Related to: 'Look No Hands!'

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.

Alan Titchmarsh

Alan Titchmarsh is known to millions through the popular BBC TV programmes British Isles: A Natural History, How to be a Gardener, Ground Force and Gardeners' World. But he started out in far humbler beginnings, in a rural childhood on the edge of Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire.After a spell at Kew he became a horticultural journalist, as an Editor of gardening magazines, before becoming a freelance broadcaster and writer.He has twice been named 'Gardening Writer of the Year' and for four successive years was voted 'Television Personality of the Year' by the Garden Writers' Guild. In 2004 he received their Lifetime Achievement Award.Alan has appeared on radio and television both as a gardening expert and as an interviewer and presenter, fronting such programmes as Points of View, Pebble Mill, Songs of Praise, Titchmarsh's Travels and Ask the Family, and since 1983 has presented the BBC's annual coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show. He now has his own daytime TV show on ITV, The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Alan has written more than forty gardening books, as well as seven best-selling novels, including his 2008 success, Folly, which have all made the Sunday Times Bestsellers List. Alan has published three volumes of memoirs; Trowel and Error sold over 200,000 copies in hardback when published in 2002, and Nobbut A Lad, about his Yorkshire childhood, was published in October 2006 with similar success, and his third volume of memoir Knave of Spadeswas a Sunday Times bestseller.He was made MBE in the millennium New Year Honours list and holds the Victoria Medal of Honour, the Royal Horticultural Society's highest award. He lives with his wife and a menagerie of animals in Hampshire where he gardens organically.

Andrew Quicke

Andrew Quicke is Chairman of the School of Cinema-Television at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada. He has lived in London, Southern California, Bangkok Thailand and Jerusalem Israel where he was bureau news chief for CBN and Middle East Television.

Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz is called the 'best preacher in the family' by her father, Billy Graham. She speaks around the globe with the wisdom and authority of years spent studying God's Word, and the New York Times named Anne one of the five most influential evangelists of her generation. She is a best-selling and award-winning author of fourteen books, including her most recent, Wounded by God's People. www.annegrahamlotz.org.

Billy Graham

No one else in the religious world carries the same respect of international leaders or has the same stature as the American evangelist Billy Graham. He has been the friend of presidents, he has been welcomed by heads of state throughout the world, and in Britain he has had the privilege on several occasions of preaching before the Queen.

Brother Andrew

Brother Andrew was born in Holland and became a Christian while serving in the Dutch army. After leaving the army he applied for Bible school in the UK and studied at the Bible Training Institute (now the International Christian College) in Glasgow, Scotland. He has worked tirelessly to strengthen the persecuted church all over the world, encouraging believers in their faith and sharing the gospel with some of the most unlikely people.His book GOD'S SMUGGLER tells the story of the start of his work, smuggling Bibles into communist countries illegally during the Cold War, which developed into the worldwide ministry now called Open Doors International. GOD'S SMUGGLER became an international best-seller with over ten million copies sold in English.After the fall of communism in Europe, Brother Andrew shifted his focus to China and the Middle East, and the incredible story of his ongoing ministry can be read in his next book LIGHT FORCE.His most recent book is SECRET BELIEVERS: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MUSLIMS TURN TO CHRIST?.

Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom is known and loved by millions for her book, THE HIDING PLACE, which tells how her family protected Jews during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The book launched her into a worldwide ministry of speaking, teaching and writing, which lasted until her death in 1983.

Dave Hunt

Rabindranath R Maharaj was descended from a long line of Brahmin priests and trained as a Yogi. He meditated for many hours each day, but gradually disillusionment set in. In DEATH OF A GURU he describes vividly and honestly Hindu life and customs, tracing his difficult search for meaning and his struggle to choose between Hinduism and Christ.At a time when Eastern mysticism and religion fascinate many in the West, Maharaj offers fresh and important insights from the perspective of his own experience.

David Pawson

David Pawson has an itinerant ministry to church leaders in the UK and overseas. He is the author of numerous books, and has never been afraid to speak out for biblical truth even when his teaching has gone against the tide of popular opinion.

Demos Shakarian

Demos Shakarian founded the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship based on his strong Christian beliefs and a vision of working for God which he received in 1951 in Los Angeles. He died in 1993 whilst the FGBMFI now has chapters in over 160 countries .

Elizabeth Sherill

Elizabeth Sherrill is a prolific Christian writer, based in the USA. She often collaborates on books with her husband John.

J.I. Packer

J. I. Packer is an eminent theologian. Professor Emeritus at Regent College, Vancouver, he is a bestselling author known the world over for such classics as Knowing God. He is considered to be one of the most important evangelical theologians of the late 20th century.

Jackie Pullinger

Jackie Pullinger-To is a British woman who lives and works among the poor, the homeless and the drug addicts of Hong Kong.Over thirty years ago she went to Hong Kong on a one way ticket, and arrived knowing no one with just $100 HK in her pocket. She lived and worked in Kowloon's notorious 'Walled City' and by 1981 she had set up the St Stephen's Society, which provides rehabilitation homes for recovering drug addicts, prostitutes, and gang members. By December 2007 it had grown to provide homes for 200 people. The charity's work has been recognized by the Hong Kong government who donated the land for the rehabilitation homes.Jackie's story is told in her renowned book Chasing the Dragon and she still lives in Hong Kong and runs the St Stephen's Society.

Jamie Buckingham

Jamie Buckingham is a freelance writer and pastor.

Jennifer Rees Larcombe

Jennifer Rees Larcombe - daughter of world-famous preacher Tom Rees and brought up in the grand surroundings of Hildenborough Hall, one of Britain's influential Christian conference centres - has long lived in the public eye. She made national headlines when miraculously healed from encephalitis, has since written many best-selling books and now runs Beauty From Ashes a retreat centre for broken lives. She is still much in demand as a speaker to Christian groups and continues to touch lives through publication of her daily Bible reading notes.

John Sherrill

John Sherrill is a prolific Christian writer, based in the USA. He often collaborates on books with his wife Elizabeth.

John Young

John Young is a Canon of York Minster, and is perhaps best-known as the author of the classic THE CASE AGAINST CHRIST.

Joyce Huggett

Joyce Huggett is the author of several internationally bestselling books, including Listening to God and Listening to Others. She has travelled extensively to lead retreats as well as to speak at meetings and conferences.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer is the bestselling author of more than 100 inspirational books, including The Power of Simple Prayer, Approval Addiction, Power Thoughts and Battlefield of the Mind. Joyce's 'Enjoying Everyday Life' radio and television programmes are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones was a qualified physician who, in 1927, left medical practice and became a church minister in South Wales. He then became Minister of Westminster Chapel, London, a position he held for thirty years until his retirement in 1968. His books include PREACHING AND PREACHERS and the GREAT DOCTRINES SERIES.

Michael Green

Michael Green has had a long and interesting life. With first-class degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge, he combines the gifts of both theologian and evangelist. He is an Anglican minister, has travelled in every continent to spread the gospel, and has been special adviser in evangelism to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. He has taught in universities, been principal of a theological college, led a large university church, written more than 50 books and engaged fruitfully in church-planting overseas. He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife, Rosemary.