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

Down Our Street

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

Lily, My Lovely

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

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 remember fondly her adventurous life.

Hodder Paperbacks

Ivy of the Angel

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

A wealth of lively characters and true-to-life situations in this collection confirm Lena Kennedy's reputation as one of our most vivid and compelling storytellers.The title story, 'Ivy of the Angel', reveals why an elderly bag lady becomes the centre of attention in an Oxford Street store; 'The Lonely Road' is the tale of thwarted love in London's East End; 'The Willows Wept With Me', 'Linda's Revenge' and 'The Long Dream' are all examples of how the smooth surface of a buried past can be disrupted by the intrusions of the present.With 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.

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

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

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

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
Hodder & Stoughton

Nelly Kelly

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder & Stoughton

Susan

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
Hodder & Stoughton

The Dandelion Seed

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Like a dandelion seed adrift on the wayward winds, Marcelle de la Strange is an innocent in the decadent and dangerous London of James I.When her mother's violent death leaves Marcelle at the mercy of her lecherous stepfather, she can't help but be drawn to the dashing Thomas Mayhew, King's Messenger and attendant to the flamboyant court favourite Robert Carr, who offers her protection, freedom . . . and love.But such perfect happiness is brittle, vulnerable. A mysterious royal lover, tawny-haired and passionate, leaves Marcelle with child. Kidnapped by the powerful Howard family, the baby is an innocent pawn in a deadly political game and Marcelle's desperate search for her son threatens her reconciliation with Thomas, her health, and even her very sanity . . .***********What readers are saying about THE DANDELION SEED'An amazing read . . . A book not to be missed' - 5 STARS'Perfect!' - 5 STARS'Another excellent tale by Lena Kennedy' - 5 STARS'What a book - loved it from start to finish' - 5 STARS'A must-read' - 5 STARS

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.

Bernard Minier

Bernard Minier grew up in south-west France and spent a happy childhood in the foothills of the Pyrenees before going to university in Toulouse, the town where Servaz is a policeman. He currently lives near Paris. He has received several awards for his short stories. All three novels in the Servaz series, THE FROZEN DEAD, A SONG FOR DROWNED SOULS and DON'T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, have been bestsellers in France, and his writing has been translated into German, Italian, Polish, Spanish, Russian and Hungarian as well as English. He has twice won the prestigious Prix Polar at the Cognac Crime Festival.

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.

Emily Phillips

Emily Phillips' two main life goals have always been: to write a book and to have a baby. As Grazia's Features Director, she's helped change the law to close the pay gap, written on everything from over-committing to egg donation, and interviewed the likes of Amy Poehler and Jane Birkin. Her career highlight was when Jamie Dornan told her (while taking his top off) that his murderous character in The Fall would've found her 'right up his street'. She lives in London with her husband and two cats.Her first novel, TRYING, is a hugely funny and searingly honest comedy about what to expect when you're not expecting.

John Grisham

John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade, specialising in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. One day, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987.His next novel, The Firm, spent 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and became the bestselling novel of 1991. Since then, he has written one novel a year, including The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker and The Runaway Jury.Today, Grisham has written a collection of stories, a work of non-fiction, three sports novels, five kids' books, and many legal thrillers. His work has been translated into 42 languages. He lives near Charlottesville, Virginia.

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).