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

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

Autumn Alley

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

Gas lights and horse drawn buses, gin-soaked night clubs and fluttering lace curtains: enter the world of Autumn Alley.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 to bring up children beside her wayward husband - and Arfer, whose quick mind lifts him out of the world of poverty in London's East End.

Hodder Paperbacks

Nelly Kelly

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy

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 which 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 which will test her courage to the limit, no tragedy can change Nelly Kelly's determination to be her own woman.

Hodder Paperbacks

Lady Penelope

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

Lily, My Lovely

Lena Kennedy
Authors:
Lena Kennedy
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

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

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

Lizzie

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

Alison Jean Lester

Alison Jean Lester was born to an American father and a British mother, and educated in the US, the UK, China and Italy. She spent twenty-five years working, writing and raising her children in Japan and Singapore before relocating to the UK in 2016. She is the author of the novel Lillian on Life and has had short stories published in Ecotone, Good Housekeeping, Synaesthesia and Barrelhouse.

Carl Gorham

Carl Gorham created the cult animated show Stressed Eric for BBC2 and adapted the best-selling Meg and Mog children's books for ITV. He has also written sketches, monologues and sitcoms for both radio and television including The Gorham and Swift Show (BBC Radio 2), The Very Old Pretenders (BBC Radio 4) and, most recently, a new sitcom pilot Martin for ITV starring Alan Davies. He has won numerous awards including two British Animation Awards and an Indie, and he is a British Comedy Award and Bafta nominee. He lives in North Norfolk with his daughter.

Chris Hughes

Chris Hughes starred in 2017's ratings winning Love Island. With 1.9 million followers on Instagram, a hit single, a bestselling fitness DVD, his own reality TV series and a massive bill boardcampaign for a mental health charity under his belt, he has been on the celebrity fast-track. He grew up on a farm in Gloucestershire in a family offive children.

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.

Denise Robins

Denise Robins was born in 1897. Known as the Queen of Romance, she wrote over 160 novels, selling more than one hundred million copies worldwide. Robins' characters are as varied as her themes - the protagonists ranging from eighteen to middle age - while the wonderful variety of settings includes London, Paris, the Swiss mountains, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Morocco. She died at the age of eighty-eight on 1 May 1985.

Giles Milton

Giles Milton is a writer and historian. He is the internationally bestselling author of Nathaniel's Nutmeg, Big Chief Elizabeth, The Riddle and the Knight, White Gold, Samurai William, Paradise Lost, Wolfram and Russian Roulette. He has also written three novels and three children's books. His books have been translated into twenty languages. He lives in south London.Find out more about Giles and his books on his website, www.gilesmilton.com, and Wikipedia page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giles_Milton, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/survivehistory and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/Giles-Milton-Writer/121068034610842.