He's a master manipulator in all the best ways, but this time George R. R. Martin is pulling strings outside of the Game of Thrones book universe.
He announced Thursday in a new interview with IGN that he plans to go forward with a twist he has long contemplated: Using a character in Winds of Winter, the upcoming sixth installment of his A Song of Ice and Fire series, that has already been killed off of HBO's television version.
As for which character it might be, Martin isn't saying, though he did get in a teeny dig:
"[T]hat doesn't narrow it down much because at this point there are like fifteen characters who are dead on the show who are still alive in the books..."
Fans have long known that the books and television series will likely not end up in the precisely the same place. Martin offered an apologetic update on his blog on Jan. 2 revealing that he had missed a number of deadlines and that the book would not be complete anytime soon.
"I'm a slow writer, and I've always been a slow writer," he told IGN. "And also I've had a lot of, you know, distractions in the last few years. One of the distractions is the show."
Martin wrote episodes -- typically one per season -- for the show and served as a co-executive producer; he announced last March that he would not write an episode for the sixth season of Game of Thrones because his "energies are best devoted to Winds."
While there's no absolutely no reason to believe Martin's tardiness in producing the final novel is intentional, it is fun to imagine the master's excitement in regaining ultimate say over his characters' fates.
See a portion of IGN's interview here.