Thursday, March 5, 2015

Benjamin N. Lawrance's "Amistad’s Orphans"

Benjamin N. Lawrance is the Hon. Barber B. Conable Jr. Endowed Chair in International Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Amistad's Orphans: An Atlantic Story of Children, Slavery, and Smuggling:
In Amistad’s Orphans there are six main characters, and all are children of various ages. There are several prominent adult supporting roles, but the key casting issue is finding dynamic and charismatic child actors.

The three girl roles are strikingly different, and require unique actresses. I would love to see Quvenzhané Wallis play the role of Te’me, because of her exceptional skills as demonstrated in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012). Te’me is captured and enslaved as a young child, and during a custody battle in a court in Connecticut she makes a break for freedom, running across the New Haven green, before being tackled by a white male abolitionist. This would be a pivotal scene in the film.

For the roles of Marg’ru (the eldest of the three girls), and Kag’ne, I’d cast Josephine Lawrence and Skai Jackson. These two shared the common experience of being pawned by their father for debts he owed, which he failed to redeem, and ultimately it resulted in them being sold into slavery, and put aboard a slave ship for Cuba. They very likely came from the same village in the Mende-speaking part of Moa River valley in Sierra Leone. Though not sisters, these two girls develop compelling personal relationships with people that protect them, and watch over them. They were captivating in The Watsons Go To Birmingham (2013).

For two of the male leads, Covey and Ka’le, I’d cast Tyrel Jackson Williams and Tyren Jacob Williams. Although the boys were not brothers in real life, they became brotherly over the course of several years in bondage. They shared a common experience of abduction and enslavement, and upon return to Africa, they lived in a shared missionary compound and continued to have great influence over each other. Covey plays a leading role and translator throughout the trials. And Ka’le becomes the primary intermediary between the adult Africans in prison, and the abolitionist community. He learns to read and write English and writes an important letter to President John Quincy Adams. Casting brothers would play to this important dimension.

For the third male lead, Antonio, I would cast an exciting Latino actor, perhaps Rico Rodriguez from ABC’s Modern Family. Antonio is likely originally from West Africa, and speaks several Sierra Leonean languages, but he’s been in Cuba for many years by the time of the Amistad rebellion. Also, there is some doubt about his ancestry; like many Africans on the coast, he may have had a Spanish-Cuban or Brazilian-Portuguese father. Many slave traders lived on and off on the coast, and the mixed race communities were very heavily involved in the trade. These children also ended up as slaves, but Antonio may have been bought by a ship’s captain and served as a cabin boy, and never experienced enslavement in the hull of a ship in the classic sense of the Middle Passage. One of Antonio’s most poignant scenes is where the guardian, Mrs. Pendleton, whips him for not polishing her children’s shoes.

There are any number of highly talented actors for the supporting adult roles, such as the slave revolt leader, Cinque (Sing-Pieh), abolitionist Lewis Tappan, President John Quincy Adams, missionary Raymond Williams, and so forth.
Learn more about Amistad's Orphans at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Amistad's Orphans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tom Santopietro's "The Sound of Music Story"

Tom Santopietro is the author of The Importance of Being Barbra, Considering Doris Day (a New York Times Editor’s Choice), Sinatra in Hollywood, and The Godfather Effect: Changing Hollywood, America, and Me. He has worked for the past twenty years in New York theater as a manager of more than two dozen Broadway shows.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing Von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time:
Since my book The Sound of Music Story concerns the making of The Sound of Music, the opportunity to cast other actors to portray Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, and Robert Wise seems like a lot of fun--- a great hall of mirrors project. So:

Julie Andrews: Keira Knightley or Carey Mulligan

Christopher Plummer: Benedict Cumberbatch

Eleanor Parker: Cate Blanchett

Peggy Wood: Marion Cotillard (because I think she can play any role, any time, anywhere, so I’d have to have her in the movie; for me she’s the most versatile actress working in films today)

Director Robert Wise: Tom Wilkinson

Screenwriter Ernest Lehman: Martin Freeman

Studio head Richard Zanuck: Bob Odenkirk

The 7 von Trapp Children: Any children who have never appeared on reality television, never watched reality television, and don’t care about reality television. Seven non-show biz children.

The real Maria von Trapp- who makes a cameo appearance during “I Have Confidence”: Tyne Daly

I’d really like to hear what ideas other people have…
Learn more about the book and author at Tom Santopietro's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Godfather Effect.

Writers Read: Tom Santopietro.

The Page 99 Test: The Sound of Music Story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cara Black's "Murder on the Champ de Mars"

Cara Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 15 books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, which is set in Paris. Murder on the Champ de Mars is the latest installment. Black has received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards, a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris—the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture—and invitations to be the Guest of Honor at conferences such as the Paris Polar Crime Festival and Left Coast Crime. With more than 400,000 books in print, the Aimée Leduc series has been translated into German, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew.

Here Black shares her candidate to direct an adaptation of the new novel:
If they make my book into a film, here's who I'd like to play to direct the the movie: Sir Carol Reed. He directed The Third Man, and brought Graham Greene to Vienna and told him to write a screenplay with post war Vienna as a character. Greene did that in spades, the dark glistening cobbled streets at night, the sewers, the black market, all so evocative. I’ve read in interviews that Sir Carol Reed asked the characters to play their scenes in real locations and worked from those. He even gave free reign to Orson Welles who came up with the infamous line about the cuckoo clocks. It was in my mind when I wrote Murder on the Champs de Mars, how Sir Carol would direct on the dark Parisian streets, the sparkling Eiffel Tower almost shrouded by mist and the trees, and how he’d portray this part of Paris as a character.
Learn more about the book and author at Cara Black's website.

The Page 69 Test: Murder at the Lanterne Rouge.

My Book, the Movie: Murder at the Lanterne Rouge.

The Page 69 Test: Murder below Montparnasse.

The Page 69 Test: Murder in Pigalle.

My Book, The Movie: Murder in Pigalle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Auston Habershaw's "The Iron Ring"

On the day Auston Habershaw was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or scifi/fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. He lives and works in Boston, MA.

Here Habershaw dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Iron Ring: Part I of the Saga of the Redeemed:
The Iron Ring was just released by Harper Voyager Impulse early this month, so perhaps discussions of who will play whom in the movie are premature, but, hell, this is the Internet, dammit! Why shouldn’t I indulge in delusions of grandeur?

Tyvian Reldamar—played by Damian Lewis

Lewis has the right look, the right charm, and I have no doubt he can sport a devilish grin if he needs to. Whoever plays Tyvian needs a certain arrogance about him—he’s a guy who is supremely confident in himself and supremely disdainful of everyone else. I’m pretty sure Lewis could pull this off.

Artus—played by Currently Unknown

Tyvian’s sidekick/constant annoyance should be played be a newcomer—a fresh faced kid with a lot of potential, just like Artus. I want the next Daniel Radcliffe or similar here. Somebody who can mature with the role and make it their own.

Hool—voiced by Viola Davis

Hool is a giant gnoll—a furry, dog/lion/person who would obviously be a work of CGI. As for the voice, I want a strong, authoritative female voice. When she speaks, she brooks no nonsense. Viola Davis seems the logical candidate.

Myreon Alafarr—played by Lauren Lee Smith

I don’t know her work that well, but Ms. Smith caught my eye in SyFy’s Ascension as the no-nonsense investigator. She is tall, imposing, and has the capacity to play a good cop, I think, and an ideal foil to Tyvian’s plotting and moral ambivalence.

Carlo diCarlo—played by Nathan Lane

Carlo needs to seem foolish, even when he is not foolish. He needs to seem slow and uncoordinated, even when he is not slow or uncoordinated. Most of all, he needs to be able to smirk. All you, Mr. Lane.

Zazlar Hendrieux—played by Adrien Brody

Hendrieux is thin, strung-out, nervous, and can turn cruel on a dime. I think Brody can fit the bill admirably. At the same time, there needs to be a certain competence there that would indicate why Tyvian would have associated with the guy in the first place.

Banric Sahand—played by Rutger Hauer

The big bad needs to be somebody who knows how to be big and bad. He also needs the look of an aging warlord—He Who Is Not To Be Messed With. That’s Hauer to a T.

Well, that covers the big players. I didn’t exactly have these people in mind while I was writing, but rather afterwards—long after the book was done—I’ve found myself wondering about what a movie version would look like. I’ve found these people after the fact, and I think they fit pretty well. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy my book!
Visit Auston Habershaw's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Iron Ring.

Writers Read: Auston Habershaw.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 27, 2015

Leanna Renee Hieber's "The Eterna Files"

Leanna Renee Hieber is an actress, playwright and the award winning, bestselling author of Gaslamp Fantasy‎ series such as the Strangely Beautiful saga, the Magic Most Foul saga and the new Eterna Files saga for Tor Books.

Here Hieber dreamcasts an adaptation of The Eterna Files:
May I introduce you to the very large cast that is The Eterna Files!

I’m a professional, classically trained actress as well as a playwright and author, so of course I’ve had possible cast options in my head all along!

First, a little bit about The Eterna Files, from the publisher (Tor Books):
Welcome to The Eterna Files, written by Leanna Renee Hieber, “the brightest new star in literature” (

London, 1882: Queen Victoria appoints Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police to Special Branch Division Omega. Omega is to secretly investigate paranormal and supernatural events and persons. Spire, a skeptic driven to protect the helpless and see justice done, is the perfect man to lead the department, which employs scholars and scientists, assassins and con men, and a traveling circus. Spire's chief researcher is Rose Everhart, who believes fervently that there is more to the world than can be seen by mortal eyes. Their first mission: find the Eterna Compound, which grants immortality. Catastrophe destroyed the hidden laboratory in New York City where Eterna was developed, but the Queen is convinced someone escaped—and has a sample of Eterna.

Also searching for Eterna is an American, Clara Templeton, who helped start the project after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln nearly destroyed her nation. Haunted by the ghost of her beloved, she is determined that the Eterna Compound—and the immortality it will convey—will be controlled by the United States, not Great Britain.

Senator Rupert Bishop – Richard Armitage
Clara Templeton – Kirsten Dunst or Amanda Seyfried
Franklin Fordham – Chris Evans
Evelyn Northe-Stewart – Meryl Streep or Jessica Lange
Effie Bixby – Gina Torres
Louis & Andre Dupris – Jesse Williams
Josiah – (a young African American kid who needs his big break into film!)
Lavinia Kent – Holliday Grainger


Harold Spire – Martin Freeman (my choice) or David Tennant (my editor’s choice, both, amazing choices)
Lord Denbury – Ben Barnes
Rose Everhart – Ruth Wilson or Anne Hathaway
Mr. Blakeley – Tom Mison
Miss Knight – Lara Pulver
Moriel (The Bad Guy) - Aidan Gillen
Queen Victoria – Imelda Staunton
Mr. Moseley – Aneuriun Barnard
Lord Black – David Bowie (David Bowie, you guys)
Reginald Wilson – Patrick Wilson
Adira Wilson – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Gabriel Brinkman – Tom Hiddleston

So, basically, a cast of awesome. If all these people were on screen presenting my characters and my work, I would die of happiness.

Enjoy The Eterna Files with these fine actors in mind!
Visit Leanna Renee Hieber's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Leanna Renee Hieber.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shari Goldhagen's "In Some Other World Maybe"

Shari Goldhagen is a journalist, eggroll enthusiast, and author of the novels Family and Other Accidents (2006) and In Some Other World, Maybe (2015). She lives in a very tiny (but normal for NYC) apartment in Manhattan with her husband and daughter.

Here Goldhagen dreamcasts an adaptation of In Some Other World, Maybe:
Several of the characters in In Some Other World, Maybe are themselves actors or writers, so I suspect that they would actually have thought about this quite a bit...even if they wouldn’t admit it.

Phoebe is someone whose early life is defined by the fact that she’s conventionally beautiful—something she uses to her advantage, even if she isn’t quite comfortable with that. There are several contemporary actresses who I think would work well—Gemma Arterton, Natalie Portman, maybe Rachel Weisz (who is technically a little old for the character, but never seems to age). In my head though she kind of looks like a young Elizabeth Taylor.

So while we’re doing my dream cast of Phoebe as Liz, I’d love to see Paul Newman—circa Cat on a Hot Tin Roof—as Adam. But if we’re keeping things confined to this world, maybe, Ben McKenzie from Gotham for Adam—bonus points because Gotham is very much like the show Adam ends up working on in the book.

For Sharon, who is more introverted, I’d want someone who isn’t necessarily the first person you would notice when you walk into a room, but someone who becomes more attractive the closer you get to her—both physically and emotionally. Maybe Ellen Page or Thora Birch?

And I think that Eddie Redmayne would make a great globe-trotting Oliver.
Visit Shari Goldhagen's website and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Elliot Ackerman's "Green on Blue"

Elliot Ackerman is a writer based out of Istanbul. His fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and Ecotone among others. He is also a contributor to The Daily Beast, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as a White House Fellow in the Obama Administration. Prior to this, he spent eight years in the military as both an infantry and special operations officer.

Ackerman is a decorated veteran, having earned a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his role leading a Rifle Platoon in the November 2004 Battle of Fallujah and a Bronze Star for Valor while leading a Marine Corps Special Operations Team in Afghanistan in 2008.

Here Ackerman shares some thoughts about casting an adaptation of his debut novel, Green on Blue:
If Green on Blue were turned into a movie, I think, by definition, most of the actors would be relative unknowns. Nearly the entire cast would have to be of Afghan or at least of South Asian decent. For any writer, if you’re lucky enough to have your work adapted for film, you’re ceding your story to another’s interpretation of it. The possibilities for that interpretation are endless, but I can tell you who I hope wouldn’t be cast in the film: Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, Julia Roberts. Aside from that, I’ll just hope to score some complimentary popcorn at the premiere.
Visit Elliot Ackerman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Green on Blue.

Writers Read: Elliot Ackerman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

William Klaber's "The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell"

William Klaber is a part-time journalist. He lives in upstate New York on a hill overlooking Basket Creek, a short way upstream from where Lucy Lobdell lived 160 years ago.

Here Klaber shares an idea for the lead in an adaptation of his new novel, The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell:
I was with Brenda, my future editor at St Martin’s. It was the first time we met and we were sitting down for lunch to discuss Rebellion, Lucy Lobdell’s purported memoir. Brenda was chirpy and out popped the question. Who should play Lucy? A good conversation starter, but not a role for just any actress. Sharp with a rifle, Lucy passed for three years as a man on the western frontier before she was discovered and put on trial for the crime of wearing men’s clothes. Back east she ran a dancing school, so convincing as a man that women started falling for this new guy, and Lucy started liking them back. Big trouble. And a challenging movie role.

Brenda proposed that for fun we each write down who should play Lucy, fold the paper and hand it across the table. We did this. We passed the ballots and laughed, because we had each picked Jennifer Lawrence. Turns out, neither of us had thought about who would be best for the part, Jennifer Lawrence was simply the person in movies we most wanted to meet. So if you ask me that question now, I give the same answer. Jennifer Lawrence.
Visit William Klaber's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kristen Ghodsee's "The Left Side of History"

Kristen Ghodsee is Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at Bowdoin College and a former Guggenheim Fellow. She is the author of several books and over two dozen articles, including The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism and Postsocialism on the Black Sea and Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria, which won the 2010 Barbara Heldt Book Prize, the 2011 John D. Bell Book Prize, the 2011 Harvard Davis Center Book Prize, and the 2011 William Douglass Prize for Best Book in Europeanist Anthropology.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest book, The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe:
The Left Side of History has all of the ingredients for a big screen World War II political thriller. But it would be an unconventional film since all of the protagonists are left-wing guerillas fighting against the Nazi-allied Bulgarian monarchy in the Balkan theater of the War. The actors would have to work hard to challenge the pervasive cultural stereotypes of communists as deluded revolutionaries. The book revolves around two sets of leftist dreamers: one British and one Bulgarian.

On the British side, the hero is Major Frank Thompson, a British Special Operations Executive officer who parachuted deep behind enemy lines in January 1944 to organize and support the Bulgarian partisans. Frank Thompson was a young idealist who joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1938 at the urging of his Oxford classmate, the writer Iris Murdoch. He enlisted to fight against the Axis powers two days before the official British declaration of war, and spent 1939-1943 in North Africa, the Middle East, and Italy before his final mission in the Balkans. Frank Thompson was the older brother of the famous labor historian, E.P. Thompson, and the Winchester schoolmate of the mathematician Freeman Dyson, both who also fought in WWII (E.P. Thompson in Italy and Dyson at British Bomber Command in London). I’d feel compelled to cast British actors, and I’d want some Himalayan acting talent.

My first thought for the role of Major Frank Thompson was Benedict Cumberbatch, but as Frank Thompson smoked a pipe I think it would be impossible for audiences to look at Cumberbatch with a pipe in his mouth and not think “Sherlock.” So my second choice is Tom Hiddleston because Frank Thompson was also a poet and a polyglot (he spoke nine languages), and I think Hiddleston could play the perfect sensitive action hero. David Tenant could play Frank’s younger brother, Edward Palmer Thompson, and Eddie Redmayne would be a perfect young Freeman Dyson. Kate Winslet could reprise her role as young Iris Murdoch.

On the Bulgarian side is a family of partisans. The story revolves around Elena Lagadinova, who became the youngest female partisan at the age of 14. Her three older brothers (Kostadin, Assen, and Boris Lagadinov) were fighting in the mountains from 1941, and she was already risking her life to help them when she was 11. Finding a good child actor to play the role of an idealistic girl communist guerilla would present a challenge, but perhaps Isabelle Allen (who played the young Cosette in Les Miserables) could handle the role. For her older brothers, I could not resist the possibility of casting the real-life-brothers acting trio of Liam, Chris, and Luke Hemsworth. Liam would play Kostadin, the eldest brother, and Luke would play Boris, the youngest. Chris Hemsworth would shine in the role of Assen, the hot-tempered middle brother who was ambushed and decapitated by the Bulgarian gendarmerie in the summer of 1944.

The book also contains scenes from the present day based on interviews that I conducted with the now octogenarian Elena Lagadinova. I’m not sure that the film version of the book would include these scenes, but if they did Dame Judi Dench would make an excellent older Elena.

As far as directors go, Oliver Stone is my first choice. He’s the only director I trust to accurately convey the book’s central message: that those who fought on the left side of history were not all unthinking Marxist zealots. They were motivated by the dream that a more just and equitable world would emerge from the ashes of World War II.
Learn more about The Left Side of History at the Duke University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Victoria Scott's "The Collector"

Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe of the Harvey-Klinger Literary Agency. She’s the author of the Fire & Flood series published by Scholastic, and the Dante Walker trilogy published by Entangled Teen. Her first stand-alone young adult title, Titans, will be published by Scholastic in spring 2016.

About The Collector, the first book in the Dante Walker trilogy:
Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of Hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.

Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of Hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.
Here Scott dreamcasts the lead for The Collector:
Out of all the books I've written, I most often imagine The Collector on the big screen. I think Zac Efron could do an outstanding job as the egotistical and sexy Dante Walker. Anybody playing Dante would need to pull off swagger in spades, and have more than a touch of darkness to him, and I really think Efron could really nail the role.
Visit Victoria Scott's website.

--Marshal Zeringue