Related to: 'Make Them Sorry'

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.

Mulholland Books

Walk Away

Sam Hawken
Authors:
Sam Hawken
Mulholland Books

The Night Charter

Sam Hawken
Authors:
Sam Hawken

Camaro Espinoza has spent her whole life protecting people: at home, in the army, whenever she can. Sometimes, that's meant leaving bodies behind. Now she's running a boat off the Miami shore, keeping a low profile and aiming for a simple life.Then a man named Parker comes by with an errand to run near the Cuban coast. He's offering good money, and bad trouble. Camaro is reluctant - but Parker's in deep with the wrong people and he has a daughter who'll suffer if he doesn't come home.Camaro's not the sort to ignore the girl's plight. She's used to being wanted, but she's never really been needed before. As she tries to protect Lauren, she finds herself in the midst of double crosses, international intrigue, broken promises and scattered bullets. And this time she may not be able to escape unscathed.

Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers is the author of the Wayfarers books, which currently include The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few. Her books have been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, among others, and won the Prix Julia Verlanger in 2017. She grew up in a family heavily involved in space science, and hopes to see Earth from orbit one day.

Chris Ryan

Former SAS corporal and the only man to escape death or capture during the Bravo Two Zero operation in the 1991 Gulf War, Chris Ryan turned to writing thrillers to tell the stories the Official Secrets Act stops him putting in his non-fiction. His novels have gone on to inspire the Sky One series Strike Back. Born near Newcastle in 1961, Chris Ryan joined the SAS in 1984. During his ten years there he was involved in overt and covert operations and was also sniper team commander of the anti-terrorist team. During the Gulf War, Chris Ryan was the only member of an eight-man unit to escape from Iraq, where three colleagues were killed and four captured. It was the longest escape and evasion in the history of the SAS. For this he was awarded the Military Medal. He wrote about his experiences in the bestseller The One That Got Away, which was adapted for screen, and since then has written three other works of non-fiction, over twenty bestselling novels and a series of childrens' books.

Claire Askew

Claire Askew is a poet, novelist and the current Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh. Her debut novel in progress was the winner of the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and longlisted for the 2014 Peggy Chapman-Andrews (Bridport) Novel Award. Claire holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and has won a variety of accolades for her work, including the Jessie Kesson Fellowship and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Her debut poetry collection, This changes things, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016 and shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and a Saltire First Book Award. In 2016 Claire was selected as a Scottish Book Trust Reading Champion, and she works as the Scotland tutor for women's writing initiatives Write Like A Grrrl! and #GrrrlCon.

Douglas Lindsay

Douglas Lindsay was born in Scotland in 1964, at 2:38 am. Thirty-five years of little note ensued, before the world heralded the publication of his first book, The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson, which was adapted was adapted for the screen starring Robert Carlyle, Ray Winstone and Emma Thompson. As he was leaving the house to undertake a public engagement for the first time, his wife kissed him on the cheek and said, 'Whatever you do, don't be yourself...' Sadly, Lindsay continues to ignore her advice to this day.Lindsay worked at the Ministry of Defence for over ten years and is married to a diplomat. He has lived in Dakar, Belgrade, Warsaw and Tallinn, an experience that inspired Song of the Dead. He now lives and writes full time in Somerset with his wife and their two children. Find him on Twitter at @DTSLindsay.

Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Poison Tree, The Sick Rose, The Burning Air, The Ties That Bind, He Said/She Said, Stone Mothers and Broadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the mega-hit TV series. In 2013, The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011. He Said/She Said spent six weeks in the top ten in both hardback and paperback, was longlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculier crime novel of the year award, and selected for both the Simon Mayo Radio 2 and Richard & Judy Book Clubs. She has worked as a freelance journalist since 1998 and written for the Guardian, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, New Statesman, Red, Elle, Cosmopolitan and The Pool. Born in London in 1976, she lives in north London with her husband and daughters. erinkelly.co.uk twitter.com/mserinkelly

Gerald Seymour

Gerald Seymour exploded onto the literary scene in 1975 with the massive bestseller HARRY'S GAME. The first major thriller to tackle the modern troubles in Northern Ireland, it was described by Frederick Forsyth as 'like nothing else I have ever read' and it changed the landscape of the British thriller forever.Gerald Seymour was a reporter at ITN for fifteen years. He covered events in Vietnam, Borneo, Aden, the Munich Olympics, Israel and Northern Ireland. He has been a full-time writer since 1978.

John Grisham

John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade, specialising in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. One day, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987.His next novel, The Firm, spent 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and became the bestselling novel of 1991. Since then, he has written one novel a year, including The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker and The Runaway Jury.Today, Grisham has written a collection of stories, a work of non-fiction, three sports novels, five kids' books, and many legal thrillers. His work has been translated into 42 languages. He lives near Charlottesville, Virginia.

John Simpson

John Simpson has been the BBC's World Affairs Editor for more than half his fifty-two year career. In his time with the BBC, he has reported on major events all over the world, and was made a CBE in the Gulf War honours list in 1991. He has twice been the Royal Television Society's Journalist of the Year, and has won three BAFTAs, a News and Current Affairs award and an Emmy. He lives in Oxford.

Karen Robards

Karen Robards is the internationally bestselling author of over forty romantic suspense novels, which have regularly appeared on the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, among others. She is the mother of three boys and lives with her family in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.You can find out more at www.karenrobards.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorKarenRobards or follow her on Twitter @TheKarenRobards.

Louise Welsh

Louise Welsh is the author of eight novels including The Cutting Room, A Lovely Way to Burn and Death is a Welcome Guest. She has received numerous awards and international fellowships, including an Honorary Doctor of Arts from Edinburgh Napier University and an honorary fellowship from the University of Iowa's International Writing Program. Louise Welsh is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.

Nina Laurin

Nina Laurin studied creative writing at Concordia University in Montreal, where she currently lives. She arrived in Montreal when she was just twelve years old, speaks and reads in Russian, French, and English but writes her novels in English. Nina is fascinated by the darker side of mundane things, and she's always on the lookout for her next twisted book idea.

Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson's DCI Banks is now a major ITV1 drama starring Stephen Tompkinson (Wild at Heart, Ballykissangel) as Inspector Banks, and Andrea Lowe (The Bill, Murphy's Law) as DI Annie Cabbot. Peter's standalone novel BEFORE THE POISON won the IMBA's 2013 Dilys Award as well as the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel by the Crime Writers of Canada. This was Peter's sixth Arthur Ellis award. His critically acclaimed DCI Banks novels have won numerous awards in Britain, the United States, Canada and Europe, and are published in translation all over the world.Peter grew up in Yorkshire, and now divides his time between Richmond and Canada. Peter keeps a website at www.inspectorbanks.com.

Pierce Brown

PIERCE BROWN spent his childhood building forts and setting traps for his cousins in the woods of six states and the deserts of two. Graduating college in 2010, he fancied the idea of continuing his studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a magical bone in his body. So while trying to make it as a writer, he worked as a manager of social media at a startup tech company, toiled as a peon on the Disney lot at ABC Studios, did his time as an NBC page, and gave sleep deprivation a new meaning during his stint as an aide on a U.S. Senate Campaign.Now he lives in Los Angeles, where he scribbles tales of spaceships, wizards, ghouls, and most things old or bizarre. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling Red Rising trilogy (Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star), and the next novel in the Red Rising universe, Iron Gold, is publishing January 2018.

S D Sykes

SD Sykes lives in Kent with her husband. She is a graduate from Manchester University and has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam. She attended the novel writing course at literary agents Curtis Brown where she was inspired to finish her first novel. She has also written for radio and has developed screenplays with Arts Council funding.

Sabine Durrant

Sabine Durrant is the author of three psychological thrillers, Under Your Skin, Remember Me This Way and Lie With Me, a Richard & Judy Bookclub selection and Sunday Times paperback bestseller. Her previous novels are Having It and Eating It and The Great Indoors, and two books for teenage girls, Cross Your Heart, Connie Pickles and Ooh La La! Connie Pickles. She is a former features editor of the Guardian and a former literary editor at the Sunday Times, and her writing has appeared in many national newspapers and magazines. She lives in south London with her partner and their three children.

Sarah Alderson

Sarah is a British born, LA based author and screenwriter. Sarah left the UK in 2010 to travel the world with her husband and then toddler daughter (a journey documented in her memoir Can We Live Here?). After living in Bali, Indonesia for 5 years, during which time she published seven young adult books, they moved to California, where Sarah now balances screenwriting for TV and films with writing novels. She also has a successful career as a romance author under the pen name Mila Gray.

Sjón

Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic author. He won the Nordic Council's Literary Prize for his novel The Blue Fox and the novel From The Mouth Of The Whale was shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was was awarded the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize. Also a poet, librettist and lyricist, he has worked with his countrywoman Björk, written four librettos and published eleven volumes of poetry. His novels have been translated into thirty-five languages. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two children.

Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer, translated into 34 languages and published in 51 countries. Her psychological thriller The Carrier won the Specsavers National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year in 2013. Sophie has written the first new Hercule Poirot mysteries since Agatha Christie's death, which have been national and international bestsellers. The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives have been adapted for television as Case Sensitive, starring Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd. Sophie is also a bestselling poet who has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE and A-level throughout the UK. Sophie is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, two children and dog.