Related to: 'Whale Done!'

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.

Carol O'Connor

Dr Carol O'Connor is the author of eight business books and director of Vision in Practice Ltd, a leadership development consultancy and publisher. She has spent more than 30 years teaching, writing and consulting about leadership, innovation and strategic thinking. She sees her role as preparing leaders to identify strategic goals, clarify performance standards and retain talent that supports organizational growth. Her client list is global and her books have collectively been translated into more than 20 languages. Current projects include the publication of a series of business workbooks for under 25-year-olds in developing nations - with apps in support of key topics - and working at the London School of Economics and Political Science in support of its entrepreneurship programmes.

Clare Pooley

Clare Pooley graduated from Newnham College, Cambridge and spent twenty years in the heady world of advertising before becoming a full-time mum. Clare lives in Fulham, London with her long-suffering husband, three children, dog and a cupboard filled with alcohol-free beer.Clare is the author of the hugely popular blog, Mummy was a Secret Drinker, under the pseudonym Sober Mummy.

Claudio Feser

Claudio Feser is a Senior Partner and one of the founders of McKinsey's Leadership Development practice. Claudio has been in the Firm for 25 years and has published several leadership books, including Serial Innovators, When Execution Isn't Enough, and Growing Leaders.

Clive Steeper

Clive Steeper has been a business leader and change executive for over 25 years. His career includes several roles as Managing Director in the UK, USA and Asia. Central to his success has been Clive's ability to help leaders effectively navigate through change, and get the best from their people. Now as an executive coach, consultant and facilitator, he works internationally with many different organisations ranging from public bodies and international corporations to fast-growth businesses.

Eleanor O’Reilly

Eleanor O'Reilly is a teacher of English and Classical Studies who has just completed an MA in Creative Writing, at Manchester Metropolitan University. Having first started writing five years ago, she has received several literary prizes, including the 2015 RTE Francis McManus Radio Short Story Award and the 2013 William Trevor International Short Story Award, and has been shortlisted for several others, including the 2016 Colm Toibin Literary Award. She lives in Ireland with her husband Brian Kelly, their daughter Ella Kelly, and a whole menagerie of pets. M for Mammy is her debut novel.

Emily Dean

Emily Dean is a writer and radio presenter. She is Frank Skinner's co-host on the award-winning Frank Skinner Show (Absolute Radio) and currently presents a hugely successful podcast for The Times called Walking the Dog. She spent eight years as Deputy Editor of InStyle magazine and has written for titles such as The Times, the Evening Standard and You magazine. She lives in London, supports Arsenal and her career highlight was when Mark Gatiss called her 'sci-fi royalty' due to her childhood role in BBC cult series Day of the Triffids.

Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt served as Google's CEO from 2001 to 2011. During that time he shepherded the company's growth from a Silicon Valley start-up to a global technology leader that today has over $55 billion in annual revenues and offices in more than 40 countries. Eric is now Google's executive chairman.

Jessica Andrews

Jessica Andrews writes fiction and poetry. She grew up in Sunderland and has spent time living in Santa Cruz, Paris, Donegal, Barcelona and London. She has been published by the Independent, Somesuch Stories, AnOther, Caught by the River, Shabby Doll House and Papaya Press, among others. She teaches Literature and Creative Writing classes and co-runs literary magazine The Grapevine, which aims to give a platform to under-represented writers.jessica-andrews.com

Jonathan Rosenberg

Jonathan Rosenberg joined Google in 2002 and managed the design and development of the company's consumer, advertiser, and partner products, including Search, Ads, Gmail, Android, Apps, and Chrome. He is currently an advisor to Google CEO Larry Page.

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.

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.

Lily Pebbles

Lily Pebbles has been blogging since 2010 and is one of the pioneers of the industry. She's amassed a league of loyal followers of her blog and self-named YouTube channel for content that covers beauty, style and advice. Lily is also the co-creator and co-host of the podcast 'At Home With...'. The F Word is her first book.

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.

Michael Rennie

Michael Rennie is a former Senior Partner and Global Head of McKinsey's Organization Practice. Michael was at the Firm for over 30 years and pioneered McKinsey's approach to culture change more than 20 years ago. He has published The Performance Culture Imperative.

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.

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.

Ranulph Fiennes

Sir Ranulph Fiennes was the first man to reach both poles by surface travel and the first to cross the Antarctic Continent unsupported. In the 1960s he was removed from the SAS Regiment for misuse of explosives but, joining the army of the Sultan of Oman, received that country's Bravery Medal on active service in 1971. He is the only person yet to have been awarded two clasps to the Polar medal for both Antarctic and the Arctic regions. Fiennes has led over 30 expeditions including the first polar circumnavigation of the Earth, and in 2003 he ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents in aid of the British Heart Foundation.In 1993 Her Majesty the Queen awarded Fiennes the Order of the British Empire (OBE) because, on the way to breaking records, he has raised over £14 million for charity. He was named Best Sportsman in the 2007 ITV Great Briton Awards and in 2009 he became the oldest Briton to reach the summit of Everest.

Robert Greifeld

Robert Greifeld was CEO of Nasdaq from 2003 to 2016. He was Nasdaq's first CEO from outside the financial world and turned Nasdaq into a leading participant in the exchange and technology sector, delivering trading, listing, intelligence, and public company services across six continents. Late in 2015, Nasdaq's market value crossed $10 billion for the first time. During his tenure, he led Nasdaq through a series of complex, innovative acquisitions that extended the company's footprint across the world.

Sameer Rahim

Sameer Rahim has worked in literary journalism for ten years, and is now managing editor of Prospect Magazine, having been formerly arts and books editor. In 2013, his essay In the Shadow of the Scroll: reconstructing Islam's origins won a William Hazlitt essay prize.