Related to: 'The Orphanage of Gods'

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

The Reaction

Helena Coggan
Helena Coggan

'The next J. K. Rowling' Today Programme, USAThe Reaction is the explosive sequel to Helena Coggan's stunning debut The Catalyst.For the first time in her life, fifteen-year-old Rose Elmsworth is alone. Her father, David, has been imprisoned and disgraced, a death sentence almost certain. She has been rejected by the Department, the amoral law-enforcement agency in which she grew up. Most dangerous of all is the terrible secret she and her father have been keeping all her life: if exposed, it has the power to destroy her. But Rose cannot stay hidden forever. Around her, the world is changing faster than either she or the Department can stop it. The laws which have for years maintained peace between magicals and non-magicals are breaking down, and two rival militias are gathering on the streets to prepare for a devastating war. As deeper, darker elements of her father's past emerge, Rose begins to understand that the rules of good and evil in which she has always believed will not protect her anymore.In a world of monsters, how long can trust, loyalty and justice survive? And how much will Rose herself have to change to stay alive?

Hodder Paperbacks

The Catalyst

Helena Coggan
Helena Coggan

Adrian Plass

A former childcare worker, Adrian Plass is now one of the most prolific and most-loved Christian writers in the UK. He is the bestselling author of The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37¾ - this and its various sequels have sold millions of copies around the world. A somewhat bemused Anglican, Adrian and his wife Bridget live in Yorkshire and recently spent two years as part of the Scargill Community as well as continuing to speak in churches, prisons, schools, festivals and literary events in the UK and around the world.

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.

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 sixty novels and has been shortlisted for several awards. Pride of Lancashire won the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award in 2006, and The Trader's Wife is on the shortlist for the 2012 award. You can find out more on her website, or on her Facebook page,

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.

Chrissie Manby

Chrissie Manby is the author of twenty romantic comedies including A PROPER FAMILY HOLIDAY, THE MATCHBREAKER and SEVEN SUNNY DAYS. She has had several Sunday Times bestsellers and her novel about behaving badly after a break-up, GETTING OVER MR RIGHT, was nominated for the 2011 Melissa Nathan Award. Chrissie was raised in Gloucester, in the west of England, and now lives in London. Contrary to the popular conception of chick-lit writers, she is such a bad home-baker that her own father threatened to put her last creation on She is, however, partial to white wine and shoes she can't walk in. You can follow her on Twitter @chrissiemanby, or visit her website to find out more.

Fiona Mozley

Fiona Mozley grew up in York and went to King's College, Cambridge, after which she lived in Buenos Aires and London. She is studying for a PhD in medieval history. Elmet is her first novel and it has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017.

Holly Bourne

Holly Bourne is a bestselling author. She is passionate about gender equality and mental health. How Do You Like Me Now? is her debut adult novel.

J M Holmes

J.M. Holmes won the Burnett Howe prize for fiction at Amherst College, received fellowships at the Iowa Writer's Workshop and the Napa Valley Writers' Conference. He's worked in educational outreach in Iowa, Massachusetts and Pawtucket. His stories have appeared in the Paris Review and HOW Journal. How Are You Going To Save Yourself is his debut.

Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde spent twenty years in the film business before debuting on the New York Time Bestseller list with 'The Eyre Affair' in 2001. Since then he has written another twelve novels. His next book, 'Early Riser', will be published in the UK and USA early in 2016.Fforde's writing is an eclectic mix of genres, which might be described as a joyful blend of Comedy-SF-thriller-Crime-Satire. He freely admits that he fascinated not just by books themselves, but by the way we read and what we read, and his reinvigoration of tired genres have won him many enthusiastic supporters across the world.Amongst Fforde's output are police procedurals featuring nursery rhyme characters; a series for Young Adults about Magic and Dragons set in a shabby world of failing magical powers, and 'Shades of Grey' a post-apocalyptic dystopia set three world orders into the future, where social hierarchy is based on the colours you can see. His next book, 'Early Riser', will be published in the UK and USA early in 2016.Fforde failed his Welsh Nationality Test by erroneously identifying Gavin Henson as a TV chef, but continues to live and work in his adopted nation despite this setback. He has a Welsh wife, two welsh daughters and a welsh dog.Visit Jasper's website,, find him on Facebook,, and follow him on Twitter at

Jen Campbell

JEN CAMPBELL is an award-winning poet and short story writer. Born in the north east of England, she now lives in London, and is the author of the bestselling Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops series and The Bookshop Book. She worked as a bookseller for ten years. Her first children's book Franklin's Flying Bookshop is published by Thames and Hudson. A respected and influential book vlogger with almost 30,000 subscribers, she has won an Eric Gregory Award for poetry in 2016 and has been a judge for the Costa and Somerset Maugham awards.She is a little bit obsessed with the darker side of fairy tales. She lives in London.

John Connolly

John Connolly is author of the Charlie Parker mysteries, The Book of Lost Things, the Samuel Johnson novels for young adults and, with his partner, Jennifer Ridyard, co-author of the Chronicles of the Invaders. John Connolly's debut - EVERY DEAD THING - introduced the character of Private Investigator Charlie Parker, and swiftly launched him right into the front rank of thriller writers. All his subsequent novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers. He was the winner of the 2016 CWA Short Story Dagger for On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier from NIGHT MUSIC: Nocturnes Vol 2.In 2007 he was awarded the Irish Post Award for Literature. He was the first non-American writer to win the US Shamus award and the first Irish writer to win an Edgar award. BOOKS TO DIE FOR, which he edited with Declan Burke, was the winner of the 2013 Anthony, Agatha and Macavity awards for Best Non-Fiction work.

Jonathan Wittenberg

Jonathan Wittenberg was born in Glasgow in 1957 to a family of German Jewish origin. The family moved to London in 1963, where he attended University College School, specialising in classical and modern languages, subsequently reading English at Cambridge. He trained for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College London, receiving ordination in 1987. He now lives in London with his wife Nicky and, three children, and his faithful canine companion, Mitzpah.

Julie Corbin

Julie Corbin is Scottish and grew up just outside Edinburgh. She has lived in East Sussex for the last twenty-five years and raised her three sons in a village close to the Ashdown Forest. She is trained as a nurse and combines running the medical department in a boarding school with writing novels, short stories and currently a radio play.Her psychological thrillers have been described as 'creepy and gripping' (Closer) and 'remarkably assured... suspenseful narrative' (Daily Mail)She speaks at writing events, book groups and libraries, and runs writing workshops for beginners and more experienced writers.Visit Julie's website at and follow her on Twitter @Julie_Corbin

New International Version

The New International Version is the world's most popular modern English Bible translation. Developed by Biblica, formerly the International Bible Society, the New International Version is the result of years of work by the Committee on Bible Translation, overseeing the efforts of many contributing scholars. The translators are drawn from a wide range of denominations and from various countries and they continually review new research in order to ensure the NIV remains at the forefront of accessibility, relevance and

Rachel Heng

Rachel Heng is a Singaporean writer who graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Comparative Literature Society. After working in the finance sector in London for several years, Rachel moved to Austin, TX, to pursue an MFA in Fiction and Screenwriting at the Michener Center for Writers, where she is currently a James A. Michener Fellow and assistant editor for the O Henry Prize anthology. Rachel's short fiction has received a Pushcart Prize Special Mention, Prairie Schooner's Jane Geske Award, and has been featured by the Huffington Post. Her fiction as been published widely in literary journals such as The Offing, Prairie Schooner, The Adroit Journal, the minnesota review and elsewhere. Her debut novel, Suicide Club, is out in July and will be translated into 7 languages.

Rob Parsons

Rob Parsons is the bestselling author of THE SIXTY MINUTE GRANDPARENT, TEENAGERS! and THE SIXTY MINUTE FATHER. He speaks internationally on family issues and is the Executive Chairman of Care for the Family, a charity committed to strengthening family life and helping others who are hurting due to family breakdown.Care for the Family, launched by Rob in 1988, is a registered charity and its work is motivated by Christian compassion. The resources and support it provides are available to everyone, of any faith or none.Rob lives in Cardiff with his wife Dianne. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.

Ruth Hogan

Ruth Hogan is the author of The Keeper of Lost Things, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and a WHSmith Travel 'Fresh Talent' selection. A #1 word-of-mouth hit and Sunday Times Bestseller with more than half a million copies sold, the book is currently being published in 30 countries around the world. The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, Ruth's second novel, will be published by Two Roads in May 2018.She lives in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and her long-suffering | instagram | facebook > ruthmariehogan

Sally Magnusson

Broadcaster and journalist Sally Magnusson has written 10 books, most famously, her Sunday Times bestseller, Where Memories Go (2014) about her mother's dementia. Half-Icelandic, half Scottish, Sally has inherited a rich storytelling tradition. The Sealwoman's Gift is her first novel.