Related to: 'Black Swan Green'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Sceptre

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Naoki Higashida
Authors:
Naoki Higashida

The Sunday Times bestsellerNaoki Higashida met international success with THE REASON I JUMP, a revelatory account of life as a thirteen-year-old with non-verbal autism. Now he offers an equally illuminating insight into autism from his perspective as a young adult. In concise, engaging pieces, he shares his thoughts and feelings on a broad menu of topics ranging from school experiences to family relationships, the exhilaration of travel to the difficulties of speech. Aware of how mystifying his behaviour can appear to others, Higashida describes the effect on him of such commonplace things as a sudden change of plan, or the mental steps he has to take simply to register that it's raining. Throughout, his aim is to foster a better understanding of autism and to encourage those with disabilities to be seen as people, not as problems.With an introduction by David Mitchell, Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight includes a dreamlike short story Higashida wrote for this edition. Both moving and of practical use, the book opens a window into the mind of an inspiring young man who meets the challenges of autism with tenacity and good humour. However often he falls down, he always gets back up.

Sceptre

Slade House

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Born out of the short story David Mitchell published on Twitter in 2014 and inhabiting the same universe as his latest bestselling novel The Bone Clocks, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night. Turn down Slade Alley - narrow, dank and easy to miss, even when you're looking for it. Find the small black iron door set into the right-hand wall. No handle, no keyhole, but at your touch it swings open. Enter the sunlit garden of an old house that doesn't quite make sense; too grand for the shabby neighbourhood, too large for the space it occupies.A stranger greets you by name and invites you inside. At first, you won't want to leave. Later, you'll find that you can't.This unnerving, taut and intricately woven tale by one of our most original and bewitching writers begins in 1979 and reaches its turbulent conclusion around Hallowe'en, 2015. Because every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a 'guest' is summoned to Slade House. But why has that person been chosen, by whom and for what purpose? The answers lie waiting in the long attic, at the top of the stairs...(P)2015 Hodder & Stoughton

Sceptre

The Bone Clocks

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Each of these slipcased limited editions is signed and numbered, and has a ribbon marker and specially illustrated endpapers. With a print run of just 500, this is a treat for collectors.One drowsy summer's day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for 'asylum'. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking . . . The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly's life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland's Atlantic coast as Europe's oil supply dries up - a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes - daughter, sister, mother, guardian - is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.Metaphysical thriller, meditation on mortality and chronicle of our self-devouring times, this kaleidoscopic novel crackles with the invention and wit that have made David Mitchell one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. Here is fiction at its most spellbinding and memorable best.

Sceptre

The Reason I Jump: one boy's voice from the silence of autism

Naoki Higashida
Authors:
Naoki Higashida
Sceptre

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller, from the author of CLOUD ATLAS and THE BONE CLOCKS.Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010In your hands is a place like no other: a tiny, man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, for two hundred years the sole gateway between Japan and the West. Here, in the dying days of the 18th century, a young Dutch clerk arrives to make his fortune. Instead he loses his heart.Step onto the streets of Dejima and mingle with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as two cultures converge. In a tale of integrity and corruption, passion and power, the key is control - of riches and minds, and over death itself.

Sceptre

Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2004Winner of the Richard & Judy Best Read of the YearSouls cross ages like clouds cross skies . . .Six interlocking lives - one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, Cloud Atlas erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer an enthralling vision of humanity's will to power, and where it will lead us.*Please note that the end of p39 and p40 are intentionally blank*

Sceptre

number9dream

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2001The second novel from the critically-acclaimed author of GHOSTWRITTEN and CLOUD ATLAS.As Eiji Miyake's twentieth birthday nears, he arrives in Tokyo with a mission - to locate the father he has never met. So begins a search that takes him into the seething city's underworld, its lost property offices and video arcades, and on a journey that zigzags from reality to the realm of dreams. But until Eiji has fallen in love and exorcised his childhood demons, the belonging he craves will remain, tantalizingly, just beyond his grasp.

Sceptre

Ghostwritten

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Chris Ryan

Former SAS corporal and the only man to escape death or capture during the Bravo Two Zero operation in the 1991 Gulf War, Chris Ryan turned to writing thrillers to tell the stories the Official Secrets Act stops him putting in his non-fiction. His novels have gone on to inspire the Sky One series Strike Back. Born near Newcastle in 1961, Chris Ryan joined the SAS in 1984. During his ten years there he was involved in overt and covert operations and was also sniper team commander of the anti-terrorist team. During the Gulf War, Chris Ryan was the only member of an eight-man unit to escape from Iraq, where three colleagues were killed and four captured. It was the longest escape and evasion in the history of the SAS. For this he was awarded the Military Medal. He wrote about his experiences in the bestseller The One That Got Away, which was adapted for screen, and since then has written three other works of non-fiction, over twenty bestselling novels and a series of childrens' books.

Clare Morrall

Clare Morrall's first novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour, was published in 2003 and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize that year. She has since published the novels Natural Flights of the Human Mind, The Language of Others, The Man Who Disappeared, which was a TV Book Club Summer Read in 2010, The Roundabout Man and After the Bombing.Born in Exeter, Clare Morrall now lives in Birmingham. She works as a music teacher, and has two daughters.

David Mark

David spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post - walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.He has written eight novels in the McAvoy series: Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity, Dead Pretty, Cruel Mercy, and Scorched Earth as well as two McAvoy ebook short stories, A Bad Death and Fire of Lies. Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller. In 2018 it was adapted for the stage at the Hull Truck Theatre and had a sellout debut run. David has also written The Zealot's Bones, a historical crime novel published under the name D.M. Mark.He lives in the north of England with his family.

David Nicholls

David Nicholls is the bestselling author of US, ONE DAY, STARTER FOR TEN and THE UNDERSTUDY. His novels have sold over 8 million copies worldwide and are published in forty languages. David's fifth novel, SWEET SORROW, will be published by Hodder in July 2019. David trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. He is an award-winning screenwriter, with TV credits including the third series of Cold Feet, a much-praised modern version of Much Ado About Nothing, The 7.39 and an adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. David wrote the screenplays for Great Expectations (2012) and Far from the Madding Crowd (2015, starring Carey Mulligan). He has twice been BAFTA nominated and his recent adaptation of Patrick Melrose from the novels by Edward St Aubyn won him an Emmy nomination. His bestselling first novel, STARTER FOR TEN, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2004, and in 2006 David went on to write the screenplay of the film version.His third novel, ONE DAY, was published in 2009 to extraordinary critical acclaim, and stayed in the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list for ten weeks on publication. ONE DAY won the 2010 Galaxy Book of the Year Award. David's fourth novel, US, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014 and was another no. 1 Sunday Times bestseller. In 2014, he was named Author of the Year at the National Book Awards.

Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand grew up in Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where she was a teaching/writing fellow. She now lives with her husband and their three children on Nantucket, Massachusetts, where her novels are set.You can follow Elin on Twitter @elinhilderbrand or find out more on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/ElinHilderbrand.

Emily Phillips

Emily Phillips' two main life goals have always been: to write a book and to have a baby. As Grazia's Features Director, she's helped change the law to close the pay gap, written on everything from over-committing to egg donation, and interviewed the likes of Amy Poehler and Jane Birkin. Her career highlight was when Jamie Dornan told her (while taking his top off) that his murderous character in The Fall would've found her 'right up his street'. She lives in London with her husband and two cats.Her first novel, TRYING, is a hugely funny and searingly honest comedy about what to expect when you're not expecting.

Emma Henderson

Emma Henderson was educated at Godolphin and Latymer School, London, Somerville College, Oxford and Yale University, Connecticut. She wrote blurbs for Penguin books for two years, then spent a decade teaching English in comprehensive schools and further education colleges, before moving to the French Alps where, for six years, she ran a ski and snowboard lodge. She now lives in Derbyshire and is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Keele University. GRACE WILLIAMS SAYS IT LOUD was her first novel. The Valentine House is her second novel.

Fiona Mitchell

Fiona Mitchell is an award-winning writer and has worked as a journalist for many years. She spent almost three years living in Singapore and now lives in London with her husband and daughter. The Maid's Room is her first novel.

Gervase Phinn

Dr Gervase Phinn is a teacher, freelance lecturer, author, poet, educational consultant and visiting professor of education. For fourteen years he taught in a range of schools, then acted as General Adviser for Language Development in Rotherham before moving on to North Yorkshire, where he spent ten years as a school inspector - time that has provided much source material for his books. He has four grown up children and four grandchildren and lives near Doncaster. Visit Gervase's website, www.gervase-phinn.com.

Graham Norton

Graham Norton is one of the UK's best loved broadcasters. He presents The Graham Norton Show on BBC1, has a weekly show on BBC Radio 2, and writes a column for the Telegraph. He is the winner of nine BAFTA awards. Born in Dublin and raised in West Cork, Norton now lives in London. His debut novel Holding was a commercial and critical success, winning Norton the Irish Independent Popular Fiction award at the Bord Gáis Irish Book Awards in 2016.

Helen Wallen

Helen Wallen is a blogger, funny lady, mother of two, and all round gin, wine and cake enthusiast. Formerly a copywriter/PR-type person, she is now dedicated to growing human-beings in her uterus and blogging about life with babies, toddlers and beyond.Helen's award winning 'Just a Normal Mummy' blog is the inspiration and basis for her first witty, and hilariously honest, debut fiction title BABY BOOM!

Helena Coggan

Helena Coggan is a writer and student based in London. She wrote her first novel, THE CATALYST, at the age of thirteen; it was published by Hodder and Stoughton two years later, and named as one of 2015's Debuts of the Year by the Guardian and Amazon. The second book in the duology, THE REACTION, came out when she was sixteen. She has been called 'the next JK Rowling' by NBC's Today, and in 2016 she was named by the Guardian as one of the most influential teenagers in the world. She is currently studying physics at university, for the sole purpose of building a TARDIS one day. THE ORPHANAGE OF GODS is her third novel.