Related to: 'Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing'

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

Thinking in Numbers

Daniel Tammet
Authors:
Daniel Tammet

This is the book that Daniel Tammet, bestselling author and mathematical savant, was born to write. In Tammet's world, numbers are beautiful and mathematics illuminates our lives and minds. Using anecdotes and everyday examples, Tammet allows us to share his unique insights and delight in the way numbers, fractions and equations underpin all our lives.Inspired by the complexity of snowflakes, Anne Boleyn's sixth finger or his mother's unpredictable behaviour, Tammet explores questions such as why time seems to speed up as we age, whether there is such a thing as an average person and how we can make sense of those we love.Thinking in Numbers will change the way you think about maths and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes.

Hodder Paperbacks

Embracing the Wide Sky

Daniel Tammet
Authors:
Daniel Tammet

Daniel Tammet captivated readers with his bestselling memoir, Born On A Blue Day, and its vivid depiction of a life with autistic savant syndrome. In his fascinating new book, Embracing the Wide Sky, Daniel combines the latest scientific research with insights drawn from his personal experience to shed light on the mysteries of how our minds work and the incredible feats of which each one of us is capable.A unique and brilliantly imaginative portrait of how we think, learn, remember and create, Embracing the Wide Sky is a profound and provocative book that will transform our understanding and respect for every kind of mind.

Hodder Paperbacks

Born On a Blue Day

Daniel Tammet
Authors:
Daniel Tammet

A N Wilson

A. N. Wilson was born in North Staffordshire, and taught literature for seven years at New College Oxford, where he won the Chancellor's English Essay Prize and the Ellerton Prize. He is the author of over twenty novels, and as many works of non-fiction. His biography of Tolstoy won the Whitbread Prize in 1988. His biography of Queen Victoria was published to critical acclaim. He is also the author of The Victorians and of God's Funeral, an account of how the Victorians lost their faith. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He lives in London, and is the father of three daughters.

Chambers

Chambers is one of the world's most respected dictionary publishers, appealing particularly to word lovers and those who revel in all the quirks of the English language. Its extensive list of innovative language and reference titles includes the renowned Brewer's list of endlessly browsable dictionaries of phrase and fable, and covers English-language dictionaries and thesauruses for every level of user from school to crossword fan, from English learner to student of slang. Meticulously researched and expertly written, the highly acclaimed Chambers range has been at the forefront of presenting knowledge and learning in an engaging and accessible way since it was first established in the 19th century.

Daniel Tammet

Daniel Tammet is an essayist, novelist and translator. He is the author of Thinking in Numbers, Embracing the Wide Sky, and the Sunday Times bestseller Born On A Blue Day. Tammet is Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). He lives in Paris.

David Mitchell

Born in 1969, David Mitchell grew up in Worcestershire. After graduating from Kent University, he taught English in Japan, where he wrote his first novel, Ghostwritten. Published in 1999, it was awarded the Mail on Sunday John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. His second novel, number9dream, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and in 2003, David Mitchell was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. His third novel, Cloud Atlas, was shortlisted for six awards including the Man Booker Prize, and adapted for film in 2012. It was followed by Black Swan Green, shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year Award, and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which was a No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller. Both were also longlisted for the Booker. In 2013, The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice From the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida was published in a translation from the Japanese by David Mitchell and KA Yoshida. It was an immediate bestseller in the UK and later in the US as well.

Elisabeth Smith

Elisabeth Smith was born and educated in Germany. She studied English at Hamburg University with a teaching career in mind, and well before EU days was offered her first assignment at a London prep school. While on contract in Africa she became sidetracked by commerce. She spent the next ten years learning about printing and publishing in Zambia before joining a publishing house in Johannesburg where she ultimately became the company's chief executive. In spite of climbing the corporate ladder she never lost her interest and skills in teaching languages. During the last 30 years she has taught French to English children, English to Zambian students, German at evening classes and Italian to her daughter "just for fun".Since moving to Spain she had to learn Spanish in a hurry - cutting across traditional learning methods. This gave her the inspiration for thehighly successful "Teach Yourself Instant..." series currently offering eight titles with a further four to be published in early 2001.Elisabeth Smith now lives in Marbella like a "proper" author with a volatile PC and two cats.

Graeme Swann

Graeme Swann is a former international cricketer for England. He was primarily a right-arm offspinner, and also a capable late-order batsman with four first-class centuries, and often fielded at slip. After initially playing for his home county Northamptonshire, for whom he made his debut in 1997, he moved to Nottinghamshire in 2005. He made his debut for England in 2000 but didn't play again until 2008 when he became an essential part of the team in all formats. In 2011 he was part of the team that claimed the number one world Test ranking spot. Graeme was involved in three Ashes tours, winning the Ashes in 2009 and 2011, he retired from all formats during the 2013 Ashes series. Since retirement Graeme has made the transition into commentary and is a summariser on Test Match Special and BT Sport cricket coverage.

Graham Norton

Graham Norton is one of the UK's best loved broadcasters. He presents The Graham Norton Show on BBC1, has a weekly show on BBC Radio 2, and writes a column for the Telegraph. He is the winner of eight BAFTA awards. Born in Dublin and raised in West Cork, Norton now lives in London. Holding is his first novel.

Henry Blofeld

Henry Blofeld has been a cricket writer for over forty years. He is commentates on the BBC's Test Match Special, and wrote for the Independent and the Independent on Sunday.

Joan Bomford

Joan Bomford, 83, who lives near Evesham in Worcestershire, has been farming since the 1930s. She continues to be very active on the farm today - driving tractors and feeding the animals. In 2015 she was named BBC Countryfile's Farming Hero 2015.

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.

John Grogan

John Grogan's first book, Marley & Me was a number one international bestseller and was released as a major movie in 2008, breaking box office records. The DVD was released in July 09. John lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Jenny, and their three children. His latest book, The Longest Trip Home is out now.

Jonathan Wittenberg

Jonathan Wittenberg was born in Glasgow in 1957 to a family of German Jewish origin. The family moved to London in 1963, where he attended University College School, specialising in classical and modern languages, subsequently reading English at Cambridge. He trained for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College London, receiving ordination in 1987. He now lives in London with his wife Nicky and, three children, and his faithful canine companion, Mitzpah.

Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort was born in Queens, New York. He hustled ices to put himself through college, showing early entrepreneurial flair. His first business sent him bankrupt at twenty-four so he went down to Wall St with $100 in his pocket and ended up building one of the largest brokerages in America - the now infamous Stratton Oakmont. A hard partying lifestyle ended in crash and burn. Ultimately indicted by the federal government, Belfort served twenty-two months in prison, and time in rehab. He's now a highly successful motivational speaker.His story has been made into a Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award-nominated film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese.He is currently living in Los Angeles.

Levison Wood

Levison Wood is a best-selling author, explorer and photographer. His work has taken him around the world leading expeditions on five continents and he is an elected fellow of both the Royal Geopgraphical Society and the Explorers Club. His work in journalism has led him to enter the world of documentary film-making and he has collaborated on productions with National Geographic, Animal Planet, Channel 4 and the BBC. Levison spent a number of years as an Officer in the British Parachute Regiment, where he served in Afghanistan. He is also an ambassador for a number of charities including ABF The Soldiers' Charity and The Tusk Trust. He is patron of AMECA and a keen supporter of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

Mahmoud Gaafar

Mahmoud Gaafar worked for the United Nations and Radio Cairo and now authors print, radio and TV resources for the Arab World.

Melvyn Bragg

Melvyn Bragg is a writer and broadcaster. His novels include The Hired Man, for which he won the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, Without a City Wall, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The Soldier's Return, winner of the WHSmith Literary Award, A Son of War and Crossing the Lines, both of which were longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, A Place in England, which was longlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize, and most recently Grace and Mary. He has also written several works of non-fiction, the most recent being The Book of Books about the King James Bible. He lives in London and Cumbria.

Mikey Walsh

Mikey Walsh was one of the first Romany Gypsies ever to write a book. He grew up living in a caravan on sites across the UK, and had hardly any schooling. He taught himself to read and write, and his first book Gypsy Boy published in 2008 and became a Number 1 Bestseller. It sold all over the world and a film adaptation is in the works as a joint production between BBC Films and Bowery & Bond.Mikey's second book, Gypsy Boy on the Run follows Mikey as he leaves the Gypsy camp, and takes his first steps in to the real - Gorgia - world, to find a place to belong.Mikey has had overwhelming support from all over the world since the publication of Gypsy Boy, including Stephen Fry who tweeted, 'It was a revelation. Moving, terrifying, funny and brilliant. I shall never forget it - an amazing achievement'. Attitude magazine called it 'the best memoir since Running with Scissors' and even Dermot O'Leary and Dannii Minogue have reviewed it.