George R. R. Martin reveals where he got the idea for 'The Wall'

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There is perhaps no more defining a feature of the Game of Thrones series than The Wall, the 700-foot-tall, 300-foot-wide barrier dividing civilized Westeros from the wild creatures in the north. And there is no more defining a feature of Chicago than its abominable winters.


So it's not surprising to learn that Martin, who attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and was in town this week to accept an alumni achievement award from the school, says he modeled The Wall after Chicago's frequently epic snow drifts and devastatingly freezing temperatures.

In particular, according to the Chicago Tribune, the idea came from his experience living through the blizzard of 1967, which has its own devoted Wikipedia page:

"It was like the trenches during World War I, but they were trenches of ice," Martin said. "I remember walking through the trenches and the tunnels of ice, the wind blowing so you couldn't even see. It's an experience that never left me."

That snowstorm is "where the Wall began in his mind, years later, when he began to write '[A Song of] Ice and Fire,'" the first book in the Game of Thrones series, the paper reports.

Martin also revealed that he wished Lady Stoneheart, "the cruel resurrected corpse of Lady Catelyn Stark," as well as Arianne Martell, the heiress to the Dornish throne, were in the HBO series version of his books, which returns to TV in April. But he refused to comment on the future of the series' hero, Jon Snow.

"Read the books," he said.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.