Related to: 'Walking to Jerusalem'

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.

Anne Buist

Anne Buist is chair of Women's Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and author of the psychological thrillers, Medea's Curse, Dangerous to Know and This I Would Kill For. annebuist.comfacebook.com/anneebuist@anneebuist

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.

Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom is known and loved by millions for her book, THE HIDING PLACE, which tells how her family protected Jews during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The book launched her into a worldwide ministry of speaking, teaching and writing, which lasted until her death in 1983.

David Bramwell

David is the creator of the bestselling Cheeky Guides and author of travel memoir The No9 Bus to Utopia, ("packed with wisdom, humour and pathos." Tom Hodgkinson, Idler), which has since evolved into an award-winning one man show, Radio 3 documentary and TEDx talk. David is a presenter on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 and has made programs on subjects ranging from time travel to Ivor Cutler. In 2011 he won a Sony Silver Award for The Haunted Moustache. He is a regular contributor to Ernest Journal, co-hosts the Odditorium podcast and has written books on alcohol and hard words for Harper Collins. "A remarkable storyteller." (Radio Times).

Diccon Bewes

Diccon Bewes is a travel writer. A world trip set him up for a career in travel writing, via the scenic route of bookselling. After ten years at Lonely Planet and Holiday Which? Magazine, he decamped to Switzerland, where he managed the Stauffacher English Bookshop in Bern. In addition to grappling with German, re-learning to cross the road properly, and overcoming his desires to form an orderly line, he has spent years exploring Switzerland. Following the incredible success of Swiss Watching he is now a full time writer. See his website at www.dicconbewes.com

Elizabeth Sherill

Elizabeth Sherrill is a prolific Christian writer, based in the USA. She often collaborates on books with her husband John.

Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion is the internationally bestselling author of The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect and The Best of Adam Sharp. graemesimsion.comfacebook.com/GraemeSimsionAuthor@GraemeSimsion

James Bowen

James Bowen is the author of the bestselling A STREET CAT NAMED BOB and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BOB. He found Bob the cat in 2007 and the pair have been inseparable ever since. They both live in north London.

Jo Tinsley

Jo is the editor and publisher of Ernest Journal, an awardwinning digital and printed magazine for the curious and adventurous. It is a guide for those who appreciate true craftsmanship, slow adventure and eccentric history. She worked on the launch team for Countryfile magazine, launched and edited Pretty Nostalgic magazine and co-authored Wild Guide: Devon, Cornwall and South West. She writes regularly for Countryfile, The Simple Things,The Guardian, Independent and greentraveller.co.uk. She has hosted Bristol's Biggest Indoor Picnic and collaborated on events at Wilderness Festival, Port Eliot and Eroica Britannia.

John Mole

John Mole has been at home in Greece for thirty years. "Like Odysseus making his legendary way home to his birthplace Ithaca, the island of Evia was the goal of my life's journey. It was better than Birmingham." He has had a varied international career, from banking in the USA and Athens to jacket potato restaurants in Russia. Meanwhile, he published comic novels and management books, including the perennial bestseller 'Mind Your Manners'.

John Sherrill

John Sherrill is a prolific Christian writer, based in the USA. He often collaborates on books with his wife Elizabeth.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer is the bestselling author of more than 100 inspirational books, including The Power of Simple Prayer, Approval Addiction, Power Thoughts and Battlefield of the Mind. Joyce's 'Enjoying Everyday Life' radio and television programmes are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences.

Levison Wood

Levison Wood is an award-winning author, explorer and photographer who specialises in documenting people and cultures in remote regions and post-conflict zones. His work has taken him around the world leading expeditions on five continents and he is an elected fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club.Levison's second book, Walking the Himalayas, was voted Adventure Travel Book of the Year at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards and his other books, Walking the Nile and Walking the Americas, were both Sunday Times bestsellers. He has presented several critically acclaimed documentaries including From Russia to Iran: Crossing the Wild Frontier where he re-traced part of his Silk Road adventures in a four-part series for Channel 4.

Lucy Neville

Lucy Neville was born in 1983. After completing school she worked as a volunteer on an indigenous reserve in Costa Rica. Returning to Australia she did an Arts Degree in Politics and Latin American Studies before travelling to Spain to study teaching English as a foreign language. From there she continued to Mexico City where she has been living, teaching English, exploring and performing in a minor role in one of Mexico s biggest soap operas, Tequila Loving.

New International Version

The New International Version is the world's most popular modern English Bible translation. Developed by Biblica, formerly the International Bible Society, the New International Version is the result of years of work by the Committee on Bible Translation, overseeing the efforts of many contributing scholars. The translators are drawn from a wide range of denominations and from various countries and they continually review new research in order to ensure the NIV remains at the forefront of accessibility, relevance and authority.www.hodderbibles.co.uk www.facebook.com/NIVBibles

Patrick Leigh Fermor

In December 1933, at the age of eighteen, Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011) walked across Europe, reaching Constantinople in early 1935. He travelled on into Greece, where in Athens he met Balasha Cantacuzene, with whom he lived - mostly in Rumania - until the outbreak of war. Serving in occupied Crete, he led a successful operation to kidnap a German general, for which he won the DSO and was once described by the BBC as 'a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene'. After the war he began writing, and travelled extensively round Greece with Joan Eyres Monsell whom he later married. Towards the end of his life he wrote the first two books about his early trans-European odyssey, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. He planned a third, unfinished at the time of his death in 2011, which has since been edited by Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper and published as The Broken Road.

Peter Hopkirk

Peter Hopkirk travelled widely in the regions where his six books are set: Central Asia, the Caucasus, China, Russia, India and Pakistan, Iran, and Eastern Turkey. He worked as an ITN reporter, the New York correspondent of the old Daily Express, and - for twenty years - on The Times. No stranger to misadventure, he was twice held in secret police cells and has was also hijacked by Arab terrorists. His works have been translated into many languages. All six of his books are available from John Murray: THE GREAT GAME, ON SECRET SERVICE EAST OF CONSTANTINOPLE, SETTING THE EAST ABLAZE, TRESPASSERS ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD, FOREIGN DEVILS ON THE SILK ROAD and QUEST FOR KIM.

Robyn Young

Robyn Young was born in Oxford and grew up in the Midlands and Devon. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Sussex and lives and writes in Brighton full-time. Her first novel, BRETHREN, was the bestselling hardback debut novel of 2006, with the paperback also going straight into the top ten bestseller list. Two more bestsellers followed, CRUSADE and REQUIEM, completing the Brethren trilogy, which has now sold over a million copies and been translated into nineteen languages.The inspiration for Robyn's new trilogy, which began with INSURRECTION and continues in RENEGADE, grew out of an earlier research trip to Scotland. Robyn explains: 'Day by day, out of the pages of history and the wild landscape, one figure came striding, larger, clearer than all the others - Robert the Bruce. He swept me off my feet and carried me into a story of bitter family feuds, two civil wars and the struggle for the crown. I realised there was no way this character could play a cameo role in another man's story. His tale was too powerful, too intricate and too good to be cut down and boxed to fit.'To find out more about Robyn Young and her historical novels, visit her website at www.robynyoung.com and her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RobynYoungAuthor and follow her on Twitter @RobynYoung36

Sally Magnusson

Broadcaster and journalist Sally Magnusson has written 10 books, most famously, her Sunday Times bestseller, Where Memories Go (2014) about her mother's dementia. Half-Icelandic, half Scottish, Sally has inherited a rich storytelling tradition. Her debut novel, The Sealwoman's Gift, was longlisted for the 2018 HWA Debut Crown.

Saul David

Saul David is a historian and broadcaster and is currently Professor of Military History at the University of Buckingham. His many critically-acclaimed books include Zulu, Victoria's Wars and 100 Days to Victory. He has presented and appeared in history programmes for all the major TV channels. Visit Saul's website at www.sauldavid.co.uk and follow him on Twitter @sauldavid66