Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

Surreal Life

by Ty Franck

Ser Jorah Mormont/David Bowie

So I return from Malta tired and deeply aware of how strange my life is. This is something that I am forced to remind myself from time to time, as even the strangest life can come to seem mundane without a proper frame of reference.

For example: I’m a writer, by at least a few definitions of that word. Like most people in difficult and competitive professions, I value the advice and counsel of those who have succeeded. In an odd and totally unrelated coincidence, I work for George R.R. Martin, who Time magazine once called “The American Tolkien.” Honestly, totally unrelated. I didn’t get this job because of being a writer, and in point of fact, up until relatively recently George was utterly uninterested in my writing.

But even while working as a stealth writer, totally under George’s radar, I got to sit and talk the business of writing with him. Often for hours. I learned the ins and outs of the publishing business, along with George’s theories on craft. Things that any neophyte would pay thousands of dollars to hear (and many a Clarion student has) George lecture on. I received this enormous bounty because George happened to be looking for an assistant at about the same time that I was half heartedly looking for a job.

Now, three years later, in a series of increasingly unlikely events that would make most struggling writers pull their hair out with disbelief, I am a paid novelist with a series of books coming out. And those years of learning from the master have paid off in entirely unexpected ways.

So, that’s just one example.

So, Malta.

I went with the boss to the Island nation of Malta to visit the set of the Game of Thrones series HBO is filming. We got to watch a bunch of the filming, and even had time to visit a few historic sites on an island absolutely brimming with history.

As I ambled through an armor museum in Valletta chatting with George about the amazing displays, it struck me that once again I was experiencing a surreal moment. The author of one of the most beloved fantasy series of all time was chatting with me about full plate armor, and why it was designed in certain ways to stop certain kinds of attacks. How did that happen? If I wrote a story in which that happened to the protagonist, no one would believe it.

And I kept coming back to that surreal feeling as I ate lunch with the guy who is going to play Conan the Barbarian in an upcoming film, or had a drink and a laugh with Daenerys Targaryen, talked Converse sneakers with an award winning costume designer. This is weird, I had to keep reminding myself. This is unusual. Don’t let this become mundane.

And I think I mostly succeeded. I hope I stored up that sense of strangeness for later, so that when I write about being in a strange situation I can bring it back.

But the real reason I wrote all of this is to talk about the most surreal thing I’ve ever seen:

One day while filming on some stunning cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean sea near Rabat, I saw Iain Glen, dressed in full plate and chain armor, loudly singing Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Yeah, my life is fucking weird.

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11 Responses »

  1. Thanks for sharing! Ziggy Stardust actually became so meaningful to me thanks to spending a summer listening to it over and over again while gazing at, boating alongand laying next to the Mediterranean. They go well together, I think.

  2. I had that same feeling when you, George, and I spent a solid hour discussing the different classical forms of capital punishment.

  3. Do you know what’s even weirder? That the filming of Game of Thrones in Malta (or rather Gozo, to be precise) has completely obliterated an entire ecosystem, thanks to the carelessness of the production crew (not to mention incompetence of the planning authority in not vetting the filming application thoroughly enough.

  4. I was never on Gozo, so I can’t speak on the allegations about what happened there. We arrived days after those sets had been struck.

    But I can say that on the sets I was on, the government had ecological inspectors on site.

  5. You have to come back to Malta because you missed some thing. And you could do worse than bring another notebook with you!

  6. I just wanted to know when “The Spiders War” will be available.
    Thanks and love your books!
    Jim Daly

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