Related to: 'The Last of the Shackdwellers'

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.

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Down Our Street

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Golden-haired, sunny-natured Amy, youngest and dearest of Annie Flanagan's lively brood of thirteen, is the apple of her mother's eye. But with the outbreak of World War II, the Flanagan family is torn apart, shaken from their crowded nest in London's East End. While the young ones are evacuated from the war-torn capital - the girls to Devon and the boys to a school in the Midlands - Joe is soon made a sergeant, fighting in France. Billy volunteers for the Army Transport, and young Dan fulfils his dreams and joins the RAF. The war brings tragedy - even the old home is in ruins, bombed and shell-splintered. It's Amy, with her fierce courage and determination, who must pull the family back together. But when a man full of wicked charm and Cockney banter walks into her life and wins her heart, more turbulent years are sure to follow.

Hodder Paperbacks

Lizzie

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder & Stoughton

Lady Penelope

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

A gripping story of romance, lovers and a life filled with intrigue . . .Warm-hearted and wilful, her temper as fiery as her beautiful auburn hair, Lady Penelope is a romantic heroine whose impulsive nature makes her as many enemies as her vivacious, flame-haired beauty wins her admirers.Caught up in the dangerous intrigues of Queen Elizabeth's court, forced to marry a wealthy but repulsive nobleman, she pours all her passion into her children . . . and her lovers. Will Penelope survive her loveless marriage and a life filled with tragedy, and finally emerge triumphant?******************What readers are saying about LADY PENELOPE'Perfect!' - 5 STARS'My favourite novel' - 5 STARS'I love the history behind the book' - 5 STARS'Loved it . . . Penelope was a brilliant character' - 5 STARS'Good from start to end' - 5 STARS

Hodder & Stoughton

Lily, My Lovely

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

War doesn't only bring suffering . . . Born in Canning Town, in the heart of London's teeming dockland, red-headed Lily is a true Cockney in her zest for life, her natural humour and her instinct for survival.With the outbreak of World War II, husband George goes off to fight for King and Country and into the close-knit East End community bursts Kasie, a Dutch seaman who quickly falls for Lily's bright curls and ready smile. His romantic ways make Lily go weak at the knees, and although she sticks by her husband, her heart belongs wholly to her flying Dutchman.Torn between his native homeland and his yearning for 'Lily, my lovely', Kasie sweeps in and out of her life throughout the post-war years and the swinging sixties, always on a tide of storms and passion. Only when that tide finally recedes does an older and wiser Lily settle down among her adored grandchildren to fondly remember her adventurous life.****************What readers are saying about LILY, MY LOVELY'Oh how I enjoyed this book' - 5 STARS'A really compelling read' - 5 STARS'I hated putting the book down' - 5 STARS'Brilliant book from start to finish' - 5 STARS'Absolutely fantastic story' - 5 STARS

Hodder & Stoughton

The Inn On The Marsh

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder & Stoughton

Owen Oliver

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

A turbulent tale of a young man's growth from innocence to maturity in the harsh world of Victorian England.In the teeming heart of nineteenth-century London, Owen Oliver walks out of his gloomy, unwelcoming lodgings and doesn't stop his travels until he reaches Kent.There, Owen's life is dramatically altered. An orphan, he is adopted by a loving old lady and her roguish amicable son, Tom. With Tom's help, he secures employment in the shipping agency of an old sea captain and his fortunes start to increase.But Owen is not content. All around him he sees a widening gap between the comfortable middle classes and the helpless destitution of the poor. He is horrified by the plight of the thin and hungry and the evils of child labour.So when he takes the matter into his own hands and rescues a beautiful ragged child with haunting blue eyes and long golden hair, his fate is sealed . . .***************What readers are saying about OWEN OLIVER'This book kept me enthralled' - 5 STARS'Excellent' - 5 STARS'A lovely story' - 5 STARS'Sad and funny . . . hard to put down' - 5 STARS'Brilliant' - 5 STARS

Hodder & Stoughton

Kate of Clyve Shore

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Be careful what you wish for . . .Living in poverty in the Kentish marshes, young Kate dreams of a life of abundance and riches in the castle that towers over her village. So when the beautiful Lady Evelyn descends, requesting Kate to be her personal maidservant at the castle, it looks like the first stage of a dream come true.But there are blackhearted men to contend with, evil in thought and deed, and they have a sophistication well beyond that of anyone Kate has encountered before. And when her one true love, Tom the fisherman, returns from sailing the seven seas, it is to a very different Kate from the one he left behind . . .*************What readers are sating about KATE OF CLYVE SHORE'Really enjoyed this book' - 5 STARS'Excellent' - 5 STARS'Super, couldn't put it down' - 5 STARS'Spot on' - 5 STARS'Kept me gripped right through to the last page' - 5 STARS

Hodder & Stoughton

Ivy of the Angel

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder & Stoughton

Queenie's Castle

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder & Stoughton

Maggie

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder & Stoughton

Autumn Alley

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder & Stoughton

Nelly Kelly

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Life never turns out the way you plan . . .In the turmoil and confusion of London's East End between the wars, young Nelly Kelly soon learns that life may never match her expectations. Forced to keep house for her charming yet autocratic, father, Nelly toils in a sweatshop to keep her family clothed and fed.But though life is hard, Nelly still has friendship, dancing and her early dreams to cling to. Dreams that slowly crumble as marriage, the war and a lost baby are followed by the heartache of a lost love.Fortune may crush her proud spirit but when faced with a crisis that will test her courage to the limit, no tragedy can change Nelly Kelly's determination to be her own woman.*****************What readers are saying about NELLY KELLY'Unputdownable' - 5 STARS'A gripping story' - 5 STARS'What a great book' - 5 STARS'Another of Lena Kennedy's books that had be engrossed from the start' - 5 STARS'Could not put it down' - 5 STARS

Hodder & Stoughton

Susan

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder & Stoughton

The Dandelion Seed

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Anna Jacobs

Anna Jacobs grew up in Lancashire and emigrated to Australia, but still visits the UK regularly to see her family and do research, something she loves. She is addicted to writing and figures she'll have to live to be 120 at least to tell all the stories that keep popping up in her imagination and nagging her to write them down. She's also addicted to her own hero, to whom she's been happily married for many years.She is the bestselling author of over eighty novels and has been shortlisted for several awards, and Pride of Lancashire won the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award in 2006.You can find out more on her website, www.annajacobs.com or on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Anna.Jacobs.Books.

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.

Chrissie Manby

Chrissie Manby is the author of twenty romantic comedies including A PROPER FAMILY HOLIDAY, THE MATCHBREAKER and SEVEN SUNNY DAYS. She has had several Sunday Times bestsellers and her novel about behaving badly after a break-up, GETTING OVER MR RIGHT, was nominated for the 2011 Melissa Nathan Award. Chrissie was raised in Gloucester, in the west of England, and now lives in London. Contrary to the popular conception of chick-lit writers, she is such a bad home-baker that her own father threatened to put her last creation on www.cakewrecks.com. She is, however, partial to white wine and shoes she can't walk in. You can follow her on Twitter @chrissiemanby, or visit her website www.chrissiemanby.co.uk to find out more.

Clare Hunter

Clare Hunter has sewn since she was a child. She has been a banner-maker, community textile artist and textile curator for over twenty years and established the community enterprise NeedleWorks in Glasgow. She was a finalist of the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award with a story published in its 2017 Annual. She was also a recipient of a Creative Scotland Award in 2016. She lives near Stirling in Scotland. Threads of Life is her first book. www.sewingmatters.co.uk, @sewingmatters

Clare Morrall

Clare Morrall's first novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour, was published in 2003 and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize that year. She has since published the novels Natural Flights of the Human Mind, The Language of Others, The Man Who Disappeared, which was a TV Book Club Summer Read in 2010, The Roundabout Man and After the Bombing.Born in Exeter, Clare Morrall now lives in Birmingham. She works as a music teacher, and has two daughters.

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.