Monday, August 13, 2018

Michael J. Sullivan's Riyria Revelations series

Michael J. Sullivan's books include the Riyria Revelations series: Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of the series:
When I first conceived of the Riyria Revelations, it was the 1990s. I saw Braveheart and The Man In The Iron Mask and thought Mel Gibson and Jeremy Irons could play Hadrian and Royce in the movie version. They are now 62 and 69 years of age, so that no longer works. And that’s my problem. Actors get old while my characters remain young. I had the characters cast, but alas, time ruined everything.

I gave up trying to cast them, until recently when two actors appeared on screen together that I thought would work. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. Only problem with that—these two are doing pretty well for themselves these days and would be a tad expensive to hire for the roles. However, if they happen to be fans of Riyria, and reading this post, as I’m certain they are, and interested in working for scale to bring the world of Elan to life. Call me.
Visit Michael J. Sullivan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Susan Elia MacNeal's "The Prisoner in the Castle"

Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of The New York Times, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today-bestselling Maggie Hope mystery series, starting with the Edgar Award-nominated and Barry Award-winning Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, which is now in its 22nd printing.

Her latest book is The Prisoner in the Castle, the eighth novel in the series.

Here MacNeal shares some insights into an adaptation of the series:
I’ve never really toyed around with the idea of a “perfect cast” for the Maggie Hope novels, as all the characters started out as composites of various friends and people I actually know, along with historical figures. They’re all, well, themselves, to me when I’m writing. That’s how I see them. It would be odd to suddenly start seeing them as a popular actor or actress.

However, I was absolutely gobsmacked when the actress Daisy Ridley (Star Wars, Murder on the Orient Express) bought the TV and film rights to the Maggie Hope series. And even more floored when I learned the production company Blueprint Pictures (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, A Very English Scandal, the upcoming Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society) were in to produce a TV series. The writer of the pilot script is Daisy Colum (her credits include Grantchester). We should find out more news about the Maggie Hope TV series in the next few months.

No one has been officially cast yet, but discussions are underway, and my fingers (and toes and everything else) are crossed!

The big question is—who would you like to see play Maggie Hope and her friends?
Visit Susan Elia MacNeal's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Ellison Cooper's "Caged"

Ellison Cooper has a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA, with a background in archaeology, cultural neuroscience, ancient religion, colonialism, and human rights. She has conducted fieldwork in Central America, West Africa, Micronesia, and Western Europe. She has worked as a murder investigator in Washington DC, and is a certified K9 Search and Rescue Federal Disaster Worker. She now lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son.

Here Ellison dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Caged:
I don't know a single author who hasn't fantasized about their book being turned into a movie. Which is to say that I know exactly who I would love to cast in Caged.

My main character, Sayer Altair, is a biracial FBI neuroscientist and I would love for Zazie Beetz to play her! Beetz was fierce as Domino in Deadpool 2, tough but also funny and genuine.

I actually wrote Sayer's partner, Vic Devereaux, with Misha Collins in mind. He has the perfect "undertaker handsome" vibe I imagined.

I would love for the jowly, brusque FBI Assistant Director Janice Holt to be played by Sigourney Weaver.

One of the victims in Caged, a teenage girl named Adi, is a tough-as-nails survivor and I would love for her to be played by Millie Bobby Brown.

Last but not least, Sayer's Nana, who is kind of having a late mid-life-crisis, would be perfect for Helen Mirren.
Visit Ellison Cooper's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Georgia Clark's "The Bucket List"

Georgia Clark is an author, performer and screenwriter based in Brooklyn. She wrote the critically acclaimed novel, The Regulars, and the "witty, sexy" (L.A. Times) The Bucket List, both Simon & Schuster. Her first books were the Young Adult novels She’s With The Band and Parched. Clark is the host/founder of the storytelling night, Generation Women, which invites six generations of women to tell a story on a theme. She is currently developing The Regulars as a TV show for E!. A native Australian, she lives in Brooklyn with her girlfriend and a fridge full of cheese.

Here Clark dreamcasts an adaptation of The Bucket List:
Lacey Whitman, main character: I love Lili Reinhart (Betty Cooper in the teen noir melodrama, Riverdale): she’s an incredibly expressive and powerful performer. And this role would allow her to explore her more comedic side, channeling Lacey’s great sense of humor along with her strength and vulnerability.

Steph, Lacey’s best friend/former roommate: Naomi Scott could play Lacey’s empathetic (and slightly over involved) British Indian best friend.

Vivian, Lacey’s co-founder: Awkwafina is dope.

Cooper, Lacey’s love interest: If we cast Lili, we'd have to have Cole Sprouse (Jughead Jones), as the love interest? The guy’s the walking definition of nerd chic. Nat Wolff would also nail it. Take your pick.

Elan, Lacey’s other love interest: Tricky: Elan is Iranian-American, but no one immediately springs to mind with that exact ethnicity. Maybe Amr Waked?

Eloise, Lacey’s work frenemy: Gigi Hadid would slay this ice-cool Fashion Editor.

Mara, Lacey’s sister: I picture a young Claire Danes: someone who can access a lot of anger, but keep it simmering just below the surface.

Patricia, Lacey’s boss: Patricia Clarkson. She is so beautiful and classy.

Bee, Lacey’s friend: Bridget Everett would be perfect as Lacey’s friend who also has BRCA1 mutation, who undergoes a mastectomy that doesn’t go as planned. Bee is a fantastic character: frank, funny, shameless but also vulnerable and kind.
Visit Georgia Clark's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Fiona Davis's "The Masterpiece"

Fiona Davis began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master's degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down as an author of historical fiction. She's a graduate of the College of William & Mary and is based in New York City.

Here Davis dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Masterpiece:
I love this assignment because before I start writing a book, I come up with ideas of whom the characters resemble and post them on the bulletin board behind my computer. That way I can stare at their faces when I hit a wall, and that always seems to help. Half of my story takes place in the 1920s at the Grand Central School of Art, where a couple of faculty members - Clara Darden and Levon Zakarian - are fighting to rise in the art world, often butting heads themselves. The other half of the book takes place in the 1970s, when a clerk from the Terminal's info booth stumbles into an abandoned art school and starts tracking down the provenance of a painting. Grand Central Terminal itself is a character in the book, in a way. In the 20s it's still beautiful and gleaming, and by the 70s, it's fallen into disrepair and in danger of being destroyed.

Clara Darden: Tilda Swinton

I wanted this character, my heroine artist, to seem other-worldly, strong, and a little bit removed. Tilda Swinton in her 20s would be perfect for that. She's not your typical heroine, and I like that about her.

Levon Zakarian: Andy Garcia

Levon is a brash Armenian painter, inspired by the abstract expressionist Arshile Gorky. They both have intense brown eyes and thick hair, and a very masculine sensibility about them.

Virginia Clay: Rachel McAdams

Virginia is the heroine in the 1970s section, a down-on-her-luck former socialite who's forced to take a job in the info booth in Grand Central. She's a bit of a mess, quirky, and trying her very best.
Visit Fiona Davis's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Address.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 3, 2018

Craig DiLouie's "One of Us"

Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

In hundreds of reviews, his novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.

These works have been nominated for major literary awards such as the Bram Stoker Award and Audie Award, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for film.

Here DiLouie dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, One of Us:
In One of Us, a disease has produced a generation of monsters who are now growing up in orphanages and must find a way to fit in—or fight for what’s theirs. It’s both a misunderstood monster story and a novel about prejudice.

As a Southern Gothic story, the characters are an ensemble and half of them are mutants, so it’s a tough cast for me. I’ll pick two.

Amy is a plague girl, but her mutation only appears under severe stress. As a result, while all the other plague children are growing up in ramshackle “Homes,” she is able to hide in plain sight. For her, I’d cast Emma Stone. She has the chops to give Amy the right range of rebelliousness against her overly protective mother, desire to fit in, romantic curiosity with her boyfriend Jake, vulnerability, and menace.

The son of a preacher who fears the plague generation, Jake is cocky and rebellious. He believes his real Christian duty is to treat the plague children as equals, which naturally gets him into all sorts of trouble in his small town. For Jake, I’d cast Dane DeHaan, who has a distinctive, earthy look and would be able to pull off the earnestness, cockiness, and sensitivity the character needs.
Visit Craig DiLouie's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Liese O'Halloran Schwarz's "The Possible World"

Liese O'Halloran Schwarz grew up in Washington, DC after an early childhood overseas. She attended Harvard University and then medical school at University of Virginia. While in medical school, she won the Henfield/Transatlantic Review Prize and also published her first novel, Near Canaan.

She specialized in emergency medicine and like most doctors, she can thoroughly ruin dinner parties with tales of medical believe-it-or-not. But she won't do that, because she knows how hard you worked to make a nice meal.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Possible World, her second novel:
The Possible World is set in Rhode Island, and there is a significant historical aspect to the story, so a close adaptation would be constrained with regard to casting. A looser adaptation (a different setting, for example) would open up some roles with regard to type. I think I would learn a lot about my story and characters if they were set free in that way, but for a strict adaptation, set in Rhode Island with the characters as they are written, this is what I imagine for the main roles of Clare and Lucy and Ben and Leo and Gloria and Joe and James:

Clare is a 99 year old, French-Canadian immigrant to Providence, who tells her life story. So there are two roles: “Now Clare” (99 years old) and “Early Clare” (mid 30s to mid 40s); with great prosthetic/makeup work, one talented actress could play both! I envisioned Early Clare as tall, with an ethereal, seemingly-fragile quality, like Saffron Burrows or Charlotte Rampling or Madeline Stowe or Nicole Kidman or Keri Russell. Others with great talent and mobile, expressive faces to carry emotional scenes without much dialogue: Elisabeth Moss, Katherine Heigl, Julia Roberts (she is ageless!). For Now Clare (with aging prosthetics of course): Brooke Shields, Kathleen Chalfant, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amy Irving.

Of course I would want Meryl Streep for Clare. Everyone would want Meryl Streep to bring a character to life! But I have a very good reason! Meryl + makeup/prosthetics could play Now Clare and one of her daughters, Mamie or Grace Gummer, could play Early Clare. Just the thought makes me sigh.

Lucy is in her mid thirties, focused and competent; she is not from Rhode Island. I would love Mireille Enos. I can also see Elisabeth Moss, Mamie Gummer, Lupita Nyong’o, Reese Witherspoon, Regina King, Morena Baccarin, Elodie Yung or Alexis Bledel. Saorsie Ronan or Jennifer Lawrence could play “up” in age, pretty please.

Ben is 6 years old. He could be any ethnicity. I would hope for another miracle like Jacob Tremblay who held us all enthralled in “Room”; I am sure there is one out there.

Leo is 11 years old, Rhode Island-born. Well, look at that! Jacob Tremblay is now exactly the right age for this role. Come and get it.

Gloria is 69, an indomitable personality. She is Portuguese-American in the book, but her life story is not told in detail, so her ethnicity and her age are pretty open. Her role would require comedic as well as dramatic ability, so I think of Margo Martindale, CCH Pounder, Alfre Woodard, Neicy Nash, Marisa Tomei, Regina Taylor, Oprah Winfrey.

Joe is in his late thirties to early forties; not a Rhode Islander. He is an attractive, earnest, finding-himself type. He could be played by John Cho or Aaron Paul or Romany Malco or Casey Affleck or Mark Ruffalo.

James is in his early forties; he is a Rhode Island farmer, a quiet, rugged type. John Hamm. Mark Ruffalo again, Bradley Cooper, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, Kyle Chandler. I toss in Ed Harris because Ed Harris —I do not care how old he gets; his appeal will never wane. OK, now you know way too much about me!
Visit Liese O'Halloran Schwarz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 30, 2018

Danielle Girard's "Expose"

Danielle Girard is the author of Chasing Darkness, The Rookie Club series, and Exhume and Excise, featuring San Francisco medical examiner Dr. Annabelle Schwartzman. Girard’s books have won the Barry Award and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, and two of her titles have been optioned for movies.

A graduate of Cornell University, Girard received her MFA at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina. She, her husband, and their two children split their time between San Francisco and the Northern Rockies.

Here Girard dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Expose:
I don’t know any writer who hasn’t toyed with the “perfect cast” for his or her novel. I’m certainly among the masses.

And some days when the words don’t come, I’m on the IMDb website for much much longer than I should be, going back and forth between Idris Elba and Michael B Jordan to play Inspector Hal Harris. Medical Examiner Annabelle Schwartzman is a little tougher as most actresses are simply gorgeous and I think of Anna as being an attractive woman but not so gorgeous. That said, I think an actress who can shift her look—Charlize Theron and Jennifer Lawrence come to mind—could play Schwartzman perfectly.

So, there you have it. Idris Elba and Charlize Theron.

Now, you decide! Who do you think should play Anna and Hal?
Visit Danielle Girard's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Amber Brock's "Lady Be Good"

Amber Brock teaches British literature at an all-girls’ school in Atlanta. She holds an MA from the University of Georgia and lives in Smyrna with her husband, also an English teacher, and their three rescue dogs. Her new novel, Lady Be Good, is set in the world of the mischievous, status-obsessed daughter of a hotel magnate and the 1950s electric nightlife of three iconic cities: New York, Miami, and Havana.

Here Brock dreamcats an adaptation of Lady Be Good:
This is a particularly easy exercise for me, since I tend to use actors and actresses as “models” for my characters. I’m careful to avoid letting the people I know inspire my work, so using famous figures is a foolproof way to do that. If Lady Be Good were a movie, this would be the cast:

Kitty Tessler: Emma Stone. She does cool and mischievous better than anyone.

Hen Bancroft (the best friend): Mamie Gummer. Her classic, upper-class look is perfect for Hen.

Max Zillman (the love interest): Jake Johnson. He’s snarky and handsome in an unexpected way.

Nicholas Tessler (Kitty’s father): Stanley Tucci. He would suit Kitty’s “no-nonsense-but-with-a-softer-side” father to a tee.

Andre Polzer (dad’s second-in-command): Vincent D’Onofrio. He’s older now than Andre is in the story, but he has the perfect look for big, bearded Andre.

Sebastian Armenteros (the sexy one): Gael Garcia Bernal. He’s not Cuban, but it’s hard to deny he’s got Sebastian’s sex appeal!
Visit Amber Brock's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Gwen Florio's "Silent Hearts"

Gwen Florio grew up in a 250-year-old brick farmhouse on a wildlife refuge in Delaware and now lives in Montana. Currently the city editor for the Missoulian, Florio has reported on the Columbine High School shooting and from conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. In 2013, Montana, her first novel in the Lola Wicks detective series, won the High Plains Book Award and the Pinckley Prize for debut crime fiction.

Here Florio dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Silent Hearts:
Such fun to think about this. One of the things I’d wish most for Silent Hearts: The Movie is that a film about Muslim characters will actually feature Muslim actors – Ayesha Omar or Nazanin Boniadi for Farida, say, or Azita Ghanizada as Khurshid. Fawad Khan would make an appropriately handsome Gul (it’s possible I watched several YouTube clips just to be sure).

As for my Americans, some of Leonardo DiCaprio’s roles feature the hard, controlling persona I imagine Martin to have. And, where I wrote the character of Liv as a blond Scandinavian from Minnesota, Maggie Gyllenhaal manages to look both wounded, as Liv starts off, and tough, as she becomes.

I also hope that whomever makes the film would convey empathy for Afghanistan and its people. Too often, it’s the scary backdrop for bad things happening to Americans there without acknowledging the decades of terrifying things happening to the Afghan people. And I hope they leave in a scene featuring Afghanistan’s wonderful food. Oh, and a couple of shots of what I thought of as the “big-butt sheep.” No matter how bad a day I had there, the sight of one of those sheep trotting past, fat pads wobbling wildly, would make me laugh.
Visit Gwen Florio's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Gwen Florio & Nell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Danielle Banas's "The Supervillain and Me"

Danielle Banas, a Pittsburgh native, earned a degree in communication from Robert Morris University. After years spent dreaming up characters instead of paying attention in class, Banas joined the storytelling platform Wattpad, where her work has received millions of views online. When she isn’t writing, she can be found loudly singing show tunes, spouting off Walt Disney World trivia, and snuggling with her puppy.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of ​The Supervillain and Me, her debut novel:
When I write I always imagine the scene playing out as if it were part of a movie, however, I don’t picture specific actors as my characters until either very late in the first draft or until the first draft has been completed. I flip-flopped between many actors while I was writing and editing The Supervillain and Me, but finally I settled on Lili Reinhart for my main character, Abby. I love watching her play Betty Cooper on Riverdale, and she definitely has the right look for Abby. The version of Betty that she plays is a total badass, and Abby has many badass qualities as well, so I think she would knock it out of the park.

To play the accused supervillain Iron Phantom, I hands down choose Casey Cott, also of Riverdale fame. He can do the right combination of serious, flirty, and utterly adorable that is needed for the character. The first time I saw his photo I couldn’t believe how similar he looked to the boy that I had pictured in my head for so many years. The resemblance is actually really scary. I’m not totally convinced that he wasn’t born straight from my imagination or something.

And this last one isn’t Riverdale related, but Michael Keaton. He can be any character he wants, he can direct, he can produce, I don’t really care. Just Michael Keaton. I’ve been following his career since I was a little kid. He and I are from the same town, my dad grew up in the house that Michael Keaton’s parents once owned, and a couple of my family members know his family members, but no one I know has actually met him. I’m just looking for an excuse to say hello. Also, he’s been in so many superhero films that he might as well add one more.
Visit Danielle Banas's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Danielle Banas & Cooper.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Susan McBride's "Walk A Crooked Line"

Susan McBride is the USA Today bestselling author of the Debutante Dropout Mysteries and the River Road Mysteries. The debut of her Jo Larsen series, Walk Into Silence, was a #1 Kindle bestseller in the US and the UK, and #3 in Australia.

Here McBride dreamcasts an adaptation of the second Jo Larsen novel, Walk A Crooked Line:
Oh, how I would love to see Jo Larsen come to life! She’s the protagonist of both Walk A Crooked Line and Walk Into Silence, my police procedurals that tiptoe on the dark side. Jo is kind of a mystery herself, and, as I peel back the layers of her family history, I can see several actresses who could walk in her shoes. When I first wrote Walk Into Silence, I envisioned Jennifer Beals, the actress from Flashdance, who’s physically pretty much the perfect Jo. The only drawback is Ms. Beals is a little older than I am, and, for that reason, perhaps too seasoned to play Jo Larsen now, since Jo is in her mid-thirties. Still, I think she could pull it off. Age is just a number, right?

My next pick would have been Meghan Markle, because she’s another one who doesn’t look too white bread, which is important. Both actresses have the dark eyes and dark hair that Jo has. Both seem quite able to play a tough woman who persists despite the odds yet feels about to crack into a million pieces on the inside. I guess Beals would be a better bet these days since Meghan seems busy performing her royal duties. So, if anyone knows Ms. Beals and can slip her a copy of Walk A Crooked Line, you have my blessing.
Learn more about the book and author at Susan McBride's website.

My Book, The Movie: Walk Into Silence.

The Page 69 Test: Walk Into Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 20, 2018

Tiffany Brownlee's "Wrong in All the Right Ways"

Tiffany Brownlee was born in San Diego, California, and, as with many authors, her love for reading and writing began at an early age. Because her father was in the Navy, she and her family moved around far more often than she would have liked (she went to five elementary schools–not kidding!), but despite the many moves, her love of education, books, and writing remained.

Her family’s final move brought her to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she went on to study for and earn her B.S. in Psychology at Xavier University of Louisiana. Immediately after graduation, Brownlee began work as a Teacher’s Assistant while also pursuing a teaching certification from The University of Holy Cross. Juggling both school and work as a full-time teacher’s assistant was a little hectic for her, but she still managed to squeeze in some time to read and work on a YA novel idea that she’d thought up while rereading Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (one of her favorite classics). That idea eventually became Wrong in All the Right Ways, her newly released debut novel.

Brownlee currently works as a middle school English teacher in New Orleans.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Wrong in All the Right Ways:
When I wrote Wrong in All the Right Ways, I didn’t have any specific actors or actresses in mind. It wasn’t until I turned in the final edits for this novel that my friends got me to think about who the dream cast would be in a film adaptation. I’ve probably given this casting way more thought than I should have, but here goes:

Emma Ellenburg: Sabrina Carpenter

Dylan McAndrews: Nick Robinson

Karmin Ortega: Victoria Justice

Keagan Ortega: Jake T. Austin

Lauren Ellenburg: Kristen Bell

Daniel Ellenburg: Scott Eastwood

Matthew Ellenburg: Zackary Arthur

This is definitely what I call a dream cast! And if Wrong in All the Right Ways ever gets made into a movie and one of these stars lands the role I chose for them, I’m going to fangirl like crazy.
Visit Tiffany Brownlee's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Prentis Rollins's "The Furnace"

Prentis Rollins has over twenty-five years of experience working as a writer and artist in the comics industry.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of The Furnace, his debut full-length graphic novel:
When I was writing the script for The Furnace, I was picturing Nick Nolte as the protagonist Walton Honderich—in fact, for a while I was planning to basically draw Honderich as Nolte. Nolte (I’m thinking of Nolte at about 45 years of age here) is handsome, affable, masculine—but I always found him able to project a sense of helpless, floundering desperation really well (just watch 15 or so minutes of Cape Fear if in doubt). And that’s Walton Honderich. I ended up designing Honderich without referring to Nolte, precisely because I wanted the character to not be so handsome—I wanted him to appear to be a squishy, bespectacled middle-aged nebbish (he’s a physicist wracked with guilt over his youthful involvement with a nefarious government scheme to house prisoners in a really horrible new way).

Okay, we’re blue-skying it here, so let’s go for broke.

Walton Honderich: Brad Pitt (if he did a De Niro and packed on 30 pounds). Brad Pitt is (I think) quite a fine screen actor, and he can project damaged-goods desperation mightily when he sets his mind to it (check out Troy and Seven!) I know he’s (of course) handsome—but age and weight could go a long way in masking that out.

Piper Honderich (Walton’s wife): Jennifer Connelly. She’s the perfect age, she’s gorgeous, smart, projects empathy, devotion, and the patience of a plaster saint. Her turn in House of Sand and Fog is unforgettable. And she looks like the character as drawn.

Marc Lepore: Ben Whishaw. He’s young, he’s English, and he can be positively Mephistophelean when he wants to—and that’s Lepore. Whishaw’s tour de force turn in Cloud Atlas (in which he plays multiple characters) is proof positive that he could project Lepore’s cunning, ambition, and visceral (but thwarted) need for human contact supremely well.

And my dream director? Denis Villeneuve. Arrival, his filmed realization of Ted Chiang’s ‘Story of Your Life’, is the kind of cerebral yet ultimately rooted-in-the-human-situation science-fiction that I love best and that you see so little of on screen these days. It was a seamless blend of craft and substance, form and function—and his directorial style is quiet, submerged, the opposite of the show-boating gimmickry other contemporary auteur directors could be accused of.

Yes indeed, we can all dream.
Visit Prentis Rollins's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 16, 2018

Derek Milman's "Scream All Night"

Derek Milman has worked as a playwright, screenwriter, film school teacher, DJ, and underground humor magazine publisher. A classically trained actor, he has performed on stages across the country and appeared in numerous TV shows, commercials, and films.

Here Milman dreamcasts an adaptation of his newly released first novel, Scream All Night:
So this is actually something happening with Scream All Night, and I can't discuss specifics just yet, but I write without ever seeing faces or actors. And I'm grateful for that, so I can focus on their inner lives. That said, I did see a film called Hereditary with some friends, and everyone agreed the boy in that movie, played by Alex Wolff, would be a great Dario; he has the right intensity and the brooding dark looks, and the right edge to his humor and his speech. The same could be said of Timotheé Chalamet, after we all saw Call Me By Your Name--but everyone immediately wanted this kid to play the lead in the adaptation of their YA novel, so it seemed silly to even entertain such notions. Hayley is Irish Catholic in SAN, but there was a wonderful actress I saw in this Netflix coming-of-age flick called Alex Strangelove and if Hayley were Jewish she could totally be played by Madeline Weinstein, who had the right energy and intelligence. I can't go near Oren, that one's too hard. Weirdly, I always thought there could be a fun little casting coup and Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn could play Franklin, The Fixer, which was one face I did see, for some mysterious reason. Because Jack Nicholson is my favorite screen actor of all time, I'd kill to see him play Lucien (he's nearly the same age!) with a slight Romanian accent--I mean who wouldn't want to see that!
Visit Derek Milman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Sibel Hodge's "Into the Darkness"

Sibel Hodge is the author of the number-one bestsellers Look Behind You, Untouchable and Duplicity. Her books have sold over a million copies in the UK, USA, Australia, France, Canada and Germany.

Here Hodge dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Into the Darkness:
When I'm writing a novel I see the scene playing out in my head exactly like a movie so I always have a visual of my characters. Of course, I'd love every book of mine to star the fantastic Tom Hardy if they were ever made into films, and for Into the Darkness, I think he would play an amazing Mitchell, ex-SAS operative who is searching for his missing goddaughter. He may be a little young for the role, though, so as a second I'd choose Ray Winston. It's a gritty British thriller so they would both be perfect.

For Mitchell's opposite, Detective Sergeant Carter, who is a maverick and someone very disillusioned with the police force, I'd choose Gerard Butler. He's kick-ass enough to follow his own hunches and disregard the political correctness and not toe the official party line of his bosses.

For Toni, Mitchell's missing goddaughter I'd choose Emma Watson. Although in real life she's a little older Toni, I think her wonderful acting in the fabulous Harry Potter films would be spot on.
Visit Sibel Hodge's website.

My Book, The Movie: Untouchable.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sheena Kamal's "It All Falls Down"

Sheena Kamal was born in the Caribbean and immigrated to Canada as a child. She holds an HBA in political science from the University of Toronto, and was awarded a TD Canada Trust scholarship for community leadership and activism around the issue of homelessness.

The Lost Ones/Eyes Like Mine is her debut novel. The sequel It All Falls Down has just been released.

Prior to writing novels, Kamal worked as a crime and investigative journalism researcher for the film and television industry--among other rather unsavoury professions.

Here Kamal shares some thoughts on casting the lead roles in an adaptation of It All Falls Down:
I don't write to actors, but sometimes it's fun to let my mind wander in that direction. Every now and then I get asked who I would cast as my main character, Nora Watts. The truth is, I don't know who could play Nora. I would absolutely love for an intrepid producer to take a chance on an indigenous actor for this part--and there are a few names that kick around in my mind--but it can be tough when you write a character of mixed-heritage.

The other important characters are much easier. I'd love to see Nora's love interest, Jon Brazuca, played by Vancouver actor Ryan Reynolds. Deadpool fame aside, he was in a fantastic movie called Buried where it was just him in a coffin for 90-minutes. He did great work in that film and I can absolutely see him as Nora's mercurial ex-sponsor, a man with mysterious motives.

The other person I cast in my imagination sometimes is Nora's mentor, Seb Crow. He could easily be played by Adam Beach or Mahershala Ali. I also love to imagine Manal Issa, John Cho and Bryan Cranston as just a few of my villains. Strange that it's easier to cast my villains than my hero. I'm sure there's something more to that...
Visit Sheena Kamal's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lost Ones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Rob Hart's "Potter's Field"

Rob Hart is the author of the Ash McKenna series which wraps up this month with Potter’s Field. Other entries include: New Yorked, which was nominated for an Anthony Award for Best First Novel, as well as City of Rose, South Village, and The Woman from Prague. He also co-wrote Scott Free with James Patterson.

Here Hart dreamcasts the lead in an adaptation of the series:
Swear to truth, I have never really considered who would play Ash. I’m going to say Adam Driver. He looks like he can hold his own in a brawl, and I think he’s a fantastic, interesting actor. He can find that balance between stoicism and heart and vulnerability that I think is important to Ash. He’s a little old for it—he’s in his mid-30s and Ash is in his mid-20s, but that’s not a deal breaker for me.

Or, if you want to make things interesting, race-flip it and cast Lakeith Stanfield. I’m not precious about Ash being a white guy. And Stanfield is just excellent in everything he does.

I have no real thoughts on directors, though I think it would make a better television show. Each book is set in a different location—New York (New Yorked), Portland (City of Rose), hippie commune in Georgia (South Village), Prague and Krakow (The Woman from Prague), and then finally, Staten Island (Potter’s Field). I think you could get a good season of eight episodes out of each book.
Visit Rob Hart's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Jeff Love's "The Black Circle"

Jeff Love is Research Professor of German and Russian at Clemson University. He is the author of The Overcoming of History in “War and Peace” (2004), editor of Heidegger in Russia and Eastern Europe (2017), and translator of Kojève’s Atheism, among other works.

Here Love shares some ideas about adapting his new book, The Black Circle: A Life of Alexandre Kojeve, for the screen:
Despite the title, my book is more about Kojève's thought than his life. Yet, I must admit that Kojève had quite an interesting life with some cinematic qualities. Born in Moscow in 1902, he fled Russia in 1920 (after being arrested by the secret police and other adventures) to Germany where he studied philosophy, oriental religions, Chinese and Tibetan and experienced the volatile life of Berlin. He moved to Paris in 1926 living off an inheritance enhanced by astute investments (he made a considerable sum from La vache qui rit). After he exhausted his inheritance in 1931, he tried to obtain an academic position and finally was given his famed seminar on Hegel at the École de Hautes Études in Paris that lasted six years (1933-1939) and had a vast influence on French culture in the post-war period. Among his students were Raymond Aron, Georges Bataille, Henry Corbin, Jacques Lacan, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Raymond Queneau. During the war he fled Paris and may have worked for various intelligence agencies as a supporter of the French resistance. After the war he became a major, if largely hidden, figure in the French government wielding considerable influence, all the while maintaining that he was an orthodox Stalinist (who at the same time admired supporters of Hitler, like Carl Schmitt). He played an important role in GATT and in the founding of the European Union. He died on June 4, 1968 while giving a speech in Brussels.

Leonardo DiCaprio could play Kojève, and Martin Scorsese could be the director.
Learn more about The Black Circle at the Columbia University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 6, 2018

Alex White's "A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe"

Alex White was born and raised in the American south. He takes photos, writes music, and spends hours on YouTube watching other people blacksmith. He values challenging and subversive writing, but he’ll settle for a good time.

White lives in the shadow of Huntsville, Alabama’s rockets with his wife, son, two dogs and a cat named Grim. Favored pastimes include Legos and racecars. He takes his whiskey neat and his espresso black.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe:
I am sad/happy to say that A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe would cost many millions of dollars to produce as a film. Sad, because that makes it a difficult prospect. Happy, because that means I'd probably get a ton of money for the rights, and become a nerd legend.

My book has two powerful female leads: Nilah Brio, the queen of the race track and Boots Elsworth, a salty con artist.

For Nilah Brio, I'd pick Zendaya or Zazie Beetz, because both of them could easily represent the posh coldness and razor sharp with Nilah can deliver. Nilah is young at the start of the book, 18 or 19, highly-competitive and mean as hell. She's close to claiming the Driver's Crown in the Pan-Galactic Racing Federation, and her monomaniacal focus is the only thing that can deliver such a victory. We'd need an actor with a lot of intensity.

For Boots Elsworth, I'd like to see Robin Wright. After House of Cards and Wonder Woman, I'm completely convinced that she could pull off the anger and disillusionment so central to Boots's character. Boots is a war vet, from a losing side, and she's lost everything important to her. In response, she's turned to a life of swindling, drinking and general malaise.

Despite the fact that these characters both start the book as... well... assholes, they learn and grow together, becoming whole people again. There's a lot of subtlety required for these performances, which is why I only want the best actors for those roles. That, and it's going to be a blockbuster film, so the leads had better be big names!
Visit Alex White's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Gale Massey's "The Girl from Blind River"

Gale Massey lives in St. Petersburg, FL. Her stories have appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, Walking the Edge, Sabal, Seven Hills Press, and other journals. She has been the recipient of scholarships and fellowships at The Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Writers in Paradise, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Here Massey dreamcasts an adaptation of The Girl From Blind River, her debut novel:
While I wrote The Girl from Blind River I had Jennifer Lawrence in mind to play Jamie. I loved her in Winter’s Bone which is one of my most cherished reading and film viewing experiences, and visualizing her as Ree Dolly helped sustain me in the development of Jamie’s character. Today’s choice though Jamie would be Nadia Alexander of Seven Seconds. She has the depth to play Jamie’s interior life against her external circumstances.

I always saw Jamie’s Uncle Loyal as being played by an aged Heath Ledger (think Enos Delmar in Brokeback Mountain).

My choice for Detective Garcia would be Jeremy Renner. I love his face and the way he portrays such angst.

Sandra Bullock would make an excellent Phoebe Elders.

It would be interesting to see what James Dean would do with the role of Toby. No one did angry young man as well as Dean.

And as for Judge Keating, I don’t even know. Maybe Tom Hardy?
Visit Gale Massey's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 2, 2018

Christopher Ruocchio's "Empire of Silence"

Christopher Ruocchio is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where a penchant for self-destructive decision-making caused him to pursue a bachelor’s in English Rhetoric with a minor in Classics. An avid student of history, philosophy, and religion, Ruocchio has been writing since he was eight years old and sold his first book —Empire of Silence— at twenty-two.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Empire of Silence:
Fan casting is one of my favorite hobbies, so here goes:

For my hero, Hadrian Marlowe, I’d cast Harry Lloyd, perhaps most familiar to folks as Viserys Targaryen, Daenerys’s awful brother, from the first season of Game of Thrones. Even when he was playing someone as dreadful as Viserys, Lloyd managed to evoke pity from me, and I was blown away by his performance. He’s able to pull off charisma and sneering aristocratic hauteur at the same time, and he has this lovely Machiavellian quality to him that really speaks to the essence of who Hadrian is to me, and I think he deserves a crack at playing a good guy.

The xeno-archaeologist Valka Onderra might be played by Sylvia Hoeks, who played Luv in Blade Runner 2049. There was a real complexity to her performance—outward coldness masking deeper emotions only guessed at—that reminded me very much of Valka. She was also really quite scary in Blade Runner, and Valka is not unintimidating, she’s someone the technophobic Imperium thinks of as a witch, and she leans on that impression to great effect.

Lastly, for Hadrian’s tutor, Tor Gibson, I can’t think of anyone better than the Doctor himself, Peter Capaldi. He walked the line between stern gravitas and smiling grandfather really well in his time on Doctor Who, and I think he’s perfect. He doesn’t appear in the book very much, but his appearances are vitally important to Hadrian’s development as a hero, and to see him grill Hadrian in the best Socratic tradition would be a joy.

Here are some others, rapid fire: In a perfect world, I’d cast Mads Mikkelsen as Hadrian’s father, the stoic and iron-willed Lord Alistair; with Nonso Anosie as Count Balian of Emesh; Kevin McKidd as the old soldier-turned-gladiator Pallino; and maybe Miguel Silvestre for Sir Olorin. And of course, the Legion commander Raine Smythe could be none other than Ripley herself, Sigourney Weaver.

I could go on about this for pages and pages, but let’s call that a day!
Follow Christopher Ruocchio on Twitter.

Writers Read: Christopher Ruocchio.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Susan Mallery's "When We Found Home"

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming and humorous novels about the relationships that define women's lives—family, friendship, romance. She's best known for putting nuanced characters into emotionally complex, real-life situations with twists that surprise readers to laughter. Because Mallery is passionate about animal welfare, pets play a big role in her books. Beloved by millions of readers worldwide, her books have been translated into 28 languages.

Mallery lives in Washington state with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, When We Found Home:
I don't usually picture actors when I'm writing but sometimes, especially with a large cast, it helps. In When We Found Home, Delaney, for me, looks like a young Dana Delaney. I love her. There's something really vulnerable about her as an actress that creates immediate empathy. In the book, Delaney lost her fiancé a year ago, and she's dealing with the loss and with guilt about the second thoughts she had been having before he died.

I see Malcolm as Chris Pine. What I love about him for the role is that he can so beautifully handle both drama and humor. There's a lot of humor in the book.

Santiago is Jesse Metcalfe and Callie is Jennette McCurdy. As the book starts, Callie doesn't feel very worthy of love. She went to prison for a youthful mistake, and she still feels the weight of that when she moves in with the family she never knew. So when her brother's best friend falls for her almost instantly, she has a hard time believing that his feelings are real.

Keira is a young actress named Mira Silverman. Keira's 12 years old, but because she's wise beyond her years, the adults in her life forget how young she is until something happens to remind them that she's just a child. Rallying for Keira is what will help them transition from strangers into family. It's a really beautiful journey that will warm your heart.
Visit Susan Mallery's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mary Carter Bishop's "Don't You Ever"

A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, Mary Carter Bishop was on the Philadelphia Inquirer team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of nuclear leaks at Three Mile Island. Her Roanoke Times & World-News series on poisonings and fraud by exterminators and other pesticide users won a George Polk Award and was a Pulitzer finalist.

Bishop's new book, Don't You Ever: My Mother and Her Secret Son, is
a moving and beautifully rendered memoir about the half-brother she didn’t know existed that hauntingly explores family, class, secrets, and fate.

Applying for a passport as an adult, Mary Carter Bishop made a shocking discovery. She had a secret half-brother. Her mother, a farm manager’s wife on a country estate, told Mary Carter the abandoned boy was a youthful "mistake" from an encounter with a married man. There’d been a home for unwed mothers; foster parents; an orphanage.

Nine years later, Mary Carter tracked Ronnie down at the barbershop where he worked, and found a near-broken man—someone kind, and happy to meet her, but someone also deeply and irreversibly damaged by a life of neglect and abuse at the hands of an uncaring system.
Here Bishop dreamacasts one of the lead roles in an adaptation of Don't You Ever:
I’ve long imagined Daniel Day-Lewis as Ronnie, but didn’t Day-Lewis annouce after Phantom Thread that he wouldn’t take any more roles? (I hope I imagined that.) The thing is, as a young man Ronnie developed acromegaly, a rare hormonal disorder. Over decades it slowly deformed his face, dramatically enlarging his brow bone, nose, tongue, lips and jaws. It separated his teeth and wrecked organs throughout his body. I don’t recall Day-Lewis ever relying on appliances and extreme makeup, but I can’t see how they could be avoided with Ronnie’s portrayal. His hands and feet never quit growing after he developed the benign pituitary tumor that eventually brought him down. After he died, in his bedroom I found a forlorn mound of size fourteens and other large shoes.
Learn more about Don't You Ever.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

James Hankins's "A Blood Thing"

James Hankins writes thrillers, mysteries, and novels of suspense, including The Inside Dark, The Prettiest One, Shady Cross, Brothers and Bones, Drawn, and Jack of Spades. He lives north of Boston with his wife and sons.

Here Hankins dreamcasts an adaptation of his new suspense novel, A Blood Thing:
A Blood Thing is a crime thriller about a powerful family targeted by a twisted, cunning blackmailer. The importance of family and the lengths to which we go to protect our loved ones is the central theme of the book, so if it were made into a movie, the casting of the actors who would play the family members would be critical to bringing that theme to life on the screen.

The story begins with the murder of a young woman, followed by a strange encounter. Andrew Kane, the youngest governor in Vermont’s history, is at yet another public meet-and-greet when a stranger slips him a cellphone and, before disappearing in the crowd, mysteriously instructs Andrew to hold onto the phone because he’ll need it “after the arrest.” Shortly thereafter, the obvious question is answered when Andrew’s youngest brother, Tyler, is arrested for murder. Rounding out the family members are Henry, an internal affairs detective, and Molly, Tyler’s twin sister and a decorated army veteran.

The two characters who would see the most screen time are Andrew and Henry. For Andrew, I see Gregory Peck in his To Kill A Mockingbird days (though perhaps a few years younger). Andrew is a former prosecutor and current governor of Vermont, who has built his entire career on a platform of honesty and integrity. His reputation means more to him than anything…except maybe his family. When the arrest of his intellectually-challenged brother Tyler tests the strength of his ethics and morals, Andrew is forced to confront what he will do and how far he will go to protect his family. In Mockingbird, Peck’s Atticus Finch gave us the ideal man of integrity, someone unwilling to compromise his ethics in the face of extreme pressure and vile prejudice. I see a lot of Atticus Finch in Andrew, and I have to wonder what Finch—as portrayed by Gregory Peck—would do in Andrew Kane’s shoes.

Henry, on the other hand, an internal affairs detective with the Vermont State Police, is generally an honest and upright man, but he has crossed the line in the past. An actor playing him would need to be able to be tough, sharp, but also sympathetic and believable in his more tender moments, as in when he is interacting with Tyler. Leonardo DiCaprio from The Departed could portray Henry well. A thirty-two-year-old Matt Damon (who was also in The Departed) could also nail this role.

Molly Kane is a decorated army veteran studying criminology in hopes of following Henry onto the state police force. She is strong and resourceful, but also kind and maternal to her twenty-nine-year-old twin brother Tyler, who suffered a tragic fall when they were both seven years old. She is the glue that holds the Kane family together. I see Jessica Chastain or Bryce Dallas Howard doing a wonderful job playing her role.

The final member of the Kane family is Tyler. He is twenty-nine years-old but a traumatic brain injury suffered in a fall twenty-two years ago has left him with the intellectual capacity of a seventh grader. He is sweet and innocent and commutes to his “job”—which is actually a volunteer position at an animal shelter—on an electric bicycle, which he calls his “motorcycle.” To play him, I would ask Leonardo DiCaprio to do double duty, handling the role of the older Henry, while also playing the younger Tyler. We all remember DiCaprio from his Oscar-nominated, virtuoso performance as Arnie, an autistic young man in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? In A Blood Thing, Tyler’s condition is different from, and would be less dramatic in its portrayal than, that of DiCaprio’s character in Gilbert Grape, but DiCaprio clearly has the acting chops to give a moving, sensitive performance in bringing to life innocent Tyler, who is the heart of A Blood Thing.

Finally, I suppose we should talk about the book’s bad guy, the twisted blackmailer who murders a woman and pins the crime on Tyler, kicking off a complex plan to bring the entire Kane family to ruin. The villain is brilliant and obsessed and any number of actors could play him extraordinarily well, but I’m going to choose Joel Edgerton, a terrific actor who plays good guys and bad guys with equal skill, and who would bring intensity, intelligence, and menace to the role.

Directing the film, I would love to see Martin Scorsese (The Departed), Sydney Pollock (The Firm), or Sydney Lumet (The Verdict).
Visit James Hankins's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Blood Thing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Eric Bernt's "The Speed of Sound"

Eric Bernt was born in Marion, Ohio, and raised in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, and Madison, Wisconsin. He attended Northwestern University, where he learned that journalism was not for him—but storytelling was. Upon graduation, he moved to Hollywood, where he wrote seven feature films including Virtuosity (starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe) and Surviving the Game (starring Rutger Hauer, Gary Busey, and F. Murray Abraham). He has also written for television (Z Nation). Bernt lives in Agoura Hills, California, with his wife and three children.

Here Bernt shares some thoughts about adapting his new novel, The Speed of Sound, for the screen:
Even when I'm writing a screenplay (I've had seven movies produced to date), I never think of a specific actor in a role unless an actor has been cast or is 'attached' to a project. I think about how I want the audience to feel during the journey, as well as afterward. In this regard, my hope is that an audience watching the movie (or television series) version of The Speed of Sound would feel the emotional honesty achieved in Call Me By Your Name with the excitement and intensity of technology-driven action in The Bourne Identity. I do recognize what a challenge it would be to achieve both in the same film, but I like to set my sights high.
Visit Eric Bernt's website.

Writers Read: Eric Bernt.

The Page 69 Test: The Speed of Sound.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 22, 2018

Demetra Brodsky's "Dive Smack"

Demetra Brodsky is an award-winning graphic designer & art director turned writer. She has a B.F.A. from The Massachusetts College of Art and Design and lives in Southern California with her family of four and two lovable rescue dogs where she is always trying to make more time for the beach. Her new novel Dive Smack is dedicated to Pumpkin, the monarch butterfly she once saved from the brink of death. Once you read the book, you'll understand why.

Here Brodsky dreamcasts an adaptation of Dive Smack:
This is such a fun question. I don’t think there’s a writer out there who hasn’t thought about this as they watch the scenes they’re writing play out in the heads. I spent a lot of time thinking about Theo Mackey and watching springboard diving videos, but at the end of the day Lucas Till is my perfect Theo Mackey - I feel like he has the perfect mix of athletic and kind.

The easiest one for me is Dylan O'Brien for Chip Langford. I seriously can't picture another person more Chip-like to pay Theo’s best friend.

For Iris Fiorello, Theo’s crush and love interest who has a similar tragic background, I’d pick Belarusian model Zhenya Katava. I know, I know, she’s not an actress, but her eastern European beauty is how I picture Iris who is a first generation Romanian.

Mads Mikkelson is the actor I've always seen as Dr. Phil Maddox while I was writing. His diction when he played Dr. Lecter on the TV show Hannibal was perfection and I tried to adopt some of those mannerisms for him in Dive Smack.

Alan Arkin would be supremely perfect as Theo's cranky, but loving Grandfather, Bruce Mackey.

And no one would be a better suited to play his grandfather’s best friend than James Brolin as Fire Chief Curtis Jacobs.
Visit Demetra Brodsky's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Demetra Brodsky & L.B. and Ponyboy Curtis.

The Page 69 Test: Dive Smack.

Writers Read: Demetra Brodsky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Yoon Ha Lee's "Ninefox Gambit"

A Korean-American sf/f writer who received a B.A. in math from Cornell University and an M.A. in math education from Stanford University, Yoon Ha Lee finds it a source of continual delight that math can be mined for story ideas.

Lee's new novel is Revenant Gun, book three in the Machineries of Empire series that begins with Ninefox Gambit.

Here Lee dreamcasts an adaptation of Ninefox Gambit:
While I certainly wouldn't say no if someone offered to make my book Ninefox Gambit into a film, I suspect the special effects budget would be prohibitive! One of the hazards of writing space opera, I guess. I had actually imagined the book in animation instead, like Voltron: Legendary Defender or Code Geass or Avatar: The Last Airbender. But it costs nothing to dream, either way.

The first of my two main characters is Shuos Jedao, an undead general known both for never losing a battle across four hundred years and for an infamous massacre in which he blew up two armies, one of them his own. I'd cast Daniel Dae Kim. I've enjoyed his range in the different roles I've seen him in (I was so sad when his Gavin the evil lawyer died in Angel!) and I'd be fascinated to see how he interpreted a treacherous ghost general.

The second is Jedao's unwilling protégée, Captain Kel Cheris. She's dedicated and brilliant in a completely different way--she's a mathematician--and although she starts out loyal to the Evil Empire, working with Jedao makes her start to question her beliefs. Watching Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori in Pacific Rim makes me think she'd be perfect for the role.

In case you haven't figured it out, my space opera is full of cockamamie Asians! Because why not. That being said, I'd be just as happy with generalized people of color, not specifically people of Asian descent, in my hypothetical film.
Visit Yoon Ha Lee's website.

The Page 69 Test: Revenant Gun.

Writers Read: Yoon Ha Lee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 18, 2018

Rebecca Makkai's "The Great Believers"

Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the short story collection Music for Wartime, which appeared in 2015, and of the novels The Hundred-Year House, winner of the Chicago Writers Association award, and The Borrower, a Booklist Top Ten Debut which has been translated into eight languages. Her short fiction won a 2017 Pushcart Prize, and was chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four consecutive years (2008-2011). The recipient of a 2014 NEA fellowship, Makkai is on the MFA faculty at Sierra Nevada college and has taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, Tin House, and Northwestern University.

Here Makkai dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Great Believers:
If I get to indulge in this lovely daydream, I’m going to start by changing the parameters: I think The Great Believers would work better as a limited TV series than as a movie. Ten episodes. Great thing about TV shows, you can have an intro montage each time. I’d want photos of actual groups of friends from Chicago at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Friends dancing, friends posing, people in wheelchairs at the Pride parade, people at candlelight vigils, people at protests, people sick, friends lounging on the Belmont Rocks. While my novel is fiction, it’s about an experience that many very real people lived through—or lived only partway through—and I want those people there.

I’ve made myself a promise—one I’m intentionally putting in writing here—that if I’m lucky enough to have film or TV interest in this book, I would sell the rights only with the stipulation that the story stay in Chicago. Everything out there already is about San Francisco or New York. The story of AIDS in Chicago is different, and important, and fascinating. I could hand them a big long list of consultants, people who’ll kick their butts on 1980s Boystown details as much as they kicked mine. And we’re filming in Chicago, not in frickin’ Vancouver.

Some casting:

For Yale Tishman, my central guy, the one whose life simultaneously falls apart and takes on greater meaning over the course of the book, I want a young, gay cross between Paul Reiser and David Eigenberg. But no New York accent, please.

For Fiona, the woman we know as a flighty but loyal friend in the 1980s, and as a mother full of regret in 2015 Paris, I want both Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn, but fifteen years ago.

For Charlie, Yale’s British partner, I want Russell Tovey. He looks nothing like Charlie as I imagined him, but he’s British, and he was fantastic in the late, great Looking—a perfect mix of charming and exasperating, which is just what we need.

Speaking of Looking, I want Jonathan Groff for Teddy, Yale’s cattiest friend. It’s more of an appearance thing, because I’ve mostly seen Jonathan Groff acting sweet, but I bet he could do bitchy if needed.

For Richard, Yale’s older friend who chronicles the epidemic through his photography, I want Victor Garber, a fantastic character actor. (If you don’t think you know who he is, Google him; you totally do.)

For Julian… Hmm, I just spent a very pleasant five minutes Googling images of young, gay, beautiful actors. End result: We’re going with a young Matt Bomer.

For Asher Glass, Yale’s great crush, I want a younger Mark Ruffalo. I’m cheating a bit here, because Ruffalo played the Larry Kramer character in the movie of The Normal Heart, and Asher is, in small part, a Larry Kramer character, but this is fantasy world so I don’t care.

For Nora, Fiona’s great aunt, who’d been an artist’s model in 1920s Paris, I want Ellen Burstyn. Or better yet, for the sake of theme: I want someone who was famous in her 20s, but who no one born after 1975 has ever heard of. One of those women who, you’re watching something with your mom, and your mom is like “Oh my goodness, that’s Doris Nightly!” and you’re like, “Who on earth is Doris Nightly?” Anyway, let's get Doris Nightly, who I just made up.

We’re left with a problem here, which is that for personal fandom reasons, I really want Neil Patrick Harris involved in this, and we have no part for him. So maybe he can just produce it. Call me, Neil.
Learn more about the author and her work at Rebecca Makkai's website, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Borrower.

My Book, The Movie: The Hundred-Year House.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Stephanie Butland's "The Lost For Words Bookshop"

Stephanie Butland lives with her family near the sea in the North East of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she's not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun, she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet.

Here Butland dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Lost for Words Bookshop:
The first time I visited my UK publisher's offices there was quite a debate going about who would play the main characters in the movie of The Lost for Words Bookshop!

Archie was a toss-up between Simon Callow and Jim Broadbent. (I'd go with Jim Broadbent — no-one does avuncular quite like him.) Or maybe Kiefer Sutherland?

Nathan has, I think, the quality of a young Jonny Lee Miller, but a young James McAvoy was also in the frame from the editorial team. (I'd have cast McAvoy as Rob.) I'd also love to see the poet/rapper Akala in the role.

It all hangs on Loveday, though, doesn't it?! I think Carey Mulligan's ability to convey everything she's feeling in the flick of an eyelid or the tilt of a chin would serve Loveday well. Or maybe Florence Pugh, an up-and-coming British actor, could fill her shoes. Faye Marsay would be someone else who would do a great job. I'd ask Jane Campion to direct I love the way her work gets every detail right, and makes the viewer feel as though they are there.
Follow Stephanie Butland on Twitter and Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Jeff Wheeler's "Storm Glass"

Jeff Wheeler took an early retirement from his career at Intel in 2014 to write full-time and is now a Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Here he dreamcasts one major role in an adaptation of his new novel, Storm Glass (The Harbinger Series, Book 1):
I admit that I’m a bit of a nut for period dramas. I’ve seen nearly every Jane Austen and Charles Dickens adaptations, along with a healthy dose of Elizabeth Gaskill and Victor Hugo. When I decided to write the Harbinger series, I wanted to tap into that era but create something new in a fantasy world. I’ve always visualized my books inside my mind as I write then, so imagining it on the big screen is a big part of my process.

In the first book of the Harbinger series, Storm Glass, one of the main characters that both protagonists admire is Vice-Admiral Brant Fitzroy. This is a man, a father, who has made it through tragedy, a difficult relationship with his own father, and still held to his principles. Although he loves the “Mysteries” around the blossoming scientific age of his world and their sky ships and floating manors, he has fought in wars and dabbled in music. He’s a good leader, an understanding father, someone who has a reputation for integrity that must be upheld despite the penchant for corruption in his world. I pictured the actor-singer Dallin Vail Bayles as Fitzroy. Not only can he belt out tunes from Les Miz (he was Enjolras in a national production), but his CDs are in my car and I listen to them constantly. He’s a voice a compassion and understanding. The perfect Lord Fitzroy.
Visit Jeff Wheeler's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Queen's Poisoner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

John M. Coggeshall's "Liberia, South Carolina"

John M. Coggeshall is professor of anthropology at Clemson University.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Liberia, South Carolina: An African American Appalachian Community:
With her basket full of blackberries, the girl paused on the soapstone boulders, gazing on the corn fields in the valley below her, until her owner’s voice shattered her thoughts. “Katie,” the older white woman shouted, “bring those berries over here now! I need them for my party tonight, so I’ll whup you if you eat any!” Smiling slyly, the enslaved girl reluctantly complied, carefully wiping the juice from her mouth and whispering to herself the irreverent nickname her parents secretly called their owner. “Yes, ma’am,” she dutifully replied aloud, and wondered what it must feel like to obey only her own parents and to pick her own berries. “What must it feel like to be free?” Katie thought.

If my book, Liberia, South Carolina: an African-American Appalachian Community, were a movie, this scene might open the story. The book tells the oral history of “Liberia,” a freedom colony established by freed slaves in the Blue Ridge foothills of South Carolina in 1865; the story then chronicles the community’s struggles through decades of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement. The book follows five generations of an extended family (and their neighbors and friends) in that community, a story told primarily (but not exclusively) through the perspectives of strong female characters. Despite the fact that their fortunes wax and wane with varied historical situations, the extended family persists into the present. Fictionalizing this story would be both easy and dramatic. I see the movie as a mash-up of The Waltons meets Roots.

The first documented family generation begins with a woman named “Aunt” Katie Owens, born a slave sometime around 1840. She had several children, some rumored to have been by a white father, and her son Will married Rosa Glenn (daughter of a former enslaved woman). Rosa had multiple children, some said to have been fathered by white men, and her oldest son Chris Owens married Lula McJunkin (granddaughter of a freed slave). The couple had eight children, including youngest daughter Mable Owens Clarke, who currently lives on family land and who (with her niece) manages a monthly fish fry to preserve the community and Soapstone Baptist Church.

While white-authored local histories describe a peaceful and harmonious relationship between the secluded Liberia Community and their surrounding white neighbors, black oral histories tell a more complex tale. Family stories of life under slavery describe strategies of resistance, from reluctant compliance to murder of oppressors. During Reconstruction, blacks established churches (like Soapstone Baptist) and schools, males held public office, and communities (such as Liberia) were established as black refuges from white control. Later, under the shadow of Jim Crow, blacks preserved their private thoughts and actions within the safety of Liberia, while publicly interacting with dominant whites under a carefully crafted mask of deference. After the decades following World War II, black public deference slowly dissolved, met with white resistance (e.g., violently attacking Mable’s childhood home) and the burning (by arsonists) of Soapstone Baptist Church in 1967. Rebuilt with both black and white labor and capital, the church and community survive today, supported by monthly fish fries and widespread public support.

I see Ava DuVernay directing, Oprah Winfrey producing, and Aja Naomi King (Aunt Katie as teen), Kerry Washington (Aunt Katie as adult), Octavia Spencer (Rosa Glenn Owens), Viola Davis (Lula McJunkin Owens), and Ruth Negga (Mable Owens Clarke).
Learn more about Liberia, South Carolina at The University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Stephen Brumwell's "Turncoat"

Stephen Brumwell is a writer and independent historian specializing in British-American military affairs of the eighteenth century. He received the George Washington Book Prize 2013 for his book, George Washington: Gentleman Warrior. He lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Here Brumwell dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Turncoat: Benedict Arnold and the Crisis of American Liberty:
In September 1780, the young United States of America came perilously close to losing its bitter war for independence from Great Britain. A plan to betray the Hudson River fortress of West Point into British hands, and with it, the Patriot’s revered leader, General George Washington, was only foiled at the eleventh hour by a truly extraordinary chain of events.

Most shocking of all, the plot was masterminded by one of Washington’s most trusted commanders, Major-General Benedict Arnold. When his treason was revealed on the very brink of activation, Arnold escaped to the British in New York - but only by the skin of his teeth.

This dramatic denouement marked the culmination of secret negotiations going back seventeen months. Despite the best efforts of Washington’s spies, Arnold, who’d been crippled fighting for American liberty, was never suspected of treachery. After his scheming was finally uncovered, Arnold’s horrified contemporaries blamed his greed. Since then, historians have argued that hunger for cash was bolstered by other gripes, particularly a conviction that he’d been ill-used by an ungrateful Congress.

But as I discovered while researching Turncoat, the reality was, if possible, even more remarkable. Above all, Arnold was driven by an unswerving self-belief, and an obsessive concern for his personal reputation. That posed an intriguing question: why would a man who cared so much about honor commit an act of betrayal that would be deemed utterly dishonorable? Answering that puzzle became central to my book. Scouring archives in the US and UK, I unearthed evidence that led to a startling conclusion: Arnold acted from what he sincerely believed to be the very best of reasons – to save his misguided countrymen from a corrupt and ineffective government, and from a long, bloody and stalemated civil war. But of course, his plot backfired, Britain lost America, and Arnold remains reviled as his country’s worst traitor.

The extraordinary facts of Arnold’s life and treason, as reconstructed in Turncoat, need no exaggeration on screen. A tight narrative and a varied cast of characters already provide rich raw material for a compelling movie adaption. In his blog, the experienced and versatile actor Andrew Sellon, who narrated the audiobook of Turncoat, observes that it ‘reads like a top-drawer Hollywood screenplay; it’s a true cinematic nail-biter.’

With its dramatis personae of colorful historical figures, Turncoat offers many challenging roles. Besides Arnold and Washington, there’s the defector’s doomed collaborator, the gallant young British officer Major John André. Washington’s resourceful aide (and man of the moment) Colonel Alexander Hamilton is another key player, while Arnold’s young bride, the beautiful Peggy Shippen (who was heavily involved in the conspiracy), adds a strong female character.

But who should play the enigmatic Arnold, the brave, handsome, headstrong, charismatic but conflicted veteran, constantly simmering with resentment against his detractors? The role could provide an Oscar-worthy opportunity for many actors, but one comes to mind: fans of The Revenant, Peaky Blinders and Legend will appreciate Tom Hardy’s ability to deliver powerful and convincing performances. He’d make a perfect Arnold.

Arnold’s treason would be a gift to any director, but I’d love to see the Australian-born Bruce Beresford take this on. His acclaimed Boer War drama Breaker Morant (1980) was beautifully paced, with a wonderfully convincing sense of time and place. A decade later, the same unflinching authenticity characterised Black Robe, about the Jesuit missionaries among the warring First Nations of New France. More recently, his TV mini-series Bonnie and Clyde (2013), was no less atmospheric. I’ve no doubt that Mr Beresford would transform Turncoat into a memorable movie. And if he needs a historical consultant, I might just be available….
Visit Stephen Brumwell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue