George R.R. Martin’s A DANCE WITH DRAGONS B&N signing



Last night, George rocked the Barnes & Noble at Union Square. Lo these many years ago, back in 2005, I was present at George’s first New York City signing for A FEAST FOR CROWS, which took place at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble. Before then, New York crowds were considered too sophisticated to turn out in any numbers for a lowly genre fantasy author, but we decided to try it with FEAST. It succeeded beyond our wildest imagination. I think the store expected about a hundred folks. They got over 700.

And last night’s event blew that previous event completely out of the water! We snuck in through the backdoor of the Union Square store at 6 pm, and got delivered, via freight elevator, to the green room, where we set up an assembly line of signing, stickering, and stacking stock while the crowd outside buzzed with anticipation. George’s publicist and I snuck looks at the crowd, which had filled both the fourth floor, and the third. It was impressively large.

At about 6:45 pm, we decided to make our entrance, since many of the fans had been waiting patiently since 8 am. We freight elevatored to the third floor, then made our way through the third floor crowds to the escalator, then up to the fourth floor events stage. As George crested the escalator, a howl of joy rose from the assembled masses, quickly organizing itself into cries of: “The King in the North, the King in the North!” We were all grinning.

George spoke for about half an hour, answering the two most anticipated questions in advance: “Why did it take you so long?” and “What do you think of the show?” Then he took additional questions from the audience, who were asked in advance not the reveal any spoilers. Which led to one delightfully convoluted question, and George’s answer: “If you’re talking about what I think you are talking about, then the answer is yes.”

After the Q & A, a kindly representative on behalf of the ladies at the Inn at the Crossroads presented George with a fortifying basket of meat pies to help him through the signing, and George took the opportunity to announce that I just recently completed a deal with Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, the amazing women behind the site, and will be publishing an Ice and Fire cookbook soon. More howls of approval met the news.

Here is what the crowd looked like right before the signing commenced:

B&N signing 1

Then the signing began. And continued. And continued. And continued. Because of the number of people who had turned up, George could not personalize any entries or pose for photographs, or sign any more than two books, but from where I sat at the exit to the stage, no one seemed remotely upset about this. It was all grins and bouncing as person after person exited the line, delightedly clutching their singed DANCEs.

The staff at the store were incredible, managing the vast crowds with a seamless grace that was truly impressive to witness as they moved them into and out of the seats. And they had nothing but praise for the assembled masses, who were polite and well-mannered, and cheerful throughout. I think many friendships were forged during that long day of waiting, because lots of folks were exchanging contact details with their seatmates as they exited the line. The feeling of collegiality and love for all things Ice and Fire was palpable in the room throughout.

2 1/2 hours into the event, the crowds were still vast and happy:

B&N signing 2

B&N clocked the crowd at 1,800 strong by the time the event ended at 10:30 pm–beating George’s 1,650-person Boston event handily. They said it was one of the best author signings they had ever hosted–in large part due to the general froodiness of all the fans. So thanks for being such a stand-up bunch, you guys! You did us all proud.

They also said it was one of the best EDITOR signings they had ever hosted as well. George was kind enough to point me out as the woman who beat him with the big stick in order to hasten the delivery of the books, and I received a lot of grateful thanks for my work at getting DANCE out there at last. I also, to my amazement, was asked to sign about 100 of the books myself. At one point, I even had a line!

George was thrilled with the event, and burned through three pen cartridges–and into a fourth–before all was done.

B&N signing 3

It was genuine thrill to be witness to this event, and to share in the love for all things Ice and Fire that pervaded the room. I’ve always known that these books were the best thing ever, and it is an awesome thing to see how many people now share that passion. I was honored to be with everyone there last night, and thank you so much for your enthusiam and devotion. And to the folks at the Union Square Barnes & Noble…you folks are the GREATEST! Thanks for hosting a truly memorable evening.

  • Lauren

    It really was well organized and to be honest, I didn’t even feel like I was there from 12:30. B&N handled the even so beautifully.

    Also, a big thank you for signing our books! I am proud to say I was on that line waiting for you. 🙂

  • Anne Groell

    It was SO my pleasure! And B&N gets BIG props!

  • I really wish at events like this there were ‘spoiler’ sections setup. One of the things I most enjoy about signings like this is discussing the books with other fans.

    So many there had only read the first book (or maybe just seen the series) that you couldn’t really do this. I’ve been to signings there for Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson and those were (compared to this event) small enough that we could, on an impromptu basis, move around to an area where spoilers weren’t a problem.

    I was really disappointed that Martin wouldn’t even answer questions on the first four books (which have been out for six years + ). Either way, it was still a good even, very well organized, and I’m glad I came.

  • Iain Bryden

    Thank you for a great recap and of course for editing! I wanted to tell your readers the experience from the end of the line that night.

    I work near Union Square and marked my calendar as soon as I heard about the appearance. The afternoon of the event I stopped by the store to get a glimpse of the setting. The main seating area on the fourth floor was already half full. I asked an employee about what to do later and was told to buy the books downstairs first, keep the receipt handy, and then head upstairs. Those who purchased books in the store would get priority and there was a max of two books to get signed. I had planned to buy three, but oh well.

    After work I got to the store at 5:50 and the 4th floor was so full no one else was permitted. Thankfully there was a reserve line on the third. I bought my two copies of Dances from the cashier and was directed to the end of the line. Some staffers warned us that because of the volume we may not get signed copies. I waited in line hopeful as we sat against the bookshelves. I was approximately in the middle of the line on that floor. A little later another staff member told us to expect to get out at about midnight, a better report than earlier. At 6:45 I saw the back of Mr. Martin and his crew ascend the escalator to a roar of enthusiasm. Unfortunately we couldn’t hear anything other than the except occasional cheer.

    At around 7:30 my cousin, who got to the store early enough to fit on the 4th floor, texted that the signing began. A staffer came down about an hour later to let us know the author was signing pretty rapidly and we should get out earlier than expected. Sometime after that the line moved, we were let up the escalator in groups of ten, stood in another line, and eventually to a seating area that had cleared out. I got a nice isle seat with a straight view of GRRM signing feverously and a bunch of blurry phone photos. Eventually my row got called and I got my two books signed. Mr. Martin said thank you and apologized for the long wait. I got the person next to me in line to snap a photo of me with the author in the background. I was out of the store at 9:45 with one signed copy for myself and another for a birthday gift for my mom. It was a the best waiting in line I can recall in a while. Hopefully I can find a recording of the talk so it will make up for me missing it.

    — Iain

  • PJ

    I’d also like to say thanks again for signing my books. I sneaked my old first edition Game of Thrones to George along with aDwD and I’m thrilled that I was able to get your signature on it, too. It’s the pride of my collection – the book that started it all, signed by the folks who worked so hard to bring it to us.

    I still think they should have given you your own table!

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