Related to: 'Action Intelligence'

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.

Ali Almossawi

Ali Almossawi works on the Firefox team at Mozilla and is an alumnus of MIT's Engineering Systems Division (MS) and Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science (MS). Previous stints included working as a research associate at Harvard and as a collaborator at the MIT Media Lab. His writing has appeared in Wired and Scientific American.

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.

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.

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.

Clover Stroud

Clover Stroud is a writer and journalist writing for the Daily Mail, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, and Conde Nast Traveller, among others. She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and five children.

David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough is a broadcaster and naturalist whose television career is now in its seventh decade. After studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge and a brief stint in publishing, he joined the BBC in 1952 and spent ten years making documentary programmes of all kinds, including the Zoo Quest series. In 1965, he was appointed Controller of a new network, BBC2, and then, after four years became editorially responsible for both BBC1 and BBC2.After eight years of administration, he returned to programme-making to write and present a thirteen-part series, Life on Earth, which surveyed the evolutionary history of animals and plants. This was followed by many other series which, between them, surveyed almost every aspect of life on earth.

Donald Robertson

Donald Robertson is a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist, trainer and author who specialises in the treatment of anxiety and the use of CBT. He is the author of six books and many articles on philosophy, psychotherapy and psychological skills training.

Eleanor Thom

Eleanor Thom was born in Sheffield, England. She graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film and Theatre. On graduation she created the award winning, all female sketch group Lady Garden who toured the UK circuit extensively, appearing on TV and Radio and were Edinburgh Fringe Festival favourites. In 2013 she wrote and performed the critically acclaimed character stand-up show I am Bev. As an actor she has she has appeared in Absolutely Fabulous (BBC), Live At The Electric (BBC) and Drifters (Channel 4). Eleanor has written for Standard Issue Magazine and for other comedians' on their live and TV work. This is her first book. She lives in London.

Emma Henderson

Emma Henderson was educated at Godolphin and Latymer School, London, Somerville College, Oxford and Yale University, Connecticut. She wrote blurbs for Penguin books for two years, then spent a decade teaching English in comprehensive schools and further education colleges, before moving to the French Alps where, for six years, she ran a ski and snowboard lodge. She now lives in Derbyshire and is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Keele University. GRACE WILLIAMS SAYS IT LOUD was her first novel. The Valentine House is her second novel.

Gary John Bishop

Born and raised in Glasgow, Gary John Bishop moved to the US in 1997. This opened up his pathway to the world of personal development, specifically to ontology and phenomenology in which he was rigorously trained for a number of years before becoming a senior programme director with one of the world's leading personal development companies. His lifelong commitment to shifting people's ability to exert real change in their lives drives him each and every day. He has a no-frills approach that has brought him an ever increasing following, drawn to the simplicity and real-world use of his work. He lives in Florida with his wife and three sons.

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.

Geoff Colvin

Geoff Colvin is Fortune's senior editor-at-large and is also the author of Talent is Overrated and The Upside of the Downturn. He has served as moderator of the Fortune Global Forum, where he has interviewed Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Herb Kelleher, Peter Drucker and other business legends. Colvin graduated Harvard cum-laude with a B.A. in Economics, and received his MBA from New York University's Stern School.

Gino D'Acampo

Gino was born in Napoli in the south of Italy into a large family. The food they ate was very traditional - simple recipes based on fresh and healthy fruit, vegetables, fish and meat.'My grandfather said that a good recipe doesn't need many ingredients because if the ingredients are good quality and full of flavour, why do you have to cover up or change their taste'. This is a philosophy Gino has stuck to since he first started in the kitchen. After training at the Luigi de Medici Catering College, Gino came to London at 19 and worked at The Orchard Restaurant in Hampstead and then at the Cambio restaurant in Surrey.Gino is the author of several best-selling books including Fantastico!, Gino's Pasta, Italian Home Baking and Gino's Italian Escape.He is married to Jessica and they have three children, Luciano, Rocco and Mia.

Hazel Gale

Hazel Gale is a master practitioner of cognitive hypnotherapy, author and ex-athlete. Having competed internationally as a kickboxer and boxer, achieving World and National titles in the two sports respectively, she's well-versed in both the drive to succeed and the anxiety that can so often come hand-in-hand with that. In her practice and in her writing, Hazel aims to help others emerge victorious from their own battles, whatever they may be. Fight is Hazel's first book. It explores the psychology of self-sabotage while taking you on her journey, and offers a practical guide to reclaiming your self-control.

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.

Jay Harman

Jay Harman is an Australian entrepreneur and inventor. He is one of the most sought after speakers on biomimicry. As founder and CEO of PAX Scientific and its subsidiaries, he has designed more efficient industrial equipment, including refrigeration, turbines, boats, fans, mixers and pumps - all based on biomimicry.

Jon Butterworth

Jon Butterworth is a leading physicist on the Large Hadron Collider, and Head of Physics and Astronomy at UCL. He writes the popular Life & Physics blog for the Guardian and has written articles for a range of publications including the Guardian and New Scientist. Jon often discusses physics in public, including talks at the Royal Institution and the Wellcome Trust and appearances on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, The Infinite Money Cage, BBC Newsnight, Horizon, Channel 4 News and Al Jazeera. He was awarded the Chadwick Medal of the Institute of Physics in 2013 for his pioneering work in high energy particle physics, especially in the understanding of hadronic jets. His book Smashing Physics was shortlisted for the 2015 Royal Society Winton Prize.

Joseph Shaules

Joseph Shaules, PhD, has worked in intercultural education in Japan, Mexico, and Europe for more than twenty-five years. He is the director of the Japan Intercultural Institute (JII) and teaches at the Rikkyo College of Business and the Keio University International Center. Shaules is a co-presenter on the NHK Television program "Nyuusu de Eikaiwa." He is also the Japan specialist for a consulting and training company based in Germany. He is the author of several books including A Beginner's Guide to the Deep Culture Experience also published by Intercultural Press. He lives in Tokyo.

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).

Lorna Byrne

Lorna Byrne has been seeing and talking to angels since she was a baby. Now that her family is raised she talks openly about what she has learned. She lives quietly in rural Ireland. She is the author of the international bestsellers Angels in My Hair, Stairways to Heaven, A Message of Hope from the Angels and Love From Heaven. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. For more information, visit www.lornabyrne.com or follow Lorna on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lornabyrneangels