I’ve returned from a delightful sojourn in Toronto, attending Bouchercon (the World Mystery Convention), but also playing tourist. It’s a beautiful city with distinct neighborhoods, many museums (loved the kimono collection in the Museum of Textiles), a lively theater district, a peace garden (photo on the right), a never-ending labyrinth of underground shops, all filled with the friendliest, most courteous people. What a treat!
Note to Canadian readers–The Sleuth of Baker Street, Toronto’s great mystery bookshop, has freshly signed copies of both Kate Clifford books as well as a number of Owen Archers and Margaret Kerrs!
I had so much fun on the panel Creative Histories. It might have been 8:30 on a Saturday morning, but we were lively: Sylvia Warsh (moderator), A.G. Wong (my companion to the kimono collection), Ovidia Yu, and in the photo below, you see me between Wendi Corsi Staub and Emily Carpenter.
At the convention, a reader asked, “Which characters in your books are your favorites?” I thought about it for a few minutes and then asked, “Favorite in what way?”
Because characters endear themselves to me for many reasons. Some are easy to write–Kate Clifford’s ward Marie Neville–she naturally inserts herself into scenes; Brother Wulfstan and Archbishop Thoresby in the Owen Archers, so clear in my mind that I was immediately in their heads. Some are fun because I never know what will come out of their mouths–Kate’s mother Eleanor is my current favorite in that regard, and Bess Merchet as well. Some touch me deeply, such as Brother Michaelo, the archbishop’s secretary, a character who has gone through such a sea change, a man who yearns for redemption; two young females who lost everything–Alisoun Ffulford and Petra Clifford. Some puzzle me–Sir Elric, Kate’s nemesis–or is he? Maggie Kerr’s friend Hal–does he have a special gift with animals or does he simply pay close attention to them? Some are just dear to me–Owen, Lucie, Bess, Kate, Petra, Berend, Maggie… And some inspire me–Magda Digby is at the top of that list. How can I choose which character is my favorite?
Can you choose just one favorite character?
Hmm. I will have to think about that.
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I have thought about it… My overall favorite character is Owen Archer for all the obvious reasons, but particularly because of his constancy of character. I am confident that there are things that Owen would not do.
My second favorite is Magda Digby. She is quite spiritual in her own way, but questions ritual and religious dogma.
In the Kate books, which I have read twice, I very much like Berend because, like Owen, he is true to what he was and who he now is.
Initially I thought Kate was primarily a survivor, like Joan of Kent in The Triple Knot”, and that survival might need for her to do things she ought not to do. But then, since my great grandmother Martha Rose is descended from the Roos family as is Kate Clifford, that makes me a distant cousin many times removed; she has to be favored.
I have read the Margaret Kerr Trilogy but have not found myself attached to any of the characters. Perhaps it calls for another reading.
Thank you! Owen is constant, isn’t he? It’s very easy for me to fall back into his character. I agree about Magda–Thoresby certainly comes to see her spiritual depth.
I hear from many readers that Berend is a favorite. I find him more interesting the deeper I delve into his character and his past, as you’ll see in book 3. And I’m so glad you like Kate!