Related to: 'Get Fit and Get Happy'

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.

Andy Cope

Andy describes himself as an author, happiness expert, qualified teacher and learning junkie. He has spent 10 years researching 'positive psychology' culminating in a 'PhD in Happiness' from Loughborough University. He has developed a series of keynotes and courses centreing on themes of happiness and flourishing, which he delivers in businesses and schools across the world. Andy has written several best-selling personal development books, including The Art of Being Brilliant, and is also a best-selling children's author. His Spy Dog series has enjoyed huge global success.

B.K.S. Iyengar

B.K.S. Iyengar was a living legend who taught yoga in unique way to all his students. His style of yoga is called 'Iyengar Yoga' and is now being followed by certified teachers across the world.

Catriona McPherson

Catriona McPherson was born in the village of Queensferry in south-east Scotland in 1965 and educated at Edinburgh University. She left with a PhD in Linguistics and spent a few years as a university lecturer before beginning to write fiction. The first Dandy Gilver novel was short-listed for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger 2005 and the second was long-listed for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year Award 2007. In 2012 DANDY GILVER AND THE PROPER TREATMENT OF BLOODSTAINS was nominated for a Historical Macavity Award. Catriona writes full-time and divides her time between southern Scotland and northern California.www.dandygilver.comwww.catrionamcpherson.comwww.twitter.com/CatrionaMcP

Dan Harris

Dan Harris is a correspondent for ABC News and the co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America. Before that, he was the anchor of the Sunday edition of World News. This is his first book.

David Robson

David Robson has worked as an editor at New Scientist and BBC Future, where he specializes in topics related to neuroscience and psychology. His writing has also appeared in Nature, the Observer and the Washington Post. He lives in London.

Eleanor Thom

Eleanor Thom was born in Sheffield, England. She graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film and Theatre. On graduation she created the award winning, all female sketch group Lady Garden who toured the UK circuit extensively, appearing on TV and Radio and were Edinburgh Fringe Festival favourites. In 2013 she wrote and performed the critically acclaimed character stand-up show I am Bev. As an actor she has she has appeared in Absolutely Fabulous (BBC), Live At The Electric (BBC) and Drifters (Channel 4). Eleanor has written for Standard Issue Magazine and for other comedians' on their live and TV work. This is her first book. She lives in London.

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.

Gordon Ramsay

Scottish by birth, Gordon was brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. With an injury prematurely putting an end to any hopes of a promising career in football, he went back to college to complete a course in hotel management and his dedication and natural talent led him to train with some of world's leading chefs.In 1993 Gordon became chef of Aubergine in London and within three years was awarded two Michelin stars. In 1998, at the age of 31, Gordon set up his own restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which quickly received the most prestigious accolade in the culinary world - three Michelin stars. One of only four chefs in the UK to maintain three stars, Gordon was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to the industry.Now internationally renowned, Gordon has opened a string of successful restaurants across the globe, from Italy to LA. Gordon has become a star of the small screen in the UK, US and around the world. Gordon has also published a number of best-selling books, including the acclaimed Ultimate Cookery Course, Ultimate Home Cooking and Ultimate Fit Food. Gordon lives with his wife and four children in South London, along with their two bulldogs Rumpole and Romeo.

James Arthur

In December 2012, Middlesbrough born James Arthur won the X Factor and his debut single Impossible became the biggest winner's song of all time. After a two year break, in 2016 James made a triumphant return with his single Say You Won't Let Go which went on to become a smash hit around the world, reaching No. 1 on the Official UK Singles Chart, No. 1 on the Radio Airplay Chart in the USA, and picking up over 1.5 billion sales and streams globally. The album Back From The Edge followed, topping the Official Albums Chart in the UK, with global sales of over 1 million. Earlier this year, James was nominated for two awards at the prestigious BRIT Awards 2017 and went on to sell out multiple tours worldwide. Back to the Boy is James' first book. For more info on James, check out www.jamesarthurofficial.com.

Joan Rosenberg

Joan I. Rosenberg, PhD is a highly regarded California-licensed expert psychologist, master clinician, trainer and consultant with over 35 years experience in the field. Dr Rosenberg has worked as a Staff Psychologist and as a graduate professor at Pepperdine University. As a cutting edge psychologist who is known as an innovative thinker, trainer and speaker, Joan has shared her life-changing ideas and models for emotional mastery, change and personal growth in professional and educational seminars, psychotherapy sessions and graduate psychology teaching. She has been recognized for her thought leadership and influence in personal development and has given hugely successful and inspirational TEDx Talks on Emotional Mastery, watched by over 7 million viewers on YouTube.

Joe Cross

Joe Cross' personal story of transformation was chronicled in the documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, which has been seen by more than 20 million people worldwide. The incredible response to screenings of the film inspired Joe to create Reboot with Joe, making the tools, information and support available to enable anyone to reclaim their wellbeing. His second film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 charts the next stage of Joe's journey of health. He is the author of The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet and The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet Recipe Book, and spends time between Australia and the US, always with a juice in hand.

John Whitmore

Sir John WhitmoreSir John Whitmore is the pioneer of coaching in the workplace and Co-Founder of Performance Consultants International, the market leader in coaching globally. He was the first to take coaching into organizations in the early 1980s and creator of the GROW model, the most used coaching model in the world. Honoured for his lifetime's work with the President's Award from the International Coach Federation, Sir John's global contribution to coaching and leadership has helped to drive organizational transformation. Through his books - most notably Coaching for Performance - workshops and speeches, he defined the principles of performance coaching and midwifed its birth from sporting excellence, transpersonal psychology, and emotional intelligence. Coaching for Performance is widely considered to be the bible of coaching and Sir John's vision, philosophy, and methodology has inspired millions of managers, leaders, and coaches across four decades to bring the best out of themselves and others. Sir John died in 2017, his extraordinary legacy is continued by his colleagues. The new edition of Coaching for Performance to publish in 2017 was completed before his death. Performance Consultants InternationalFounded in the early 1980s by Sir John Whitmore, Performance Consultants' mission is to transform the relationship between organizations and employees. Their stance is simple: organizations are sitting on a great untapped reservoir of potential - that of their people. They partner with organizations globally on effective leadership development, coaching and culture transformation. Market leaders in their field, they invite organizations to improve performance through their leaders and thereby reap rewards for people, profit and planet. Their flagship development programme named after this book is Coaching for Performance, it is considered the industry gold-standard and delivered in over 40 countries and in 23 languages.

Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes is a novelist and journalist. Her books include the bestsellers The Girl You Left Behind, The One Plus One, Me Before You and After You and her short story collection Paris for One and Other Stories. Her novels have been translated into forty-four languages, have hit the number one spot in twelve countries and have sold over thirty-eight million copies worldwide. Me Before You has now sold over fourteen million copies worldwide and was adapted into a major film starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke. Jojo lives in Essex with her husband and their three children.

Jonathan Hoban

Jonathan Hoban is an Integrative Psychotherapist and Founding Director of central London practice Creative Counselling London Ltd. Born in Wimbledon in 1975, Jonathan spent his formative years walking with family and friends in the green spaces of Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. Jonathan trained to be a counsellor after he received personal therapy and reaped the benefits from it. His gratitude arising from the process led him to want to help others in the same way mental health professionals had guided and helped him. He has since developed techniques, philosophies and methods to help clients reconnect with their sense of power, confidence and intuition.Jonathan developed the concept of what he and others refer to as 'Walking Therapy' as an alternative method of therapy, and then went on to launch his 'Walking Therapy London' practice in 2014. His work has been featured in print, digital, and broadcast media in outlets including the BBC London News, The Telegraph, The Independent, Readers' Digest, Stylist Magazine, Stella Magazine, You Magazine, The Daily Mail, Women's Health, BACP Therapy Today Magazine, and Contemporary Psychotherapy.

Judy Bartkowiak

Judy Bartkowiak's training courses and coaching practice have helped thousands of people to apply the skills of NLP in their everyday lives. She is a qualified NLP Trainer, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Sports Practitioner, NLP Business Practitioner and NLP Children's Practitioner.

Kristin Neff

Kristin Neff PhD is an associate professor in human development at the University of Texas and has been researching and studying self compassion for the past decade. She published the first journal article that defined and examined self compassion. She also created the Self Compassion Scale, which has been translated into more than a dozen languages and is used by hundreds of researchers worldwide. She gives lectures on self compasssion internationally and runs workshops. She lives in Austin, Texas.Visit: www.self-compassion.org

Mithu Storoni

As Mithu Storoni became a doctor, dabbled in neuroscientific research, trained in ophthalmic surgery, taught yoga, and earned a PhD in neuro-ophthalmology, she studied "illness" through different angles, all of which led to the brain. The deeper she ventured into the study of "illness" the more aware she became of the vital role played by chronic stress in the transformation from "wellness" to "illness." Moving from fast-paced London to the breakneck Asian business hub of Hong Kong heightened this awareness as Mithu watched her thriving friends and colleagues reluctantly abandon their passion, energy, and mental agility and surrender their flourishing careers, because of chronic, unbridled stress. This prompted Mithu to write this book. Mithu received her medical degree from the University of Cambridge and conducted her research in neuro-ophthalmology at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, where she was a Clinical Research Fellow until recently moving to Hong Kong with her husband.

Monty Don

MONTY DON is a well-known gardening writer and broadcaster. He lives with his family, garden and dogs in Herefordshire. His previous books include the Sunday Times best-seller Nigel and Paradise Gardens.@TheMontyDon/themontydon

Padraig O'Morain

Padraig O'Morain is a psychotherapist, trained counsellor and mindfulness teacher based in Dublin with over 25 yearss experience and has taught mindfulness for more than a decade.

Ranulph Fiennes

Sir Ranulph Fiennes was the first man to reach both poles by surface travel and the first to cross the Antarctic Continent unsupported. In the 1960s he was removed from the SAS Regiment for misuse of explosives but, joining the army of the Sultan of Oman, received that country's Bravery Medal on active service in 1971. He is the only person yet to have been awarded two clasps to the Polar medal for both Antarctic and the Arctic regions. Fiennes has led over 30 expeditions including the first polar circumnavigation of the Earth, and in 2003 he ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents in aid of the British Heart Foundation.In 1993 Her Majesty the Queen awarded Fiennes the Order of the British Empire (OBE) because, on the way to breaking records, he has raised over £14 million for charity. He was named Best Sportsman in the 2007 ITV Great Briton Awards and in 2009 he became the oldest Briton to reach the summit of Everest.