Friday Fun – Your Writer’s Wisdom Council

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Welcome to the New Year! Another 365 days of your journey as a writer. Huzzah! Let’s imagine that to help you with all your New Year’s intentions, goals, and plans, that you can assemble a  “Writer’s Wisdom Council” to advise and guide you. And let’s imagine that you can populate this council with a) characters from your favorite books, b) authors (living or dead), or c) a combination of both characters and authors. Who would you choose to sit on your council and why?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson: What a great set of questions for the new year! At first glance I can’t think of any helpful characters that could help guide me other than my own characters – I could easily get distracted by other worlds if I let other characters in. But, again, first glance. For authors who I’d like on my council: Stephen King, as I’m a long time admirer of his work and would hope to glean some of his discipline for writing as well as how he develops characters from scratch. Would also love to learn how he manages to keep track of so many characters! Diana Gabaldon because she writes long (Outlander series) and is so detailed, that I’d love to learn how she creates such vivid worlds and characters that are now on the screen and feel as though they walked right off the page. Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock to learn about their passion for mysteries, short and long and how they determine red herrings – the clue itself, when to put it into the story, all of it. That’s a start to my ‘council’ anyway!

J.A. Hennrikus, aka Julianne Holmes, author of the Clock Shop Mysteries.

Julie Hennrikus: I had the great good fortune of interviewing Elizabeth George, and I would put her on my council. She’s smart, talented, and a teacher. I would also add Jane Austen to the group. Her books stand the test of time, and I’d like to meet her. Annie Lamott is a wonderful writer, and a spiritual guide. Fictional characters? Robert B. Parker’s Spenser would be a charming addition.

JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: I’m still mulling my choices, but here’s who I have so far:


  • Cynthia Rylant because my daughter and I enjoyed so many of her wonderful stories as bedtime reads over the last decade, and because her collection of short, interrelated stories – The Van Gogh Cafe – is one of my favorite books ever. Rylant is a very down-to-earth but creative storyteller who brings warmth and whimsy into everything she writes.
  • Ursula K Le Guin because she is wonderful at creating worlds and the characters and stories to bring them to life. The time I spent in her Earthsea was one of the literary experiences that inspired my love of fantasy. Also because she is one tough old broad who says what’s on her mind. I love reading her blog where she talks about stories and the publishing industry and writing and current events. I always come away feeling smarter.
  • Brenda Ueland because her book, If You Want to Write – A Book About Art, Independence, and Spirit, is probably my all-time favorite book on the craft of writing. She is a champion and cheerleader of the highest order.
  • My Mom because she is always my first reader, has an excellent sense of story, is great at solving problems, always makes me laugh, and is the best damn editor I know.


  • Gandalf/Robinton/Merlin because whether he hails from Middle Earth, Pern, or King Arthur’s realm, a wise old wizard with a good grasp of magic and a healthy sense of humor is always an asset. Granted, Robinton wasn’t actually a wizard (he was a Masterhaper), but it kind of amounts to a similar role. My guess is that all three of these venerable gentlemen will be quite busy, so maybe they can do a job share with a spot on my council.
  • Mina from David Almond’s books Skellig and My Name is Mina because I love the way she sees the world, her big heart, and her creativity. I think she’d be great at providing unique perspectives.
  • A dragon, perhaps from Pern or maybe from some other story. I always wanted to be a dragonrider of Pern, but I have fallen in love with many dragons over the years. I would like a large and classically European dragon who is fierce, but has a gentle heart and deep wisdom. I’d also like for him to have a sense of humor and not be opposed to giving rides through full moon skies on occasion.
  • Jim Qwilleran the millionaire/columnist/accidental detective from Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who … series of cozy mystery novels. I’m not really entirely sure why I’d like Jim on my team, except that he seems like he’d make everything a little extra fun, he has wonderful siamese cats, and he doesn’t drink, so he’d make a good designated driver for field trips.
Deborah Lee Luskin, M. Shafer, Photo

Deborah Lee Luskin,
M. Shafer, Photo

Deborah Lee Luskin: Writers? Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson, two women who lived quietly and wrote their gory truths; Marilynne Robinson, whose trilogy (Gilead, Home, and Lila) is consuming me at the moment, and Kent Haruf, another writer of place. As for characters? Anne Elliot and Jane Eyre – characters who do the hard, right, thing every time. But there are so many others. I’m grateful for advice wherever I find it.

27 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Your Writer’s Wisdom Council

  1. I think I’d go international. First, Mary Ann Evans, aka, George Eliot. Anything she says about writing would have to be good. And to keep her in good company her old friend, Anthony Trollope, whose knowledge of human character would always be welcome. Honore de Balzac because of his deep perception of the human condition. But not Tolstoy…he’d try to take over. But yes, Chekhov, so sensitive a writer, his input would be invaluable. I agree with Deborah on Emily Dickinson, a definite must. Yasunari Kawabata, for sure. He would definitely liven up the room. Mystery writers Agatha Christie and P.D. James would be an interesting pair. One of Japan’s great female haiku writers, Chiyo-ni. Her haiku are exquisite. She would bring quiet wisdom into the room. Oh, I would also have to have Sara Orne Jewett. Indispensable.

    Whooooeee. I’d better stop there. Characters? That’s for another day! Great idea! Thanks.

    • Your list makes me feel dreadfully under-read. 😉
      Love your picks and your reasons. Sounds like that would be one heck of a council!

  2. This is a fun idea!

    Jacqueline Wilson would have to hold a chief seat on my council, as I’ve always loved her books and she’s been in the game for so long that I think she’d make a great publishing cheat-sheet.

    Dianna Waynne Jones would be on the council as well, as she was one of the best children’s authors at balancing childlike glee with very real characters, young girls especially.

    Tolkein, because I’d like to meet him more than anything else, which is a bit of a cheat, because as far as writing goes his work is an apple and mine is an orange.

    Tamora Pierce, being published so young you can really see her grow up through her work, and I’d love to hear first hand accounts of how she’s grown and learnt as shes improved. I think it would be really enlightening.

    • I wanted to put Tolkien, too … and also Neil Gaiman, but I felt like I’d be too intimidated by them. Is that silly? Probably. After all, this isn’t a Real World council.

      I haven’t read any of Tamora Pierce’s work, but she’s been recommended to me many times and is on my To Read list. Any favorites you can recommend?

      • I did um and ah about Tolkein a little, language creation seems a bit out of my league, but I just couldn’t resist.

        I would recommend her Protector Of The Small series first, it’s one of her later ones so it’s a bit more refined, and for me it’s got the perfect amount of ‘girl power’ mixed in with all the fantasy knight school set up that we all know and love. It’s the series of hers I always find myself returning to, and the one I always get begged to read when the in-law-sprogs are round.

      • Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve added First Test to my Goodreads To Read list. 🙂 Bonus – sounds like something my daughter might like, so I’ll have her check it out, too.

        Yay! Love having new books to look forward to.

  3. C.S Lewis, E.B white, William Zinsser, Anne Lamotte, and Lauren Winner and i just want to be Jane Eyre. I feel so lucky to have access to all these amazing authors who actually are my wisdom council so often, and too so many of all of you who we don’t know each other and yet i am constantly learning and growing from your wisdom. I find myself taking little pieces here and there until some day i can return the favor! Happy New Year

    • I also love E.B. White! Great pick. 🙂
      And – yes – as you’ve pointed out, these people are our wisdom council. We may not be able to speak with them directly, but we can hear the advice they would give us by reading their work. Excellent point.


  4. Writer: Jerome K Jerome- although he wrote towards the end of the 19th Century his humour and insights into human nature are still relevant today

    • I love writing that stands the test of time – it’s like a kind of immortality magic, isn’t it?

      • It is indeed! In his book ‘Second thoughts of an Idle Fellow’ he describes his experiences with the then new telephone- just change ‘phone’ to ‘computer’ and it is comically accurate.

  5. Glad to have been reminded of Ursula K. Le Guin – memories of picking up one of her books at an expat May Fair years ago and starting off on a binge of well-written sci-fi. I’d put Doris Lessing on the Wisdom Council too. Incidentally, she’s also in the same top quality sci-fi league with her “Canopus on Argos” archives.

  6. Great question. With out a doubt, I’d put Etty Hillesum of An Interrupted Life on my list, along with Richard Wright, whose Black Boy changed my life, and then I’d put Ruhiyyih Khanoum whose life’s episodes is found in the Maxwells of Canada; she was the wife of the Guardian of the Baha’i Faiith, and I’d put Howard Colby Ives of Portals to Freedom fame, and H. Balyuzi, whose writings on the Baha’i Faith and so many others. But I’m going back to other books too; out in the world. Certain Pema Chodron, sorry Pema, no umlauts on my keyboard that I can operate. The woman who wrote Half the Yellow Sun and other books, Americanah, Mary Karr, definitely-her latest book on memoir is so fabulous; she’s real and knowledgeable; what a fusion of character and Roger White, a poet who wrote “to everything but anquish the mind will soon adjust” taken I think from Witness to Pebbles, his finest volume of poetry; it shivers with wonder. The author of the Orphan Master’s son, and j. Watson, I think British Author, and I’d have to go to Goodreads to get the authors I raved about. May Sarton influenced me immensely. She is the reason I write. I would have a lot of people around the table like The Na Si Coats, and people who knew the debths of racism, and the author of the Last War, the best in depth book about racism I’ve read, and John Griffiths for his black like me, and anyone whose books were a pilgrimage to solace the sorrow-laden soul, and those who sacrified themselves to humanity for its progress and obliteration of horrors that seems to hold humankind captive in this age where we are coming out of a global adolescence. This is just what rolled out; so much more is left unsaid.

  7. Dear sorry gnat, Why have you left off your name? Are you a writer? And if so, how does one find books you have written if you don’t include your name?Thank you, Gayle Hoover

    • Oh thank you; yes I am writer and author; few tire rings around my literary self; don’t ask how often I think of myself as a tree. I go by SorryGnat as there is a quote somewhere about spiritual process; one can go from being a sorry gnat to a giant eagle. I also teach the Courage to Write to varied workshops in Pasadena, and among those workshops is one for homeless women. We women rock.
      My book Without A Net: a Sojourn in Russia, and You Carry the Heavy Stuff, later book; poetry, essays, from falafel to white spaces, to border guards, to twin dying, to whatever I troll upon in life. Am working on memoir. and have a novel 2nd draft.
      I have copies of these. Lulu carries You Carry the Heavy Stuff; amazon too, but I never receive payments via Amazon to Lulu; have to straighten that out.
      Without A Net went into several printings and at present, I am distributor; Amazon should have it; my manager died and I’m more haphazard about marketing. thanks for asking

  8. The first book I read was the Harry Potter set of stories. I would place Harry Potter in the characters. He not only is a wizard but from J.K. Rowling’s works, a boy with the power of love, nothing but love. I would also like to have Sherlock Holmes with me, he gives me great inspiration about my detective and mystery stories. I would like to add two women, Liesel Meminger from the book thief and Catherine Linton from Wuthering Heights.
    It is not easy to chose few writers as there are so many as my favourites. I would add J.K Rowling, Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis and H.G Wells.

  9. C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells, Oswald Chambers, Colleen McCullough (her Thorn Birds novel cannot be forgotten). On any panel I would like to have a cross section of folk to inspire…from all writing perspectives from different countries ie the wealth of Australian writers and brilliant authors of legends and dreams. The Bronte Sisters and Charles Dickens WOW! Thanks for the blog. Makes me grateful for all the years of reading and the variety of genres explored. Like Yashi above I agree someone who had the power to inspire and the goal was love only love. This would hold it all together.

  10. Reblogged this on Ciarfella's Fiction Corner and commented:
    So a post on “Live to Write, Write to Live” by Deborah Lee Luskin caught my eye this morning about forming your own “Writing Wisdom Council.”
    In it, she asks if you could form your own “writing wisdom council” with any combination of favorite authors (dead or alive), favorite characters, and or both, what would your’s look like?
    And I thought, why not start the debate here.
    So, I’ll kick it off for us.
    My writing council would be of course populated by the great Raymond Chandler; his iconic predecessor Dashiell Hammett; fifties master of the noir, Jim Thompson, and his current doppelgänger, Hollywood’s one and only, Paul D. Marks.

    Just who, might be on your list, and why?

  11. Pingback: Friday Fun – Your Writer’s Wisdom Council | Ciarfella's Fiction Corner

  12. I would like to hitch up a Uhaul at Vroman’s bookstore, sweep in and add a load of incredibly written books from those shelves to my list. it’s to difficult to narrow down. I want what you all have put above. I feel my counsel would be stadium sized; oh dear.

  13. Pingback: Monday Muse: – Your Writer’s Wisdom Council | Ciarfella's Fiction Corner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s