Picture, if you can, "The Watchers on the Wall," the spectacular season four episode of Game of Thrones featuring the Night's Watch fending off Mance Rayder's wildling army in the dead of night -; the same battle that claimed the lives of poor Pyp and Jon Snow's lover Ygritte, not to mention the fight where Sam "The Slayer" Tarly truly came alive.
Now picture George R.R. Martin in the middle of that battle, shrouded in the heavy black cloaks and armor worn by the members of Westeros' northernmost outpost, wind kissing snowflakes into his famously cheery beard.
Harder to imagine, perhaps, but an image that has ties to the Game of Thrones origin story all the same.
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'Game of Thrones': George R.R. Martin reveals his inspiration for The Wall
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: (L-R) Actors Natalie Dormer, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Finn Jones attend Game of Thrones: A Panel of Ice and Fire during New York Comic-Con Day 1 at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on October 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actor Peter Dinklage, winner of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for 'Game of Thrones', poses in the press room at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: The cast and crew of 'Game of Thrones', winners of the award for Outstanding Drama Series', pose in the press room at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)
Kit Harington, and from left, Rose Leslie and John Bradley attend the "Game of Thrones" panel on Day 2 of Comic-Con International on Friday, July 25, 2014, in San Diego. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 8: Kit Harington at Good Morning America promoting the new season of HBO's Game of Thrones in New York City on April 8, 2015. Credit: RW/MediaPunch/IPX
In this Tuesday, April 7, 2015 photo, actress Carice van Houten poses for a photo in Los Angeles. Van Houten plays Melisandre the Red Woman in the HBO series "Game of Thrones" which returns on April 12. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron looks at a scene during a visit to the popular TV fantasy drama Game of Thrones television set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Britain goes to the polls in a General Election on May 7. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, pool)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: A model of one of Daenerys Targaryen's dragons is seen at photo call to launch Game of Thrones Season 5 at the at Sydney Opera House on April 10, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 23: Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau attends the premiere of HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Season 5 at San Francisco Opera House on March 23, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29: Dean Charles-Chapman, Liam Cunningham, Kit Harington, Isaac Kempstead and Thomas Brodie-Sangster collect the Empire Hero Award for 'Game of Thrones' on stage during the Jameson Empire Awards 2015 at the Grosvenor House Hotel on March 29, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 20: Snoop Dogg attends HBO Game of Thrones Presents: Snoop Dogg Catch The Throne Event At SXSW on March 20, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for HBO Game of Thrones)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth visits the throne room at the set of the Game of Thrones TV series in Belfast's Titanic Quarter, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, June, 24, 2014. The Queen is on a 3 day visit to northern Ireland. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
In the past, Martin has credited Hadrian's Wall from the days of the Roman Empire as a historical touchstone for the iconic Game of Thrones location. In this recent conversation, however, he revealed an even more personal connection with Jon Snow's home base: Martin's own freshman year experience at Northwestern, during a Chicago blizzard in 1967.
"The coldest winter was in Chicago," he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "There was so much snow that winter, you couldn't see, all snow, all ice, and it was so very cold."
Martin likened the frozen streets of Chicago to the trenches of World War I, "but they were trenches of ice."
"I remember walking through the trenches and the tunnels of ice, the wind blowing so you couldn't even see," he continued. "It's an experience that never left me."
These days, Martin wrestles with winter still, but only in the faraway frost of his imagination. He has released five of seven novels in A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series that provides the basis for HBO's Thrones. Only he knows the answers to the big questions fans keep asking, like whether or not Jon Snow is dead or alive.
"No comment on that," he said on the subject of Snow. "I'm just saying, read the books."
Right now, there's no answer on Snow's fate in the books; his life was left hanging in the balance at the end of 2011's A Dance with Dragons, the most recent book in the series.
But rumors, like the Chicago snowfall of Martin's memory, persist that his sixth novel, The Winds of Winter, could arrive before Thrones begins its new season.