Thursday, March 26, 2015

Jeannette de Beauvoir's "Asylum"

Jeannette de Beauvoir is a novelist, poet, and playwright whose work has appeared in 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages.

She explores personal and moral questions through different literary genres and is the author, under various pseudonyms, of mystery novels, historical and contemporary fiction, an award-winning book of poetry, and a number of produced plays, as well as teaching workshops and classes in writing.

Here de Beauvoir dreamcasts an adaptation of her  new novel, Asylum:
This is really difficult, as I don't work with visuals much, at least in terms of people. (I do it far more with places: in this series, for example, it's important to me to give readers a real sense of the neighborhoods and ambiance of Montréal.) I guess I'd be drawn to a Diane Lane sort of actor: someone who comes across as fairly ordinary but finds resources inside herself that she didn't know about. The same could be said for Kristin Scott Thomas. And I realize that in mentioning both those names I'm rather dating myself! Okay: if Michelle Dockery could manage a French-Canadian accent, I could see that working. I write plays as well as novels, and have always been pleasantly surprised by what directors and actors do with my words, often taking them places I didn't think of going, and giving the story a perspective that I never saw when writing it. So were Asylum be made into a movie (and wouldn't that be lovely?), I think that rather than impose my take on who should be in it, or how it should be directed, I'd let it become whatever a talented cast and crew saw in it. After all, I wrote the novel, I've already had my say!
Visit Jeannette de Beauvoir's website.

Writers Read: Jeannette de Beauvoir.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rhiannon Thomas's "A Wicked Thing"

Rhiannon Thomas is an English Lit grad from Princeton University. She currently lives in York, England, in the shadow of a 13th century Gothic cathedral. When she isn’t lost in YA fantasy, she writes about feminism and the media on her blog, Feminist Fiction.

Here Thomas dreamcasts an adaptation of A Wicked Thing, her debut novel:
I've tried many, many times to cast the role of Aurora in an imaginary movie of A Wicked Thing, and every time, the "fun game" becomes an exercise in frustration. I don't know enough young actresses, and no star ever seems to completely match the image I have in my head.

This time I've finally cracked it. I want Eliza Taylor in the role. I really think she could add depth to the role of the lost, beautiful princess and show the toughness that Aurora hides underneath. And when Aurora gets more self-assured and willing to fight, Eliza Taylor would nail that switch. She's got the perfect mix of vulnerability and strength.

Queen Iris, meanwhile, would be perfectly played by Indira Varma, and Celestine, the witch who cursed Aurora, has to be played by the ethereal Natalie Dormer.
Visit Rhiannon Thomas's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Wicked Thing.

Writers Read: Rhiannon Thomas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

David S. Heidler & Jeanne T. Heidler's "Washington’s Circle"

David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler have collaborated on books about the early American republic, the Antebellum period, and the Civil War, including Encyclopedia of the War of 1812 and the award-winning Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Social, Political, and Military History, which received the Society for Military History’s Distinguished Book Award. They are the authors of Henry Clay: The Essential American; Old Hickory’s War: Andrew Jackson and the Quest for Empire; The War of 1812; Manifest Destiny; Daily Life in the Early American Republic: Creating a New Nation, 1790-1820; and The Mexican War.

Jeanne Heidler is Professor of History at the United States Air Force Academy where she is the senior civilian member of her department.

Here the Heidler's dreamcast an adaptation of their new book, Washington’s Circle: The Creation of the President:
Portraying the characters in Washington’s Circle: The Creation of the President would be a formidable challenge for the most talented cast. The wide ranges within the epic span of the story would require something more than mere physical resemblance to the people. The problem is laid bare in many films that transform such characters into Olympian caricatures or, just as bad, try so hard to avoid lionization that they produce a caricature of ordinariness. The people of Washington’s Circle were not flawless godheads, but neither were they undistinguished Everymen. They were extraordinary people who did extraordinary things, but the trick of portraying history and playing the makers of it is to convey the sense of uncertainty, surprise, hope, and anxiety that marks the human condition among all people, regardless of their talent or circumstance.

This is especially so for Washington, whose iconic image has frozen him in the public mind as forever old and inscrutable. Perhaps Liam Neeson would have the physical presence and somber authority as well as Washington’s stoic impassivity that made him quietly charismatic.
Robert Downey Jr. matches Alexander Hamilton’s height, coloring, and intensity. Tom Hiddleston is perfectly suited for Thomas Jefferson in both form and figure. Moreover, Hiddleston could leaven Jefferson with the whimsy that was as much a part of Jefferson’s personality as his intellect but sadly and seldom shows up in portrayals of him. Daniel Radcliffe’s size and manner would make him a good James Madison, and Michael Keaton has with age developed features that could approximate those of John Adams, especially his eyes. Keaton also could provide the nervous energy that made Adams both endearing and exasperating to friends and foes alike. Martin Freeman rather looks like Washington’s indispensable secretary Tobias Lear, and he would be able to depict Lear’s modesty, competence, and devotion to Washington and his family.

As for the family, Blair Brown’s ability to convey strength with sweetness recommends her for Martha Washington. Eleanor Parke Custis, always called Nelly, would require several actors to portray her from age 11 to 18, but the adult Nelly’s charm and beauty could be well represented by Bella Thorne, with the appropriate coloring. The great Brock Peters has passed away, but his bearing and commanding presence would have perfectly captured the proud Hercules, Washington’s cook who responded to the indignity of menial labor at Mount Vernon by escaping from slavery, never to be found. The quiet dignity and gentle goodness of William Lee, Washington’s principal manservant for many years, could be movingly portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr.

It is a partial list, of course, and merely a start, because as we point out in our introduction to the book, the mere fact of George Washington’s existence in such a pivotal time of world shaping events makes the story of the people around him an epic that would dwarf the power of the most sterling depictions. As Shakespeare noted in the prologue to the exploits of Henry V, one would need more than a talented cast armed with a grand script and under solid direction. A muse of fire would possibly suffice. Possibly.
Learn more about the book and author at David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 23, 2015

Diane Thomas's "In Wilderness"

Diane Thomas is the author of the psychological thriller In Wilderness and The Year the Music Changed: The Letters of Achsa McEachern-Isaacs and Elvis Presley. She was once the film reviewer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Here Thomas dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, In Wilderness:
In 1966, Katherine Reid, a successful professional woman dying of a mysterious wasting disease, retreats to an isolated cabin in a southern Appalachian wilderness to live out her last days. Also in the forest is Danny, a 20-year-old former reconnaissance sniper and washout from the Vietnam War with what today would be recognized as PTSD. He stalks her obsessively from the moment she arrives and eventually makes his presence known. The two begin an erotic relationship that threatens them both.

In my film of In Wilderness, either Julianne Moore or Reese Witherspoon would play Katherine. It’s a role with a lot of range. I’m not sure I would have considered Witherspoon before Wild. Her brilliant against-type portrayal of a woman who goes so totally out of control is what won me. For Katherine’s early patrician aspects, Moore or Witherspoon might channel Old Hollywood, say Kathryn Grayson or Jennifer Jones.

There’s one hurdle for Witherspoon: She would need dark hair to contrast with Danny’s anemic, southern Cracker blondness—his scraggly little beard and tangled, greasy hair. Possibly brilliant, he had one scholarship year of university education before the war and dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Now he is wiry and feral, devoid of all hope. And out of his obsession for Katherine, he is dangerous. This is a role that could make an unknown actor’s career. He would need the scary unpredictability of an early (Easy Rider) Dennis Hopper, the ratty twitchiness of a young Kiefer Sutherland, the focused intensity and tortured tenderness of Bradley Cooper in American Sniper. Ideally, he would also have Matthew McConaughey’s skinny muscularity and his wry and mildly threatening southern drawl.

In Wilderness will of course be an independent film: No car chases, just outstanding acting. And superlative direction. For a long time I didn’t think my novel could be made into a movie. Then I saw Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan while I was still working on it, and my opinion changed. Aronofsky showed a bent toward the surrealism that presages madness, which is what a film version of In Wilderness requires. But after Swan he veered off into fantasy; I was saddened to lose him. My attention next turned to Kathryn Bigelow after I saw The Hurt Locker. She was so good with war, surely she could plumb Danny’s soul. And probably Katherine’s, too. Plus, as a Santa Fean she’s homefolks.

Then last year, volunteering with the Santa Fe Film Festival, I was privileged to interview producer Michael Fitzgerald, there to present his newest film, Closer to the Moon. Though mentored by director John Huston, Fitzgerald does not himself direct, but remains actively involved from start to finish in all aspects of his films. He turned out a wonderful version of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood for his first screen endeavor. (She had lived with his family for a time in London, when Fitzgerald was a boy.) Huston directed it. I saw the film not long before beginning work on my first version of In Wilderness in 1980. There’s a lot of Hazel Motes in Danny.

Okay, what do I want to see on the publicity posters for In Wilderness? How about “Produced by Michael Fitzgerald, starring Reese Witherspoon/Julianne Moore and Dennis Hopper/Kiefer Sutherland/Matthew McConaughey/Bradley Cooper, and directed by John Huston/Darren Aronofsky/Kathryn Bigelow”?

That’s it. So what if Hopper, Sutherland, McConaughey, and Cooper are too old and Huston’s dead? There’s still Witherspoon and Moore. And I can dream, can’t I?
Visit Diane Thomas's website.

Writers Read: Diane Thomas.

The Page 69 Test: In Wilderness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Robert Glinski's "The Friendship of Criminals"

Robert Glinski is a graduate of Washington University and Temple University School of Law. He was an attorney in Philadelphia and New Jersey for a decade before transitioning to investment advising. With two writing pieces recently optioned in Hollywood, he now spends his time crafting his next novel and finishing his first screenplay.

Here Glinksi dreamcasts an adaptation of The Friendship of Criminals, his first novel:
What crime fiction writer doesn’t dream of his or her characters hitting the big screen? Most of my all-time favorite films are novel adaptations so the evolution from page to projector has always struck me as a worthy and natural artistic progression, e.g., The French Connection, Goodfellas, Marathon Man, The Godfather, Jackie Brown, Mystic River, The Town, and Out of Sight.

I was lucky enough to option film/TV rights before publishing rights so this has been an actual discussion point we’ve mulled over with producers. One of my novel’s principal characters – a hustler named Sonny – is James Caan because Caan is the spitting image of the character’s real-life inspiration in terms of accent, mannerisms, bravado, and background. Sonny needs an actor who the audience believes can earn $100 million and spend $105 million with the same emotional trajectory. That’s Caan.

The protagonist – Anton Bielakowski, an old-school Polish mobster who stays true to his neighborhood – is either Harvey Keitel (ala his shaved head prisoner cameo in The Grand Budapest Hotel) or one of my favorite character actors – Armin Mueller-Stahl. Both have the chops and stones to carry a role that says a whole lot with a shut mouth.

For Anton’s son Marcek, we need a good-looking hood, a guy with a twinkle in his eye who knows first-hand all the book’s neighborhoods and street corners. Hello, Philly’s own Bradley Cooper. Marcek’s girlfriend Angie Spina – probably the novel’s most intelligent character - is Rooney Mara because Jennifer Lawrence is too obvious and no one is entitled to the perfect cast.
Visit Robert Glinski's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Friendship of Criminals.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cindy Callaghan's "Lost in Paris"

Cindy Callaghan grew up in New Jersey and attended college at the University of Southern California before earning her BA in English and French, and MBA from the University of Delaware.

She is the author of Just Add Magic (2010), Lost in London (2013), Lucky Me (2014), Lost in Paris (2015), and Lost in Rome (2015).

Here Callaghan dreamcasts an adaptation of Lost in Paris:
My first book Just Add Magic is being made into Amazon Original TV series. I just adore the girls that are cast in that show. I would love to have all of them star in the Lost in Paris movie. And, or course, all of the tweens in my hometown!

There is a band in the book. I would love for One Direction to play those parts. We’ll all have to travel to Paris, probably on a private plane. And we’ll all stay together in a hotel that is just like the quaint Hotel de Paris in the novel.

For the adult male Etienne, obviously Mark Wahlberg, and I would play Gwen’s mom. The movie will be a huge success, which will lead to a request for Mark and I to co-host SNL.

In Lost in Paris, there are many animals. I’d like to work with a local Parisienne rescue society to help us with casting the pets. Hopefully this will result in the homeless animals to find families.
Visit Cindy Callaghan's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Cindy Callaghan.

The Page 69 Test: Lost in Paris.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Diane Kelly's "Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses"

A former Assistant Attorney General and tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals. Lest she end up in jail, Kelly decided self-employment was a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her award-winning Death and Taxes romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown's Citizen Police Academy, she also writes the hilarious K-9 cop Paw Enforcement series.

Here Kelly dreamcasts an adaptation of Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses:
Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses is a humorous story in which investigators from the IRS Criminal Investigations Division go after people committing various forms of tax evasion. The main targets in this book are members of a violent drug cartel and people operating so-called charities but who are actually using the nonprofits as a shady way to cheat Uncle Sam.

The primary character is IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway. While Tara is small, standing only five-feet-two inches, she makes up for her lack of stature with determination, smarts, and more than a little sass. I could see several people in this role. Amy Adams would be a great choice for this role. She’s the perfect combination of wide-eyed innocence and beauty, but accessibility, too. I’ve enjoyed all of her movies, but especially liked her in American Hustle. Emma Stone comes immediately to mind, too. I loved her in Zombieland. I could also see Emily Blunt playing Tara. I loved the bad-ass role she played in Edge of Tomorrow.

Nick Pratt is Tara’s boyfriend and a fellow special agent. A former linebacker on his high school football team, Nick is physically formidable. But he’s no dumb jock. He’s got a clever mind and shares Tara’s determination to see that justice is served. I’d love to see David Walton in this role. He plays cocky characters well, and is definitely attractive while still maintaining a down-to-earth type of charm. I love him in the TV series About a Boy.

DEA Agent Christina Marquez is a feisty Latina-American woman who is built like Barbie but, like Tara, is a force to be reckoned with. I could see Salma Hayek or Jessica Alba playing Christina.

The main bad guy in this book is a drug lord known as El Cuchillo, or the Knife. I could see Danny Trejo, better known as Machete, in this role, or Willem Dafoe, who does villains so well.

There’s a pair of kooky redneck cousins in this books, with beards that would rival those of Duck Dynasty. I see Zach Galifiankis and Russell Brand in these roles.
Visit Diane Kelly's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Diane Kelly & Reggie, Junior, and Brownie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Gail Carriger's "Prudence"

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger writes to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported from London. Her books are published in over a dozen different languages. Carriger has received the Prix Julia Verlanger and the Elbakin Award from French readers.

Here Carriger dreamcasts an adaptation of Prudence, the first book in the Custard Protocol series:
Rue: Jessica Brown Findlay

Best known for her tragic role as Lady Sybil in Downton Abby, I chose Jessica Brown Findlay mainly because she can (obviously) do the right upper crust accent for Rue. Also I think she would have fun with a more upbeat cheerful role. Rue is often described as round and jolly and while this actress is skinny (aren't they all?), she does have a sweet round expressive face which I think could do well for my main character.

Primrose: Felicity Jones

Primrose is Rue's best friend and main confidant. Rue and Prim look a little alike, in fact they use this in their schemes, often pretending to be the rich and feckless "Hisselpenny sisters." Occasionally, they will even switch names when visiting those who don't know them by sight (most do know them by reputation). Primrose is more reserved and interested in manners and organization than Rue. I'm thinking of Felicity's portrayal of the sister in Hysteria (Emily Dalrymple) when casting Primrose.

Frankly, given the skill of both the above actresses, I could also see Felicity play Rue and Jessica play Primrose.

Percy: Simon Woods

I know Simon Woods from Cranford and I was thinking of him as the physical model as I wrote Percy. I don't know if he is an natural redhead but he looks good as one. I think he could play the part of stuck up bookish weirdly irresistible Percy beautifully. Also, I bet Tom Felton could also do a great job.

Quesnel:

Quesnel is French, raised in England, but bilingual and educated in France. I want a really boyish cheerful clownish feel for him, but also an actor able to show strong emotion and sex appeal. Quesnel is at least ten years older than the three other main characters, so he could be played by an actor in his 30s. When I describe him in the books, I was thinking someone like Alex Pettyfer (possibly too pretty?) crossed with young Leonardo DiCaprio. So I basically ended up with Freddie Stroma. But can he put a tiny hint of French into his accent? That's the question. If not, one wonders: how good is Vincent Lecoeur's English?
Learn more about the book and author at Gail Carriger's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Prudence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Andrew Klavan's "Werewolf Cop"

Award winning author, screenwriter and media commentator Andrew Klavan is the author of such internationally bestselling novels as True Crime, filmed by Clint Eastwood, and Don’t Say A Word, filmed starring Michael Douglas. Klavan has been nominated for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award five times and has won twice.

Here Klavan dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Werewolf Cop:
I put so much effort into not thinking about my novels as movies that it always takes me aback when someone asks me to cast them. Here’s the problem. Americans love the movies — less now than maybe a generation ago, but Americans still think of movies as the be-all and end-all of storytelling. When someone really likes one of my novels, almost the first thing he’ll say is, “This would make a great movie!” As if the book weren’t enough. And when my novels actually have been made into films, people have congratulated me as if now, at last, my story had reached fruition.

Me, I’m a novel guy. I’d much rather read a great novel than see a great film. So I actually feel when I’ve written a good book, I’ve done something pretty special. If someone makes it into a movie, swell. If not, not.

All the same, the attention — and money — that come along with a film are so huge that the temptation to write novels with an eye toward the screen can be pretty powerful at times. And it’s a mistake. I’ve written movies and I’ve written novels and the structures are very different. If you write a novel too cinematically you’re actually short-changing your reader. You’re leaving out the inner observations, the digressions, the depth of understanding that only a novel can really supply. All of which is to say, the question of who should “star” in my novel never occurs to me while I’m writing. And if it did occur to me, I would suppress it!

But of course now that you ask — and since the actual writing of Werewolf Cop is done — let me see... Timothy Olyphant would do an excellent job as the cursed Texas lawman Zach Adams. He plays a somewhat similar role on the TV show Justified, one of my favorite crime shows ever. Christoph Waltz could do nice work as the evil uber-gangster Dominic Abend, and would make a change from the usual British villain. Either Mark or Donnie Wahlberg would make a good Broadway Joe Goulart, the NYPD Detective who may or may not have gone bad. Mireille Enos always gets cast as the wifely wife — but then she’s really good at it, and Grace Adams, Zach’s wife, is just about the wifliest wife ever: a Proverbs 31 woman, as Zach calls her, after the passage in the Bible describing the perfect woman. Which means the femme fatale in his life, Margo, has to be irresistible. How about Alexandra Daddario: she’s the lady who did that nude scene in HBO’s True Detective that made many men who watched it spontaneously combust. That’s the sort of thing the part needs, though she’d also have a couple of great acting scenes.

So that’s my cast. But I’ll be plenty happy if Werewolf Cop is just read and appreciated as the novel it is.
Visit Andrew Klavan's website.

Writers Read: Andrew Klavan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 16, 2015

Keija Parssinen's "The Unraveling of Mercy Louis"

Keija Parssinen attended Princeton University, where she studied English literature and received a certificate from the Program for the Study of Women and Gender. She earned her MFA at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote fellow, a Teaching and Writing fellow, and the student editor for the Iowa Short Fiction contest. After finishing the program, she won a Michener-Copernicus award for her debut novel, The Ruins of Us, which was published in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Italy and around the Middle East. The novel was long-listed for the 2012 Chautauqua Prize.

Here Parssinen dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis:
There’s something eerie and cinematic about the bayou, which is perhaps why so many movies and TV shows take it as a setting. HBO alone could keep the Louisiana film industry in business, with True Detective, True Blood, and Treme. My second novel, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, is set in a Southeast Texas refinery town near the Louisiana border, so it shares a swampy atmosphere with those excellent and deeply weird shows. The story charts the downfall of the town’s golden girl, basketball star Mercy, after a harrowing discovery leaves the town reeling and ignites a witch hunt. I would love to see Mercy Louis adapted for the big or small screen, and here is my dream cast:

Mercy Louis: Rooney Mara would make an outstanding Mercy. Loved her in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, where she proved that she possesses the athleticism and badassery to play Mercy. Yet Mara’s also capable of balancing vulnerability alongside her toughness, a key trait in Mercy. And of course there’s the jet black hair. She’s the total package!

Illa Stark: Wallflower Illa dreams of befriending Mercy and watches her from afar. Emma Watson would do a great job. She’s smart, feminist, and waif-­‐like. It’s hard to imagine Watson capable of playing a wallflower (she was of course the opposite of that in Perks of Being a Wallflower!), but with her acting chops, combined with no make-­up and some ill-fitting clothes, I think she’d make an outstanding Illa.

Maw Maw: Mercy’s strict evangelical grandmother is physically frail yet emotionally hard, and she rules Mercy’s circumscribed world. I vote for Sissy Spacek. Stephen King’s Carrie reverberates through Mercy Louis, and it would be interesting to see Spacek play the controlling fundamentalist this time around, as opposed to the innocent pushed to the brink as she does in the 1976 movie adaptation of King’s novel.

Charmaine Boudreaux: Mercy’s mysterious mother abandoned her at birth, but she resurfaces at the start of the novel and plays an important role in the story. I’d vote for either Connie Britton or Kim Dickens, who both earned Texas cred in Friday Night Lights, and who do that drawl so well.

Annie Putnam: Mercy’s best friend, an intelligent, hard-­edged girl who uses sex to compensate for a loveless home life. The Jennifer Lawrence of American Hustle would be perfect—sexy, manipulative, terrifying and tragic.

Beau Putnam: Annie’s ruthless, politically ambitious father would be well-‐played by Matthew McConaughey, because no one does Texas sleeze quite like him. He’d have to gain weight and wear some platform shoes (Beau was a former linebacker for Texas A&M), but those are superficial details. McConaughey is the man for the job!
Visit Keija Parssinen's website.

Writers Read: Keija Parssinen.

--Marshal Zeringue