In an interview with IGN, GRRM indicated that he was still hard at work on The Winds of Winter, which won’t be coming out any time soon, and that he was very pleased with a new twist he had come up with: “It involves a couple of characters, one of whom is dead on the show but not dead in the books. The show can’t do this stuff, because they killed a character that I have not killed.” Even though it’s obviously Stannis, Martin still pointed out that it could be anyone, even Xaro, I guess: “At this point, there are like 15 characters who are dead on the show but not in the books.”
Martin sounds absolutely delighted with his twist, which I guess isn’t that surprising. One, it implies that he is actually making progress with Winds of Winter, which is undoubtedly no small relief. Two, it marks a radical evolution in his storytelling—deciding not to kill someone who could be killed is a radical step for Martin. And three, it hits back at the show that has become a thorn in his side, increasing the rabid demand for his (slow) writing and spoiling it at the same time. Over the past few years, Martin has become more insistent that the show and books are different (a point I very strongly agree with him on) and he seems more than happy to prove it.