To announce the release of The Nightingale Before Christmas, my latest Meg Langslow Christmas mystery, I sent out a newsletter, and included a contest, inviting readers to name their favorite character in the series for a chance to win a copy of Homicidal Holidays, the latest in the Chesapeake Crimes short story anthology series.
Those of you who follow the Wicked Cozy blog already know that Meg's father, Dr. James Langslow, was the overall favorite, named by slightly over a third of those responding. (If you want to know their reasons, check out my Wicked Cozy blog.)
But what about the other two thirds of the respondents? What other characters do readers love?
To my complete surprise, Spike, Meg and Michael's nine-and-a-half-pound furball of a dog, came in second. The fact that so many readers have grown fond of Spike, aka The Small Evil One, famous for biting the hand that feeds him—all too often while it's feeding him—shows, I think, how besotted we all are with dogs. And cats, but there isn't a cat with a major starring role in my series. Hmmmm . . .
Anyway, among the reasons readers cited for choosing Spike:
“He is a delightfully written tribute to small dogs who don't know they are small and .convince the rest of the world to go along with them,” Lissa H. says. Mary M. agrees: “I know he’s not a human being, but my favorite 'character' is and has been from the start---Spike. He’s so human in all his appearances. He thinks he’s the size of an elephant and is afraid of nothing. I don’t think I’d want to meet him in person but he sure is fun to read about.” “I happen to be an animal lover. So, I would say Spike is my favorite (Spike is family),” Peggy W. reports.
Tied for third place are Michael, Meg's husband, and her eccentric cousin, Rose Noire.
I wasn't surprised to find Michael was a favorite. “Meg's awesome but, no matter what happens, Michael always seems to stay calm and just 'handle things.' says Marijah S. “From crazy in-laws to his own crazy mom to university politics to obsessed fans to the antics of the twins - nothing fazes him. I work with a lot of actors and I've never met one who stays as calm as Michael does!” Deb C. adds “Love their relationship….loving, carefree, supportive, etc.!” And Margie M. says “My favorite character is the long-suffering, ever-patient and seemingly unflappable Michael. He seems to go-with-the-flow with whatever Meg gets tangled in and still find time to hold a job and be a wonderful dad to Josh and Jamie. Hats off to Michael!”
I was also delighted to find that readers had grown fond of Rose Noire, because I find her a lot of fun to write. “My favorite character in your Meg Langslow series has always been Rose Noire. She reminds me of a roommate of mine during my wild, single, and Birkenstock wearing California days!” Donna K. reports. And Shirley P. notes that “One of my favorite characters is Rose Noire - even though she is kind of spacy, she has a good heart and I'm always intrigued to see what herbal concoctions she is going to make next. BTW, I think you are 'channeling' Stevie Nicks when you dress her.” (And yes, Shirley, definitely channeling Stevie.)
In fifth place was Meg herself—not, I think because readers don't like her, but because I sort of implied in my text that I was looking for characters other than Meg. And a number of other characters got mention or two, either as favorites or also rans. Meg's cousin Horace; her grandfather; her twin sons; her brother, Rob; her grandmother; Chief Burke's wife, Minerva; Mrs. Thornhill, the calligrapher and cat lady from Murder with Peacocks; Stanley Denton, the local PI; Mother's long-suffering friend, Mrs. Fenniman; Dr. Smoot, the vampire obsessed medical examiner; the Shiffley clan; Meg's nephew Eric; Michael's mother; Dr. Clarence Rutledge, the holistic biker veterinarian; the Mutant Wizards—all have their fans.
Even Meg's mother has fans, which is a relief. She is not my mother—I have offered to give Mom an affidavit to that effect—and I'm not sure I could survive living with or even near her. But I've grown curiously fond of her, and it's a relief to see that I'm not alone. “I love the regal untouchability of Mrs. Langslow's character; she has the always-on-top quality of a Georgette Heyer hero,” reports Elizabeth G.
While it wasn't the reason I did this informal and very unscientific survey, I definitely plan to pay attention to the results, and make sure that the characters who are reader favorites all get their time in the spotlight!
And thanks to all of you who love the books—and please keep reading!