Related to: 'Taking the Leap'

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.

Alex Loyd

Dr Alexander Loyd, PhD, ND, is the international bestselling author of The Love Code (hardcover title Beyond Willpower, Harmony, 2015) and The Healing Code (Grand Central Life & Style, 2011). He has been featured live on NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and PBS news programs as an expert in healing the source issues underlying illness and disease. Dr Alex lectures all over the world in person and on radio, Internet, and television, with approximately 150 speaking engagements a year. With little money and no advertising, he built the largest practice of its kind in the world, with hundreds of thousands of clients in 50 states and 167 countries (and counting). He lives in Leipers Fork, Tennessee, with his wife Hope and sons Harry and George.

Carol O'Connor

Dr Carol O'Connor is the author of eight business books and director of Vision in Practice Ltd, a leadership development consultancy and publisher. She has spent more than 30 years teaching, writing and consulting about leadership, innovation and strategic thinking. She sees her role as preparing leaders to identify strategic goals, clarify performance standards and retain talent that supports organizational growth. Her client list is global and her books have collectively been translated into more than 20 languages. Current projects include the publication of a series of business workbooks for under 25-year-olds in developing nations - with apps in support of key topics - and working at the London School of Economics and Political Science in support of its entrepreneurship programmes.

David Benjamin

David Benjamin is the co-founder of Syntegrity and the chief architect behind its implementation of the Complexity Formula as laid out in his book, Cracking Complexity. David regularly guides leaders and their teams through their application of the formula, helping them get to decisions and action in days, no matter the industry, type of challenge, or nature of the organization. In this capacity, David has become a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 companies and government leaders on how to organize for complexity and find traction in the face of the intractable. He frequently speaks on a wide range of topics related to complexity, effective and efficient problem-solving, and human dynamics in systems. David spends most of the rest of his time and energy on writing, family, long-distance running and cracking cryptic crosswords. David and his wife, Angie, live near Toronto and have three incredibly talented daughters whom he loves equally.

David Komlos

David Komlos, CEO of Syntegrity, is an entrepreneur, early-stage investor and speaker who has helped change the way many global leaders approach their top challenges. From Fortune 100 transformation to international aid, content creation in sports and entertainment to improving access to life-saving products, David advises top leaders and enterprises on how to dramatically accelerate solutions and execution on their defining challenges. He frequently speaks on topics related to complexity, fast problem-solving and mobilization, and scaling talent. He lives with his family in Toronto.David is a friend and trusted confidant to many global leaders. He remains actively involved with Syntegrity's clients, and as a speaker he frequently presents on complexity, problem solving, mobilization, and scaling talent.Prior to Syntegrity, David was responsible for leading strategy and M&A for North America Media Engines Inc., a TSX-listed company. He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, Canada.

Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle was born in Germany and educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge. At the age of twenty-nine a profound inner transformation radically changed the course of his life. The next few years were devoted to understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation, which marked the beginning of an intense inward journey. Later, he began to work in London with individuals and small groups as a counselor and spiritual teacher. Since 1995 he has lived in Vancouver, Canada.Eckhart Tolle is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Power of Now (translated into 33 languages) which is widely regarded as one of the most influential spiritual books of our time.Eckhart's profound yet simple teachings have already helped countless people throughout the world find inner peace and greater fulfillment in their lives. At the core of the teachings lies the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet.Eckhart is a sought-after public speaker and teaches and travels extensively throughout the world. Most of the teachings are given in English, but occasionally Eckhart also gives talks in German and Spanish. In addition to The Power of Now, Eckhart has written a book designed for meditative reading entitled Stillness Speaks. A book consisting of selections from The Power of Now is also available, entitled Practicing the Power of Now.

Elijah Lawal

Elijah is a PR manager at Google and is passionate about helping underrepresented people grow their careers in creative industries. He was a finalist of the Penguin WriteNow scheme.This is his first book.

Esther Perel

'Hello, I'm Esther... I imagine a world where we experience a sense of aliveness and vitality in our relationships, because the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. I've dedicated my life and career to understanding and improving human relationships. Let's continue to learn together.'Psychotherapist Esther Perel is recognised as one of the most insightful and original voices on modern love. She has changed the conversation on what it means to be in love and have a fulfilling sex life.. For the past ten years, she has worked with hundreds of couples who have grappled with infidelity. Betrayal hurts, she argues, but healing is possible. An affair can even be the doorway to a new marriage - with the same person. With the right approach, couples can learn from these tumultuous experiences, together or apart. Weaving real-life stories with incisive psychological and cultural analysis, Perel invites readers into a truly revealing exploration of modern marriage. She coaches, consults and speaks regularly on erotic intelligence, trauma, sexual honesty and conflict resolution. She is the bestselling author of Mating in Captivity and her TED Talk has reached 6.5 million views online.

Funmi Fetto

Funmi Fetto, a former beauty director of British Vogue and currently Contributing Beauty Editor and Columnist at the title, has over 15 years experience as a fashion and beauty journalist. She has worked and written for numerous publications including the Sunday Times, Harpers Bazaar, the Telegraph, Guardian, Observer, and Elle. She also consults for and collaborates with numerous global beauty brands.

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

Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Listed by several sources as America's largest and fastest-growing congregation, Lakewood church has approximately 45,000 adult attendees every week. Millions more watch Joel's messages as they are broadcast on national and international television networks. He resides in Houston with his wife, Victoria, and their children.

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.

Katja Pantzar

Helsinki-based writer, editor and broadcast journalist Katja Pantzar was born in Finland and raised and educated in Canada. A freelance member of the Finnish public broadcasting company Yle's news team, Pantzar is a regular contributor to Blue Wings, the inflight magazine of Finnair, and Helsinki correspondent for Monocle 24. She is the author of three guides to Helsinki: The Hip Guide to Helsinki, Helsinki by Light and 100 Things to Do in Helsinki. Finding Sisu is the first book Pantzar has written that will be published outside of Finland.

Kent M Keith

Kent M. Keith earned his B.A. from Harvard, and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and Tokyo. He has a law degree and a doctorate in education, and in 1984 was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of America. Keith has been an attorney, a state government official, president of a private university and a YMCA leader. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, with his wife and three children.

Mark Forster

Mark Forster is a full-time life coach. He frequently runs workshops and seminars specialising in time management.

Nigel Cumberland

Nigel Cumberland is an award-winning global coach who helps leaders and teams to optimise and enhance their success in both their careers and lives. He has coached and trained at some of the world's most prestigious organisations such as the United Nations, the World Bank Group, Standard Chartered Bank, Google, Dell, LVMH, Christian Dior, Continental AG and the Dubai Government. He is also one of the elite Marshall Goldsmith approved coaches and a member of Harvard Business Review's Advisory Council. He is also a Freeman of the City of London and has been given the award as one of the world's top 100 leadership coaches.

Padraig O'Morain

Padraig O'Morain is a psychotherapist, trained counsellor and mindfulness teacher based in Dublin with over 25 yearss experience and has taught mindfulness for more than a decade.

Rolf Dobelli

Rolf Dobelli is a Swiss writer, novelist and entrepreneur. He has an MBA and a PhD in economic philosophy from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Most famously, he is the bestselling author of THE ART OF THINKING CLEARLY, which became an instant success and has been translated in many languages, and THE ART OF THE GOOD LIFE. Dobelli is also founder and curator of ZURICH.MINDS, an invitation-only community of the most distinguished thinkers, scientists and artists.

Stephen C. Lundin

Steve Lundin was born in Toronto. He is an anthropologist and an archaeologist, and has worked in the United States and Canada with North American native groups, excavating and preserving prehistoric rock art. He attended the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop, and won a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council to write This River Awakens. He has also published short stories and novellas in Canada (with Anvil and Tsar).

Susan Calman

Born in Glasgow, Susan Calman escaped corporate law to become a stand-up comedian. She's a regular on radio and television panel shows like QI and The News Quiz and has presented the BAFTA-award winning Armchair Detectives, the recent travel series, Secret Scotland and the podcast Mrs Brightside. She recently appeared on Strictly Come Dancing where she made it all the way to Week Ten. Even more excitingly she won the Glitterball on the Strictly Live tour. An advocate for LGBTQ+ and mental health issues, she lives with her wife and cats in Glasgow. susancalman.com@susancalman Insta: officialsusancalman

Tristan Gooley

Tristan Gooley is a writer, navigator and explorer. Through his journeys, teaching and writing, he has pioneered a renaissance in the rare art of natural navigation.Tristan has led expeditions in five continents and is the only living person to have both flown solo and sailed singlehanded across the Atlantic. He has explored close to home and walked with and studied the methods of tribal peoples in some of the remotest regions on Earth.