Related to: 'Jane Austen at Home'

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

Queen Victoria

Lucy Worsley
Authors:
Lucy Worsley

Bestselling author and historian Lucy Worsley tracks a new course through Queen Victoria's life, examining how she transformed from dancing princess to the Widow of Windsor and became one of Britain's greatest monarchs along the way. Taking twenty-four significant days from Victoria's life, from her birth, her wedding, her coronation to her husband's death, and many more in between, allows us to see Victoria up close and personal, examining how she lived hour to hour. Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria's birth, this major new biography will celebrate Queen Victoria as a woman of her time, who lived an extraordinary life.

Akala

Akala is a BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, writer and social entrepreneur, as well as the co-founder of The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company. With an extensive global touring history, Akala has appeared at numerous festivals both in the UK and internationally, and has led innovative projects in the arts, education and music across South East Asia, Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand. Akala has also appeared on Channel 4, ITV, MTV, Sky Arts and the BBC promoting his music and poetry, and speaking on wide-ranging subjects from music, race, youth engagement, British/African-Caribbean culture and the arts, with numerous online lectures and performances that have millions of views on YouTube. More recently known for his compelling lectures and journalism - he has written for the Guardian, Huffington Post and the Independent, and spoken for the Oxford Union and TEDx - Akala has gained a reputation as one of the most dynamic and articulate talents in the UK.

Alexandra Potter

Alexandra Potter was born in Yorkshire. Having lived in Los Angeles and Sydney after university, where she worked variously as a features editor and sub-editor for women's magazines including Elle, Company, Red and Australian Vogue, she now writes full time and lives between London and Los Angeles. She is the author of nine internationally bestselling novels of romantic fiction with a magical twist, including Don't You Forget About Me and Me and Mr Darcy, which won the Best New Fiction Award at the Jane Austen Regency World Awards 2007.You can find out more at www.alexandrapotter.com or on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Alexandra.Potter.Author or follow Alexandra on Twitter @AlexPotterBooks.

Alister McGrath

Alister McGrath is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, and Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford. After initial academic work in the natural sciences, Alister turned to the study of theology and intellectual history, while occasionally becoming engaged in broader cultural debates about the rationality and relevance of the Christian faith. He is the author of many academic and theological works, as well as the bestselling The Dawkins Delusion and, most recently, his acclaimed C. S. Lewis - A Life.

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.

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. Caitlindavies.co.uk@CaitlinDavies2

Denise Robins

Denise Robins was born in 1897. Known as the Queen of Romance, she wrote over 160 novels, selling more than one hundred million copies worldwide. Robins' characters are as varied as her themes - the protagonists ranging from eighteen to middle age - while the wonderful variety of settings includes London, Paris, the Swiss mountains, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Morocco. She died at the age of eighty-eight on 1 May 1985.

Fern Riddell

Dr Fern Riddell is a historian specialising in sex, suffrage and culture in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. She appears regularly on TV and radio, and writes for the Guardian, Huffington Post, Telegraph and Times Higher Education among others, and is a columnist for BBC History Magazine.

Giles Milton

Giles Milton is a writer and historian. He is the internationally bestselling author of Nathaniel's Nutmeg, Big Chief Elizabeth, The Riddle and the Knight, White Gold, Samurai William, Paradise Lost, Wolfram and Russian Roulette. He has also written three novels and three children's books. His books have been translated into twenty languages. He lives in south London.Find out more about Giles and his books on his website, www.gilesmilton.com, and Wikipedia page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giles_Milton, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/survivehistory and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/Giles-Milton-Writer/121068034610842.

James Bowen

James Bowen is the author of the bestselling A STREET CAT NAMED BOB and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BOB. He found Bob the cat in 2007 and the pair have been inseparable ever since. They both live in north London.

James O'Loughlin

James O'Loughlin is CEO of JOL Consulting, specializing in improving performance by working with individuals and groups to look at complex issues in a new light. He was previously Head od Investment Process at Rensburg Investment and at The Co-Operative Insurance Society. He lives on the Wirral in England and can be contacted at james@jolconsulting.com

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, www.jasperfforde.com, find him on Facebook, www.facebook.com/jasperffordebooks, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasperfforde.

John Julius Norwich

John Julius Norwich was born in 1929. After National Service, he took a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. In 1952 he joined the Foreign Service serving at the embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and with the British Delegation to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva. His publications include The Normans in Sicily; Mount Athos (with Reresby Sitwell); Sahara; The Architecture of Southern England; Glyndebourne; and A History of Venice. He is also the author of a three-volume history of the Byzantine Empire. He has written and presented some thirty historical documentaries for television, and is a regular lecturer on Venice and numerous other subjects. Lord Norwich is chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund, Co-chairman of the World Monuments Fund and a former member of the Executive Committee of the National Trust. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Geographical Society and the Society of Antiquaries, and a Commendatore of the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana. He was made a CVO in 1993.

Justin Pollard

Justin Pollard read Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge. He is a historical writer and consultant in film and TV. His credits include Elizabeth and Atonement and the BBC TV drama The Tudors, as well as more than twenty-five documentary series such as Channel 4's Time Team. He is a writer and researcher for QI, and the author of seven books including THE INTERESTING BITS, CHARGE!, SECRET BRITAIN and BOFFINOLOGY.

Kassia St Clair

Kassia St Clair studied the history of women's dress and the masquerade during the eighteenth-century at Bristol and Oxford. She has since written about design and culture for the Economist, House & Garden, Quartz and 1843, and has had a column about colour in Elle Decoration since 2013. She lives in London.www.kassiastclair.com

Kingsley Donaldson

KINGSLEY DONALDSON is a retired Army officer. He has served on operations in a number of European and Middle Eastern countries in various roles that span from countering weapons of mass destruction through to negotiating with armed groups in Iraq. His last appointments at the Ministry of Defence were concerned with national defence and security strategy. He now advises a number of governments in his role as Director of the Causeway Institute for Peace-building Conflict Resolution International.

Lesley-Ann Jones

Lesley-Ann Jones is a journalist, newspaper columnist and broadcaster. The author of eight published books, she has enjoyed more than twenty-five years in music and the media. She lives in South-East London with her young children, the eldest having grown up and gone into the music business.

Lucy Worsley

Lucy Worsley is an historian, author, curator and television presenter. Lucy read history at New College, Oxford and worked for English Heritage before becoming Chief Curator at the charity Historic Royal Palaces. She also presents history programmes for the BBC, and her bestselling books include Jane Austen at Home, A Very British Murder: The Curious Story of how Crime was Turned into Art, If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, Courtiers: the Secret History of the Georgian Court and Cavalier: The Story of a 17th century Playboy.

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite, a poet, theologian, and song-writer, is the Chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge where he also teaches for the Divinity Faculty. He lectures widely in England and North America on theology and literature. He has published poetry, theology, and literary criticism, and worked as a librettist. He is married with two children. Living in Cambridge allows him to indulge his passions for old books, old pubs and live music. He also enjoys sailing, walking, and all the varieties of the English countryside and weather.

Meriol Trevor

Meriol Trevor was one of the most prolific Roman Catholic women writers of the 20th Century. She wrote numerous biographies including an award winning account of the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman. She also published dozens of novels and children's stories and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1967. She died on 12th January 2000 at the age of eighty.