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“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.” He demonstrates the layout with his hands. “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.”