Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jason Gurley's "Eleanor"

Jason Gurley is the author of the novels Greatfall, The Man Who Ended the World, and the ongoing Movement series. His bestselling self-published novel Eleanor was acquired by Crown Publishing in the U.S., HarperCollins in the U.K., Editora Rocco in Brazil, Arunas in Turkey, and Heyne Verlag in Germany. His short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine and numerous anthologies, among them Loosed Upon the World and Help Fund My Robot Army!!! from editor John Joseph Adams. Gurley lives and writes in Oregon.

Here Gurley dreamcasts an adaptation of his novel, Eleanor:
If I were in charge of casting a film adaptation of Eleanor, I’d have to take my cues from the nature of the book itself. The novel plays fast and loose with the concept of time, and I’d dive into that wholeheartedly, and select my cast mostly from years gone by—with a twist.

Eleanor, the novel’s protagonist, is seen at several ages, but predominantly as a teenager. She’s quiet, strong-willed, carrying her entire broken family upon her back. For this part, I’d leap back in time to the late 1970s, shortly after Taxi Driver, and cast Jodie Foster in the role.

Eleanor’s mother, Agnes, is a heartbroken, grieving woman who has forsaken her family to indulge her sadness. She’s drunk, angry, embittered; it all stems from the great losses she’s experienced. For this part, I’d rewind time a little less far, and cast Jodie Foster from the early 2000s—think Panic Room Foster.

You might already have spotted a trend here. In fact, the titular Eleanor of my novel was named for Eleanor Arroway, the heroine of Carl Sagan’s Contact—who, of course, Jodie Foster portrayed in the film adaptation. I suppose I’ve always thought of Ms. Foster as a sort of soulmate for this character. So it seems quite natural to me to bend time, just a bit, to place her in each of the novel’s major roles.

In the novel, Eleanor is named for her grandmother, Agnes’s mother. This Eleanor despairs of ever being able to make choices for herself. She’s unexpectedly found herself in motherhood, married to an older man, and once again pregnant. In her late twenties, she makes a dire choice that informs much of the novel that follows. For this, I’d leap backward in time to cast the Jodie Foster of the early 1990s—Silence of the Lambs Foster.

The novel spends some time with Agnes’s twin daughters, Eleanor and Esmerelda, when they are children of six. For these roles I take my inspiration from Robert Zemeckis, who in Contact cast Jena Malone as the young Jodie Foster. Malone wasn’t acting at age six, but I’m suspending that bit of reality here. For both parts, Jena Malone, circa 1990 or so.

Eleanor’s father, Paul, plays an important role as she grows up and begins her timeless journey toward her family’s redemption. He’s in his early forties for these scenes, and is a failed architect who sells real estate in a dwindling market; he and his wife have divorced in the wake of family tragedy. To bring Paul to life, I’d select Matthew McConaughey—and hey, trendspotters: McConaughey played Palmer Joss in Contact, so we’re keeping this trend alive.

As her family collapses around her, Eleanor has only one real friend, a boy her age named Jack. He loves her dearly, and would do anything for her—and does, many times. He comes from a similarly disrupted home, and knows what Eleanor’s going through. For this part, I have to break the trend; Jodie Foster can’t play it, and there are no male youngsters in Contact. Tye Sheridan, so good in Mud and The Tree of Life, would probably be my choice. Might have to rewind time a few years to get the character’s age right, but Sheridan’s a perfect Jack.
Visit Jason Gurley's website.

The Page 69 Test: Eleanor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 29, 2016

James D. Stein's "L.A. Math"

James D. Stein is emeritus professor in the Department of Mathematics at California State University, Long Beach.

His books include Cosmic Numbers and How Math Explains the World.

Here Stein dreamcasts an adaptation of his new story collection, L.A. Math: Romance, Crime, and Mathematics in the City of Angels:
There are three main characters in the book: Freddy Carmichael, Lisa Carmichael, and Pete Lennox. The narrator of the stories is Freddy, a private investigator recently separated from his wife Lisa, who decides to relocate to Los Angeles. He takes up residence in a guesthouse in Brentwood, which is owned by Pete, who has a surprising ability to apply mathematics to the situations Freddy encounters.

All of the characters are in their late 20s or early 30s. I don't pay as much attention to movies and TV as I used to, so I'm going to describe people who played in TV shows in the past, and ask the reader of this blog (or the director and producer of the movie) to “fill in” contemporary actors who would parallel the ones I suggest.

The easiest is Lisa Kudrow, who could play Lisa Carmichael in the same way that she played the quirky Phoebe in Friends. I like Jim Hutton, who played Ellery Queen in the TV series of the same name, for Freddy Carmichael. From roughly the same era, take Jack Klugman, who played the sportswriter Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple, and regress his age to the late 20s or early 30s, and you have an excellent Pete Lennox.
Learn more about L.A. Math at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 69 Test: L.A. Math.

Writers Read: James D. Stein.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

David Wellington's "The Cyclops Initiative"

David Wellington is an author of horror, fantasy, and thriller novels. His zombie novels Monster Island, Monster Nation and Monster Planet form a complete trilogy. He has also written a series of vampire novels including Thirteen Bullets, Ninety-Nine Coffins, Vampire Zero, Twenty-Three Hours, and 32 Fangs. His werewolf series comprises Frostbite and Overwinter.

In 2013 Wellington introduced Afghanistan veteran Jim Chapel in the novel, Chimera, which was later followed by The Hydra Protocol.

Here Wellington dreamcasts an adaptation of the new Jim Chapel novel, The Cyclops Initiative:
“What would you like to have a director do with your book?” I have a stock answer whenever anybody asks me this question, which is that I don’t know but I’d be excited to see what they came up with. I’m not of the opinion that movies should scrupulously follow a book’s content. Where’s the fun in that? Any movie is going to be an interpretation of the source material, so why not make it an interesting interpretation?

Of course you’re going to run into fans who just want to see their favorite story made into some kind of visual artifact. Which is understandable, I suppose, but it just seems so boring. So if someone were to ask me “Who do you want to play Jim Chapel in the movie?” I think I would have to say: John Boyega.

Let’s break this down. Jim Chapel in The Cyclops Initiative is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He lost an arm over there (and got a spiffy new robotic replacement). He’s a special forces vet just easing into middle age, a quiet, brooding fellow who is still able to jump into action when the need arises but who is learning to be more thoughtful and compassionate as he ages. He’s a real hero.

Oh, and Chapel’s a white guy. I think he specifically says as much in the book, but, yeah, we all knew he was white, no point in pretending otherwise now. Astute readers, or at least those with functional short term memory, will recall I picked John Boyega. Who is black. Oh, and too young, and he has both arms, and… sure.

He’s also utterly charming. Did you see that star fighters movie thing? I think you probably saw it by now. Boyega is a solid actor who brings energy and enthusiasm to his role as leading spaceman, but the thing that came across the most for me from that performance was: he’s a nice guy. His character is literally defined by the fact that he was a soldier who chose to be nice. And that’s exactly what I was trying to do with Jim Chapel.

So, John Boyega. Absolutely.

I will admit that I would enjoy the furor. The Twitter comments from people who don’t realize how foolish they sound as they sputter and whine. But then, I’m not a nice guy. I just write about one in the books.

John Boyega as Captain Jim Chapel, all the way. Ooh, and Daisy Ridley can have a part, too (if you’ve read the book, you know which part, and that she’d be perfect, but no spoilers here). If we got them both that would sell one hell of a lot of tickets. And it would be fun.

It’s entertainment, right? Isn’t it supposed to be fun? People are so afraid to take chances these days. In fact, hell with it. Daisy Ridley as Jim Chapel. And all the other characters can be CGI hippos. Directors of the world, I am waiting. You can do what you like with my book! Just please, try to make it fun!
Learn more about the book and author at David Wellington's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Hydra Protocol.

The Page 69 Test: Positive.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith's Vampire Empire series

Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith are a married couple who have written together for nearly two decades. Their credits include novels such as the Vampire Empire series (Pyr Books) and the Crown & Key trilogy (Del Rey).

Their new novel is The Geomancer.

Here the Griffiths dreamcast an adaptation of the Vampire Empire series:
Our readers have debated a lot over who should play the characters in a Vampire Empire movie from the time the original trilogy was published. There are some perfect actors who are too old, or would be by the time a film project got off the ground. But here are suggestions for actors if the movie was going in front of the camera today. Some of these characters don’t actually appear in the newest book The Geomancer, but this is a cast for the series as a whole.

Greyfriar/Gareth: Tom Mison

Adele: Freida Pinto

General Anhalt: Oded Fehr

Mamoru: Ken Watanabe

Simon: Asa Butterfield

Cesare: Douglas Booth

Flay: Eva Green

Senator Clark: Hugh Jackman

Captain Hariri: Alexander Siddig

Sir Godfrey Randolph: Tom Wilkinson

Nzingu: Lupita Nyono’o

Lord Kelvin: Tom Hiddleston

It would be a very expensive movie, we fear. But the ComicCon panel would be awesome!
Learn more about the book and authors at Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Geomancer.

Writer's Read: Susan Griffith.

Writer's Read: Clay Griffith.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 25, 2016

Martine Bailey's "A Taste for Nightshade"

Martine Bailey’s A Taste for Nightshade, the follow-up to An Appetite for Violets, is a gastronomic mystery set in England, Australia and New Zealand in the 1790s. It is a thrilling historical novel that combines recipes, mystery and a dark struggle between two desperate women. Bailey lives in Chester, England and as an amateur cook, won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion.

Here Bailey dreamcasts an adaptation of A Taste for Nightshade:
In my dream version I’d like to resurrect Alfred Hitchcock to direct my novel. I'm picturing the atmospheric sets he used for Rebecca and the way Hitch used food to drive his plots . I’ll never forget the illuminated glass of poisoned milk in Suspicion, or Marion Crane picking over her last sandwich in Psycho.

My flame-haired confidence trickster Mary is a talented cook, impersonator, and born survivor. I’d give her role to Myanna Buring, Edna in Downton Abbey and star of Banished and Ripper Street. Mary’s timid mistress is Grace Moore, warm-hearted and vulnerable Anna Maxwell-Martin (Death Comes to Pemberley, Bleak House). While writing I pictured Grace’s weak but handsome husband as a young James Fox. The other male lead is escaped convict Will, to be played by The Last Kingdom's Ragnar, Tobias Santelmann.

The main location is Delafosse Hall, based on a house in North Wales with forgotten tunnels, decaying summerhouse, tales of hopeless love and ghostly hauntings. My dark mystery also takes the reader to London’s Golden Square, the convict camps of Sydney, Australia, and Maori settlements of New Zealand.

The food needs to be highly crafted, from aphrodisiacs and poisons, to a tiny sugar four-poster bed for a wedding cake and a miniature baby and cradle. When writing the book I studied sugarwork with TV food historian Ivan Day, who created the food for Death Comes to Pemberley.

I’m sure Hitchcock would conjure the twisting staircases of Delafosse Hall, the snowbound winter rides, flickering candlelight and create edge-of-the-seat moments from the twists and revelations.
Visit Martine Bailey's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: An Appetite for Violets.

The Page 69 Test: An Appetite for Violets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rachael Ball's "The Inflatable Woman"

Rachael Ball is a cartoonist and a teacher. The Inflatable Woman, her first graphic novel, was a Guardian Best Graphic Book of 2015.

Here Ball dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
Who would play the lead role?

That's a hard one since it's a cartoon book so I guess if I was lucky enough for it to be made into a film it would probably be animated. If it was live action the only person that springs to mind is Susan Calman (brilliant comedian). I'm not saying this because she's short! She's also a lot prettier than Iris in my book. But I've seen her perform a few times and she manages to combine humour and human frailty really well. Also there's an ending to one of her stage shows which is very similar to the ending of my book. I seriously cannot remember if I saw her act before I wrote the end of my book! Whatever! Hope she doesn't mind being such an inspiration!

Director: Would have to be Jane Campion or David Lynch. Bit different but they'd both be edgy with dark bits!
Visit Rachael Ball's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Inflatable Woman.

Writers Read: Rachael Ball.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 22, 2016

Robin Epstein's "HEAR"

Robin Epstein is a writer, runner, professor and astronaut* (*in her own mind). Beginning her career as a comic and television writer, Epstein was lucky enough to become head writer and on-air sidekick for a teen girl game show called Clued In, where she was known as "Guru Robin," an embarrassing nickname she's unable to shake. Her young adult novel, God Is In the Pancakes, was an official selection of the 2012 New York State Reading Association (NYSRA) Charlotte Award Master List. She's written for the New York Times, Marie Claire, Glamour, as well as other publications. A contributor to This American Life on NPR, she also writes video games and books for TV shows on the Disney Channel. Epstein attended Princeton University, got her MFA from Columbia University, and teaches at NYU.

Here Epstein dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, HEAR:
Early in the writing of HEAR (when it was originally called E.S.P.U.), I saw a brilliant young actress in a film called Winter’s Bone, and I was certain this young woman would make the perfect Kass, my heroine. That turned out to be a 19-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, and apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought she had some acting chops!

Since JLaw might actually be too old for the role (unusual since I generally find her too young for the parts she now plays), I’d love to see Elle Fanning star as Kass. For the four other young leads, I’d suggest Utkarsh Ambudkar for the sly and sexy Pankaj, Selena Gomez or Kiernan Shipka as the brooding, tarot card reading Mara, Ansel Elgort as the troubled, tech-savant Dan, and Evan Bird for the hot and dangerous Alex.

For Uncle Brian, the professor and leader of the HEAR lab, though I make him a man in his 80s in the book, in the film version I’ll age him down and would be very happy to give that part to Benedict Cumberbatch.
Visit Robin Epstein's website.

The Page 69 Test: HEAR.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Larry D. Sweazy's "A Thousand Falling Crows"

Larry D. Sweazy's novels include Escape from Hangtown, See Also Murder: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery, Vengeance at Sundown, The Gila Wars, The Coyote Tracker, The Devil's Bones, The Cougar's Prey, The Badger's Revenge, The Scorpion Trail, and The Rattlesnake Season. He won the WWA (Western Writers of America) Spur award for Best Short Fiction in 2005 and for Best Paperback Original in 2013. He also won the 2011 and 2012 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction for books the Josiah Wolfe series. He was nominated for a Derringer award in 2007 (for the short story "See Also Murder"), and was a finalist in the Best Books of Indiana literary competition in 2010. Sweazy was awarded the Best Books in Indiana in 2011 for The Scorpion Trail. And in 2013, he received the inaugural Elmer Kelton Fiction Book of the Year for The Coyote Tracker, presented by the AWA (Academy of Western Artists). Sweazy has published over sixty nonfiction articles and short stories, which have appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine; The Adventure of the Missing Detective: And 25 of the Year's Finest Crime and Mystery Stories!; Boys' Life; Hardboiled; Amazon Shorts, and several other publications and anthologies.

Here Sweazy dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, A Thousand Falling Crows:
A man in his mid-sixties who loses his right arm, and yes, he’s right-handed, in a shootout with Bonnie and Clyde might be a hard sell in Hollywood these days. My books tend to be more character-driven than plot-driven, and if there’s an explosion of any kind, it’s because it’s necessary, not for effect.

What makes this book an even bigger challenge is that a large part of the cast is Hispanic, Mexicans in 1933 Texas. I really think a grumbly Nick Nolte would make a great Sonny Burton, the Texas Ranger who faces down the famous duo and suffers the consequences of the encounter. Sonny wrestles with his own mortality, with depression, anger bordering on rage, and then finds a reason to keep living by helping a friend find his missing daughter. It’s a challenging journey for Sonny. I think it would be the perfect role for Nolte, who I have been a fan of since watching the original miniseries, Rich Man, Poor Man on television more years ago than I want to count.

I think the role of Aldo Hernandez, a janitor who asks Sonny to help him find his missing daughter, would be a natural fit for Benicio de Toro, even though when I was writing the novel I saw the character as a little older. His daughter, Carmen, might be a challenge and a game changer for someone like Selena Gomez if she were interested in tackling a tough acting role. She would have to balance the love/hate relationship with the Clever Clever Boys, Eddie and Tió, the twins she runs off with, along with her own fears about life, religion, and growing up in the Great Depression. I’m at a loss for Eddie and Tió. Those role would be a challenge for a casting director, but I hope a great unknown would walk in and make them the role of a lifetime.

This is a fun exercise. I never try to cast my characters when I am writing my books, though I usually have a clear vision of them and ultimately of the production values in the movie in my mind. I could see this as a black and white movie as I was influenced heavily by the photographs of Dorothea Lange. The faces she captured in the Dust Bowl, during the Great Depression, are truly the faces of A Thousand Falling Crows.
Learn more about the book and author at Larry D. Sweazy's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Larry D. Sweazy & Brodi and Sunny (April 2013).

The Page 69 Test: A Thousand Falling Crows.

Writers Read: Larry D. Sweazy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 18, 2016

Michael Cobley's "Ancestral Machines"

Michael Cobley was born in Leicester, England, and has lived in Glasgow, Scotland, for most of his life. He has studied engineering, been a DJ and has an abiding interest in democratic politics.

His books include the Shadowkings dark fantasy trilogy, and Iron Mosaic, a short story collection. Seeds of Earth and The Orphaned Worlds, books one and two of the Humanity’s Fire sequence, are his first full-length foray into space opera.

Here Cobley dreamcasts an adaptation of Ancestral Machines, the latest Humanity's Fire novel:
My next book is called Ancestral Machines and one of the main characters is a smuggler captain called Brannan Pyke, a scallywag chancer of Irish extraction, a self-centred charmer who also has a good side, sort of. And I've just recently found out that the actor who plays Hook in the TV series, Once Upon A Time, is Irishman Colin O'Donoghue, and having now heard him speak with his own voice I know and am utterly convinced that he should be the one to play Pyke in Ancestral Machines The Movie, no question.

Dervla is Pyke's 2nd-in-command and not-quite girlfriend, also of Irish extraction, and I reckon that Mallory Jansen, the Australian actress from Galavant, would be perfect as a strong willed woman who absolutely won't stand for Pyke's off the cuff, back-of-the-envelope plans.

Samantha Brock is an officer in the Earthsphere military, and Zoe Saldana would be a fantastic choice to play her, another strong character trying to salvage something from the chaos.

Director? My first choice would be Josh Whedon for his ability to choreograph actor ensembles, and for his brilliant ear for dialogue; but if he wasnt available, I'd go for David Goyer and/or Peter Hoar, who both worked on the series, Da Vinci's Demons.
Visit Michael Cobley's website.

The Page 69 Test: Ancestral Machines.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Elizabeth Heiter's "Seized"

Elizabeth Heiter likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range.

Here Heiter dreamcasts an adaptation of her newest novel, Seized:
Seized, the third book in my Profiler series, follows FBI profiler Evelyn Baine as she travels to a remote area of Montana for a routine prison interview. The trip turns anything but routine when fellow agent Jen Martinez insists Evelyn check out a local cult of survivalists, insisting there’s something more going on with the group, and convinced the FBI is overlooking a serious threat. When they arrive at the compound, the agents are taken hostage and Evelyn soon realizes Jen was right. She needs to get the information to the outside world, but if the FBI breaches the compound, Evelyn will be the first casualty. If they don’t, the group may unleash an attack that will leave the entire country shattered.

If Seized were to be made into a movie, here’s my dream cast:

FBI profiler Evelyn Baine: The young, biracial agent finds herself trapped inside a cult filled with anti-federalist white supremacists, but that doesn’t stop her from nosing around, trying to collect information for the FBI. If anyone can pull off the strong, determined heroine, it’s Thandie Newton (and she happens to look almost exactly the way I imagine Evelyn!).

FBI Hostage Rescue Team agent Kyle "Mac" McKenzie: He’s an operator on the FBI’s only full-time tactical response unit, so when agents are taken hostage inside a dangerous cult with a stockpile of weaponry, Mac and his team are called in. Surrounding the compound, waiting for the call to action – and hoping that if he does get to go inside, he’ll find love interest Evelyn Baine still alive – I picture Hugh Jackman playing Mac. Imagine him in Wolverine mode (only replace the metal claws with an FBI-issued sub-machine gun), but keep a little of the actor’s Aussie charm, because Mac is a definite charmer!

FBI agent Jen Martinez: When Jen thinks she’s onto something with a case, she’s persistent. No matter how many times her supervisor warns her to stay away from this cult, she’s convinced they’re a bigger threat than anyone realizes, and she’s not going to let them get away with anything on her watch. I imagine her as Cameron Diaz. Diaz is a little young, but could definitely play Martinez with the sort of spunk and determination needed to push her way onto the property of a cult of survivalists!

FBI profiler Greg Ibsen: He’s Evelyn’s mentor at the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, and when the cult takes hostages, he’s called in to provide a profile for the FBI and help develop strategies on how to defuse the situation. When he initially arrives, he has no idea his partner is inside the compound with Jen. I imagine Greg a bit like Edward Norton, who could pull of Greg’s mix of professional FBI profiler, dedicated family man, and over-protective mentor.
Visit Elizabeth Heiter's website.

My Book, The Movie: Vanished.

The Page 69 Test: Vanished.

The Page 69 Test: Seized.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Loren J. Samons, II's "Pericles and the Conquest of History"

Loren J. Samons, II is Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University. He has published widely on Greek politics and history and on the relationship between ancient and modern democracy. His books include What's Wrong with Democracy? From Athenian Practice to American Worship (2004), Empire of the Owl: Athenian Imperial Finance (2000), and (with C. W. Fornara) Athens from Cleisthenes to Pericles (1991).

Here Samons dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, Pericles and the Conquest of History: A Political Biography:
Casting a film about a historical figure obviously presents difficulties. As a historian, I admittedly have a tendency to look to the past for models—admirable things to take as examples and awful things to avoid, to paraphrase the Roman historian Livy. As a lover of older films, I tend to prefer previous generations of actors to the present field. Therefore I will indulge myself in casting Pericles and the Conquest of History using actors from the past.

The man himself must be someone with a compelling voice and imposing demeanor: the Athenians called Pericles “the Olympian.” He must be a convincing military leader and statesman, someone able both to inspire and to upbraid an audience, to lead a people to war and convince them to keep fighting despite significant losses and a plague ravaging their city. I would immediately choose Alec Guinness if he had just a touch more vocal power—the timbre of Gregory Peck or the resonance of Richard Burton. Guinness has the right look, though, and he did a passable job with Marcus Aurelius in the absolutely atrocious The Fall of the Roman Empire. So let’s go with Guinness and hope that the director (let’s choose David Lean, since we’re using Guinness!) can bring out the gravity the vocal performance requires. I have no doubt that Guinness could convey the absolute conviction of the Athenian statesman, while also suggesting that the ongoing war, plague, and the death or exile of many of his friends or family led ultimately to a certain melancholy in the great leader near the end of his life.

Sticking with the David Lean theme, I will choose Anthony Quayle to play Kimon, Pericles’ greatest political and military rival. Kimon was the very picture of an Athenian conservative—a man who preferred friendship to enmity with Sparta and who was still leading Athens in aggressive actions against the Persians at the end of his life. He did not possess Pericles’ sparkling oratorical skills but was a man of virtually unquestioned integrity and generosity.

The love interest in this film will be provided by Pericles’ second wife Aspasia. Athenian comic poets treated her brutally and a tradition maintains that she and Pericles were never formally married, although it has been argued (convincingly, to me) that this represents a misunderstanding of our sources. In my film, they are married, but Aspasia’s connections with the eastern Greek state of Miletus (from which she hailed), her willingness to speak when Athenian women were supposed to be neither seen nor heard, and her spectacular beauty made her an object of jealousy and derision. Pericles loved her passionately and openly, despite the emotional reserve he showed in the rest of his life. For Aspasia, I would cast Irene Papas, a hauntingly beautiful and powerful actress capable of tackling the greatest tragic heroines (of Greek drama or modern film) as well as historical figures like Catherine of Aragon.

The theme of this film will be the danger of greatness. Pericles’ talents and his political honesty carry him to the height of power but also lead Athens into the war that would ultimately ravage her people and destroy her empire. The film will draw heavily on the Athenian historian Thucydides’ suggestion that a man’s—or a state’s—best qualities may lead to unanticipated and terrible consequences.
Learn more about Pericles and the Conquest of History at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Pericles and the Conquest of History.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Nancy K. Wallace's "Among Wolves"

Nancy K. Wallace lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband in a 140-year-old farmhouse. The author of over a dozen children’s books, she works as a Youth Services Librarian and reviews young adult literature for VOYA magazine.

Here Wallace dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Among Wolves:
It’s a dream come true to imagine your novel as a movie but it’s not an easy job to cast it! Among Wolves is a different kind of fantasy; which might make it easier to produce. This novel resides uneasily somewhere between historical truth and fiction. The only magic it contains is the intrinsic magic of the spoken word and its effect on the human heart. VOYA magazine’s review called Among Wolves “A love letter to the gatherers and protectors of stories and information.”

The setting of Llisé is a country very much like France during the 18th century, where the ruling class is opulently rich and the provincial peasants devastatingly poor. The rich record history and store it away in restricted Archives. The poor have bards who painstaking memorize the stories contained in their oral history and repeat them frequently, so they will never be forgotten.

Devin Roché, an archivist and also the youngest son of the Chancellor of Llisé, hopes to memorize the oral Chronicles from all the provinces and reconcile them with recorded history he has read in The Archives, which tells quite a different story. He is young, idealistic, and privileged. My daughters unanimously cast Freddie Highmore as Devin.

I picked Tom Selleck for the Chancellor’s role. His acting versatility would enable him to go from the affectionate father to the disciplined Chancellor ruling an uneasy empire.

Devin sets out on his 15 month journey to tour the provinces with his best friend Gaspard, who is the perfect foil for Devin’s bookish personality. He’s an alcoholic, a gambler, and a lady’s man. I would cast Ben Barnes in this role. His dark, enigmatic good looks are the way I imagined Gaspard from the moment his character was conceived on paper.

Master Bard Armand Vielle is Devin’s first tutor. Colin Firth just oozes the right personality for this character. Strict to a fault, Armand soon becomes like a beloved professor, the one who pushes his students to the breaking point to make them become the best they can be.

Lastly, I would cast Leonardo DiCaprio, as Comte Jean Chastel. Chastel, an isolated and mysterious man, lives burdened by the Chastel Curse which claims its male members can change into wolves at will. When Devin and Gaspard spend several nights under the roof of his remote chateau they discover more than they bargained for.

There is one important character that I had real difficulty casting. The Chancellor sends Marcus, his own personal bodyguard, with Devin. Marcus towers over his charge, a big man but smart, close-mouthed, and skilled in the art of death. I’m open to suggestion here. I need someone special to bring this role to life!

Nothing would please me more than to see this movie come to the screen!
Visit Nancy K. Wallace's website and follow her on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 11, 2016

Tracy Weber's "Karma’s a Killer"

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Weber loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. The third book in her series, Karma's a Killer, is out this month from Midnight Ink.

Weber and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, the author spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.

Here Weber dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel:
Karma’s a Killer is a lighthearted mystery starring yoga teacher/sleuth Kate Davidson, her best friend Rene, and love interest/pet food store owner Michael. Of course the true star of the series is a German shepherd named Bella, but I don’t know of any German shepherd movie stars, so I’ll leave her casting up to the director.

As for Kate, she has a girl next-door energy. She’s pretty—though not drop-dead gorgeous—and she has a quirky, self-deprecating sense of humor. Amy Adams has a lovely, funny energy that she brings to her roles. She’d perfectly portray Kate and the embarrassing situations she finds herself in.

Paul Rudd would be my choice for Michael. Like Michael, Mr. Rudd is handsome, but in a relaxed, everyman way. A bonus is that he looks great both with and without facial hair. My only concern about Paul Rudd is that Michael is six feet tall. Mr. Rudd will have to wear heels! Still, he is wonderful in comedic roles, and you can’t help but root for him. With Kate as a love interest, he’ll need all the help he can get!

Rene is Kate’s drop-dead gorgeous best friend, sort of a brunette-haired Barbie. She has to be played by Olivia Wilde. I’ve loved Ms. Wilde since I watched her on House. I can imagine her being sophisticated, nuanced, and loyal, just like Rene. Plus, Ms. Wilde would look great portraying a woman who’s pregnant with twins! I can’t imagine her having Rene’s food addiction, but she’s such a talented actress, I’m sure she’d figure it out.
Visit Tracy Weber's website, blog, and Facebook page.

Coffee with a Canine: Tracy Weber and Tasha.

The Page 69 Test: Murder Strikes a Pose.

The Page 69 Test: A Killer Retreat.

The Page 69 Test: Karma's a Killer.

Writers Read: Tracy Weber.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Carolyn Brown's "The Wedding Pearls"

New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author and RITA® Finalist, Carolyn Brown, has published more than seventy books. She's won the National Reader's Choice Award twice, the Bookseller's Best Award and was awarded the Diamond Award from Montlake for selling one million books.

Here Brown dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Wedding Pearls:
Oh, my goodness, I would dance a jig in a pig trough under the red light on Main Street if The Wedding Pearls was made into a movie. I can see Josh Turner playing Branch if the country music industry would turn him loose long enough to do a movie. Amy Smart could play Tessa and Reese Witherspoon could be Lola. Amanda Cosgrove would be great for Melody. I’d love for Vanessa Redgrove to play Ivy and Shirley Maclaine to be Frankie. With a cast like that, it would be an amazing movie that should be a box office hit!

Of course they’d have to find a 1959 Red Cadillac convertible because Mollybedamned is a sassy red vehicle and anything other than red would never work.
Visit Carolyn Brown's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: The Wedding Pearls.

Writers Read: Carolyn Brown.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Nicole Trilivas's "Girls Who Travel"

Nicole Trilivas has a deep appetite for travel and adventure and has visited over thirty countries and every continent except Antarctica (but it’s on her list). A graduate of Boston University, she has worked in advertising, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times online, Huffington Post, xoJane, Wanderlust, Paste, Thought Catalog, and elsewhere. She lives in New York and London.

Here Trilivas dreamcasts an adaptation of Girls Who Travel, her debut novel:
When I was writing the character of Kika Shores, I was picturing “it” girl and model, Cara Delevingne. I had never heard her speak in real life, but she gave me the perfect visual base to project my Kika on to. Cara's quirky facial expressions and wafting sense of joie de vivre seemed like a great template to start with, and I just built up from there.

I could never find the perfect person to portray Lochlon, but in my mind’s eye, I know exactly what he looks like: pale skin, dark hair, green eyes and scuff--not to mention a sexy accent.

For Aston Hyde-Bettencourt, I was picturing the folk musician, Johnny Flynn. Whenever Aston entered a scene that I was writing, I would hear the first few notes of Johnny Flynn’s tune, "The Box" start playing in my hear.

Elsbeth Darling would be played by Real Housewives of Orange County’s Heather Dubrow.

Gwen and Mina would have to be newbie actresses with no professional training.

Oh, this is getting me excited! I would love it if Girls Who Travel would be made into a movie.
Visit Nicole Trilivas's website.

Writers Read: Nicole Trilivas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Lisa Goldstein's "Weighing Shadows"

Lisa Goldstein is the National Book Award-winning fantasy author of The Red Magician. Her stories have appeared in Ms., Asimov’s Science Fiction, and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and her novels and short stories have been finalists for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. Her novel The Uncertain Places won the 2012 Mythopoeic Award, and her short story “Paradise Is a Walled Garden” won the 2011 Sidewise Award.

Here Goldstein dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Weighing Shadows:
I don't usually think of real people when it comes to imagining my characters, but with Weighing Shadows my publisher asked me to come up with someone who looked like Ann Decker, the protagonist, so they could do a cover illustration. Which was a problem-- ­Ann in the novel is plain, nondescript, frequently overlooked. I'd made her that way on purpose because she becomes a double agent: she works for a corporation that sends her and other people back in time, but she grows suspicious of the corporation and finally tricks her way onto the fifth floor, the covert nerve­-center where all the decisions are made.

I did realize, of course, that nondescript people don't tend to sell books, but I still was having trouble coming up with something the publisher would like. Then my husband and I watched White Queen, a dramatization of the War of the Roses, and there she was, playing Anne Neville. The actor, Faye Marsay, could only be considered plain in Hollywood terms, meaning that she's merely very good­-looking instead of drop-­dead gorgeous, but something about her said Ann to me. And as an added bonus she wore clothing similar to what my time travelers would wear, so the artist could take some cues from that as well. I have no idea how much they actually used of the picture I sent them, though.

I found another character without even looking for her while watching a British mystery series, Death in Paradise. Sara Martins looked so much like another time traveler with the corporation, Meret Haas, that I felt a shock of recognition when I saw her. Martins had a French accent on the show (though her bio says that she's Portuguese), but she's so perfect that if she couldn't do a United States accent I'd change Haas's back-­story just for her.
Visit Lisa Goldstein's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Lisa Goldstein & Bonnie.

The Page 69 Test: Weighing Shadows.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 4, 2016

Theresa Kaminski's "Angels of the Underground"

Theresa Kaminski is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where she teaches courses in American women’s history. She is the author of Citizen of Empire: Ethel Thomas Herold, An American in the Philippines and Prisoners in Paradise: American Women in the Wartime South Pacific.

Here Kaminski dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Angels of the Underground: The American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II:
I can’t decide if Angels of the Underground needs to be a movie or a miniseries--maybe a miniseries that becomes so popular its fans demand a feature movie.

Whether translated to big screen or small, Patricia Clarkson must play Margaret (Peggy) Utinsky. A nurse by profession, Peggy organized the Miss U underground network in Manila, masking her true nationality to avoid internment. She was clever, stubborn, and temperamental. Clarkson and Peggy are visually similar, both blonde and fair, petite but strong, with interesting, attractive faces. Clarkson, queen of indie movies (Pieces of April, The Station Agent, and Lars and the Real Girl), shimmers in any role she takes on, and she would be particularly good at capturing Peggy’s inner fire.

Julianna Margulies would take the role of Claire Phillips, the Manila nightclub singer who became the spy known as High Pockets. Claire could be self-contained when she needed to be, but she was garrulous by nature, with a daring streak that led her to flirt with danger. It was the character Margulies played on The Sopranos that convinced me she would be the perfect Claire: smoldering and secretive with all the glamour of a 1940s film star.

After I saw Allison Janney in a comedic role on the TV series Mom, I realized she is the perfect Gladys Savary. The owner of a popular Manila restaurant, Gladys was as fond of cocktails as she was her friends and customers. She disguised her nationality, too, and defied occupation authorities to help civilian and military prisoners. Janney, best known as C.J. Cregg on the fabulous West Wing, does bold and brash brilliantly, always with sharp intelligence and a heap of style.

For Yay Panlilio, I’d propose Natalie Mendoza. Yay, a bit younger than the other women, was a smart, head strong American-Filipina. She threw herself into the war effort, giving up journalism to join Marking’s guerrillas to fight against the Japanese. Mendoza is not as well known in the United States as the other actors (she may be recognized for her role as Jackie Clunes on the BBC’s Hotel Babylon), but she has the right attributes, both in terms of physical features and attitude.

Because of this female cast, and especially if Angels was being developed as a series, I would have Rosemary Rodriguez direct. She’s worked on The Good Wife, Jessica Jones, and Manhattan, some of my favorite shows that feature strong women. If Rodriguez was unavailable and/or Angels was headed only for the big screen, I would have no objection to Kathryn Bigelow. I also think Sofia Coppola would have an interesting vision for the story.
Learn more about Angels of the Underground at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Angels of the Underground.

Writers Read: Theresa Kaminski.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Bruce E. Baker and Barbara Hahn's "The Cotton Kings"

Bruce E. Baker is Lecturer in American History at the University of Newcastle, and Barbara Hahn is Associate Professor of History at Texas Tech University.

Here they dreamcast an adaptation of their new book, The Cotton Kings: Capitalism and Corruption in Turn-of-the-Century New York and New Orleans:
While we were working on this book, or maybe in the early days when we still thought it would only be a journal article, Barbara described it to someone as a “zinger” of a story. And it is. The journalist Edwin Lefèvre wrote at the time our story was unfolding, “The history of the bull speculation in cotton of 1903 will never be fully written, because, though the men who influenced it are very interesting, their operations are interwoven with bloodless statistics and tiresome technicalities.” Bloodless statistics there are, but they are more than balanced by interesting characters, none more so that William P. Brown. Born along the Buttahatchie River in Mississippi at the beginning of the Civil War, Brown was an orphan by his teens and a small-town businessman by his mid-twenties. He was also known “through the Mississippi delta as one of the best poker players that ever handled a card" and “owned the finest lot of fighting chickens in the state.” By the time he was in his mid-thirties, Brown had become a cotton broker, mixing with the great and the good in New Orleans, and married into a prominent family. He never quite fit in among the silk-stocking brigade on the trading floor. He was ruddy faced with dark red hair and moustache, and reporters described him as “a big, strongly-built man, with heavy shoulders, big arms, weather-beaten face and shrewd dark eyes” who “looked just a bit out of place among the metropolitan brokers” on the New York Cotton Exchange. The other brokers learned the hard way not to underestimate this self-described “hillbilly” from Mississippi when he cornered the world’s cotton supply in 1903 and made himself very rich (on money that had been theirs).

At some point, we thought that this could make an exciting movie, a bit like Margin Call or The Big Short. There was an obvious choice for the actor to play Brown: Philip Seymour Hoffman. The red hair, the burly build, the moustache (as seen in Charlie Wilson’s War), not to mention the phenomenal talent – it all made such good sense. Sadly, Hoffman will never get the chance to bring The Cotton Kings to life.

Frank Hayne was Brown’s business partner for about ten years, and he couldn’t have been more different than Brown in background. Hayne’s ancestors were aristocrats from Charleston. If Brown was the brains of the operation, Hayne brought connections, to people and to financing. He was urbane but more high-tempered than Brown. That much was obvious when he got into a fistfight with another cotton broker in the middle of Delmonico’s restaurant in Manhattan. He also was big and broad-shouldered like Brown, which is why he lost that fight. A younger Joe Pesci might be about to play Hayne, if – and it’s a big “if” – he could do a convincing Charleston accent.

The movie of The Cotton Kings would be filled with economic drama, but it would also provide important political lessons about the role of regulation in making markets work fairly for all participants.
Learn more about The Cotton Kings at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Cotton Kings.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 1, 2016

Christine Husom's Snow Globe Shop Mysteries & Winnebago County Mysteries

Christine Husom is the national bestselling author of Snow Way Out, the first in the Snow Globe Shop Mystery series, as well as the Winnebago County Mysteries, also set in central Minnesota. She served with the Wright County Sheriff’s Department and trained with the St. Paul Police Department, where she gained firsthand knowledge of law enforcement procedures.

Here Husom shares some ideas for casting adaptations of both mystery series:
I’m a bit stumped when asked who I’d like to play the characters in my mystery series if the books were made into movies. In the Winnebago County Mysteries, I had some help when one of my readers told me she imagines Anson Mount as Detective Elton “Smoke” Dawes. I agree Anson would be a great choice. I also see Smoke as a younger, thinner Tom Selleck.

As for an actor to play Sergeant Corinne “Corky” Aleckson—of the more famous actresses, Reese Witherspoon fits her physical description fairly well, and is possibly a good match. But I think I’d look for a lesser known actor to play Corky.

The same holds true for the characters in the Snow Globe Shop Mysteries. Camryn Brooks can transform herself into a believable-looking Marilyn Monroe for costume parties. Her friends, Pinky Nelson looks a lot like a younger Lucille Ball, but with darker hair, a longer neck and arms and legs. Erin Vinkerman is Vietnamese American, and I have a friend whom I’d choose if she was an actress, instead a human resources coordinator.

I should ask some of my readers this very question sometime. It’d be fun to hear what they’d have to say.
Visit Christine Husom's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Iced Princess.

The Page 69 Test: Secret in Whitetail Lake.

Writers Read: Christine Husom.

--Marshal Zeringue