George R.R. Martin poignantly revealed how his childhood pet turtle inspired “Game of Thrones” in an appearance on “The Late Show” on Wednesday.
“I love turtles, my writing career began with turtles,” Martin told Stephen Colbert after the host noticed his purple turtle brooch.
Martin pointed out that J.R.R. Tolkien and others influenced his “Thrones” novels — and later, the powerhouse HBO series based on his work — but expanded on how the fragile “dime store turtles” of his youth helped influence the series.
“I lived in Bayou, New Jersey, in a federal housing project. We were not allowed to have dogs. We were not allowed to have cats. So the only pets I was allowed to have were turtles — little dime store turtles,” Martin explained. “I had a toy castle. I could fit two turtle bowls in the castle. But the thing is about those little dime store turtles is they die very soon.”
Martin continued: “I fed them the turtle food, I thought I was doing everything right. I couldn’t figure out why they would die. It certainly wasn’t my fault. I decided they were competing for the turtle throne. They were competing for who would be the turtle king. That was my first fantasy: Turtle Castle. It preceded ‘Game of Thrones’ by many years.”
Martin was appearing to promote the new Westeros history book, “Fire and Blood.” “Game of Thrones” is set to return to HBO in 2019.