Few writers have been as ruthless with their characters as Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin, who recently noted that it was having to see his pet turtles die as a kid that led to him depicting all manner of deaths for his creations in the fantasy series. Audiences were regularly shocked to see important characters meet their demise in the HBO adaptation of his A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels, with Martin pointing out that it all came from his imagination as a child and his justifications for why his pet turtles would often meet sudden ends.
"I had a toy castle that was just big enough for [two turtle bowls] in the courtyard, so I put two turtle bowls side by side in my castle... the thing was, dime-store turtles don't live very long," Martin shared at the New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "I don't think the food they give you – the little shakers of turtle food – were really very nutritious. So my turtles were always dying, which broke my heart, and I had to come up with some explanation as to why they were dying. So I decided that they were murdering each other. They lived in a castle and, obviously, there were knights and kings and princes who were competing for the Turtle Throne, so they were murdering each other."
He added, "So long before Game of Thrones, 'Turtle Castle' was one of my first fantasy epics. I still memorialize it with the turtle I wear on my hat and sometimes my suit jacket."
The Song of Ice and Fire books started in 1996 with Game of Thrones, with each installment serving as inspiration for the events of a season of the TV series. Martin has taken his time with getting the books out there, with fans still waiting for the sixth and seventh books in the series, forcing the events of the TV series in its final seasons to create its own trajectory without Martin's guidance. Now that the series has concluded, Martin previously revealed that the events of the series won't inform his final books.
"No, it doesn't. It doesn't change anything at all," Martin revealed to The Observer about the series changing his novels' trajectory. "You can't please everybody, so you've got to please yourself."
Various Game of Thrones spinoff series are currently in development. Stay tuned for details on Martin's upcoming books.