Related to: 'Dinosaurs on Other Planets'

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.

John Murray

The Chalk Sculpture

Danielle McLaughlin
Authors:
Danielle McLaughlin

At the former home of the sculptor Robert Locke, Nessa, a gallery employee, is struggling to manage Eleanor and Loretta Locke, the sculptor's widow and middle-aged daughter. Meanwhile, her marriage is floundering in the aftermath of her husband's affair, and she's becoming increasingly alienated from her teenage daughter. At this worst possible time, her past resurfaces in the form of Caroline Ferriter, a woman she once shared a flat with in London. Caroline is in contact with the son of their long-dead flatmate, Amy, who killed herself at the age of 24. Luke, Amy's son, is coming to Ireland in an attempt to understand something of the person his mother was. At the last minute, Paul, Luke's father, whom Nessa was once briefly involved with, invites himself along too.Things become only more complicated once the two men arrive in Ireland and when an American woman, Melanie, comes forward to claim that she, and not Eleanor, was Locke's muse for his best known piece, the Chalk Sculpture, things really start to spiral out of control.

Alexei Sayle

Alexei Sayle is a comedian, actor, presenter and writer. His television work as a writer and performer includes The Young Ones, Alexei Sayle's Stuff, and The All New Alexei Sayle Show and Alexei Sayle's Liverpool for BBC 2. He has written for many newspapers and magazines and appeared in numerous films, from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to Gorky Park. He is currently writing his memoir, STALIN ATE MY HOMEWORK, which will be published by Sceptre in 2010.

David Mark

David spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post - walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.He has written eight novels in the McAvoy series: Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity, Dead Pretty, Cruel Mercy, and Scorched Earth as well as two McAvoy ebook short stories, A Bad Death and Fire of Lies. Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller. In 2018 it was adapted for the stage at the Hull Truck Theatre and had a sellout debut run. David has also written The Zealot's Bones, a historical crime novel published under the name D.M. Mark.He lives in the north of England with his family.

Dorothy L Sayers

Dorothy L Sayers was born in Oxford in 1893, and was both a classical scholar and a graduate in modern languages. As well as her popular Lord Peter Wimsey series, she wrote several religious plays, but considered her translations of Dante's Divina Commedia to be her best work. She died in 1957.www.sayers.org.uk

Eleanor O’Reilly

Eleanor O'Reilly is a teacher of English and Classical Studies who has just completed an MA in Creative Writing, at Manchester Metropolitan University. Having first started writing five 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 Brian Kelly, their daughter Ella Kelly, and a whole menagerie of pets. M for Mammy is her debut novel.

Grace McCleen

Grace McCleen's first novel, The Land of Decoration, was published in 2012 and was awarded the Desmond Elliott Prize for the best first novel of the year. It was also chosen for Richard & Judy's Book Club and won her the Betty Trask Prize in 2013. Her second novel, The Professor of Poetry, was published by Sceptre in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Encore Award. She read English at the University of Oxford and has an MA from York, and currently lives in London.

Graham Norton

Graham Norton is one of the UK's best loved broadcasters. He presents The Graham Norton Show on BBC1 and has a weekly show on BBC Radio 2. He is the winner of nine BAFTA awards. Born in Dublin and raised in West Cork, Norton now lives in London. His debut novel Holding was a commercial and critical success, winning Norton the Irish Independent Popular Fiction award at the Bord Gáis Irish Book Awards in 2016.

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.

Jill Dawson

Jill Dawson is the author of the novels Trick of the Light, Magpie, Fred and Edie, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, Wild Boy, Watch Me Disappear, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize, The Great Lover, Lucky Bunny, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Crime Writer, which won the East Anglian Book of the Year. An award-winning poet, she has also edited several poetry and short story anthologies.Jill Dawson has held many Fellowships, including the Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia. In 2008 she founded a mentoring scheme for new writers, Gold Dust. She lives in the Cambridgeshire Fens.www.jilldawson.co.uk

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.

Laini Taylor

Hi! I write fantasy books. My latest is STRANGE THE DREAMER, about a young librarian, a mythic lost city, and the half-human children of murdered gods. Check it out :-) Before that I wrote the DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE trilogy, which has been translated into 32 languages. It's about a blue-haired art student raised by monsters, a broken angel, and a war that has raged for 1000 years in another world. I also wrote LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES, which was a National Book Award finalist, and the DREAMDARK books. As well as various short stories and novellas. Thanks for reading!! www.lainitaylor.com; @lainitaylor

Lisa McInerney

Lisa McInerney's work has featured in Winter Papers, Stinging Fly, Granta and on BBC Radio 4, and in the anthologies Beyond The Centre, The Long Gaze Back and Town and Country. Her debut novel, The Glorious Heresies, won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016 and the Desmond Elliott Prize. Her second novel, The Blood Miracles, was published by John Murray in April 2017.

Louise Welsh

Louise Welsh is the author of eight novels including The Cutting Room, A Lovely Way to Burn and Death is a Welcome Guest. She has received numerous awards and international fellowships, including an Honorary Doctor of Arts from Edinburgh Napier University and an honorary fellowship from the University of Iowa's International Writing Program. Louise Welsh is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.

Patricia Wentworth

Patricia Wentworth was born in Uttarakhand, India but as a young girl moved to London to study at Blackheath High School for Girls. After writing several romances she turned her hand to crime fiction. She wrote dozens of bestselling mysteries before her death in 1961, and is recognised as one of the mistresses of classic crime fiction.

Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson's DCI Banks is now a major ITV1 drama starring Stephen Tompkinson (Wild at Heart, Ballykissangel) as Inspector Banks, and Andrea Lowe (The Bill, Murphy's Law) as DI Annie Cabbot. Peter's standalone novel BEFORE THE POISON won the IMBA's 2013 Dilys Award as well as the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel by the Crime Writers of Canada. This was Peter's sixth Arthur Ellis award. His critically acclaimed DCI Banks novels have won numerous awards in Britain, the United States, Canada and Europe, and are published in translation all over the world.Peter grew up in Yorkshire, and now divides his time between Richmond and Canada. Peter keeps a website at www.inspectorbanks.com.

Rory Gleeson

Rory Gleeson was born in Dublin in 1989. He graduated with a BA in Psychology from Trinity College Dublin, and went on to earn degrees from Oxford, the University of Manchester, and UEA.

Rosamunde Pilcher

Rosamunde Pilcher had a long and distinguished career as a novelist and short story writer, but it was her phenomenally successful novel, The Shell Seekers, that captured the hearts of all who read it, and won her international recognition as one of the best-loved storytellers of our time. It was voted one of UK's top 100 novels in the BBC's Big Read in 2003. Her bestselling novels, September, Coming Home and Winter Solstice were made into television films. She was awarded an O.B.E for services to literature in 2002 and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Dundee University in 2010. Rosamunde Pilcher died on 6 February 2019.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is a Japanese-British-Chinese-American writer. Her debut novel, Harmless Like You was published in 2016 and won the Author's Club First Novel Award and a Betty Trask award. It was also shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, the Books Are My Bag Breakthrough Author Award and longlisted for the Jhalak Prize. Rowan Hisayo Buchanan was the recipient of a Margins fellowship for the Asian American Writers Workshop, has a BA from Columbia University, an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is currently working on a PhD at the University of East Anglia. Her writing has appeared in the short story anthology How Much the Heart Can Hold (Sceptre), the Guardian, New York Times, Granta, The Paris Review and The Atlantic among other places. She has lived in London, New York, Tokyo, Madison and Norwich.rowanhisayo.com

Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky was named 2011 Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. She is the winner of many awards, including the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers' Association and the CWA Gold Dagger for Blacklist. In 2015 she received the Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. She lives on Chicago's south side with her husband.Visit Sara's website, www.saraparetsky.com, find her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SaraParetsky, and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/SaraParetsky

Stephen King

Stephen King is the author of more than sixty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Sleeping Beauties (co-written with his son Owen King), the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, the Bill Hodges trilogy End of Watch, Finders Keepers, and Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel, and shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award). Many of King's books have been turned into celebrated films, television series and streamed events including The Shawshank Redemption, Gerald's Game and It.King is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.