Related to: 'Work Rules!'

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.

Alex Ferguson

Born in Glasgow in 1941, Sir Alex Ferguson was playing football at an international level as a school boy. He began his professional playing career in 1958 with Queen's Park. Four times winner of Manager of the Year, he has been the manager of Manchester United for thirteen years during a time when they have become the most successful and richest club in the world. MANAGING MY LIFE was awarded the British Book Awards' Book of the Year in 1999.Sir Alex Ferguson was born in 1941 in Govan, Scotland. A goal-scoring centre-forward, he was later transferred to Rangers for a Scottish record transfer fee. In 1974, he entered management with East Stirlingshire and St Mirren before joining Aberdeen, where consistent domestic success, followed by victory in the 1983 Cup Winners' Cup over Real Madrid, brought him wider attention.Arriving at Manchester United in 1986, he went on to accumulate 38 trophies, including five FA Cups, 13 Premier Leagues and two Champions Leagues. He was knighted in 1999, following Manchester United's remarkable Treble campaign, and his overall haul of 49 trophies makes him the most successful British manager of all time. Sir Alex announced his retirement in 2013, but he continues to serve United as a director and is a Fellow to the Executive Education Program at Harvard Business School.

Andy Cope

Andy describes himself as an author, happiness expert, qualified teacher and learning junkie. He has spent 10 years researching 'positive psychology' culminating in a 'PhD in Happiness' from Loughborough University. He has developed a series of keynotes and courses centring on themes of happiness and flourishing, which he delivers in business and schools across the world. Andy has written several best-selling personal development books, including 'The Art of Being Brilliant', and is also a best-selling children's author. His 'Spy Dog' series has enjoyed huge global success.

Catherine Kaputa

Catherine Kaputa is the award-winning author of You Are a Brand! and Breakthrough Branding. She is a successful branding strategist and speaker and led the 'I Love NY' campaign. Catherine lives in New York City.

Craig Storti

Craig Storti is founder and co-director of Communicating Across Cultures, a Washington, D.C.-based intercultural communication training and consulting firm. With work appearing in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune, he is the author of six books. Having lived nearly a quarter of his life abroad, he lives now in Maryland. www.craigstorti.com

Diana Jones

Diana Jones, brings over 30 years of experience in coaching and leadership development, working with CEOs, managers and teams as they manage change and strive to achieve exceptional business results. http://diana-jones.com/

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.

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 Brooks

John Brooks (1920-1993) was an award-winning writer best known for his contributions to the New Yorker as a financial journalist. He was also the author of ten nonfiction books on business and finance, a number of which were critically acclaimed works examining Wall Street and the corporate world. His books Once in Golconda, The Go-Go Years, and Business Adventures have endured as classics. Although he is remembered primarily for his writings on financial topics, Brooks published three novels and wrote book reviews for Harper's Magazine and the New York Times Book Review.

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.

Judy Bartkowiak

Judy Bartkowiak's training courses and coaching practice have helped thousands of people to apply the skills of NLP in their everyday lives. She is a qualified NLP Trainer, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Sports Practitioner, NLP Business Practitioner and NLP Children's Practitioner.

Mac Bride

Mac Bride is a successful computer author who brings over 20 years of teaching experience to his writing.

Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen is a former Children's Laureate and the bestselling author of We're Going on a Bear Hunt (which won the Smarties Best Book of the Year Award) and many other books. He has also presented Word of Mouth on BBC Radio 4 since 1998. He has a Phd in Education, been awarded five extra honorary doctorates by various universities and made Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature) by the French government. In 2013 he became Professor of Education Studies at Goldsmiths. Find out more on Michael's website: www.michaelrosen.co.uk

Nigel Cumberland

Nigel Cumberland is a founding partner of the London based Silk Road Partnership, which provides a range of coaching/mentoring services across the Gulf, Europe and Asia. Clients include the World Bank, Google, Standard Chartered Bank, Commerzbank, Bureau Veritas, Dubai Government, Malaysian Government and Macquarie Bank. He has held various C-Level and Managing Director positions with a number of multinationals and sat on a number of Boards of Directors.

Rebecca Holman

Rebecca Holman is currently the editor of TheDebrief.co.uk, the award-winning digital brand for millennial women, sister publication to Grazia. Until recently, Rebecca wrote a weekly column about sex, dating and single life forTelegraph Wonder Women. She has featured as a guest on TV and radio, recently appearing on the Victoria Derbyshire Show and Women's Hour to discuss issues such as female friendships and social media.

Richard Carlson

The late Richard Carlson, PhD, was the author of the internationally bestselling Don't Sweat the Small Stuff series. He lived with his wife and two children in northern California until his tragic death in December 2006.

Richard Koch

Richard Koch is a highly successful author, investor and entrepreneur, having made large returns from businesses as diverse as hotels, restaurants, personal organisers and consulting. A former partner at consulting firm Bain & Co, and co-founder of The LEK Partnership, the fastest growing and most profitable 'strategy boutique' of the 1980s, Richard now lives the 80/20 way between Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal and South Africa.

Robert Peston

Robert Peston is Political Editor for ITV News. Until the end of 2015 he was the BBC's Economics Editor; and from 2006 to 2013, he was BBC Business Editor. As a journalist for more than 30 years, he has been Political Editor and Financial Editor of the Financial Times, City Editor of the Sunday Telegraph and a columnist for the New Statesman and Sunday Times (inter alia). Peston has won more than 30 awards for his journalism, including Journalist of the Year and Scoop of the Year (twice) from the Royal Television Society, Performer of the Year from the Broadcasting Press Guild, Broadcaster of the Year and Journalist of the Year from the Wincott Foundation and Business Journalist of the Year from the London Press Club. Peston has published three critically acclaimed books, How Do We Fix This Mess? The Economic Price of Having It All, and the Route to Lasting Prosperity, Who Runs Britain?, his best-selling account of who is to blame for the economic and financial crisis of 2007-9, and Brown's Britain, a biography of Gordon Brown and analysis of the New Labour government. He is the founder of Speakers for Schools (www.speakers4schools.org), an education charity which organises free talks from inspirational speakers for students at state schools. He was married to the writer Siân Busby who died in 2012. You can read, watch and follow Robert at itv.com/peston and facebook.com/pestonitv and twitter.com/peston

Rolf Dobelli

Rolf Dobelli (born 1966) is a Swiss writer, novelist and entrepreneur. He has an MBA and a PhD in economic philosophy from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Dobelli is co-founder of getAbstract, the world's leading provider of book summaries. Dobelli has written six works of fiction. Most famously, he is author of THE ART OF THINKING CLEARLY, which became an instant success and landed on the number 1 spot on Germany's official Bestseller list and has been translated in many languages. Dobelli is also founder and curator of ZURICH.MINDS, an invitation-only community of the most distinguished thinkers, scientists and artists.www.dobelli.com www.facebook.com/dobelli

Sophie Devonshire

Sophie Devonshire is a business leader who has worked in and with multinational companies, successful start-ups and agencies, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Leo Burnett and Interbrand. She has worked and lived in London, Tallinn and Dubai and is a regular speaker on brands and businesses in the press and media. Sophie is the CEO of The Caffeine Partnership (founded by Andy Milligan and David Kean), a unique consultancy which delivers brand-led business growth. She is an experienced business leader, entrepreneur and brand specialist. An 'acceleration addict', she is constantly curious about how to speed up success. She hates wasting time and believes impatience is usually a virtue. She applies the principles of Caffeine (a psychoactive stimulant) to her approach to work and writing; stimulating business.