George R.R. Martin won't let pressure rush his writing despite TV show closing in on him

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SAN FRANCISCO — George R.R. Martin has been feeling the heat to finish "The Winds of Winter," the long-awaited sixth novel in his best-selling series, "A Song of Ice and Fire," but he is not letting the pressure rush his writing.

"There is more pressure every year," Martin said Monday in San Francisco at the U.S. premiere of the fifth season of "Game of Thrones," the HBO television series based on his books. "The main thing is to make the book as good as I can possibly make it."

Martin, 66, has completed five of seven planned novels: The most recent, "A Dance With Dragons," came out in 2011, the same year the Emmy-winning television adaptation first aired. With this season, the series will have exhausted almost all the material from the existing books.

"Fifty years from now nobody is going to care how frequently the books came out," he said. "They will care if the books are as good as they can possibly be, if the books stand the test of time. That's what I struggle with as I write."

Martin and 24 cast members sat among the audience that watched the first episode of season five at San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House, a palatial building aptly suited for the television show about a mythical kingdom. It was packed with 3,000 people.

Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, said the stories that fans have been following for four seasons will start to intertwine in season five.

"The threads we've been weaving are really coming together now, and that will be quite satisfying to watch," Clarke said.

The City by the Bay is also a leading tech hub, and HBO gave "Game of Thrones" fans access to the black carpet event by streaming it live on the show's Facebook page. The series' stars also took time to answer fan questions submitted via Facebook, which ranged from what the actors would name their pet dragons to what characters will die next in the blood-soaked epic fantasy.

A couple of hundred fans who didn't want to watch on their computers stood on the street holding up posters of HBO's most watched series and waving at the actors as they walked the carpet.

"Game of Thrones" is set in the war-torn continent of Westeros, a place where winter and summer can last for decades and tells the story of warring kingdoms. The show includes stunning landscapes, lots of sex, plenty of sword fights and decapitations, and fire-breathing dragons.

Season five premieres April 12 on HBO and on HBO Now, the networks' streaming service, which will launch that day on Apple TV.

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