George Raymond Richard Martin was born in Bayonne, NJ. His love of writing came from within, as no one in his family was a writer; his father was a longshoreman and his mother worked in a factory. Yet even at a young age, Martin showed a passion for storytelling; he used to write monster stories and sold them to children in his neighborhood. An avid comic book reader and collector, he began writing fiction for comic fanzines as a high school student. He sold his first short story while a student at Northwestern University in Illinois, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1970. He went on to earn a master's of science from the same university in 1971. A conscientious objector, Martin performed alternate service during the Vietnam War. To pay the bills, he directed chess tournaments and worked as a college journalism professor. He eventually made his way to Hollywood, working as a writer for both film and television, and later as a producer. He was a story editor for the remake of Rod Serling's classic 1960s sci-fi series "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1985-89), and an executive story consultant for the fantasy drama series "Beauty and the Beast" (CBS, 1987-1990), a modern version of the fairy tale and romance between a mythical man-beast (Ron Perlman) and the woman he vows to love and protect (Linda Hamilton). While he worked in television, Martin continued to write science fiction and mysteries. Akin to his first novel Dying of the Light (1977), Martin's work often tackled darker themes, featuring gloomy characters who tried to stay idealistic in a hostile world.Feeling limited by the amount of pages and characters that he could create for television, Martin went back to his first love and started writing prose. In the 1990s, he worked on his epic fantasy series beginning with A Game of Thrones. The author was reportedly inspired by a strange dream of a man taking a boy to witness a beheading when they came upon a dead wolf that had just given birth to a litter. That image became the opening for Thrones, an action-packed story about the struggles of kings and queens, as well as renegades and knights - all for control of a throne. Most of Martin's characters were human, but new races were introduced as the series progressed, such as the cold and menacing "Others," fire-breathing dragons, ice vampires, and horse nomads. Martin's compelling saga was influenced by medieval history, particularly England's historic and bloody Wars of the Roses, and was told from multiple perspectives, allowing Martin to fully explore his characters' intricate pasts, motivations and inspirations. Death was a common theme in Martin's novels, as was rape, plunder, incest, magic and mindless destruction.Martin's Game of Thrones novel earned him a slew of literary awards, including a 1998 Nebula nomination and the 1996 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. The first volume spawned several best-selling sequels, including A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons, all page-turners about men and women engaged in vicious battles. Martin's work drew comparisons to other high-fantasy novel authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the classic Lord of the Rings book series (1954-55), due to the fact that both men wrote period epics set in mystical lands. Martin even patterned Tolkien's writing style of focusing narrowly at the beginning of each story before expanding the narrative. But unlike Tolkien's good vs. evil theme, Martin created flawed characters who often came from noble families. Martin's books were also generally longer - averaging 1,000 pages each with thousands of characters - and possessed a more adult voice.The success of Martin's epic fantasy series led to the Emmy-nominated television adaptation of "Game of Thrones," on which the author was listed as executive producer and one of the screenwriters. The eagerly anticipated HBO series kept Martin's vision for the book series intact, and featured large doses of tantalizing plotlines, breathtaking scenery, bloody battles, and explicit sex. It also featured a stellar cast that included Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms; Peter Dinklage, as Tyrione "The Imp" Lannister; and Sean Bean as Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark, rebellious Warden of the North. Thanks to Martin's dedicated fan base and glowing reviews, the series' season one final episode attracted more than three million viewers. On August 2011, Martin asked readers of his blog to help him retrieve what he believed were stolen scripts from season one of "Game of Thrones" by suggesting fans troll auction sites in case the scripts surfaced. Referencing one of his characters, he signed off his blog with the quote "Like Bloodraven, I have a thousand eyes and one. So let's keep 'em all peeled, boys and girls."