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.

Andy Cope

Andy describes himself as an author, happiness expert, qualified teacher and learning junkie. He has spent 10 years researching 'positive psychology' culminating in a 'PhD in Happiness' from Loughborough University. He has developed a series of keynotes and courses centreing on themes of happiness and flourishing, which he delivers in businesses and schools across the world. Andy has written several best-selling personal development books, including The Art of Being Brilliant, and is also a best-selling children's author. His Spy Dog series has enjoyed huge global success.

Bonnie Hagemann

Bonnie Hagemann is the CEO of Executive Development Associates, a boutique consulting firm specialising in top-of-the-range executive development. She is called on as a subject matter expect for the media, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal and CNN.

Catherine Kaputa

Catherine Kaputa is the award-winning author of You Are a Brand! and Breakthrough Branding. She is a successful branding strategist and speaker and led the 'I Love NY' campaign. Catherine lives in New York City.

David Freemantle

David Freemantle is the founder of Superboss Ltd (www.superboss.co.uk). He is a pioneering author, whose many books include What Customers Like About You (also from Nicholas Brealey Publishing), and is a well-known speaker, respected across the world for his seminars on leadership, people management and customer service.

Geoff Colvin

Geoff Colvin is Fortune's senior editor-at-large and is also the author of Talent is Overrated and The Upside of the Downturn. He has served as moderator of the Fortune Global Forum, where he has interviewed Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Herb Kelleher, Peter Drucker and other business legends. Colvin graduated Harvard cum-laude with a B.A. in Economics, and received his MBA from New York University's Stern School.

Glen David Gold

Glen David Gold was born and grew up in California, where he currently lives. His first novel, CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL was published in 2001, when it was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and has been translated into 14 languages. His second novel, SUNNYSIDE, was published in 2009. His short stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Playboy and McSweeney's.

Henry Kimsey-House

Henry Kimsey-House is one of the first professional coaches in the field. He is the cofounder and lead designer of the provocative, experiential training programs of The Coaches Training Institute (CTI).

Karen Kimsey-House

Karen Kimsey-House is the cofounder and CEO of The Coaches Training Institute and among the earliest recognised luminaries in the coaching profession. She founded CTI in 1992 with Laura Whitworth and Henry Kimsey-House. Together they created the Co-Active philosophy of relationships that informs CTI's world-renowned coaching and leadership programs.

Kelly Palmer

KELLY PALMER, Chief Learning Officer, Degreed. A well-known thought leader on the future of learning and career development, Kelly was the chief learning officer of LinkedIn. Prior to LinkedIn, Kelly was vice president of Learning at Yahoo! and held executive positions in learning, M&A, and product development at Sun Microsystems. She speaks regularly at business conferences around the world, has been featured in Big Think, Forbes, and Chief Learning Officer (CLO) magazine where she writes a regular column on the employee experience.

Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard is Chief Spiritual Officer and Chairman of the Board of the Ken Blanchard Companies. He is the author of a dozen bestselling books - including the blockbuster international bestseller The One Minute Manager and the giant business best-sellers Raving Fans and Gung Ho! - which have combined sales of more than 12 million copies in more than twenty-five languages. He is married with two children and lives in San Diego, California.

Laura Whitworth

Laura Whitworth was the creator of the Co-Active Model with Henry Kimsey-House and Karen Kimsey-House and a recognised leader in the development of the coaching profession.

Mac Bride

Mac Bride is a successful computer author who brings over 20 years of teaching experience to his writing.

Martin Manser

Martin Manser is a professional reference-book editor. He is also a language consultant with national companies and organizations. Martin is Part-time tutor at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London and Part-time visiting lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University.

Matt Avery

Matt Avery is a successful life coach and mentor, whose tried and tested methodologies have been helping people to achieve genuine, lasting happiness for more than a decade.

Nigel Cumberland

Nigel Cumberland is a founding partner of the London based Silk Road Partnership, which provides a range of coaching/mentoring services across the Gulf, Europe and Asia. Clients include the World Bank, Google, Standard Chartered Bank, Commerzbank, Bureau Veritas, Dubai Government, Malaysian Government and Macquarie Bank. He has held various C-Level and Managing Director positions with a number of multinationals and sat on a number of Boards of Directors.

Paul Sean Hill

Paul Sean Hill was the Director of Mission Operations at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Johnson Space Center from 2007 through 2014. He was responsible for all of NASA's human spaceflight mission planning, flight controller and astronaut training as well as Mission Control. Before this, he held a number of senior leadership positions, and from 1996 through 2005 Paul served as a Space Shuttle and International Space Station Flight Director. He supported 24 missions, with leadership roles including planning and leading space station construction in orbit, instrumental leadership in the Columbia accident investigation and returning Shuttle to flight two years later.Today Paul runs Atlas Executive Consulting and is speaks frequently, focusing on universal leadership challenges.

Phillip Sandahl

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

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