I was asked why the protagonist in my new book Snuff O’Brien’s Private War is a disabled former soldier.
I create characters for a range of reasons and draw on numerous sources. There is usually a trigger, often deep in my subconscious, that shapes the characters.
Some years back I was visiting the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham and saw soldiers disabled from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
They sat in the foyer entrance of the hospital. Some displayed the bandaged stumps of arms or legs. Others showed the bare frameworks of their prosthetic limbs.
The soldiers sat chatting with friends and other patients. They didn’t look for sympathy, nor did they want pity.
I heard some visitors muttering “shouldn’t be allowed in public looking like that”. Or, it was “disgusting to have to look at that”. Worst of all was the comment “it’s their own fault for fighting in that war”.
Now we have the Paralympics and the Invictus Games that show us the power of individuals to be in control no matter what limitations are imposed on them. I think there is hope for us.
The disabled protagonist in my next book is not hiding in a corner. It is my small tribute to those young people I met in the Queen Elizabeth hospital.