The panel presentation for HBO‘s Game of Thrones kicked off with a tongue-in-cheek In Memoriam reel set to Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye To Yesterday,” remembering all the characters who were beheaded, stabbed or otherwise dispatched and teasing the series’ spring 2014 return. Cast members Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, John Bradley, Kit Harington, Rose Leslie and Richard Madden, and author George R.R. Martin joined exec producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for the fan-centric event. Martin acknowledged his penchant for offing his characters, joking that it made for lots of new job opportunities for actors and actresses. Soon afterward, Jason Momoa, aka the dearly departed Khal Drogo, crashed the panel to give Emilia Clarke a kiss shouting, “I’m not dead yet!”

The show is nominated for 16 Emmy Awards, including one for Clarke’s turn as Daenerys Targaryen. She recalled getting the news early Thursday morning. “My alarm went off really early at 6 AM in the hotel even though I never set it,” she said. “I saw I was getting a missed call from HBO telling us about the amazing news, and it took three phone calls for them to tell me no, no, you [were nominated] as well.”

Martin is still in the process of writing The Winds Of Winter and A Dream Of Spring, the sixth and seventh novels in his A Song Of Fire And Ice series from which Game Of Thrones is adapted. The Winds Of Winter is expected to be released in 2014 but the HBO series is slowly catching up. “I have to write quickly,” Martin said, “because the locomotive’s coming down the track behind me and I’m still laying down tracks.” Asked if he’d consider expanding the world of Westeros in a Ned Stark prequel novel, Martin said no. He may, however, go farther back in Game Of Thrones lore to explore the story of Aegon Targaryen, the conqueror who lived three hundred years before the time of the current series and whose saga is mentioned in the show’s first and second seasons.

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