Related to: 'Fight'

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.

Aaron Gillies

Aaron Gillies, aka @TechnicallyRon on twitter, is a comedian and writer. He has been featured in and written for The Poke, Buzzfeed, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, amongst many others, and has produced viral content from 'Reasons my wife is crying' to 'a short guide to washing machine symbols' and 'a google autocompleted CV'. Aaron has written about mental health for many years in various publications.

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.

Catherine Kaputa

Catherine Kaputa is the award-winning author of You Are a Brand! and Breakthrough Branding. She is a successful branding strategist and speaker and led the 'I Love NY' campaign. Catherine lives in New York City.

Dan Harris

Dan Harris is an Emmy Award-winning anchor and correspondent for ABC News. He is also the host of the 10% Happier podcast and the cofounder of the 10% Happier meditation app. He lives in New York City with his wife, Bianca; their Son, Alexander; and three extremely needy rescue cats. 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

James Arthur

In December 2012, Middlesbrough born James Arthur won the X Factor and his debut single Impossible became the biggest winner's song of all time. After a two year break, in 2016 James made a triumphant return with his single Say You Won't Let Go which went on to become a smash hit around the world, reaching No. 1 on the Official UK Singles Chart, No. 1 on the Radio Airplay Chart in the USA, and picking up over 1.5 billion sales and streams globally. The album Back From The Edge followed, topping the Official Albums Chart in the UK, with global sales of over 1 million. Earlier this year, James was nominated for two awards at the prestigious BRIT Awards 2017 and went on to sell out multiple tours worldwide. Back to the Boy is James' first book. For more info on James, check out www.jamesarthurofficial.com.

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.

Kristin Neff

Kristin Neff PhD is an associate professor in human development at the University of Texas and has been researching and studying self compassion for the past decade. She published the first journal article that defined and examined self compassion. She also created the Self Compassion Scale, which has been translated into more than a dozen languages and is used by hundreds of researchers worldwide. She gives lectures on self compasssion internationally and runs workshops. She lives in Austin, Texas.Visit: www.self-compassion.org

Laura Jane Williams

Laura Jane Williams has written about love, lust, and her feelings everywhere from The Guardian to Buzzfeed to RED, to the Telegraph, Stylist and more, and from September 2016 - February 2017 was Grazia's single girl dating columnist. She is the author of heartbreak memoir BECOMING, Marie Claire's #BREAKFREE from Fear ambassador, and blogs about being 'messily human' at www.superlativelyrude.com

Louise McCreesh

Louise McCreesh is a freelance journalist working in London. She is an alumnus of the Curtis Brown Creative Writing Course, where she was offered a scholarship to continue work on this novel. Cracked is her debut novel.

Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Positive Psychology Network, gave the Centennial address to the British Psychological Society in 2002 and is an Honorary Professor at the University of Cardiff. A former President of the American Psychological Association, he has written over 20 books including the bestselling Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness and in 2009 was awarded the British Academy's Wiley Prize in Psychology. He is widely considered the pre-eminent expert on applied psychology in the world.

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.

Noor Hibbert

Noor Hibbert is an International Business, Executive & Strategic Intervention Coach, serial entrepreneur and mother. She has a degree in Psychology, a postgraduate qualification in Business Coaching, is a Certified Strategic Intervention coach with Tony Robbin's international training Institute, Robbins-Madanes Training, and is currently completing her Masters in Coaching. She has also been accepted on the elite Forbes Coaches Council.She has created two 6-figure businesses in just two years, whilst raising two small children and embarking on a spiritual journey which has accelerated her success. She regularly travels around the globe, running events in the US, Europe and UK.

Norman Drummond

Norman Drummond is founder of Columba 1400, a charity specialising in helping young people from underprivileged backgrounds to become leaders. He is also chairman of Drummond International, a life coaching, personal and presentation skills and media management company. Formerly a headteacher and BBC governor, Norman Drummond's skills as a coach are in great demand with top politicians and business figures worldwide. He is currently a chaplain to the Queen. He is married with five children.

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.

Philippe Rosinski

Philippe Rosinski's pioneering work in bringing the crucial intercultural dimension into the practice of coaching has won him worldwide acclaim. An expert in executive coaching, team coaching, and global leadership development, his international corporate clients include Baxter Healthcare, Unilever, Chubb Insurance and IBM. He is the first continental European to be designated Master Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation. Previously the Director of Custom Programs at the Center For Creative Leadership, he is currently principal of Rosinski & Company, a global consulting firm that helps leaders, teams and organizations unleash their human potential to achieve high performance. For further information visit his website at http: //www.philrosinski.com/.

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

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.