Saturday, July 20, 2019

Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel's "In the Woods"

About In the Woods by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel:
It should have been just another quiet night on the farm when Logan witnessed the attack, but it wasn’t.

Something is in the woods.
Something unexplainable.
Something deadly.

Hundreds of miles away, Chrystal’s plans for summer in Manhattan are abruptly upended when her dad reads tabloid coverage of some kind of grisly incident in Oklahoma. When they arrive to investigate, they find a witness: a surprisingly good-looking farm boy.

As townsfolk start disappearing and the attacks get ever closer, Logan and Chrystal will have to find out the truth about whatever’s hiding in the woods…before they become targets themselves.
Here Jones dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
Chrystal – She’s strong. She’s talented. Her dad is a bit eccentric. So is she. She quote Kierkegaard and has a bass guitar. She’s got the Maya Hawke vibe going on. So Maya Hawke?

Logan – He’s trying to be a poet. He’s kind of failing. He’s got farm boy arm strength and some kind eyes and a ridiculously charming smile. He’s occasionally sexist, but he’s trying. So, maybe Roshon Fegan?

Mr. Lawson-Smith (Chrystal’s dad) – Quirky? Eccentric? Basically Doctor Who as a kindergarten teacher/cryptozoologist? I’m going for Matt Smith. Oh! But if Maya Hawke is Chrystal it would be tremendous for her dad to be her actual dad. I think Ethan Hawke could pull off the vibe here.

The Monster – I can’t tell because it would be such a spoiler. Such a spoiler.
Visit Carrie Jones's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Carrie Jones & Tala.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Chris Tebbetts's "Me Myself & Him"

Chris Tebbetts is the New York Times bestselling coauthor of James Patterson’s Middle School series. Originally from Yellow Springs, Ohio, Tebbetts is a graduate of Northwestern University. He lives and writes in Vermont.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Me Myself & Him:
I love questions like this—in part because I was a film major in college; I’m a freak for movies in general; and when I write, some part of me is always imagining my scenes on the screen. I think about where I’d put the camera (aka, what I want to show the reader), when to use a long shot (description of the setting), when to go in for a close up (get inside the character’s head), etc., etc., etc.

As for my prospective actors, I saw a preview the other day for Spiderman: Far From Home, and I have to say, Tom Holland has that average-guy, accessible-but-funny feel to him that I associate with my character Chris (who is, of course, partially based on myself). And Zendaya has impressed me ever since launching off from the Disney Channel (is that where she came from?). She’d be perfect for Anna. As for the character of Wexler, I’d love to see what Thomas Barbusca (who was so good in the movie version of another of my books, Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life) could do with that role.
Visit Chris Tebbetts's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 15, 2019

Keely Hutton's "Secret Soldiers"

Keely Hutton is a novelist, educational journalist, and former teacher. She is the recipient of the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop scholarship at Chautauqua.

Hutton has worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar to tell his story in her first novel, Soldier Boy.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Secret Soldiers:
If I could cast a movie adaptation of Secret Soldiers, I would pick the following talented actors for the main roles.

Thomas – Noah Jupe, the young British actor who played Marcus Abbott in A Quiet Place could handle the emotional range of the 13-year-old Dover miner desperate to get to the Western Front.

George – Levi Miller, the young Australian actor who played Peter in Pan and Calvin in A Wrinkle in Time could bring the charismatic London street urchin to life.

Charlie – Jacob Tremblay, the young Canadian actor who played Auggie in Wonder and Jack in Room would break hearts as the vulnerable runaway.

Frederick – Finn Wolfhard, the young Canadian actor who plays Mike Wheeler on the show Stranger Things could handle the character arc of the arrogant Eton student.

James – Tom Holland, the British actor who plays my favorite Spider Man ever would be an amazing older brother for Thomas.

Bagger – Jerome Flynn, the British actor who played Bennet Drake in Ripper Street (one of my favorite characters on one of my favorite shows) and Bronn on Game of Thrones would nail the tough, but loveable crew leader.

Mole – Paul Anderson, the British actor who plays Arthur Shelby Jr. in Peaky Blinders, the show that inspired my research into the WW1 tunnellers, would slay as the crew’s kicker.

Boomer – Naveen Andrews, the British actor who played Jafar on the show Once Upon a Time in Wonderland would be amazing as the crew’s explosion expert and Thomas’s mentor.

Bats –Raphael Corkhill, the British actor who narrated the audiobook for Secret Soldiers and plays Kaiser Wilhelm II in the upcoming film The German King would be fantastic in the role of the crew’s listener.

For a composer, I’d love John Williams, Alan Silvestri, or Hans Zimmer. I listened to all three composers’ work while writing Secret Soldiers and love the emotional impact their scores bring to films.
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

My Book, The Movie: Soldier Boy.

The Page 69 Test: Secret Soldiers.

Writers Read: Keely Hutton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 13, 2019

J. Todd Scott's "This Side of Night"

J. Todd Scott was born in rural Kentucky and attended college and law school in Virginia, where he set aside an early ambition to write to pursue a career as a federal agent. His assignments have taken him all over the U.S and the world, but a badge and gun never replaced his passion for books and writing. He now resides in the American Southwest, and when he’s not hunting down very bad men, he’s hard at work on his next book.

His debut novel, The Far Empty, was published in 2016.

Here Scott dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, This Side of Night:
This is a more interesting question now that I’ve been more actively involved in the “Hollywood side” of things on several projects, including the adaptation and development of my own books. Throughout the process, I’ve met both actors and directors, and I find the whole book-to-script-to-screen process fascinating…and slow…and frustrating….

That being said, I love the idea of making films, and often visualize how I’d “shoot” my own novel scenes as I write them. I’ve always had a “pocket list” of directors I’d be thrilled to see work on the Big Bend novels (and frankly, This Side of Night is probably the most “cinematic” of the three), but there are some great female directors working now I’d love to see tackle my stuff, particularly since America Reynosa is such a central character. In no particular order: Jennifer Kent, Sarah Polley, and Karyn Kusama.
Visit J. Todd Scott's website.

The Page 69 Test: High White Sun.

My Book, The Movie: High White Sun.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Julie McElwain's "Betrayal in Time"

Julie McElwain is a national award-winning journalist. Born and raised in North Dakota, she graduated from North Dakota State University (Go, Bison!), and moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for a fashion trade newspaper. Currently, she is an editor for CBS Soaps In Depth, covering the No. 1 daytime drama, The Young & The Restless.

Her first novel, A Murder In Time, was one of the top 10 picks by the National Librarian Association for its April 2016 book list, and was selected as the mystery to read in 2016 by OverDrive Inc., a digital distributor serving more than 34,000 libraries around the world. The novel was also a finalist for the 2016 Goodreads’ readers choice awards in the Sci-fi category, and made Bustle’s list of 9 Most Addictive Mystery series for 2017.

The series continues Kendra Donovan’s adventures in Regency England with A Twist in Time, Caught in Time, and Betrayal in Time.

When McElwain is not on her laptop, she enjoys traveling, exploring different cultures, spending time with family and meeting friends for Happy Hour. She lives in Long Beach, California.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Betrayal in Time:
When my first book, A Murder in Time, was published, many people asked me who I envisioned as Kendra when I was writing the book. Honestly, I didn’t have anyone in mind when I was writing the novel. Kendra was purely a figment of my imagination. However, since A Murder in Time was optioned for a TV series, I have had a chance to fantasize a bit. I love that there are a lot of action-oriented roles for women in Hollywood these days — where a woman saves the day rather than waiting to be saved. Kendra is a super-smart, slightly awkward, kick-ass woman who saves the day. Based on that, I can see several actresses in the role, but narrowed them down to the following four. Cobie Smulders, who showed off her comedic skills in How I Met Your Mother, and then flexed her muscle (literally) by playing Turner in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back as well as Maria in the Avengers movies. Summer Glau. She was the Terminator in the TV series. Really, does anything more need to be said? Priyanka Chopra, who played an FBI agent in the TV series Quantico, and also has an international reputation as being an action star. And, finally, Sofia Pernas, who is playing an action role on CBS’ summer adventure series, Blood & Treasure.

If I’m fantasy casting, I might as well cast Kendra’s love interest, Alec, with Aidan Turner. The guy has already sent temperatures rising with his role as Ross Poldark in the Masterpiece Theater TV series, Poldark. I think the uber-talented Turner would fill Alec’s Hessian boots quite nicely, thank you very much!
Visit Julie McElwain's website.

The Page 69 Test: Caught in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Adam Mitzner's "A Matter of Will"

Adam Mitzner is currently the head of the litigation department of Pavia & Harcourt LLP in midtown Manhattan and the author of several acclaimed novels, including Dead Certain, A Conflict of Interest, A Case of Redemption, Losing Faith, The Girl from Home, Dead Certain and Never Goodbye.

Here Mitzner dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, A Matter of Will:
As it turns out, A Matter of Will is already under option for film treatment by Company X and Emily Siegel. We haven’t discussed actors yet, but if they let me cast it (and I know they won’t), I’d go with:

Will Matthews — Ansel Elgort. I loved him in Baby Driver, and he is a graduate of New York City’s high school of performing arts, which both my daughters attended.

Sam Abaddon — The part calls for someone too handsome to be believed, with a definite dark side. Jon Hamm could do it justice, but it might hew too close to his Don Draper character. Idris Elba would also kill it, and a British accent would be great.

Gwen Lipton — I’m a huge fan of Nina Dobrev, and I think she’d be perfect as Will’s love interest who is not only beautiful, but clearly smarter than he is.

Eve Deveraux — Once again, the part calls for beauty and an intelligence the audience recognizes, but the other characters might not. There’s a plethora of great age appropriate actors: Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Connelly, Halle Barry, please have your agent call me.
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mitzner's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Matter of Will.

Writers Read: Adam Mitzner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 5, 2019

Domenica Ruta's "Last Day"

In Domenica Ruta’s Last Day,
the end of the world comes once a year. Every May 28, humanity gathers to anticipate the planet’s demise—and to celebrate as if the day is truly its last.

On this holiday, three intersecting sets of characters embark on a possibly last-chance quest for redemption. In Boston, bookish wunderkind Sarah is looking for love and maybe a cosmic reversal from the much older Kurt, a tattoo artist she met at last year’s Last Day BBQ—but he’s still trying to make amends to the family he destroyed long ago. Dysfunctional Karen keeps getting into trouble, especially when the voices she’s been hearing coax her to abandon everything to search for her long-lost adoptive brother; her friend Rosette has left the Jehovah’s Witnesses to follow a new pastor at the Last Kingdom on Earth, where she brings Karen on this fateful day. Meanwhile, above them all, three astronauts on the International Space Station, Bear, an American; Russian Svec; and billionaire Japanese space tourist Yui, contemplate their lives as well as their precious Earth from afar.
Here Ruta dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
Sarah Moss should be played by Kiernan Shipka, the prodigiously talented actress who played Sally Draper on Mad Men.

Kurt should be played by either Mark Ruffalo or Robert Downey Jr in their early 40s incarnation.

Bear should be played by Ed Harris.

Karen should be played by Rebel Wilson.
Visit Domenica Ruta's website.

The Page 69 Test: Last Day.

Writers Read: Domenica Ruta.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Ashley Dyer's "The Cutting Room"

Ashley Dyer is the pseudonym for prize-winning novelist Margaret Murphy working in consultation with policing and forensics expert, Helen Pepper.

Dyer's new novel is The Cutting Room.

Here Murphy dreamcasts an adaptation of The Cutting Room:
An Oscar-winning Hollywood production company actually did show an interest in the Carver & Lake series even before Splinter in the Blood (book #1) was published. It was heady stuff for a time, and slightly surreal, having transatlantic discussions over the phone, as well as meeting with British film and TV producers. Ultimately, it all came to nought, but it was fun while it lasted. It was only after producers asked if I had a dream cast in mind, that I gave this some thought, because as a rule, although I have a picture of the protagonists in my head, I rarely base them on actors.

In The Cutting Room, Carver and Lake are on the trail of a social media savvy serial killer who calls himself the ‘Ferryman’; a sadistic narcissist with artistic pretensions who makes his victims the centrepiece of his art works.

Emily Blunt would be perfect as Ruth Lake. Ruth is reserved, though far from shy, and has a phenomenal inner strength and integrity. She’s serious, and can be tough, but has a sense of humour, and she’s compassionate. Although she isn’t always honest with Carver or her colleagues, she is honest with herself—and she is harbouring a dreadful secret—at least some of which is revealed in this novel, when a man comes back into her life who was very special to her in her teens and early twenties. Emily Blunt is superb in every movie I’ve ever seen her in, from the kick-ass action heroine in Edge of Tomorrow, to a vulnerable-but-stoic FBI agent in Sicario; and she conveyed such raw emotion in A Quiet Place—much of it without dialogue—that I know she could bring all of Ruth’s many-layered complexities to life onscreen.

Greg Carver, meanwhile, is slowly regaining his strength after an attack that nearly ended him and he can’t seem to shake the hallucinations and bewildering auras which are a legacy of his injuries. He is grateful to Ruth who covers for him at work, but terrified that the after-effects of his head trauma, together with the PTSD flashbacks he’s suffering, will finish his career, so he’s pushing himself too hard, too fast, and is in deep denial—sometimes even building barriers against Ruth. But the auras—blurs of coloured light which ‘halo’ people he interacts with—seem to correspond to their mood, and Carver begins to regard his infirmity as a strength. Jake Gyllenhaal has a tremendous range and seems completely fearless in the roles he takes on. I’d love for him to play Carver, knowing that he would convey Carver’s intensity and vulnerability, his terror and bewilderment, and also the courage and determination that make him a great cop.

As for the director ... I toyed with the Christopher Nolan (and there aren’t many who can say that!), because he creates such strong visual experiences and dizzying disorientation in his films, notably Memento, and Inception. But in the end, I think Martin Scorsese would be the director for me: Shutter Island, adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel, was highly inventive, creating truly startling images in the hallucinatory sequences and conveying the weirdness and dark gothic tone of the book brilliantly. I’d love to see what he’d do with Greg Carver’s flashbacks, visions and auras, as well as the seriously twisted ‘artworks’ the murderer creates.
Visit Ashley Dyer's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Ashley Dyer.

The Page 69 Test: The Cutting Room.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Richard Zimler's "The Warsaw Anagrams"

Richard Zimler's novels include The Search for Sana, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, and The Seventh Gate. He has won many prizes for his writing and has lectured on Sephardic Jewish culture all over the world. He now lives in Porto, Portugal, where he teaches journalism and writes.

Here Zimler dreamcasts an adaptation of his novel, The Warsaw Anagrams:
The Warsaw Anagrams is a noir mystery set inside Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto. The narrator, Erik Cohen, is an elderly psychiatrist, except that the reader discovers right away that he is already dead. Erik is an ibbur – a ghost – who has failed to pass over to the Other Side. Why? He theorizes that it is because he still has a duty to fulfill in our world. Except that he doesn’t know what it is. He tells the story of his last year in the Warsaw ghetto in the hopes of discovering what it is.

A little context… In the autumn of 1940, the Nazis sealed 400,000 Jews inside a small area of the Polish capital, creating an urban island cut off from the outside world. Erik is forced to move into a tiny apartment there with his niece and his beloved nine-year-old nephew, Adam.

One bitterly cold winter day, Adam goes missing. The next morning, his body is discovered in the barbed wire surrounding this Jewish ghetto. For what possible reason has his body been murdered?

Erik fights off his crushing rage and despair by vowing to find his nephew’s killer – and take revenge. His childhood friend Izzy – whose quick courage and wicked sense of humor keeps Erik from losing his nerve – joins him in the desperate and dangerous search.

A Portuguese producer is currently trying to secure funding for the film, but I don’t know where the projects stands (the author is always the last to know!). The role of Erik would have to be played by a very charismatic and talented actor. Erik isn’t a demonstrative man, so the actor would have to be able to capture the viewer’s attention through small and telling gestures – and through modulations in his voice. One actor that the producer and I have discussed is Jeremy Irons. Another possibility would be Mandy Patinkin. I think both of them could do a great job (and get an Oscar nomination!). For Izzy, the other main role, I would like Mark Rylance. I saw him in Bridge of Spies and was very impressed. I think that he and Jeremy Irons or Mandy Patinkin would make an incredible duo.
Visit Richard Zimler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Catherine Chung's "The Tenth Muse"

Catherine Chung was born in Evanston, IL, and grew up in New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Writing has been her life-long passion, but as an undergraduate she indulged in a brief, one-sided affair with mathematics at the University of Chicago followed by a few years in Santa Monica working at a think tank by the sea.

Eventually she attended Cornell University for her MFA, and since then she and her books have been given shelter and encouragement from The MacDowell Colony, Jentel, Hedgebrook, SFAI, Camargo, The University of Leipzig, VCCA, UCross, Yaddo, Civitella Ranieri, The Jerome Foundation, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. Her brother, Heesoo Chung, has also given her a bed and fed her lots of ice cream at criticał times.

Chung is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Director’s Visitorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She was a Granta New Voice, and won an Honorable Mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award with her first novel, Forgotten Country, which was a Booklist, Bookpage, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2012. She has published work in The New York Times, The Rumpus, and Granta, and is a fiction editor at Guernica Magazine. She lives in New York City.

Here Chung dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Tenth Muse:
When I was growing up, my white friends would sometimes ask each other who they'd want to play them in the movie of their lives. As a child, I was always at a loss: there were no Asian American child actresses I knew by name. I don't know when the first time I saw one was, but to be honest, it's not something I likely would have wanted to commemorate: the Asian American onscreen characters of my childhood were the foreign exchange students in the goofy clothes who spoke with accents, or the nerds everyone else made fun of and picked on, who carried calculators and protractors, whose noses were buried in giant books. It's not that these depictions didn't reflect my experience: they did, in the most painful ways. I wanted nothing to do with them.

When my first book came out, people would ask me who I wanted to play the Korean American family in my novel. "When was the last time you saw a movie about an Asian American family?" I deflected--refusing to play along. "How many Asian American actors and actresses can you even name?" The Joy Luck Club had come out when I was in middle school, and almost two decades had passed by that point. I had loved that movie: had loved seeing beautiful, complicated Asian American women living a range of different lives whose stories were treated with compassion and love and whose mothers' backstories, also lovingly told, were equal parts glamorous and tragic. That whole movie was filled with a tortured longing I understood: the yearning of the second generation to immerse itself fully in the New World in tension with the desire to hold on to history, to culture, to family, to love.

And then, for a long time, there was nothing that even compared. I loved Lucy Liu and Sandra Oh and Margaret Cho, but I wanted more for them, and more for myself. I wanted them in leading roles, I wanted them surrounded by other Asian faces, for the focus to be on the full range of their experiences as Asian American women--something I hadn't seen enough of, something I was hungry for.

The last two years in Asian American cinema and television have been a revelation, to say the least. When I think of Crazy Rich Asians, To All The Boys I Loved Before, and Always Be My Maybe I am filled with devoted, celebratory, gleeful pride, as if someone in my family had made them. For the first time, this question of who would play the lead role of my protagonist Katherine in the movie of my book feels like a joyous one to answer. And since I'm new at this, since it's my first time really allowing myself to ask this question, I find that I am greedy. I want everyone. Setting aside practicalities of age, etc, I want the first Asian American actress I ever fell in love with, the one whose face I've missed for so many years--Ming-Na Wen with her soulful eyes and quiet depth, I want Lucy Liu and her radiant energy and sparkling charm, Sandra Oh with her charisma, range, and humanity. I want Gemma Chan for her angelic beauty, and even more for the way her thoughts telegraph across her face and the intelligence that shines through everything she does (she could also play the young version of Katherine's mother with heartbreaking clarity)--and Olivia Munn with her sharp, forceful, unapologetic and charmingly eccentric personality, and who is also the only actress on this list who's biracial, as Katherine is. Any of these phenomenally talented actresses could inhabit Katherine--a math genius struggling to find a place for herself in the male dominated world of higher mathematics and simultaneously trying to come to an understanding of her family's history and her own identity--in different and beautiful ways, and I love daydreaming about the different ways they'd play her. And I love, too, daydreaming about the actresses whose work I don't know yet, the actresses I know are coming for us, ready to finally embody the stories we've been waiting with such hunger to see, and the stories we have yet to tell.
Visit Catherine Chung's website.

Writers Read: Catherine Chung.

--Marshal Zeringue