Related to: 'The Man I Think I Know'

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 Hope Family Calendar

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle

A compelling and emotional novel, for fans of Jojo Moyes and Jenny Colgan.'With a style similar to David Nicholls, Gayle's writing is incisive, lyrical and very beautiful...It's impossible not to fall in love with the Hope family' Irish IndependentTom Hope is broken. Ever since his wife Laura died he hasn't been the same man, and definitely not the same father. Luckily for Tom his mother-in-law Linda is around to pick up the pieces and look after his two struggling daughters, Evie and Lola. But Tom getting arrested on the first anniversary of his wife's death is the last straw for Linda.In a last bid attempt to make Tom reconnect with his daughters she takes drastic action and leaves for Australia. With two fast-maturing daughters Tom has to learn how to accept his responsibilities and navigate the newly discovered world of single fatherhood - starting immediately. With only himself to rely on, will Tom fall back into grief or finally step up and be the father his girls need?

Hodder & Stoughton

Seeing Other People

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle

Hodder & Stoughton

Turning Forty

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle

How to turn forty:1. Set yourself a personal challenge.2. Clear wardrobe of all age inappropriate clothing.3. Relax.How not to turn forty:1. Have a complete meltdown . . .High flier Matt Beckford's sole ambition is to turn forty with his life sorted. And with a Porsche on the drive and a job that requires him to spend more time in BA's club lounge than his own lounge, it looks like things are going in the right direction. But when Matt's wife unexpectedly calls time on their marriage, a chain of events is set in motion that very quickly sees him facing forty broke, homeless and completely alone.But all is not lost because Matt has a plan . . .Wise, witty and wonderful . . . a triumph! Jenny Colgan

Hodder & Stoughton

His 'n' Hers

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle

A brilliant romantic comedy for fans of Bridget Jones's Diary.A cat. A flat. And a couple who think it's over.From their first meeting at the student union over a decade ago, Jim and Alison successfully navigated their way through first dates, meeting parents, moving in together and more . . . Then they split up and divided their worldly goods (including a sofa, a cat and their flat) into his 'n' hers.Now, three years on and with new lives and new loves, they couldn't be happier. Until a chance encounter throws them back together, and causes them to embark on a journey through their past to ask themselves the big question: where did it all go wrong, and is it too late to put it all right?

Hodder & Stoughton

Brand New Friend

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle
Hodder & Stoughton

Life and Soul of the Party

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle

A brilliant romantic comedy about a year in the lives of three couples from number one bestselling author Mike Gayle.Meet Melissa and Paul: Five years after they split up he's still looking for love in all the wrong places while she wants the one thing she can't have: Paul.Meet Chris and Vicky: They're so in tune they even brush their teeth in time with each other. So what is Chris doing risking it all for a meaningless affair?Meet Cooper and Laura: He wants to settle down, she wants to take a grown-up gap year but can their relationship really survive a year apart?Set across a year of leaving dos, birthday parties and anniversary celebrations, Life and Soul of the Party is a warm, funny and moving tale celebrating love, life and those special moments we've all spent in the kitchen at parties.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Stag and Hen Weekend

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle
Hodder & Stoughton

Men at Work - Quick Read

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle

Ian Greening loves his job at the Department of Work and Pensions. It might not be the best paid job in the world but it gives him lots of scope for fun. He loves his girlfriend, Emma, too. But when Emma is made redundant, and gets a temping job in Ian's office, he doesn't like it at all. Emma only knows Home Ian - and Work Ian is a different kettle of fish. Spending twenty-four hours a day together is too much of a good thing. But how can he tell her that without hurting her? Ian comes up with a plan to get things back the way they were. But it puts his relationship at risk and forces Ian to decide which really matters most: the job, or Emma. A sweet, funny novel about love and work.

Hodder & Stoughton

Dinner for Two

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle
Hodder & Stoughton

The Importance of Being a Bachelor

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle

A hilarious and touching romantic comedy about three clueless, charming brothers and the women in their lives from number one bestselling author Mike Gayle.Despite the example of their own parents' enduring marriage, the three Bachelor brothers show no sign of settling down.Adam has a string of glamorous girlfriends, but they aren't suitable wife material.Luke has just proposed to Cassie but his refusal to consider having children looks like an insurmountable barrier.And baby of the family Russell is in love with the one woman he can't have.Then their father announces he has been thrown out of the family home and this forces all three brothers to examine their own priorities.Are all three Bachelor brothers totally hopeless cases or just late starters?

Hodder & Stoughton

The To-Do List

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle
Hodder & Stoughton

My Legendary Girlfriend

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle

A hilarious, original story for anyone who has ever been dumped, or lived in a dump, 'full of belly-laughs and painfully acute observations'. (Independent on Sunday)Meet Will Kelly. English teacher. Film Fan. Pot Noodle expert. Ex-boyfriend.Still in love with The One, Will is desperate to discover if there can be An-Other One. In his decrepit flat where he can't even manage to cook spaghetti hoops without setting of the communal smoke alarm, his lifeline is the telephone. Will realises that with a single call, friends can either lift him from the depths of despair or completely shatter his hopes.There's Alice (who remembers his birthday), Simon (who doesn't), Kate (the previous tenant of his rented hovel). And of course his ex, Aggi. The inimitable Aggi. His legendary Girlfriend.Or is She?

Hodder Paperbacks

Wish You Were Here

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle

A brilliant romantic comedy exploring beach basics for the broken-hearted from number one bestselling author Mike Gayle.Their holiday brochure said 18-30 . . . But they've just turned 35.After ten years together Charlie Mansell has been dumped by his live-in girlfriend, Sarah. All he wants to do is wallow in misery, but mates Andy and Tom have a better idea: a week of sun, sea and souvlaki in Malia, party capital of the Greek islands.But Charlie and his mates aren't eighteen any more. Or even under thirty. And it shows.It isn't the cheap beer, the late nights or even the fast-food that's the problem. It's girls. And life. And most of all . . . each other. WISH YOU WERE HERE is a heart-warming, funny and wise tale about love and friendship and how seven days in the sun can change your life forever.

Hodder & Stoughton

Turning Thirty

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle
Hodder & Stoughton

Mr Commitment

Mike Gayle
Authors:
Mike Gayle

Number One bestselling author Mike Gayle returns with this wickedly observed novel about modern relationships: does Mr Irresponsible have what it takes to become Mr Commitment?Duffy is engaged. He accepted Mel's proposal. But the trips to IKEA, dinner parties for couples and talk of babies are giving him itchy feet and now he's not sure if he can say goodbye to his extended adolescence and face up to that final walk down the aisle.How does he know if she's The One? Can he cope with responsibility? Does he have what it takes to become Mr Commitment? Because if he doesn't, he may just find that he's lost Mel - forever...

Alison Jean Lester

Alison Jean Lester was born to an American father and a British mother, and educated in the US, the UK, China and Italy. She spent twenty-five years working, writing and raising her children in Japan and Singapore before relocating to the UK in 2016. She is the author of the novel Lillian on Life and has had short stories published in Ecotone, Good Housekeeping and Barrelhouse.

Amy Engel

Amy Engel is the author of the YA novels THE BOOK OF IVY and THE REVOLUTION OF IVY. She lives in Missouri with her family. THE ROANOKE GIRLS is her first novel for adults.

Anne Buist

Anne Buist is chair of Women's Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and author of the Natalie King psychological thrillers.aneebuist.comfacebook.com/anneebuist@anneebuist

Ashley Hay

Ashley Hay is the internationally acclaimed author of the novels The Body in the Clouds, The Railwayman's Wife and A Hundred Small Lessons. The Railwayman's Wife was honoured with the Colin Roderick Award by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the most prestigious literary prize in Australia, among numerous other accolades. She has also written four nonfiction books.She lives in Brisbane, Australia.ashleyhay.com.au

Clare Morrall

Clare Morrall's first novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour, was published in 2003 and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize that year. She has since published the novels Natural Flights of the Human Mind, The Language of Others, The Man Who Disappeared, which was a TV Book Club Summer Read in 2010, The Roundabout Man and After the Bombing.Born in Exeter, Clare Morrall now lives in Birmingham. She works as a music teacher, and has two daughters.