Friday, April 28, 2017

Alexis L. Boylan's "Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man"

Alexis L. Boylan is an Associate Professor of Art History with a joint appointment in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Program at the University of Connecticut. Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man:
Movie pitch: Six men, all artists, find their way to New York City at the turn-of-the-twentieth century and find friendship and love. They are also crushed emotionally and creatively by capitalism.

On the one hand, this book would be super tricky to adapt into a movie because so much of what I argue is happening in the paintings, which is not very cinematic. It is also part of the point of the book that in this historical moment, we need to remember that different media (painting, illustration, film, and photography) are vying for cultural dominance. Photographers want to prove their work can be fine art, illustrators are trying to not be edged out by photographers, and painters are going to silent films and trying to reimagine what they could add to narrative now that pictures move. So perhaps it is blasphemous to make these painters and their attempts to stay modern and relevant into a movie.

On the other hand, I think this could be a very interesting story about male friendship and competition. In movies male friendships tend to be highlighted through some kind competition over a woman, a love triangle. Or, we are introduced to men as friends but then the story turns one into a villain and one into the hero. But these six Ashcan artists were friends in ways that were less overtly dramatic, but definitely complex. They competed for work and visibility, but they also helped each other. They shared studios, swapped teaching gigs, gossiped, wrote about art, and went drinking and carousing together. They got good reviews and bad reviews. They wanted to be rich and famous and have followers, and they struggled and hustled to make that happen. Some were luckier than others. I guess the crux of this tale would be about men, friendship, ambition, and aging. It would also be a different kind of representation of artists; not as super emotive and raging but as people with jobs. People who had to keep working for money. In that way, maybe this could be a great film, both in terms of giving complexity to men and their friendships and to explore the limitations of those friendships.


Robert Henri: He is often called the “leader” of the Ashcan Circle, but I argue against this in my book. He’s got vision and he’s a supportive friend. He’s a young widower and has a deep restlessness. Henri was not the traditional “good-looking” guy, but he was handsome. Erza Miller is young for the role, but he has the look and sad undercurrent.

Everett Shinn: He’s the jerk of the group. And super good looking. But basically an ass of a person. Armie Hammer.

John Sloan: I think art historically he gets to play the hero of the Ashcan Circle, but not in my story. No heroes here. He is tall, wears glasses, is a bit nerdy. Drinks too much. Insecure. Andrew Garfield.

George Luks: So again, art historically he is typically remembered as a big drinker, party guy, fighter. The “fun” one. I say take a look at the photograph Alvin Langdon Coburn took of him (page 60) and rethink this image. He is a sad man trapped in his body. Jonah Hill.

William Glackens: Sort of a cream puff of a person. Nice. Boring. Chris Evans.

George Bellows: He is the youngest of the artists. And I think he is the most ambitious. Nicholas Hoult.
Learn more about Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jane Corry's "My Husband's Wife"

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist and has spent time as the writer in residence of a high-security prison for men–an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her suspense debut.

Here Corry dreamcasts an adaptation of My Husband’s Wife:
If they make my book into a film, here’s who I’d like to play the lead role.

I actually had a variation of Cate Blanchett in my head when I wrote Lily who is one of my two main characters. But the other day I spotted a picture of the actress Rose Byrne and thought - that’s my Lily! She has exactly the same bone structure. Strangely, I don’t have a particular actress for Carla (my other main character). In my head, I see her as a feisty, fairly tousle-haired little Italian girl who then grows into any of those amazingly beautiful chic Italian women who you see in the street. I only wish I had their poise!

Rather than name a particular director, I’d rather say that I would like someone who understands my characters as much as my publisher did. It’s a wonderful feeling when the people you have created are taken seriously by others.

I can’t tell you how excited I would be if My Husband's Wife became a film. There are some ‘irons in the fire’ as we speak. In other words, my agent is in discussions with a big production company so I am keeping my fingers crossed. My second husband and I live near a wonderful little cinema in our seaside town in the UK. If my book did hit the big screen, I would invite everyone I know to come along. It makes me tingle just to think of it!
Learn more about My Husband's Wife. Follow Jane Corry on Twitter and Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tobin Miller Shearer's "Two Weeks Every Summer"

Tobin Miller Shearer is Associate Professor of History and African-American Studies Director at the University of Montana.

Here Shearer shares his idea for a film based on his new book, Two Weeks Every Summer: Fresh Air Children and the Problem of Race in America:
So, here’s the pitch.

Two Weeks Every Summer is not about children. It is not about the city. It’s not even about fresh air. The book is about sex and violence and mystery. Those three themes will make this movie sizzle.

First, the sex. In the movie, we will dramatize the sexual tensions present in white families hosting children of color as they approach dating age. We show a white middle class family at dinner – father, mother, daughter, son – discussing the sleeping arrangements after their long-time Fresh Air guest – an African-American twelve-year old from the Bronx – arrives the following day. The tension is understated but palpable when the twelve-year-old daughter notes how handsome their guest is and that she can hardly wait to see him.

A second major scene will dramatize the violence associated with the programs. The camera will pan across the aftermath of one of the hundreds of rebellions that broke out after Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in 1968. Switch to a press conference where the director of the Fresh Air Fund, played by Meryl Streep, declares how sending children to the country for two-week summer stays will forestall future urban unrest. Fade to a sylvan scene as reporters call out questions.

Finally, the mystery. The narrative arc of the film will turn on the mystery of why hundreds of thousands – indeed more than a million by mid-twentieth century – of urban children travelled in some cases hundreds of miles away from home communities where they were known and loved to visit strange suburban and rural families who had never before set eyes on them. Over the course of the 115 minute story line viewers will receive clues to the answer: a chance to travel, the host’s desire to be viewed as racially progress, white perceptions of the country as morally superior, the children’s love of swimming, multi-million dollar endowments. Only at the end, when an intrepid, superficially cynical but ultimately compassionate reporter, played by Forest Whitaker, sits down with a Fresh Air Alum, played by Lupita Nyong'o, does the full story of courageous civil rights action, joyful independence, and conflicted relationship come to a complete and satisfying conclusion.

Two Weeks Every Summer – coming to a theater near you.
Learn more about Two Weeks Every Summer at the Cornell University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Allen Steele's "Avengers of the Moon"

Allen Steele worked as a freelance journalist before becoming a prolific, award-winning science fiction writer.

Here Steele shares some ideas about adapting his new novel, Avengers of the Moon, for the big screen:
Generations of SF fans have been waiting to see a Captain Future movie. In fact, he's one of the few major pulp heroes of the 30's and 40's who didn't get a feature film, a movie serial, or at least a radio show. But Curt Newton and the Futuremen didn't follow his contemporaries Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon to the screen; his adventures ended in the early 50's, just as the Saturday afternoon serials were being replaced by TV.

Well, not quite. In 1978, the Japanese anime series Captain Future came out. Produced during the post-Star Wars space opera craze, it was a two-season adaptation of Edmond Hamilton's classic pulp novels. It's crude by today's animation standards, and clearly meant for kids, but nonetheless it was a big hit at the time ... everywhere except the U.S, that is. In France it was called Capitaine Flam, in Spain it was Capitan Futuro, in Saudi Arabia it was Space Knights, but in the country where Captain Future was created it was, "Who?" A couple of badly edited and translated VHS tapes eventually appeared in the U.S., but otherwise the series -- a mainstay for kids in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, generating countless graphic novels, toys, games, pajamas, and so forth -- remained obscure in America.

So now I've published the first new Captain Future novel since 1946, and of course I'd love to see Avengers of the Moon made into a movie ... but I think it ought to be done as anime. I'd like to see Japan's Toei Studios do an updated Captain Future series that would adapt my novel as its source of inspiration. The current state of the art of anime is light-years away from where it was decades ago, so a more realistic look is possible.

They also could get the characters closer to Hamilton's original creations. Greg would no longer be dumb, Otho wouldn't look like Popeye's second cousin, the Brain wouldn't talk like a robot, and Joan would be neither blonde nor helpless. And as for Captain Future himself, he would no longer be infallible, but instead would occasionally make mistakes, a character trait that made Curt Newton stand out among pulp heroes of the time.

If all went well, perhaps this time kids (and adults) in the U.S. would get to enjoy what kids (and adults) elsewhere in the world grew up watching. It's really a shame that Captain Future was forgotten in the country where he was created. Perhaps a new anime series would change that.
Learn more about the book and author at Allen Steele's website.

My Book, The Movie: V-S Day.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 17, 2017

Steph Post's "Lightwood"

Steph Post is the author of A Tree Born Crooked (2014) and Lightwood (2017) as well as a short story writer, reader, teacher and dog lover (among many other things...).

Here Post dreamcasts an adaptation of Lightwood:
Please, for the love of God, someone look at this casting list and decide to turn Lightwood into a film or television series just so I can see Margo Martindale and Chris Cooper fight it out in the church…

That being said, here’s the official cast list for Lightwood. Martindale and Cooper are perfect as is, but many of the characters are paired with actors from specific movies or refer to performances the actor delivered ten years ago. So perhaps not all of the selections are entirely realistic, but I hope this list can give you a visual approximation of who I see when I think about the characters of my novel.

Sister Tulah- Margo Martindale

This is the only character-actor pair I actually had in mind while writing Lightwood. As far as I’m concerned, there is no one else who could pull off Tulah. Absolutely no one.

Brother Felton- John C. Reilly

Felton was a hard one, because I can see picture his character so clearly in my mind. However, I think John C. Reilly could definitely embody the kind of self-deprecation that would be needed for this role.

Judah Cannon- Sam Rockwell

Judah was the hardest character to cast of them all, most likely because he is the main character. Casting “character actors” in more over-the-top roles is always easier and so I really struggled with this one. I settled on Sam Rockwell, but I also considered Gary Oldman, John Hawkes, Josh Hartnett, and Edward Norton. All younger versions of themselves, of course.

Ramey Barrow- Jessica Biel

This is one of those choices that refers to a specific performance. Jessica Biel is certainly not the obvious pick for Ramey, but her role in Power Blue (an otherwise terrible movie aside from her part) won me over.

Sherwood Cannon- Chris Cooper

Come on, can’t you see Cooper and Martindale staring across the table from each other in the back of the Mr. Omelet? This match needs to happen!

Benji Cannon- Gustaf Skarsgard

For some reason, casting Benji proved almost as hard as finding an appropriate actor for Judah. Skarsgard might not leap to most peoples’ minds for the role of Benji, there is the whole Swedish thing going on for one thing, but I think this could actually be one of those genius casting moments. Vincent Cassel and Dominic Monaghan were also considered for the part and, as with Judah, I’d need all of the actors to roll back a few years.

Levi Cannon- Joaquin Phoenix

This was another choice that seemed odd at first, but now I can’t imagine anyone else playing Levi. I think Phoenix’s dead-eyed scowl matches perfectly with Levi’s temperament.

Jack O’ Lantern- Toby Stephens

Okay, this was mostly a “what redhead actors would work” pick, but then the idea of Stephens grew on me. I’d like to put Stephens and Davies in a room together and see what happens.

Slim Jim- Jeremy Davies

Davies might have to tone it down to play the more reserved character of Slim Jim, but I would love to see this casting. Hell, I’d put Davies anywhere in Lightwood just to see how he would navigate the story.

Shelia- Juliette Lewis

A lot of people are surprised to find that Shelia is actually one of my favorite characters from Lightwood. She’s so much fun to write and she’s one of those characters who just runs off the page once you set her down. Shelia needs an actress who can really pop on the screen and Lewis has the attitude to pull her off.
Visit Steph Post's website.

Writers Read: Steph Post.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lee Irby's "Unreliable"

Lee Irby teaches history at Eckerd College and lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is the author of the historical mysteries 7,000 Clams and The Up and Up.

Here Irby dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Unreliable:
This won’t be easy because I didn’t base any characters on actors or actresses, but instead on real people from my life or pieces of them anyway. But let me get out my gently used casting couch and see who wants the part the most.

Edwin: Joel McHale. Someone who can be charming, erudite, but a little creepy. Looks the part in my mind.

Lola: Here you want to pluck a rising star, someone from the Nickelodeon/Disney colossus who wants to re-define their career. Probably of that group, of whom I know almost nothing, the actress who most looks the part of Lola is Olivia Holt.

Gibson: Hailee Steinfeld, not only because she could pull off the being beautiful part but also because she will get a chance to sing.

Leigh Rose: A Southern belle pushing 40 but still a head-turner, but a woman who also might be having a complete nervous breakdown. I see Elizabeth Banks in this role (she is a native of Tennessee).

Graves: Liam Hemsworth. The right combination of tortured and idealistic.

Bev: Jessica Alba has the right exotic look that so bewitched Edwin...but Bev also can become very self-righteous and can see into Edwin’s black heart.
Learn more about Unreliable.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Stacey Madden's "Touching Strangers"

Stacey Madden holds a BA from the University of Toronto and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph. He lives in Toronto.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Touching Strangers:
One of the most common responses I get from readers of Touching Strangers is, “I can totally see it being a movie!” If I were ever so lucky, here are some thoughts on how my ideal cast might look.

First: directing. Touching Strangers is a quirky dark comedy with some thriller elements, so naturally the Coen brothers leap to mind. However, I think the project might work better as lower-budget film, directed by somebody like David Robert Mitchell (It Follows), or Kerem Sanga (First Girl I Loved). Both of these directors really know what to do with plots involving young people in peril.

In terms of casting, the roles of main characters Samantha Riske and Aaron Cordic are the most important. Samantha is a raven-haired agoraphobic porcelain doll, and Aaron is a neurotic germophobe trapped in a California surfer’s body. In the Coen brothers version of the film, I can see Samantha being played by Lily Collins or Hailee Steinfeld, but I would love to see her played by Olwen Kelly, who was fantastic in her non-speaking, non-moving role as a corpse in The Autopsy of Jane Doe. As for Aaron, it’s hard for me to see anyone in the role besides Evan Peters of American Horror Story fame. He brings the perfect blend of aloofness and charm that I had in mind while writing Aaron’s scenes.

The villain of the novel is a drug dealer and pervert named Zack Pike. I’d love to see what British actor Will Poulter would do with the role, after his appearance as young Bridger in The Revenant. I can also see Canadian actor Atticus Mitchell from TV’s Fargo in Zack’s gangster get-up.

For the role of Dr. Rosamund Sedgwick – the only medical professional in the book who seems to know what she’s doing – I can see nobody else in the role but Phoebe Waller-Bridge from such shows as Fleabag and Broadchurch.

Last but certainly not least, for the role of Claire, the character who in many ways brings the whole book’s plot together, I would cast Jamie Clayton, best known for playing Nomi in the TV show Sense8 – because roles for transgender characters should go to transgender actors!
Visit Stacey Madden's Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Poison Shy.

My Book, The Movie: Poison Shy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Marcia Butler's "The Skin Above My Knee"

Marcia Butler was a professional oboist for 25 years, until her retirement from music in 2008. During her musical career, she performed as a principal oboist and soloist on the most renowned New York and international stages, and with many high-profile musicians and orchestras. She lives in New York City.

Here Butler dreamcasts an adaptation of her new memoir, The Skin Above My Knee:
The Skin Above My Knee is a New York City story set from the mid 1970’s into the late 1990’s. After surviving an abusive father and a profoundly distancing mother, I was able to transform my childhood experiences into art through the power of music. The rigor and discipline required to become a successful oboist in the New York City freelance scene helped me to live with what happened when I was young, and also manage what came my way as an adult. Music truly saved my life. The casting I suggest below is, admittedly, a fantasy. But it’s good to dream a little. Anybody out there listening?

Young Marcia: A younger Dakota Fanning. She’s just adorable and I loved her in The Secret Life of Bees. Innocent, wide eyed, determined.

Adult Marcia: A much younger Amy Irving. I admired her in the 1988 film, Crossing Delancey, in which she reminds me of myself back in those days. Suspicious, but very vulnerable.

My mother, who I longed for but was not available: Who else, but Mary Tyler Moore? Because: Ordinary People. Taut, and blind to reality.

My father, who presented himself as an everyday family man, and was anything but: A cross between the face of a young Jimmy Cagney and the élan of a tall Cary Grant. Catch my drift? Good looking, yet dangerous.

My sister Jinx, who lived an emotionally compromised life, and for whom I always felt compassion: Michelle Pfeiffer, the tall blond head turner of a woman in Scarface. In her heyday, my sister actually looked a lot like Michelle. Severe. Too thin. Trapped.

Mrs. S, the socialite I lived with during my first semester at music conservatory: An impeccable and somewhat sexless Tippy Hedren, in Marnie, The Birds. Blond chignon, of course. Pearls, always. She’d never cry; rather, she’d mist.

Steve, my dangerous boyfriend during college who went to jail while we were together: A weary and craggy George Clooney like at the end of Michael Clayton. Yet, a man who cleans up very well on The Red Carpet. Always a tad unshaven, in either case.

Bruce, my short-lived husband: A young Clint Eastwood from the Dirty Harry days. Bruce actually a lot looked like Clint, which he reminded everyone within earshot whenever he saw an opening in the conversation. Squinting somehow makes a man more attractive.

Donna Summer: Beyoncé would do just fine. Both are icons.

Oboist for the sound track: Albrecht Mayer, the principal oboist in the Berliner Philharmoniker. Trust me.

Director: Damien Chazelle from Whiplash. Or the Coppola clan – any of them would be great. Because: The Godfather, Apocalypse Now. I’m not picky but I aim high.
Visit Marcia Butler's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Skin Above My Knee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 7, 2017

Keith Yatsuhasi's "Kokoro"

Keith Yatsuhasi is inspired equally by The Lord of the Rings and Toho’s Godzilla movies. He is Director of the US Department of Commerce Export Assistance Centre in Providence, Rhode Island. A long time ago, in a world far, far away, Yatsuhasi was a champion figure skater.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Kokoro:
When Marshal first asked me to come up with a dream cast for Kokoro, I thought it would be a piece of cake. The reality turned out a bit differently. Trying to find the right people to put in each role is daunting. Yes, you can play with hair and eye color, but the intangibles? Those are much harder. I’m not a casting director, and honestly, I’m flailing a bit with this question. Kojiki, the first book in the series, was easier – not sure why, it just was. With that said, here’s who I think would make a good Kokoro cast.

Keiko: Karen Fukuhara

Keiko is the heart and soul of my books. Every event revolves around her in some way. Interestingly enough, she was the easiest character for me to cast. The whole flack over Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell made me vow to select a Japanese-American actress. I’d seen Karen Fukuhara in Suicide Squad last year and remember wondering if she’d make a good Keiko. Her SS character is as different from Keiko as you can get. I dug a little deeper for this post, watched her interviews on YouTube. Those sold me. She has the optimistic, sunny personality that defines Keiko. If she can bring enough depth and complexity to the role, she’d be perfect.

Juno: Olivia Holt

Juno was a hard one. She’s young, just twenty, but she’s also steel. Her age proved to be the biggest hurdle. Whenever I came up with a name, the actress was usually outside the age range I was looking for. Sure, I thought of the Fannings, and Chloë Moretz, but ultimately, those three, like so many others, just weren’t right. I like their work and think they’re great, but the movies I saw them in didn’t make me think of Juno. Olivia Holt did. I first saw her in a commercial for Nivea, I think. I went to IMDB and looked up her roles, watched a few, and was even more convinced. She’s that all American girl, the typical college student. I’m curious about what she could do with the role.

Baiyren: Liam Hemsworth
Kaidan: Chris Hemsworth

Who better to play Kokoro’s broken brothers than two real brothers? Yes they’re well known, and yes I might be typecasting, but really? Watching these two fight each other while searching for forgiveness would be magical.

Miko: Sarah Bolger

The obvious choice for Miko would be either Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie. Unfortunately, they’re too well known. I’d prefer a fresh face. Which brings me to Sarah Bolger. She’s terrific in Into the Badlands. I don’t watch The Tudors, but that show’s produced some really great actors. I’m confident she could pull of this complex character. Miko is arrogant but conflicted. Any actress playing her has to walk the line between being hated and misunderstood. Not easy.

Regan: Regan was always Aishwarya Rai. Always.

King Toscan Tallaenaq: Peter Capaldi. Uh-huh. This Doctor Who fan had to include him. He rocks.
Visit Keith Yatsuhasi's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Samantha Evans's "Darwin and Women"

Samantha Evans is an associate editor of the Darwin Correspondence Project at the University of Cambridge.

Here she dreamcasts a film based on her new book, Darwin and Women: A Selection of Letters:
It's odd you should ask about who would play my characters -- or really, correspondents -- in a film, as I've always had a strong idea that my Emma Darwin would be Kathy Bates. She has exactly that mix of shrewdness, practicality, and serenity that I associate with Emma. There aren't many images of Emma in circulation and most people probably have only seen the watercolour of her as a very pretty young girl. In her letters she's intelligent (she was particularly interested in politics), funny, and has sometimes has an extremely sharp tongue.

I'm always stumped by who would play Charles Darwin though. Paul Bettany did a fine job in the film Creation, but somehow I feel that there's still room for another Darwin. Benedict Cumberbatch, however, may have been a definitive J. D. Hooker: he was a man with a great deal of character, some of it not pleasant, but always compelling!

For Henrietta Darwin, you'd need someone intense to the point of being slightly alarming: possibly Nicole Kidman or Marianne Moore? And for Elizabeth Darwin, Darwin's other daughter, someone who could be a little self-contained and aloof: Anna Maxwell Martin would be perfect.
Learn more about Darwin and Women at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 3, 2017

Ira Bloom's "Hearts & Other Body Parts"

Ira Bloom used to be a teacher of junior high English, ESL, and Japanese for the Los Angeles Unified School District. He and his wife currently operate a fashion and vintage kimono business, and he is something of an expert on Japanese textiles. Bloom lives in Northern California with his family and an assortment of furry beasts.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his debut novel, Hearts & Other Body Parts:
If Hearts & Other Body Parts were to be made into a movie, who would I pick to play the lead characters? This is a pure fantasy: as unlikely as it is that someone would make my book into a movie, it’s a lot more unlikely anyone would allow me to be the casting director. Fortunately, I write fantasy. I’m going to set the ground rule here that the actor for each role has to be alive and of suitable age now. Though if the film industry moves as slowly as the publishing industry, the younger actors here will likely age out of consideration. No matter. We’ll just freeze time.

There are five principal roles, all teens: witch sisters Esme Silver (oldest, the protagonist, AKA the brains), Katy (middle sister, the talent) Veronica, the youngest (beauty and tenacity), Franklin Norman Stein (Frankenstein’s monster type), and Zack Kallas (sexy vampire).

Saoirse Ronan has the looks, range and talent to play any of the three sisters, but I’m going to play my trump ace and cast her as Esme, because she occupies the most screen time. I’m a huge fan of Chloë Grace Moretz, and she’s already had her chance as a vampire, so we’ll cast her as Katy, a witch who falls in love with a vampire. She has this great face that the director can photograph from all different angles to get completely different moods, which suits Katy, a bit of a kook. For Veronica, billed as a great beauty, I’m thinking Mackenzie Foy, who also has a history of vampirism (Renesmee Cullen). Miles Teller will be Norman, with a lot of CGI. These days, you can’t make a movie about teenagers without Miles. I think they passed a law. And I let my daughter pick Douglas Booth to play Zack. I’m not familiar with his work, but he’s British like Zack, and smoking hot, which is our go-to description.

Of the other major characters, the most important is Kasha, the corpse-eating Japanese demon cat who slums as Esme’s familiar. This is pure CGI, so we only need a voice, and I pick Kevin Spacey. He’s an extremely versatile and inexplicably under-utilized voice talent, and he can be scary as hell. For Shikker, Kasha’s Yiddish-speaking demonic lawyer, we’re going with the CGI again. I usually think Mel Brooks or Billy Crystal for Yiddish, but I’ve never heard either of them do anything as angry or menacing as Shikker. Lewis Black could pull it off.

The one role that’s set in stone is Carol Kane (Valerie in The Princess Bride) as Aunt Becky, the raspy-throated ghost. Julianne Moore will play Melinda Silver, mom to the three sisters. She can do tough and tender and conflicted at the same time; she would nail this. Louis C.K. will play Barry Silver, the dad: best look of exasperation in the business. And for Norman’s dad, the mad scientist Dr. Frederick Stein, I’m casting myself, and buying a jumbo bottle of anti-depressants for the director, because his life will be hell trying to get a performance out of me.

That leaves only Drake Kallas, the evil vampire antagonist. We need someone who can be charming with underlying menace, and scary as hell. Another budget buster here, but what the hell, it isn’t my money: Christoph Waltz.

This is the most fun I’ve ever had talking about Hearts & Other Body Parts.
Visit Ira Bloom's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 31, 2017

Anne D. LeClaire's "The Halo Effect"

Anne LeClaire's novels include Entering Normal, The Lavender Hour, and Leaving Eden, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir, Listening Below the Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence.

Her new novel is The Halo Effect.

Here LeClaire dreamcasts an adaptation of The Halo Effect:
The question inevitably comes up in the Q&A portion of author events. “Who would you cast in the movie of your book?” an audience member asks, and then, also inevitably, there follows an awkward silence while I flip through a mental file of actors trying to come up with matches for my characters.

By now you might think I’d prepare by doing this exercise before the event, but the problem is I don’t imagine my characters as actors, not while I am creating them and not when the book is finished. For me they’re unique to themselves, not only in physical appearance (I suppose that’s the easiest aspect when trying to cast) but in the complexity of character.

But, for the moment, putting on my casting director cap, here is the ideal cast and director for The Halo Effect:

Will Light: Rufus Sewell. Currently playing Lord Melbourne in the BBC production of Victoria, he’s the dream choice. He can project a brooding melancholy that can switch in a second to a warmth and vulnerability. One senses that there are stories beneath stories, histories behind histories in his face in repose. And that smile could seduce a stone.

Rain: Rowan Blanchard. Rowan, fifteen, is the right age for Rain (personal pet peeve is age-inappropriate casting ie a twenty-five year old playing a sixteen year old) and there is a haunting quality to her combined with the righteous passion teenagers can feel about social issues.

Lucy: Sabrina Carpenter. Like Blanchard, Carpenter is a Girl Meets World veteran. She is perfect for the role of Rain since there is an almost other worldly quality of innocence about her.

Sophie: Debra Messing. What I like about Messing is that her characters always seem so full of life and joy, as I imagine Sophie was before Lucy was killed, but then, when her glorious smile fades, we get a glimpse of sorrow and of a valiant woman who has the strength of a warrior.

Father Gervase: Chris Carter. Okay he’s taller than the little priest but he’s such a great actor I swear he could take on the role of a shoe and I’d believe it. There is something in his eyes, whatever role he has taken on, that suggest sorrow and compassion for humanity.

The Director: Lasse Hallström. We can dream can’t we?
Visit Anne D. LeClaire's website.

Writers Read: Anne D. LeClaire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Taylor Brown's "The River of Kings"

Taylor Brown grew up on the Georgia coast. He has lived in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of western North Carolina. His books include the story collection In the Season of Blood and Gold and the novel Fallen Land.

Here Brown dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The River of Kings:
As a film, I think The River of Kings would be something of a marriage between Jeff Nichols’s Mud and Terrence Malick’s The New World. Or perhaps John Boorman’s Deliverance and Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God.

The novel is composed of both contemporary and historical time lines. In the present-day story, two brothers are delivering their father’s ashes down the legendary Altamaha River—Georgia’s “Little Amazon.” Their father, a shrimper, died under mysterious circumstances, and they are unraveling the mystery of his death and their own conflicted emotions about the man and his legacy. At the same time, there is the story of Jacques Le Moyne, the first European artist in the New World, who was part of a 1564 expedition to found the French colony of Fort Caroline at the river’s mouth. The story lines are tied together by the river itself, as well as the legendary sea monster long-storied to live in its depths.

I would love to see what Werner Herzog could do with the film version. Herzog never shies from a challenge, and he is no stranger to river stories, whether he is pulling a 300-ton steamship over a hill in the middle of the Amazon for Fitzcarraldo, or building rafts for the ill-fated, Eldorado-seeking conquistadors of Aguirre: The Wrath of God.

As for actors, I have a few in mind. Lawton is the aggressive, physically powerful older brother in the book. He lost his appointment to the Naval Academy after an altercation in high school, protecting younger brother Hunter, but still managed to become a Navy SEAL. I think one of my very favorite actors, Tom Hardy, would make a great Lawton. He has the physical presence, exuding that air of barely-contained violence—even madness—and yet he can be extremely sweet and gentle—much like Lawton.

Then there is Uncle King, the mysterious tattooed ex-priest who wonders the river with a harpoon, hunting the sea monster of legend. I think Kris Kristofferson would be perfect for this role. He has the grizzled look, the lean power, and the sagelike air. I can see him long-haired and bare-chested, with the Virgin Mary’s foot tattooed over his heart, crushing a serpent.

I would love to see French actor Louis Garrel (The Dreamers, Mon Roi) as Jacques Le Moyne. Louis has both the innocence of the conflicted ingénue and the searing intensity of the veteran believer—both of which are needed for this role. Le Moyne is perhaps one of the most interesting figures in French colonial history—hell, in all of French history—and Garrel would do him justice.
Visit Taylor Brown's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 27, 2017

Susan Meissner's "A Bridge Across the Ocean"

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008.

Her Meissner dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, A Bridge Across the Ocean:
A Bridge Across the Ocean is a story about two European women who meet aboard the RMS Queen Mary in 1946. They are bound for America on a ship full of other war brides to be reunited with their servicemen husbands. Both women survived the hell of World War 2, but only one of them, a Parisian named Simone, is an actual war bride; the other, Annaliese, is a German ballerina pretending to be a Belgian war bride to escape a terrible situation. Annaliese’s secret is laid bare on the voyage however, and the last day of the voyage is anything but peaceful. Meanwhile in the current day, thirty-something Brette just wants to live a normal, uncomplicated life but the family gift of being able to see ghosts is making that impossible. When Brette visits the famed and notoriously haunted RMS Queen Mary, now a floating hotel in a California harbor, she comes face to face with the ghostly echoes of that 1946 crossing and is soon on a quest to uncover the truth, right an old wrong, and maybe figure out how to live in peace with the way she is.

The ideal cast:

For Simone, who is a daughter of a murdered French Resistance spy, I pick the talented Melanie Laurent, the French actress who played the courageous and devastated Shoshanna in Quentin Tarentino’s Inglorious Basterds. For Annaliese, the German ballerina married to a Nazi monster, Brie Larson, who stole the show as the abducted teen in Room, and who I think has the skill to pull off a German accent. For their cabinmate Phoebe, Daisy Ridley of the Stars Wars movie, The Force Awakens. For Annaliese’s brute of a husband, Jack Gleeson, who played evil Joffrey in Game of Thrones so well, and for Simone’s American pilot husband, Josh Hutcherson, who won our hearts as Peeta in The Hunger Games trilogy. Lastly, for Keith, who is Brette’s even-keeled gem of a husband, Aaron Staton, better known as Ken Cosgrove on AMC’s Mad Men.
Visit Susan Meissner's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Susan Meissner & Bella.

My Book, The Movie: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Becky Masterman's "A Twist of the Knife"

Becky Masterman grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and received her MA in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University.

When she dreamcasted Fear the Darkness, the second book in the Brigid Quinn Series, she imagined Jamie Lee Curtis in the Quinn role.

Here Masterman takes a different approach for casting the lead for an adaptation of A Twist of the Knife, the third book in the series:
When I first conceived Brigid Quinn, I had been reading a Jack Reacher novel. So I thought, what if Jack Reacher were a woman? Then I thought, what if Jack Reacher were a woman approaching 60? She'd be smart, and sexy, and physically fit, and could kill a man with her bare hands. So I guess Tom Cruise has to play her. She's a little shorter but I think he could manage it, and he'd look good in a white pony tail.
Visit Becky Masterman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rage Against the Dying.

My Book, The Movie: Fear the Darkness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Christina Kovac's "The Cutaway"

Prior to writing fiction, Christina Kovac worked in television news. Her career began with a college internship at Fox 5’s Ten O’Clock News in Washington, DC that turned into a field-producing job—making minimum wage while chasing news stories, gossiping with press officers, and cultivating sources—while somehow making rent on a closet-sized apartment on Capitol Hill. After a stint as weekend editor at WRC TV and senior editor at the ABC affiliate, she went on to work at the Washington Bureau of NBC Network News, as a desk editor and news producer in such stories as that of missing DC intern, Chandra Levy.

After being late to pick up her kids at daycare one too many times, Kovac left television to start a writing career. Now she writes psychological thrillers set in Washington, DC. The Cutaway is her debut novel.

Here Kovac's dreamcasts the lead for a big-screen adaptation of The Cutaway:
The Cutaway sold its TV rights, so it will never be a feature film. But I always imagined Virginia Knightly with that same physicality as the British actress, Keira Knightley. Above average height, willowy, fragile looking—until you notice her chin. She’s got a strong, determined chin, and big intelligent eyes that refuse to look away. I love the complexity of strong female characters: they may be physically unintimidating, but they have wit and they have determination, and they know their brain is their greatest weapon. Virginia Knightly also carries a heavy flashlight, and is not afraid to bash someone over the head with it.
Visit Christina Kovac's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sara Lövestam's "Wonderful Feels Like This"

Sara Lövestam, a writer as well as a huge jazz music fan, lives in Sweden.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her novel, Wonderful Feels Like This, newly released in English:
Anytime anyone asks me: Which one of your books would you like to see as a movie? I answer Wonderful Feels Like This (Hjärta av jazz in Swedish). It already has an awesome soundtrack, as so much of the story is based on jazz tunes from the 40s, and I would just love to see the scenes where Alvar as a young man bikes through Stockholm and gets into the legendary swing jazz clubs.

This story is about Steffi and Alvar. Steffi is a 15 year old girl who loves music and hates school. She gets bullied every day, partly because her father is Cuban, so she looks different than the other people in this small village, Björke. When I think of her in a movie setting, the first actress who comes to mind is a young America Ferrera. I do see Steffi a little bit like (an even younger) Ugly Betty, except more introverted and less clumsy.

Alvar is a 89-year-old man, who throughout the book remembers his youth and tells his stories to Steffi. In 1942, he traveled from Björke to the big city of Stockholm as a 17-year-old boy, trying to make it as a jazz musician. As the old Alvar, I picture someone like a very old James Rebhorn. (Unfortunately, James Rebhorn passed away in 2014, may he rest in peace - but then again, America Ferrera is now in her 30s so my cast wouldn't work anyway.) It's something about his facial features that resonate with the way I picture Alvar. As the young Alvar, maybe someone like Eddie Redmayne?
Visit Sara Lövestam's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chevy Stevens's "Never Let You Go"

Chevy Stevens's novels include Still Missing, Never Knowing, and That Night.

Here Stevens shares some ideas about casting an adaptation of her new novel, Never Let You Go:
When I first started writing Still Missing ten years ago, I had a couple of actors in mind. Angelina Jolie and George Clooney were two of them--for Annie and Gary. But by the time I was finished, their ages no longer worked! Since then, I have sometimes modeled certain characters after celebrities (Eric Church inspired Ryan’s clothing style in That Night) but I don’t tend to cast anyone in my dream movie version. Thinking about Never Let You Go, I wouldn’t have a clue because I don’t know any of the up-and-coming teen actresses who would be good for Sophie, and I also can’t think of anyone in particular for Lindsey, Andrew, or Marcus. Ideally, they would be played by someone who could make the characters come to life with their own vision and personalities. I love when a movie becomes a vehicle for an incredible actor to shine. I think it would be magical if a movie based on my book was a breakout role for someone special and became the launching point for their career.
Visit the official Chevy Stevens website.

The Page 69 Test: Never Let You Go.

Writers Read: Chevy Stevens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 17, 2017

Alex Bledsoe's "Gather Her Round"

Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes from Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner). He has been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls.

Here Bledsoe dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Gather Her Round:
Since Gather Her Round is the fifth book in my Tufa series, the recurring characters have become so vivid to me, I see them as “themselves,” not actors. Still, there are possibilities. Bronwyn Chess, Iraq war veteran and minister’s wife, would be perfect for Riley Keough. Gina Carano would make a terrific Bliss Overbay if she could learn a southern accent. And although she’s too old to play the character as written, Melissa Benoist has the perfect presence for Mandalay, the hereditary leader of the Tufa.

For the new characters, Jack Cates, the game warden, would be perfectly suited to Eureka-era Colin Ferguson. For Duncan Gowan, the young man who precipitates so much of the story, Nicholas Hoult has the right demeanor of someone who tries to do the right thing and always gets it wrong. For Janet, the musical prodigy who gets pulled into the story, Ariel Winter, with her comedic chops, would be great (and, for stunt casting, Ariana Grande would be a hoot as Janet’s perpetually-stoned best friend Ginny).
Learn more about the book and author at Alex Bledsoe's website.

The Page 69 Test: Wisp of a Thing (Tufa #2).

The Page 69 Test: Long Black Curl (Tufa #3).

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bren McClain's "One Good Mama Bone"

Bren McClain was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, on a beef cattle and grain farm. She has a degree in English from Furman University; is an experienced media relations, radio, and television news professional; and currently works as a communications confidence coach. She is a two-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project and the recipient of the 2005 Fiction Fellowship by the South Carolina Arts Commission. McClain won the 2016 William Faulkner–William Wisdom Novel-in-Progress for “Took” and was a finalist in the 2012 Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Award for Novel-in-Progress for One Good Mama Bone, her first novel.

Here McClain dreamcasts an adaptation of One Good Mama Bone:
I had no one in mind to play the roles as I wrote the book. But, now that I think about it, Reese Witherspoon would play an awesome Sarah Creamer, my main character, a woman in her late 20s, from the deep rural South and with a fierce determination soaked in tenderness. Reese is Southern, a mom, and one smart actress, who loves to play strong women. The cool thing is, when we meet Sarah, she doesn’t know she is strong, but the reader does. Part of the joy of writing the book was to see that light bulb come on for Sarah.

My antagonist is Luther Dobbins, a hard, crusty, bigshot wannabee cattle farmer, in his 40s. I’d love to see Russell Crowe play him. Why? Because Russell can carry the macho swagger component but also, like Luther, he can access his inner life of deep, deep insecurity. I think of Luther as having a false bravado, and I think Russell Crowe can embody that on the screen.

Ike Thrasher is another main character, a man in his 40s, who yearns to be considered a real man -- this, in order to earn his father’s love, even though his father has been dead for 25 years. It’s that deep in Ike. To play him, I see Toby McGuire, who has Ike’s boyishness, yet is capable of showing depth of real feelings.

Luther’s wife is Mildred, a woman in her 40s, a refined, suppressed woman, who eventually breaks out of her shell and confronts Luther. I see Nicole Kidman playing her. A woman who wakes.

Sarah’s husband, Harold, is a man in his early 30s when he dies. What he has done, his affair with his wife’s best friend and the subsequent baby born, has aged him. I would like to think that Jake Gyllenhaal would play him. Jake’s eyes carry a well of depth, and this would serve his playing Harold, a man who did the right thing and married a woman he did not love but was carrying his child.

As for Sarah’s mother, Teeniebelle, I want to play her. I want to sit in that wheelchair in the climactic scene and play her, run my finger over my lips and be dialed into Sarah but try to stay aloof. I want to walk that balancing line between desperately wanting Sarah there and not one iota showing it so.

Finally, Mama Red, the mother cow. She can play herself. She is 25 years old and still alive. Thank God!
Visit Bren McClain's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 13, 2017

Jacob Stone's "Deranged"

Jacob Stone is the byline chosen by award-winning author Dave Zeltserman for his new Morris Brick series of serial-killer thrillers. His crime, mystery and horror fiction has won top praise and has been translated into six languages. His novels Small Crimes and Pariah were both named by the Washington Post as best books of the year. Small Crimes topped National Public Radio's list of best crime and mystery novels of 2008 and is being made into a feature film.

Here Zeltserman dreamcasts an adaptation of Deranged, the first Morris Black thriller:
Deranged is the first book of my Morris Brick crime thriller series. Morris is a former LAPD homicide detective who achieved minor celebrity status by solving several difficult serial killer cases. Now retired he runs Morris Brick Investigations. While he’s had his fill of serial killers, in each book he’ll find himself dragged back into an investigation.

Morris Brick is tough, smart, and relentless and Jason Isaacs showed in the Showtime series Brotherhood that he could play all that brilliantly.

Evangeline Lilly would be a good choice to play Natalie Brick, Morris’s beautiful and charming wife.

Dean Norris doesn’t physically resemble my killer, Henry Pollard (I don’t know if any actor does), but Norris demonstrated with his role as Hank in Breaking Bad that he can be physically intimidating and has the humor and pathos to play Henry.

Sheila Proops, Henry’s wife, is a tough role to cast because there are really two versions of her—pre and post-accident. Pre-accident version (shown in flashbacks) is stunningly beautiful, and Elizabeth Banks would be a good choice. Post-accident, Sheila has been left partially paralyzed and physically twisted, and Banks would need a lot of makeup and prosthetics to play Sheila.

Philip Stonehedge, a method actor who forces himself into the investigation, and for most of the book acts as Morris’s sidekick, is the easiest role to cast—Ryan Gosling. In the third Morris Brick thriller, Malicious, there’s a running joke where the killer is described by witnesses as either the actor Philip Stonehedge or Ryan Gosling.

Scarlett Johansson would be a good fit for Annie Walsh, the tough, no-nonsense, and very attractive LAPD Detective who works with Morris and his team.

Morris’s team is made up of three former LAPD homicide detectives: Dennis Polk, a wiseass, Fred Lemmon, who takes it as part of his job to keep Polk in line, and Charlie Bogle, Morris’ right-hand man. Michael Rapaport would be perfect as Polk, Matthew Rhys as Lemmon, and Jon Hamm (who has a bigger role in future books, as well as showing some inner demons) as Bogle.

Finally, to complete the cast, we need to find a lovable and clownish bull terrier to play Morris’s dog, Parker.
Visit Dave Zeltserman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Yoojin Grace Wuertz's "Everything Belongs to Us"

Yoojin Grace Wuertz was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States at age six. She holds a BA in English from Yale University and an MFA in fiction from New York University. She lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and son.

Here Wuertz dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Everything Belongs to Us:
It might be every writer’s dream to have her book made into a movie, and I’m no exception. I would particularly love to see this happen because it’s rare, almost unheard of, for an American film to have a predominantly Asian cast, with Asian leads—and of course this movie would have to have both. And a period and foreign setting on top of it all! Expensive! But what a strong affirmation of diverse storytelling it would be. Trendsetting, or rather trend-bucking, like the brilliant #starringJohnCho meme that projects what major movies would look like if they had cast an Asian-American lead.

For Jisun, I like Karen Fukuhara, who recently played Katana in Suicide Squad: another strong female character with a complicated history and a family vendetta. For Namin, I would love to cast Greta Lee. Greta Lee, though not 19, is eternally youthful with a spiky and slightly off-center intensity that I find fascinating. My main casting problem is that the chemistry between Jisun and Namin has to be perfect and I have no idea how to know this until I know this by seeing it. Would Katana and Soojin from Girls have that perfect zero-to-65 volatility that people who truly love and hate each other have? I would love to find out. (… Or should it be the other way around? Katana as Namin and Soojin as Jisun? Dream problem.)

For Sunam, I would cast Ki Hong Lee, who I first saw in his recurring role in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I didn’t love that they gave him the typical “Asian who doesn’t speak English” role but the writers seem to have realized how underused he was and quickly smoothed out his accent and faltering speech in the second season to allow him more range. I like that he has this determined but fuzzy quality, which is how I see Sunam. Still trying to figure himself out, still trying to become something. Or someone. Of the three actors I mentioned, Ki Hong Lee has the most overt vulnerability in his facial expressions. Sunam is that way: physically solid but unable to hide what is ultimately insecure in his character.
Visit Yoojin Grace Wuertz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Michiel Heyns's "The Typewriter's Tale"

Michiel Heyns is Professor Emeritus in English at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Author of numerous academic works and radio adaptations of Henry James's and Elizabeth Gaskell's novels, Heyns wrote the chapter on Henry James for the Cambridge Companion to English Novelists. He is winner of the Thomas Pringle Award for journalism 2007, and the Sol Plaatje Award for translation, 2008 and was winner of the Sunday Times Fiction Award 2012 for Lost Ground. The French translation of his novel The Typewriter's Tale was shortlisted for the Prix Femina Etranger, and won the Prix de l'Union Interalliee.

Here Heyns dreamcasts an adaptation of The Typewriter's Tale:
My central character, Frieda Wroth, is an intelligent if inexperienced young Englishwoman acting as typist (“typewriter”) to the great author Henry James, who falls under the charm of Morton Fullerton, a young friend of James’s (and, unbeknownst to Frieda, lover to the American novelist Edith Wharton). The ensuing drama is one of social decorum, constrained passion and ruthless intrigue.

Carey Mulligan seems perfect for the role of Frieda with her combination of English-Rose innocence and strong sexuality (I’m thinking in the first place of Mulligan’s transformation from demure schoolgirl to practised paramour in An Education). Against her, I would cast Viggo Mortensen as Morton Fullerton, the dashing cosmopolitan Parisian-American journalist and serial seducer of man, woman and dog. Mortensen’s barely-contained violence (think G.I Jane, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises), and smouldering sexuality would serve admirably to bring out the repressed sexuality in Frieda, and also to act as foil (and as unacknowledged love object) to the urbane Henry James.

James himself would be played by Anthony Hopkins – perhaps an odd choice, given that his best-known role is as Hannibal Lecter -- but of course Hopkins was also the dignified butler in Remains of the Day. Besides, Henry James, civilised as he was, was also capable of a quiet ferocity – not quite cannibalistic, and verbal rather than physical, but devastating enough.

And James’s great friend and Fullerton’s lover, Edith Wharton, could be vividly rendered by Anjelica Huston: again an actor better known for quite scary roles (The Addams Family, The Witches, The Dead), but very much suited to playing the sardonic, predatory (in my rendering of her) Mrs Wharton.

All in all, my cast has been chosen because they are all capable of playing to perfection both the civilised surface of Edwardian England, and the ferocity underlying the social comedy. These are social animals, their domestication only skin-deep.

Oh, and Ang Lee would be the perfect director, with his wide range of styles and periods, from the contained ‘period’ romanticism of Sense and Sensibility to the aching sexuality of Brokeback Mountain. And, of course, both these films were adaptations of literary works.
Learn more about the author and his work at Michiel Heyns' website.

The Page 69 Test: The Children’s Day.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 6, 2017

Paul Doherty's "A Pilgrimage to Murder"

About A Pilgrimage of Murder by Paul Doherty:
Summer, 1381. The Great Revolt has been crushed; the king’s peace ruthlessly enforced. Brother Athelstan meanwhile is preparing for a pilgrimage to St Thomas a Becket’s shrine in Canterbury to give thanks for the wellbeing of his congregation after the violent rebellion.

But preparations are disrupted when Athelstan is summoned to a modest house in Cheapside, scene of a brutal triple murder. One of the victims was the chief clerk of the Secret Chancery of John of Gaunt. Could this be an act of revenge by the Upright Men, those rebels who survived the Great Revolt?

At the same time Athelstan is receiving menacing messages from an assassin who calls himself Azrael, the Angel of Death? Who is he – and why is he targeting a harmless friar? Could Athelstan’s pilgrimage be leading him into a deadly trap?
Here Doherty dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
If I had to choose actors for my main characters I would have Ian McShane as Athelstan, Tom Wilkinson as Cranston and Rufus Sewell as John of Gaunt.
Visit Paul Doherty's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 3, 2017

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's "Making Bombs for Hitler"

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is the acclaimed author of over sixteen picture books and novels. Her earlier picture books include Enough, Silver Threads, Daughter of War, Aram's Choice and The Best Gifts. She won the Silver Birch Fiction Award for Making Bombs for Hitler and the Red Cedar Award for Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue from War.

Here Skrypuch dreamcasts an adaptation of Making Bombs for Hitler:
Making Bombs for Hitler is the story of Lida, a young girl who is captured by the Nazis and forced into slave labor -- an Ostarbeiter. Shortly after her capture, she meets Luka, a fellow slave laborer, and they form a special friendship. Lida is horrified to be assigned to bomb-making for the Germans. Then she has an idea. What if she sabotaged the bombs... and the Nazis?

* * *

I had a Skype visit with a grade 4 class and one student asked if Making Bombs for Hitler would be made into a movie. We all agreed that it would be awesome, and since we were on the subject, I asked them who they thought should play Lida. I got no names of child actors. Instead, the students volunteered themselves.

I totally get that -- I’m Lida too!

They also liked the casting of the girl who played Lida in the Scholastic book trailer.

But if I had to choose, my Lida would be Willow Shields if she could turn back time and become eleven years old again. Her role as Prim Everdeen in The Hunger Games showed that she’s able to brilliantly convey the kind of inner strength, generosity and positive outlook that’s so much a part of who Lida is.

My Luka would be a thirteen year old Josh Hutcherson, who played Peeta from The Hunger Games. I like the solid inner strength that seems to seep from his pores.

It was tough trying to think of who would do justice to Lida’s vulnerable little sister Larissa. Dakota Fanning when she was in I Am Sam has the right look.

The two adults who play the biggest roles in Lida’s life at the slave camp are Officer Schmidt and Inge, the laundress. Ralph Fiennes is great at oozing banal evil – so he’d be an awesome Schmidt. Phyllis Smith, who played the teacher in The OA, would be great for the complexity of Inge.
Visit Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Charlie Lovett's "The Lost Book of the Grail"

Charlie Lovett is a writer, teacher, and playwright, whose plays for children have been seen in more than 3,000 productions. He is a former antiquarian bookseller and an avid book collector. He and his wife split their time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Kingham, Oxfordshire, in England.

Lovett's novels include The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession, First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, and the newly released The Lost Book of the Grail.

Here Lovett dreamcasts an adaptation of The Lost Book of the Grail:
I’m going to be honest here—my wife Janice is the real source of this blog. She has an amazing knack for remembering performers and performances and, having spent many years as a director, she is great at casting. I’m better at remembering places. We’ll be watching a movie and I will say, “We stayed around the corner from that building one time.” We joke that if we worked in Hollywood, she would be the casting director and I would be the location scout.

So, before we get to her cast, let’s chat about my locations. The book is set in a fictional cathedral city called Barchester, but many of the elements of the city, the cathedral, and the surrounding countryside, are inspired (or one might say stolen) from real places. I envisioned Barchester as having the cathedral of Winchester, the close (that is the walled in area around the cathedral) of Norwich, and the surrounding city and countryside of Wells. But almost any modest sized English cathedral city would do.

In the role of Arthur, a forty-year-old Brit who likes old books a lot better than he likes most people, Janice votes for Tom Mison of Sleepy Hollow fame. She said she heard his voice as Arthur’s as soon as she started reading (though we both admit, Tom Hiddleston would be fairly amazing, too—and we had tea with his mom once, so he’s practically family). Arthur’s foil is Bethany Davis, a young American from the digital world with a rapid-fire delivery. Janice liked my idea of Emma Stone in this part (we have loved her in everything she has done). But we’d be equally pleased with Anna Kendrick or Jennifer Lawrence.

Arthur has two very different close friends. David is a bit of a hound dog, constantly seducing women. Oscar is an introvert with speech hesitation and is probably gay, though very quiet about it. Janice’s first thoughts were Justin Timberlake (if he can do a British accent) as David and Eddie Redmayne as Oscar. I think those are both brilliant choices.

In the role of the overworked dean of the cathedral, Gwyn, a widow with two small children, Janice gravitated towards one of our favorite British comediennes, who has also done dramatic work on Call the Midwife, Miranda Hart. Miranda is tall and imposing and can give that sense of steady leadership, yet she can also play quite vulnerable and I think that’s the trick with Gwyn.

The other ecclesiastical role is the precentor (the priest who plans all the services at the cathedral). He is not named, but is often present, always getting in Arthur’s way and reminding Arthur of a salmon. He is officious and has a streak of arrogance (at least Arthur sees him that way). I at first thought Eddie Izzard (perhaps because we had just cast another comic), but then Janice came up with the superb idea of Alan Cumming. Think about the role he played in Circle of Friends, add forty years, and you’ve got the precentor. Plus Alan can sing, and the precentor leads the sung services at the cathedral.

So, if Julian Fellowes writes and directs with that cast, I’ll be happy to show up on the red carpet!
Learn more about the book and author at Charlie Lovett's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Bookman's Tale.

My Book, The Movie: First Impressions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 27, 2017

Renée Rosen's "Windy City Blues"

Renée Rosen is the bestselling author of White Collar Girl, What The Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age and Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties as well as the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot.

Here Rosen shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of her, new novel Windy City Blues:
This is tough because of Cadillac Records, the 2008 biopic about Chess Records starring Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess, Beyoncé as Etta James, Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, Columbus Short as Little Walter, Eamonn Walker as Howlin’ Wolf, and Mos Def as Chuck Berry. They were a great ensemble for that film. Their performances, both musical and acting would be hard to top. The only problem as I see it, is that the story wasn’t all there.

Windy City Blues goes deeper into the Chess story and adds in some fictional characters in order to tell the Civil Rights story, which was a huge part of the equation. So to that end, I’ll serve up a few additional actors of my own.

A young Barbra Streisand would be a perfect Leeba Groski.

Lenny Kravitz would be an interesting pick for Red Dupree.

Viola Davis would make a splendid Alieen Booker
Visit Renée Rosen's website, blog, and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Dollface.

My Book, The Movie: What the Lady Wants.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 24, 2017

Lucinda Rosenfeld's "Class"

Lucinda Rosenfeld is the author of the novels The Pretty One, What She Saw..., Why She Went Home, and I'm So Happy For You. Her fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate, the Wall Street Journal,, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two daughters.

Here Rosenfeld dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Class (a satire about public school, parenting, and the liberal bubble):
Jennifer Connelly as conflicted late-life mother and hunger charity fundraiser Karen Kipple.

Rihanna as Karen's best mom friend, Louise Bailey.

Mark Ruffalo as Karen's housing lawyer husband, Matt McClelland.

Ewan McGregor as hedge fund billionaire, Clay Phipps.

Gwyneth Paltrow as PTA President, Susan Bordwell or Karen's nemesis, Laura Collier.

Tina Fey as April Fishbach.

And Viola Davis as elementary school principal, Regina Chambers.

I'm not up on child actors, so unfortunately I can't make suggestions for the "third grade" cast (Ruby, Jayyden, Maeve, Mia, Charlotte, etc).

Dream director would be Ang Lee or Nicole Holofcener.
Learn more about Class.

My Book, The Movie: The Pretty One.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sara Flannery Murphy's "The Possessions"

Sara Flannery Murphy grew up in Arkansas, where she divided her time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, a small artists’ community in the Ozark Mountains. She received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and studied library science in British Columbia. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and son.

Here Murphy dreamcasts an adaptation of The Possessions, her first novel:
Maybe there are authors out there who aren’t interested in their novels’ theoretical movie adaptations. I’m definitely not one of them; I love playing the casting game during the writing process.

Mia Wasikowska would be a great Eurydice. She makes even quiet, repressed personalities feel multilayered. She also has a subtle dark side that I appreciate. Many of her roles are girls and women who switch from observers to participants: Alice, Jane Eyre, Edith in Crimson Peak, India in Stoker. That’s a quality I see in Edie as well.

I can imagine Eva Green as Sylvia. She’d capture the intensity and inherent mystery that Sylvia needs as a character who’s mostly interpreted through other people. And the contrast between Green and Wasikowska would mirror the contrast between Edie and Sylvia that runs through the novel.

Ana may be a secondary character, but I have a major soft spot for her. Rosemarie DeWitt has long been a favorite actor of mine, and she has a sense of humor and a sharpness that would bring Ana to life.

For the director, I’d be thrilled to see Park Chan-wook bring The Possessions to the big screen. I love his Gothic sensibility. He’s not afraid of melodrama, but has a talent for lushness and polish. But I’d be equally happy with Jane Campion, whose smart, subversive films have inspired me for years. Although Top of the Lake is a miniseries, Campion’s treatment of the moody, disturbing subject matter makes me curious to see what she’d do with The Possessions.

Really, I’d love to see what either director could create out of the shadowy halls of the Elysian Society, the bodies in their ghostly white uniforms, and Edie’s burgeoning recklessness.
Visit Sara Flannery Murphy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lara Elena Donnelly's "Amberlough"

Lara Elena Donnelly is a graduate of the Alpha and Clarion writing workshops. Her fiction won the Dell Magazine Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy and she has been published in Icarus, Strange Horizons, Grim Corps, and Mythic Delirium. Donnelly has worked as professional fire performer, belly dancer, and is knowledgeable in aerial acrobatics and burlesque.

Here Donnelly dreamcasts an adaptation of Amberlough, her debut novel:
Amberlough: The Movie. Or, as has been suggested by several people, the BBC miniseries. (Someone even said it should be made into a Broadway musical!) At any rate: the media adaptation!

In a perfect world, I’d pop in my time machine, grab RuPaul circa 2005 for Aristide, then power back to the 50s and snatch Damn Yankees-era Gwen Verdon to play Cordelia. The role of Cyril DePaul would be played by my high school boyfriend’s older brother, a stage actor you’ve probably never heard of.

But as you may have noticed, we don’t live in a perfect world, and time travel isn’t really an option. So in a slightly-less-than-perfect-but-certainly-better-than-the-reality world, in which Amberlough is made into a movie, I’ve got some more viable options.

Once upon a time, I thought Baz Luhrmann was the natural choice to direct Amberlough, but I’m not sure he’d do justice to the heavier parts of the story. I recently finished watching The Night Manager, and I think Susanne Bier would slay an adaptation of Amberlough. She’s got high-tension romance, cutthroat politics, and luscious wealth porn down pat.

Ryan Gosling could pull off Cyril’s charm and his brutality. Plus, he’s almost a ringer for said high school boyfriend’s older brother. Shave his scruff, pop him into white tie, and tell him to turn on his signature smirk.

Oona Chaplin has the right face for Cordelia—long, downturned nose, freckles, toothy smile. Plus she has incredible acting range, which is a necessity when you’ve got a character whose arc is as long and wide as Cordelia’s. She can play raging, snarky, sexy, and emotionally devastated with equal facility.

The problem of Aristide seemed insurmountable, initially. I was leaning strongly toward Taye Diggs. He’s sultry, smart, and a triple threat. That smile and that musical theatre cred would serve him well onstage at the Bumble Bee Cabaret.

Then I finally watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and remembered how deliciously scathing Yanic Truesdale is as Michel. Sorry Taye, but Yanic might have won this round.
Visit Lara Elena Donnelly's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 17, 2017

Martine Murray's "Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars"

Martine Murray studied law at Melbourne University, then pursued painting and joined a circus before starting a dance company called Bird on a Wire. After an injury, she began writing and illustrating books for children and young adults. Her novels, including The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley, have won several awards in Australia. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages. She lives in Castlemaine, Australia, with her daughter and dog.

Here Murray dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars:
I am terrible at getting round to watching movies, though I really love them. So I don’t know many contemporary young actors, I haven’t even seen Harry Potter, which I should perhaps not admit. So if someone were to play Molly or Pim….

Maybe Pim would be like Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Molly could be the actor who played the youngest daughter in Captain Fantastic. I say that partly because it is the most recent film I saw and I can’t remember any other films with young girls. Though Molly Ringwald in some ways embodied the outsider sort of energy of the Molly in my book too or maybe I just morphed them together then because of the name, but I think that works.
Visit Martine Murray's website.

The Page 69 Test: Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars.

Writers Read: Martine Murray.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sheryl Scarborough's "To Catch a Killer"

Sheryl Scarborough is an award-winning writer for children’s television. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, lives in Washington state, and has always had an obsession with forensics. When she was twelve, her home was the target of a Peeping Tom. Scarborough diligently photographed his footprints and collected the candy wrappers he left behind. Unfortunately, he was never caught. But the desire to use evidence to solve a great mystery was sparked inside Scarborough all the same.

Here Scarborough dreamcasts an adaptation of To Catch a Killer, her debut novel:
I set out to see if I could cast my book from the characters of Gossip Girl. I tried this because, strange as it may seem, I have found parallels between Gossip Girl and my actual life, despite that fact that I’m not a rich, celebutante and I don’t live in New York city. So, here goes nothing.

Erin: (main character) She’s an iceberg, what’s really going on is all below the surface. She would be Blair, played by Leighton Meester.

Spam: She’s sassy, smart and completely irreverent. While Selena Gomez really would be the perfect Spam, in a GG world she would be Taylor Momsen’s Jenny Humphrey.

Lysa: She’s the smooth talker and most politically correct of the group. She’s African-American so Zendaya would be an excellent choice to play her. But in GG parlance Lysa would likely be the early Serena van der Woodsen, played by Blake Lively.

Journey: He’s hunky and mysterious. A wounded soul. He’s kind of new, but Dylan McTee, who plays Nate Griffin on Sweet Vicious would look the part. And since two Nates would be double great, Chace Crawford would be my GG choice for Journey. (It’s the strong jaw and soulful eyes.)
Visit Sheryl Scarborough's website.

--Marshal Zeringue