I’m lying in my sickbed, spindrifts of spent tissues tumbling in an avalanche off the duvet, the mug of restorative tea just a little too far out of reach to do me any good, when I have a blinding insight. Or is it just a headache?
In all the books I’ve written, no one ever gets ill. I mean, they get stabbed, shot, beaten, gouged, burned, sacrificed and poisoned, but not one character has ever actually just had a cold. Or an allergy. Or a blister. No, wait, I do write about blisters. Scratch that. Well don’t, it’ll just get infected.
I’ve written about mental illness and the physical effects of battle, hardship and famine, but no one just gets ill. No one coughs, or sneezes, or has to wipe a runny nose on a sleeve because tissues haven’t been invented. No one gets chilblains or mouth ulcers or noses red and raw and peeling.
Which means that my world, as realistic as it is, is lacking a very significant part of human experience. I mean, what would it be like to have to fight for your life when your head’s pounding, your throat’s raw and swollen and every joint aches? And not just that, but what would it be like to have to do simple things like farm, hunt, herd sheep with those symptoms?
That’s it. I have drained my brain of every last useable neuron and now I’m going to have some more tablets, drink my tea, and have a nap. But thank you, vicious head cold and lung-rattling cough, you’ve made a very important contribution to my writing career. Now kindly sod off and plague someone else.