By James Hibberd
July 12, 2011 at 02:52 PM EDT

Those who have seen HBO’s Game of Thrones but haven’t read George R.R. Martin’s novels upon which the series is based might not know that today is a huge event for fans of this story: Book 5, A Dance With Dragons, just hit bookstores. posted an extensive Q&A with the author over in the Shelf Life blog that also includes plenty of discussion about the HBO series. Some highlights:

On writing an episode of season two: “It’s very tough because we don’t have the budget to do the battle in the book. We just don’t…”

On whether this show is feminist or sexist: “…I think it’s good people were debating those points …I tried to provide a variety of female characters. With all my characters, I try to show that we’re all human.”

On the amount of sex in the HBO show: “One of the reasons I wanted to do this with HBO is that I wanted to keep the sex…”

On changes he liked: “I loved the interplay between Varys and Littlefinger, which never occurred in the books since neither is a viewpoint character. I loved the scene of Drogo ripping out Mago’s throat… But that’s going to have ramifications if we go the full length down the pike. This is the challenge the shows face as we go forward. There will be divergences, they’re trying to be faithful and [Game of Thrones producers] David Benioff and Dan Weiss are doing a wonderful job. But the books are plotted so intricately that you do step on a butterfly in season one and in season four you’re going to have to deal with that.”

And what he missed: “I wish the tournament was much bigger … This is like the Super Bowl in the books and draws people from all over the Seven Kingdoms.”

On whether the pace of the series will eventually surpass the books: “There’s two questions here. The first is: How long will it take me to write the next book? Will Winds of Winter go smoothly or is it going to be Feast and Dance all over again? I certainly hope it’s not the latter. The other issue is: What is what is HBO going to do if we get a third season and beyond?…”

See the Shelf Life Q&A for much more, and be sure to pick up next week’s print edition of EW for a profile of Martin that has some burning questions answered.