Related to: 'Winning!'

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.

Carol O'Connor

Dr Carol O'Connor is the author of eight business books and director of Vision in Practice Ltd, a leadership development consultancy and publisher. She has spent more than 30 years teaching, writing and consulting about leadership, innovation and strategic thinking. She sees her role as preparing leaders to identify strategic goals, clarify performance standards and retain talent that supports organizational growth. Her client list is global and her books have collectively been translated into more than 20 languages. Current projects include the publication of a series of business workbooks for under 25-year-olds in developing nations - with apps in support of key topics - and working at the London School of Economics and Political Science in support of its entrepreneurship programmes.

Clive Steeper

Clive Steeper has been a business leader and change executive for over 25 years. His career includes several roles as Managing Director in the UK, USA and Asia. Central to his success has been Clive's ability to help leaders effectively navigate through change, and get the best from their people. Now as an executive coach, consultant and facilitator, he works internationally with many different organisations ranging from public bodies and international corporations to fast-growth businesses.

Clive Woodward

Clive Woodward was born in 1954. He was educated at HMS Conway in Anglesey and Loughborough University. He played rugby for Leicester, England and the Lions, and Manley in Australia. During his impressive business career Clive Woodward successfully coached Henley RFC, London Irish and Bath before being appointed the first National England coach. He memorably led the England rugby team to World Cup victory in 2003. He lives in Berkshire with his wife and three children.

David Benjamin

David Benjamin is the co-founder of Syntegrity and the chief architect behind its implementation of the Complexity Formula as laid out in his book, Cracking Complexity. David regularly guides leaders and their teams through their application of the formula, helping them get to decisions and action in days, no matter the industry, type of challenge, or nature of the organization. In this capacity, David has become a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 companies and government leaders on how to organize for complexity and find traction in the face of the intractable. He frequently speaks on a wide range of topics related to complexity, effective and efficient problem-solving, and human dynamics in systems. David spends most of the rest of his time and energy on writing, family, long-distance running and cracking cryptic crosswords. David and his wife, Angie, live near Toronto and have three incredibly talented daughters whom he loves equally.

David Komlos

David Komlos, CEO of Syntegrity, is an entrepreneur, early-stage investor and speaker who has helped change the way many global leaders approach their top challenges. From Fortune 100 transformation to international aid, content creation in sports and entertainment to improving access to life-saving products, David advises top leaders and enterprises on how to dramatically accelerate solutions and execution on their defining challenges. He frequently speaks on topics related to complexity, fast problem-solving and mobilization, and scaling talent. He lives with his family in Toronto.David is a friend and trusted confidant to many global leaders. He remains actively involved with Syntegrity's clients, and as a speaker he frequently presents on complexity, problem solving, mobilization, and scaling talent.Prior to Syntegrity, David was responsible for leading strategy and M&A for North America Media Engines Inc., a TSX-listed company. He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, Canada.

Diana Mather

Diana Mather is a communications trainer, writer, broadcaster and personal image consultant. She started her career as a newsreader and interviewer at the BBC, and for the past 30 years has taught communication skills to people from 5 continents, including UK MPs and US senators. She is a regular talking head on TV, including The Culture Show, Trisha and Jeremy Kyle.

Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt served as Google's CEO from 2001 to 2011. During that time he shepherded the company's growth from a Silicon Valley start-up to a global technology leader that today has over $55 billion in annual revenues and offices in more than 40 countries. Eric is now Google's executive chairman.

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. He also had a successful partnership with England Spin Bowler, Graeme Swann. Henry now tours the country with his one man show.

Iain Maitland

Iain Maitland has been a professional writer since 1987. He has written over 50 books, mainly on business, and been published as far away as Russia, India, Japan, USA and Australia. He has also written for the Sunday Times, Which? and the Financial Times amongst many others.

John Lees

John Lees is one of the UK's best-known career stategists. He writes regularly for the Times and the Guardian. His work appears regularly in glossies including Psychologies, Marie Claire and Red and he has appeared several times on both the BBC and ITV. He has trained recruitment specialists since the mid-1980s and worked with numerous organisations including HSBC and Reuters.

Jonathan Rosenberg

Jonathan Rosenberg joined Google in 2002 and managed the design and development of the company's consumer, advertiser, and partner products, including Search, Ads, Gmail, Android, Apps, and Chrome. He is currently an advisor to Google CEO Larry Page.

Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort was born in Queens, New York. He hustled ices to put himself through college, showing early entrepreneurial flair. His first business sent him bankrupt at twenty-four so he went down to Wall St with $100 in his pocket and ended up building one of the largest brokerages in America - the now infamous Stratton Oakmont. A hard partying lifestyle ended in crash and burn. Ultimately indicted by the federal government, Belfort served twenty-two months in prison, and time in rehab. He's now a highly successful motivational speaker.His story has been made into a Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award-nominated film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese.He is currently living in Los Angeles.

Larry Downes

Larry Downes is an Internet industry analyst and author on developing business strategies in the age of disruptive innovation. He is the co-author of Big Bang Disruption and author of New York Times business best-seller, Unleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominance, (1998) which was named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the five most important books ever published on business and technology. He is a columnist on innovation for both The Washington Post and Forbes and writes regularly for Harvard Business Review. Downes has held faculty appointments at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Northwestern University School of Law, and the University of California-Berkeley's Haas School of Business, where he was Associate Dean of the School of Information. Since 2014, he has served as project director at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy.

Margot Morrell

Margot Morrell has been a student of Shackleton's life for more than sixteen years and has a master's degree in library science. She has worked in corporate America for twenty-four years. She lives in New York City.

Mark Forster

Mark Forster is a full-time life coach. He frequently runs workshops and seminars specialising in time management.

Martin Manser

Martin Manser is a professional reference-book editor. He is also a language consultant with national companies and organizations. Martin is Part-time tutor at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London and Part-time visiting lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University.

Mo Farah

MO FARAH was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1983. As a young child he spent time in Djibouti before moving to England at the age of eight. Mo initially struggled with the language barrier, but his PE teacher at Feltham Community College, Alan Watkinson, quickly spotted his potential as a runner and encouraged him to join Borough of Hounslow Athletics Club. After attending St Mary's Endurance Performance and Coaching Centre in Twickenham, Mo became a professional athlete. At the 2012 London Olympic Games he won gold in the 10,000m - Britain's first gold in this event. He followed this up with a stunning victory in the 5000m to become, in the words of Dave Moorcroft, 'the greatest male distance runner that Britain has ever seen.' Mo was appointed CBE in the Honours List in 2013. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife Tania, and their three daughters Rhianna, Aisha and Amani.

Nigel Cumberland

Nigel Cumberland is an award-winning global coach who helps leaders and teams to optimise and enhance their success in both their careers and lives. He has coached and trained at some of the world's most prestigious organisations such as the United Nations, the World Bank Group, Standard Chartered Bank, Google, Dell, LVMH, Christian Dior, Continental AG and the Dubai Government. He is also one of the elite Marshall Goldsmith approved coaches and a member of Harvard Business Review's Advisory Council. He is also a Freeman of the City of London and has been given the award as one of the world's top 100 leadership coaches.

Omar Abbosh

Omar Abbosh is group chief executive of Accenture's Communications, Media & Technology operating group and is a member of Accenture's Global Management Committee. He has served as the global client lead for leading multinational companies where he advised client executives on major strategic issues for their businesses. Mr. Abbosh joined Accenture in 1989 and became a partner in 1998. He holds a degree in electronic engineering from Cambridge University and a master's degree in business administration from INSEAD.

Paul Nunes

Paul Nunes is the global managing director for thought leadership at Accenture Research and leads the company's principle business research programs that shape its strategic vision. He is coauthor of three books, Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation (2014). He has written for MIT Sloan Management Review, Fast Company, Conference Board Review, The European Business Review, Rotman, Strategy and Leadership, and Wired. Nunes' research findings have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BusinessWeek.com, Forbes.com, Inc.com, CFO, CIO, CIO Insight, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune.