[APRIL FOOLS!!!! This article is for joke purposes only. None of it is true.]

Ever since it was first announced that George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire would be turned into a full-fledged HBO show, Game of Thrones, one major question has continued to resurface: will the writer be able stay ahead of a hectic cable network production schedule? Recently, the author went on record stating that he was still hoping to finish the book series before HBO completes its planned 7 or 8 season run of the accompanying live-action adaptation.

Still, even the most dedicated Song of Ice and Fire fans have been skeptical that Martin can actually accomplish the task, especially given his increasingly busy scheduled promoting the show on international press tours, which leaves even less time for actual day-to-day writing. In the face of increasing skepticism, Martin even released a new chapter from the forthcoming book 6, The Winds Of Winter to sate anxious readers and remind them that the remaining novels have not been forgotten.

However, the author didn’t stop there: In a statement posted at the official George R. R. Martin fan page, only days after the release of the novel excerpt, Martin revealed that he has been working with a pair of co-authors on the The Winds Of Winter –  as well as book 7, tentatively titled A Dream of Spring – to ensure that dedicated readers have an opportunity to finish the series story before it airs on HBO.

Read an excerpt from Martin’s statement below:

The last four years have been a whirlwind of excitement for me and throughout all of it I’ve kept writing. As many of my readers know I always envisioned a grand finale for my adventures in Westeros. Now, thanks to HBO, we’ve been able to share my beloved characters with more people than I could possibly imagine. But it also created an immense pressure to get the last two books written. I’ve met with the producers multiple times and they’ve always known the broad strokes of the series, who will die and who will win – all the while I’ve been steadily putting one word after another. However, a few months ago while watching early scenes from season 4, I had to admit that if I wanted to get these books done, I was going to need some help. I didn’t want (you) readers, who have been with me since the beginning, to have to choose between watching the show or waiting for me to finish the books. At the same time, I didn’t want to rush my writing just to get it done. In full admittance, ‘The Winds of Winter’ chapter I released last week is a sample of this new collaborative effort that will help me to release the final two installments in a ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ in the coming years. It wasn’t easy to give up control over every word, but I truly feel it’s in the best interest of my readers. I’m still writing the broad strokes, now I just have a little help filling in the details. I look forward to sharing more chapters of “The Winds Of Winter” in the coming weeks, and hope to release the book later this year.

No doubt, fans will forever wonder what the final two books would have looked like had Martin written every word on his own – but it’s also important to keep in mind that novels are rarely written entirely in a bubble. Editors make changes, publishers often suggest major alterations, and writers revisit drafts multiple times before they ever make it to print. While Martin doesn’t indicate how much of the final two books will be co-written by his collaborators (who we expect will be named in an official announcement from A Song of Ice and Fire publisher Bantam Books), it sounds as though the series’ creator will still be extremely involved – charting out the core storyline and character developments and leaving the arduous tasks of fleshing out individual scenes to his co-writers.

The announcement is a surprise but it doesn’t come out of nowhere either,  as Martin has become increasingly aware (and vocal) over the last year about the ticking clock hanging over his head. At one point, industry insiders had speculated that HBO might give Martin more time by stretching out storylines and including more “filler” episodes or outright developing a spin-off Song of Ice and Fire prequel series that could be aired once the cable show caught up with the written text. Either avenue would have provided Martin a couple extra years writing time, but throughout 2013, HBO producers D. B. Weiss and David Benioff repeatedly reinforced that they were planning for 7 or 8 seasons – and would cover material that Martin had yet to publish if need be.

That might sound callous, but with rapidly aging actors and actresses playing key characters – especially Maisie Williams (who plays Arya Stark) – it’s clear that showrunners were working with logistics that Martin doesn’t have to deal with in book form. Certainly, they’re attempting to keep interest and momentum for the show rolling (which would no doubt be hurt by a lengthy off-air hiatus) but they were also protecting the integrity of Martin’s world as it is depicted on screen.

Some will, without question, criticize Martin for not completing the series years ago, but it’s great to see that even after the critical acclaim and financial success, Martin is still trying to do what is best for his fans. The lengthy time between each new book release, paired with HBO’s plan to end the series in a mere four years time, means that readers would have been faced with a tough decision: complete their twenty-year journey through the books with the HBO series, or attempt to avoid TV series finale spoilers while Martin hammered away on the final book.

Faced with a no-win situation, the author chose a path that, while controversial, will likely assure that readers can stay ahead of the HBO show. Additionally, the decision will also help provide the TV series with a more fleshed-out source material to guide producers and writers – so that the story is (mostly) in sync across both mediums.

We’ll keep you up to date as we hear further official details from Martin about when to expect The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. In the meantime, check out the full statement from Martin over at the George R. R. Martin Fan Page and vote in our poll below.

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Game of Thrones returns for season 4 April 6th on HBO.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further news and updates on Game of Thrones, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Source: George R. R. Martin