At a press conference in Beverly Hills to promote HBO programming, including Game of Thrones, HBO chief executive, Richard Piepier, and programming president Michael Lombardo had a message to George R.R. Martin: “Get busy writing.”

Game of Thrones is based on Martin’s renowned The Song of Ice and Fire saga, a series that is planned to run at least seven books – five of which have been published. The last one, A Dance With Dragons, took Martin six years to complete and was released in 2011, the same year the show premiered. Martin is reportedly currently working on the sixth, to be titled The Winds of Winter.

HBO’s hit fantasy show aired its third season finale, "Mhysa," on June 9, and events of the finale correspond to events that unfold about two-thirds into A Storm of Swords, the third book in the Ice and Fire series.

Upon realizing how quickly the television show is going through the written base material, HBO is growing increasingly nervous that a time may come where the show eclipses the books, leaving the series in an unanticipated storytelling limbo.

“I finally understand fans’ fear – which I didn’t a couple years ago: What if the storytelling catches up to the books?… Let’s all hope and pray that’s not going to be a problem,” Lombardo told EW.

Martin, however, does not seemed fazed by the idea that the show will catch up with the books.

“If they include everything in the books, I don’t think they’re going to catch up with me. If they do, we’ll have some interesting discussions,” Martin told EW.

Unfortunately for HBO, it might not be possible to include ‘everything in the books.’ For example, fans and critics are curious as to how HBO plans on adapting books four (A Feast for Crows) and five (A Dance With Dragons) in the forthcoming seasons. A Feast for Crows presents a few challenges to the adaptation process: aside from being less loved by fans. It is reportedly full of brand new characters that would be difficult to introduce to an audience already in love with the current cast.

“I don’t think we want to answer specifically what we’re keeping and dropping [from A Feast for Crows]… The series has already reached a point where there are so many characters, particularly in season three we’re introducing so many new ones, we run the risk of bursting at the seams as we try to cram every single subplot and all the various characters and it becomes impossible on a budgetary level and it becomes impossible on an episode-basis to jump around every few minutes to 30 different characters and locations. We don’t want to do that, and recognize that as a real risk and we will take steps not to fall into that trap,” writer and executive producer David Benioff said in an interview with EW.

Neither Martin, Benioff, nor Lombardo want to seriously consider any other alternatives, however, and the hope is that Martin will be able to publish the remaining books in a timeframe that will benefit fans of the books and series alike.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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