By Dan Abromowitz


George R. R. Martin's editor recently hinted that the Song of Ice and Fire series, the basis for HBO's smash hit Game of Thrones, may end up being eight books long rather than the planned seven. Fans have long feared that Martin may die before finishing the increasingly expansive series, but in this exclusive open letter, he tackles those fears head-on:

My friends and companions,

Please know that your concerns for my health and wellbeing are not going unheard, nor are they unfounded. I'll admit freely that I'm not in the best shape, as anyone can see, and I am certainly getting up there in years. And there are thousands and thousands of pages still to write, at least a decade of continual work. But before you take to comment threads and blogs to stoke concern over my apparently imminent demise, please, know this:

I want to die. Dearly, truly, monomaniacally, I want to be mulch. If I could shuffle off right now, I would, in less than a heartbeat. God knows I've tried.

But HBO won't let me.

In fall of 2011, I suffered a massive coronary. The public never knew. A Dance With Dragons was on shelves, season 2 was in production, and I had never been more stressed. My future sprawled before me, an endless dusty highway of writing, consulting, interviewing, this convention, that panel, this rape controversy, that character's death. One afternoon a meeting with D. B. Weiss and David Benioff, the show's executive producers, got overheated. I raised my voice, stood up too fast, and felt something pop. Well, I thought, that's that.