07-17-2011 10:57 PM
07-17-2011 11:01 PM
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. She is a member of
- Sisters in Crime
- Mystery Writers of America
- Private Investigators and Security Association
For more information on what Donna has been up to, check out
- Caving 101
- Caving 102
- Rockclimbing 101
- Surviving PI school
- My windshield adventure
- Return to Mudhole(caving photos)
Or check out her new blog.
Donna Andrews is an American mystery fiction writer of two award-winning amateur sleuth series. Her first book, Murder with Peacocks (1999), introduced Meg Langslow, a blacksmith from Yorktown, Virginia. It won the St. Martin's Minotaur Best First Traditional Mystery contest, the Agatha, Anthony, Barry, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice awards for best first novel, and the Lefty award for funniest mystery of 1999. The first novel in the Turing Hopper series (You've Got Murder, 2002) debuted a highly unusual sleuth—an Artificial Intelligence (AI)personality who becomes sentient—and won the Agatha Award for best mystery that year.
07-17-2011 11:02 PM
The Meg Langslow series
- Murder with Peacocks (1999)
- Murder with Puffins (2000)
- Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos (2001)
- Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon (2003)
- We'll Always Have Parrots (2004)
- Owls Well That Ends Well (2005)
- No Nest for the Wicket (2006)
- The Penguin Who Knew Too Much (2007)
- Cockatiels at Seven (2008)
- Six Geese A-Slaying (2009)
- Swan For The Money (2009)
- Stork Raving Mad (in hardcover, July 2010)
- The Real Macaw (to be released in July 2011)
A Murder Hatched: Collects the first two Meg Langslow novels. Released in 2009 by Macmillian, under its Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books imprint.
Meg Langslow short stories
- "Night Shades" in Chesapeake Crimes (2004)
- "Birthday Dinner" in Death Dines In, Claudia Bishop and Dean James, editors (2004)
The Turing Hopper series
- You've Got Murder (2002)
- Click Here for Murder (2003)
- Access Denied (2004)
- Delete All Suspects (2005)
- "The Haire of the Beast" in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner (2008)
- "A Rat's Tale" in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, September–October 2007
- "Cold Spell" in Powers of Detection, Dana Stabenow, editor (2004)
- "An Unkindness of Ravens" in The Mysterious North, Dana Stabenow, editor (2002)
- "Spellbound" in Unusual Suspects, Dana Stabenow, editor (2008)
- "The Plan" in Chesapeake Crimes: They Had It Comin' (2010)
07-17-2011 11:03 PM
Donna Andrews has won many industry awards for her fiction. As of 2009 she has earned 3 Agatha Awards, 1 Anthony Award, 1 Barry Award, 2 Lefty Awards, 2 Toby Bromberg Awards and 1 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award. Andrews has also been nominated for 3Dilys Awards.
'Murder with Peacocks'
- 1999 Agatha Award for Best First Novel
- 2000 Anthony Award for Best First Novel
- 2000 Barry Award for Best First Novel
- 2000 Lefty Award
- 2000 Finalist for Dilys Award
- 1999 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best First Mystery
'You've Got Murder'
'Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon'
- 2003 Agatha Award nomination for Best Novel
- 2003 Toby Bromberg Award for Most Humorous Mystery
- 2004 Finalist for Dilys Award
'We'll Always Have Parrots'
'Owl's Well That Ends Well'
- 2005 Agatha Award nomination for Best Novel
'The Penguin Who Knew Too Much'
- 2007 Agatha Award nomination for Best Novel
"A Rat's Tale", Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - Sept/Oct. 2007
- 2007 Agatha Award for Best Short Story
'Six Geese A-Slaying'
- 2008 Agatha Award nomination for Best Novel
'Swan For the Money'
- 2009 Agatha Award nomination for Best Novel
- 2010 Lefty Award nomination[7
07-17-2011 11:06 PM
07-17-2011 11:08 PM
Meg Langslow's eccentric parents have a new hobby--growing roses and entering them in highly competitive shows. Dad's gardening skill and Mother's gift for selecting and arranging the blossoms should make them an unbeatable team--and Meg is relieved they've taken up such a safe, gentle hobby. She even volunteers to help when the Caerphilly Garden Club sponsors its first annual rose show.
But after a few hours of dealing with her parents' competitors, Meg is worried. Rose growers are so eccentric that they make Meg's family seem almost normal, and so competitive that they will do nearly anything to take home the show's grand prize--making them prime suspects when Meg discovers that someone is attempting to kill the wealthy woman on whose estate the competition is being held. Of course, the intended victim had other enemies--her treatment of her farm animals had aroused the interest of several animal welfare activists, including Meg's zoologist grandfather.
Meg tries to leave detecting to the local police and focus on protecting her parents' chances to win the coveted Black Swan trophy, but she soon finds herself compelled to solve the crime before any more rose growers die.
It's Swan for the Money, two for the show, three to get ready...now go Meg go!
07-17-2011 11:10 PM
Meg is eight and a half months pregnant with twins when Michael asks if she wouldn't mind another houseguest. One of his doctoral students is directing his new translation of a play by a minor Spanish playwright, and the playwright has agreed to come to town for the production.
Senor Mendoza turns out to be a drinker, a smoker, and an inveterate partygoer. Before long, Meg's kitchen is filled with the smells of Spanish food and the voices of all the wilder souls in both the drama and Spanish departments. Into this chaos arrive two prune-faced administrators, the dean of the English department and a man from the college president's office, who say that the play must be canceled.
When the dean is found murdered, Meg's house becomes a crime scene, and the only way to restore peace is to help Chief Burke solve the murders---while rescuing the student's dissertation and Michael's tenure---all before dashing off to the hospital to give birth to her twins!
07-17-2011 11:11 PM
During a 2am feeding for her four-month-old twins, Meg Langslow hears an odd noise and goes downstairs to find her living room filled with dozens of animals--cats, dogs, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs, and a stunningly foul-mouthed macaw.
She soon learns that financial woes have caused the local animal shelter to repeal its no-kill policy. Her kindhearted father, her zoologist grandfather, and other like-minded citizens have stolen all the shelter's animals, both as a gesture of protest and to protect them until the hated policy can be repealed. But the volunteer who was to transport the animals to new homes has been murdered. Was it the victim's tangled love life that drove someone to murder? Or the dark secrets behind local politics? And will Meg ever succeed in finding homes for all the animals that have landed in her life?
07-17-2011 11:15 PM - edited 07-17-2011 11:16 PM
The Real Macaw
"Stop!" I hissed. "Bad dog! Don't you dare bite me!"
Spike, aka the Small Evil One, froze with his tiny, sharp teeth a few inches from my ankle. He looked up and growled slightly.
From one of the cribs across the room I heard another of the faint, cranky whimpers I'd detected over the baby monitor. Jamie always woke up slowly and fussed softly for a few minutes, which gave us a fighting chance of getting to the nursery to feed him before he revved up to cry so loudly that he woke his twin brother. Josh never bothered with any kind of warning, going from fast asleep to wailing like a banshee in two seconds or less.
"I mean it," I said to Spike. "No more treats. No more sleeping in your basket here in the nursery. If you bite me again, you're out of here. Back to the barn."
Do animals understand our words, or do they just pick up meaning from tone of voice? Either way, Spike got the message.
He sniffed at my ankle. Pretending to recognize my scent, he wagged his tail perfunctorily. Then he trotted back to his basket, turned around the regulation three times, curled up, and appeared to fall asleep.
I tiptoed over to Jamie's crib in time to pick him up and shove the bottle in his mouth a split second before he began shrieking.
I settled down in the recliner and leaned back slightly. Not for the first time, I felt a surge of gratitude to my grandfather, who had given us the recliner and helped me fight off all of Mother's attempts to banish it as an eyesore in the nursery she had decorated so elegantly in soft tones of lavender and moss green.
Eventually, Jamie finished his milk and fell asleep. I gazed down at him with maternal affection--and maybe just a guilty hint of gratitude that he and his noisier brother were, for the moment, both fast asleep and not demanding anything of me.
I pondered whether to get up, put him in his crib, and go back to bed, or whether it would be just as efficient to doze here until Josh woke up for his next bottle. If I dozed here, I could turn off the baby monitor and make sure Michael got a full night's sleep, so he'd be well rested for teaching his Friday classes.
Or should I rouse myself to pump some milk for the boys' next meal? I glanced at the clock--a little after two a.m. Dozing was winning when an unfamiliar noise woke me up.
It was a dog barking. And not Spike's bark, either. At eight-and-a-half pounds, Spike tried his best, but could never have produced the deep basso "woof!" I'd just heard.
Or had I just imagined it? I wriggled upright and stared over at Spike.
He was sitting up and looking at me.
"Did you hear anything?" I whispered.
He cocked his head, almost as if he understood.
We both listened in silence for a moment. Well, almost silence. I could still hear the faint, almost restful sounds of the white noise machine we ran at night to minimize the chances of some stray sound waking up the boys.
Just as I was about to relax back into the recliner, I heard another noise. This time, it sounded more like a cat meowing.
Spike lifted his head and growled slightly.
"Shush," I said.
There was a time when shushing Spike would have egged him on. But almost as soon as we'd brought the twins home, he had appointed himself their watchdog and guardian. His self-assigned duties--barking whenever he thought they needed anything, and then biting anyone who showed up to take care of their needs--were made all the more strenuous by the fact that in spite of all our efforts, the boys maintained completely opposite sleep schedules, so there was nearly always at least one twin awake and requiring Spike's attention. After four months, like Michael and me, he'd learned to grab every second of sleep he could.
He curled back up on the lavender and moss green cushion in his bed and appeared to doze off. He looked so innocent when asleep. An adorable eight-and-a-half-pound furball. What would happen when the boys started crawling, and mistook him for a stuffed animal?
I'd worry about that later.
I sat up carefully, to avoid waking Jamie, and managed to deposit him, still sleeping, on the soft, lavender flannel sheet in his crib. I glanced over to make sure Josh was still snoozing in his own little moss-green nest. Then I tiptoed over to the nursery door, opened it, and listened.
I could hear rustling sounds that weren't coming from the white noise machine. Soft whines. An occasional bark. Meows. Cat hisses.
Probably only someone in the living room watching Animal Planet on the big-screen TV and being inconsiderate about the volume. Most likely my brother Rob, and it was just that sort of behavior that had inspired us to get the white noise machine.
But white noise wouldn't keep the growing commotion downstairs from waking Michael, who had to work tomorrow. Or five-year-old Timmy, our newly acquired long-term houseguest, who needed to be up early for kindergarten.
Unless of course Timmy was downstairs with Rob, watching television on a school night again.
Definitely a dog, and not Spike, and it sounded a little too immediate to be coming from the television. Had Rob, miffed that Spike had deserted him for the twins, acquired a new four-legged friend? Or perhaps the local burglars were celebrating "Bring Your Dog to Work Day."
I turned the monitor back on, slipped out of the nursery, and closed the door behind me. Now that I didn't have the white noise machine to mask it, I could hear rather a lot of animal noises. A few barks and yelps. And an occasional howl that sounded more like a cat. Definitely not burglars, unless they'd stopped in mid-crime to watch Animal Planet. Time to go downstairs and see what was up. I didn't exactly tiptoe, but I moved as quietly as possible. If someone had smuggled in a contraband menagerie, I wanted to catch them red-handed.
I stopped long enough to peek into the guest room that had become, for the time being, Timmy's room. He was fast asleep with his stuffed black cat clutched under one chubby arm. Under any other circumstances, I'd have been tempted to fetch the digital camera and take a photo I could email to his mother to prove that yes, he'd settled in fine and was enjoying his stay. And maybe ask again if she knew just how long that stay would be. But that could wait. I shut his door to keep out the increasing din from downstairs and crept downstairs to track the din to its source.
No dogs festooning the tall oak staircase or lurking in the front hall. I even glanced up at the double-height ceiling, because my first martial arts teacher had railed about how most people never looked up and were thus remarkably easy to ambush from above. No dogs or cats perched on the exposed beams, and no bats or ninja hanging from the chandelier.
I stopped outside the wide archway to the living room, reached inside to flip on the light switch, and stepped into the room.
"Oh, my God!" I exclaimed.
The room was entirely filled with animals.
A dozen or so dogs, ranging in size from terriers to something not much smaller than a horse, were in the middle of the floor, lapping up water from several serving dishes from my best china set. Bevies of cats were perched on the oak mantel and on the tops of the bookshelves, some gobbling cat food from antique china dishes while others spit and hissed at the dogs and uttered unearthly howling noises. One irritable-faced Persian was hawking strenuously, apparently trying to launch a hairball at Michael's and my wedding photo.
Several rows of crates and animal carriers were ranged up and down both sides of the room, some empty, while in others I could see eyes and noses of dogs and cats peering out at their liberated brethren and perhaps wondering when their turn for the food and drink would come.
A tiny black kitten was licking the oriental rug--had we spilled milk there, or did he just like the taste of rug?
A Siamese cat had ventured down from the mantel and sat on atop a leather photo album on our coffee table, fixedly eyeing a cage in which a small brown hamster was running frantically in his wheel, as if hoping that he could propel the cage away from the cat with enough effort. Several less anxious hamsters and guinea pigs gazed down from cages perched on other bits of furniture.
On our new sofa, an afghan hound sprawled with careless elegance, like a model artfully posing for a photographer, its white fur vivid against the deep turquoise fabric.
"Hiya, babe! How's about it?"
A bright blue parrot was fluttering in a cage just inside the door. I eyed him sternly, and he responded with a wolf whistle.
"Meg! Uh . . . what are you doing awake at this hour?"
My father had popped up from behind the sofa. He was holding a small beagle puppy in each hand. The two puppies were struggling to get at each other, and from the soprano growling that erupted from behind the sofa, I suspected there were other juvenile beagles still on the floor, tussling.
"I was feeding the boys," I said. "What the hell are you and all these animals doing here?"
Read more here: http://www.donnaandrews.com/excerpts/excerptmacaw.
07-17-2011 11:17 PM
Frequently asked questions
Here are the answer to some of the questions I get asked rather often...
(Okay, only one question so far, but I'm working on it.)
I like to read a series in order. Can you tell me the order of your books?
For the Meg Langslow series:
- Murder with Peacocks
- Murder with Puffins
- Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos
- Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon
- We'll Always Have Parrots
- Owls Well That Ends Well
- No Nest for the Wicket
- The Penguin Who Knew Too Much
- Cockatiels at Seven (July 2008)
- Six Geese A-Slaying (October 2008)
- Swan for the Money (August 2009)
- Stork Raving Mad (July 2010)
- The Real Macaw (July 2011)
A Murder Hatched is not a new book in the series--it's a rerelease, in one volume, of Murder with Peacocks and Murder with Puffins.
There are also two Meg short stories available in anthologies:
"Night Shades" in Chesapeake Crimes
"Birthday Dinner" in Death Dines In
They don't have to be read in any particular order, but if anyone cares, "Night Shades" probably takes place at some time between Puffins and Flamingos, and "Birthday Dinner" probably happens before Peacocks.
For the Turing Hopper series:
- You've Got Murder
- Click Here for Murder
- Access Denied
- Delete All Suspects
So what's up with Turing? Will there be any more books?
Not from Berkley, but I do plan to continue with Turing when I get the chance. And since I've had discussions with a smaller publisher who's very interested in continuing the series, it's mainly a matter of scheduling.
Question: Are your books available in large print/as ebooks/as audiobooks?
Answer: Some of them. I'd love for all of them to be available in every format possible, but that decision's up to the publishers involved, not me.
Here's a roundup of the versions I know about.
- Large print:
So far, all but the latest in the Meg series have been issued in large print. Some are out of print, but used copies are generally available through online sellers.
- Murder with Peacocks (Thomas H. Beeler)
- Murder with Puffins (Thomas H. Beeler)
- Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos (Thorndyke)
- We'll Always Have Parrots (Thorndyke)
- Owls Well That Ends Well (Thorndyke)
- No Nest for the Wicket (Thorndyke)
- The Penguin Who Knew Too Much (Thorndyke)
- Cockatiels at Seven (Thorndyke)
Of the Turing series, two are available in large print:
- Access Denied (Thorndyke)
- Delete All Suspects (Thorndyke)
Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon and We'll Always Have Parrots are available on tape and CD from Books on Tape and as a download from Audible.com
Cockatiels at Seven and Six Geese A-Slaying are available in Kindle versions
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes, and maybe one of these days I'll put some of it up here. If I can think of anything that isn't covered very well by one of the many excellent books out there on writing. Speaking of which--here's my incomplete, unscientific, totally biased list of books on writing.
And a page of links to writing resources.
07-18-2011 10:46 AM
* hands wildly clapping*
Yes, welcome to our friendly forum, Donna!
I just finished reading Stork Raving Mad, and really enjoyed it. I like the way you combine humor in your books with a well-plotted mystery. The first book of yours that I read was Six Geese a-Slaying, around Christmas, last year, in fact, and I chuckled my way through all of your Dickens references.
I see that becke has already put out a few questions for you, so I will just add several of my own here:
--All of your books have references to birds of one kind or another. When did your obsession with birds begin?
--Do you have any control, or imput into the covers of your books? If you really hated an artist's concept for a cover, do you have enough clout that your editor would get a different version for you to approve?
--How long will poor Meg have to recover from giving birth to twins before she solves another mystery?--Oops, I guess we will find out in the new book! Will we find out what the babies' names REALLY are in the new book?:-)
Thanks for joining us here!
07-18-2011 10:56 AM
Sorry, just got through scrolling back through some of becke's posts, and I see that my last question has already been answered! Oh becke, you spoiler, you! And here I was hoping for a boy and a girl! Oy Vey!
So just ignore that last question, Donna.( *slinks away, with red face*)
07-18-2011 11:03 AM
Hi, Donna, welcome to the Mystery Forum. I am interested in your book titles. It looks like my TBR pile will get bigger. Thanks for stopping ny.
07-18-2011 11:58 AM
07-18-2011 12:29 PM
Welcome Donna Andrews! I was happy when I saw the news that you would be here this week. I just started
Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow Series #1) on my Nook. So far, it's Great! I hope to get to read the entire series in order. I started the series after reading so much about it that I knew I had to add it to the other series' that I am into.
07-18-2011 08:20 PM
The Real Macaw looks like a really fun book to read. I look forward to adding you to my TBR pile. Congrats on all of your awards!
- Eleanor Roosevelt
07-18-2011 11:59 PM
<<--All of your books have references to birds of one kind or another. When did your obsession with birds begin?>>
It's not actually an obsession. Publishers tend to like themes in titles, so the reader can more readily recognize that a favorite author has a new book--Sue Grafton's alphabet titles, for example, or Carole Nelson Douglas's cat titles. As the daughter of an avid birdwatcher (my father, who helped inspire Meg's father), I knew there were enough birds out there to supply me with titles for quite a while. And I'm letting my readers get into the act--I'm holding an ongoing title contest on my website: if you suggest a title that I end up using, then if I can still track you down, you get a signed copy of that book. The title for the book I'm working on now actually came from that contest--Some Like It Hawk.
<<Do you have any control, or imput into the covers of your books? If you really hated an artist's concept for a cover, do you have enough clout that your editor would get a different version for you to approve?>>
My current contract doesn't give me cover approval--which would mean veto power; very few traditionally published authors get that. But my publisher is supposed to show me the cover before it goes public, and if my agent or I see any issues--for example, if the cover had a spoiler, or was completely misleading, we'd try to point that out. I have to say that I'm particularly pleased with how the cover for The Real Macaw turned out--absolutely stunning. And I'm always happy when the art department asks "What kind of owl are you using?" or "What kind of hawk?"
<<--How long will poor Meg have to recover from giving birth to twins before she solves another mystery?--Oops, I guess we will find out in the new book! Will we find out what the babies' names REALLY are in the new book?:-)>>
The boys will be four months in The Real Macaw. And yes, boys--much of my recent real life experience with small people has been with my now seven-year-old twin nephews, so I thought it would be easier to write what I know. And their names:
James Langslow Waterston -- after Meg's Dad.
Joshua Blake Waterston -- after Meg's grandfather. Dr. Blake's full name is Joshua Montgomery Blake, but he never liked his first name, so he goes by the middle. Meg and Michael, though, thought Joshua was a perfectly wonderful name that went well with James. Strange to say, even Dr. Blake is warming to the name now that it's attached to one of his great-grandsons.
And as you can see from the excerpt, they are Josh and Jamie for short.
07-19-2011 12:02 AM
<<I was happy when I saw the news that you would be here this week. I just started Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow Series #1) on my Nook. So far, it's Great! I hope to get to read the entire series in order. I started the series after reading so much about it that I knew I had to add it to the other series' that I am into.>>
Hope you're enjoying the series. And apologies in advance--four or five of the books in the middle of the series are not yet out in Nook, but my agent and publisher are working on fixing that!
07-19-2011 12:11 AM
<<The Real Macaw looks like a really fun book to read. I look forward to adding you to my TBR pile. Congrats on all of your awards!>>
Thanks! And by the way, apologies that it took me a while to respond to anyone. Real life did a number on my good intentions today. Had to take my 89-year-old Mom to the doctor and then the lab for blood work--she seems to be doing well, but these days medical adventures can be time-consuming. But I kept reminding myself, whenever I was tempted to fret and fume, that her surgery last year helped inspire the grand finale of The Real Macaw. Who knows what today will inspire? I met a young woman to day who was switching from pathology to phlebotomy (blood drawing) because she wanted more contact with patients. I assume she meant more contact with live patients.