George R.R. Martin
Co-executive producer George R.R. Martin arrives for the season premiere of HBO's "Game of Thrones" in San Francisco, California March 23, 2015. Reuters/Robert Galbraith

The “Game of Thrones” TV series is infamous for killing off leading characters, including a few fan favourites. George RR Martin considers all his characters to be his children, and loves them all equally. How then does he have the heart to kill them off so quickly? The author explained his inspiration in a recent interview.

Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series has been added to the PBS “The Great American Read” collection. In an interview that has been posted on the YouTube channel of PBS the author spoke about “The Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkien, and how that series had an impact on him as a writer.

Memories are one of the things that shapes people, but Martin is a little conflicted about this. Nevertheless, he recalled his childhood. Growing up in New Jersey, Martin didn’t exactly have a wealthy lifestyle. While, some of the kids the author knew went to the beach or the mountains during the summer holidays, the author buried his head in books and travelled to exotic locations in his mind.

One of Martin’s favourite books is “The Lord of the Rings” series, which he read when he was in junior high school. The book started off slow, with a birthday party and a dissertation on pipe weed. Then the story picked up pace, and Martin decided that this was the best book he had ever read.

One of the things that impressed Martin about “The Lord of the Rings” is that Tolkien approached the book as if he was writing real history. The imaginary world that Tolkien created had a rich and long history. He has encapsulated the rise and fall of kingdoms in footnotes.

One specific scene in “The Lord of the Rings” that has a deep impact on Martin was the death of Gandalf, a central figure to the story. Martin pointed out that the suspense of the story was greater after this scene because it meant that anyone could die.

Martin confessed that the death of Gandalf increased his own willingness to kill the characters in his books “at the drop of a hat,” which is very evident in “Game of Thrones.”