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 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!
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.
Jamie 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: 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.