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Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is well aware that the HBO series has taken on a life of its own. Something he wasn’t expecting, however, is how quickly it would catch up to the books it’s based on.

“The show, of course, has caught up to me, which I didn’t actually think would ever happen,” he said during a talk this week at Northwestern University. “I had such a huge lead, but the truth is, I’m a very slow writer.”

Martin returned to his alma mater to accept the Hall of Achievement alumni award from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. EW’s Darren Franich and Niala Boodhoo, VP of the Asian American Journalists Association, moderated a pair of panel discussions with the acclaimed author.

Amid the discussion, which included his career leading up to and including Game of Thrones, Martin revealed how he built The Wall for his A Song of Ice and Fire saga. While he has previously credted Hadrian’s Wall from the Roman Empire as inspiration, during the panel he also recalled his freshmen year experience during a 1967 blizzard.

“The coldest winter was in Chicago. There was so much snow that winter, you couldn’t see, all snow, all ice, and it was so very cold,” he said. “I remember walking through the trenches and the tunnels of ice, the wind blowing so you couldn’t even see. It’s an experience that never left me.”

Game of Thrones is gearing up for season 6 on HBO, while Martin’s sixth book, The Winds of Winter, doesn’t have a release date.

Episode Recaps

Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

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