Related to: 'Brief Answers to the Big Questions'

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.

John Murray

New Scientist: The Origin of (almost) Everything

Stephen Hawking, Graham Lawton, Jennifer Daniel
Contributors:
Stephen Hawking, Graham Lawton, Jennifer Daniel

Introduction by Professor Stephen Hawking.When Edwin Hubble looked into his telescope in the 1920s, he was shocked to find that nearly all of the galaxies he could see through it were flying away from one another. If these galaxies had always been travelling, he reasoned, then they must, at some point, have been on top of one another. This discovery transformed the debate about one of the most fundamental questions of human existence - how did the universe begin?Every society has stories about the origin of the cosmos and its inhabitants, but now, with the power to peer into the early universe and deploy the knowledge gleaned from archaeology, geology, evolutionary biology and cosmology, we are closer than ever to understanding where it all came from. In The Origin of (almost) Everything, New Scientist explores the modern origin stories of everything from the Big Bang, meteorites and dark energy, to dinosaurs, civilisation, timekeeping, belly-button fluff and beyond.From how complex life evolved on Earth, to the first written language, to how humans conquered space, The Origin of (almost) Everything offers a unique history of the past, present and future of our universe.

Alan And Irene Brogan

Alan and Irene left care with few qualifications and did various jobs (including beach cleaning and seamstressing) until they both decided to return to education. Alan gained qualifications in Quality Assurance and Irene as a Training Instructor, and they both went on to set up their own businesses. After 45 years, Alan and Irene finally found each other again and are happily maried. Alan is now a manager for an international company and Irene is a happy and proud mother, grandmother and housewife. She has lived in the same house for 33 years.

Alice Ozma

Alice Ozma, a Rowan University graduate, lives surrounded by world-class libraries and bookstores in historical Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is passionate about literature, education and working with children. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/aliceozma, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AliceOzma and find out more about her and The Reading Promise at www.makeareadingpromise.com.

Allan Hall

Allan Hall was formerly a New York correspondent for 10 years, first for The Sun and later the Daily Mirror. He then co-founded the Big Apple News media agency and has covered German-speaking Europe for the last eight years for newspapers including The Times, and the Mail on Sunday. He has written a number of books including serveral encyclopedias of crime. He lives and works in Berlin. Michael Leidig has been covering Austrian affairs for the Daily Telegraph as a foreign correspondent since 1995. He is founder of the Vienna-based news agency, Central European News, and founder and editor of three Austrian newspapers including the newly launched Austrian Times. Allan Hall was formerly a New York correspondent for 10 years, first for The Sun and later the Daily Mirror. He then co-founded the Big Apple News media agency and has covered German-speaking Europe for the last eight years for newspapers including The Times, and the Mail on Sunday. He has written a number of books including serveral encyclopedias of crime. He lives and works in Berlin.Michael Leidig has been covering Austrian affairs for the Daily Telegraph as a foreign correspondent since 1995. He is founder of the Vienna-based news agency, Central European News, and founder and editor of three Austrian newspapers including the newly launched Austrian Times.

Ayelet Waldman

Ayelet Waldman is the author of Red Hook Road, Love and Treasure and the New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was made into a film starring Natalie Portman. Her personal essays have been published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Vogue, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.She and her husband, the novelist Michael Chabon, live in Berkeley, California, with their four children.ayeletwaldman.comtwitter.com/ayeletwfacebook.com/ayeletwaldman

Clarissa Dickson Wright

Clarissa Dickson Wright found fame alongside Jennifer Paterson as one half of the much-loved TV cooking partnership Two Fat Ladies. She is the author of the bestselling memoir Spilling the Beans as well as many cookery books including The Game Cookbook and, most recently, Potty - her one-pot cookbook. She is also a passionate supporter of the Countryside Alliance and of rural life. She lives a little in London but mostly in Scotland.

Daniel Tammet

Daniel Tammet is an essayist, novelist and translator. He is the author of Thinking in Numbers, Embracing the Wide Sky, and the Sunday Times bestseller Born On A Blue Day. Tammet is Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). He lives in Paris.

Dylan Jones

Dylan Jones is the Editor of GQ, the most successful upmarket men's magazine in Britain.

Graham Norton

Graham Norton is one of the UK's best loved broadcasters. He presents The Graham Norton Show on BBC1, has a weekly show on BBC Radio 2, and writes a column for the Telegraph. He is the winner of eight BAFTA awards. Born in Dublin and raised in West Cork, Norton now lives in London. His debut novel Holding was a commercial and critical success, winning Norton the Irish Independent Popular Fiction award at the Bord Gáis Irish Book Awards in 2016.

Halima Bashir

Halima Bashir grew up in the remote deserts of Darfur, Sudan, in a loving family that was part of the black African Zaghawa tribe. She proved herself to be academically gifted and went on to be the first person in her village to qualify as a medical doctor. But then war broke out and her life sprialled into an unimaginably dark nightmare. In 2005 she finally sought asylum in the UK where she continues to speak out about the violence in Sudan. In October 2008 she won the Victor Gollancz Human Rights Prize. Halima still lives in the UK with her husband and two sons and they were all granted UK citizenship in 2008.

Helen Brown

Helen Brown is a New Zealander living in Melbourne, where she's a multi-award winning columnist with a huge following. Helen wrote Cleo, the story of the family cat chosen by her son who was killed shortly after in a road accident. Cleo lived to be 24 and was an honoured family member. Cleo was sold in numerous international territories, becoming a bestseller in the UK, US, France, Australia and New Zealand. It provoked an enormous response from readers desperate to know what happened next. Helen's follow-up book is titled Cats and Daughters (in hardback) and After Cleo in paperback and ebook. The film based on Cleo is currently in pre-production. Website: www.helenbrown.com.au

Howard Sounes

Howard Sounes is known for writing detailed and revelatory biographies of a wide range of extraordinary personalities, including the murderers Fred and Rosemary West (Fred & Rose), the American author Charles Bukowski (Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life), and the musicians Bob Dylan (Down the Highway) and Paul McCartney (Fab). Each book is based on extensive original research. For more information visit www.howardsounes.com.

James Frey

James Frey is originally from Ohio. His books A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, Bright Shiny Morning and The Final Testament of the Holy Bible have all been bestsellers around the world. He is married and lives in New York.

Jane Robins

Jane Robins is a distinguished writer and journalist. Her most recent book, THE CURIOUS HABITS OF DR ADAMS, is the chilling true tale of Dr John Bodkin Adams, the family doctor suspected of murdering 160 of his patients in 1950s Eastbourne.

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.

Lesley-Ann Jones

Lesley-Ann Jones is a journalist, newspaper columnist and broadcaster. The author of eight published books, she has enjoyed more than twenty-five years in music and the media. She lives in South-East London with her young children, the eldest having grown up and gone into the music business.

Meg Hutchinson

Meg Hutchinson lived for sixty years in Wednesbury, where her parents and grandparents spent all their lives. Her passion for storytelling reaped dividends, with her novels regularly appearing in bestseller lists. She was the undisputed queen of the clogs and shawls saga. Passionate about history, her meticulous research provided an authentic context to the action-packed narratives set in the Black Country. She died in February 2010.

Melanie McGrath

Melanie McGrath was born in Essex, and is the author of critically acclaimed, bestselling non-fiction (Silvertown and The Long Exile) and won the John Llewelyn-Rhys/Mail on Sunday award for Best New British and Commonwealth Writer under 35, for her first book Motel Nirvana. She writes for the national press and is a regular broadcaster on radio. She writes fiction as M.J. McGrath, and her first novel in the Edie Kiglatuk series: White Heat was longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award and was followed by The Boy in the Snow. The Bone Seeker is the third book in the series. Melanie lives and works in London.

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

Peter Alliss

Peter Alliss was born in 1931, the son of Percy Alliss, one of Britain's leading professional golfers in the 1920s and 30s. Peter himself turned professional in 1947, at the age of sixteen. During his pro career Peter won three British PGA championships, played in eight Ryder Cup teams, and ten teams representing England in the World Cup. He won 23 major tournaments in all.Peter Alliss is now universally known and loved for his golfing commentaries throughout the world, for the BBC in the UK and ABC in the US. For millions of people around the world, Peter Alliss is 'the Voice of Golf'. He was voted by Golf Digest as 'The Best Golf Commentator ... Ever.'