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
Authors:
Helena Coggan
Hodder Paperbacks

The Catalyst

Helena Coggan
Authors:
Helena Coggan

'The next JK Rowling' (Today Programme, USA)'An astounding achievement. I can't wait for the second book! *****' - Reader Review'A great read for those who enjoyed The Hunger Games and Divergent. *****' - Reader Review____________________Rose Elmsworth has a secret.For eighteen years, the world has been divided into the magically Gifted and the non-magical Ashkind, but Rose's identity is far more dangerous. At fifteen, she has earned herself a place alongside her father in the Department, a brutal law-enforcement organisation run by the Gifted to control the Ashkind. But now an old enemy is threatening to start a catastrophic war, and Rose faces a challenging test of her loyalties.How much does she really know about her father's past? How far is the Department willing to go to keep the peace? And, if the time comes, will Rose choose to protect her secret, or the people she loves?____________________Further praise for Helena Coggan and The Catalyst'The Catalyst is a complicated, rich world of magic and danger . . . Both fantastical and startlingly relevant and contemporary, it's tense, exciting, engaging and has at its heart a central character whose incredibly personal story becomes caught up in huge battles and some even bigger ideas.' - Claire North, author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August'A pulsing, labyrinthine, emotionally visceral plot' - Metro'A phenomenal achievement . . . assured, frightening, action-packed' - Observer

Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre

This is Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre's second novel. Her first, Fourrure, won five literary prizes in France. Le Dernier des Nôtres was the winner of both the Académie Francaise Grand Prix du Roman and the 2016 inaugural Filigranes prize, awarded to the book with the widest general appeal. It was on the longlist for the 2016 Renaudot prize, on the shortlist of four for the 2016 Landerneau prize, longlisted for the Prix de Flore.

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller's first novel, Ingenious Pain, was published by Sceptre in 1997 and greeted as the debut of an outstanding new writer. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour Prize for the best foreign novel published in Italy.It has been followed by Casanova, Oxygen, which was shortlisted for the both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award in 2001, The Optimists, One Morning Like A Bird, Pure, which won the Costa Book of the Year Award 2011, and The Crossing.Andrew Miller's novels have been published in translation in twenty countries. Born in Bristol in 1960, he has lived in Spain, Japan, France and Ireland, and currently lives in Somerset.

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, www.annajacobs.com or on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Anna.Jacobs.Books.

Anne Buist

Anne Buist is chair of Women's Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and author of the psychological thrillers, Medea's Curse, Dangerous to Know and This I Would Kill For. annebuist.comfacebook.com/anneebuist@anneebuist

Anthony Trevelyan

Anthony Trevelyan was born in Lancashire. He read English at Trinity College, Oxford, before going on to further studies at Lancaster University. Currently he lives with his wife near Manchester, where he takes part in performance events such as Flim Nite and First Draft. He works as a teacher of English and Creative Writing at a sixth form college in Stockport. His first novel, The Weightless World, was published by Galley Beggar Press in 2015 and was longlisted for the 2016 Desmond Elliott Prize.

Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers is the author of the Wayfarers books, which currently include The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few. Her books have been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, among others, and won the Prix Julia Verlanger in 2017. She grew up in a family heavily involved in space science, and hopes to see Earth from orbit one day.

Benedict Wells

Benedict Wells was born in 1984 in Munich. At the age of six, he started his journey through three Bavarian boarding schools. Upon graduating school in 2003, he moved to Berlin, where he decided against an academic education and instead started to dedicate his time to writing. In 2016 he won the European Union Prize for Literature for his third novel, The End of Loneliness, which has been in the German bestseller list for over a year. After years of living in Barcelona, Wells has recently returned to Berlin.

Bret Anthony Johnston

Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, which was described by David Mitchell as 'a gorgeous, accomplished debut', and was named a Best Book of the Year by the Independent and the Irish Times, and the internationally bestselling novel Remember Me Like This, a New York Times Editor's Choice and one of the Observer's best Holiday Reads 2014.His work appears in the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, the Paris Review, the Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere.A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he's the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and a 5 Under 35 honor from the National Book Foundation, and the winner of the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2017. Previously the Director of Creative Writing at Harvard, he is now the Director of the James A. Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas.bretanthonyjohnston.comFacebook/BAJbooks

Carolyn Parkhurst

Carolyn Parkhurst is the author of three novels: Lorelei's Secret (published in the US as The Dogs of Babel) and Lost and Found, which were both New York Times bestsellers, and The Nobodies Album. In 2010, she published her first children's book, Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. Born in New Hampshire, she attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she met her husband, Evan Rosser. She also received an MFA in creative writing from American University. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and their two children.

Cynthia Swanson

Cynthia Swanson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Bookseller, which is soon to be a motion picture starring Julia Roberts. An Indie Next selection and the winner of the 2016 WILLA Award for Historical Fiction, The Bookseller is being translated into more than a dozen languages and it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award. Cynthia lives with her family in Denver, Colorado.

Eleanor O’Reilly

Eleanor O'Reilly is a teacher of English and Classical Studies who is currently working towards an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Having first started writing four years ago, she has received several literary prizes, including the 2015 RTE Francis McManus Radio Short Story Award and the 2013 William Trevor International Short Story Award, and has been shortlisted for several others, including the 2016 Colm Toibin Literary Award. She lives in Ireland with her husband, her daughter, and their Great Dane Spartacus. M for Mammy is her debut novel.

Emma Henderson

Emma Henderson was educated at Godolphin and Latymer School, London, Somerville College, Oxford and Yale University, Connecticut. She wrote blurbs for Penguin books for two years, then spent a decade teaching English in comprehensive schools and further education colleges, before moving to the French Alps where, for six years, she ran a ski and snowboard lodge. She now lives in Derbyshire and is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Keele University. GRACE WILLIAMS SAYS IT LOUD was her first novel. The Valentine House is her second novel.

Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Poison Tree, The Sick Rose, The Burning Air, The Ties That Bind, He Said/She Said and Broadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the mega-hit TV series. In 2013, The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011. Born in London in 1976, she lives in north London with her husband and daughters. www.erinkelly.co.ukwww.twitter.com/mserinkelly

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.

Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion is the internationally bestselling author of The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect and The Best of Adam Sharp. graemesimsion.comfacebook.com/GraemeSimsionAuthor@GraemeSimsion

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.

Ilka Tampke

Ilka Tampke was awarded a Glenfern Fellowship in 2012. Her short stories and articles have been published in several anthologies. She lives in Woodend, Australia. Her debut novel Skin was published to critical acclaim. Songwoman is her second 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.