Did you know the idea for Game of Thrones began with a young George R.R. Martin’s pet turtles? In a June 2012 interview with the Financial Times, Martin reminisced over his childhood in New Jersey and discussed how the idea for Game of Thrones began with a series of deaths involving his pet turtles.
George R. R. Martin’s Pet Turtles
“In America at the time, in places like Woolworths, you could buy ‘dime store turtles’ – they came in a little plastic bowl, it had water down one side and a divider down the middle, gravel on the other side and a little fake palm tree. Those were the only pets we could have.
I had a toy castle set up near my bed, made of tin, and the courtyard was just big enough for two turtle tanks, and I had five or six turtles who lived in the castle. I decided they were knights, lords and kings, so I started writing this whole fantasy series about the turtle kingdom and the king of the turtles.
And these particular turtles seemed to die very easily. I don’t think it was really a very good environment for them. Sometimes they would escape and you would find them under the refrigerator a month later, all dead. So my turtles kept dying, which was very distressing but it also made me think, ‘Why are they dying? Well, they are killing each other in sinister plots.’ I started writing this fantasy about who was killing who, and the wars for succession. So Game of Thrones originally began with turtles, I think.” – George R.R. Martin (Source)
Martin further explained his connection with turtles at 2012’s Comic Con when a fan from Iceland asked the author why he wears a hat with a turtle on it. Martin again discussed GOT’s special connection with turtles.
George R.R. Martin at Comic-Con (2012)
“Turtles have always been my sigil, I suppose. When I was a kid, growing up in Bayonne, NJ, I lived in a federal housing project, and we were not allowed to have a dog or cats. The only pets I could have were turtles. So, I had an entire toy castle filled with dime-store turtles. I gave them all names, and since they were living in a toy castle, I decided they were all knights and kings…and I made up stories about how they killed each other and betrayed each other and fought for the kingdom. So, Game of Thrones, actually began with turtles. I decided later to recast it with actual human beings.” -George R.R. Martin (Source)