Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Shannon Moroney's "Through the Glass"

Shannon Moroney is the author of the memoir, Through the Glass.

Here she shares some ideas for an adaptation of the book:
In 2005, my life was beautiful. I had a rewarding career as a high school guidance counsellor and was on track toward education leadership. I owned my first home in a small community I loved, was involved in meaningful volunteer work, had a wide circle of family and friends, and best of all—I had just married my soul mate, Jason. My twenties were a decade defined by education, travel and adventure. On the brink of a new decade, I hoped my thirties would be defined by motherhood.

Then, while away at a conference, a knock at my hotel room door changed everything. It was a police officer, there to tell me that my home was a crime scene and that Jason was in custody after confessing to the kidnapping and brutal sexual assault of two women. Investigators were already saying he would spend the rest of his life behind bars. I felt the world I knew shatter and fall to pieces around me.

In that instant, I began a terrifying journey through shock, grief and confusion as I transitioned from being a respected educator, volunteer, homeowner and happy newlywed to being the wife of a sex offender.

In shock and confusion, I pictured Jason in a prison cell, a rapist. In agony, I pictured his victims. Where were they? Who were they? What were they going through? Their ordeal was my own worst nightmare as a woman. How could this have happened at the hands of my husband? I tried to reach out to them, but was told by authorities that I was on the side of the offender. Lines were drawn. As the news of the crimes broke, stigma, shame and judgement befell me. The ripple effect of crime and trauma was far-reaching. While Jason was taken away to solitary confinement, I became the target for blame, judgement and guilt-by-association, left to answer for him in his absence.

Through the Glass is the story of what happened that day and all that came afterwards—from the conversations with Jason in prison, the reactions of friends, family and the community, my estrangement from the victims, and the slow criminal justice process.

It’s also about what came after the sentencing, and the choices I had to make about my relationship with Jason, my community, and my future. Determined never to allow violence and betrayal to control my life, I made a personal commitment to find a positive path forward, to regain trust and to one day help others affected by the crimes and incarceration of a loved one. Throughout my ordeal, I had been unable to find a book that could guide me or offer solace. Yet, with thousands of people incarcerated in Canada and over two million in the USA, I knew I couldn’t be the only one on this journey. I decided that I would have to be the one to write and offer a voice.

My vision for a film adaptation of Through the Glass:

At its core, Through the Glass is a story of one woman on two journeys. The first is private and personal: I am trying to rebuild my life after my husband’s crimes and to overcome trauma, stigma and guilt-by-association. I’m trying to understand who he was and how he could have done what he did. The second journey is public and political: I am a citizen, bearing witness on a justice system that leaves victims out in the cold and a society that can be as stigmatizing as it can be compassionate. My eyes are being opened to the plight of offender’s families, the limits of a retributive justice system, and the vast need for systems that actually heal people.

It would be so easy to make a lurid, sensational and cheap film based on the most scant facts of my story. I say this because I’ve seen various media outlets do it: eye-catching headlines superimposed on crime scene tape, like “Tall, Dark and Homicidal: I married a Rapist”. They make me cringe. It would break my heart to see my book—and my life—made out in this simplistic, tabloid and fear-mongering way. My vision is a film with integrity, intelligence and complexity, one that is as much about the universal, human themes of love and loss, trust and betrayal, hope and grief, as it is about true crime.

I would be proud of a film made in the vein of Dead Man Walking or Erin Brockovich, as both capture so beautifully the lives of ordinary women who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, called to active duty in battles they didn’t want or ask for. Although the women are played by glamorous Hollywood stars, they are not themselves glamorous, nor perfect. They struggle. They face criticism. They have self-doubt. Yet, somehow they discover inner strength and take on warrior roles in controversial, important causes.

Who would I want to write and direct Through the Glass?

I would want one person to both write and direct, ideally someone who shares my vision and who is willing to work closely with me as an advisor or co-writer. Alternatively, it would have to be someone I trust so much that I could relinquish control completely and not be involved at all.

I’d also want someone who would recreate scenes of violence with respect for the victims and the viewer. This doesn’t mean to downplay, but rather to be delicate and sensitive, as I aimed to be in writing my book. It should be impactful, but not gratuitous.

Last year I had the privilege of meeting Sister Helen Prejean, author and anti-death penalty advocate portrayed by Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking, and one of my personal heroes. She spoke about her experience working closely with writer/director Tim Robbins on the adaptation of her book, how unfailingly respectful he was to her, how little ego he had, and how much he wanted to “get it right”. This type of working relationship would be ideal for me, and likely the only way I could bring myself to actually sell my book and life rights.

So, for Hollywood writers and directors, my choices would include Tim Robbins (Dead Man Walking), Susannah Grant and Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich). For Canadian writers and directors, I’d be honoured to work with Sarah Polley (Away From Her and Stories We Tell) and Michael McGowan (One Week).

Casting Through the Glass

Leading Roles:

Me, Shannon Moroney. The temptation is to try to think of someone who looks like me, but I actually think that is immaterial. It would only be important to me that the actor get to know my true essence as a human being: optimistic, life-loving and generally sunny. I think that these traits, bound up with determination, an intense work ethic, and support from family and friends, are what made me able to triumph over trauma, and eventually to turn my own experience into advocacy for others. Someone who can capture this optimism while accurately portraying my painful journey would be the person I’d cast. I’d have to base my selection on auditions, rather than past performances.

Jason Staples: My husband, best friend and soul-mate turned rapist and kidnapper.

So split was Jason’s personality that the actor wanting to play Jason has to be able to take on two roles—to portray two distinct characters without allowing one to show through the other. They must both be authentic, as both aspects of Jason were real: the creative and kind friend, husband, employee and neighbour and the terrifying, violent criminal. Throughout his trial, he showed intense remorse to the people who knew him—even empathy—but in court he was robotic and emotionless. Accurately portraying this duality is essential to the integrity of the story, but it is no easy task.

When pondering who could play Jason, I first think of casting the Jason that I knew—my best friend and soul mate, someone who I loved with all my heart. Jason was also very handsome, tall with blue eyes and wavy brown hair. Think Clark Kent, with his earnest demeanor. The harder task is to think of someone able to portray the deeply tormented Jason, the man who in his worst moments chose to torment others in a perverse and sadistic way. Who is brave enough to get inside Jason’s mind and understand the darkness that was there? Can he leave an audience feeling conflicted and stirred up by Jason’s contradictions?

I think the best candidate is Joshua Jackson, a talented Canadian actor best known for his role as Pacey on Dawson’s Creek, but more recently for his Genie-award winning lead in the independent film, One Week. He bears a striking resemblance to Jason, but moreover I believe he could carry both characters.

Supporting Roles: There are over forty people to cast, many of whom just appear once or twice and could be portrayed very well by good character actors. Here are a few that appear throughout the story:

My Mum: Helen Mirren

My Dad: Tom Skerritt

Detective Jeff Morgan: Brad Pitt (I want to reward Jeff for being a hero)

Defense Attorney, Connie: Juliana Margulies

Crown Attorney: Tom Wilkinson

Dr. Sue Gleeson: Julie Walters

Rachael, my best friend: Michelle Williams
Learn more about the book and author at Shannon Moroney's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ed Lin's "Ghost Month"

Ed Lin is the author of several books and is an all-around standup kinda guy. Waylaid and This Is a Bust were both published by Kaya Press in 2002 and 2007, respectively, and both were widely praised. Both also won the Members’ Choice Awards in the Asian American Literary Awards. His third book, Snakes Can’t Run, was published by Minotaur Books in April 2010; it was loved by many and also won an Asian American Literary Award, and was followed by in One Red Bastard 2012. Lin, who is of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards.

Here Lin dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Ghost Month:
If Ghost Month were made into a film, as the author I would have little to no power in casting it.

I'd be pleased, however, to see in the protagonist Jing-nan's role Mark Chao, who memorably portrayed a guy being raised by a single mom who goes on to join a gang for protection in the Taiwanese film Monga. He can appear conflicted and yet still resolute on what he's decided to do. Most importantly he looks like a music snob. I can see his eyes rolling if someone said Interpol were the new Joy Division.

I'd like to see Louis Ozawa Changchien in the role of the Taiwanese American. Is he a villain? Or is he really looking out for Jing-nan? Louis has a great menacing side, as shown in Predators and The Bourne Legacy, and he can also pull off an intelligent, calculating demeanor, as he did in the play Warrior Class. Bonus: Louis is a Taiwanese American.

I think Yaoyao (Kuo Shu-yao) should portray Nancy, a grad student at Taida and the former mistress of a jailed executive. Yaoyao's often dismissed as the singer with the baby face and big breasts. Yet she has acting chops--in fact, she won Best New Performer in Taiwan's Academy Awards last year for her role in Step Back to Glory (about a tug-of-war team). She's done dumbass commercials and starred in insipid videos, but I saw an interview with her where she dropped the fake smiles and was real. Yaoyao's life could have been much different. Her father passed away when she was still a young teen and she had to work in a restaurant to help support her family. She's no charity case now, and the role wouldn't be a gimme.

Chen Chih-yuan should portray Dwayne, the main cook at Jing-nan's night-market stall, Unknown Pleasures. There are a number of parallels with Dwayne here: Chen is of Amis descent; was a professional baseball player; and currently runs a barbeque joint on Taiwan's east coast. Chen, like Dwayne, also looks bad as hell. Sure, Chen was indicted for game-fixing that ended his playing career, but those charges were all bullshit.
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Lin's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Snakes Can't Run.

The Page 69 Test: One Red Bastard.

Writers Read: Ed Lin (May 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Arthur Allen's "The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl"

Since 1995 Arthur Allen has been writing articles and books, mostly about science and medicine, for publications such as The Washington Post, Science, Smithsonian, Landscape Architecture, The New Republic and Slate.com. His 2007 book Vaccine was the first major U.S. work to examine the anti-vaccine movement, and he has written many articles about the science and anthropology of vaccines. In 2010 he published Ripe, a foray into the world of tomato breeding, genetics, culture and food snobbism, which allowed him to spend time in southern Italy, Mexico and western China.

Here Allen sketches a dream scenario for an adaptation of his new book, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis:
I’m Steven Spielberg, or Agnieska Holland, or … Steven Soderbergh? Jim Jarmusch? It’s another beautiful day in Hollywood. The casting agent is in my office now (is that how it works?) and, over wheatgrass juice, Ethiopian coffee and macadamia nuts, we’re examining her selections for my pic, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl….

For some reason I’ve always imagined Ben Kingsley in the role of Ludwik Fleck. He’s monkish, intelligent, sly —a reprise of Kingsley’s 1982 role as Mahatma Gandhi. On the other hand, maybe Kingsley’s too old. Adrien Brody? Moritz Bleibtreu? (Run, Lola, Run; Munich.)

Ernestyna Fleck I had figured as Meryl Streep… but she’s a bit long in the tooth for the role (did it take me that long to finish this book?). Sophie Marceau? Marion Cotillard?

Already, I can see that it’s a good thing I didn’t quit my day job…

For Rudolf Weigl… Gerard Depardieu? Lives large, womanizes, idiosyncratic but lovable. On second thought, Depardieu is too large and wild to play Weigl, although the contrast with Kingsley would certainly be sharp. David Bowie? (Don’t laugh, he played Tesla in 2006)… Anyone can wear a stage goatee, but is there an actor who can play a man simultaneously genius and reticent, perceptive yet indifferent to the affairs of the world, a brave homebody, scornful and fun-loving, ribald and utterly absent-minded?

His wife Zofia Weigl is played by Rachel Weisz. Beautiful, talented, sensitive, troubled, sickly…

In the role of Erwin Ding, the unloved and often vicious SS doctor, Ralph Fiennes is the obvious choice, although what youngish actor worth his salt can’t play an ostensibly genial, deeply insecure, sadistic and opportunistic Nazi doctor? Michael Fassbender? Jason Schwarzman? (There’s a comical element here, which you’ll see if you read the book.)

Hermann Eyer is a tougher choice. A younger Bruno Ganz would have been my first choice—the Bruno Ganz from The American Friend. Thoughtful, moody, preoccupied, skilled. Maybe Marek Kondrat (the Polish actor)?

As Bruno Weber, the SS doctor at Auschwitz, Benno Fürmann (who plays a persecuted Jew in Into Darkness.)

Anyway, it’s a start.
Visit Arthur Allen's website.

The Page 69 Test: Vaccine.

Writers Read: Arthur Allen (July 2007).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 24, 2014

M. D. Waters's "Prototype"

M.D. Waters lives with her family in Maryland. She is the author of Archetype and its newly released sequel, Prototype.

Here Waters dreamcasts an adaptation of the novels:
I chose my character inspiration for Archetype really early on. Almost immediately I saw Katie Holmes as Emma, but if I had to choose someone to play her in the movie I’d choose Jennifer Lawrence. She’s truly a brilliant actress and capable of all sorts of roles.

As for Declan and Noah, I had Bradley Cooper and the model David Gandy in mind. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bradley playing Noah, but I also think Charlie Hunnam would be amazing. Stephen Amell would be a great Declan.

Lastly (listen up, universe!) I need JJ Abrams to direct the movie. I’ve loved him since his days on Alias. He’s not afraid of romance, and handles it spectacularly. The romance was very important to me in Archetype and Prototype, as were the action scenes. I wanted the reader to feel every second of that story and I think JJ Abrams is capable of doing that and more on screen.
Visit M. D. Waters's website.

Writers Read: M. D. Waters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rufi Thorpe's "The Girls from Corona del Mar"

Rufi Thorpe received her MFA from the University of Virginia in 2009. A native of California, she currently lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and son.

Here Thorpe dreamcasts an adaptation of The Girls From Corona del Mar, her debut novel:
While I didn’t write The Girls from Corona del Mar thinking of what it would be like as a movie, the challenge of trying to imagine it as one is delicious. Because it is a story of friendship, the chemistry of the two lead actresses would be the most important thing. I’m thinking of the kind of chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted, or between Susan Sarandon and Gina Davis in Thelma and Louise. Both actresses would need to have a lot of heart, I think, since in their different ways Mia and Lorrie Ann are both difficult, even as they are lovable.

Mia jokes continuously that she has a little black stone for a heart. There is something angry in her and distrustful, but also funny and biting. As much as she bemoans her own weakness of character, she loves those close to her passionately and unendingly, and in her life she manages to make moral decisions. I would love to see someone with a bit of fire in them for the role, but also with a real intellect. I think Jena Malone would be dynamite. I’ve loved her in literally every film she’s ever been in. Huge fan.

For Lorrie Ann, who is so effortlessly good, so beautiful and vulnerable, I always described her as having the sensuality of a woman in a Vermeer painting, and I suppose that colors the actresses I would choose. Thora Birch and Jennifer Lawrence both have that kind of sexuality: simple, like fruit, an utter lack of coquettishness. But I think Jennifer Lawrence has the psychological complexity in her performances to really follow Lor down the dark road that is the second half of the novel. I’ve never seen Birch in a role like that, but who knows, maybe she just hasn’t had the chance or hasn’t wanted to.

I think it could make a gorgeous movie, truthfully. There is so much that could be visually compelling, the settings of California, India, and Istanbul. It is also very much a novel of scenes, of people talking and fighting and finally recognizing themselves in each other. Both of my parents were actors and I grew up in the theater, so I think my love of plays always shows a little bit in my novels. It would be a life dream to see the book made into a film, even if it wound up being made into a bad one! Thanks for giving me the chance to imagine it.
Visit Rufi Thorpe's website.

Writers Read: Rufi Thorpe.

The Page 69 Test: The Girls from Corona del Mar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kimberly Elkins's "What Is Visible"

Kimberly Elkins was a finalist for the National Magazine Award and has published fiction and nonfiction in the Atlantic, Best New American Voices, Iowa Review, Chicago Tribune, Glamour, and Village Voice, among others.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of What Is Visible, her first novel:
What one lies in bed and dreams about: the movie that has been playing across the mind’s Technicolor screen since the book began, or perhaps even before. My novel, What Is Visible, spans the course of almost fifty years, but I’m choosing not to worry about that fact at the fantasy casting stage, believing as I do in the power of Hollywood to completely transform.

For the movie of What Is Visible, the key casting is Laura Bridgman, the first deaf-blind person to learn language fifty years before Helen Keller; Laura, who also couldn’t taste or smell, the scarlet fever taking four of her five senses at age two; Laura, who thousands came daily to visit at Perkins Institute, who charmed the likes of Dickens and Darwin; Laura, considered the second most famous woman of the nineteenth century, second only to Queen Victoria, and now lost to history.

Since I first saw the astonishing Mia Wasikowska in In Treatment years ago, she has been my Laura. She even looks a great deal like the historical Laura, ethereal, frail but also fierce. And now, not to jump on the trend train, but in my mind’s eye there is another contender, the endlessly mutable, endlessly watchable Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black. I don’t own a television, but I do sneak in my pleasures online, and she is one, a superbly gifted chameleon.

For Dr. Howe, Laura’s mentor and the founder of Perkins, the actor must be a dark-haired charismatic, as Howe was known as the “handsomest man in Boston.” Arrogant, autocratic, and yet capable of the greatest tenderness with Laura, his darling, his prodigy, until he felt that she had betrayed him and he turned on her in the worldwide press with a vengeance. Daniel Day Lewis would be the uber Howe, the one I’ve always pictured exercising his dominance over all, but if Mr. Day Lewis declined, then the surly, sexy intelligence of Clive Owen would do the role more than justice. Or Hugh Dancy, a wonderful and, in my opinion, often under-rated actor, who can bring a curl of cruelty to his beautiful lips as easily as a smile.

And since we’re talking Hugh Dancy for Dr. Howe, who better to play his wife, the fiery poet, abolitionist and suffragist, Julia Ward Howe, than Dancy’s real-life spouse, Claire Danes? Claire Danes, who’s grown up before our eyes, would own the part of Julia as surely as she owns Homeland. You can’t take your eyes off her. But if not Ms. Danes, my head and heart would go out to two other wildly talented redheads who would make Julia glow: Amy Adams or Jessica Chastain.

As for directors, Scorsese proved he can knock our socks off with a period piece with The Age of Innocence and Gangs of New York. But I’d also love to see what Steven Soderbergh would do with What Is Visible, since I think historical drama is probably the only pond he hasn’t dipped his toes into. And oh, Jane Campion, Jane Campion!

Ah, perchance to fantasize...
Visit Kimberly Elkins's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 18, 2014

Susan Slater's "Rollover"

Susan Slater's books include the Ben Pecos Indian series and the Dan Mahoney mysteries.

Here Slater shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of Rollover, the second Dan Mahoney novel:
I almost hate to even tackle this question it brings up such ugly memories ... and here’s the story. About four years ago I wrote a women’s fiction novel, 0 to 60. It was optioned by Hollywood three weeks out of publication. Wow! I just knew I was on the fast-track to fame. I’ve learned later that Forrest Gump was optioned for seven years before becoming a movie and that one can grow old(er) and gray(er) waiting—but this is hindsight talking.

I was so excited I decided to write the screenplay myself—I’d be ready when the big offers came in. I couldn’t keep Susan Sarandon out of my head when writing the novel and the screenplay really turned out to be, I thought, a perfect acting vehicle for her. I only needed to make those all-important contacts with producers and I would be on my way.

Santa Fe, New Mexico has a screenwriters workshop once a year and brings in fifteen or so producers that can be privately “pitched” for an extra twenty-five dollars each. Great! Exactly what I was looking for. I bought over two hundred dollars worth of “pitch-time” and lined up in the hotel hallways waiting my turn with the rest of the wannabes.

My first “pitch” was to the producer of the movie, Miss Potter. The first question she asked was whom did I see in the lead. I proudly said, “Susan Sarandon.” With a derisive laugh she tossed the screenplay onto the table and said, “Susan Sarandon hasn’t carried a movie in fifteen years, why would you think she could do so now?” And then she yelled out, “Next.” So this last month when my agent was called by a Hollywood movie broker inquiring whether the movie/TV rights were still available for my newest mystery, Rollover, I laughed.

But then I started thinking . . . if the writer doesn’t have someone in mind, and he/she just lets someone who doesn’t really know the story take over—that’s giving up a lot of control. Not that it wouldn’t be lost anyway but I’d like to think I have a say. So, here goes:

If the Dan Mahoney series were purchased for TV, it would remind the viewer of Castle—lots of quirky characters, family members and good deductive detective work. Not a cozy but definitely not a thriller! As a movie? It gets tougher. Sandra Bullock would have to play Elaine. That’s the only given. Someone to play Dan is a bit more challenging. Christopher Meloni? John Stamos? Either would be good choices. But it would probably be easier to cast Simon, the Rottweiler.
Learn more about Rollover at the publisher's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Susan Slater & Toby and Tess.

The Page 69 Test: Rollover.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rebecca Makkai's "The Hundred-Year House"

Rebecca Makkai is a Chicago-based writer whose first novel, The Borrower, is a Booklist Top Ten Debut, an Indie Next pick, an O Magazine selection, and one of Chicago Magazine's choices for best fiction of 2011. Her short fiction has been chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four consecutive years (2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008), and appears regularly in journals like Harper's, Tin House, Ploughshares, and New England Review.

Here Makkai dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Hundred-Year House:
Would a reverse chronology translate well to film? I think it would, and my evidence isn’t Memento (because I refused to watch it lest it influence the book) but the infamous backwards episode of Seinfeld. I should emphasize that this was not an influence on The Hundred-Year House, except maybe in the sense that it gave me courage: yes, people are capable of thinking backwards. They might even enjoy it.

The novel starts in 1999, with the core characters who will be our emotional centers even as we move back to the years before their birth. For Doug, who is, if anyone, the book’s main character, I’d want Paul Rudd. He’s so good at winning our sympathy, at getting us to love characters who make poor decisions. A tightly wound Jennifer Garner can play his wife Zee. There’s another woman – Miriam – who moves into their house with them (the event that starts the whole chain of events) and here’s where I need some magic: Andie MacDowell, circa 1992, if she could act.

When we move back to 1955 in the next section, I’m going to keep my magical powers. I need Grace Kelly, somewhere around Rear Window vintage (for Grace, a miserable heiress), plus – for her horrible, violent husband George – the really good-looking guy from the Walker Evans photos that accompanied James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. And let’s just assume he has the acting skills of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

When we go back to 1929, the place is an artists’ colony, and here, if not everywhere, I want a Robert Altman vibe. Chaotic and overlapping and bright, the filmic equivalent of literary modernism. There needs to be a bit of makeup trickery involved with at least one of these characters (have you seen the amazing movie version of Sleuth?), but lest I spoil the book I’ll zip my lips. For Gamby Devohr, the spoiled heir to the estate who threatens the colony with closure, I want a clean-shaven and restrained Zach Galifianakis. For the painter Zilla Silverman, I want Selma Blair. And for Edwin Parfitt – the poet whose subtle presence holds the story together – it has to be Tobey Maguire.

And then there’s the house itself, Laurelfield, which needs a gravity of its own. I don’t think it matters what mansion you pick – the key would be shooting it like a character, so it seems alive. I have no idea what that means, but a really smart cinematographer would, right?

Although the book moves straight backwards in time, I’m not convinced that a movie would have to. I think of Tom Stoppard’s brilliant play Arcadia, and the way its two casts of characters, separated by more than a century, inhabit the same sets, sometimes even at the same time. Film can do certain things that prose can’t, and if I were lucky enough to see a movie made, I’d want to see the medium flexing its muscles.
Learn more about the author and her work at Rebecca Makkai's website, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Borrower.

The Page 69 Test: The Hundred-Year House.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 14, 2014

Susan Spann's "Blade of the Samurai"

Susan Spann is a transactional attorney focusing on publishing law and a former law school professor. She has a deep interest in Asian culture and has studied Mandarin and Japanese. Her hobbies include Asian cooking, fencing, knife and shuriken throwing, traditional archery, martial arts, rock climbing, and horseback riding.

Here Spann dreamcasts an adaptation of her newest novel, Blade of the Samurai:
An actor did inspire one of the major characters in Blade of the Samurai, but ironically it wasn’t my protagonist, ninja detective Hiro Hattori, or his Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo, that my mind “pre-cast.”

I’ve always been a fan of actor Ken Watanabe—most people know him best from his Oscar-nominated role in The Last Samurai, (where he starred opposite Tom Cruise), or for his role as Saito in Inception (2010).

While writing Blade of the Samurai, I envisioned Ken Watanabe in the role of Matsunaga Hisahide, the 16th century daimyo (samurai lord) who walks “onstage” in Blade and plays a significant part in several of the upcoming Shinobi Mystery novels.

Ironically, Matsunaga-san is not a wholly fictitious character (though the novel obviously contains my fictional version of him) – he’s a major historical figure whose actions had a significant impact on Japan in the samurai era. Some histories consider him a hero, while others portray him as a Darth Vader-esque villain hungry to seize control of all Japan. The Shinobi Mysteries offer an actor a chance to play him as a little of both—he’s a powerful, complex character, and I must admit that I wrote him with Ken Watanabe’s masterful acting skills in mind.

I’d be delighted to see the Shinobi Mysteries on film, regardless of which actors end up cast in the various roles. That said, I admit to a secret hope to one day see Ken Watanabe bring my version of Matsunaga Hisahide to life.
Visit Susan Spann's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ann Garvin's "The Dog Year"

Ann Garvin is a professor of health and nutrition at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater; she also teaches creative writing in the Masters of Fine Arts program at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Here Garvin dreamcasts an adaptation of her newly released novel, The Dog Year:
I love this question because it gives me permission to ‘go there’ in my head. In fact, I’ve already gone there a bit already with Pinterest.

I confess I do not visualize actors while I am writing. I am inventing them as I write so I don’t have a clear vision on them until I’m done.

After I’m done I agonize about the actors as if it is a real decision I need to make. As if I’ve really won the lottery and now I have to spend the money. I love a little delusion in my life.

The cast would look something like this…

Lucy Peterman—Kate Winslet Of course! Who wouldn’t want Kate? She is the perfect mix of funny and sad.

Richard (Lucy’s husband)—Matt Damon – the good guy, the adorable saint.

Charles (Lucy’s brother)—Justin Kirk (From Weeds, he played a brother there too; a brother to a dead guy. I hope he doesn’t mind because he is wonderful.)

Mark (Lucy’s nemesis)—Timothy Olyphant (Most currently in Justified. A bad boy gone good. A good man with a bad past. Irresistible).

Sara—Kaitlyn Dever also from Justified. She is a soulful young actress with a big future.

Sidney—Natalie Portman: Complex and a scene-stealer; everyone else has to work to keep up.

Stuart From Frozen Foods—Andy Milder (Also from Weeds, the perfect sleeper man. Kind, with hidden gifts).

Now, I must return to reality, as this kind of fantasy is an author’s addiction.
Visit Ann Garvin's website.

Writers Read: Ann Garvin.

--Marshal Zeringue