Here she shares some ideas for casting a big screen adaptation of the Bloodlands story:
In the near-distant future, there is a place called the New Badlands. It’s a desolate area in the West forged by the terrible events that altered the entire country. A place where a few frightened citizens retreated underground to shelter from the brutal weather ... and from a society gone terribly dangerous.Learn more about the book and author at the Bloodlands wesbite and on Twitter.
This is the story of a drifter, Gabriel, who comes to the New Badlands and is taken in by reluctant settlers after he’s wounded. If this is reminiscent of a bare-bones plot from one of many classic Westerns, you’d be right—but with a paranormal twist on all those Western tropes. One such trope is the lead character, Gabriel. He’s just like the “drifter/gunslinger” who’s searching for redemption and what’s left of his humanity, but instead of being a cowboy, he’s a fangslinging vampire, and he’s literally lost his soul. I wish we still had Gary Cooper around for this role—or a thirty-ish Russell Crowe. Whoever plays Gabriel would need a sort of bruised beauty about him, an edgy good-guy quality with a hint of tragedy lurking in his steady gaze.
The heroine, Mariah Lyander, is far easier to cast for me. She’s in her early twenties, waifish with red hair that’s been cut to the chin by her knife. She’s got a core of anger that separates her from the other settlers, and she’s mysterious, traumatized by a past she can’t let go of. Even so, she’s no victim. I can see a strong, young, up-and-coming actress like Imogen Poots or Mia Wasikowska fleshing out Mariah—and enthralling Gabriel enough to make him want to “out” himself and protect the settlers when a monster slayer appears in the New Badlands.
One of my favorite characters to write was the villain of the piece—the “cruel rancher nemesis” trope who, along with his hired thugs, harasses Gabriel and the settlers. In most Westerns, this part would be played by a smooth older man with silver hair and dandy clothes. In Bloodlands, I went a different direction for Johnson Stamp: he’s in his early twenties, having left behind the urban hubs for a new life out in the nowheres. It’s only when his employees start turning up dead that he confronts his neighbors, thinking that they’re going too far in protecting their territory. I wrote this part with the actor Ryan Donawho in mind because his eyes say so much—they can be full of pain or arrogance, and they can be as dark as the depths of a gun barrel. He fits Stamp to a T.
There are a couple of standout settlers who would be fun to cast, too. One of them is the oldster—the feisty motormouth who’d be John Wayne’s deputy or sidekick. Someone like Michael Douglas (or Kevin Bacon, if he were at least fifteen years older!) would bring this guy to life. There’s also Zel Hopkins, a fifty-ish ex-cop who can still kick ass. Who better to do that than, say, Sons of Anarchy’s Katey Sagal?