If you know anything about George R. R. Martin, it's probably his fondness for dressing like a fancy pirate and a bloodthirst that rivals only the most vicious serial killers. Look at him revel in innocent people's reactions to his heartless murder of the very characters he birthed into being, the absolute sicko.
It turns out this propensity stems from the same place as a lot of sociopaths, the deaths of animals, but he wasn't doing the killing. When he was young, he lived in a housing project that didn't allow cats or dogs, so the only pets he was allowed to have were "dime-store turtles." Because he's apparently always been that kind of nerd, he stuck their tanks in the courtyard of a tin toy castle near his bed and started making up stories about them as lords and knights and such.
Then the turtles started dying. It's not clear why -- some of them escaped and were "found under the refrigerator a month later, all dead." Others perhaps didn't thrive on the cheap turtle food you get at a dime store, or they were just the cheap turtle equivalent of a goldfish won at a carnival that was never destined to be long for this world. Whatever the case, it drove little Martin crazy trying to figure out why his beloved turtles kept dying, much like millions of future HBO subscribers would fret aloud about the cold-blooded murder of their faves.
To cope, he decided to work their deaths into the story, to pit them against each other in a battle for the turtle throne in an epic saga he called Turtle Castle. It was basically Game of Thrones with turtles, which would honestly make billions. Turtles still figure prominently in Game of Thrones lore, one of which was worshiped as a god by one culture who started a whole war with another one when they killed it. Not as cool as Game of Turtles, but it's all we get, at least until HBO calls us back.
Top image: HBO, Marcel Heil/Unsplash