Related to: 'The Birthday Girl'

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.

Hodder & Stoughton

Tall Order

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder Paperbacks

The Foreigner: the bestselling thriller now starring Pierce Brosnan and Jackie Chan

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder & Stoughton

Light Touch

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

The 14th thriller in the Spider Shepherd series promises even more unputdownable action from The Sunday Times bestseller Stephen Leather.Working undercover is all about trust - getting the target to trust you and then betraying them in order to bring them to justice.But what do you do when you believe an undercover cop has crossed the line and aligned herself with the international drugs smuggler she was supposed to be targeting?When a deep-undercover cop stops passing on intelligence about her target, MI5 sends in Dan 'Spider' Shepherd to check that she is on the straight and narrow.Now two lives are on the line - and Shepherd discovers that the real danger is closer to home than he realised.As Spider finds his loyalties being tested to the limit, an SAS killer is on a revenge mission in London and only Spider can stop him.'[Leather] has the uncanny knack of producing plots that are all too real' Daily Mail'Let Spider draw you into his web, you won't regret it' - Sun(P)2017 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

Hodder & Stoughton

Dark Forces

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

When you're caught between two evils, only the most decisive will survive. The thirteenth book in action supremo Stephen Leather's Spider Shepherd series is his most pulse-pounding yet . . . A violent South London gang will be destroyed if Dan 'Spider' Shepherd can gather enough evidence against them while posing as a ruthless hitman. What he doesn't know is that his work as an undercover agent for MI5 is about to intersect with the biggest terrorist operation ever carried out on British soil.Only weeks before Shepherd witnessed a highly skilled IS sniper escape from a targeted missile strike in Syria. But never in his wildest dreams did he expect to next come across the shooter in a grimy East London flat.Spider's going to have to proceed with extreme caution if he is to prevent the death of hundreds of people, but at the same time, when the crucial moment comes he will have to act decisively. The clock is ticking and only he stands between us and Armageddon....'Let Spider draw you into his web, you won't regret it' Sun(P)2016 Hodder & Stoughton

Hodder & Stoughton

The Spider Shepherd Collection 8-10

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder & Stoughton

Stephen Leather: The First Novels

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

Two page-turning action thrillers from critically acclaimed Stephen Leather: PAY OFF and THE FIREMAN.

Hodder & Stoughton

Fair Game

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

The eighth book in the bestselling Dan 'Spider' Shepherd series. Kidnapping is one of the cruellest crimes - lives are put at risk for cold, hard cash. But when Somali pirates seize the crew of a yacht off the coast of Africa, they bite off more than they can chew.One of the hostages has friends in high places and Spider Shepherd is put on the case. He goes deep undercover in an audacious plan to bring an end to the pirate gang's reign of terror.But as Shepherd closes in on his quarry he realises that there's much more at stake than the lives of the hostages and that the pirates are involved in a terrorist plot that will strike at the heart of London.

Hodder & Stoughton

Dead Men

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder Paperbacks

Cold Kill

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

The third book in the bestselling Dan 'Spider' Shepherd series. Even deadlier than terrorists . . . are the men trying to stop them.People-smuggling, counterfeit currency and attempted murder. It's all in a day's work for undercover cop Dan 'Spider' Shepherd. But what starts as a run-of-the mill investigation quickly turns into a matter of life and death when he uncovers a terrorist cell on a mission of death and destruction. The target: hundreds of passengers on a cross-channel train deep below the English Channel.With the clock ticking and the explosives primed, Shepherd and his colleagues have to decide just how far they are prepared to go to save innocent lives. And they realise that to avoid catastrophe, they have to be even more merciless than the terrorists.

Hodder Paperbacks

Soft Target

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

The second book in the bestselling Dan 'Spider' Shepherd series.There's only one thing more dangerous than a corrupt cop . . . and that's a corrupt cop with a gun.When a group of armed police in an elite unit turn maverick and start to rip off drug dealers at gunpoint, undercover cop Dan 'Spider' Shepherd is given his most dangerous mission so far.Shepherd is ordered to infiltrate the tight-knit team, to gain their confidence and to ultimately betray them.Facing men with guns is nothing new for the former SAS trooper, but it's the first time he's had to investigate his own. And the job couldn't have come at a worse time for him.As Shepherd finds himself in the firing line, he has to decide exactly where his loyalties lie.

Hodder Paperbacks

Hard Landing

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder Paperbacks

The Eyewitness

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

Jack Solomon is a messenger of death.Working in the fractured remains of Yugoslavia, his task is to identify the victims of ethnic cleansing and to tell families that their loved ones are never coming home.Years of toiling in the killing fields have desensitised the former London policeman to the horrors of war, but when a truck containing twenty-six bodies is pulled from a lake, Solomon is unable to walk away from the case.He sets out to track down the only survivor of the massacre, a young girl on the run from the killers. Solomon's hunt for the last witness takes him from the brothels of Sarajevo to the high-stakes world of London's internet prostitution - where he will discover that the killers are closer to home than he thinks . . .*********PRAISE FOR STEPHEN LEATHER'A master of the thriller genre'Irish Times'A writer at the top of his game'Sunday Express'In the top rank of thriller writers' Jack Higgins

Hodder Paperbacks

Tango One

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder Paperbacks

The Stretch

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder Paperbacks

The Bombmaker

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder Paperbacks

The Tunnel Rats

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

Two murders, thousands of miles apart: one in London, one in Bangkok.The bodies are brutally mutilated, an ace of spades impaled upon their chests. In Washington, a US senator receives photographs of the corpses. And realises that his past has come back to haunt him.Nick Wright is the detective trying to solve the mystery of the double killing. His hunt for a motive takes him to the Vietnam, where the American tunnel rats fought the dirtiest battle of the war against the Viet Cong. But his search places him in grave danger with a killer determined to protect the secrets of the tunnels. At whatever cost . . .************PRAISE FOR STEPHEN LEATHER'A master of the thriller genre'Irish Times'As tough as British thrillers get . . . gripping' Irish Independent 'The sheer impetus of his story-telling is damned hard to resist'Sunday Express

Hodder & Stoughton

The Solitary Man

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

Chris Hutchison is a man on the run.Imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, Hutch escapes from a British maximum-security prison and starts a new life in Hong Kong. But a ghost from his past catches up with him and gives him a choice: help a former terrorist break out of a Bangkok prison - or face life behind bars once more.Meanwhile, the DEA wants to nail the vicious drug warlord responsible for flooding the States with cheap heroin. And decides to use Hutch as a pawn in a deadly game.Hutch's bid for freedom takes him into the lawless killing fields of the Golden Triangle, where the scene is set for one final act of betrayal . . .***********PRAISE FOR STEPHEN LEATHER'A master of the thriller genre'Irish Times'A writer at the top of his game'Sunday Express 'As tough as British thrillers get . . . gripping' Irish Independent

Hodder Paperbacks

Pay Off

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder Paperbacks

The Long Shot

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather
Hodder Paperbacks

The Double Tap

Stephen Leather
Authors:
Stephen Leather

The assassin: the world's most successful contract killer. An anonymous professional with a unique calling card - one bullet in the head and one in the chest for each and every target.The Judas goat: an ex-member of the SAS, Mike Cramer is the perfect sacrificial bait. When the FBI discover the next name on the assassin's hitlist, Cramer is set up to take his place.The wild card: Cramer's past has caught up with him. Ex-IRA extremist Dermot Lynch blames Cramer for his lover's death - and he's out for revenge.As Cramer trains for the most dangerous mission of his career, Lynch hunts down his sworn enemy. And the unknown assassin silently closes in on his target. The players are in position for the final deadly game . . .***********PRAISE FOR STEPHEN LEATHER'A master of the thriller genre'Irish Times'A writer at the top of his game'Sunday Express'In the top rank of thriller writers' Jack Higgins