Related to: 'Get Fit and Get Happy'

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.

Adrian Plass

A former childcare worker, Adrian Plass is now one of the most prolific and most-loved Christian writers in the UK. He is the bestselling author of The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37¾ - this and its various sequels have sold millions of copies around the world. A somewhat bemused Anglican, Adrian and his wife Bridget live in Yorkshire and recently spent two years as part of the Scargill Community as well as continuing to speak in churches, prisons, schools, festivals and literary events in the UK and around the world.

Aidan Goggins

Aidan Goggins (www.aidangoggins.com) and Glen Matten www.glenmatten.com) are leading authorities on all things health-related. Aidan is a pharmacist and both hold a Master's degree in Nutritional Medicine. Together, they wrote the award winning The Health Delusion and frequently feature as health experts in the media. As leaders in their field their expertise is highly sought after. Aidan is set to run Europe's leading nutritional medicine clinics in Ireland's top private medical clinic The Beacon Consultants' Clinic Dublin, and the prestigious London Clinic in Knightsbridge. Glen heads up nutrition at KX, one of Europe's most prestigious private member's health clubs. Between them, they boast a star-studded client base including heavy weight boxing champion David Haye, English Rugby star James Haskell, Olympic heroes Sir Ben Ainslie and Anthony Ogogo, model and TV personality Jodie Kidd, and TV chef Lorraine Pascale.

Chi-San Wan

Chi San-Wan and Natali Stajcic are passionate about finding balance in their lives and about eating wholesome, natural food that is delicious, nourishing and enables you to live well and feel good. The East London duo founded The Pressery in 2014 after becoming disenchanted by the lack of natural non-dairy products available on the market, so they began making their own fresh almond milk at home, soon finding stockists and fans across London and beyond. After a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, they launched their long-life almond milk in 2016, which is distributed across the UK. Fans of The Pressery's almond drinks include XXX XXX and XXXX.

Christine Wilding

Christine Wilding's (Kent, England) books on CBT have sold over 50,000 copies. She holds a postgraduate diploma in CBT from the University of London, is an accredited member of the British Association of Counselling, is a member of the steering committee set up to develop guidelines for the treatment of depression within the NHS, and is in-demand as a leader of CBT-based training courses.

David Perlmutter

Dr David Perlmutter is president of the Perlmutter Health Centre in Naples, Florida, and the co-founder and president of The Perlmutter Brain Foundation. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American College of Nutrition and the Linus Pauling Award. A frequent lecturer, he writes a blog at VanguardNeurologist.com and is a contributor to The Huffington Post. His previous books include Grain Brain and The Grain Brain Cookbook.

Dr Pierre Dukan

Dr Pierre Dukan has been a medical doctor specializing in nutrition since 1973. The author of many works on diet and nutrition, including the bestselling The Dukan Diet, he regularly writes in the press and appears on television.

Emma Henderson

Emma Henderson ran a ski chalet in France for several years and now lives in London. GRACE WILLIAMS SAYS IT LOUD is her first novel.

Gavin Extence

Gavin Extence lives in Sheffield with his wife and children. He has written two previous novels, the Richard and Judy bestseller, THE UNIVERSE VERSUS ALEX WOODS and THE MIRROR WORLD OF MELODY BLACK, which was described as 'a cross between Bridget Jones' Diary and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' by a Simon Mayo Book Club reviewer.

Glen Matten

Aidan Goggins (www.aidangoggins.com) and Glen Matten www.glenmatten.com) are leading authorities on all things health-related. Aidan is a pharmacist and both hold a Master's degree in Nutritional Medicine. Together, they wrote the award winning The Health Delusion and frequently feature as health experts in the media.As leaders in their field their expertise is highly sought after. Aidan is set to run Europe's leading nutritional medicine clinics in Ireland's top private medical clinic The Beacon Consultants' Clinic Dublin, and the prestigious London Clinic in Knightsbridge. Glen heads up nutrition at KX, one of Europe's most prestigious private member's health clubs.Between them, they boast a star-studded client base including heavy weight boxing champion David Haye, English Rugby star James Haskell, Olympic heroes Sir Ben Ainslie and Anthony Ogogo, model and TV personality Jodie Kidd, and TV chef Lorraine Pascale.

Iain Maitland

Iain Maitland has been a professional writer since 1987. He has written over 50 books, mainly on business, and been published as far away as Russia, India, Japan, USA and Australia. He has also written for the Sunday Times, Which? and the Financial Times amongst many others.

Jasvinder Sanghera

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE was born and brought up in Derby. A survivor of a forced marriage, she is the co-founder of Karma Nirvana, a national project that supports both men and women affected by honour-based crimes and forced marriages. Jasvinder is also an international speaker and a Leading Expert Advisor to the Courts in child and criminal proceedings. Her memoir SHAME was a Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller. Jasvinder has brought the issue of forced marriage into the public eye and helped the Forced Marriage bill go through Parliament. She has won numerous awards for her work including a Metropolitan Police GG2 Diversity Award in 2005. In 2007 she received one of the prestigious Women of the Year awards. Jasvinder was made an Honorary Doctor of the University of Derby in 2008. She was awarded a Pride of Britain Award in 2009 and was named a Cosmopolitan Ultimate Woman of the Year in 2010. In 2011 the Guardian listed Jasvinder amongst the top 100 inspirational women in the world.

Jeremy Howick

An Oxford researcher with over 60 publications and a classic textbook, Jeremy Howick is well qualified to write Doctor You. A world-renowned placebo researcher and his work has been featured in The Times and The Washington Post, as well as on Sky News, and the BBC.

Katie Marsh

Katie Marsh lives in south-west London with her family. Before being published she worked in healthcare, and her books are inspired by the bravery of the people she has met in hospitals and clinics around the country. Katie loves strong coffee, the feel of a blank page and stealing her husband's toast. Her debut novel, My Everything, was chosen by the Evening Standard as one of the hottest summer debuts of 2015. Her second novel, A Life Without You, was a smash-hit ebook bestseller. This Beautiful Life is her third novel. You can follow her on Twitter @marshismsVisit her website www.katie-marsh.comOr find her on Facebook /KatieMarshAuthor

Lucy Dillon

Lucy Dillon was born in Cumbria. She won the Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year Award in 2010 for Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts, and is the bestselling author of four other novels: The Ballroom Class, Walking Back to Happiness, The Secret of Happy Ever After and A Hundred Pieces of Me. Lucy now divides her time between London and the Wye Valley where she enjoys walking in the Malvern Hills with her basset hounds, Violet and Bonham. You can follow her on Twitter @lucy_dillon or on Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/LucyDillonBooks.

Margot Campbell

Margot Campbell runs her popular Pilates on the go... studio in West London. Working with people of all ages and shapes, Margot has adapted her methods to help her clientsachieve their goals, whatever their schedule.

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.

Mike Mcinnes

Mike McInnes studied pharmacy at Heriot-Watt College. Mike has worked as a pharmacist but focuses his attention on sports nutri­tion, researching the specifics of energy partition and selection during exercise. His research led him to believe that honey could be the Gold Standard fuel for forward provisioning the brain, via the liver, during exercise and stocking up for recovery. Mike lives in Edinburgh with his wife Theresa. They have four children: Christine, Stuart, Graham and Janet and three grand­children: Oskar, Rob and Isla, all of whom love honey

Natali Stajcic

Chi San-Wan and Natali Stajcic are passionate about finding balance in their lives and about eating wholesome, natural food that is delicious, nourishing and enables you to live well and feel good. The East London duo founded The Pressery in 2014 after becoming disenchanted by the lack of natural non-dairy products available on the market, so they began making their own fresh almond milk at home, soon finding stockists and fans across London and beyond. After a record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, they launched their long-life almond milk in 2016, which is distributed across the UK. Fans of The Pressery's almond drinks include XXX XXX and XXXX.

Paul Jenner

Paul Jenner is a writer and journalist specializing in lifestyle subjects. He lives with his partner, three horses, two dogs and two sheep, in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees, where, when he's not working, he enjoys hiking, riding, cycling, sailing, swimming, diving and snowboarding. His other books include Teach Yourself Living Longer, Living Well and Teach Yourself Happiness.

Ruby Wax

Ruby Wax is a comedian, writer, performer and mental health campaigner. She has suffered bouts of depression throughout her life and completed her Masters in Mindfulness-based Cognitive therapy at Oxford in 2012.