Sunday, August 19, 2018

Gina Wohlsdorf's "Blood Highway"

Gina Wohlsdorf’s first novel, Security, was chosen as an Amazon Best Book of 2016.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Blood Highway:
If Sofia Coppola directed Blood Highway the film, I could die happy. The best adaptation from book to movie I’ve ever seen — bar none — is The Virgin Suicides. That novel was friggin’ impossible to put to the screen: first-person plural narrator, disjointed timeline, thematic complexity that seemed beyond the reach of visual images. Coppola did the impossible, and then some. People will call this sacrilege, but I’m saying it: the movie might be even better than the book. And I do not remotely mind being bested by the best.

Taissa Farmiga is Rainy. That’s it, the end, cut, print, check the gate. I’ve been working on this story for fifteen years. You better believe I had my eyes open the whole time for an actress who could nail this part. For a decade, there was nobody. Then I rented The Bling Ring (directed by Sofia Coppola), and there’s a scene in that movie where Taissa Farmiga’s character is playing with a gun in her boyfriend’s bedroom. My mouth fell open, my tears welled up, and I said, out loud: “Jesus Christ, that’s her.”

For Blaine, we’d need somebody who could do a lot with a little. It would be such an easy role to do as stock beefcake, but that’s not what Blaine is. I was super-impressed with Theo James in Divergent, because he could have played Four as the Hot Fighting Instructor and he didn’t. He used every line, every movement and every moment to maximize his character’s impact. And he dug. That scene toward the end when Four confronts his abusive father in a simulation — James didn’t overdo it, didn’t under-do it. Very contained, very measured, very intentional. He would bother to find the broken-hearted kid behind Blaine’s badass exterior. (Though how we make him look bland in any way, I don’t know. We’ll probably need the Benjamin Button makeup people.)

Sam’s where we get to have a little fun. He’s supposed to have the body of the Incredible Hulk, but I’m flexible on that as long as the actor can convey size, strength, excess. Sam Rockwell would kill it. He has a scary charisma that can go either way, nice or wicked-mean or both, back and forth and back again. Michael Fassbender would make it intriguing. I had David Duchovny in mind when I first wrote the character, and I thought of Bruce Willis a few years later — a sly smile that draws you in, a wall behind the eyes that keeps you out.

And I have a secret fantasy where I somehow get my acoustic cover of “The Chain” on the soundtrack — just me and a piano, soft and raw, fading to nothing on the final note.
Visit Gina Wohlsdorf's website.

My Book, The Movie: Security.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 17, 2018

T. Greenwood's "Rust & Stardust"

T. Greenwood is the author of twelve novels. She has received grants from the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Maryland State Arts Council. She has won three San Diego Book Awards. Five of her novels have been BookSense76/IndieBound picks. Bodies of Water was finalist for a Lambda Foundation award.

Here Greenwood dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Rust & Stardust:
Because Rust & Stardust is based on a true crime (the 1948 kidnapping of eleven-year old Sally Horner – the crime that inspired Nabokov’s Lolita), I was writing with real people in mind. However, this novel is, in the end, a piece of historical fiction, and these characters have, in many ways taken on a life of their own.

I always love to imagine who might play the roles of the various characters if the novel were adapted for film. And this one was easy. (Here’s my all-star cast.)

Sally Horner:
I adored Brooklynn Prince as Moonee in The Florida Project. She’s both beautifully innocent and wise in that film; her performance was heart-breaking. She’s still a little young to play Sally, but luckily filmmaking takes time, so in a couple of years, she’d be perfect!

Frank La Salle:
Jackie Earle Haley brilliantly played a pedophile in Little Children. While he might not want to revisit that sort of role, I think he’d make a terrific Frank: able to portray a sick man who is simultaneously ominous and pathetic.

Ella Horner:
Sally’s mother would be such a challenging role. A woman who suffers not only emotionally but physically, it would need to be an actress who could capture the sort of resignation that I believe Ella exhibits. I think Laurie Metcalf might be an interesting choice.

Sister Mary Katherine:
I adore Amy Adams’ work, and I think she’d be wonderful in this role, the nun who suspects something is amiss with her young student but is unable, in the end, to save her.

Lena is a hermaphrodite with the traveling circus in Dallas, TX where Frank and Sally settle at a trailer park. I’d love to see Jessica Chastain play this role.

Ruth, in many ways, is the heroine of this story. I could see Reese Witherspoon taking on this part beautifully. There’s a tremendous lightness and simple goodness to Ruth that I believe Witherspoon could capture.

Al Panaro:
Al is such an important character in this story, Sally’s gentle and kind brother-in-law who never gives up hope. I would love to see him played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

In terms of directors, my dream director would be Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird and Jackie). This is a pretty gritty story, but there are moments of grace, and I think Gerwig knows exactly how to reveal that dichotomy. As a photographer, I am also very interested in the cinematography…my dream Director of Photography would be Christina Voros. Her work is amazing.
Visit T. Greenwood's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Jay Schiffman's "Game of the Gods"

Jay Schiffman is an award-winning writer and creator of games, animations, apps, and web experiences. He was a practicing attorney for several years and has been involved in a number of successful businesses in the digital, educational, and technology spaces. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and children.

Here Schiffman dreamcasts an adaptation of Game of the Gods, his debut novel:
Game of the Gods is the story of Max Cone, a former military commander and judge in the Federacy. Max wants to leave war and politics behind, but when his family is taken he must fight. Max and a band of outcasts—a 13-year-old girl with mysterious powers, a math savant, a revolutionary turned drug addict, and the daughter of the world’s most powerful religious leader—must save their family, friends, and the world. Game of the Gods is a fast-paced action adventure that follows Max and his band as they travel through exotic lands and strange political landscapes.

In terms of bringing Game of the Gods to the screen, I would choose the little screen over the big one. I am an avid reader, but I am also an avid watcher of quality television. I will name just a few of my favorite shows to give a flavor of what I love to binge on: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror, and Westworld. Many of these fall into the sci-fi/fantasy category or gang-life category, but I enjoy any well-written drama. In fact, if you forced me to choose my favorite show, it wouldn’t be sci-fi, fantasy or gangs. I would say it’s Mad Men, mostly because it is the best written.

Many of my choices for casting are going to come from these shows I love. So, without further ado, on to central casting.

My main character and the first-person narrator of the story is Max Cone. He’s a military and political leader who is smart and stoic. He has lost his family and is in a great amount of emotional pain, but he struggles with his feelings. I would cast none other than Mad Men’s Don Draper, Jon Hamm.

For my favorite character, the uniquely talented 13-year-old Pique Rollins, I would hop in a time-machine and head back to 2011. I would cast a young teenage Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark and was about 14 when HBO aired its first Game of Thrones episode.

For the Holy Father, who is formal, mysterious, solemn, and maybe even a little evil, I would cast Jeremy Irons.

For Mavy Sway, the Holy Father’s smart, powerful, and beautiful disciple, I would cast another Game of Thrones actress, Nathalie Emmanuel.

And for Anther Vrig, the callous leader of the National Freedom Force, I would cast Breaking Bad’s Walter White, the actor Bryan Cranston.

I could do this all day, but there are a lot of characters in my book, and I think this gives a good idea of my AMC-HBO-Netflix dream team.
Visit Jay Schiffman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

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