Sunday, May 19, 2019

Clark Thomas Carlton's "The Prophet of the Termite God"

Clark T. Carlton studied English and Film at Boston University and UCLA and have worked as a screen and television writer, a journalist, and as a producer of reality television in addition to a thousand and one other professions.

Here he shares some thoughts on the above the line talent to adapt his novel The Prophet of the Termite God (and its fellow books from the Antasy Series) for the big screen:
Notice for my book when it was an indie came about through its optioning by a pair of successful Hollywood screenwriters working with film producer Lawrence Bender. The studios, especially Sony, were interested but they wanted to know why my book hadn’t been acquired yet by a publisher. Well, as William Goldman told us, nobody knows anything, and that opportunity could come around again now that the Antasy series has been released through Harper Voyager.

The ideal directors for my first book Prophets of the Ghost Ants and its sequel, Prophet of the Termite God are Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro. The third sequel should be directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. These are three of our greatest living directors and each of them has made masterpieces. All of them are from Mexico and all would understand my themes about race, religion and caste. Mr. del Toro is as fascinated by insects as I am and Mr. Cuarón made the best of all the Harry Potter movies, The Prisoner of Azkaban which was also the most visual. I’d be thrilled if Peter Jackson was interested in my novels, but I don’t know that he’d want to make another epic trilogy. Since the setting is in a micro-world, all of the acting would take place before a green screen. It would be 12 weeks of shooting actors and then years of digital artists and animators creating the insects and their habitats.

As for casting, my protagonist, Anand, is a brown-skinned outcaste boy when we meet him and he’s still a young man when he leads a defensive war against a powerful enemy. Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt or Esai Morales could have played him when they were in their teens. His eventual ally, Queen Polexima, might have been played by Emma Thompson, Cate Blanchett or Charlize Theron. Commander Tahn might be played by George Clooney if he wished to play the heavy. And as for the Learned Elders of Dranveria, they should be played by the surviving cast members of Star Trek and Star Trek Next Generation.
Visit Clark Thomas Carlton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 16, 2019

S. C. Megale's "This is Not a Love Scene"

S. C. Megale is an author and filmmaker. She's been profiled in USA Today, The Washington Post, and New York Newsday, and has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and the CBS Evening News for her philanthropic and literary work. As a humanitarian, she's spoken on the USS Intrepid, at the NASDAQ opening bell, and to universities and doctors nationwide. She enjoys making connections all over the world.

Megale was raised in the long grass of the Civil War, hunting for relics and catching fireflies along the banks of Bull Run. A shark tooth, flutes, and a flask are some of the items that hang from her wheelchair, and she had a fear of elevators until realizing this was extremely inconvenient. She lives with her family which includes her parents, sister and brother, service dog, and definitely-not-service dog.

Here the author shares some thoughts on adapting This is Not a Love Scene, her first published novel, for the big screen:
Of course, if they make my book into a film, I want to work on the set. My wheelchair makes an exceptional coat rack.

Much of This is Not a Love Scene involves filmmaking and the quirks of the industry (read my book to find out what a "stinger" is on a film set), and I studied video for two years at community college. That's why, funnily, I'd focus less on casting the film (for me there'd only be the factor of how well the person portrayed the character, no matter their background) and more on what professionals I know who I'd love to see involved. My #1, naturally, would be Nina Jacobson, producer of The Hunger Games, whom I met and become smitten with on all three of the Hunger Games film sets when I was a recurring guest.

The movie soundtrack of the book would be fun, too. I imagined a super punk line up: Sum 41, Avril Lavinge, Jonas Brothers, etc.
Visit S.C. Megale's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 13, 2019

Meghan Holloway's "Once More Unto the Breach"

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, Once More Unto the Breach:
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 Once More Unto the Breach some consideration before I came up with my answer.

Rhys is Welsh, and that cultural pride is so integral to his identity that I would suggest an actor like Ioan Gruffudd or Matthew Rhys to portray him for the sake of authenticity. One reviewer has described Rhys as a Homeric character with a poignancy about him. I love that description. He is a sheep farmer and a veteran of the Great War, and he personifies the old adage “still waters run deep.” He is physically and emotionally strong and stalwart, but he has a poet’s soul. With the mental wounds left from WWI and the losses he has faced in life, there is a melancholy about him in addition to the ruggedness, and I think Clive Owen could portray that perfectly.

Charlotte is the perfect partner for Rhys in his journey. In the first scene I ever wrote for Once More Unto the Breach, Rhys is in a tiny apartment in Paris in the days following the city’s liberation. He is unable to sleep, and he is far from home with a worn letter in his pocket. He was attacked on the streets earlier that day and was saved by the woman who lies sleeping in the next room. He is indebted to her, but also wary of her.

Charlotte was there in my head from the beginning. With that first scene, I only knew two things about her: 1) She was American, and 2) she carried a Colt M1911.

I love phenomenal secondary characters in stories, and Charlotte plays a pivotal role in the tale. She is a woman with secrets of her own, and she has her own reasons for offering to aid Rhys in his journey. She is courageous and pragmatic, quick-thinking and unflinching in the midst of danger. Even so, I strove to create a woman authentic to the times. A debutante from Louisiana, she came to Paris to study at the Sorbonne in the 30s and remained after the invasion in 1940. When the American Hospital needed people for the Ambulance Field Service, she joined. As she tells Rhys, “I can play the piano, draw, paint, sew, and dance. My mother insisted on those. But my father also insisted on making certain I could shoot, drive, and take an engine apart and put it back together again. I could be of use to you.” Over the course of the story, Charlotte always remained a bit of a mystery to Rhys—and to me.

I cannot think of anyone more perfect for the role than Jessica Chastain. She has the natural, effortless elegance, the strong, fearless femininity, and the emotional range to play the character of Charlotte thoughtfully, grittily, and authentically.

If you’ve read Once More Unto the Breach, tell me what you think of my choices for the leading roles. Who would you pick to portray Rhys and Charlotte?
Visit Meghan Holloway's website, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Istagram.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Susannah Marren's "A Palm Beach Wife"

Susannah Marren is the author of Between the Tides and A Palm Beach Wife and a pseudonym for Susan Shapiro Barash, who has written more than a dozen nonfiction books including Tripping the Prom Queen and Toxic Friends.

She lives in New York City and teaches gender studies in the Writing Department at Marymount Manhattan College.

Here Barash shares some ideas about the above-the-line talent who might adapt A Palm Beach Wife for the big screen:
Amy Adams would do a splendid job with the lead, a character named Faith Harrison.

I imagine a few other actors being perfect for other roles -- Susan Sarandon, Zoey Deutch, Lily James.

I would like a female director - Nancy Meyers, Elizabeth Banks, Jane Campion.
Visit Susan Shapiro Barash's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Timothy Jay Smith's "The Fourth Courier"

When Timothy Jay Smith quit an intriguing international career to become a full-time writer, he had a host of real life characters, places and events to inspire his stories. His first novel, Cooper’s Promise, in some ways is still the most autobiographical of his novels, though he was never an American deserter adrift in Africa. But he was in The Mining Pan bar and he did meet Lulay and he did stowaway on a barge that landed him in an African jail.

Now, in his third novel, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland in 1992, Smith looks back at the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, as witnessed through the eyes of an FBI Special Agent on assignment to stop a nuclear smuggling operation out of Russia. Smith’s newest book continues his style of page-turning thrillers steeped with colorful characters. Here are some of his thoughts on a big screen adaptation of The Fourth Courier:
The sense of scene is crucial to my writing. It’s how I think about a story. Before I start new work, I always have the opening and closing scenes in my head, and then I figure out what I need to get from start to finish.

I think it comes from growing up in a house where the television was never turned off. My sisters and I were even allowed to watch TV while doing homework if we kept our grades up. Sometimes I joke that canned laughter was the soundtrack of my childhood. I haven’t owned a television for many years, but growing up with it exposed me to telling stories in scenes, and it’s why my readers often say they can see my stories as they read them.

For me, it’s not difficult to go between prose and screenplays. In fact, I use the process of adapting a novel to the screen as an editing tool. It helps me sharpen the novel’s dialogue and tighten the story.

It’s harder for me to cast my screenplays than to write them. (Thankfully there are casting directors.) Fresh Voices International had this to say about my adaptation of Cooper’s Promise:

“Cooper Chance is a complex character in the vein of classical leading men. If Humphrey Bogart were alive today, he’d be attracted to this role.”

I’m using that as inspiration for suggesting a classic all-star cast for The Fourth Courier:

Cary Grant as FBI Special Agent James (Jay) Porter, an altogether likable guy who’s whipsawed by a nasty custody battle for his two sons back home while fighting bad guys in Poland to avert a nuclear disaster.

Sidney Poitier as his sidekick, Kurt Crawford, a black gay CIA agent who uses both his race and sexuality in key ways to help break the case.

Audrey Hepburn as Lilka, Jay’s new love interest, a sensitive and vulnerable woman struggling to protect her son while surviving the new world order.

Michael York as Jay’s Polish counterpart, Detective Kulski, a devoted family man who’s determined to crack the case before a portable atomic bomb gets into the wrong hands.

Boris Karloff as Dr. Sergej Ustinov, a genius Russian physicist who’s been driven mad by what he was required to sacrifice as part of a genetics engineering project.

Joan Crawford as Basia Husarska, the Director of Poland’s Bureau of Organized Crime, ready to sell anything, including herself, to achieve her dreams.

Humphrey Bogart as General Dravko Mladic, a fervent Serbian nationalist with a mad plan to recreate a country that no longer exists.
Visit Timothy Jay Smith's website.

Writers Read: Timothy Jay Smith.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Jack McDevitt's "Octavia Gone"

Jack McDevitt is an American science fiction author. He has won multiple awards including the International UPC Science Fiction award for Ships in the Night, a Nebula for Seeker, a Campbell Award for Omega, and the Robert Heinlein Lifetime Achievement Award. He has over 20 novels available in print, ebook and audio. He resides in Georgia with his lovely wife, Maureen.

Here McDevitt dreamcasts the leads for an adaptation of Octavia Gone, the latest Alex Benedict novel:
My favorite lead characters in TV dramas both appeared in the same series, JAG, and I guess that indicates how well the chemistry worked. David James Elliott and Catherine Bell portrayed naval officers working for the Judge Advocates Office where they had to settle legal issues, which often meant unraveling mysteries and complications. I’d have chosen them first to play Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath in Octavia Gone. Or any of the other narratives in the series.

They’d have been electric, especially under the direction of Steven Spielberg.
Learn more about the book and author at Jack McDevitt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 29, 2019

Daniel Kennefick's "No Shadow of a Doubt"

Daniel Kennefick is associate professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He is the author of Traveling at the Speed of Thought: Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves and a coauthor of An Einstein Encyclopedia.

Here he shares some thoughts on a big screen adaptation of his new book, No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse That Confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity:
It’s not so difficult to imagine how the film world would decide to adapt my book for the screen, because it’s already been done! The story of the 1919 eclipse which confirmed Einstein’s theory of Relativity is of such scientific importance that the television movie Einstein and Eddington was made by the BBC in 2008. It starred David Tennant (of Dr. Who fame) as Arthur Stanley Eddington, the most famous of the Astronomers involved in the expedition, and Andy Serkis as Einstein. The movie was not without its flaws. The opening scene shows Eddington completing his preparations on the island of Principe the night before the eclipse with the scene illuminated by an enormous full Moon. Of course an eclipse of the Sun can only take place at the dark of the Moon! But it was quite entertaining with convincing performances. So, why even write my book if the story I’m telling is that well known? Well, the characters I wanted to bring to the fore were almost completely left out of the film. That’s common enough when adapting for the screen, but even written accounts have neglected or slighted these other astronomers, most notably the man who actually led the planning of the expeditions and who oversaw the analysis of the data they took. That man was England’s Astronomer Royal, Sir Frank Watson Dyson.

Dyson was in charge of planning for all British eclipse expeditions at this time. He brought Eddington on board in this case because of the latter’s theoretical expertise but minutes of the planning meetings and letters between them show that Dyson was very much the senior man. This was because his own research dealt extensively with the kind of precision astrometry (the measurement of the positions of stars) which was required to test Einstein’s theory. The movie refers to Eddington as the “best measuring man in England,” but in real life, and for this specific task, that man was Dyson. Weirdly, the movie almost completely removes Dyson from the story. Much of his role is absorbed into a composite character, given the name of the English physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, who had nothing to do with the eclipse in actual history. Jim Broadbent, the well-known character actor, does a fine job with this role, and I rather like to think of him playing Dyson in a more fully rounded portrayal of the 1919 expeditions.

I say expeditions because there were two expeditions, one to Principe, off the coast of west Africa, and the other to the Brazilian city of Sobral. The movie has Dyson’s character assisting Eddington on Principe. In reality he was in charge of the other expedition, but did not travel to Brazil, leaving that task to two of his assistants. But it was this expedition which actually obtained the data which overthrew Newton and made Einstein famous. Eddington's data was of limited value because clouds almost completely obscured his view of the Sun. Thus it was Dyson who directed the analysis of the important data and it is his hand writing that is found on the data analysis sheets, written months after the eclipse, making the decisive statement in favor of Einstein. The movie hilariously has the data analysis performed by Eddington in front of an audience of fellow scientists in November 1919. Of course this famous joint meeting of two English learned societies was only arranged by Dyson after the team at his observatory in Greenwich (which did not include Eddington) had finished its painstaking analysis of the data. I hope my book will highlight his central contribution to this most famous of scientific experiments in this centenary year.
Learn more about No Shadow of a Doubt at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 19, 2019

Todd Strasser's "Summer of '69"

Todd Strasser is the internationally best-selling author of more than one hundred books for children and teens, including Fallout and The Beast of Cretacea, as well as the classics The Wave and Give a Boy a Gun, which are taught in classrooms around the world.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Summer of '69:
Like most people I love movies and good television, but in the nearly fifty years that I’ve been writing novels, I’ve never thought about what actors might play my characters. So this is sort of new to me.

Looking at contemporary actors for Summer of ’69 with the understanding that they’d be required to spend a fair amount of time acting -- or just plain being -- stoned, I think Ryan Gosling would be a good choice for the main character Lucas.

For his two close friends I’d choose Paul Dano for Milton, and Jonah Hill for Arno.

For his two love interests, I’d want Emma Watson for Robin, and Zooey Deschanel for Tinsley.

For his troubled cousin, Barry, it would have to be Joaquin Phoenix.

And David Oyelowo would make an excellent Charles, his draft counselor.
Visit Todd Strasser's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Dave Patterson's "Soon the Light Will Be Perfect"

Dave Patterson is an award-winning writer, musician and high school English teacher. He received his MA in English from the Bread Loaf School of English and an M.F.A. from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Soon the Light Will Be Perfect:
Let’s get weird. Imagine you could take the virtuoso skill set of Philip Seymour Hoffman with a dash of John C. Reilly and cram it all inside a twelve year old actor. That would be the dream for the lead role. This would allow for a striking gravitas, a deep humanity, and a disarming sense of humor for the lead. I imagine this movie demanding understated performances. There’s a menacing undercurrent to the life of this family that could be ruined by over-the-top performances. My hybrid Philip Seymour Hoffman/John C. Reilly clone would nail the nuanced darkness creeping in at the edges of the child lead.

For the parents, I’d love, love, love to see thirty-something versions of Frances McDormand and Gary Sinise as the mother and father. It just blew my mind a little to envision their performances in the roles of a sick-with-cancer mother and an out-of-work father. They would bring a fire to this family on the brink of collapse.

The dream director to guide my child prodigy and in-their-primes McDormand and Sinise: Alan Ball of Six Feet Under and American Beauty fame. The humanity he injects into his characters always dazzles. He achieves a tone that at once feels both uplifting and terrifying--like tragedy can strike at any moment, but so can profound beauty. You’re never sure what’s around the corner in an Alan Ball production, but you know it will be something riveting. He’s also great at navigating the murky waters of family dynamics, as evidenced most recently in HBO’s Here and Now. He allows each family member to become their own idiosyncratic human being, then he has these character continually bash into each other in poetic and violent ways.

Okay, now I’m excited. How do we make this happen? It can’t be hard. We just need a cloning kit, a time machine, and a hundred million dollars.
Visit Dave Patterson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 12, 2019

Suzanne Hinman's "The Grandest Madison Square Garden"

Suzanne Hinman holds a Ph.D. in American art history and has been a curator, gallerist, museum director, professor, and an art model. She owned an art gallery in Santa Fe and then served as director of galleries at the Savannah College of Art and Design, the world's largest art school. Her interest in the artists and architects of the American Gilded Age and the famed Cornish Art Colony in New Hampshire grew while associate director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College. The author continues to reside near Cornish as an independent scholar.

Here Hinman dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal, and Architecture in Gilded Age New York:
The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal, and Architecture in Gilded Age New York considers in detail the design, planning, and construction of the magnificent 1890 Madison Square Garden, the second to stand on Madison Square. But it is also essentially the story of two men, chronicling the lives and collaboration of arguably America’s grandest architect Stanford White and the equally talented sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who completed two versions of the nude goddess Diana to top what would be the Garden’s and America’s tallest tower. The nature of their intimate relationships, with each other as well as their wives and lovers, are examined as well as their aesthetic achievements.

As to who should play them, my immediate response would be George Clooney and George Clooney! He would portray both the effusive, exuberant, ever-on-the-prowl red-haired Stanford White, with his great mustache, as well as Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the more streetwise, moodier, and obsessively perfectionist sculptor, with his darker-red beard—by which they might conveniently be told apart.

Somewhat more seriously, I might suggest ginger-haired Scottish actor Kevin McKidd for Stanford White, again with mustache, or perhaps another Scotsman, Douglas Henshall; for Saint-Gaudens, Henshall’s partner on the series Shetland, the Brit Marc Bonnar.

But truly, I’ve always imagined that rather than a Hollywood film, that the book would make a wonderful Ken Burns-style documentary series. There are so many larger-than-life characters and themes of consequence for examination, not only for the Gilded Age, but issues that persist into our day. Aside from the obvious complexities of the period, the fabulous wealth and the stark contrast between classes, there lies the threat of urban terrorism; a flood of immigration; continuing political corruption; the emergence of new roles for women, including both artist and nude model; the amazing technological advances, especially electricity (with the Diana the first sculpture to be so illuminated); the fabulous expositions including the Chicago World’s Fair and the White City to which Saint-Gaudens’s first version of Diana was exiled; the beginnings of “contemporary” art and architecture; and the emergence of the nature of homosexuality from the pyscho-medical shadows and the development of a vital gay culture in New York.

In addition, to add to the real-life drama, the book reveals a little-known national scandal regarding Saint-Gaudens and nudity, while also proposing a surprising new theory regarding White’s “murder-of-the century” on the top of Madison Square Garden—both of which are better examined through a documentary lens.
Visit Suzanne Hinman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue