Related to: 'Private Parts'

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.

Akala

Akala is a BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, writer and social entrepreneur, as well as the co-founder of The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company. With an extensive global touring history, Akala has appeared at numerous festivals both in the UK and internationally, and has led innovative projects in the arts, education and music across South East Asia, Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand. Akala has also appeared on Channel 4, ITV, MTV, Sky Arts and the BBC promoting his music and poetry, and speaking on wide-ranging subjects from music, race, youth engagement, British/African-Caribbean culture and the arts, with numerous online lectures and performances that have millions of views on YouTube. More recently known for his compelling lectures and journalism - he has been awarded an honorary degree from Oxford Brookes University and the University of Brighton, written for the Guardian, Huffington Post and the Independent, and spoken for the Oxford Union and TEDx - Akala has gained a reputation as one of the most dynamic and articulate talents in the UK.

Alex Loyd

Dr Alexander Loyd, PhD, ND, is the international bestselling author of The Love Code (hardcover title Beyond Willpower, Harmony, 2015) and The Healing Code (Grand Central Life & Style, 2011). He has been featured live on NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and PBS news programs as an expert in healing the source issues underlying illness and disease. Dr Alex lectures all over the world in person and on radio, Internet, and television, with approximately 150 speaking engagements a year. With little money and no advertising, he built the largest practice of its kind in the world, with hundreds of thousands of clients in 50 states and 167 countries (and counting). He lives in Leipers Fork, Tennessee, with his wife Hope and sons Harry and George.

Alice Vinten

Alice Vinten spent ten years as an officer in the Metropolitan Police. Now in her thirties, she lives in Leigh-on-Sea with her two sons.

David Perlmutter

Dr David Perlmutter is president of the Perlmutter Health Centre in Naples, Florida, and the co-founder and president of The Perlmutter Brain Foundation. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American College of Nutrition and the Linus Pauling Award. A frequent lecturer, he writes a blog at VanguardNeurologist.com and is a contributor to The Huffington Post. His previous books include Grain Brain and The Grain Brain Cookbook.

Dr Mike Shooter

Dr Mike Shooter CBE is a former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and was the first child psychiatrist to hold that post. He is now an honorary fellow of six Royal Colleges and has spoken from public and professional platforms, written and advised governments in many parts of the world. An ex-journalist, Mike is a passionate believer in the power of stories and the need to share them - those of his patients and his own. He still lives in the Welsh Valleys, amidst a large family, many animals, and the community with whom he worked for more than 40 years.

Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand grew up in Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where she was a teaching/writing fellow. She now lives with her husband and their three children on Nantucket, Massachusetts, where her novels are set.You can follow Elin on Twitter @elinhilderbrand or find out more on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/ElinHilderbrand.

Esther Perel

'Hello, I'm Esther... I imagine a world where we experience a sense of aliveness and vitality in our relationships, because the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. I've dedicated my life and career to understanding and improving human relationships. Let's continue to learn together.'Psychotherapist Esther Perel is recognised as one of the most insightful and original voices on modern love. She has changed the conversation on what it means to be in love and have a fulfilling sex life.. For the past ten years, she has worked with hundreds of couples who have grappled with infidelity. Betrayal hurts, she argues, but healing is possible. An affair can even be the doorway to a new marriage - with the same person. With the right approach, couples can learn from these tumultuous experiences, together or apart. Weaving real-life stories with incisive psychological and cultural analysis, Perel invites readers into a truly revealing exploration of modern marriage. She coaches, consults and speaks regularly on erotic intelligence, trauma, sexual honesty and conflict resolution. She is the bestselling author of Mating in Captivity and her TED Talk has reached 6.5 million views online.

Funmi Fetto

Funmi Fetto, a former beauty director of British Vogue and currently Contributing Beauty Editor and Columnist at the title, has over 15 years experience as a fashion and beauty journalist. She has worked and written for numerous publications including the Sunday Times, Harpers Bazaar, the Telegraph, Guardian, Observer, and Elle. She also consults for and collaborates with numerous global beauty brands.

Henry Blofeld

Henry began writing about cricket, for The Times, in May 1962 and in 1972 he started his long career as a commentator with the BBC's Test Match Special. During his career he has written for numerous papers and broadcast for both radio and television for many networks around the world especially in Australia and New Zealand. Between 1991 and 1993 he joined Sky Television before returning to Test Match Special after the death of Brian Johnston early in 1994. Since 2002 Henry Blofeld has performed in his humorous one-man show in theatres all round the country, and later he teamed up with his former TMS producer, Peter Baxter, for more than 250 two-man shows. He also had a successful partnership with England Spin Bowler, Graeme Swann. Henry now tours the country with his one man show.

Henry Normal

Henry Normal is an English comedian, television producer, poet and writer. He co-wrote The Royle Family, The Mrs Merton Show, Paul and Pauline Calf's Video Diaries, Coogan's Run, The Tony Ferrino Phenomenon, Dr Terrible's House of Horrible and The Parole Officer. He is Managing Director of Baby Cow Productions Ltd, which he set up with Steve Coogan, responsible for bringing The Mighty Boosh and Gavin and Stacey to the screen, amongst many others.

Holly Bourne

Holly Bourne is a bestselling author. She is passionate about gender equality and mental health. How Do You Like Me Now? is her debut adult novel.

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.

Katja Pantzar

Helsinki-based writer, editor and broadcast journalist Katja Pantzar was born in Finland and raised and educated in Canada. A freelance member of the Finnish public broadcasting company Yle's news team, Pantzar is a regular contributor to Blue Wings, the inflight magazine of Finnair, and Helsinki correspondent for Monocle 24. She is the author of three guides to Helsinki: The Hip Guide to Helsinki, Helsinki by Light and 100 Things to Do in Helsinki. Finding Sisu is the first book Pantzar has written that will be published outside of Finland.

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.

Lorna Byrne

Lorna Byrne has been seeing and talking to angels since she was a baby. Now that her family is raised she talks openly about what she has learned. She lives quietly in rural Ireland. She is the author of the international bestsellers Angels in My Hair, Stairways to Heaven, A Message of Hope from the Angels and Love From Heaven. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. For more information, visit www.lornabyrne.com or follow Lorna on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lornabyrneangels

Mary Jane Grant

Mary Jane Grant is an experienced writer, a professor of creative thinking, a consultant in marketing, and a student of mindfulness. She divides her time between London and Toronto.

Monty Don

MONTY DON is a well-known gardening writer and broadcaster. He lives with his family, garden and dogs in Herefordshire. His previous books include the Sunday Times best-seller Nigel and Paradise Gardens.@TheMontyDon/themontydon

Padraig O'Morain

Padraig O'Morain is a psychotherapist, trained counsellor and mindfulness teacher based in Dublin with over 25 yearss experience and has taught mindfulness for more than a decade.

Ruth Davidson

Ruth Davidson is the leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and the MSP for Edinburgh Central. First elected in 2011, she won the party leadership later that same year, becoming - at the age of 32 - the youngest leader of a major political party anywhere in the UK as well as the first openly gay leader in UK history.Prior to politics, Ruth worked as a journalist. Starting in newspapers, she moved into broadcasting. Spending the majority of her career at the BBC, she worked variously as a presenter, producer, reporter and documentary maker.She lives in Edinburgh with her fiancé, Jen, their first child, Finn, and cocker spaniel, Wilson.

Sara Cox

Sara is known and loved to millions of Radio 2 listeners, variously hosting Sounds Of The 80s, regularly standing in for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, and steering the helm of her own nightly Radio 2 show. She cut her teeth on Radio 1 and presented The Breakfast Show for 4 years, reaching 8 million listeners.Sara's TV career began with the notorious The Girlie Show, and she went on to present numerous shows for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.Her most recent TV work includes The Great Pottery Throwdown (BBC2), Back In Time For Tea (BBC2), and BBC2's dating series Love In The Countryside.She is a regular co-presenter of Radio 4's Loose Ends, and has written columns for the Mirror and Guardian.From January 2019 Sara wll become the Radio 2 Drivetime presenter.