Questions 3: Nobody Likes Being Sick

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So, I’m tending to a kid with strep right now.  Lots of kid movies and pampering, which has me thinking about being sick in a story.  It doesn’t come up too often unless it’s a central part of the story.  I kind of used one in Curse of the Dark Wind.  Anyway, let’s get to the question before I’m back on the parent job.

  1. Have you ever used a disease in a story?  Why or why not?
  2. What is one thing that you think is necessary when using a disease in a story?
  3. What is something you want now or as a kid when you’re really sick besides sleep?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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37 Responses to Questions 3: Nobody Likes Being Sick

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    1. No so 2.Not really thought about it and 3. Locozade… a glucose drink my mother always gave me when I was ill as a child. I don’t even particularly like the stuff…but i always wish someone would bring me some when I’m ill 🙂


  2. That is an excellent point, actually. Everyday life is rife with all sorts of health problems, yet the ones we see in fiction usually fall under the plague-that-wipes-humanity-off-the-face-of-the-earth category. Either that or the fictional world is refreshingly disease-free.

    Of course, I’m guilty myself of that – but I did deal with it by stating that nanobots are constantly killing any dangerous bacteria and viruses on Pearseus.


  3. L. Marie says:

    Oh no! I hope your son feels better soon.
    1. Have you ever used a disease in a story? Why or why not?
    My illnesses usually center around pregnancy issues, cold-related issues (fevers), or battle wounds. I usually write about an apothecary or knowledgeable herbalist who deals with the issue. If my characters are out in the field, I usually have them carry medicinal plants or something. In my contemporary story, I’m dealing with a character who is under the influence of a magically generated curse, which is draining her of her energy. Still figuring out the cure for this!

    2. What is one thing that you think is necessary when using a disease in a story?
    Plausibility, depending on the era of the story. Since I have stories set in a mythical land, I can make up my own diseases. However, they still need to be plausible and treated in a way that a reader can understand. I researched medicinal plants and their treatment for various forms of illness (like feverfew, yarrow, or arnica).

    3. What is something you want now or as a kid when you’re really sick besides sleep?
    When I was a kid and sick in bed, my mom gave me ice cream. That was what I wanted! That or a new comic book or a Mad or Cracked magazine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • He’s holding in there. Not a happy camper and eating isn’t easy. Managed to get a little into him.

      1. Curses are always hard to do. You need to make them curable, but not so easy that any priest can do it.

      2. I remember being asked why there were still diseases if priests could heal with magic. Explained the diseases had their own auras, so combating one involves a lot of conflicting energies.

      3. We’re trying ice cream on the kid, but he has no appetite.

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. Marie says:

        Good points! I’m trying to make the magic costly as well as feared. People in my world are suspicious of it, because it comes with a physical cost that can be worst, sometimes, than the disease.
        Strep is hard because it’s painful. Poor little guy! What does he like to play with or watch?


      • I was always on the fence about the exact cost for magic. Exhaustion and a lot of anti-magic stuff are big ones.

        The kid likes Wild Kratts and Inside Out, but he doesn’t have the energy to make it for very long. Toys are being offered and put aside. Right now, he’s resting in his bed and I check on him every 5 minutes.


  4. Hugs. I need hugs when I’m sick. I feel loved despite my condition when I’m miserable. And lots of fruit juice. The only disease I used in my first book was mental illness. Ms. Bea was delusional and saw fairy babies that stung her. She barricaded herself against them. It was a long term effect of her suppressing knowledge of her husband’s abortion business. Sybil had a bout with alcoholism and deep depression after her husband died that sent her into rehab. The mental illness served to demonstrate how our environment and experiences can contribute to such phenomena and to show how people cope, healthy or unhealthy. I don’t know if there is one thing necessary to use a disease in a story. It would depend on how the story unfolds. If someone, say a P.I., had the flu for a week, it could certainly impair his performance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Performance impairment is what I was thinking of. The mental illnesses can be even tougher to write. You need a lot of research to gain some understanding. Not to mention you have people with their own ideas on how one condition works. I’m actually trying to figure out a mental illness or neurological disorder to put on Lloyd in Crossing Bedlam. It’d be a side-effect from something he did in the first book.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have tons of experience in psychiatry if you want to shoot me an email. I worked for two years on a unit with the criminally insane and incarcerated. Also worked in crisis stabilization and detox for several years.


      • The challenge is picking something that can be a hindrance, but not crippling to the extreme. I’ll shoot you an email to explain what I was thinking of. Once I get a moment to compose my thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Bookwraiths says:

    Sorry that your kid is sick. My youngest son had Strep about four years ago and could not get rid of it. After about ten weeks of antibiotics, he had to have his tonsils removed. Definitely hope your son doesn’t have to deal with all that. I’d recommend trying to get some local, organic honey. It soothes the throat pain and has natural antibiotics to help kill the infection.

    As for illness in stories, I really enjoy authors adding a bit of normalcy to a hero occasionally. Nothing wrong with seeing Spider-man have the sniffles or Batman trying to get out of bed and fight crime even though he has the flu. It humanizes them a bit, makes me empathize with them more. 🙂


    • I’m praying it doesn’t last that long or result in surgery. He hasn’t wanted anything to do with honey, but soupy ice cream and yogurt have been helping out. When I can get him to eat. Honestly, it’s the fatigue that’s causing most of the trouble with him.

      They really do need to give superheroes more colds. Every disease seems to be either the Legacy Virus, spider mutations, or kryptonite-based. 😉


  6. I’ve never used a disease, but probably should. I’ve mentioned chasing patient zero a time or two because I liked the name of the bacteria Elizabeth Kingia.

    The disease would have to be important. If not a plague type story, it should make things more difficult. Cloudy thinking, or a cough that brings a hail of bullets.

    When I’m sick again, I want servants.


    • That does sound like an interesting bacteria. Was surprised to find that it’s real too. Totally agree about the level of difficulty changing for a character. I was looking into muscle and joint aching yesterday for a future story.

      I could definitely use a servant right now. At least for an hour while I recoup my thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry the little guy has strep. I suppose it is better to have something that can be cured though. Best wishes to pa pa.
    Have you ever used a disease in a story? Why or why not? No. Just haven’t had the opportunity
    What is one thing that you think is necessary when using a disease in a story? It has to fit the story line and have a consequence. Just being sick doesn’t seem to be the right thing to do.
    What is something you want now or as a kid when you’re really sick besides sleep? I used to love toast with butter and sugar cut into strips with a cup of tea. (My mom made hot water milk and sugar and called it tea) I would then dip the toast into the “tea.”


    • Thanks. Been a fight for most of the day. He isn’t very helpful when I’ve had to get him to the bathroom or feed him.

      Interesting how just being sick doesn’t really happen. It would be extraneous in that way. Might work in a lengthy series where you’re used to the hero being badass and a cold weakens them.

      That combo sounds good. Have to remember that if the kid ever gets a love of hot drinks.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes. The hot drink thing is key.


  9. 1. Have you ever used a disease in a story? Why or why not?
    I used radiation poisoning in my book, Blood Orange. Not sure it classifies as a disease, but it fit the story.
    2.What is one thing that you think is necessary when using a disease in a story?
    Do your homework. If you are inaccurate about symptoms or a treatment, someone will troll you out there.
    3.What is something you want now or as a kid when you’re really sick besides sleep?
    Chicken soup with rice.


  10. 1. In my children’s book Gateway to Magic, the hero has a fungus allergy. To his horror, he has to live in a toadstool while he’s trapped in Fairyland.
    2. The disease has to be relevant to the story.
    3. Powerful painkillers!


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