Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sarah Strohmeyer's "This Is My Brain on Boys"

Sarah Strohmeyer is a bestselling and award-winning novelist whose books include The Secrets of Lily Graves, How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True, Smart Girls Get What They Want, The Cinderella Pact (which became the Lifetime Original Movie Lying to Be Perfect), The Sleeping Beauty Proposal, The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives, Sweet Love, and the Bubbles mystery series.

Here Strohmeyer dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, This Is My Brain on Boys:
I suppose I had Ellen Page in mind when I wrote about my extremely literal, brilliant and warm-hearted character Addie. (Poor Ellen. The curses of a youthful face!)

For Tess, her redheaded, wild, intuitive friend, I would love Jennifer Lawrence, and for Kris, I like Ellar Coltrane because I think he can pull off a serious guy with a definite insouciance.

But, to be honest, when I wrote the book I had in mind my son’s friends who are now juniors in college. That was the way it was with Smart Girls Get What They Want, too…. I like blending characteristics of people I know.
Visit Sarah Strohmeyer's website.

The Page 69 Test: This Is My Brain on Boys.

Writers Read: Sarah Strohmeyer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 23, 2016

Larry D. Sweazy's "See Also Deception"

Larry D. Sweazy's novels include A Thousand Falling Crows, Escape from Hangtown, See Also Murder: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery, Vengeance at Sundown, The Gila Wars, The Coyote Tracker, The Devil's Bones, The Cougar's Prey, The Badger's Revenge, The Scorpion Trail, and The Rattlesnake Season. He won the WWA (Western Writers of America) Spur award for Best Short Fiction in 2005 and for Best Paperback Original in 2013. He also won the 2011 and 2012 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction for books the Josiah Wolfe series. He was nominated for a Derringer award in 2007 (for the short story "See Also Murder"), and was a finalist in the Best Books of Indiana literary competition in 2010. Sweazy was awarded the Best Books in Indiana in 2011 for The Scorpion Trail. And in 2013, he received the inaugural Elmer Kelton Fiction Book of the Year for The Coyote Tracker, presented by the AWA (Academy of Western Artists). Sweazy has published over sixty nonfiction articles and short stories, which have appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine; The Adventure of the Missing Detective: And 25 of the Year's Finest Crime and Mystery Stories!; Boys' Life; Hardboiled; Amazon Shorts, and several other publications and anthologies.

Here Sweazy dreamcasts his new Marjorie Trumaine Mystery, See Also Deception:
I think the demands of character are deep with Marjorie Trumaine. The role would require an actress to be vulnerable and strong, wise and afraid, sad without being maudlin, and fearless when it came to going after the truth. It would be a nuanced role, a lead in a movie—everything revolves around her—which in today’s Hollywood is an unfortunate rarity (a female lead role). Reese Witherspoon comes to mind as a candidate to play Marjorie. I think she could get the North Dakota accent, and after her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed in Wild, I’m certain she could reach the emotional depths that playing Marjorie would require. Her spunk was evident from the beginning in Man in the Moon, and that attribute is also a necessary ingredient to bring Marjorie to life. Can she carry a movie? Absolutely.

Hank is another central character, and hugely important. I’ve been seeing Tom Hiddleston a lot lately, and I can imagine his face as Hank’s. Gaunt, but wise, trapped in a body that is useless to him. It’d be all about the face, the emotion, the frustration of not being able to help Marjorie. A minimal physical role that offers a huge acting challenge.

Betty Walsh is another integral character in this novel. She’s young, just out of high school, smart, ambitious, and eager to explore the world around her. She’s not quite a woman, but hardly a little girl, so this offers an actress another complex role. I liked Vanessa Hudgens’ portrayal of Rizzo in Grease Live, recently. I think she showed a wide range of emotion. She could play Betty and bring something interesting to the part.

In all mysteries, nothing is really what it seems, and I think these roles would be complex, challenging, and hopefully fun for the actor to play. I like the look of this cast, but there’s one more role that would need to be filled, and that’s the land. North Dakota, the wide open prairie, the loneliness and danger of it, would have to be portrayed just as accurately as all of the main characters in the book. Care would need to be taken how it is portrayed, and if this were my movie, I’d be just as concerned about land as I was Marjorie and the rest of the cast.

I never put an actor’s face to a character when I’m writing. I don’t think in movie terms at all. For most writers movies and books are apples and oranges, two different things, and in movies, writers have little control, if any, so it’s rare to do an exercise like this. It’s always fun to put a face with a name.
Learn more about the book and author at Larry D. Sweazy's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Larry D. Sweazy & Brodi and Sunny (April 2013).

The Page 69 Test: See Also Deception.

Writers Read: Larry D. Sweazy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Laura McNeal's "The Incident on the Bridge"

Laura Rhoton McNeal holds an MA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and has worked as a freelance journalist, a crime writer, and a high school English teacher. She is the author of Dark Water, a finalist for the National Book Award. She and her husband, Tom, are the authors of Crooked, Zipped, Crushed, and The Decoding of Lana Morris.

Here McNeal dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Incident on the Bridge:
If they made The Incident on the Bridge into a movie, I’d prefer that people who are not already famous play the teenagers, but that’s because I love to see movies in which the actors, especially young ones, are unknown to me. Then I don’t have to erase my feeling that, for example, Shailene Woodley is the girl from The Descendants. That said, I loved Lily James in the BBC version of War and Peace. Something about her teeth makes her endearingly fragile-looking. She would make a lovely, self-doubting Thisbe, I think. The next role I’d want to cast is Frank Le Stang, and since I can ask for the impossible here, I’d want Mark Rylance. I fell completely in love with his Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall and then found him just as convincing as the soviet spy Rudolf Abel in Bridge of Spies. He’s the kind of actor who could make you feel sorry for Frank Le Stang.
Visit Laura McNeal's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Laura McNeal & Link.

The Page 69 Test: The Incident on the Bridge.

Writers Read: Laura McNeal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Suzanne Myers's "I'm From Nowhere"

Suzanne Myers was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Toronto, Canada. She is a graduate of Princeton University and USC Film School. Her feature film Alchemy won Best Feature at the SXSW Film Festival. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two sons, and dogs. She also rides and shows horses.

Here Myers dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel I'm From Nowhere:
Because I was a screenwriter and film director before I was an author, when I’m writing a new book, I do tend to “cast” it so that I have pictures in my mind as a starting point for the main characters. Sometimes what happens is that by the time the book comes out, the actors are too old to actually play those characters in the movie version, but I think it helps me.

Here’s how I would cast I'm From Nowhere:

Wren- Tavi Gevinson or Maisie Williams
Honor- Elle Fanning
Chazzy- Logan Lerman
Nick- Nicholas Hoult
Hannah- Kristen Wiig
Edward- Peter Sarsgaard
Visit Suzanne Myers's website.

Writers Read: Suzanne Myers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Laura Lippman's "Wilde Lake"

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working full-time and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001.

Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards.

She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity.

Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., she attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Here Lippman shares her idea for casting the lead in an adaptation of her new novel, Wilde Lake:
Writing Wilde Lake, I needed to shut down any thoughts of movies, especially one particular movie and one particular actor. It was imperative that I banish Gregory Peck from my mind. Which is ironic, because I never think of Peck when I re-read To Kill a Mockingbird. I read the book when I was 11 or 12 and had not yet seen the film. In my mind, Atticus Finch looked more like Wally Cox, whom I knew from Hollywood Squares: Slender, be-spectacled. If you remember the book, Scout describes her father as "old," relative to other fathers, not someone inclined to throw a ball around with his son. That's why the scene when he shoots the rabid dog is so vivid; Jem and Scout have no idea that their father is a crack shot.

But, perhaps because I'm middle-aged now, I did begin to wonder if Atticus Finch was celibate. Whether he looks like Gregory Peck or Wally Cox, it seems unlikely, doesn't it? There would have been women eager to provide companionship to a widower with a good job. And if he wasn't keeping company with women in public, well -- you can see where I'm going with this. To Kill a Mockingbird is a child's eye view of the world until its final paragraph, which suggests that Scout has allowed hindsight to shape her memory of what happens when she stands on Boo Radley's porch, tries to see the world from his perspective.

That said: Anna Kendrick for Lu Brant. She's much too young now, but it takes forever for things to get made and I think she would be very good at inhabiting Lu's tightly compartmentalized life.
Visit Laura Lippman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Wilde Lake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

T.R. Ragan's "Furious"

T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her exciting Lizzy Gardner series (Abducted, Dead Weight, A Dark Mind, Obsessed, Almost Dead, and Evil Never Dies) has received tremendous praise. In August 2015 Evil Never Dies hit #7 on the Wall Street Journal bestselling list. Since publishing in 2011, she has sold two million books and has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, PC Magazine, Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly.

Ragan grew up in a family of five girls in Lafayette, California. An avid traveler, her wanderings have carried her to Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, China, Thailand, and Nepal, where she narrowly survived being chased by a killer elephant. Before devoting herself to writing fiction, she worked as a legal secretary for a large corporation. Ragan and her husband Joe have four children and live in Sacramento, California.

Here Ragan dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Furious:
I enjoy spending time searching for actors and actresses who I think could play parts in books I’m working on. I find pictures on the Internet or cut them from magazines and then pin them on my office corkboard for inspiration.

Long before I began writing Furious, book 1 in the Faith McMann Trilogy, I chose Sandra Bullock to play Faith McMann, a schoolteacher, wife and mother of two small children. Faith must find a way to deal with the death of her husband as she sets out into the dark world of human trafficking to find her kids. I think Sandra would do a great job portraying the variety of emotions displayed by Faith’s character.

For the other roles, I chose Drew Barrymore to play Faith’s sister, Jana. Mostly due to sheer size, I would love Vincent Peter Jones, an English actor, to play Beast. I also selected Lenny McLean to play his father. Sadly, Lenny McLean passed away after the making of the movie, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. As far as directors go, there are so many great directors out there, but I think Lenny Abrahamson (The Room), David Fincher (Gone Girl), or Kathryn Bigelow (Hurt Locker) would do a great job of bringing realism to the Faith McMann Trilogy.
Visit T.R. Ragan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Furious.

Writers Read: T.R. Ragan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Jeff Wheeler's "The Queen's Poisoner"

Jeff Wheeler's best-known fiction includes the Legends of Muirwood & Covenant of Muirwood trilogies, The Whispers from Mirrowen trilogy, and a graphic novel, The Lost Abbey.

Here Wheeler dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel The Queen's Poisoner, book one in The Kingfountain Series:
The story behind The Queen’s Poisoner has been stewing in my brain for years. The challenge for me was writing from the point of view of an eight year-old boy and making it accessible to adults as well. I believed that an eight year-old could pull off the role after re-watching M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. Unfortunately, the actor Haley Joel Osment isn’t the right age anymore, but it would need to be a kid like him, one with the right mix of vulnerability and thoughtfulness that really made that performance so memorable. I’ll also never forget what he did in the movie AI: Artificial Intelligence as well. The main character in my book, Owen Kiskaddon, was actually based on my youngest son, even down to the patch of white in his hair. So while I was writing the scenes, I had some source material to work with.

That being said, however, I did have an actor in mind as I developed the role of Owen’s nemesis, the brutal ruler of Kingfountain, King Severn. I’ve been impressed with the work of Richard Armitage since I first saw him in my favorite BBC miniseries North & South. I saw him next in the campy re-make of Robin Hood and he was probably my favorite character in that series as the vengeful and ambitious Guy of Gisborne. I was thrilled to learn that he was cast as Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s re-make of The Hobbit movies. The man can play brooding, angry characters! I’d read on-line somewhere that he was a fan of Richard III and had always longed to play that role in Shakespeare’s play. It so happens that the inspiration for the setting of The Queen’s Poisoner was the War of the Roses with an alternate history where the usurper defeated his enemy in battle instead of losing it. If Hollywood ever decides to make a movie out of this series, you know who I’ll be insisting plays my conflicted antagonist King Severn.
Visit Jeff Wheeler's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Queen's Poisoner.

Writers Read: Jeff Wheeler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 13, 2016

Lauren Belfer's "And After the Fire"

Lauren Belfer's debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, as well as a number one Book Sense pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Award nominee, a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. City of Light was a bestseller in Great Britain and has been translated into six languages. Her second novel, A Fierce Radiance, was named a Washington Post Best Novel of 2010 and an NPR Best Mystery of 2010.

Here Belfer dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel And After the Fire:
And After the Fire alternates between two plot lines, one in the present, one in the past, each with a strong female protagonist. As I worked on the novel, I decided that the ideal movie version would feature the same actress in both roles. This would be a tour-de-force opportunity for an actress, if I may say so myself! The historical figure, Sara Itzig Levy, lived from 1761-1854, and the novel presents her from girlhood until shortly before her death at age 93. She was a skilled musician, and for over fifty years she hosted a salon that brought together artists and intellectuals from across Europe, aristocrats and commoners alike. In the present-day story, the fictional Susanna Kessler is in her thirties, a highly-focused young woman who is recovering from a devastating act of violence. I’ve often imagined Natalie Portman or Rachel Weisz in both these roles – and Natalie Portman could direct, as well; recently, she made her directing debut in A Tale of Love and Darkness.

Sara and Susanna each have a strong love interest, and here I’d pick different men for the roles. For Susanna’s love, how could I resist Daniel Craig, with his handsome gravitas, especially if Rachel Weisz is the lead actress? And as Sara’s beloved husband, Clive Owen would be perfect.

And After the Fire encompasses two centuries of history and has a large cast of characters, real and fictional. In the supporting roles, I’d pick Adrian Brody to be the composer Felix Mendelssohn. Emily Blunt to play Felix’s sister, Fanny. Jim Broadbent would be terrific as Rev. Frank Mueller, a (fictional) Lutheran pastor and the moral center of the novel. And as Frederic Fournier, the conniving impresario, who else but Ralph Fiennes?
Learn more about the book and author at Lauren Belfer's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Fierce Radiance.

My Book, The Movie: A Fierce Radiance.

The Page 69 Test: And After the Fire.

Writers Read: Lauren Belfer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Camille Griep's "New Charity Blues"

Camille Griep lives just north of Seattle with her partner, Adam, and their dog Dutch(ess). Born in Billings, Montana, she moved to Southern California to attend Claremont McKenna College, graduating with a dual degree in Biology and Literature.

She has since sold short fiction and creative nonfiction to dozens of online and print magazines. She is the editor of Easy Street and is a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. Letters to Zell is her first novel.

Here Griep dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, New Charity Blues:
I have always been guilty of daydreaming and writing with a cinematic ribbon running through my mind. In keeping, I’d love to share my (unlimited budget) casting via the opening montage for the film version of New Charity Blues.

The movie begins with images of a dark and ruined City. Ex-ballerina Syd, played by Julia Goldani Telles (an actress and dancer from the criminally short-lived series Bunheads fame), is climbing a dilapidated staircase. As the music slowly gets louder, she discovers young Mina, played by Kylie Rogers (of The Whispers), trapped while searching for Buster (played by a black and white American Bulldog to be cast by a nice trainer somewhere) who is emerges from a dark corner of the room. When the camera returns to the corner, the frame goes black.

Over a slower portion of the theme music, the scenery brightens into a sunset. Cas Willis, played by Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, If I Stay), is on horseback, loping over the green hillsides of New Charity alongside her twin, Len, played by Lucas Hedges (The Slap). Homeward bound, they are shown into the barn by their brother Troy, played by Chord Overstreet (of Glee fame). Cas looks down the hill, into the distance, to a cloud of dust: the chaos erupting at the old Turner Ranch.

When the dust clears, montage music still swelling, we are back in the city, where Syd delivers the injured Mina to Doc, played by Nick Nolte (Cape Fear), before joining Agnes, played by Kelly Bishop (Dirty Dancing), for a dinner of canned tuna and corn. Rain pelts the windows as they eat in silence. Syd scratches one of Agnes’ many cats’ ears before bending over to light a candle and the scene goes blurry.

Another candle comes into focus, this time in the middle of a dinner table, New Charity’s lush green scenery out the window. Cas, Len, and Troy sit with the rest of their family: Governor Willis, played by Neal McDonough (Minority Report); Mama Willis, played by Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City); and Perry, played by Anton Yelchin (Charlie Parker), as well as the vile Bishop, played by Thomas Haden Church (Sideways).

As the opening credit music again begins to fade, the camera pans away from the dinner table, out the window, and down the grassy hillside to the Turner Ranch where the earlier chaos has now died down. Deacon Pious Turner, played by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), sobs into the shoulder of Sheriff Jayne, played by Kristen Johnson (3rd Rock). The lens zooms out over the silver horse sculpted gates sealing the wall of New Charity where a camp of Survivors including Nelle, played by Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black); Mangold, played by Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me); and Linsey, played by Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter).

Now that we’ve been introduced to the major characters of New Charity Blues, we can settle in with our popcorn and watch the rest together.
Visit Camille Griep's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Camille Griep and Dutchess Marie Siefker-Griep.

The Page 69 Test: Letters to Zell.

The Page 69 Test: New Charity Blues.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 9, 2016

Anita Hughes's "Island in the Sea"

Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia and had a charmed childhood that included petting koala bears, riding the waves on Bondi Beach, and putting an occasional shrimp on the barbie. Her writing career began at the age of eight, when she won a national writing contest in The Australian newspaper, and was named "One of Australia's Next Best Writers." (She still has the newspaper clipping.)

Hughes received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing program.

Her debut novel Monarch Beach was released in June 2012, followed by Market Street in March 2013, Lake Como in August 2013, and Rome in Love and French Coast in 2015.

Here Hughes dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Island in the Sea:
One of the most enjoyable questions an author can be asked is: who do you see cast in your book, the movie. Imagining your characters on the big screen is every author's dream and casting it before Hollywood comes calling is a common preoccupation.

Casting Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story is easy, because I cast one of the main characters, Lionel, in my head, before I wrote his first dialogue. Pierce Brosnan is witty, handsome, British, and can play disgruntled and slightly depressed while remaining incredibly charming.

Juliet is also quite easy to cast. There are so many strong, beautiful twenty-something actresses in Hollywood. I could see Emma Stone or Lily Collins or even Mila Kunis at Juliet.

Henry, the tennis heartthrob from New Zealand, could be played by Chris Helmsworth (he is hard to look away from anytime he appears on the screen) and Vanessa Hudgens or Selena Gomez would be wonderful as Gabriella. (Gabriella has a wonderful voice so it would be great to cast an actress who is also a singer).

A lot of readers have enjoyed Lydia, Gabriella's grandmother. Lydia has a lot of life experience and wisdom to pass on to Gabriella and Juliet. I could see Jane Seymour or Helen Mirren as Lydia.

Thank you for the opportunity to let me daydream! And I always love to hear others' thoughts on their favorite actors and actresses for the parts.
Learn more about the book and author at Anita Hughes's website.

My Book, The Movie: Market Street.

My Book, The Movie: Lake Como.

My Book, The Movie: French Coast.

--Marshal Zeringue