Related to: 'Farsighted'

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.

Aaron Gillies

Aaron Gillies, aka @TechnicallyRon on twitter, is a comedian and writer. He has been featured in and written for The Poke, Buzzfeed, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, amongst many others, and has produced viral content from 'Reasons my wife is crying' to 'a short guide to washing machine symbols' and 'a google autocompleted CV'. Aaron has written about mental health for many years in various publications.

Alex Ferguson

Born in Glasgow in 1941, Sir Alex Ferguson was playing football at an international level as a school boy. He began his professional playing career in 1958 with Queen's Park. Four times winner of Manager of the Year, he has been the manager of Manchester United for thirteen years during a time when they have become the most successful and richest club in the world. MANAGING MY LIFE was awarded the British Book Awards' Book of the Year in 1999.Sir Alex Ferguson was born in 1941 in Govan, Scotland. A goal-scoring centre-forward, he was later transferred to Rangers for a Scottish record transfer fee. In 1974, he entered management with East Stirlingshire and St Mirren before joining Aberdeen, where consistent domestic success, followed by victory in the 1983 Cup Winners' Cup over Real Madrid, brought him wider attention.Arriving at Manchester United in 1986, he went on to accumulate 38 trophies, including five FA Cups, 13 Premier Leagues and two Champions Leagues. He was knighted in 1999, following Manchester United's remarkable Treble campaign, and his overall haul of 49 trophies makes him the most successful British manager of all time. Sir Alex announced his retirement in 2013, but he continues to serve United as a director and is a Fellow to the Executive Education Program at Harvard Business School.

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.

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.

Cesar Millan

Founder of the Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles, CESAR MILLAN is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Cesar's Way, Be the Pack Leader, Member of the Family. How to Raise the Perfect Dog and Cesar's Rules. He is the star of The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, the Nat Geo Wild Channel's top-rated show. In addition to his educational seminars and work with unstable dogs, Cesar co-founded the Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping shelters and rescue groups. 'Cesar you're a marvel, an absolute marvel' - Paul O'Grady, The Paul O'Grady Show.'[Cesar] arrives amid canine chaos and leaves behind peace.' - Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker.

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.

Elijah Lawal

Elijah is a PR manager at Google and is passionate about helping underrepresented people grow their careers in creative industries. He was a finalist of the Penguin WriteNow scheme.This is his first book.

Gelong Thubten

Gelong Thubten is a Buddhist monk, meditation trainer and author. In 1993, at the age of 21, he ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk at Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland. He has spent over six years in intensive meditation retreats, the longest of which was 4 years.Thubten is a world pioneer in mindfulness meditation teaching, with over 20 years experience working with businesses, hospitals, schools, universities, prisons and addiction counselling centres. He works with major clients, such as Google and LinkedIn and he designs and delivers mindfulness courses to medical students. Thubten and a neuroscientist collaborated with Ruby Wax on the book How to be Human. He has also created a meditation app called Samten.

Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is one of the most influential writers on the linked subjects of habits, happiness, and human nature. She's the author of many books, including the New York Times bestsellers, Better Than Before and The Happiness Project. A member of Oprah's SuperSoul 100, Rubin has an enormous following, in print and online; her books have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, in more than 35 languages; and on her popular daily blog, gretchenrubin.com, she reports on her adventures in pursuit of habits and happiness. She also has an award-winning podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.gretchenrubin.com twitter | facebook | instagram

Jen Sincero

Jen Sincero is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, success coach and motivational cattle prod who's helped countless people transform their personal and professional lives via her products, speaking engagements, newsletters, seminars and books. Her #1 New York Times bestseller, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, has sold well over two million copies, is available in twenty-plus languages, and continues to grow in popularity around the globe. Her follow-up, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth, also a New York Times bestseller, is written with the same inimitable sass, down-to-earth humor and blunt practicality that made You Are a Badass an indomitable bestseller and Jen a celebrated voice in the world of self development.

Jody Shield

Jody Shield is a top success coach, motivational speaker, wellbeing influencer, award-winning blogger, meditation expert, author and broadcaster based in the UK. Known as the 'glamorous face of mindfulness' by the Daily Mail, and 'a shining light in the new-gen spiritual movement' by Red magazine, Jody is also recognised as one of the top 30 global influencers by Marie Claire magazine. She's the first European meditation ambassador for Lululemon Athletica, and has sell-out residencies across London and LA. Previously a Business Director in advertising, she has first-hand experience of the stress epidemic that plagues the corporate world. Jody has been featured by BBC radio, TALK Radio, Yahoo News, Business Insider, VOGUE.com, the Daily Mail, The Sunday Times, Grazia, Stylist magazine, Red, Psychologies, Women's Health and the Metro.

Michael Moritz

Sir Michael Moritz was born in Cardiff, studied at Oxford and became a journalist at Time magazine in the US in the late 1970s. It was during this period that he met the young Steve Jobs and wrote the first book about Apple, The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer. Moritz co-authored a second business book, Going for Broke: The Chrysler Story, and in 1986 joined Sequoia Capital, in Silicon Valley, California.Sequoia Capital's close alliances with young founders have been transformed into companies now worth nearly $1.5 trillion - the most of any private investment firm in the world. These include the first investments in companies such as Apple and Cisco and, more recently, YouTube, Airbnb, Dropbox and WhatsApp. Michael Moritz has been a member of the Board of Directors of Google, Yahoo!, PayPal and LinkedIn. In 2012 he became chairman of Sequoia Capital and was knighted in 2013. His family's philanthropic work includes Europe's largest scholarship programme for low income university students. The son of refugees from Nazi Germany, he lives in San Francisco with his wife, Harriet Heyman.

Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis founded When to Jump after quitting his job at a pristine investment firm, to pursue his dream of becoming a professional squash player. He has curated a community of like-minded people who have done the same, to share their stories and inspire others to take the jump.

Noor Hibbert

Noor Hibbert is an International Business, Executive & Strategic Intervention Coach, serial entrepreneur and mother. She has a degree in Psychology, a postgraduate qualification in Business Coaching, is a Certified Strategic Intervention coach with Tony Robbin's international training Institute, Robbins-Madanes Training, and is currently completing her Masters in Coaching. She has also been accepted on the elite Forbes Coaches Council.She has created two 6-figure businesses in just two years, whilst raising two small children and embarking on a spiritual journey which has accelerated her success. She regularly travels around the globe, running events in the US, Europe and UK.

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.

Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer, translated into 34 languages and published in 51 countries. Her psychological thriller The Carrier won the Specsavers National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year in 2013. Sophie has written the first new Hercule Poirot mysteries since Agatha Christie's death, which have been national and international bestsellers. The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives have been adapted for television as Case Sensitive, starring Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd. Sophie is also a bestselling poet who has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE and A-level throughout the UK. Sophie is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, two children and dog.

Sophie Sabbage

Sophie Sabbage is an author, speaker, facilitator and patient activist. She has worked in the field of human development and esoteric psychology since 1994, both as a senior trainer with the More To Life educational charity and as the leader of her own business consultancy for twenty years. She has been teaching people to learn from their lifeshocks in diverse contexts for most of her adult life.Following an incurable cancer diagnosis in 2014, Sophie became a passionate patient activist, helping cancer patients around the world to navigate the emotional challenges of the disease and to take charge of their own treatment. Sophie's academic background is primarily in English Literature, having fallen in love with books at an early age. She is an agent of change who measures leadership not by how many followers someone has, but by how many other leaders they create.She is happily married to John Sabbage and is the proud mother of their daughter, Gabriella.

Stephen C. Lundin

Steve Lundin was born in Toronto. He is an anthropologist and an archaeologist, and has worked in the United States and Canada with North American native groups, excavating and preserving prehistoric rock art. He attended the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop, and won a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council to write This River Awakens. He has also published short stories and novellas in Canada (with Anvil and Tsar).

Tim Laurence

Tim Laurence is founder of the Hoffman Institute UK and Director of Hoffman International, who organise the Hoffman Process in 14 countries. He spent much of his adult life in the US and taught at the University of California, Berkeley. He is now married to the actress Serena Gordon and has 2 young sons.Tim Laurence is founder of the Hoffman Institute UK and Director of Hoffman International, who organise the Hoffman Process in 14 countries. He spent much of his adult life in the US and taught at the University of California, Berkeley. He is now married to the actress Serena Gordon and has 2 young sons.

Tomás Navarro

Tomás Navarro is a psychologist who loves people and what they feel, think and do. He is the founder of a consultancy and centre of emotional wellbeing. He currently splits his time between technical writing, training, consultancy, conferences and advisory processes and personal and professional coaching. He lives in Gerona and Barcelona.