Author George R.R. Martin says that while he only has two books left in his fantasy epic series that began with "Game of Thrones," he won't be leaving the wintery world of Westeros forever.
"It will be very hard to say goodbye to these characters, (but) I don't know if I will necessarily say goodbye to the world," Martin, topped in his signature captain's hat, told Canada AM.
"Even when I finish this story, I think there will be other stories to tell set in the world of Westeros."
Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series has been billed a modern "Lord of the Rings" -- if J.R.R. Tolkien managed a fiercely complex yet coherent plot and had a taste for true medieval savagery.
While the series has strong fantasy roots, the books' realism and emphasis on political intrigue have expanded its fan base well beyond those normally associated with the genre.
The series has had sales are in the millions, and the television show it has spawned, HBO's predictably superb "Games of Thrones," has only spurned more.
"People are even recognizing me on the street, in restaurants. Writers don't get recognized, actors get recognized," the gregarious Martin told Canada AM.
Martin was in Toronto for a sold-out event at the Toronto International Film Festival's Bell Lightbox, where he expressed gratitude for his fans' continued support.
An exhibit at the Lightbox for "Games of Thrones" features the iron throne itself, along with a number of other goodies from the show, including swords, dragon eggs and (SPOILER ALERT!) the severed head of a major character.
The second season of the hugely popular "Game of Thrones" kicks off on HBO Canada on April 1.
Martin says he "very, very proud" to be associated with the show, but it's an odd sensation to see his written characters on television in flesh, blood and steel.
"But when you see it coming alive, there is no feeling quite like it," Martin says of the show, which he has been involved with since day one.
"For the writer, I even think it's different than for the fans. I'm a very visual writer. I see all these things in my mind's eye, and it's never going to be exactly the same."
Now while many eyes will be on the screen over the next few months, fans are itching for more books set in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
Martin's notoriously unhurried -- to be polite -- pace of writing has been a thorn in the side of his famously rabid fan base over the years.
"A Dance with Dragons," which was released last July, took six years for Martin to write. The wait obviously left fans salivating, as they gobbled up the book in droves.
"‘Dance with Dragons' boasts great sales, singlehandedly saves America, the publishing industry in that order" read a not-exactly hyperbolic headline at the pop-culture website A.V. Club, describing the book's opening week sales.
Still, Martin is promising his fans a tad quicker finish to the sixth and penultimate book in the series, "The Winds of Winter." He says he already has 200 pages written and hopes to have it finished in two, maybe three years. (WTF?!?!?!? UGH!!)
Even with that "speedy" prediction, it could be the turn of the next decade before Martin finishes up the series with "A Dream of Spring."
"I will say goodbye to these characters eventually (and) that will be hard. It will be like your children leaving home," he said.
With at least two novels left to be published in the series, there is the distinct possibility the HBO series will be wrapping up before the final page is written by Martin.
"There's always the fear . . . will I fumble the ball at the end, will I make a mistake?" Martin said.
Many winters are yet to come before fans get to make that decision for themselves.
Prayer circle for him to get his ass down and write more than two lines per day!!!