Despite Game of Thrones Season 5 diverging from its source material, the upcoming year proves notable as the first without creator George R.R. Martin penning at least one episode. Now, Martin confirms that the same will be true of Game of Thrones Season 6, instead taking time to perfect the literary saga’s penultimate chapter, The Winds of Winter.

Speaking over his LiveJournal (yes, they still have those), Martin clarified a few recent reports of skipping conventions and public appearances over his busy schedule, which includes a number of producing duties unrelated to Game of Thrones. In particular, Martin noted that he’d been back and forth over a decision to return to screenwriting Season 6, but landed on his Game of Thrones effort best spent with the written word.

After wrestling with it for a month or so, I’ve decided not to script an episode for season six of GAME OF THRONES. Writing a script takes me three weeks, minimum, and longer when it is not a straight adaptation from the novels. And really, it would cost me more time than that, since I have never been good at changing gears from one medium to another and back again. Writing a season six script would cost me a month’s work on WINDS, and maybe as much as six weeks, and I cannot afford that. With David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Bryan Cogman on board, the scriptwriting chores for season six should be well covered. My energies are best devoted to WINDS.

So… back to it.

Elsewhere of Game of Thrones Season 5 (already renewed for 6, with the cast signed through 7, and further talk of beyond), we know of multiple returning, confirmed absent, and new characters cast, confirming the show’s trip to Spain. The story will draw heavily from George R.R. Martin’s fourth and fifth novels, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, while HBO has also provided a list of directors, as well as insight into which literary stories may not make the transition to film.

While the upcoming season will take us closer than ever to eclipsing George R.R. Martin’s novels altogether, we’ll at least have The Winds of Winter to enjoy in Martin’s absence from the HBO series. Check out the latest clips below, and stay tuned for more on the April 12 Game of Thrones premiere!

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