Stephen Colbert is giving George R.R. Martin some good-natured grief about his epic struggle to finish The Winds of Winter.

The Game of Thrones author was on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Wednesday night to discuss his new Westeros history book, Fire and Blood. Colbert noted fans are still waiting for his next A Song of Ice and Fire epic.

“This is 700 pages long,” Colbert said of Fire and Blood. “Aren’t you supposed to be finishing The Winds of Winter this entire time? Not to add to the chorus of ‘what has taken so long,’ but this is a 700-page detour!”

Martin explained his plan is to finish The Winds of Winter, and then do the sequel to Fire and Blood and then perhaps release the final Ice and Fire novel, A Dream of Spring.

“There’s a lot of stuff to write,” Martin said. “I should actually get home and get to work.”

Last week, Martin got quite sincere about his Winds efforts in his Fire and Blood interview with EW, telling us, “I know there are a lot of people out there who are very angry with me that Winds of Winter isn’t finished. And I’m mad about that myself. I wished I finished it four years ago. I wished it was finished now. But it’s not. And I’ve had dark nights of the soul where I’ve pounded my head against the keyboard and said, “God, will I ever finish this? The show is going further and further forward and I’m falling further and further behind. What the hell is happening here? I’ve got to do this.”

Back to Colbert: Martin also revealed a rather touching and personal origin for Game of Thrones you probably have never heard before. Of course, Martin’s direct inspirations include the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and other fantasy authors. But there was also an incident from his childhood that predates his literary influences.

Colbert noted Martin was wearing a purple turtle brooch, and the author said, “I love turtles, my writing career began with turtles.”

Explained Martin: “I lived in Bayou, N.J., in a federal housing project. We were not allowed to have dogs. We were not allowed to have cats. So the only pets I was allowed to have were turtles — little dime store turtles…I had a toy castle. I could fit two turtle bowls in the castle. But the thing is about those little dime store turtles is they die very soon. I fed them the turtle food, I thought I was doing everything right. I couldn’t figure out why they would die. It certainly wasn’t my fault. I decided they were competing for the turtle throne. They were competing for who would be the turtle king. That was my first fantasy: Turtle Castle. It preceded Game of Thrones by many years.”

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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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