Here she shares some ideas about casting an adaptation of her second novel, Secret Keepers (St. Martin’s Press/Picador):
Secret Keepers is about a group of characters that are stuck--in a small southern town, in marriages, in estranged relationships with their children and parents, in past mistakes--and how they try to move on. Emma Hanley is the matriarch of this southern family, and like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, she yearns to leave Palmetto, her hometown. Her adult children give her fits. Bobby has daily conversations with his brother Will--who died in the Vietnam War. And Dora has a wicked shopping addiction and a controlling husband. When Dora’s old flame Jake Cary returns to town, he and his motley group of gardeners, the Blooming Idiots, complicate matters when they unearth some strangely beautiful plants and the Hanley family’s secrets.Learn more about the book and author at Mindy Friddle's website and blog.
Emma Hanley - Frances Conroy
I’ll never forget Frances Conroy's fascinating role as Ruth, the matriarch on HBO’s Six Feet Under. Both Frances and Emma, as it happens, are redheads and willowy and southern. Frances, born in Georgia, would capture Emma's soft lilt and steely kindness--and her unexpected chance for a late-in-life romance. She’d make Emma her own.
Dora Hanley Quattlebaum - Kim Dickens
Kim Dickens plays the chef Janette Desautel on HBO’s Treme with a kind of complex determination. Kim’s southern accent is genuine; she’s an Alabama girl. She’d be an ideal Dora-- strong-willed, compelling, and lovely--but bewildered: She finds herself nearing middle age, confused about who she really is, and who she loves.
Bobbie Hanley - Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling did a beautiful job portraying the socially inept, fragile but engaging Lars Lingstorm in Lars and the Real Girl. He could bring the same dignity and innocence to Bobby, a former science prodigy who struggles with bouts of schizophrenia. Bobby is obsessed with insects, and sees beauty in the natural world in his own skewed way.
Jake Cary - Benecio Del Toro
As police officer Javier Rodriguez in Traffic, Benecio Del Toro played a character both incorruptible and smoldering. Brooding and principled. It’s an attractive mix. Jake, head of the Blooming Idiots, is like that. He needs to have a head for business, but he has a soft heart for anyone who needs a hand, and he’s carrying a secret torch for Dora.
Gordon - Clarke Peters
Clarke Peters played the cool-headed and dedicated Lester Freamon on The Wire— a police detective who languishes, ignored, until his superb investigative talents are discovered. Clarke could bring his intensity and his humorous touch to Gordon—a war buddy of Jake who sleeps in the woods, who sees things others miss, whose latent gifts emerge and change everything.
Kyle Quattlebaum - Zach Gilford
Kyle is full of passion and mischief like his mother, Dora. Unlike his mother, he is close to Emma, his grandmother. Friday Night Lights Matt Saracen, played by Zach Gilford, is a sensitive, occasionally awkward but always appealing teenager, who is close to his grandmother. And, as it happens, Kim Dickens plays his mother on the show.
Screenplay - Nancy Oliver
I’m not even sure she does adaptations, but I’d be thrilled if Nancy Oliver wrote the screenplay for Secret Keepers. I love her original work—she wrote Lars and the Real Girl, and episodes of Six Feet Under. She leavens darkness with humor.
Director - Lasse Hallstrom
His work is sensitive but not sappy. Lasse Hallstrom directed some of my favorite films--My Life as a Dog, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules, and Chocolat. He has a flair for crafting exquisite tales tempered by humor. His films are full of prickly family dynamics and quirky oddballs. Secret Keepers has plenty of both.