of the 'trilogy.' "

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Still, Martin told Entertainment Weekly of the resulting rumors, "My plan is to finish in seven. ... But my original plan was to finish in three. I write the stories and they grow. I deal with certain things, and sometimes I find myself not at the end of a story. My plan right now is still seven. But first I have to finish book six. Get back to me when I'm halfway through book seven, and then maybe I'll tell you something more meaningful."

Groell admitted that she doesn't know the end of the series, even though the Game of Thrones showrunners do. "George is a very secretive fellow and guards his secrets well," she said, adding that she does know a few things from Martin's currently-in-progress installment, The Winds of Winter, "but mainly because we had to shorten a few elements in the book, as it was already getting too long. And he had to reveal a few secrets so I could help him redirect parts of the plot a bit. I do know the endpoint of Bran's storyline -- and Daniel Abraham, who has been adapting the graphic novel of AGOT [A Game of Thrones] for me, knows where Tyrion ends up. [I am jealous of that!]

"But much in the way all of you have been keeping secrets from show watchers who have not yet read the books [and I continue to be impressed by how secret you all kept the Red Wedding], I also will never tell what I know," she added. "George has somehow managed to swear us all to this amazing conspiracy of silence, which I admire and appreciate and fully participate in! I had a very amusing lunch with Daniel in which we very pointedly did not tell each other what the other one knew. In short, like you, I keep George's secrets."

She's also never discouraged Martin from axing a main character: "Call me sick, but I revel in all the deaths. It's what makes his world so transcendent, I think, that no one is safe, ever!"

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While she enjoys watching Game of Thrones with her husband -- "It's the only show I treat like a movie. … We turn off all the lights and pretend we are in a movie theater and that nothing else exists" -- and said that showrunners "David and Dan are doing a terrific job keeping true to the spirit of the books while still needing to cut for time." She said she warns Martin "to please not let the show get out ahead of him. … His vision started this; I very much want his vision to end it too."

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee