Characters We Love

Last weekend I had the opportunity to meet with Ann Cleeves (at Crime Bake), which was a treat on many levels, one of them being that she has created one of my all-time favorite characters, Vera. Of course, when I tried to tell this to Ann Cleeves I felt like one of those babbling brooks, but I did mean it quite sincerely. Vera has been a good friend to me. So my question is, do you have any fictional characters who you connect to powerfully, and if so, who?

Image result for vera tv show photos

Alexia: I connect to character types more than to a specific character–I connect to strong, independent female characters who use their own wits and courage to get out of situations. Nancy Drew (excluding the awful 1980s Sweet Valley High rip-off Nancy Drew), Alice of Wonderland fame, and Miss Marple are all characters I “get”. I also connect to the hard and cynical on the outside/good guy on the inside character, especially if that character redeems himself (this type of character seems to be mostly male) for past misdeeds by making a sacrifice for someone else. Archie Goodwin, Han Solo, Jame Retief, Rick Blaine, John Lee and Meg Coburn (Chow Yun-Fat’s and Mira Sorvino’s characters from The Replacement Killers), Riddick (Vin Diesel’s character in Pitch Black), and most of the characters portrayed by Jason Statham come to mind.

As for a fictional character I identify with, I’d have to say Ruth Galloway in the series by Elly Griffiths. She’s a forensic anthropologist and provides expert info on bodies found in the north of England where she lives and teaches at a local college. It’s odd that I feel this way since Ruth and I have almost nothing in common. I think it must be the way Griffiths presents her—first person, present tense—that makes her so real in my mind. Usually I don’t like present tense narrative, but Griffiths does it so well, I make an exception for her. Ruth has issues to deal with, not the least being her love for DCI Harry Nelson, with whom she has a daughter. The problem is DCI Nelson has a beautiful wife, four children, and a baby on the way. I always wait impatiently for the next book in the series because I need to find out what happens to Ruth. I’m invested in her as a character, and isn’t that what we want for our readers?

I’m new to the Ruth Galloway series this year and loved my first read… and plan to go back and start at the beginning of the series.

I would love to meet Kinsey Millhone for a glass of bad white wine at Rosie’s. I discovered the alphabet series when “E is for Evidence” hit the book store shelves. I went back and read the first four books in rapid succession. Once I was caught up, I missed Kinsey so much I started reading “E is for Evidence” again. And every Sue Grafton book after it, of course. I’m grateful to have gotten a chance to see Sue Grafton speak at the California Crime Writers Conference in 2013. It was the first writers conference I attended and, to my eternal regret, I was too shy to talk to her. That’s a mistake I no longer make.

I don’t have a strong connection to a character the way I believe you do to Vera. At least not to ‘a’ character. When I started thinking about this, I realized that I feel more of an affinity toward a cast of characters, for example, those in Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury series. I wish I could spend time with them at the pub or Melrose’s house (who wouldn’t want a weekend at Audry End) or even hanging out with Jury when he’s at his London local. 

How about you? Do you have a favorite character?

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