Friday, January 30, 2015

William C. Dietz's "Deadeye"

New York Times bestselling author William C. Dietz has published more than forty novels some of which have been translated into German, French, Russian, Korean and Japanese. He also wrote the script for the Legion of the Damned game (i-Phone, i-Touch, & i-Pad) based on his book of the same name--and co-wrote SONY's Resistance: Burning Skies game for the PS Vita.

Here Dietz dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, The Mutant Files; Deadeye:
I would love to see actress Jurnee Smollett play Detective Cassandra Lee in the movie Deadeye. She’s beautiful, about the right age (29), and can act. This role will call for some outer toughness however, with just a hint of vulnerability, and a lean/mean physicality.

As for the role of Deputy Ras Omo I think Matt Bomer would do a wonderful job. The role calls for some maturity, macho grace, and a laconic delivery. And Bomer’s delivery would be especially important since his face would be hidden by a mask most of the time. That means that what he says, and how he says it, will be incredibly important.

Finally I think the city of Los Angeles should play the city of Los Angeles. It’s typecasting, I know that, but why settle for another city when you can get the real thing? Plus there’s the imaginary budget to consider. By filming Deadeye in the city of angels the production company could keep production costs down. Are you listening Hollywood? Call me.
The Mutant Files trilogy will continue with Redzone and Graveyard. For more about Dietz and his fiction, visit his website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Deadeye.

Writers Read: William C. Dietz.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bartholomew Sparrow's "The Strategist"

Bartholomew Sparrow is a professor in the department of government at the University of Texas at Austin where he teaches American political development. He has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University, and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, and has been awarded the Leonard D. White and the Franklin L. Burdette Pi Sigma Alpha awards from the American Political Science Association. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Chicago.

Here he shares some reflections about possibly adapting his new book, The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security, into a miniseries:
I never really thought about making The Strategist into a movie, perhaps because General Scowcroft is a reserved man and doesn’t relish being in the limelight. Notwithstanding the fact that he’s been involved with a number of key events over the course of US national security policy from the 1970s through the early 2010s—events such Nixon’s resignation from office, the collapse of the Soviet empire, repairing US-China relations after the Tiananmen Square massacre, and his dissent against going to war on Iraq after 9/11—however, Scowcroft’s quiet and multi-faceted life doesn’t readily lend itself to a movie version. As a man of nuance and subtlety who has been involved nuclear strategy, national intelligence, the management of national security policy, and other issues of highest importance, his life story—he will be ninety years old this March—would be hard to capture on film.

But if The Strategist were to work as cinema, I think it would have to be made into miniseries, one at least half-dozen episodes long, so as to capture the range of his considerable achievements and the remarkable span of his career. I would begin with an episode based in Ogden, Utah, featuring an unknown child actor, which would give a sense of Brent’s world as he grew up in a well-to-do and loving family, where he was the youngest of three children and only boy and where his family was among the oldest and most prominent of Mormon families in the state. It was in the context of his safe and happy childhood that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came as such a shock to Brent as a teenager and that helped cement his decision to attend the US Military Academy.

The second episode would need to be about at West Point during the war years, and would capture the pressure, discipline, and dehumanization that the US military academy—and older students—imposed on Army cadets. It was a difficult time for him, yet he persevered. He did well, managed the undefeated Army football team, and showed such character that West Point administrators wanted to bring him back to teach once he had been out for a little while.

The other episodes would have make some tough choices as to which events they showed. In the book itself there was much I couldn’t address for reasons of space--reflecting my conscious decision to focus on fewer key events rather than trying to cover more events less thoroughly—and the mini-series would have to be even more draconian. Still, I think it would have to focus on Scowcroft’s indispensable roles in the evacuation of Vietnam in April 1975, the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and reunification of Germany less than a year later, the Persian Gulf War of 1991, and the short-lived resistance by some important Republicans in 2002 against the George W. Bush administration’s rush to war against Iraq. An episode on his role as an elder statesman and business consultant would also be needed, it seems, in order to convey his bipartisanship and deep commitment to what he regarded as US interests.

I envision a relatively unknown actor playing Scowcroft (one from the London stage?) since Scowcroft isn’t well known or widely recognized, despite the fact that he is perhaps Washington’s foremost foreign-policy “wise man.” The actor would have to be able to capture the nuances and complexities of national security policymaking, but not overshadow the other actors, just as in real life Scowcroft does not say much, listens carefully, lets others weigh in, and does not typically bring attention to himself (even though he can be very forceful and, on occasion, can show flashes of temper). The other actors could be better known, since they would be portraying Nixon, Ford, the older and younger Bush presidents, Gorbachev, Thatcher, and famous officials such as Henry Kissinger, Richard Cheney, James Baker, Condoleezza Rice, and Robert Gates, among others. It would be ensemble acting, then, since one of the lessons of Scowcroft’s career is just how much White House and Washington politics are a function of group dynamics—with a group that includes members of Congress, media figures, representatives of important interests, and foreign leaders—and interpersonal relationships.
Learn more about The Strategist at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 26, 2015

S. G. Redling's "Ourselves"

S.G. Redling burst onto the scene with Flowertown, a high-octane conspiracy thriller that earned her fans around the globe and was followed by bestsellers including the space adventure Damocles and techno-thrillers The Widow File and Redemption Key. In her latest novel, Ourselves, Redling charts new territory – and puts a fascinating new twist on vampire lore – in telling the story of the Nahan, a human race who live among, but are startlingly different from, “common” humans.

Here Redling dreamcasts an adaptation of Ourselves:
Ourselves is the first book of the Nahan series, about a complex culture of predators hidden in our midst. They’re not cursed or supernatural; they are human in every sense of the word. They’re just different. They’re private and insular and, by their own reckoning, they’re a step above common humans on the evolutionary chain. They also happen to be the creators and manipulators of vampire myths throughout history.

Because they are a race that is biologically isolated, (No half-breeds here, my friends.) they have distinctive physical qualities -- black hair, fair skin, and blue eyes. It sounds simple but that leaves quite a range of looks.

I’ve been casting secondary characters for months. In my mind, the killer Anton Adlai is Christian Kane from Leverage; Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick could be Tomas’ best friend Louis. For the lovely and ambitious Aricelli, I see The Original’s Phoebe Tonkin or Supernatural’s Genevieve Padalecki. (Yeah, I watch a lot of CW.)

The tricky part about looking for actors to play the roles of the main characters, Tomas and Stell, is that they don’t have a traditional dynamic. Tomas is very much the wide-eyed innocent boy, sheltered all his life; Stell is almost feral, dragged up with no guidance. Finding candidates for Tomas is a blast. Want to spend while a fun day? Get on Pinterest and search for blue-eyed actors. (Don’t mind if I do.) Finding someone for Stell is a little trickier. She’s not a waif, not a pixie, not a pouter, not a busty, tank top clad video game sexy ‘badass.’ She’s a slim, quiet, dangerous young woman, described by another character as ‘a blacksnake of a girl.’

Does this mean nobody can play her? Absolutely not! I think many young actresses would enjoy the challenge of climbing into Stell’s head – the world is new to her and, in Ourselves, she’s just coming into her own as a killer. As for Tomas, an actor would have to be able to portray a boy who goes from hiding from reality to a man who sees the world in ways we cannot imagine.

So that’s my book as a movie.

Joss Whedon, if you’re reading this, I’m free for coffee any time.
Visit S.G. Redling's Facebook page and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 24, 2015

John Batchelor's "Tennyson: To Strive, To Seek, To Find"

John Batchelor is Emeritus Professor at the University of Newcastle. He was also previously a Fellow of New College, Oxford. His books include biographies of Joseph Conrad, H. G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, and John Ruskin.

Here he shares some reflections on the idea of an adaptation of his 2012 biography, Tennyson: To Strive, To Seek, To Find:
For a film of my biography of Tennyson? I don't really like bio-pics, although I think the recent film about Turner, Mr. Turner, is a masterpiece in the genre (the portrayal of John Ruskin in that film is disappointing, though).

A biographical film about Tennyson's life would be far too long and detailed for any cinema audience to sit through it. And I cannot imagine a professional actor playing the poet with any conviction. The man who could play the role, although I don't know whether he would wish to, is not an actor. I am thinking of the present Lord Tennyson, David Tennyson (the 6th Baron Tennyson), who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. He bears a strong resemblance to his famous ancestor.
Read more about Tennyson: To Strive, To Seek, To Find at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sara Raasch's "Snow Like Ashes"

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures.

Here Raasch dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut YA fantasy novel, Snow Like Ashes:
I adore Ksenia Solo for my main character, Meira. The moment I saw her in Lost Girl, with her spunk and her positivity and her confidence, I fell in love. She'd totally encapsulate Meira!
Visit Sara Raasch's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Alyssa Brugman's "Alex as Well"

Alyssa Brugman was born in Rathmines, Lake Macquarie, Australia in May 1974. She attended five public schools before completing a Marketing Degree at the University of Newcastle. In 2014 she was awarded a PhD in Communication from Canberra University.

Brugman has worked as an after-school tutor for Aboriginal children. She taught management, accounting and marketing at a business college, worked for a home improvements company and then worked in Public Relations before becoming a full-time writer. She currently runs a small business providing hoofcare, equine rehabilitation and producing nutritional supplements for horses.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Alex as Well:
This book is about gender, and the idea that gender is a spectrum rather than a dichotomy. In the book there is a male Alex and female Alex, who are the same character, but reflect the dilemma that Alex faces in having to choose one gender over the other. I’d be interested in whether a director would want to have them played by different actors or the same one.

In my head, when I was writing the book, Alex looked like the Australian model Cooper Thompson, who is breathtakingly beautiful. Someone like that, I imagine, who has everything that we consider aesthetically pleasing in both genders, because that was one of the themes I wanted to explore. The fashion industry and modelling often value those traits that make a woman more masculine – height, athleticism, and those that make a male more feminine – hairlessness, glowing skin, full lips, and yet as a society there is still a stigma around gender boundaries. The casting choice would need to reflect that idea.
Visit Alyssa Brugman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 19, 2015

Michael Kardos's "Before He Finds Her"

Michael Kardos is the author of the novels Before He Finds Her (2015) and The Three-Day Affair, an Esquire best book of 2012, as well as the story collection One Last Good Time, which won the Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award for fiction, and the textbook The Art and Craft of Fiction: A Writer’s Guide. His short stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, and many other magazines and anthologies, have won a 2015 Pushcart Prize, and were cited several times as notable stories in Best American Short Stories. He was named by Library Journal as a Big Breakout Author for February 2015.

Here Kardos dreamcasts an adaptation of Before He Finds Her:
A confession: With two very small children at home, I see far fewer movies these days than I once did. And while I’m tempted to cast Daniel Tiger or Daisy Duck in my leading roles, I’ll try to clear my toddler palate and play it straight:

For the role of Melanie Denison—my protagonist who goes on a quest to find her father, who murdered her mother fifteen years earlier—I’m going with Abigail Breslin, who can play tough and earnest but also self-deprecating.

For that father, Ramsey Miller, I need someone who can portray a misguided, sort-of-unhinged 34-year-old man with magnetism, and who lives by a code. I’m going with the wonderful Oscar Isaac, who knocked me out with his supporting role in Drive and then knocked me out even more as Llewyn Davis.

As for the character of Arthur Goodale, the retired journalist nearing the end of his life? Gotta be Dustin Hoffman. He can do serious with spunk and a gleam in his eye. Perfect.

Finally: the role of Allison Miller, wife of Ramsey—a woman whom we know has been murdered when the novel begins, but who comes to vivid life in flashback…the answer is a career-reviving, odds-defying but totally riveting performance that gets her back on track once and for all. I’m talking of course about Lindsay Lohan.
Learn more about the book and author at Michael Kardos's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Three Day Affair.

My Book, The Movie: The Three-Day Affair.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 16, 2015

Becky Masterman's "Fear the Darkness"

Becky Masterman grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and received her MA in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Fear the Darkness, the second book in the Brigid Quinn Series:
People ask me, are you Brigid Quinn? Is her husband Carlo DiForenza based on your husband? If you've read either books in my series, starting with Rage Against the Dying and followed up by Fear the Darkness, you might wonder if we match the characters of a beautiful, sexy, strong, retired FBI agent and her handsome, sexy, super smart, ex-Catholic priest husband. I rather like us the way we are, but I don't think I would cast us for the movie roles. I'm thinking more Jamie Lee Curtis and Jeff Goldblum.

Some who've read my books object to Goldblum because they say he's too cynical. But I like the idea of Carlo not taking himself too seriously, delivering wise sayings with a touch of irony.
Learn more about Fear the Darkness at Becky Masterman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rage Against the Dying.

The Page 69 Test: Rage Against the Dying.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Martine Bailey’s "An Appetite for Violets"

Martine Bailey’s first historical novel, An Appetite for Violets, is a gastronomic mystery tale set in 18th century Europe. Written as a book of recipes, it takes a young cook on a murderous trip from England to Italy. Bailey lives in Chester, England and as an amateur cook, won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
My mystery novel An Appetite for Violets takes the reader on a gastronomic journey through Europe in the 1700s, in the company of a feisty young cook. When writing it, I visualized the movie so often that my copy of screenwriter Robert McKee’s Story fell to pieces from daily use.

Forget the casting, my first question is: who is going to make the food? In this movie the food has to be the beautiful, from the health foods served at that newly invented Parisian phenomenon – the ‘Restaurant’ - to the vast sugar temples created for banquets and even a life-size figure made of marzipan. I studied historic food with TV consultant Ivan Day, who created the food for P D James’s Pride & Prejudice inspired Death Comes to Pemberley, so Ivan heads my team.

My heroine, Biddy Leigh is a sharp, warm-hearted cook, torn from her English country house kitchen to travel (and cook) her way to Italy. I’d give her role to earthy and naturalistic Romola Garai, star of Emma and Mary Bryant. Biddy’s aristocratic mistress, Lady Carinna, has a big secret and a sinister edge; a great role for imperious but vulnerable Gemma Arterton (Tess of the D’Urbevilles). Her seductive rake of a brother, Kitt should be played by Irish actor Aidan Turner, who is just about to star in the BBC’s new costume drama Poldark, about a British officer returning from the American Revolutionary war. As for grumpy steward Mr Pars, who leads the band of travellers to Italy, it could only be Downton Abbey’s Mr Carson, Jim Carter.

Now for the lucky devil who gets to be location scout – that’s me. To research the book I travelled to as many locations as I could, using Mr Nugent’s Grand Tour of 1756. I even ventured up Mont Blanc to look at the crossing between France and Italy, thankful that I was in an electric cable car and not carried in a wooden chair by Alpine mountain men, like my terrified characters.

My movie’s director would be Sense and Sensibility’s Ang Lee, for his attention to character and authenticity. I’m sure he would do justice to the elaborate food, fashionable silks, flickering candlelight and the emotional twists and turns of my brave European travellers.
Visit Martine Bailey's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rena Pederson's "The Burma Spring"

Rena Pederson, an award-winning journalist, is a faculty member at Southern Methodist University. She previously served as Director of Communications for the National Math and Science Initiative and as a Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications at the U.S. Department of State, serving as a senior speechwriter. She also received national recognition as Vice President and Editorial Page Editor at The Dallas Morning News for 16 years.

Here Pederson shares some ideas for an adaptation of her new book, The Burma Spring: Aung San Suu Kyi and the New Struggle for the Soul of a Nation:
It would be fun to imagine who could play the key roles if a movie were made of my new book The Burma Spring – but in a way, someone already has. The lovely actress Michele Yeoh played Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in the biopic The Lady, which was released in 2011. Yeoh looked amazingly like the democracy icon and captured her earnest sense of duty. The only other actress that I can imagine doing as well might be Lucy Liu, who is having a good run on TV now playing Dr. Watson in the updated Sherlock Holmes series Elementary. With her tightly coiled intelligence, Liu could probably nail Suu Kyi’s iron resolve and personal reserve.

That said, those who want a cinematic introduction to the charismatic democracy champion’s story would do well to check The Lady out. The film was directed by French director Luc Besson, who is better known for directing action movies like Lucy, The Fifth Element, and La Femme Nikita. The Lady was a departure for him and obviously a labor of love. The film didn’t win over the critics, but it did win recognition in several international film festivals and honors from human rights groups. Overall, it does a good job of dramatizing the beginning of Aung San Suu Kyi’s efforts to reform the brutal military government in Burma (also known today as Myanmar).

The difference between my book and the movie is that The Lady focuses primarily on Suu Kyi’s relationship with her late husband Michael Aris, an Oxford professor who is played by David Thewlis. My book reveals more of her remarkable personal backstory. For example, her father General Aung San was a feisty World War II hero and the father of the modern independence movement in Burma. Her mother Khin Kyi was a brave nurse who became the ambassador to India. Their family story has a Gone with the Wind sweep of war and romance, duty and valor.

Then there’s a profile of the villain of the story – General Than Shwe, who held Burma in his grip for much of the last two decades. He oversaw the killings of thousands of villagers, the massacres of democracy activists, as well as the use of child soldiers and the spread of the narcotics trade.

My book also provides a timely update to Suu Kyi’s story – what has happened since she was freed from 15 years of house arrest in 2010. After she was released, Suu Kyi was elected to Parliament and is leading efforts to expand democracy in the 2015 elections. She would like to run for President to make more widespread reforms. However, the military still controls the country and has imposed a constitutional provision that bars her from serving. So Aung San Suu Kyi’s struggle for democracy is not over yet.

That means there could be another movie made – but in the meantime, it would be best to read my book to find out the rest of the story.
Learn more about the book and author at Rena Pederson's website and Facebook page. Watch the trailer for The Lady.

--Marshal Zeringue