Related to: 'Boys Don't Cry'

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.

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 been awarded an honorary degree from Oxford Brookes University and the University of Brighton, 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.

Andy Cope

Andy describes himself as an author, happiness expert, qualified teacher and learning junkie. He has spent 10 years researching 'positive psychology' culminating in a 'PhD in Happiness' from Loughborough University. He has developed a series of keynotes and courses centreing on themes of happiness and flourishing, which he delivers in businesses and schools across the world. Andy has written several best-selling personal development books, including The Art of Being Brilliant, and is also a best-selling children's author. His Spy Dog series has enjoyed huge global success.

Charlotte Rea

Charlotte Rea is a veterinary surgeon currently working in a large London animal charity hospital. She graduated from vet school in 2008 and has since gone on to post-graduate certificate in small animal medicine.She has spent several stints abroad working with various animal charities including in Nairobi for Kenya Wildlife Services and Worldwide Veterinary Service projects in Lisbon and on the Greek island of Samos. She is passionate about animal health and welfare and has spent nearly a decade of her life dedicated to the animals of London, including pampered dogs and cats, homeless and stray pets and city farm animals. Charlotte lives in north London with her husband, young daughter and eccentric, fluffy cat.

Clare Hunter

Clare Hunter has sewn since she was a child. She has been a banner-maker, community textile artist and textile curator for over twenty years and established the community enterprise NeedleWorks in Glasgow. She was a finalist of the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award with a story published in its 2017 Annual. She was also a recipient of a Creative Scotland Award in 2016. She lives near Stirling in Scotland. Threads of Life is her first book. www.sewingmatters.co.uk, @sewingmatters

David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough is a broadcaster and naturalist whose television career is now in its seventh decade. After studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge and a brief stint in publishing, he joined the BBC. Since the launch of his famous Zoo Quest series in 1954 he has surveyed almost every aspect of life on earth and brought it to the viewing public. His latest programme, Planet Earth II, was the most-watched nature documentary of all time.

Denis Avey

Denis Avey was born in Essex in 1919. He fought in the desert during the Second World War and was captured and held as a Prisoner of War in a camp near Auschwitz III. In 2010 he received a British Hero of the Holocaust award. Denis lives in Derbyshire.

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.

Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is one of the most influential writers on the linked subjects of habits, happiness, and human nature. She's the author of many books, including the New York Times bestsellers, Better Than Before and The Happiness Project. A member of Oprah's SuperSoul 100, Rubin has an enormous following, in print and online; her books have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, in more than 35 languages; and on her popular daily blog, gretchenrubin.com, she reports on her adventures in pursuit of habits and happiness. She also has an award-winning podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.gretchenrubin.com twitter | facebook | instagram

Joan Rosenberg

Joan I. Rosenberg, PhD is a highly regarded California-licensed expert psychologist, master clinician, trainer and consultant with over 35 years experience in the field. Dr Rosenberg has worked as a Staff Psychologist and as a graduate professor at Pepperdine University. As a cutting edge psychologist who is known as an innovative thinker, trainer and speaker, Joan has shared her life-changing ideas and models for emotional mastery, change and personal growth in professional and educational seminars, psychotherapy sessions and graduate psychology teaching. She has been recognized for her thought leadership and influence in personal development and has given hugely successful and inspirational TEDx Talks on Emotional Mastery, watched by over 7 million viewers on YouTube.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer is the bestselling author of more than 100 inspirational books, including The Power of Simple Prayer, Approval Addiction, Power Thoughts and Battlefield of the Mind. Joyce's 'Enjoying Everyday Life' radio and television programmes are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences.

Katie Marsh

Katie lives in London with her family. Before being published she worked in healthcare, and her novels are inspired by the bravery of the people she met in hospitals and clinics across the country. Her first novel My Everything is a 2018 World Book Night pick, and her second A Life Without You was a huge e-book bestseller. Her fourth novel The Rest of Me is out this summer in e-book, audio and paperback. She loves strong coffee, the promise of a blank page and stealing her husband's toast. When not writing, she spends her time fruitlessly pursuing her children in various local parks. You can contact Katie on Twitter (@marshisms) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/katiemarshauthor), or via her website (www.katie-marsh.com).

Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard is Chief Spiritual Officer and Chairman of the Board of the Ken Blanchard Companies. He is the author of a dozen bestselling books - including the blockbuster international bestseller The One Minute Manager and the giant business best-sellers Raving Fans and Gung Ho! - which have combined sales of more than 12 million copies in more than twenty-five languages. He is married with two children and lives in San Diego, California.

Mike Gayle

Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and worked as a Features Editor and agony uncle. He has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, the Guardian and Cosmopolitan.Mike became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend, which was hailed by the Independent as 'full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations,' and by The Times as 'a funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic'. Since then he has written thirteen novels including Mr Commitment, Turning Thirty and Wish You Were Here. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages.You can find him online at mikegayle.co.uk and on Twitter @mikegayle.

Monty Don

MONTY DON is a well-known gardening writer and broadcaster. He lives with his family, garden and dogs in Herefordshire. His previous books include the Sunday Times best-seller Nigel and Paradise Gardens.@TheMontyDon/themontydon

Nigel Cumberland

Nigel Cumberland is a founding partner of the London based Silk Road Partnership, which provides a range of coaching/mentoring services across the Gulf, Europe and Asia. Clients include the World Bank, Google, Standard Chartered Bank, Commerzbank, Bureau Veritas, Dubai Government, Malaysian Government and Macquarie Bank. He has held various C-Level and Managing Director positions with a number of multinationals and sat on a number of Boards of Directors.

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.

Rolf Dobelli

Rolf Dobelli (born 1966) is a Swiss writer, novelist and entrepreneur. He has an MBA and a PhD in economic philosophy from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Dobelli is co-founder of getAbstract, the world's leading provider of book summaries. Dobelli has written six works of fiction. Most famously, he is author of THE ART OF THINKING CLEARLY, which became an instant success and landed on the number 1 spot on Germany's official Bestseller list and has been translated in many languages. Dobelli is also founder and curator of ZURICH.MINDS, an invitation-only community of the most distinguished thinkers, scientists and artists.www.dobelli.com www.facebook.com/dobelli

Ruth Davidson

Ruth Davidson is the leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and the MSP for Edinburgh Central. First elected in 2011, she won the party leadership later that same year, becoming - at the age of 32 - the youngest leader of a major political party anywhere in the UK as well as the first openly gay leader in UK history.Prior to politics, Ruth worked as a journalist. Starting in newspapers, she moved into broadcasting. Spending the majority of her career at the BBC, she worked variously as a presenter, producer, reporter and documentary maker.She lives in Edinburgh with her fiancé, Jen and their cocker spaniel, Wilson. The couple are expecting their first child imminently.

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.

Stephen Leather

Stephen Leather is one of the UK's most successful thriller writers, an ebook and Sunday Times bestseller and author of the critically acclaimed Dan 'Spider' Shepherd series and the Jack Nightingale supernatural detective novels. Before becoming a novelist he was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Mirror, the Glasgow Herald, the Daily Mail and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. He is one of the country's most successful ebook authors and his titles have topped the Amazon Kindle charts in the UK and the US. His bestsellers have been translated into fifteen languages and he has also written for television.You can learn more from Stephen's website, www.stephenleather.com, find him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenleather.Stephen also has a website for his Spider Shepherd series, www.danspidershepherd.com, and for his Jack Nightingale series, www.jacknightingale.com.