Related to: 'Never Go There'

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.

Aline Templeton

Aline Templeton lives in Edinburgh with her husband, in a house with a balcony built by an astronomer to observe the stars over the beautiful city skyline. She has worked in education and broadcasting and has written numerous articles and stories for newspapers and magazines. Her books have been published in translation in several European countries as well as in the United States.

Cody Mcfadyen

Cody Mcfadyen designed websites until he became a full time writer when he got a publishing deal for his first thriller, SHADOW MAN. He lives in Southern California with his two black labradors. He drinks coffee (copiously), plays guitar (badly), and reads (voraciously). He abhors adverbs in writing, except when used in short biographies like this one.Visit Cody Mcfadyen's website at www.codymcfadyen.com

David Swinson

David Swinson is a retired police detective, having served 16 years with the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department. Before joining the DC police Swinson was a record store owner in Seal Beach, California, a punk rock/alternative concert promoter in Long Beach, California, and a music video producer and independent filmmaker in Los Angeles, California. Swinson currently lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, daughter, bull mastiff, and bearded dragon.

Diana Cooper

Diana Cooper received an angel visitation during a time of personal crisis, which changed her life. Author of 19 books in over 20 languages, she has inspired thousands of people to fulfil their spiritual potential. Diana is known for her work with angels, unicorns, ascension, Atlantis, Orbs and 2012. Through her guides and angels she enables people to access their spiritual gifts and psychic potential and also connects them to their own angels, guides, Masters and unicorns.Diana is the Principal of The Diana Cooper School, a not for profit organisation which offers certificated spiritual teaching courses throughout the world.www.dianacooper.com

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.Gerald was interviewed recently on Andrew Marr's Sleuths, Spies and Sorcerers on BBC TV.

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 Le Carré

John le Carré was born in 1931. His third novel, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, secured him a wide reputation which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, THE HONOURABLE SCHOOLBOY and SMILEY'S PEOPLE. His other novels include THE CONSTANT GARDENER, A MOST WANTED MAN and OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

Julian Stockwin

Julian Stockwin was sent at the age of fourteen to Indefatigable, a tough sea-training school. He joined the Royal Navy at fifteen before transferring to the Royal Australian Navy, where he served for eight years in the Far East, Antarctic waters and the South Seas. In Vietnam he saw active service in a carrier task force. After leaving the Navy (rated Petty Officer), Julian practised as an educational psychologist. He lived for some time in Hong Kong, where he was commissioned into the Royal Naval Reserve. He was awarded the MBE and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He now lives in Devon with his wife Kathy. More information can be found on his website at www.julianstockwin.com.

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.

Leslie Charteris

Leslie Charteris was born in Singapore and moved to England in 1919. He left Cambridge University early when his first novel was accepted for publication. He wrote novels about the Saint throughout his life, and was one of the 20th century's most prolific and popular authors. He died in 1993.Visit www.lesliecharteris.com for more information.

Lisa Jackson

LISA JACKSON is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than seventy-five novels, including Ready to Die, Afraid to Die, You Don't Want to Know, Running Scared, Without Mercy, Malice and Shiver. She has over twenty million copies of her books in print in nineteen languages. She lives with her family and a rambunctious pug in the Pacific Northwest. Find out more atwww.lisajackson.comwww.facebook.com/lisajacksonfanswww.twitter.com/readlisajackson

Louise Welsh

Louise Welsh is the author of six highly acclaimed novels including The Cutting Room and A Lovely Way to Burn. She has been the recipient of several awards including the John Creasey Memorial Dagger and the Saltire first book award. Death is a Welcome Guest is the second novel in the Plague Times trilogy. Find out more information on Louise's website: www.louisewelsh.com

Mandasue Heller

Mandasue Heller was born in Cheshire and moved to Manchester in 1982. She spent ten years living in the notorious Hulme Crescents which have since become the background to her novels. Not only is she a talented writer, but she has also sung in cabaret and rock groups, seventies soul cover bands and blues jam bands.www.facebook.com/mandasue.hellerwww.twitter.com/mandasueheller

Matt Hilton

Matt Hilton worked for twenty-two years in private security and the police force in Cumbria. He is a 4th Dan blackbelt and coach in Ju-Jitsu. He lives in Cumbria with his wife Denise. He keeps a website at www.matthiltonbooks.com and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @MHiltonauthor.

Max Barry

Max Barry is the author of four previous novels, including New York Times Notable Book Jennifer Government and Syrup, soon to be a major film. He is also the creator of the internet mini-phenomenon NationStates, an online political simulation game. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife and two daughters. He is a cat person.Visit Max Barry's website at maxbarry.com, find him at facebook.com/maxbarry or follow him on twitter.com/maxbarry.

Michael Koryta

Michael Koryta's novels have won the LA Times Book Prize and the Great Lakes Book Award and been nominated for the Edgar, Shamus, Quill and Barry awards. A former private investigator and newspaper reporter, he published his first novel at the age of twenty-one. His work has been translated into twenty languages.Visit Michael Koryta's website at www.michaelkoryta.com and follow Michael on Twitter @mjkoryta

Mick Herron

Mick Herron is a novelist and short story writer whose books include the Jackson Lamb series, the first of which - the Steel-Dagger nominated Slow Horses - has been described as the 'most enjoyable British spy novel in years'. The second Jackson Lamb novel, Dead Lions, won the 2013 CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger, and was picked by the Sunday Times as one of the best 25 crime novels of the past five years. Mick was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, and now lives in Oxford.

Nick Brown

Nick Brown grew up in Norfolk and later studied history at the University of Sussex. In 2000 he embarked on a PCGE course at the University of Exeter and began a career as a teacher of English and humanities. Having taught in England and Poland he now lives in his home town, Norwich. The Emperor's Silver is the fifth volume of the Agent of Rome series.

Patrick Lennon

Patrick Lennon grew up in Cambridge and has lived in Thailand, Italy, France and Mexico. His first book CORN DOLLS was shortlisted for the 2008 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Award and was a bestseller in Italy and Germany. He has now written three thrillers featuring Tom Fletcher.Today Lennon splits his time between his young family, his writing and running his own business.Visit Patrick Lennon's website at www.patrick-lennon.com

Paul Pilkington

Paul has been writing regularly for over twelve years and has had material broadcast on BBC radio and ITV television, as well as being long listed for the 2004 London Book Fair Lit Idol competition. He was inspired to write his first suspense mystery, The One You Love, through his love of novels such as those by Harlan Coben, Linwood Barclay, Nicci French and Thomas H Cook. His aim is to create fast-paced, twisting and turning fiction that both stirs the emotions and is hard to put down.Find out more about Paul's writing: Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulpilkington Like him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/paulpilkingtonauthor Visit his website: www.paulpilkington.com