Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Julian Stockwin's "To the Eastern Seas"

Julian Stockwin was sent at the age of fourteen to Indefatigable, a tough sea-training school. He joined the Royal Navy at fifteen before transferring to the Royal Australian Navy, where he served for eight years in the Far East, Antarctic waters and the South Seas. In Vietnam he saw active service in a carrier task force. After leaving the Navy (rated Petty Officer), Stockwin practiced as an educational psychologist. He lived for some time in Hong Kong, where he was commissioned into the Royal Naval Reserve. He was awarded the MBE and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Stockwin's latest Thomas Kydd novel is To the Eastern Seas.

Here the author shares some thoughts about adapting the Kydd novels for the screen:
I didn't have any specific actors or directors in mind when I began writing my Kydd tales. I was focused on a piece of advice my wife Kathy gave me: ´write the book you yourself want to read.´ Although there had been some fine Age of Sail books written I wanted to take a different approach - I decided to start with a man forced to join the Royal Navy against his will who comes to love the life - and thrives in Neptune´s Realm. I knew there had been a handful of seamen before the mast who against incredible odds had eventually become officers, some even captaining their own ship, a tiny few achieving their flag. What kind of men were they? How did they achieve this in a time when you knew your place and you stayed there? I also wanted to cast the sea in a more forward role. I wanted the reader as I did to experience both its majesty and its brutal power. To my mind any movie or TV series would have to be sensitive to these aspects.

Although I´m sure an action-packed movie could be made of my latest title To the Eastern Seas I´d love to see a movie or TV series based on a selection of the Kydd titles (22 to date), focusing on Kydd´s journey from pressed man to officer and ultimately admiral. There is a natural division - Thomas Kydd as a seaman on the lower deck and then his great achievement of crossing the divide to the quarterdeck - where he becomes an officer and a gentleman. So the silver screen could see two movies - and a TV series of multiple episodes.

Who would I like to play the lead roles (Thomas Kydd and his great friend Nicholas Renzi) - I´m open to suggestions but I strongly feel it should be a British actor. Quite drawn to Alex Pettifer as a candidate. Good looking, about the right age. As for the enigmatic Renzi, Kit Harrington appeals.

And perhaps Andrew Grieve as director?
Visit Julian Stockwin's website.

Writers Read: Julian Stockwin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Chris Nickson's "Molten City"

Chris Nickson is the author of The Molten City and seven previous Tom Harper mysteries, seven highly acclaimed novels in the Richard Nottingham series, and two Simon Westow mysteries. He is also a well-known music journalist. He lives in his beloved Leeds.

Here Nickson dreamcasts an adaptation of The Molten City:
I don’t really watch movies or TV, so I’m not up on actors. But there’s one man I could imagine playing Tom Harper, and that’s Christopher Eccleston. I first came across him in the television series Cracker, then the movie Shallow Grave. When they rebooted Dr Who, he played the doctor for one season. He’s Northern, and possesses that quiet strength and inner determination I see in Tom. Given that I don’t have a definitive physical idea of Harper, he could slide into that quite easily.

Tom’s wife, Annabelle, is the emotional linchpin of the series; she’s more than just a secondary character. Someone I’ve envisioned playing her from the first moment Annabelle appeared is Maxine Peake. She’s not well-known in the US (I doubt Eccleston is either, for that matter), but she’s another Northerner, a superb who covers a wide range of roles on TV and stage in particular. She’s also very political and working-class. I could readily imagine her utterly inhabiting Annabelle.

Of course, they do both come with a handicap for playing Yorkshire folk: they were born in Lancashire, on the wrong side of the Pennines (Yorkshire and Lancashire are ancient rivals – think of the War of the Roses). But at least they’re from the North, so they’d understand what makes Tom and Annabelle tick. Curiously, though, I’d be quite reluctant to have a film/TV show made of the series, however wonderful it would be. Why? Because once that happens, the characters take on the face and traits of those people on the screen, rather than the more physically amorphous vision in my mind. I’m worried I’d begin writing to the actors rather than the characters, if that makes sense.

A director? I know so few, really. Ken Loach is one of the British directors who can find the essence of the English character, and he did a stirring job with Peterloo. I don’t think he’s ever done a crime drama, but the social aspects of the book are equally important, especially in The Molten City with both the Suffragettes and unemployed men rioting.
Learn more about the book and author at Chris Nickson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Constant Lovers.

Q&A with Chris Nickson.

The Page 69 Test: The Molten City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 10, 2020

C. T. Rwizi's "Scarlet Odyssey"

Debut author C. T. Rwizi was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Swaziland, finished high school in Costa Rica, and got a BA in government at Dartmouth College in the United States. He currently lives in South Africa with his family, and enjoys playing video games, taking long runs, and spending way too much time lurking on Reddit. He is a self-professed lover of synthwave.

Here Rwizi dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Scarlet Odyssey:
If someone decided to make my book into a film, they would probably need to cast a lot of completely or relatively new actors for the job. Why? Because I’m not sure there are many well-known options on the table to fill even a fictional cast. Let’s take a look.

The main character, Salo, would need to be a young black man in his late teens. He would need to be surrounded by several other young black men of a similar age, from his brothers to his friends. Five black women, also of a similar age, would need to play the roles of Ilapara, Isa, Kelafelo, Alinata and Nimara.

If they were white, this list would be very easy to fill, as there are many well-known white actors in this demographic to choose from. As it is, I’m struggling to find suitable dreamcasts without resorting to “that black girl I saw on that one tv show.”

I’d probably just end up borrowing the entire cast of Dear White People and every other young black actor who has ever appeared on tv to be honest. That said, the closest to what I envision Salo looking like is a young Alfred Enoch, who plays Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films.

The older characters are somewhat easier. Lupita Nyong'o would be a good fit for the Maidservant. Salo’s father is a lean giant of a warrior with a stoic temperament, so I’d go for Idris Elba or Will Smith for his character. The queen of Salo’s tribe is a statuesque woman with a breathtaking presence so I’d nominate Beyoncé or Kerry Washington for the role. The high mystic who appears in the book would be someone with a striking and yet severe countenance, akin to Lance Reddick.

For the part of the Enchantress I’d go for Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt, while the mysterious wanderer Tuk could be played by Timothée Chalamet, who will be starring as Paul Atreides in the upcoming movie Dune.

As for the director of this hypothetical movie, it should come as no surprise that I’d go for Ryan Coogler, who directed the hugely successful Black Panther. It’s the only movie I can think of even remotely comparable to what a film adaptation of the Scarlet Odyssey might look like, and I believe he would do a fantastic job of it.
Learn more about Scarlet Odyssey, and follow C. T. Rwizi on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Tracy Clark's "What You Don’t See"

Tracy Clark is a native Chicagoan who writes mysteries set in her hometown while working as an editor in the newspaper industry. She is a graduate of Mundelein College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she earned her MA.

Since reading her first Nancy Drew mystery, Clark has dreamed of crafting mysteries of her own, mysteries that feature strong, intelligent, independent female characters, and those who share their world. Cass Raines, ex-cop turned intrepid PI, is such a character.

Here Clark shares some thoughts on the cast of an adaptation of her latest novel, What You Don’t See:
What You Don’t See is book three in the Cass Raines Chicago Mystery series. In this story, the protagonist, Cassandra Raines, an ex-homicide cop with the Chicago Police Department turned hard-driving PI, is tasked with protecting an arrogant, high-handed magazine publisher named Vonda Allen, who is being terrorized by someone who wants her dead. Cass’s simple personal protection detail, however, quickly turns deadly when Vonda’s staffers begin turning up dead, Cass is confronted with personal tragedy, and the killer shows no signs of letting up. Cass must then figure out what Vonda is hiding from her past, avenge an attack on someone she holds dear, and chase down a vengeful killer before another innocent person dies.

I wasn’t thinking about movie adaptations or casting while I was writing this book and didn’t while writing any of the others. Crime fiction is my bubble, my sweet spot. I pretty much stick to the words on the page, the characters and their individual arcs, that sort of thing. I have no idea how Cass would play on the big or small screen.

Cass has a strong, distinctive voice and worldview and very much conforms to the conventional PI archetype, with updated exceptions. She’s independent almost to a fault, brash, extroverted, snarky, brave, intrepid, often foolhardy. She’s extremely loyal to the makeshift family she’s cobbled together for herself, but intensely private and self-contained. She is part champion of the underdog, part flawed reluctant hero, part mess. She’s described in one of the books as rough and spiney on the outside, but sweet and vulnerable inside, like a pineapple.

I’ve no idea who could play her, right off the top of my head, I’m thinking of actresses like Paula Patton or Naomie Harris, but if it ever comes to the adaptation stage, I wish whoever might one day get the task of casting all the luck in the world.

As for directors, I can just go with one I like a lot, Kathryn Bigelow. My favorite film of hers is 1990’s Blue Steel, starring Jamie Lee Curtis. It wasn’t a hit, but the gritty realism the film highlighted really stuck with me. I wouldn’t mind it one bit if one of my books got the Blue Steel treatment.
Visit Tracy Clark's website.

Q&A with Tracy Clark.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 6, 2020

Nicola Maye Goldberg's "Nothing Can Hurt You"

Nicola Maye Goldberg is the author of Other Women and The Doll Factory. She lives in New York City.

Here Goldberg dreamcasts an adaptation of her new literary thriller, Nothing Can Hurt You:
My dream director for an adaptation of Nothing Can Hurt You would be Park Chan-wook, whose film Stoker is my all-time favorite. His unexpected ways of depicting violence and its aftereffects are so extraordinary, and a constant source of inspiration to me as a writer. I’m also very into French New Extremity, so it would be very cool to see how one of those directors, like Coralie Fargeat or Julia Ducourneau, would interpret the material.

The two main characters of the book are Sara Morgan, an art student, and Blake Campbell, her boyfriend, who murders her. Probably any young, good-looking actors could fill those roles, though I think Timothée Chalamet would be particularly good as Blake. A character that might be harder to cast would be Sara’s mother, who becomes a professional psychic after her daughter’s death. I think Julianne Moore would be really good. Another trickier character would be Katherine, who falls in love with Blake while they are in rehab together. Maybe Florence Pugh, or Jodie Comer.
Visit Nicola Maye Goldberg's website.

Q&A with Nicola Maye Goldberg.

The Page 69 Test: Nothing Can Hurt You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Robyn Harding's "The Swap"

Robyn Harding is the internationally bestselling author of The Arrangement, Her Pretty Face. and The Party which was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel. She has also written four novels of contemporary women’s fiction, a young adult novel, and a comedic memoir with an environmental focus.

Here Harding dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, The Swap:
The Swap is the story of two attractive couples who, after a night of magic mushrooms, decide to swap partners. They think it will be harmless fun, an act that they’ll put behind them and move on with their friendship. But thanks to an obsessive teen who knows far too much about what the adults are up to, the swap upends their lives.

A few years ago, I wrote the script for an independent film called The Steps. It starred James Brolin, Jason Ritter, Christine Lahti and Emmanuel Chriqui. The casting was perfect, and I was lucky to be included in the process. But I know enough about the film world to know that the writer doesn’t make casting decisions. Particularly the writer of the novel that will eventually be adapted into a script and then, hopefully, filmed. But a writer can always dream!

If I could choose the perfect cast for The Swap, I’d have Margot Robbie play the cruel and beautiful social media influencer, Freya. She’s got the perfect look for the role and she was so incredible in I, Tonya. A relatable but strong actress like Emily Blunt would be great as Freya’s friend Jamie. As for the teenager Low, I think producers would need to find a really amazing newcomer, a tall gangly teen just waiting for her big break. Max, the hot hockey player could be played by Martin Sensmeier, and John Krasinski would be great as the novelist Brian.

Fingers crossed!
Visit Robyn Harding's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Robyn Harding & Ozzie.

The Page 69 Test: The Arrangement.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Elle Cosimano's "Seasons of the Storm"

Elle Cosimano's debut thriller, Nearly Gone, was an Edgar Award finalist, won the International Thriller Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and was awarded the Mathical Book Award recognizing mathematics in children’s literature. Her novel Holding Smoke was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award and the International Thriller Award. Her books for young adults have appeared on several statewide school and library reading lists.

Here Cosimano dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Seasons of the Storm:
Seasons of the Storm is a young adult urban fantasy/adventure about a group of teens who, upon their untimely deaths, have each been turned into the immortal embodiment of a season on earth. Gifted with elemental magic, they’re forced into a vicious cycle in which each Season must hunt and kill the one who comes before them in order to lay claim to their limited time on earth. I started drafting the story years ago, so many of the actors I envisioned while creating the characters are now too old for the roles. But there are plenty of amazing and talented young actors today who could easily play their parts.

Jack Sommers became the living embodiment of Winter in 1988 after a skiing accident took his life. With a skater’s build and garage-band style, he’s the story’s cool and brooding rebel. Cocky and willful, Jack’s known for his ambitious and often dangerous plans, and I can picture Colin Ford pulling off this role with aplomb.

After dying from cancer in the early 1990s, Fleur Atwell was revived to become one of the most powerful Springs in the world. Her long pink hair, emotional warmth, and sunny disposition contrast her badass grip on some deadly earth magic, and she can be ruthless when it counts to protect the people she loves. Emilia Jones would make a fantastic Fleur.

Julio Verano took the mantle of Summer after drowning while surfing off the coast of southern California in 1985. Carefree and often reckless, he’s known among the Guards as being a troublemaker with a stormy temper, and among the Seasons as being a hot beach boy and a flirt. Diego Tinoco, with his radiant smile and impressive physique, would be perfect for the part.

Amber Chase, a rebellious runaway, became an Autumn when she froze to death in 1969. A studious and highly skilled fighter with fiery red hair and sharp, catlike eyes, she’s become aloof and stoic, resigned to her violent life as a Season after so many years. I could see Abigail Cowen or Bella Thorne being a fantastic fit for this role.
Visit Elle Cosimano's website.

Q&A with Elle Cosimano.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 29, 2020

Diana Clarke's "Thin Girls"

Diana Clarke is a writer and teacher from New Zealand. She received her MFA in fiction from Purdue University and is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Utah.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Thin Girls:
It’s hard for me to think of this book as a movie. My main fear about putting this work into the world is its potential to do harm. It deals with subjects that can send minds spiralling and it unrelentingly talks of bodies when, sometimes, I think bodies are best left unsaid. These are the concerns I have with the story in book form.

In film, though, those concerns are amplified. I’m so anxious and uncomfortable about the ways in which women’s bodies are generally mediated: as spectacles, disasters, masterpieces, objects of nothing but desire. Thin Girls deals with extreme thinness and fatness and both gaining and losing weight, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen these subjects covered responsibly on a screen to date. I’m not sure if it’s possible, but I hope it is!

If I’m not panicking about all of that, though, then I’d cast the Olsen Twins as the leads. Duh. It’s a book about twins and they’re the face of twinship. Mary Kate would play Rose. While I think every woman in the western world has disordered thinking about eating and food, Mary Kate struggled with anorexia, specially, which is what Rose is diagnosed with, so I think she’d understand the character through and through without having to do any scary research or method acting stuff. Ashley would play Lily. Unfortunately, though, I don’t think the Olsen twins are acting much these days. I miss them.

When I talked with my film agents about the book, they thought Dakota and Elle Fanning would suit the characters, and I agree with that casting choice, too. There’s this Nicholas Winding Refn film, Neon Demon, which played an important role in inspiring the book I’m working on now, and Elle Fanning is the star of that story.

The film’s soundtrack is easy. I listened to non-stop bubblegum pop while I wrote this book, and something about the contrast between writing such dark material and listening to these upbeat adolescent tracks (I’m talking "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies and "Wouldn’t It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys) made me realise that the negative space surrounding these sticky sweet songs is super eerie. Once a song finished, the space between that track and the next one felt quieter than silence. It’s like, listen to this clappy, dancey music so you can pretend you’re not sad and scared. I love it.

Colour scheme would also be really important to me in the cinematic version of Thin Girls. I see colours when I write and they play an important part in my revision process. As I draft, I see hints of hues and, when a section is working, the colours stop being murky and become really clear. I know it sounds woo-woo, but I see this book in three distinct parts with three corresponding colour schemes. There’s this clinical white and grey section set at Rose’s recovery facility in the beginning, followed by a grungy neon and too-bright-against-too-dark scheme when Rose is discharged from the facility and as she unravels further into her illness. The last section of the book is nature drenched, lots of greens and blues, as the story finds its hope.
Visit Diana Clarke's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 26, 2020

Meghan Holloway's "Hunting Ground"

Meghan Holloway found her first Nancy Drew mystery in a sun-dappled attic at the age of eight and subsequently fell in love with the grip and tautness of a well-told mystery. She flew an airplane before she learned how to drive a car, did her undergrad work in Creative Writing in the sweltering south, and finished a Masters of Library and Information Science in the blustery north. She spent a summer and fall in Maine picking peaches and apples, traveled the world for a few years, and did a stint fighting crime in the records section of a police department.

She now lives in the foothills of the Appalachians with her standard poodle and spends her days as a scientist with the requisite glasses but minus the lab coat.

Here Holloway dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Hunting Ground:
I never have a model or actor in mind for a character as I am writing. The characters reveal themselves to me as fully evolved, entirely unique individuals, not based on any specific person. It is not simply a matter of looks that captures a character. The strength of the actor, the range of emotions they are able to portray, the actors’ presence on the screen balancing the parallel of the character on the page…I gave the subject of starring roles for Hunting Ground some consideration before I came up with my answer.

I wrote Hector more in the vein of an antihero than a hero. He lived a hard life from the time he was a boy, and he is a cold man driven by obsession. The only gentling influences in his life are Frank, his dog, and Maggie, his wife’s closest friend. Although he is a bit younger than the character, I think Josh Brolin could pull off the stern, weathered, distant character of Hector.

Evelyn is a complex character. Her family background is bittersweet, and she is a taciturn, reserved woman who is proud of the work she does and longing to make connections in her new home. She knows what it is to be prey, and a past encounter with a predator six years ago has left its mark on her. She has a brittleness to her, but also a strength of character and incredible resilience and tenacity. Emily Blunt is such a talented actress. I love the range of characters and emotions she plays, and I think she would make a brilliant Evelyn.

Jeff is a character who strikes everyone as handsome and charming, but Evelyn quickly sees beyond the facade. I could see an actor like Eric Bana playing a role in which a suave exterior hides something far more sinister and twisted.

If you’ve read Hunting Ground, tell me what you think of my choices for these leading roles. Who would you cast to portray Hector, Evelyn, and Jeff?
Visit Meghan Holloway's website, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Q&A with Meghan Holloway.

The Page 69 Test: Hunting Ground.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Jane L. Rosen's "Eliza Starts a Rumor"

Jane L. Rosen is an author, screenwriter, and Huffington Post contributor. She lives in New York City and Fire Island with her husband and three daughters.

Here Rosen dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Eliza Starts a Rumor:
As an author I am asked many questions like where do you get your ideas (where don’t I,) and when is your best time to write (first thing in the morning,) and what do you do about writer’s block (write through it). Originally a screenwriter, I tend to write visually and in doing so I picture each character as a person in my head. I don’t picture actual actors though, more like blurry avatars. Which brings me to my favorite question, who do you see cast in the film version of your book?

I’ll start with Eliza.

Eliza Hunt is a stay at home mom, in the most literal sense of the word. She suffers from agoraphobia and has hardly left the house since her twins flew off to college. She is a good person who gets herself into hot water, as the title of the book implies, by starting a rumor. She is funny, in a self-deprecating way, even when dealing with some very serious issues. I believe that Eliza Hunt is the perfect part for Drew Barrymore. Drew has great comic timing and priceless facial expressions and while she hasn’t really displayed her dramatic acting chops since Grey Gardens, I know she would kill it with Eliza.

Next up, Olivia York.

Olivia is outwardly perfect, and inwardly pretty close to perfect as well. She needs an actress who can grow with her as the story unfolds. I choose Emmy Rossum to play Olivia. Maybe you are only familiar with Emmy as Fiona in the Showtime series Shameless, but I ate lunch next to her once at Barneys (may it RIP) and she carried herself with such beauty and class that it was hard to concentrate on my Fred’s Chopped Chicken Salad. I would love to see her play the bookish, graceful new mother, Olivia York.

Alison Le.

My dream casting of Alison Le would be Maggie Q. Like Alison, Maggie Q’s parents met when her father was stationed in Vietnam during the war. Aside from the spot on lineage, I can just see her as the smart lawyer trying to navigate single motherhood without giving up too much of her previous self. Maggie is the perfect fit for the pragmatic and beautiful Alison Le and it would be refreshing to watch her whip a baby bottle out of her bag instead of a 357 Magnum.

Amanda Cole.

For Amanda I choose January Jones. Amanda’s looks have always been her calling card and I think the same could be said of January. Aside from her beauty and talent, I miss Betty Draper and having binged Mad Men four times already, I think it's time that January Jones has a new vehicle to star in. For my sake at least!

Jackie Campbell

There are no shortage of actors to play the big love interest in Eliza Starts A Rumor, but I am going for Sterling K Brown. While his character, a tall, handsome, slightly nerdy father of a teenage girl isn’t a far leap from the character he plays on This is Us, the six foot tall actor is exactly who I picture knocking knees with Maggie Q on a train ride through the Hudson Valley.

Bonus casting: Spencer, the cocky, athletic husband of Olivia—Ethan Peck. I hate to be shallow but just look at him, and also he is Gregory Peck’s grandson. My choice for Eliza’s husband, Luke Hunt, belongs to one of my favorite cinematic heart throbs, Sam Shepard. Since he is sadly no longer with us, I will have to leave that one up to the casting director.