George R.R. Martin may be as rich as a Lannister, but he lives as simply as the Starks.
Despite making $15 million a year, according to a Forbes estimate, the "Game of Thrones" author hasn't let fame or fortune change him. Instead of living in a Casterly Rock-like mansion, he resides in a modest home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Instead of dining on lavish feasts, he eats at local restaurants, like Maria's New Mexican Kitchen. And rather than hiding away in a royal palanquin, he welcomes fans who approach him and make pilgrimages to his town.
"Oh, yeah, I've had people at the house, constant emails and phone calls," Martin told the Telegraph. When one of his three assistants teased him about taking his number out of the phone book, he replied, "Yeah, but I don't like to do that kind of thing. I don't want the fame to go to my head."
It easily could. Martin's epic fantasy series, "A Song of Fire and Ice," has sold more than 20 million books worldwide. And HBO's hit television adaptation, "Game of Thrones," has broadened his audience even more. Martin has also written for several television series, including "The Twilight Zone" (1985-1989), "Beauty and the Beast" (1987-1990), and his own adaptation. He penned the script for the crucial "Blackwater" episode at the end of Season 2.
The 64-year-old, who has no children, has few of the outward trappings of success. He does own two homes, all on the same street. His mailbox is shaped like a castle, and he has a vanity license plate ("GRRM"), but it's on an old Mazda RX-7. Across from his primary residence is "the warehouse," so named because the abode holds Martin and wife Parris McBride's collectibles. Two bedrooms hold Martin's books, while a third displays McBride's "Lord of the Rings" figurines.
While HBO fans might be new to Martin's easygoing style of life, book lovers have long known how accessible he is. He's had drinks and meals and attended parties with many of his fans -- even inviting some over to his house.
Elio Garcia, the webmaster of Westeros.org, got to know the author online over the course of 15 years. When he was passing through Santa Fe, Martin invited him to visit. Later, Martin sent him the manuscript for Book 4, "A Feast for Crows," to help with fact-checking.
"We're not just fans, we're friends," Garcia told Vulture. "I don't think he invites random fans to stay with them for a week. But it's just so completely random how we got here."
If you do happen to run into Martin, here is his ground rule: Don't talk to him too much about "Game of Thrones"!
"At parties, or in the bar, by all means, come up, say hi, introduce yourself, start a conversation, offer to buy me a drink," he wrote on LiveJournal.
"While I certainly don't mind talking about my books or the TV show, remember, I have done a thousand interviews on these subjects, and asking me about my favorite character or telling me who YOUR favorite character is will likely just send me slouching off to find someone who wants to talk about Jack Vance, sing old TV theme songs, or argue whether Sanchez or Tebow should QB the Jets."
"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 PM on HBO.
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