We are so happy Donna Andrews could join us today.
When my latest book, The Nightingale Before Christmas, came out, I notified the readers on my email mailing list with a short newsletter. Since I also had a Meg Langslow short story—and a Christmas story at that–in Homicidal Holidays, the latest book in the acclaimed Chesapeake Crimes short story anthology series, I decided to have a drawing to give away a few copies of Homicidal Holidays. And to make the giveaway more fun, I asked people who entered to tell me “which of Meg’s friends and family members is your favorite character?”
A hands-down winner emerged: over a third of the readers who responded chose Meg’s father, Dr. James Langslow, as their favorite. Since Dad was inspired by my own father, this doesn’t displease me at all. Not even the fact that Dad got more votes than Meg herself, because the way I asked the question did rather suggest that I meant “other than Meg”–although in spite of that, a few people simply listed her as their favorite and others began their emails with variants on “well, apart from Meg herself, of course.” But Dad was definitely the winner.
I didn’t require people to tell me why they chose the characters they did, but many of them did anyway—which was really kind of cool. I wasn’t planning a survey, but that’s what it turned out to be. I thought I’d share some of the reasons people cited for choosing Dad as their favorite—with the authors’ permission, of course.
“I like his zest for life, and his resemblance to the Elephant’s Child–who was full of ‘satiable curiosity,” Sue Kamm says.
“He seems to be such a Renaissance man with so many interests and hobbies,” reports Lauri Walker. “I just get a kick out of him with every book.”
“He has mellowed over the last few books,” Sharon Kay says. “He is not as manic. Dad is a wonderful person, gave his children a life-long interest in animals, flora, medicine and mysteries whether they wanted it or not.”
“Dr. Langslow is the perfect combination of confusion, intelligence, and curiosity in a fumbling, bumbling, eager-puppy sort of way,” Happy Herbert says. “He’s very endearing, and I love when he gets involved in the actual escapades, not merely just rushing in to apply some medical skills. I would enjoy seeing him and Meg team up to solve a mystery/crime.”
“He’s hilarious, smart, inquisitive and tackles everything with gusto!” according to Peggy Woods. “He’s always ready to offer his medical services and thinks that Meg is capable of anything.”
Maureen Niford calls him “adorably bumbling but also brilliant,” and Denese reports that “Even after thinking about it for a while, I’m going with the first character to pop into my head: Meg’s dad. He’s just so likeable!”
“He is quirky, and fun,” Jessie Secrest says. “I think that he is more intelligent than what he lets on in the stories–he is a doctor. He is always encouraging his children and grands from a more sidelines role, allowing them to grow and shine. He’s just cool.”
“I think the character who makes me happiest when he enters the scene is Meg’s dad,” says Elizabeth Gosney. “Who can resist Dr. Langslow’s childlike enthusiasm and unfailing confidence in Meg’s ability to solve any problem?”
I think if Meg’s dad were reading this, he’d be blushing with pleasure, and perhaps exclaiming some variation on Sally Field’s famous “You like me, right now you like me!” But you don’t need to worry about him getting a swelled head—in another five minutes he will be off to treat a particularly fascinating medical case or collect cuttings from an interesting new (and probably poisonous) plant cultivar. And there’s nothing more exhilarating for a writer than to know her characters resonate with the readers—though I, too, am unlikely to get puffed up because all too soon I will be trying to think up another plot, with the added pressure of worrying about whether I’m giving not only Dad but all the reader favorites a large enough role.
But who else turned out to be a reader favorite? I’m keeping that a secret for now. Partly because I’m going to reveal the rest of the survey results later this month at the Femmes Fatales blog—and partly so I can offer a challenge: if you can guess which character came in second in my informal reader poll, you’ll be entered to win a copy of Homicidal Holidays. Heck, I’ll even throw in a second copy to be randomly given away to someone who guesses wrong.
Donna Andrews was born in Yorktown, Virginia, the setting of Murder with Peacocks and Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos, and now lives and works in Reston, Virginia. When not writing fiction, Andrews is a self-confessed nerd, rarely found away from her computer, unless she’s messing in the garden.
Readers do you have a favorite character from Donna’s books?