Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Karen Miller's "The Falcon Throne"

Karen Miller writes speculative fiction. Mostly of the epic historical kind, but she’s also written Star Wars and Stargate novels and under the pen-name K.E. Mills writes the Rogue Agent series, about a wizard with special skills who works for his government under unusual circumstances.

Here Miller dreamcasts an adaptation of The Falcon Throne, book 1 of The Tarnished Crown series:
If I were to name every actor I'd cast in The Falcon Throne I think I'd still be here this time next year. But what I can do is mention the characters who most readily allied themselves with actors in my imagination. So, in no particular order:

Humbert - Roger Allam

I suspect that most people would know Allam from his portrayal of Javert in the original London cast of Les Miserables and, more recently, his work as DI Fred Thursday in the splendid early life of Morse series, Endeavour. But for me, it was his outstanding performance as Falstaff in The Globe's production of Henry IV Part 1 that caught my attention. You can see it for yourself on dvd and I urge you to do so. It is a truly astonishing piece of theatre and I defy anyone not to be outrageously entertained. Humbert isn't a rogue the way Falstaff is a rogue, but there's just something in Allam's presence, his authority, that tells me he'd bring Humbert to life perfectly.

Balfre - Tom Hiddleston

At first glance this would appear to be lazy typecasting. Hiddleston's best known for his electrifying turn as Loki in the Marvel Universe films, and yes - Balfre is a brother who feels himself hard done-by. But he's more than that. He's a tormented soul, a man as sinned against as sinning, and while he does have a darkness in him that's not all he is. Hiddleston has demonstrated his range in other works, most notably as Henry V in the BBC's Hollow Crown series - but the moment that stands out for me is in Thor: The Dark World, when Thor calls Loki on his pretence of indifference, the illusion disappears, and we see how devasted Loki is by the death of his adopted mother. Balfre requires a great range, and Hiddleston has it.

Grefin - Tom Mison

I'd never heard of Mison before Sleepy Hollow. But as soon as I saw him in that show I thought of him for Grefin. Balfre's younger brother is a good man who lets love blind him to reality. He's devoid of deceit, of malice, and it's not easy to project that without being wishy washy and dull. I think Mison has that quality in spades.

Vidar - James McAvoy

I think McAvoy is one of the most astonishingly courageous actors working today. When it comes to dropping emotional defences, he is fearless. The only other actor who comes close, for me, is Michael Fassbender. Vidar is a tricky customer. Another good man who's been warped by events beyond his control, he walks a terrible line between pain and rage, honour and dishonour. I know McAvoy could illuminate him brilliantly.

Roric - Chris Evans

The thing about Roric is that he is both the wrong man and the only man for a difficult job - and he knows it. There's a kind of doomed courage about Roric that makes me love him. Evans is a really human, accessible actor. I think he'd make a terrific Roric.

Harald - Martin Freeman

I was lucky enough to see Freeman as Richard III, in London. A spectacular turn. Straight away I thought of Harald, who is not a good man. Freeman has hidden depths of nastiness that would serve Harald well.

Berardine - Amanda Tapping

Berardine is a woman of strength, of courage, and a fierce loyalty to her dead husband, her daughter, and the people they serve. Amanda Tapping is grace and integrity personified and she would bring Berardine to life perfectly.
Learn more about the author and her work at Karen Miller's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 20, 2014

Patrick Taylor's "An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War"

An Irish Doctor in Peace and At War is the new novel in Patrick Taylor’s beloved Irish Country series.

About the book, from the publisher:
Long before Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly became a fixture in the colourful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, he was a young M.B. with plans to marry midwife Dierdre Mawhinney. Those plans were complicated by the outbreak of World War II and the call of duty. Assigned to the HMS Warspite, a formidable 30,000-ton battleship, Surgeon Lieutenant O’Reilly soon found himself face-to-face with the hardships of war, tending to the dreadnought’s crew of 1,200 as well as to the many casualties..[read on]
Here Taylor dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
I would cast the primary characters as follows and invite the readers to cast the minor players:

Doctor Fingal O’Reilly — Liam Neeson

Doctor Barry Laverty — A young Leonardo DiCaprio

Kitty O’Reilly — Minnie Driver

Deirdre Mawhinney — Keira Knightley

Maureen “Kinky” Kincaid — Brenda Fricker

Donal Donnelly — A young Colm Meaney

Surgeon Commander Wilcoxson — A young Jack Hawkins

Bertie Bishop — Peter Bowles

Elly Simpkins — A younger Kate Winslet

Sue Nolan — Kristen Stewart
Learn more about the book and author at Patrick Taylor's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mike Maden's "Blue Warrior"

Growing up in a working class family in central California, Mike Maden spent a fair share of his youth in slaughter houses, canneries and feed mills but a lifelong fascination with history and politics ultimately led to a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California (Davis) focusing on the areas of conflict, technology and international relations. After brief stints as a campus lecturer, political consultant and media commentator, Maden turned to studies in theology and a decade of work with a Dallas-based non-profit where he eventually discovered fiction writing. Drone was the result of a recent challenge by two published friends to try his hand at a novel. Written primarily in Texas, Blue Warrior was edited in the shadow of the gorgeous Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee where Maden and his wife Angela now happily reside.

Here Maden dreamcasts an adaptation of Blue Warrior:
I chose Gary Sinise to play the lead role of Troy Pearce the first time I visited this blog, but my dear wife has since informed me that as much as she admires Mr. Sinise’s tremendous acting skill, she thinks the better choice to play Troy would be Hugh Jackman. Despite the fact that Troy Pearce never sings nor flashes adamantine claws out of the back of his hands, I began to see her point. He has the physicality and presence to play the character. And since I dedicated Blue Warrior to my wife, it occurs to me her opinion should matter most—at least this go around.
Visit Mike Maden's website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Drone.

The Page 69 Test: Drone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jeff Somers's "We Are Not Good People"

Jeff Somers was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and regrets nothing. His books include the Avery Cates series of novels published by Orbit Books. He sold his first novel at age 16 to a tiny publisher in California which quickly went out of business and has spent the last two decades assuring potential publishers that this was a coincidence. Somers publishes a zine called The Inner Swine and has also published a few dozen short stories; his story “Ringing the Changes” was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2006, edited by Scott Turow and his story “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through” appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight, published by Berkley Hardcover and edited by Charlaine Harris.

Here Somers dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of his new book, We Are Not Good People:
Let’s talk about Scoot McNairy.

First of all, his name. Jesus Christ, Scoot. I want anyone not only named Scoot but named Scoot and a survivor of that adolescence on my team. I pledge my troth to Scoot, to all the Scoots of this world.

Second of all, everything Scoot’s ever been in. Seen him in Halt and Catch Fire? Not a good show. Scoot, however, is fantastic in his role as an alcoholic, angry programmer. Mess him up a little, and he would be a fantastic Lem Vonnegan – who is also a sort of alcoholic, angry programmer, although his programs involve a magical grammar fueled by blood. Lem is “good with the Words,” meaning he can quickly and adroitly piece together a spell using an economy of words, quickly casting something efficient and effective. Usually while drunk and anemic and on the verge of passing out from blood loss. Thus, Scoot McNairy.

Any film of the book would have to keep the magic subtle except for a few set pieces. This isn’t the sort of story where amazing things happen as actors on a green screen pretend to be amazed, this is a story where awful things happen and then you’re amazed and simultaneously horrified when things go south from there. The awe and amazement of the magical aspect is soured and mixed with awfulness.

It’s also the sort of film where every scene would be shot in dim, washed-out lighting, and everyone except for the main villains would be dressed sort of shabby, in ill-fitting clothes. There are very few people in the story who would qualify as “glamorous,” and of course most of those are glamorous thanks to the liberal use of magic. Which is, of course, what I would expend my own magical energies on: Looking good. And possibly casting a spell so theme music played every time I walked into a room, probably "Princes of the Universe" by Queen.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Somers's website.

My Book, The Movie: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: We Are Not Good People.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Minerva Koenig's "Nine Days"

Minerva Koenig is a licensed architect running her own one-woman practice. When not architecting or writing, she likes to sew, read, play chess, do yoga, dance, wrangle cats, and fight the patriarchy. Koenig lives in Austin, Texas.

The publisher's description of her new novel, Nine Days, begins:
She's short, round, and pushing forty, but Julia Kalas is a damned good criminal. For 17 years she renovated historic California buildings as a laundry front for her husband's illegal arms business. Then the Aryan Brotherhood made her a widow, and witness protection shipped her off to the tiny town of Azula, Texas....[read on]
Here Koenig dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
I didn't really plan it this way, but when I've thought about actors who could play my characters, the best fits always seem to be the lesser-known and local. This pleases me no end. I'm a sucker for the undiscovered underdogs of the world, having been one myself for so long.

When I learned that I would be doing readings in front of large groups of people -- something that scares the bejesus out of me -- I considered hiring someone to read in character as Julia Kalas (my protagonist). That's how I found local Austin actor Cyndi Williams, whom I think would do really interesting things with the role.

The other day someone mentioned Camryn Manheim in a totally unrelated conversation, and I immediately knew she's who'd I'd cast as Teresa Hallstedt. She's got it all: the height, the size, the gravitas.

Hector Guerra, in my imagination, has always looked like a beefier Rob Trujillo (bass player for Metallica). I doubt Rob would consider changing careers and putting on a couple of pounds, and who knows if he can act, so for Hector I'd go with Vincent McClean. He'd have to rough up a bit for it, but I've seen him do it and know that he can.

John Maines would be played by Ed Hattaway. This is partly nepotism -- I've known Ed since I was in my 20s and love him like a brother -- but he's also a hell of an actor. He'd knock it out of the park.
Visit Minerva Koenig's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 13, 2014

Catherine Gildiner's "Coming Ashore"

Catherine Gildiner’s childhood memoir Too Close to the Falls (1999) was a New York Times bestseller and on the Globe and Mail’s bestseller list for over a year. In 2010, she published a sequel, After the Falls, also a bestseller.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Coming Ashore, her latest memoir:
My new book, Coming Ashore, is not a movie yet. It is the 3rd in my memoir series. The book takes place in three different places. The first third takes place in Oxford, England. It is about the American out of place in British culture. Because I am a vintage movie fan I often think of old stars and directors. However, since this is fantasy I will feel free to jump back and forth in time. First of all I will tackle the English third. The main character, who is me, will be played by Goldie Hawn when she was 21. She has remarkable comic timing. The male romantic lead would be played by Jude Law. I need someone who can be warm but then switch to ice cold. The second third of the book takes place while Cleveland Burns in 1968 and I am a teacher in the burning ghetto who is escorted to class by the police. Almost everyone in this section is black and I would borrow many of the great actors from the TV show The Wire. I would need teenagers and those kids would be perfect. I would also include Idris Elba as a 16 year old. The last third is about coming to Canada during the time of the FLQ ( Quebec uprising) and meeting the love of my life. I would have that love be Adrien Brody. I need a Jewish character actor and he fits the bill as a character actor who is handsome in his own way but not in that boring 'leading man' kind of way. I would have Jane Campion direct because I think she can do period pieces and after all this is 50 years ago and I think she captures the female voice.
Visit Catherine Gildiner's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: After the Falls.

Writers Read: Catherine Gildiner (December 2010).

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jana Bommersbach's "Cattle Kate"

Jana Bommersbach is an acclaimed and respected journalist whose work has encompassed every facet of the profession: she's been a reporter and editor for both weekly and daily newspapers; she's written books and is a major contributor to an anthology; she's written columns and investigative stories for magazines; she's appeared on television with both political commentaries and investigative stories.

Here Bommersbach dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Cattle Kate:
If my historical novel, Cattle Kate, became a movie, I'd hope that Jodie Foster would be the producer, because I think she'd love Ella Watson, the real woman behind this notorious western legend.

I wish it were filmed in Wyoming, where this real story occurred, because I like to see Hollywood spread its money out among the rest of us.

For the really bad guy, A.J. Bothwell, I'd cast Powers Boothe, an actor I'm secretly in love with. (OK, not so much a secret.) But love his work and his "man's man persona" and although he's older than Bothwell was, he's got the kind of grit that would bring that evil man to life!

For Ella's husband, James Averell, I'd cast Matthew McConaughey, because I think this actor could play almost anyone and make you believe it.

And for Ella, I'm torn. Not every actress could play the only woman ever lynched in the nation was a cattle rustler. Not everyone could capture the real female homesteader whose identity was buried to create the phony legend of Cattle Kate.

If this were a few years back, I'd have said Glenn Close, but the 29 year-old Ella needs a younger actress-but a mature one, because 29 back in 1889 could be as much as 40 today. Perhaps Charlize Theron, who can mask her beauty for any role. Or a Jennifer Lawrence-type.

Whoever played the parts, I would hope that they were true to the real people who lived these incredible lives and left their mark on western history!
Visit Jana Bommersbach's website.

Writers Read: Jana Bommersbach.

The Page 69 Test: Cattle Kate.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tina Connolly's "Silverblind"

Tina Connolly lives with her family in Portland, Oregon, in a house that came with a dragon in the basement and blackberry vines in the attic. Her stories have appeared all over, including in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Here Connolly dreamcasts an adaptation of Silverblind, the latest book in the historical fantasy series that began with the Nebula finalist Ironskin:
I said when I did this for Copperhead that it was challenging, but I dunno, I'm starting to get into it!

For Dorie, the shapeshifting Indiana Jones-type who spends much of the book transformed into a boy – My mind jumped immediately to Imogen Stubbs in the delightful 1996 production of Twelfth Night. I loved her as Viola. Now Dorie is not just cross-dressing, she is actually shapeshifting. So I could cast two actors. But I would hate to take half the role away from my female lead, and I think it would be more compelling to see the same actor play both parts. I'm going to go with Mia Wasikowska. She has the fey look of Dorie, and I think she could pull off the boy half—and of course, I think she's quite talented.

Tam, the young adventurer with a dark past. I first thought that Chris Evans might be interesting in this role—I’ve really been enjoying his work lately. But he would be too old for Tam, and he's apparently planning to retire from acting. So then I thought of Sam Claflin and now I’m sold on him. He was so interesting as Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games, and I think he'd bring a good mix of brains + brawn to the part.

Jack, Dorie's best friend, a single-minded, driven artist – I’d love to see Nicole Beharie from Sleepy Hollow in the role. I admit I’d imagined Jack as tall (contrasting with slight Dorie and tiny Stella), but I think Beharie would really bring on the obsession.

Stella, a half-dwarvven friend – she's exceptionally hard-working and not fussy or precious, but can also transform to a glamour girl at the drop of a hat. Melissa Rauch from The Big Bang Theory would be pretty spot on.

Jane & Helen - I cast these two in Copperhead as Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan, respectively. Now that they're 18 years older, I get to recast them! Well, I’ve been busy with book deadlines and a baby all year, but we did just binge watch Sherlock, so I’m going to pluck Amanda Abbington (who has been so awesome this season as Mary Morstan) for Helen and Lara Pulver (who was fantastic as Irene Adler) for Jane. (No, Jane is no dominatrix, but she is smart, feminist, and long past caring whether people like her, and I think Pulver would be excellent at all those things.)
Visit Tina Connolly's website, blog, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Copperhead.

The Page 69 Test: Copperhead.

Writers Read: Tina Connolly.

The Page 69 Test: Silverblind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yona Zeldis McDonough's "You Were Meant for Me"

Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of the novels Two of a Kind, A Wedding in Great Neck, Breaking the Bank, In Dahlia's Wake, and The Four Temperaments, as well as many books for children.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, You Were Meant For Me:
Writers always think about who might play the leads in the movie version of their books; it’s a fun game we play, and we often discuss it at great length. If You Were Meant for Me were to be made into a movie, I’d love to see Anne Hathaway in the lead role as Miranda Berenzweig. There is something both vibrant and yet deeply sensitive about Hathaway and she has a great range of emotion. For Evan Zuckerbrot, I am imagining Adam Driver, both because like Evan, he is very tall, and also because he is not just another pretty face. Morris Chestnut has the smoldering good looks that would make him a great candidate to play Jared Masters. But I did not think of any of these actors before or while I was writing; that kind of speculation only came later.
Learn more about the author and her work at Yona Zeldis McDonough's website.

The Page 69 Test: You Were Meant For Me.

Writers Read: Yona Zeldis McDonough.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

James Ryan Daley's "Jesus Jackson"

James Ryan Daley is a writer, editor, and digital designer. After majoring in English at a strange and wonderful school called Prescott College in northern Arizona, Daley went on the earn his MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2004. Over the years that followed, he worked as an Acquisitions Editor for Dover Publications and an English Teacher at a small Catholic high school (and no, the irony of the latter is not lost on him), before beginning his freelance career in the spring of 2008. Now, he spends most of his time writing fiction for teenagers, creating websites about video games, teaching writing to college students, and editing anthologies of speeches and short stories.

Here Daley dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Jesus Jackson:
Well first of all, like a lot of authors, I’ve probably spent a thousand hours daydreaming about my work becoming a movie. Red carpet premieres, selfies with celebrities, the terrible, movie-based covers that sell millions of books: I’ve fantasized about it all. So obviously, I got quite excited by the idea of dreaming up a cast for Jesus Jackson.

The only problem, I realized, is that Jesus Jackson is almost entirely populated by teenagers… and all of the “teenaged” actors I thought of would now be better suited to play my characters’ parents (thus dashing my dreams of Molly Ringwald as the cute sophomore…). Luckily, I have a 14 year-old daughter, who (though she had never even heard of Judd Nelson) proved competent at assisting her teen-idol-ignorant father with the particulars of young Hollywood.

So, with a big shout out to Antonia for her help, here we go:

Jesus Jackson: Russell Brand

Although Jesus Jackson may resemble his biblical namesake, his character is a far cry from anyone’s idea of a savior. Somewhere between a new age guru and a car salesman (with a little rockstar thrown into the mix), Jesus Jackson acts as the protagonist’s philosophical sounding board, confidant, and friend. This was easy. I’ve been picturing Russell Brand as Jesus Jackson since I first started writing the book.

Jonathan: Asa Butterfield

Jonathan, the protagonist and narrator, is a smart, sarcastic, 14 year-old atheist, who finds himself investigating his brother’s death at a Catholic high school. The character is a complex one, struggling with grief, family, religion, and romance—all while trying to unravel a mystery that nobody believes in. It would take a certain type of actor to pull him off, but anyone who can play both Ender Wiggin and Mordred would certainly do him justice.

Cassie: Maisie Williams.

Cassie is the quirky, cute, agnostic sophomore who becomes Jonathan’s love-interest, and happens to be the prime suspect’s little sister. In many ways, Cassie is the linchpin of the story, as Jonathan must choose between being honest with her and finding the truth that he seeks. The character is a long way from Arya Stark, but Maisie Williams is so damned cool, I’m pretty sure she could do anything.

Henry: Noah Ringer

Henry is Jonathan’s one and only friend. A fellow non-believer, Henry is a science-minded fan of detective novels who must overcome his social awkwardness (and debilitating fear of girls) to help his friend solve the mystery. Noah Ringer (from The Last Airbender) would be great.

Ryan: Logan Lerman

Technically, Ryan dies at the beginning of the book, but he appears frequently in flashbacks, so it’s certainly worth casting him. More than just Jonathan’s brother, Ryan is his idol, mentor, and the person who first helps him to question his religion. Logan Lerman (from The Perks of Being a Wallflower) has the perfect mix of brainy-charm and hero-cool to nail the part.

Tristan: Dakota Fanning

Tristan is the pretty, popular cheerleader who was Ryan’s girlfriend before he died, and winds up helping out Jonathan with his investigation. She’s probably the character who most outwardly displays her grief, though she seems to have a secret hidden beneath all those tears. Obviously, an actress as talented as Dakota Fanning’s could pull this off magnificently.

Alistair: Alexander Ludwig

Alistair is a brutish jock who becomes the prime suspect in Ryan’s death (and is not too happy about Jonathan dating his sister). He’s the kind of guy who leads the class in prayer and then later threatens to beat you up for your lunch money. Alexander Ludwig played Cato in The Hunger Games. So, you know: perfect.
Visit James Ryan Daley's website.

The Page 69 Test: Jesus Jackson.

--Marshal Zeringue