If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30. It is now also available in audio.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Robert Langdon Addiction

My name is Paula, and I’m a Robert Langdon addict.

I admit it. I can’t help myself.

Yes, this is another WWK blog about Dan Brown’s novels. I know Shari Randall has written beautifully about having to force herself from the Inferno rollercoaster in her June 17, 2013 message. But, as I said, I can’t help myself.

I love Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels which include (in publication order rather than movie order): Angels and Demons (dealing with the Illuminati and the Catholic Church), The DaVinci Code (searching for the Holy Grail), The Lost Symbol (concerning freemasonry), and Inferno (exploring Dante Alighieri’s work and depiction of Hell). Like Shari, I feel as if I must consume each novel whole once I start, but my addiction goes beyond the fascination with the nonstop action and historical mysteries. It attaches to the protagonist himself. Robert Langdon. Who could ever imagine a Harvard college professor of religious iconology and symbology (a fictional field of study) to be so very appealing?

Why do I feel such affinity for this character? And why is he marketed as a “person”? See for instance, The Official Robert Langdon website at:

Attraction is hard to analyze, but here are a few thoughts:

(1) He’s an unapologetic bachelor, who enjoys female companionship, but never feels guilty or unusual about being alone in the world. Except for elderly women or nuns, female protagonists often deliberate or get questioned about choosing a single lifestyle, no matter how accomplished they may be at a particular profession.

(2) He’s a true Male in Jeopardy--how often do you see that? And, he doesn’t fall into the trap many Women in Jeopardy characters do. He’s resourceful, courageous, and not stupid. He doesn’t go into dark places just because of what he might find there. He reasons out how to react to situations and goes into the unknown with a plan. Even though he may be inept in executing the plan.

(3)  He’s thoughtful and funny and self confident, but he's not stuck on himself. He realizes he’s no super hero--often readily admits it--and doesn’t try to be one.

(4) He’s a good lecturer. I know, those flashbacks to his class and conference presentations are pure info dumps, but he’s like your favorite professor, you’ll follow him down that rabbit hole because it’s sure to lead to something interesting. Something you thought you understood that suddenly has a different twist. Even if you know what he’s explaining, being on a level with his expertise makes you feel superior.

(5) He travels to unique places and has fascinating friends. Besides he always gets to go behind the scenes of tourist attractions.

(6) His eidetic (photographic) memory comes in handy, particularly for solving codes.

(7) He wears Harris tweeds. So preppy, yet unassuming. Sure, they are an expense, but what else does he have in his life besides adventure?

(8) He’s got an Achilles’ heel. Not something wriggling and venomous like Indiana Jones' snakes, but a phobia anyone might encounter--of being closed up in a narrow place. And, the reason behind his fear makes him even more endearing: as a child he fell into a well and remembers the horror of being stranded there.

(9) He’s sweetly sympathetic to the women who intrude upon his life. Sometimes, there’s a hint of a sexual relationship (example Vittoria Vetra in Angels and Demons), but, now he’s older, in Inferno, he’s almost like a father figure.

(10) He wears a vintage Mickey Mouse watch, a gift from his parents, that reminds him to always be “young at heart.” It also links Langdon’s admiration for Walt Disney, a prolific user of symbols in animation, to Langdon’s career choice.

Robert Langdon is portrayed in the movies by Tom Hanks, who has Langdon’s charming qualities. Hanks is not how I pictured Langdon as I read the books. I saw Langdon as a thinly veiled Dan Brown, mostly because of the character description and author photo. According to Wikipedia, that was Brown’s intention and the reason Brown gave Langdon his same birth date, birthplace, and school background.
Picture of author Dan Brown, copyright by Dan Courter
In a May 13, 2009 article at http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1611240/how-does-tom-hanks-robert-langdon-fare-against-other-crime-fighters.jhtml, Tom Hanks responded to a question from Eric Ditzian and Josh Horowitz about how Robert Langdon would place in a fight among Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Sherlock Holmes. Hanks suggested that Jones and Bond would duke it out first; then Holmes would take on and triumph over the winner of that contest; and, in the end, Holmes and Langdon would resolve the matter by a game of chess. While filming The DaVinci Code, Hanks remembered a point where Langdon was knocked out cold by the villain and the female lead had to come to the rescue. Hanks asked, “What kind of action hero is this?” Yet, Hanks said he enjoyed playing characters that depended upon “synapes of the brain as opposed to reflexes in the muscle.”

Picture of Tom Hanks from the movie Angels and Demons (Sony Pictures)
That’s a pretty good description of Robert Langdon. 

Would I marry Robert Langdon? Definitely not. Too high maintenance. But, I would go out on a date with him. Maybe several. Particularly if we traveled by private jet to Italy, France, Scotland, D.C., or other intriguing locations.

So, give me a call, Robert. I’m ready for a rollercoaster experience. I’ll even help you save the world from destruction. As long as I can be back to work on Monday.

Does anyone else have a character addiction?


E. B. Davis said...

Martha Grimes's Melrose Plant is one of my favorite characters. Richard Jury can frustrate me, but Plant never does. He's devious with good intent.

I loved Robert Parker's Spenser and Hawk. They were deadly alone or together, but they both thought about their destructive pursuits with a knowing morality. They were restrained and concise.

John Rebus, Ian Rankin's main character, who will no longer provide us company since Rankin closed the series. (*#@$##) He drank too much and loved the Stones. Knew what he was up against with the under and over worlds. He reminded us we were human and that was our salvation. The alternative sucked.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Paula - Thanks for a lighthearted start to the day! I had never considered the Male in Jeopardy aspect to the Langdon character - I think that is part of what I like about the stories. He has to think his way out of trouble and needs someone else (often a woman) to do the cool physical stuff like busting down doors, escaping from underground medieval grottoes, etc.
I checked out the Robert Langdon site and it is kind of goofy. There's a contact button where you can send questions to the famous symbologist himself, so I sent him an email. I'll let you know if he gets back to me.

Gloria Alden said...

I've never read Dan Brown, but I love Lord Peter Wimsey, Laurie R. King's Sherlock Holmes and Louise Penny's Armand Gamache, to name a few. I recently started Carla Damron's Caleb Knowles series and found I really like him. I also found James Montgomery's Seamus McCree another new favorite, and I can't wait for the second in his series. One can only feel sorry for KM Rockwood's Jesse Damon and admire him for his ability to survive all his hardships and persevere. Running out of space here, so I'll end now.

Shari Randall said...

Drat! My email to Robert Langdon bounced back. Now I'll never know what his favorite color is. You'd think a world famous Harvard symbolist (and his publisher) would make sure his links worked....
Other character addictions? I could list so many but my newest is Cass Neary, Elizabeth Hand's punk, drug addicted photographer. She's so messed up, but is one of the most compelling characters I've stumbled upon. A ferociously dark character - a total train wreck - but you can't help but admire her life force.

Warren Bull said...

Easy Rawlins from the books of Walter Mosley, for sure and Elmore Lenoard's Raylan Gibbins.

Paula Gail Benson said...

E.B., Shari, and Gloria, thanks for some great reading recommendations. I love Spenser and Hawk, Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell, and Armand Gamache, too. Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar, with Windsor Horne Lockwood, III, "Win," is another favorite. I wonder if I find Win and Robert Langdon so appealing because they are so preppy? Actually, I think Win is interesting because he is so lethally loyal to Myron. Shari, I meant to try the Robert Langdon email, but didn't have a chance. Sorry it bounced back on you. It did seem a unique marketing technique.

E. B. Davis said...

Oh Warren--I love Easy Rawlins too!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Yes, I enjoyed the Spenser series very much too. I enjoy Dan Brown's Langdon--though I was a bit put out when some people asked me if I'd borrowed from Brown's Inferno for my novel The Inferno Collection. I had to remind them that my novel was first published in hardcover in 2007, even though Harlequin Worldwide Mystery just brought out a new paperback edition in April.

Kara Cerise said...

I didn’t realize that Dan Brown created Robert Langdon as a fictional alter ego. I imagine it’s easier to write a believable character if you’re writing about yourself or the self you want to be. I might try a writing exercise where I’m the character but living a different life.

I have heard that Brown hangs upside down on a piece of gym equipment when he has writer’s block and needs inspiration. But I don’t remember Langdon doing that.

B.K. Stevens said...

I share Gloria's addiction to Lord Peter Wimsey. And I think I fell in love with just about all the protagonists Dick Francis ever created--in some ways, they were all basically the same person, but I never got tired of them. I found Lieutenant Columbo addictive, too.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Warren and Bonnie, what wonderful suggestions. Thanks.
Jacqueline, I am definitely checking out your Inferno Collection. Sounds intriguing.
Kara, I read that too, that Brown battled writer's block by hanging upside down. Robert Langdon probably couldn't manage. It would remind him of his well experience!

Sarah Henning said...

Like Shari, I totally agree and love the idea of Langdon as a "male in jeopardy" which is totally and utterly true and really makes him likable.

Patg said...

Langdon's job and interest appealed to me, but I didn't find 'him' the main interests in the stories. I like what he goes after, the real truths of truths we've been brainwashed into believing. I know the writing isn't great, but that's the beauty and difference between a good writer and a great story teller.
My all time favorite male character is Cotterill's Dr. Siri.

Anonymous said...

I have a few favorites who aren't mainstream mystery characters. The ones who come to mind are Hamish MacBeth in the series by M.C. Beaton(one of our dogs is named after him) and Dan Mallet in the series by Frank Parrish.

Yurii Luchkiv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

If you are fan of Robert Langdon or Dan Brown's books you can try this app. Enjoy :)

Robert Langdon Adventure