Related to: 'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet'

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

The No. 1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.Written by Naoki Higashida when he was only thirteen, this remarkable book provides a rare insight into the often baffling behaviour of autistic children. Using a question and answer format, Naoki explains things like why he talks loudly or repeats the same questions, what causes him to have panic attacks, and why he likes to jump. He also shows the way he thinks and feels about his world - other people, nature, time and beauty, and himself. Abundantly proving that people with autism do possess imagination, humour and empathy, he also makes clear how badly they need our compassion, patience and understanding.David Mitchell and his wife have translated Naoki's book so that it might help others dealing with autism and generally illuminate a little-understood condition. It gives us an exceptional chance to enter the mind of another and see the world from a strange and fascinating perspective.The book also features eleven original illustrations, inspired by Naoki's words, by the artistic duo Kai and Sunny.

Sceptre

Black Swan Green

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

The dazzling novel from critically-acclaimed David Mitchell.Shortlisted for the 2006 Costa Novel AwardLonglisted for the Man Booker Prize 2006January, 1982. Thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor - covert stammerer and reluctant poet - anticipates a stultifying year in his backwater English village. But he hasn't reckoned with bullies, simmering family discord, the Falklands War, a threatened gypsy invasion and those mysterious entities known as girls. Charting thirteen months in the black hole between childhood and adolescence, this is a captivating novel, wry, painful and vibrant with the stuff of life.

Sceptre

Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell
Sceptre

number9dream

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell
Sceptre

Ghostwritten

David Mitchell
Authors:
David Mitchell

Winner of the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.A magnificent achievement and an engrossing experience, David Mitchell's first novel announced the arrival of one of the most exciting writers of the twenty-first century. An apocalyptic cult member carries out a gas attack on a rush-hour metro, but what links him to a jazz buff in downtown Tokyo? Or to a Mongolian gangster, a woman on a holy mountain who talks to a tree, and a late night New York DJ?Set at the fugitive edges of Asia and Europe, Ghostwritten weaves together a host of characters, their interconnected destinies determined by the inescapable forces of cause and effect.

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.

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.

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.

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!

James Bowen

James Bowen is the author of the bestselling A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob. He found Bob the cat in 2007 and the pair have been inseparable ever since. They both live in London.

Janet Ellis

Actress, presenter and author Janet Ellis trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Best known for presenting Blue Peter, she stars in numerous radio and TV programmes and in 2018 appeared at the Edinburgh Festival in a successful month long run of Makes, Bakes and Outtakes, a play celebrating sixty years of Blue Peter. In 2016 Janet was awarded an MBE for services to charities and theatre.A graduate of the Curtis Brown creative writing course, her debut novel, The Butcher's Hook, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize.janetellis.comtwitter.com/missjanetellisinstagram.com/missjanetellis

Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde spent twenty years in the film business before debuting on the New York Times bestseller list with The Eyre Affair in 2001. Since then he has written another twelve novels, including the Number One Sunday Times bestseller One of our Thursdays is Missing, and the Last Dragonslayer series, adapted for television by Sky.Fforde lives and works in his adopted nation of Wales. Visit Jasper's website, www.jasperfforde.com, find him on Facebook, www.facebook.com/jasperffordebooks, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasperfforde.

Jill Dawson

Jill Dawson is the author of the novels Trick of the Light, Magpie, Fred and Edie, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, Wild Boy, Watch Me Disappear, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize, The Great Lover, Lucky Bunny, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Crime Writer, which won the East Anglian Book of the Year. An award-winning poet, she has also edited several poetry and short story anthologies.Jill Dawson has held many Fellowships, including the Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia. In 2008 she founded a mentoring scheme for new writers, Gold Dust. She lives in the Cambridgeshire Fens.www.jilldawson.co.uk

John Grisham

John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade, specialising in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. One day, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987.His next novel, The Firm, spent 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and became the bestselling novel of 1991. Since then, he has written one novel a year, including The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker and The Runaway Jury.Today, Grisham has written a collection of stories, a work of non-fiction, three sports novels, five kids' books, and many legal thrillers. His work has been translated into 42 languages. He lives near Charlottesville, Virginia.