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.

Hodder Paperbacks

Nelly Kelly

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder Paperbacks

The Dandelion Seed

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder Paperbacks

Lady Penelope

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder Paperbacks

Lily, My Lovely

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
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Owen Oliver

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder Paperbacks

Queenie's Castle

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Falling asleep on the bus after a hard day's work, Joe finds himself stranded in the East End, disorientated in the heavy fog and innocently embroiled in a violent encounter. The incident ends in murder and Joe is accused - of the real villains there remains not a trace.But his memory of that fateful night, and a clue to the identity of the murderers, helps him through his time in prison and fuels his desire to uncover the truth. His quest leads him back to the East End and to the Ship and Castle pub, run by the mysterious and formidable Queenie . . .

Hodder Paperbacks

Lizzie

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder Paperbacks

Kate of Clyve Shore

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

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 . . .

Hodder & Stoughton

The Inn On The Marsh

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Time alone would heal the sorrows of Hollinbury, bright dreams banish the old unhappy ghosts . . .The Malted Shovel, exuberant heart and soul of Hollinbury Hamlet, buzzed with talk while the ale flowed. Talk of Dumb Lukey's crazed acts and the romance between Lucinda and Joe Lee, the Thames bargee. Talk of the Crimea and the terror of Napoleon.At the tavern, hard-headed Beatrice and her sister Dot care for their invalid father and for Lucinda, their pretty orphaned niece. The inn is their livelihood but village business is ever Beatrice's business too. And now some dark cloud has descended on them all . . .****************What readers are saying about THE INN ON THE MARSH'Fantastic read' - 5 STARS'A page-turner all the way through' - 5 STARS'Brilliant!! I loved it' - 5 STARS'Kept me hooked - I couldn't put it down' - 5 STARS'I loved this book and didn't want it to end'

Hodder & Stoughton

Ivy of the Angel

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Encounter a wealth of lively characters and true-to-life situation in this collection of vivid and compelling stories.Ivy of the Angel reveals why an elderly bag lady becomes the centre of attention in an Oxford Street store.Dive into a tale of thwarted love in London's East End in The Lonely Road And see how the smooth surface of a buried past can be disrupted by the intrusions of the present. The Willows Wept With Me, Linda's Revenge and The Long DreamWith the freshness and directness that have become her hallmark, Lena Kennedy explores the enduring power of love, the triumph of hope over adversity, the problems of illness and prejudice, and the quirky kindness of fate.**************What readers are saying about IVY OF THE ANGEL: AND OTHER STORIES'Couldn't put it down' - 5 STARS'A great writer' - 5 STARS'A very enjoyable read' - 5 STARS'A brilliant book' - 5 STARS'A really good read by one of my favourite authors' - 5 STARS

Hodder & Stoughton

Maggie

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Four decades. Four generations. One World War.Raised in Stepney, the heart of London's East End, Maggie Riley is the only child of an Irish widower. When she becomes pregnant at the age of fifteen she is delighted, for it means she has captured her beloved Jim Burns.But life is a constant struggle - to bring up her four sons, to cope with a part-time husband, to 'better herself'. And that struggle is set against critical events of the era: the Depression, the Blackshirt marches, the devastation of World War II and its aftermath.Rejoice in Maggie's triumphs and feel the sorrow of her tragedies with this beautiful and moving tale of perseverance against all odds.***************What readers are saying about MAGGIE'A brilliant novel' - 5 STARS'A fascinating story' - 5 STARS'I loved the whole story' - 5 STARS'Just wonderful!' - 5 STARS'An amazing read' - 5 STARS

Hodder & Stoughton

Autumn Alley

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Autumn Alley: where the East End's most fascinating call their home . . .Here you'll find Maud, the formidable Irish-American suffragette; sulky Patricia, whose unhappy childhood leads her to a dangerous love affair; vivacious, flame-haired Colleen; Mary, who struggles alongside her wayward husband to bring up children - and Arfer, whose quick mind lifts him out of the world of poverty in London's East End.*************What readers are saying about AUTUMN ALLEY'Wow!!' - 5 STARS'Couldn't put it down' - 5 STARS'Such a skilled storyteller' - 5 STARS'The story captivated me' - 5 STARS'I enjoyed it so much' - 5 STARS

Hodder & Stoughton

Susan

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

She thought she'd escaped her past . . .Susan is a London slum child. Constricted by the rigid rules of the East End orphanage she is brought up in, she escapes to dazzling streets of Soho where she is adopted by a group of prostitutes. Soon enough, she too is earning her living 'on the game'.When Billy 'Apples' Rafferty, a Cockney villain with a heart of gold, becomes her protector, Sue swears to give up her racy life. But when Billy is sent to prison, she soon breaks her promise and her earthy beauty makes her one of Soho's most popular hostesses.When a lucky encounter secures Susan a respectable job as a manageress of a small hotel in Devon, things finally seem to be going her way. But then her past catches up with her . . .****************What readers are saying about SUSAN'This book has everything . . . Thank you, Lena Kennedy, for a great read' - 5 STARS'I could not put it down, it was such a good read!' - 5 STARS'Great as always' - 5 STARS'Lena Kennedy at her best' - 5 STARS'Loved it from start to finish' - 5 STARS

Hodder & Stoughton

Down Our Street

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

'A real East-End tale . . . brilliant!' - 5-STAR reader reviewGolden-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 . . .****************What readers are saying about DOWN OUR STREET'What a wonderful story from beginning to end' - 5 STARS'I could not put the book down' - 5 STARS'A fabulous read' - 5 STARS'I will tell all my friends to read it' - 5 STARS'I really enjoyed this book from start to finish' - 5 STARS

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller's first novel, Ingenious Pain, was published by Sceptre in 1997 and greeted as the debut of an outstanding new writer. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour Prize for the best foreign novel published in Italy.It has been followed by Casanova, Oxygen, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award in 2001, The Optimists, One Morning Like A Bird, Pure, which won the Costa Book of the Year Award 2011, and The Crossing.Andrew Miller's novels have been published in translation in twenty countries. Born in Bristol in 1960, he currently lives in Somerset.

Callie Bates

Callie Bates is a writer, harpist and certified harp therapist, sometimes artist, and nature nerd. When she's not creating, she's hitting the trails or streets and exploring new places. She lives in the Upper Midwest. THE MEMORY OF FIRE is the sequel to her debut fantasy novel, THE WAKING LAND. She occasionally writes nonfiction. Her essays have appeared in Shambhala Sun, The Best Buddhist Writing 2012, All Things Girl and online journals.

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.

Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand grew up in Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where she was a teaching/writing fellow. She now lives with her husband and their three children on Nantucket, Massachusetts, where her novels are set.You can follow Elin on Twitter @elinhilderbrand or find out more on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/ElinHilderbrand.

Graham Norton

Graham Norton is one of the UK's best loved broadcasters. He presents The Graham Norton Show on BBC1, has a weekly show on BBC Radio 2, and writes a column for the Telegraph. He is the winner of nine BAFTA awards. Born in Dublin and raised in West Cork, Norton now lives in London. His debut novel Holding was a commercial and critical success, winning Norton the Irish Independent Popular Fiction award at the Bord Gáis Irish Book Awards in 2016.

Hugo Vickers

Hugo Vickers is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, and an acknowledged expert on the British Royal Family. He has written biographies of the Queen Mother, Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough, Cecil Beaton, Vivien Leigh, Princess Andrew of Greece and the Duchess of Windsor. His book The Kiss won the 1996 Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction. His polemic, The Crown - Truth & Fiction attracted international publicity in 2018.