Related to: 'Nobody's Child'

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.

Hodder Paperbacks

Fighting on the Home Front

Kate Adie
Authors:
Kate Adie
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Into Danger

Kate Adie
Authors:
Kate Adie
Hodder Paperbacks

Corsets To Camouflage

Kate Adie, (In Assoc. With Imperial, The Imperial War Museum
Authors:
Kate Adie, (In Assoc. With Imperial, The Imperial War Museum

Alan Titchmarsh

Alan Titchmarsh is known to millions through the popular BBC TV programmes British Isles: A Natural History, How to be a Gardener, Ground Force and Gardeners' World. But he started out in far humbler beginnings, in a rural childhood on the edge of Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire.After a spell at Kew he became a horticultural journalist, as an Editor of gardening magazines, before becoming a freelance broadcaster and writer.He has twice been named 'Gardening Writer of the Year' and for four successive years was voted 'Television Personality of the Year' by the Garden Writers' Guild. In 2004 he received their Lifetime Achievement Award.Alan has appeared on radio and television both as a gardening expert and as an interviewer and presenter, fronting such programmes as Points of View, Pebble Mill, Songs of Praise, Titchmarsh's Travels and Ask the Family, and since 1983 has presented the BBC's annual coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show. He now has his own daytime TV show on ITV, The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Alan has written more than forty gardening books, as well as seven best-selling novels, including his 2008 success, Folly, which have all made the Sunday Times Bestsellers List. Alan has published three volumes of memoirs; Trowel and Error sold over 200,000 copies in hardback when published in 2002, and Nobbut A Lad, about his Yorkshire childhood, was published in October 2006 with similar success, and his third volume of memoir Knave of Spadeswas a Sunday Times bestseller.He was made MBE in the millennium New Year Honours list and holds the Victoria Medal of Honour, the Royal Horticultural Society's highest award. He lives with his wife and a menagerie of animals in Hampshire where he gardens organically.

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson, best known for his work with the Beach Boys, is one of popular music's most revered figures. The main creative force behind some of the most cherished recordings in rock history and one of the most influential composers of the last century, Wilson became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2007. A father of seven, he lives with his wife in Beverly Hills, California.

Catherine Townsend

Born in Arkansas, USA, Catherine Townsend was a gossip columnsist for New York Magazine, before moving to the UK. She wrote the weekly sex and dating column 'Sleeping Around' in the Independent and regularly contributed to several newspapers and magazines. She now lives in Los Angeles and writes for Marie Claire and Fabulous Magazine.

Claire Lorrimer

Claire Lorrimer wrote her first book at the age of twelve, encouraged by her mother, the bestselling author Denise Robins. After the Second World War, during which Claire served on secret duties, she started her career as a romantic novelist under her maiden name, Patricia Robins. In 1970 she began writing her magnificent family sagas and thrillers under the name Claire Lorrimer. She is currently at work on her seventy-first book. Claire lives in Kent.

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.

Constance Briscoe

Constance Briscoe practises as a barrister and in 1996 became a part-time judge - one of the first black women to sit as a judge in the UK. She lives in Clapham with her two children, Martin and Francesca. Her partner is Tony Arlidge QC.

David Ashton

DAVID ASHTON was born in Greenock in 1941. He studied at Central Drama School, London, from 1964 to 1967, and most recently appeared in The Last King of Scotland and The Etruscan Smile. David started writing in 1984 and he has seen many of his plays and TV adaptations broadcast - he wrote early episodes of EastEnders and Casualty, and twelve McLevy series for BBC Radio 4.inspectormclevy.com

Deborah Devonshire

The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire was brought up in Oxfordshire. In 1950 her husband Andrew, the 11th Duke of Devonshire, inherited estates in Yorkshire and Ireland, as well as Chatsworth, the family seat in Derbyshire, and Deborah became chatelaine and housekeeper of one of England's greatest and best-loved houses. Following her husband's death in 2004, she moved to a village on the Chatsworth estate. She died in 2014.

Dickie Bird

Born in 1933, the son of a miner, Dickie Bird has spent a life 'married to cricket'. He was signed up to play for Yorkshire age 19, and played on the county circuit for the next 13 years. In 1979 he became a Test match umpire. The announcement that he would umpire his final Test at Lord's in June 1996 signalled the end of an international career which has won him worldwide affection as the finest umpire in cricket history.

Fay Weldon

Fay Weldon is well-known at home and abroad as a novelist, playwright, critic and screenwriter, several of whose novels have been adapted for film and television, including THE LIFE AND LOVES OF A SHE DEVIL.For more information about Fay and her work, visit her website: http://www.fayweldon.co.uk.

Gervase Phinn

Dr Gervase Phinn is a teacher, freelance lecturer, author, poet, educational consultant and visiting professor of education. For fourteen years he taught in a range of schools, then acted as General Adviser for Language Development in Rotherham before moving on to North Yorkshire, where he spent ten years as a school inspector - time that has provided much source material for his books. He has four grown up children and four grandchildren and lives near Doncaster. Visit Gervase's website, www.gervase-phinn.com.

Gloria Hunniford

Gloria Hunniford was the first woman to have her own daily show on BBC Radio 2 and went on to present Holiday, Songs of Praise and most recently The Heaven and Earth Show. Her daughter Caron Keating died of breast cancer in 2004. Gloria set up the Caron Keating Foundation to raise money for people affected by cancer. She lives with her second husband Stephen in Sevenoaks, Kent.

Irma Kurtz

Irma Kurtz was born in New Jersey and grew up in New York. After graduating in English Literature from Barnard College, Columbia University in 1956, she moved to Europe - first to Paris and then to London where, in 1970, she joined the brand new Cosmopolitan as its first Agony Aunt. Over her years in London, Irma Kurtz has contributed to virtually every national paper and is a frequent broadcaster on radio and TV. She moved to Bloomsbury after twenty years in Soho, London, and describes herself as a 'last-time buyer'. She also keeps a small hiding-place in an unfashionable region of northern France. The mother of a son, Irma Kurtz became a grandmother in March 2005.

Jasvinder Sanghera

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE was born and brought up in Derby. A survivor of a forced marriage, she is the co-founder of Karma Nirvana, a national project that supports both men and women affected by honour-based crimes and forced marriages. Jasvinder is also an international speaker and a Leading Expert Advisor to the Courts in child and criminal proceedings. Her memoir SHAME was a Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller. Jasvinder has brought the issue of forced marriage into the public eye and helped the Forced Marriage bill go through Parliament. She has won numerous awards for her work including a Metropolitan Police GG2 Diversity Award in 2005. In 2007 she received one of the prestigious Women of the Year awards. Jasvinder was made an Honorary Doctor of the University of Derby in 2008. She was awarded a Pride of Britain Award in 2009 and was named a Cosmopolitan Ultimate Woman of the Year in 2010. In 2011 the Guardian listed Jasvinder amongst the top 100 inspirational women in the world.

Jenny Tomlin

Jenny Tomlin was born and brought up in east London. She has two children and lives happily in France. Jenny is a bestselling author and children's rights campaigner.

Jeremy Kyle

Jeremy Kyle is a television and radio presenter, best known as the controversial host of The Jeremy Kyle Show, which has broadcast on ITV1 five days a week for the last five years, recently celebrating its 1000th episode. He also writes regularly for the Sun newspaper and Pick Me Up magazine, and has spent twelve years on radio where he currently hosts his own show on talkSPORT. Jeremy's first book, I'm Only Being Honest, was a Sunday Times bestseller and You Couldn't Make It Up is his second book. He lives in Berkshire with his wife Carla and has four children.

Joann Fletcher

Professor Joann Fletcher is based in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, where she teaches world mummification and funerary archaeology. She is also Consultant Egyptologist for Harrogate Museums and Arts and archaeology advisor to Barnsley and Wigan museums. Joann is the author of nine books and numerous articles including contributions to the BBC's History website. Among her many television appearances, the follow-up programme to 'The Search For Nefertiti' (televised as 'Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret') won a BAFTA, a Royal Television Society Award and an Association for International Broadcasting Award. She wrote and presented 'Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings' and 'Egypt's Lost Queens' for BBC2, and has recently completed a four-part series on the history of ancient Egypt again for BBC2.