'Game of Thrones': George R.R. Martin on the Evolution of the Fantasy Drama (Q&A)

George R.R. Martin
Nick Briggs/HBO

"I want to give them something terrific. What if I f--- it up at the end? What if I do a 'Lost?' Then they'll come after me with pitchforks and torches."

For Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, the 10 p.m. slot is pivotal.

The co-executive producer of the HBO drama says the time slot affords the series to produce fantasy drama specifically for adults -- something his other series, CBS' Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton Beauty and the Beast -- couldn't do at 8 p.m. during its three-season run in the late '80s.

Hours after FX president and GM John Landgraf credited Thrones' success at 10 in proving that fantasy dramas can work in the slot, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Martin on Sunday to discuss the difference two hours makes and dish on Season 2 of the drama.

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The Hollywood Reporter: FX credited Game of Thrones for showing that a fantasy drama could work at 10 p.m. Why is the slot important for the genre?
George R.R. Martin:
Fantasy is the oldest form of literature -- it goes back to Gilgamesh and Homer. People like that were writing fantasy thousands of years ago. Unfortunately in television, for whatever reason, fantasy became thought of as a kids' genre. They would not make a sophisticated adult fantasy and it was really fighting. Even when they did, Beauty and the Beast, which was a show I was on back in the 1980s, we were trying to do Beauty and the Beast as a sophisticated adult drama but they put it on in the 8 o'clock time slot. Because it was fantasy, CBS thought it was a kids' show. We were constantly having fights with Standards and Practices and what we could show at 8. We didn't want to be at 8, we wanted to be at 9 or 10. But no, you're fantasy, you have to be at 8. Thankfully with HBO, we've broken that. I don't have anything against kids' books or young adult fantasies, there are many wonderful kids' fantasies out there -- I grew up on that stuff and cut my teeth on it -- but there should also be fantasy for adults. Fantasy is just the realm of imagination and romance. Adult audiences can enjoy that just as much as a young audience.

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THR: Could Game of Thrones work on broadcast?
Not the way broadcast is currently set up. HBO and the other cable makers -- Showtime, Starz, etc., -- are really giving the creators free reign to do imaginative stuff. The networks are still locked in to 'we can't offend anyone: "We have to have Standards and Practices review everything, too much sex, too much violence, let's have a focus group take a look at this. We did a test screening and they didn't like this character … ." They're desperate for ratings and they're trying to protect everybody so it doesn't offend everybody and the stuff is predigested. The cable makers are the ones who are willing to take risks and do something original and push the envelope some. That's the only way you get good art, you don't get a good television program or a good book if you're just doing a tired formula that's been done 100 times before.

THR: How many more big risks are there to take in Season 2?
There are considerable more -- no one is safe in this show, anyone can die at any time. The people who have read the books know there are some huge deaths and betrayals and reversals are coming. Nobody is quite as they seem.

THR: How close will Season 2 stick to what transpires in the book?
They're sticking fairly close. So far, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss seem very much committed to making my story in a different medium rather than making a different story, which I'm a little in favor of. (Laughs.)

Season 2 of Game of Thrones premieres April 1.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit