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.

Adam Hills

Adam Hills is an Australian comedian and television presenter. Alongside his stand-up, he is known in Australia for hosting the music and quiz show Spicks and Specks and the talk show Adam Hills Tonight. His combination of positive uplifting comedy and spontaneity has seen him receive a number of awards and glowing reviews along the way. In 2012, he hosted a one-off series for Channel 4 airing over 2012 London Paralympics called The Last Leg. Now in its 12th series, the show is one of the most popular shows in the UK. This is his first book.


Akala is a MOBO-award winning musician, poet, activist and the founder of The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, He has spoken and written about politics and race on Newsnight, This Week, and Frankie Boyle's Political Autopsy and in the Guardian, as well as doing TEDx and Oxford Union lectures that have clocked up over a million views on Youtube.

Alan Titchmarsh

Alan Titchmarsh is known to millions through the popular BBC TV programmes British Isles: A Natural History, How to be a Gardener, Ground Force and Gardeners' World. But he started out in far humbler beginnings, in a rural childhood on the edge of Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire.After a spell at Kew he became a horticultural journalist, as an Editor of gardening magazines, before becoming a freelance broadcaster and writer.He has twice been named 'Gardening Writer of the Year' and for four successive years was voted 'Television Personality of the Year' by the Garden Writers' Guild. In 2004 he received their Lifetime Achievement Award.Alan has appeared on radio and television both as a gardening expert and as an interviewer and presenter, fronting such programmes as Points of View, Pebble Mill, Songs of Praise, Titchmarsh's Travels and Ask the Family, and since 1983 has presented the BBC's annual coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show. He now has his own daytime TV show on ITV, The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Alan has written more than forty gardening books, as well as seven best-selling novels, including his 2008 success, Folly, which have all made the Sunday Times Bestsellers List. Alan has published three volumes of memoirs; Trowel and Error sold over 200,000 copies in hardback when published in 2002, and Nobbut A Lad, about his Yorkshire childhood, was published in October 2006 with similar success, and his third volume of memoir Knave of Spadeswas a Sunday Times bestseller.He was made MBE in the millennium New Year Honours list and holds the Victoria Medal of Honour, the Royal Horticultural Society's highest award. He lives with his wife and a menagerie of animals in Hampshire where he gardens organically.

Andy Jones

In one form or another, Andy has always been a writer. At school, he passed notes in class and scribbled rude words on lampposts. At University, he wrote a PhD in biochemistry and forged tickets to various balls. And as an advertising copywriter, has written commercials for everything from baby food to booze. But it wasn't until he was well into his thirties that Andy stared writing fiction. If he could write a letter his younger self, it would urge him to stop messing about and get on with it. FOUR is his fourth novel, but should probably be his tenth. Find Andy on Twitter and Instagram @andyjonesauthor, and Facebook /andyjonesauthor.

Chris Hughes

Chris Hughes starred in 2017's ratings winning Love Island. With 1.9 million followers on Instagram, a hit single, a bestselling fitness DVD, his own reality TV series and a massive bill boardcampaign for a mental health charity under his belt, he has been on the celebrity fast-track. He grew up on a farm in Gloucestershire in a family offive children.

Dan Harris

Dan Harris is a correspondent for ABC News and the co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America. Before that, he was the anchor of the Sunday edition of World News. This is his first book.

Dan Marshall

DAN MARSHALL grew up in a nice home with nice parents in Salt Lake City, Utah, before attending UC Berkeley. After college, Dan worked at a strategic communications public relations firm in Los Angeles. At 25 he left work and returned to Salt Lake to take care of his sick parents. While caring for them, he started writing detailed accounts about many of their weird, sad, funny adventures. Home Is Burning is his first book.

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.

David Perlmutter

Dr David Perlmutter is president of the Perlmutter Health Centre in Naples, Florida, and the co-founder and president of The Perlmutter Brain Foundation. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American College of Nutrition and the Linus Pauling Award. A frequent lecturer, he writes a blog at and is a contributor to The Huffington Post. His previous books include Grain Brain and The Grain Brain Cookbook.

Dominique Antiglio

Dominique Antiglio is a Sophrologist specialising in stress-management, self-development and birth preparation. Born in Switzerland, Dominique started Sophrology at 15 years old, learning early on ways to positively connect with herself and embrace a new way of living. At 25, she graduated from the renowed European School of Osteopathy in Kent obtaining her Bsc(Hons) Ost. She came back to her native hometown and ran a successful osteopathic clinic for a decade, as well as specialising in treating children and pregnant women in France and the US. At the same time, she continued her personal development journey with Sophrology and trained as a Sophrologist. Dominique gained her Masters in Caycedian Sophrology (2006), notably training with Professor Caycedo, the founder of the method. Passionate about the mind-body connection,she also explored the power of sound and obtained her Holistic Voice Diploma in 2013 in the UK.In 2011, having witnessed so many positive changes through the power of Sophrology for herself and her clients, she moved to London and founded BeSophro, a leading Sophrology clinic in Mayfair with an online platform. Through BeSophro she supports and inspires a wide variety of clients, individually and in groups, and working with schools and in the corporate environment, enthusiastically promoting the benefits of Sophrology in the UK and beyond. Her work has notably been featured in the Guardian, the Telegraph and Psychologies magazine. In 2015, Dominique also became a mum.To find out more about BeSophro classes, workshops andSophrology's latest development, please visit

Eva Schloss

Eva is in her mid-eighties and lives with her husband Zvi in North London. After the war she became a professional photographer (using the Leica camera Otto Frank had given her) and later opened an antiques shop in Edgware, which she ran for decades. She co-founded The Anne Frank Trust to perpetuate Anne and her step-father Otto's legacy. She was awarded an MBE in this year's New Years Honours for her work in schools, educating children on the perils of intolerance.Karen Bartlett is a writer and journalist based in London. She has written for The Sunday Times, The Times, The Guardian and WIRED from Africa, India and the U.S, and has presented and produced for BBC radio. She was the youngest Director of democratic reform and human rights campaign group Charter88, and began her career in the UK and South Africa.

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.

Henry Normal

Henry Normal is an English comedian, television producer, poet and writer. He co-wrote The Royle Family, The Mrs Merton Show, Paul and Pauline Calf's Video Diaries, Coogan's Run, The Tony Ferrino Phenomenon, Dr Terrible's House of Horrible and The Parole Officer. He is Managing Director of Baby Cow Productions Ltd, which he set up with Steve Coogan, responsible for bringing The Mighty Boosh and Gavin and Stacey to the screen, amongst many others.

James Doty

Dr James Doty is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University, and the Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, which he cofounded with the Dalai Lama. As the Director of CCARE, he has spearheaded many research projects on compassion and altruism, and their relationship to the brain. He is also an inventor and philanthropist, sitting on the board of a number of charities, including Friends of New Orleans (FONO) and the Dalai Lama Foundation of which he is Chairman.

James Frey

James Frey is originally from Ohio. His books A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, Bright Shiny Morning and The Final Testament of the Holy Bible have all been bestsellers around the world. He is married and lives in New York.

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.

Lily Pebbles

Lily Pebbles has been blogging since 2010 and is one of the pioneers of the industry. She's amassed a league of loyal followers of her blog and self-named YouTube channel for content that covers beauty, style and advice. Lily is also the co-creator and co-host of the podcast 'At Home With...'. The F Word is her first book.

Lorna Byrne

Lorna Byrne has been seeing and talking to angels since she was a baby. Now that her family is raised she talks openly about what she has learned. She lives quietly in rural Ireland. She is the author of the international bestsellers Angels in My Hair, Stairways to Heaven, A Message of Hope from the Angels and Love From Heaven. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. For more information, visit or follow Lorna on Facebook at

Megan Hine

Megan Hine is a British adventurer, wilderness expedition leader and survival expert. She also acts as a consultant for private individuals and on television shows around the world including Bear Grylls: Mission Survive and Running Wild. With a lifelong thirst for travel and adventure Megan has amassed a huge amount of expertise in all aspects of the outdoors. By pushing her mental and physical limits in extreme environments Megan has explored remote jungles, arid deserts and high and cold mountains; taking private clients, celebrities and television crews to extreme and beautiful places they didn't even know existed.

Mike Pannett

Mike Pannett was born in York, and joined the Metropolitan Police in 1988. He became one of the youngest officers to be given his own patch, and served on the Divisional Crime Squad, Murder Squad and TSG (Riot Police).He transferred to North Yorkshire police in 1997 as he missed the countryside - and fly fishing! He became a rural beat officer and eventually, a wildlife officer. In 2005 he starred in the BBC's Country Cops and was inspired to write about his adventures in the North Yorks force.Mike served nearly twenty years in the police, during which he became one of the highest commended officers. Following the UK riots in 2011 he has become a key spokesman on current policing issues in the UK, giving extensive interviews on national UK radio and television. He lives with his wife Ann, who is still a serving police officer, and their three children in a small village in the shadow of the North Yorkshire moors.