Related to: 'ROSE WEST: The Making of a Monster'

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 Paperbacks

After Evil

Jane Carter Woodrow
Authors:
Jane Carter Woodrow

Everything seemed perfect in Neil Jackson's childhood until one day, on a cold January morning in 1976...He was awoken by the police knocking on the door to break the shocking news that his mother had become the second victim of a serial killer - soon to become known as the 'Yorkshire Ripper'.This evil act exposed a web of secrets and lies that was to devastate Neil and change his life forever.Jane Carter Woodrow, an experienced criminologist, discovers what happens when the camera and the lurid headlines fade away. Neil's riveting story captures the real nature of the tragedy that murder can visit on a family and shows how incredibly he pieced his life back together after becoming one of the forgotten victims of Britain's most notorious serial killer.

Angela Gallop

Angela Gallop is one of the world's most eminent forensic scientists. During a career spanning more than 40 years, she has driven change and transformation within the service, helping to establish the UK at the very pinnacle of forensic science. A specialist in cold-case investigations, Angela has led forensic teams to find vital evidence in many of the UK's most challenging cases, including the deaths of Stephen Lawrence, Damilola Taylor, Rachel Nickell, Roberto Calvi and many others.In 2015, Angela was awarded a CBE for her services to forensic science. This is her first book.

Benjamin Stevenson

Benjamin Stevenson is an award-winning stand-up comedian and author. He has sold out shows from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival all the way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Off-stage, Benjamin has worked for publishing houses and literary agencies in Australia and the USA. He currently works with some of the world's best-loved authors at Curtis Brown Australia.

Brian Sibley

Brian Sibley is a writer and broadcaster. He has presented various television and radio programmes, including the BBC's FIRST LIGHT series, the World Service's MERIDIEN, and the radio dramatisation of C. S. Lewis' Narnia stories. His books include a biography of Rev W Awdry.

Don Stephens

Don Stephens is the founder and president of the international charity Mercy Ships. The charity currently operates the world's largest civilian hospital ship; The Africa Mercy. This astonishing ship takes relief and development to the port cities of some of the world's poorest countries. Every year, Mercy Ships' doctors perform more than two thousand complex operations that transform people's lives in areas where up to half the population has no access to basic health care.

Fern Riddell

Dr Fern Riddell is a historian specialising in sex, suffrage and culture in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. She appears regularly on TV and radio, and writes for the Guardian, Huffington Post, Telegraph and Times Higher Education among others, and is a columnist for BBC History Magazine.

Gerald Seymour

Gerald Seymour exploded onto the literary scene in 1975 with the massive bestseller HARRY'S GAME. The first major thriller to tackle the modern troubles in Northern Ireland, it was described by Frederick Forsyth as 'like nothing else I have ever read' and it changed the landscape of the British thriller forever.Gerald Seymour was a reporter at ITN for fifteen years. He covered events in Vietnam, Borneo, Aden, the Munich Olympics, Israel and Northern Ireland. He has been a full-time writer since 1978.

Giles Milton

Giles Milton is a writer and historian. He is the internationally bestselling author of Nathaniel's Nutmeg, Big Chief Elizabeth, The Riddle and the Knight, White Gold, Samurai William, Paradise Lost, Wolfram and Russian Roulette. He has also written three novels and three children's books. His books have been translated into twenty languages. He lives in south London.Find out more about Giles and his books on his website, www.gilesmilton.com, and Wikipedia page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giles_Milton, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/survivehistory and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/Giles-Milton-Writer/121068034610842.

Glen David Gold

Glen David Gold was born and grew up in California, where he currently lives. His first novel, CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL was published in 2001, when it was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and has been translated into 14 languages. His second novel, SUNNYSIDE, was published in 2009. His short stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Playboy and McSweeney's.

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.

Henry Blofeld

Henry began writing about cricket, for The Times, in May 1962 and in 1972 he started his long career as a commentator with the BBC's Test Match Special. During his career he has written for numerous papers and broadcast for both radio and television for many networks around the world especially in Australia and New Zealand. Between 1991 and 1993 he joined Sky Television before returning to Test Match Special after the death of Brian Johnston early in 1994. Since 2002 Henry Blofeld has performed in his humorous one-man show in theatres all round the country, and later he teamed up with his former TMS producer, Peter Baxter, for more than 250 two-man shows. His current two-man show team-mate is former England off spinner, Graeme Swann.

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.

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

Kate Adie

Kate Adie became a household name through her work as the BBC`s chief news correspondent, reporting major stories and from war zones around the world. She has won numerous awards including two Royal Television Society awards, the Bafta Richard Dimbleby Award, and the Broadcasting Press Guild`s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting. She was awarded an OBE in 1993.Kate Adie presents From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4 and is the author of several bestselling books.

Kenny Dalglish

Kenny Dalglish was one of the most successful footballers of his era, winning successive tournaments with Liverpool, and then turning to management he triumphed with Liverpool and Blackburn. Since then he has managed Newcastle in a difficult spell and recently taken over the Direction of football in Glasgow Celtic. His autobiography was one of the biggest selling books of its year.

Lindsey Davis

Historical novelist Lindsey Davis is best known for her novels set in Ancient Rome, including the much-loved Marcus Didius Falco series, although she has also written about the English Civil War, including in 2014 A Cruel Fate, a book for the Quick Reads literacy initiative. Her examination of the paranoid reign of the roman emperor Domitian began with Master and God, a standalone novel, leading to her new series about Flavia Albia, set in that dark period.Her books are translated and have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her many awards include the Premio Colosseo (from the city of Rome) and the Crime Writers' Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement. Most recently she was the inaugural winner of the Barcino (Barcelona) International Historical Novel Prize.

Melanie McGrath

Melanie McGrath was born in Essex, and is the author of critically acclaimed, bestselling non-fiction about the East End of London (Silvertown and Hopping). She can trace her family back 300 years in the East End and City of London. As MJ McGrath and Mel McGrath she writes fiction. Her Edie Kiglatuk Arctic mysteries have been twice longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger award. She has written two London-based psychological thrillers, Give Me the Child and (forthcoming) The Hookup. She also writes for the national press and is a regular broadcaster on radio. Her work is published in twenty languages. Melanie lives and works in London.

Michael Caine

Sir Michael Caine CBE has been Oscar-nominated six times, winning his first Academy Award for the 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters and his second in 1999 for The Cider House Rules. He has starred in over one hundred films, becoming well-known for several critically acclaimed performances including his first major film role in Zulu in 1964, followed by films including The Ipcress Files, Get Carter, Alfie, The Italian Job, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Educating Rita, and more recently The Dark Knight, Is Anybody There? and Harry Brown. He was appointed a CBE in 1992 and knighted in 2000 in recognition of his contribution to cinema. Married for more than 45 years, with two daughters and three grandchildren, he and his wife Shakira live in London and Surrey.

Michael Koryta

Michael Koryta's novels have won the LA Times Book Prize and the Great Lakes Book Award and been nominated for the Edgar, Shamus, Quill and Barry awards. A former private investigator and newspaper reporter, he published his first novel at the age of twenty-one. His work has been translated into twenty languages.Visit Michael Koryta's website at www.michaelkoryta.com and follow Michael on Twitter @mjkoryta

Michael Parkinson

Born in Yorkshire, Michael Parkinson left school at sixteen with the ambition to play cricket for Yorkshire and England and to write about cricket for the Manchester Guardian. Although, he didn't manage to fulfil the first half of his ambition, he has since become one of the most successful journalists of his generation. He wrote a sports column for The Sunday Times for fifteen years and has also written for the Telegraph. He is also a legendary TV and radio presenter - his long-running chat show Parkinson was hugely popular for many years.