Related to: 'Whispers'

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

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Pam Rhodes
Authors:
Pam Rhodes

Pam Rhodes is best known as the familiar face of the BBC's Songs of Praise, and here she brings together her personal selection of carols, poems, Bible readings and other inspirational passages from a wide range of sources.As well as the usual old favourites - from Hark the Herald Angels Sing to the stories of the shepherds and the wise men visiting the baby Jesus - there are plenty of lighter moments, with excerpts from Gervase Phinn's memoirs and funny poems by modern writers. Alongside the items themselves Pam shares some of her own Christmas reminiscences and explores the resonance of the Christmas story for all our lives in her trademark inviting and heartwarming style.There is something here for everyone, from those wanting to enjoy dipping in for a taste of Christmas to those needing a sourcebook to inspire selections for Christmas services. Enjoy!

Hodder & Stoughton

Letting Go

Pam Rhodes
Authors:
Pam Rhodes
Hodder & Stoughton

Ties That Bind

Pam Rhodes
Authors:
Pam Rhodes
Hodder & Stoughton

The Trespassers

Pam Rhodes
Authors:
Pam Rhodes

Philip Barnes, the popular vicar of St John's church in a small West Country town, is very happily married: he and his wife Ruth have a solid relationship based on deep love and a shared commitment to family and to faith. So when he finds himself strongly attracted to his daughter's piano teacher, Louise, his feelings are both stimulating and shocking. Their brief affair has tragic consequences for everyone involved, but once Philip realises Ruth has forgiven him, he can begin to forgive himself.

Anna Jacobs

Anna Jacobs grew up in Lancashire and emigrated to Australia, but still visits the UK regularly to see her family and do research, something she loves. She is addicted to writing and figures she'll have to live to be 120 at least to tell all the stories that keep popping up in her imagination and nagging her to write them down. She's also addicted to her own hero, to whom she's been happily married for many years.She is the bestselling author of over eighty novels and has been shortlisted for several awards, and Pride of Lancashire won the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award in 2006.You can find out more on her website, www.annajacobs.com or on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Anna.Jacobs.Books.

Audrey Howard

Audrey Howard was born in Liverpool in 1929. Before she began to write she had a variety of jobs, among them hairdresser, model, shop assistant, cleaner and civil servant. In 1981, while living in Australia, she wrote the first of her bestselling novels. Here fourth novel, The Juniper Bush, won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 1988.She lives in St Anne's on Sea, her childhood home.

Beth Corby

Beth Corby lives in Wales with her husband and children. Where There's a Will is her debut novel.

Caitlin Davies

Caitlin Davies was born in London in 1964. She is the author of five novels and five non-fiction books, and has worked as a teacher and freelance journalist for 25 years. In 1989 she moved to Botswana where she worked for the country's first tabloid newspaper, the Voice, and later as editor of the Okavango Observer. She received a Journalist of the Year award. From 2014-2017 she worked as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Westminster, Harrow, in the faculty of Media, Arts & Design. Caitlindavies.co.uk@CaitlinDavies2

Christine Marion Fraser

Christine Marion Fraser was one of Scotland's best-selling authors, outselling even Catherine Cookson, with world-wide readership and translations into many foreign languages. She was the author of the much-loved Rhanna series. Second youngest of a large family, she soon learned independence during childhood years spent in the post-war Govan district of Glasgow. Chris lived in Argyll with her husband. She died on 22nd November 2002.

Elizabeth Anthony

Elizabeth Anthony discovered historical novels early in her teens. After graduating from university she worked as a tutor in English Studies, but always dreamed of writing. Her ambition was fulfilled with the publication of an eighteenth-century thriller received with great acclaim in the UK and US and translated into nine languages. She has also written several historical romances. Elizabeth lives with her husband in the Peak District.

Elizabeth Goudge

Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge was born on April 24th 1900 in Wells, Somerset, where her father was Principal of Wells Theological College. Although she had privately intended writing as a career, her parents insisted she taught handicrafts in Oxford. She began writing in her spare time and her first novel ISLAND MAGIC, set in Guernsey, was a great success here and in America. GREEN DOLPHIN COUNTRY (1944) projected her to fame, netting a Literary Guild Award and a special prize of £30,000 from Louis B. Mayer of MGM before being filmed.In her later years Elizabeth Goudge settled in Henley-on-Thames. She died on April 1st, 1984.

Eloisa James

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor. Currently she is the Director of Creative Writing in the English Department at Fordham University in New York City. She lives and writes in New Jersey with her husband, a Dante scholar and Italian knight, and their two children.

Fiona Walker

Fiona Walker, whose novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers, leads the field as the voice of young, media-aware women. She lives in Somerset with her partner and two children plus an assortment of horses and dogs.

Irene Carr

Irene Carr was born and brought up on the river in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, in the 1930s. As her father and brother worked in the local shipyards and her mother was a barmaid at the beginning of the century she was well acquainted with the setting and times of the world she recreated in her sagas. Irene Carr died in 2006.

James Clavell

James Clavell, the son of a Royal Navy family, was educated in Portsmouth before, as a young artillery officer, he was captured by the Japanese at the Fall of Singapore. It was on this experience that his bestselling novel KING RAT was based. He maintained this oriental interest in his other great works: TAI-PAN, SHOGUN, NOBLE HOUSE and GAI JIN. Clavell lived for many years in Vancouver and Los Angeles, before settling in Switzerland, where he died in 1994.

Joanna Nell

Joanna Nell was born in the Midlands and graduated from Oxford University with a medical degree in 1991. In 2003 she moved to Australia where she now works as a GP with a passion for women's health and care of the elderly. Joanna writes character-driven stories of self-discovery for women of a certain age, creating young-at-heart characters who break the rules and defy society's expectations. She lives on Sydney's Northern Beaches with her husband and two children.

Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and brought up in London. A journalist and writer, she worked for the Independent until 2001. She lives in East Anglia with her husband and three children.Jojo has twice won the Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year Award: in 2011 for The Last Letter From Your Lover and in 2003 for Foreign Fruit. The Ship of Brides and Silver Bay were shortlisted for the 2005 and 2007 RNA award and Silver Bay was shortlisted for the inaugural Good Housekeeping 2007 Book of the Year award. You can read Jojo's blog or find out more from her website, www.jojomoyes.com, follow her on Twitter @jojomoyes or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jojo.moyes.

Julia Bryant

Julia Bryant was born in Portsmouth: her step-father and husband both served in the Navy. She trained as a nurse, then after her three children grew up, earned an honours B.A. in English and history. She and her husband now live in Portsmouth once more. Visit her website at www.juliabryant-online.com.

Kate Fenton

Kate Fenton was born in Oldham and educated in Cheshire, Manchester and St Hilda's College, Oxford. As a BBC features and documentaries producer she worked for Radio Wales, the World Service and Radio 4. She lives on the North York Moors with her husband, actor Ian Carmichael. To find out more, visit Kate's website, www.katefenton.com.

Kate Jacobs

Kate Jacobs left her native Canada to earn a graduate degree at New York University - and made her home in Manhattan for a decade, where she worked at Redbook, Working Woman, Family Life and LifetimeTV.com. Currently she lives in Southern California with her husband.