Related to: 'Leadership At Scale'

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.

Adam Becker

Adam Becker is a science writer with a PhD in astrophysics and an undergraduate degree in philosophy. His writing has appeared in the BBC and New Scientist. He has recorded a video series with the BBC and several podcasts with the Story Collider. He is also a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley's Office for History of Science and Technology. He lives in Oakland, CA.

Alvin Hall

Alvin Hall is an internationally renowned financial educator, television and radio broadcaster, bestselling author, and regular contributor to magazines, newspapers, and websites. For five years on the BBC, he hosted the highly rated and award-winning series, Your Money or Your Life, on which he offered both practical financial and psychological advice to people about how to take control of and fix their financial problems. Hall lives in New York City where he designs and teaches classes about the investment markets for financial services companies, banks, regulatory authorities, as well as information and technology vendors.

Ben Hammersley

BEN HAMMERSLEY is a British technologist, journalist, and broadcaster. He is the Prime Minister's Ambassador to Tech City, London's Internet Quarter; and a member of the European Commission High Level Group on Media Freedom. He is based in London.www.benhammersley.comFollow him on Twitter: @benhammersley

Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson is a pastor, author, scholar and poet. He grew up in Montana and earned his B.A. in philosophy from Seattle Pacific University, his S.T.B. from New York Theological Seminary, and his M.A. in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins University. He served as a pastor for 29 years and then became Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, retiring in 2006.Eugene Peterson is perhaps best known for his book THE MESSAGE: THE BIBLE IN CONTEMPORARY LANGUAGE and is also known for his involvement in the Renovaré spiritual formation movement. The books in his spiritual theology series, including THE JESUS WAY and PRACTISE RESURRECTION, are widely acclaimed.Now retired from full-time teaching, Eugene and his wife Jan live in the Big Sky Country of rural Montana.

Fiona Harrold

Fiona Harrold was brought up in Northern Ireland. From an early age, with the encouragement of her father, she immersed herself in the world of self-improvement. Since leaving Northern Ireland in the early eighties, she has single-handedly masterminded her own re-invention several times, transforming herself from political activist to New Age therapist to PR and Life Coach. She now runs a hugely successful Life Coaching agency, and is one of the most high-profile Life Coaches in the country. She regularly appears on TV (This Morning, Lorraine Live and a forthcoming BBC Cutting Edge documentary) and other media.

Gary Keller

Gary Keller is chairman of the board and cofounder of Keller Williams Realty, Inc., one of the largest real estate companies in the world. His New York Times bestselling books have sold more than 1,300,000 copies.

Gary P. Latham

Gary Latham is a professor of Organizational Effectiveness in the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He is also a national board member for the Center for Creative Leadership and Society for Human Resource Management. An active speaker, Latham has addressed numerous companies, including Astra Zeneca, National Commercial Bank of Jamaica, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Latham is the recipient of the first Mike Losey (SHRM) research award.

Gavin Hewitt

Gavin Hewitt has been the BBC's Europe Editor since 2009, and is uniquely placed to write the story of these extraordinary times. Previously he had worked as a Special Correspondent for the BBC Ten O`Clock News and for Panorama. He is an award-winning journalist and has covered stories all over the world. He is the author of two previous books: one on Terry Waite, and A Soul on Ice: A Life in News (2005).Visit Gavin's blog: www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/gavinhewitt/gavin_hewitt/ or follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BBCGavinHewitt

Jocelyn Davis

Jocelyn Davis is an author and consultant with 25 years' experience in the corporate learning industry. Before founding her company, Seven Learning, she was head of R&D for The Forum Corporation, a global leadership development firm. She is co-author of Strategic Speed: Mobilize People, Accelerate Execution (Harvard Business Press) and has published widely on leadership, strategy execution, and workplace learning. Her clients have included companies such as Microsoft, Disney, and Unilever. Known as an exceptional leader herself, she is the recipient of awards for excellence in management and product innovation. She holds an M.A. in Philosophy. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband and daughter. JocelynRDavis.wordpress.com @JocelynRDavis

Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort was born in Queens, New York. He hustled ices to put himself through college, showing early entrepreneurial flair. His first business sent him bankrupt at twenty-four so he went down to Wall St with $100 in his pocket and ended up building one of the largest brokerages in America - the now infamous Stratton Oakmont. A hard partying lifestyle ended in crash and burn. Ultimately indicted by the federal government, Belfort served twenty-two months in prison, and time in rehab. He's now a highly successful motivational speaker.His story has been made into a Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award-nominated film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese.He is currently living in Los Angeles.

Judy Bartkowiak

Judy Bartkowiak's training courses and coaching practice have helped thousands of people to apply the skills of NLP in their everyday lives. She is a qualified NLP Trainer, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Sports Practitioner, NLP Business Practitioner and NLP Children's Practitioner.

Matthew Syed

Matthew Syed is a leading columnist and feature writer for The Times and the host of the UK's biggest podcast: Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy on BBC Radio 5. Matthew also gives business talks to major international corporate clients including. Before becoming a writer Matthew was the England table tennis number one for almost a decade, three times Commonwealth Champion, and he twice represented Great Britain in the Olympic Games.Matthew Syed's first book, Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice, was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. His second, Black Box Thinking, was a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller. He has also published a collection of his award-winning sports columns in The Greatest.

Michael Heppell

Michael is the International Best Selling author of How To Be Brilliant, 5 Star Service, Brilliant Life and Flip It. His books have been translated into 18 languages and are available all around the world. His most recent book Flip It had the distinction of becoming the No. 1 Best Selling Personal Development title in the UK of 2010. Chris Evans enjoyed it so much he invited Michael onto his Radio 2 Drive Time Show saying 'I've read loads of self help books. This is the simplest, this is the best'.

Nick Craig

NICK CRAIG is the president and founder of the Core Leadership Institute, where he guides executives on the journey to discover and lead with purpose. He has worked with organizations including Ben & Jerry's, Heineken, ING Bank, LEGO, Unilever and the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Nicolai Chen Nielsen

Nicolai Chen Nielsen is an Associate Partner with McKinsey Academy, and has been with the Firm for 7 years. Nicolai leads McKinsey's latest research on leadership development at scale, and has designed and delivered leadership development programs in the public and private sectors globally.

Phillip Sandahl

Phillip Sandahl is a senior faculty member of CTI and co-founder of Team Coaching International.

R.T. Kendall

Dr R. T. Kendall is a Christian writer, speaker and teacher who was Minister of Westminster Chapel in London for twenty-five years.He has written many bestselling books including TOTAL FORGIVENESS, TOTALLY FORGIVING OURSELVES and OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE. He is currently president of R.T. Kendall Ministries.

Rob Moore

Rob Moore is a self made property investor, businessman, entrepreneur, best-selling author, world record holder, speaker, pilot & proud dad, who co-owns 7 companies in property, lettings & finance.Rob has partnered with many of the biggest business and household names, featured in prime time TV shows for Living as a business mentor, on Channel 4, the BBC, The Independent and The Business Channel, as well as mentoring success-hungry people who want to achieve more money & recognition in business & life.

Rob Parsons

Rob Parsons is the bestselling author of THE SIXTY MINUTE GRANDPARENT, TEENAGERS! and THE SIXTY MINUTE FATHER. He speaks internationally on family issues and is the Executive Chairman of Care for the Family, a charity committed to strengthening family life and helping others who are hurting due to family breakdown.Care for the Family, launched by Rob in 1988, is a registered charity and its work is motivated by Christian compassion. The resources and support it provides are available to everyone, of any faith or none.Rob lives in Cardiff with his wife Dianne. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.

Rolf Dobelli

Rolf Dobelli (born 1966) is a Swiss writer, novelist and entrepreneur. He has an MBA and a PhD in economic philosophy from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Dobelli is co-founder of getAbstract, the world's leading provider of book summaries. Dobelli has written six works of fiction. Most famously, he is author of THE ART OF THINKING CLEARLY, which became an instant success and landed on the number 1 spot on Germany's official Bestseller list and has been translated in many languages. Dobelli is also founder and curator of ZURICH.MINDS, an invitation-only community of the most distinguished thinkers, scientists and artists.www.dobelli.com www.facebook.com/dobelli