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.

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.

Andy Cope

Andy describes himself as an author, happiness expert, qualified teacher and learning junkie. He has spent 10 years researching 'positive psychology' culminating in a 'PhD in Happiness' from Loughborough University. He has developed a series of keynotes and courses centreing on themes of happiness and flourishing, which he delivers in businesses and schools across the world. Andy has written several best-selling personal development books, including The Art of Being Brilliant, and is also a best-selling children's author. His Spy Dog series has enjoyed huge global success.

Catriona McPherson

Catriona McPherson was born in the village of Queensferry in south-east Scotland in 1965 and educated at Edinburgh University. She left with a PhD in Linguistics and spent a few years as a university lecturer before beginning to write fiction. The first Dandy Gilver novel was short-listed for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger 2005 and the second was long-listed for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year Award 2007. In 2012 DANDY GILVER AND THE PROPER TREATMENT OF BLOODSTAINS was nominated for a Historical Macavity Award. Catriona writes full-time and divides her time between southern Scotland and northern California.www.dandygilver.comwww.catrionamcpherson.comwww.twitter.com/CatrionaMcP

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.

Dan Harris

Dan Harris is a correspondent for ABC News and the co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America. Before that, he was the anchor of the Sunday edition of World News. This is his first book.

Dominique Antiglio

Dominique Antiglio is a Sophrologist specialising in stress-management, self-development and birth preparation. Born in Switzerland, Dominique started Sophrology at 15 years old, learning early on ways to positively connect with herself and embrace a new way of living. At 25, she graduated from the renowed European School of Osteopathy in Kent obtaining her Bsc(Hons) Ost. She came back to her native hometown and ran a successful osteopathic clinic for a decade, as well as specialising in treating children and pregnant women in France and the US. At the same time, she continued her personal development journey with Sophrology and trained as a Sophrologist. Dominique gained her Masters in Caycedian Sophrology (2006), notably training with Professor Caycedo, the founder of the method. Passionate about the mind-body connection,she also explored the power of sound and obtained her Holistic Voice Diploma in 2013 in the UK.In 2011, having witnessed so many positive changes through the power of Sophrology for herself and her clients, she moved to London and founded BeSophro, a leading Sophrology clinic in Mayfair with an online platform. Through BeSophro she supports and inspires a wide variety of clients, individually and in groups, and working with schools and in the corporate environment, enthusiastically promoting the benefits of Sophrology in the UK and beyond. Her work has notably been featured in the Guardian, the Telegraph and Psychologies magazine. In 2015, Dominique also became a mum.To find out more about BeSophro classes, workshops andSophrology's latest development, please visit www.be-sophro.co.uk.

Donal Skehan

Donal Skehan has been cooking since age four when he flipped his first pancake! Inspired by a family of passionate foodies, cooking and eating hearty home cooked food has always been a way of life. Donal is the author of seven cookbooks; Fresh was named as one of Good Food magazine's Top 10 cookbooks of the year. He's the host of Saturday Kitchen, star of cookery shows on RTE and The Food Network, and has his own hit YouTube channel. Donal was born and raised in Dublin and is currently living in LA.

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.

Gordon Ramsay

Scottish by birth, Gordon was brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. With an injury prematurely putting an end to any hopes of a promising career in football, he went back to college to complete a course in hotel management and his dedication and natural talent led him to train with some of world's leading chefs.In 1993 Gordon became chef of Aubergine in London and within three years was awarded two Michelin stars. In 1998, at the age of 31, Gordon set up his own restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which quickly received the most prestigious accolade in the culinary world - three Michelin stars. One of only four chefs in the UK to maintain three stars, Gordon was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to the industry.Now internationally renowned, Gordon has opened a string of successful restaurants across the globe, from Italy to LA. 2011 has proved to be another exciting year and saw the opening of Bread Street Kitchen in London's City district, as well as a venture across the pond in Montreal, Canada.Gordon has become a star of the small screen both in the UK and internationally, with two top rated shows in the US. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen are both into their third and ninth series respectively, whilst his latest show, Masterchef US, is now in its second series and is proving to be another massive hit with viewers. Gordon has also published a number of books, many of which have become best sellers across the world, notably his autobiography, Roasting in Hell's Kitchen.Gordon lives with his wife and four children in South London, along with their two bulldogs Rumpole and Romeo.

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

Hazel Wallace

Dr Hazel Wallace is the girl behind The Food Medic, a blog she set up in 2013 as a platform to show people that eating healthy and staying fit can be enjoyable, uncomplicated and easy to incorporate into an everyday busy lifestyle.Hazel is a UK based health and fitness blogger, social media influencer, qualified personal trainer and Junior Doctor. She graduated in 2012 with a first class degree in Medical Sciences, going on to gain a graduate degree in Medicine (MBBCH) in 2016. She now works as a Junior Doctor in London and The Food Medic is her first book.@thefoodmedicwww.hazelwallace.co.uk

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.

Joe Cross

Joe Cross' personal story of transformation was chronicled in the documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, which has been seen by more than 20 million people worldwide. The incredible response to screenings of the film inspired Joe to create Reboot with Joe, making the tools, information and support available to enable anyone to reclaim their wellbeing. His second film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 charts the next stage of Joe's journey of health. He is the author of The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet and The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet Recipe Book, and spends time between Australia and the US, always with a juice in hand.

Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes was born in 1969 and brought up in London. A journalist and writer, she worked for the Independent until 2001. She lives in East Anglia with her husband and three children.Jojo has twice won the Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year Award: in 2011 for The Last Letter From Your Lover and in 2003 for Foreign Fruit. The Ship of Brides and Silver Bay were shortlisted for the 2005 and 2007 RNA award and Silver Bay was shortlisted for the inaugural Good Housekeeping 2007 Book of the Year award. You can read Jojo's blog or find out more from her website, www.jojomoyes.com, follow her on Twitter @jojomoyes or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jojo.moyes.

Judy Bartkowiak

Judy Bartkowiak's training courses and coaching practice have helped thousands of people to apply the skills of NLP in their everyday lives. She is a qualified NLP Trainer, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Sports Practitioner, NLP Business Practitioner and NLP Children's Practitioner.

Katie Marsh

Katie lives in London with her family. Before being published she worked in healthcare, and her novels are inspired by the bravery of the people she met in hospitals and clinics across the country. Her first novel My Everything is a 2018 World Book Night pick, and her second A Life Without You was a huge e-book bestseller. Her fourth novel The Rest of Me is out this summer in e-book, audio and paperback. She loves strong coffee, the promise of a blank page and stealing her husband's toast. When not writing, she spends her time fruitlessly pursuing her children in various local parks. You can contact Katie on Twitter (@marshisms) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/katiemarshauthor), or via her website (www.katie-marsh.com).

Mac Bride

Mac Bride is a successful computer author who brings over 20 years of teaching experience to his writing.

Monty Don

MONTY DON is a well-known gardening writer and broadcaster. He lives with his family, garden and dogs in Herefordshire. His previous books include the Sunday Times best-seller Nigel and Paradise Gardens.@TheMontyDon/themontydon

Padraig O'Morain

Padraig O'Morain has practised mindfulness for 25 years and taught mindfulness for more than a decade. He runs workshops in his native Ireland where the inspiration for this book was sparked by an encounter with a very busy woman who took 4 years to get to one of his courses (and still had to dash to a meeting in the middle of it) and who has since reported that mindfulness changed her life - for the better.