Friday, June 14, 2019

Robyn Arianrhod's "Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science"

Robyn Arianrhod is Adjunct Research Fellow at the School of Mathematical Sciences at Monash University. Her previous works include Seduced by Logic and Einstein's Heroes.

Here Arianrhod dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest book, Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science:
The long-lost Elizabethan scientific genius Thomas Harriot lived a dramatic and extraordinary life. Arriving in London as a brilliant young Oxford graduate from the wrong side of the tracks, he was soon swept up in the most glamorous of Elizabethan circles. His first boss – who became a lifelong friend – was the brilliant, impetuous Sir Walter Ralegh, favorite of Queen Elizabeth I.

Harriot is a mysterious character, and I have more to say about him. But first, who better to play the larger-than-life Sir Walter than Ioan Grufudd: tall, dark, handsome, and with the beard he sports in the TV series Harrow, he even sort of looks like Ralegh! And for Elizabeth I, the fabulous Fiona Shaw is terrific at playing powerful, morally ambivalent women – need I say more than Killing Eve? Or the legendary Helen Mirren, who’s already played Elizabeth I (and II) marvelously.

Harriot was Ralegh’s navigational advisor, and sailed to America as part of Ralegh’s First Colony. He also learned the American (Algonquian) language, and enjoyed the indigenous way of life even as he unwittingly helped sow the seeds of its tragic destruction. There’s a host of fascinating minor characters in this part of the story, and I’d love to take the time to cast them if this were not just a fantasy (sigh) – so let me move on.

A few years later, Ralegh incurred the queen’s wrath by secretly marrying the charismatic, fiercely determined Bess Throckmorton. The wonderful Kate Winslett would be a terrific Bess – or, on the theme of Killing Eve and charismatic women, the extraordinary Jodie Comer. Or the remarkable Tilda Swinton…

This clandestine marriage was just the beginning of Ralegh’s troubles – and of Harriot’s, too, although he soon attracted a second patron, the earl of Northumberland. The earl was a wealthy, aristocratic playboy-scholar who recognized Harriot’s genius, and encouraged him to freely explore science and mathematics. Who should play the generous, complex earl? Well, James Norton (Grantchester, War and Peace) is eminently watchable in whatever he does.

Ultimately, Harriot and his benefactors couldn’t take a trick – in the early 1600s first Ralegh and then the earl were locked away in the Tower of London on false charges of treason. Harriot himself ran foul of the authorities. It was a dangerous and tumultuous time – a time of deadly religious wars and dastardly political rivalries, of plague and superstition. Mathematics and science seemed so arcane to most people that its practitioners were often regarded as ungodly astrological and magical conjurors. Speaking of which, the famous Dr Dee was a friend of Harriot – how about the edgy Benedict Cumberbatch for Dee?

Despite all the adventures and dramas in his life, Harriot left behind thousands of unpublished manuscript pages, which lay lost or forgotten for centuries. Today they show him to have been “England’s Galileo”, and the greatest British mathematical scientist before Newton.

Who should play the publicity-shy genius? Ben Whishaw: is there any actor today who can better convey the subtle range of emotions that he does? Perfect for the enigmatic Harriot, who so often had to juggle his passion for science, his evident if understated love of life, and his loyalty to his beleaguered patrons.
Learn more about Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Seduced by Logic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Becky Masterman's "We Were Killers Once"

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

Here she dreamcast the leads for an adaptation of her new novel, We Were Killers Once:
Despite being purchased last year by a production company, my first book Rage Against the Dying has yet to flicker onto a screen of any size. Since it was published I've fantasized about many an actress to play my aging yet powerful series protagonist, Brigid Quinn. Holly Hunter, Glenn Close, Emma Thompson, and Jamie Lee Curtis are all possibilities. But whenever I speak of the actor to play Brigid's husband Carlo DiForenza, I get disbelieving stares. Okay, so Carlo is an ex-Catholic priest who mildly quotes Bonhoeffer. But why not Jeff Goldblum? Goldblum is tall and has those soulful Mediterranean eyes. Sexy without being self-aware. And while no one seems to get this, I know there's an irony underlying everything that Carlo says, even when he appears at his most earnest. That's signature Jeff Goldblum right there.

My fourth book in the series, We Were Killers Once, puts Carlo in mortal danger from a killer no one, especially Truman Capote, ever thought existed.
Visit Becky Masterman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rage Against the Dying.

My Book, The Movie: Fear the Darkness.

My Book, The Movie: A Twist of the Knife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Elizabeth Goldring's "Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist"

Elizabeth Goldring is an honorary associate professor at the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance at the University of Warwick and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist:
Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist tells the story of Nicholas Hilliard, portrayer of Elizabeth I, James I, and their courts. Born into a family of Devon goldsmiths at the tail-end of Henry VIII’s reign, Hilliard lived an exceptionally long and rich life, notable for the wide range of people he met and portrayed, as well as for his own journey to the heart of the English court – and, indeed, to the heart of the French court, where he spent about two and a half years as a court painter (in all probability doing a bit of spying for Elizabeth I on the side).

Hilliard’s fame derives chiefly from his exquisitely detailed portrait miniatures: tiny images painted in watercolour on vellum using a brush made from squirrel hairs set in a bird quill. Most are no bigger than the lid of jam jar, though some are as small as a watch-face. In an era long before the invention of the photograph – much less the instantly communicable imagery of the mobile telephone – portrait miniatures had the great virtue of being easily portable and thus of helping to create intimacy (or the illusion thereof) across long distances. Hilliard was the first native-born English artist to acquire a reputation for excellence both at home, where poets such as John Donne sang his praises, and abroad, where his paintings were admired by the Medici, the Valois, and the Habsburgs. In addition to kings and queens, Hilliard’s sitters included royal favourites the earls of Leicester and Essex; Shakespeare’s patron the earl of Southampton; the explorers Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Ralegh; and members of the aspirational middle class from which Hilliard himself hailed.

My book traces Hilliard’s rise to fame, his personal struggles and quest to become the social equal of his aristocratic sitters, his role as teacher to the next generation of English painters, and his influence on writers such as Donne. In addition, it brings to life the political and religious upheavals of the age. But a film adaptation – rather than trying to recount all seventy-two years of Hilliard’s turbulent life and times – would perhaps be most effective if it focused on the thirty-two-year relationship between Hilliard and Elizabeth I.

Prior to Hilliard’s appearance on the scene, Elizabeth had been highly self-conscious about her image, particularly when exchanging portraits with Mary Queen of Scots, a legendary beauty who had some of the most gifted painters at the French court at her disposal. But Hilliard gave Elizabeth a makeover and, virtually overnight, emerged as her most trusted portraitist. Between 1571, the year in which he first portrayed Elizabeth from the life (a time-consuming business which meant spending three or four days together), and 1603, the year in which she died, Hilliard produced hundreds of portraits of Elizabeth. Hilliard knew how to flatter. All the portraits that he painted of Elizabeth towards the end of her life – by which stage she had lost most of her teeth and hair – depict her as an eternally youthful, wrinkle-free maiden, with glorious golden-red ringlets. Yet in spite of Hilliard’s many years of faithful service, Elizabeth was slow to pay – which, when coupled with Hilliard’s expensive tastes (to say nothing of the fact that he and his wife had seven children), meant that he frequently found himself on the run from creditors or doing business with less-than-salubrious characters.

My dream casting would be Benedict Cumberbatch as Hilliard and Gillian Anderson as Elizabeth I. Both are gifted actors and particularly good in period pieces. There is also, in each case, a strong physical resemblance to the historical figure to be portrayed – something which, though not essential, is always a bonus.
Learn more about Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Jennifer Ryan's "The Spies of Shilling Lane"

Jennifer Ryan grew up in Britain and moved to Washington, DC fifteen years ago. Previously a non-fiction book editor, she now writes novels set in Second World War Britain and inspired by her grandmother’s stories of the war.

Her second novel, The Spies of Shilling Lane, tells the tale of a woman who heads into the London Blitz to see her daughter, only to find her missing.

Here Ryan dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel:
The Spies of Shilling Lane is about female spies in Second World War London. It combines a thriller with the devastation of London in the Blitz, with British humor and warmth woven throughout. It’s with this in mind that I create a fantasy cast list.

Mrs. Braithwaite has to be played by Julie Walters (Donna’s friend Rosie in Mamma Mia, the Weasley’s Mom in Harry Potter). I think she could convey the blend of bombastic yet loveable, the bumbling un-self-consciousness of the middle-aged mom.

Betty Braithwaite, the young, fearless spy, would of course be Emma Watson (Hermione in Harry Potter). She has the perfect blend of astuteness and quiet confidence. She could, in fact, be her!

Betty’s landlord, the timid accountant Mr. Norris, should be played by Ralph Fiennes (Monsieur Gustave H. in The Budapest Hotel, Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, Justin Quayle in The Constant Gardener). He would be master of the pensive, stilted turns and deep heart.

Good-looking and raffish, Mr. Baxter would be Matt Smith (Prince Philip in The Crown), for his continual smirk and all that intensity packed inside.

Florrie, the pretty and harebrained roomie of Betty’s, would be played by the striking Lily James (the young Donna in Mamma Mia 2, Lady Rose in Downton Abbey). She combines sweetness and chaos all in one.

For Betty’s other roommate, the beautiful, haughty Cassandra, I see the wonderful Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary in Downton Abbey). Her proud, condescending manner would be perfect for the role.
Visit Jennifer Ryan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Rachel Barenbaum's "A Bend In The Stars"

Rachel Barenbaum is a graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program. In a former life she was a hedge fund manager and a spin instructor, before moving to the New Hampshire woods to write. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an AB in Literature and Philosophy from Harvard College.

Here Barenbaum dreamcasts an adaptation of A Bend in the Stars, her first novel:
A Bend In The Stars is set in 1914 Russia. The novel is focused on the brother and sister duo of Miri and Vanya. The two are snared by the Czar’s army as his forces tighten their grip on the local Jewish community in preparation for war with Germany. While the catalyst for Miri and Vanya’s journey is Vanya’s drive to beat Einstein, to be the first to prove relativity – Miri is the hero. She is one of Russia’s first female surgeons, a trailblazer and her courage is epic. So too is her love for her fiancé… and for a soldier she rescues from a river. This love triangle dominates the plot just as much as science, relativity and history. With that in mind, there are four central characters that my readers love most – four characters that I would want to cast first if Bend was made into a movie.

Miri: One of Russia’s first female surgeons, she is brave and powerful. Obvs - Gal Gadot would be perfect. She’s strong, a force to be reckoned with but also someone who wears her heart on her sleeve, who falls in love but relies on her intellect above all.

Yuri: Miri’s fiancé. He has a dark past and a brilliant mind. He’s madly in love with Miri but also possibly broken by whatever secret he’s holding. Anderson Cooper – if only he were an actor! Or Benedict Cumberbatch.

Sasha: This is the hardest one. He’s a soldier who’s killed and fought to stay alive. He’s penniless and a wanted man. He’s also in love with Miri and not afraid to let her have the spotlight, to admit that she’s smarter than him. Armie Hammer because he was so good in On The Basis of Sex.

Vanya: A brilliant physicist who is also a little absent minded. Jesse Eisenberg. He’s perfect.
Visit Rachel Barenbaum's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Robert Blaemire's "Birch Bayh: Making a Difference"

Robert Blaemire began working for Senator Birch Bayh while a freshman in college and remained on his staff for the next 13 years. After Bayh's election defeat in 1980, Blaemire formed a political action committee, the Committee for American Principles, to combat the influence of the New Right in American politics. In 1982, he began a long career providing political computer services for Democratic candidates and progressive organizations. An early participant in the rise of big data, he owned and managed Blaemire Communications for 17 years. Born in Indiana, he lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and has two sons and a daughter-in-law.

Here Blaemire dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of his new book, Birch Bayh: Making a Difference:
Birch Bayh remains a very distinct image in my mind and I find it difficult to come up with a good idea of who might portray him in a movie. He would be best described as handsome and virile, athletic, with striking blue eyes. An actor like Clive Owen might do the trick, black hair, masculine, he’d have to mask his British accent. On the other hand, George Clooney represents a handsome actor who does an equally good job being serious and being comedic. Birch liked to have fun and was quite playful, though he never told a joke very well. Going back further in time, Cliff Robertson could have played him well and was probably closer to looking and sounding like Birch Bayh than he did when he played JFK in PT 109.
Learn more about Birch Bayh: Making a Difference at the Indiana University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Roxana Robinson's "Dawson's Fall"

In Dawson’s Fall, Roxana Robinson’s new novel based on the lives of her great-grandparents, we see America at its most fragile, fraught, and malleable. Set in 1889, in Charleston, South Carolina, Robinson’s tale weaves her family’s journal entries and letters with a novelist’s narrative grace, and spans the life of her tragic hero, Frank Dawson, as he attempts to navigate the country’s new political, social, and moral landscape.

Here Robinson dreamcasts the leads for an adaptation of the novel:
For Frank, Hugh Grant; for Sarah, Kristin Scott-Thomas.
Learn more about Dawson’s Fall, and visit Roxana Robinson’s website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Cost.

My Book, The Movie: Cost.

The Page 69 Test: Sparta.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 24, 2019

Martine Bailey’s "The Almanack"

Martine Bailey’s third novel, The Almanack, is a historical mystery tale set in rural England in 1752, the year the calendar lost 11 days.

The philosophy of time, destiny and the stars pervade this intricate historical mystery in which a young woman determines to avenge her mother's death. Following a desperate summons from her mother, Tabitha Hart departs London for her home village of Netherlea - only to discover that Widow Hart has drowned. Determined to discover the truth, Tabitha consults her mother’s almanack and finds a series of cryptic notes describing her mother's terror of someone she names only as 'D'. Teaming up with young writer Nat Starling, Tabitha begins a race against time to unmask 'D' before more deaths follow. But as the summer draws to a close and the snow sets in, Tabitha and Nat are forced to face the darkest hours of their lives. Each chapter is prefaced by one of 50 historical riddles for the reader to solve – with answers at the back.

Bailey lives in Chester, England. Her first novel, An Appetite for Violets, was a Booklist Top Ten Crime Debut and her second, A Taste for Nightshade, was a Sunday Times Best Summer Read.

Here Bailey dreamcasts an adaptation of The Almanack:
My heroine Tabitha was a courtesan in London, and is sharp-witted, light-fingered and bold, a shrewd handler of people, and charming when she wants to be. To play her I had in mind Crystal Laity’s performance as harlot Margaret Vosper in Poldark, a mix of intelligence and physical allure.

Tabitha’s love interest is rakeish poet Nat Starling, a Cambridge University drop-out, obsessed with time. His creativity mixes with bouts of stupidity and drunkenness. No apologies for casting Aidan Turner (Ross Poldark) as the intense, long-haired writer.

Joshua Saxton is Tabitha’s devoted old flame, now a widower and the dogged village constable. Rugged Alex O’Loughlin would be ideal (convict Will Bryant in mini-series Mary Bryant).

Joshua’s daughter Jennet leads the younger generation: still girlish at 15, her pursuit of romance and superstition leads her into danger. I’d love a young Christina Ricci, circa Sleepy Hollow to play her.

Youngest of all is Bess Hart, the infant left in the care of murdered Widow Hart. Precocious and beautiful at 3-years old, some claim she has second sight. I picture little Sally Jane Bruce who played Pearl in the 1955 classic, The Night of the Hunter.

The book is located in Chester, a 2,000 year old walled city in England famed for its distinctive black and white high-gabled buildings. Tabitha’s home village of Netherlea is scattered around a manor house, where country customs are celebrated, from a blood-stained harvest through autumn bonfires and a snowbound Christmas.

I would love to see a director capture the mix of fairy story meets murder mystery, so someone with the unique talent of The Night of the Hunter’s Charles Laughton springs to mind. I’ll never forget the magical escape of the children along the benighted river with a soundtrack of Pearl’s eerily sung lullaby.

I’m sure Laughton would more than do justice to the stars and moon reflected in the watermeadows, the snowbound castle, and flickering candlelight as Tabitha and Nat study the almanack for the next riddle and revelation.
Visit Martine Bailey's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: An Appetite for Violets.

My Book, The Movie: A Taste for Nightshade.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Clark Thomas Carlton's "The Prophet of the Termite God"

Clark T. Carlton studied English and Film at Boston University and UCLA and have worked as a screen and television writer, a journalist, and as a producer of reality television in addition to a thousand and one other professions.

Here he shares some thoughts on the above the line talent to adapt his novel The Prophet of the Termite God (and its fellow books from the Antasy Series) for the big screen:
Notice for my book when it was an indie came about through its optioning by a pair of successful Hollywood screenwriters working with film producer Lawrence Bender. The studios, especially Sony, were interested but they wanted to know why my book hadn’t been acquired yet by a publisher. Well, as William Goldman told us, nobody knows anything, and that opportunity could come around again now that the Antasy series has been released through Harper Voyager.

The ideal directors for my first book Prophets of the Ghost Ants and its sequel, Prophet of the Termite God are Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro. The third sequel should be directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. These are three of our greatest living directors and each of them has made masterpieces. All of them are from Mexico and all would understand my themes about race, religion and caste. Mr. del Toro is as fascinated by insects as I am and Mr. Cuarón made the best of all the Harry Potter movies, The Prisoner of Azkaban which was also the most visual. I’d be thrilled if Peter Jackson was interested in my novels, but I don’t know that he’d want to make another epic trilogy. Since the setting is in a micro-world, all of the acting would take place before a green screen. It would be 12 weeks of shooting actors and then years of digital artists and animators creating the insects and their habitats.

As for casting, my protagonist, Anand, is a brown-skinned outcaste boy when we meet him and he’s still a young man when he leads a defensive war against a powerful enemy. Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt or Esai Morales could have played him when they were in their teens. His eventual ally, Queen Polexima, might have been played by Emma Thompson, Cate Blanchett or Charlize Theron. Commander Tahn might be played by George Clooney if he wished to play the heavy. And as for the Learned Elders of Dranveria, they should be played by the surviving cast members of Star Trek and Star Trek Next Generation.
Visit Clark Thomas Carlton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 16, 2019

S. C. Megale's "This is Not a Love Scene"

S. C. Megale is an author and filmmaker. She's been profiled in USA Today, The Washington Post, and New York Newsday, and has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and the CBS Evening News for her philanthropic and literary work. As a humanitarian, she's spoken on the USS Intrepid, at the NASDAQ opening bell, and to universities and doctors nationwide. She enjoys making connections all over the world.

Megale was raised in the long grass of the Civil War, hunting for relics and catching fireflies along the banks of Bull Run. A shark tooth, flutes, and a flask are some of the items that hang from her wheelchair, and she had a fear of elevators until realizing this was extremely inconvenient. She lives with her family which includes her parents, sister and brother, service dog, and definitely-not-service dog.

Here the author shares some thoughts on adapting This is Not a Love Scene, her first published novel, for the big screen:
Of course, if they make my book into a film, I want to work on the set. My wheelchair makes an exceptional coat rack.

Much of This is Not a Love Scene involves filmmaking and the quirks of the industry (read my book to find out what a "stinger" is on a film set), and I studied video for two years at community college. That's why, funnily, I'd focus less on casting the film (for me there'd only be the factor of how well the person portrayed the character, no matter their background) and more on what professionals I know who I'd love to see involved. My #1, naturally, would be Nina Jacobson, producer of The Hunger Games, whom I met and become smitten with on all three of the Hunger Games film sets when I was a recurring guest.

The movie soundtrack of the book would be fun, too. I imagined a super punk line up: Sum 41, Avril Lavinge, Jonas Brothers, etc.
Visit S.C. Megale's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 13, 2019

Meghan Holloway's "Once More Unto the Breach"

Meghan Holloway found her first Nancy Drew mystery in a sun-dappled attic at the age of eight and subsequently fell in love with the grip and tautness of a well-told mystery. She flew an airplane before she learned how to drive a car, did her undergrad work in Creative Writing in the sweltering south, and finished a Masters of Library and Information Science in the blustery north. She spent a summer and fall in Maine picking peaches and apples, traveled the world for a few years, and did a stint fighting crime in the records section of a police department.​​

She now lives in the foothills of the Appalachians with her standard poodle and spends her days as a scientist with the requisite glasses but minus the lab coat.

Here Holloway dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Once More Unto the Breach:
I never have a model or actor in mind for a character as I am writing. The characters reveal themselves to me as fully evolved, entirely unique individuals, not based on any specific person. It is not simply a matter of looks that captures a character. The strength of the actor, the range of emotions they are able to portray, the actors’ presence on the screen balancing the parallel of the character on the page…I gave the subject of starring roles for Once More Unto the Breach some consideration before I came up with my answer.

Rhys is Welsh, and that cultural pride is so integral to his identity that I would suggest an actor like Ioan Gruffudd or Matthew Rhys to portray him for the sake of authenticity. One reviewer has described Rhys as a Homeric character with a poignancy about him. I love that description. He is a sheep farmer and a veteran of the Great War, and he personifies the old adage “still waters run deep.” He is physically and emotionally strong and stalwart, but he has a poet’s soul. With the mental wounds left from WWI and the losses he has faced in life, there is a melancholy about him in addition to the ruggedness, and I think Clive Owen could portray that perfectly.

Charlotte is the perfect partner for Rhys in his journey. In the first scene I ever wrote for Once More Unto the Breach, Rhys is in a tiny apartment in Paris in the days following the city’s liberation. He is unable to sleep, and he is far from home with a worn letter in his pocket. He was attacked on the streets earlier that day and was saved by the woman who lies sleeping in the next room. He is indebted to her, but also wary of her.

Charlotte was there in my head from the beginning. With that first scene, I only knew two things about her: 1) She was American, and 2) she carried a Colt M1911.

I love phenomenal secondary characters in stories, and Charlotte plays a pivotal role in the tale. She is a woman with secrets of her own, and she has her own reasons for offering to aid Rhys in his journey. She is courageous and pragmatic, quick-thinking and unflinching in the midst of danger. Even so, I strove to create a woman authentic to the times. A debutante from Louisiana, she came to Paris to study at the Sorbonne in the 30s and remained after the invasion in 1940. When the American Hospital needed people for the Ambulance Field Service, she joined. As she tells Rhys, “I can play the piano, draw, paint, sew, and dance. My mother insisted on those. But my father also insisted on making certain I could shoot, drive, and take an engine apart and put it back together again. I could be of use to you.” Over the course of the story, Charlotte always remained a bit of a mystery to Rhys—and to me.

I cannot think of anyone more perfect for the role than Jessica Chastain. She has the natural, effortless elegance, the strong, fearless femininity, and the emotional range to play the character of Charlotte thoughtfully, grittily, and authentically.

If you’ve read Once More Unto the Breach, tell me what you think of my choices for the leading roles. Who would you pick to portray Rhys and Charlotte?
Visit Meghan Holloway's website, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Istagram.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Susannah Marren's "A Palm Beach Wife"

Susannah Marren is the author of Between the Tides and A Palm Beach Wife and a pseudonym for Susan Shapiro Barash, who has written more than a dozen nonfiction books including Tripping the Prom Queen and Toxic Friends.

She lives in New York City and teaches gender studies in the Writing Department at Marymount Manhattan College.

Here Barash shares some ideas about the above-the-line talent who might adapt A Palm Beach Wife for the big screen:
Amy Adams would do a splendid job with the lead, a character named Faith Harrison.

I imagine a few other actors being perfect for other roles -- Susan Sarandon, Zoey Deutch, Lily James.

I would like a female director - Nancy Meyers, Elizabeth Banks, Jane Campion.
Visit Susan Shapiro Barash's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Timothy Jay Smith's "The Fourth Courier"

When Timothy Jay Smith quit an intriguing international career to become a full-time writer, he had a host of real life characters, places and events to inspire his stories. His first novel, Cooper’s Promise, in some ways is still the most autobiographical of his novels, though he was never an American deserter adrift in Africa. But he was in The Mining Pan bar and he did meet Lulay and he did stowaway on a barge that landed him in an African jail.

Now, in his third novel, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland in 1992, Smith looks back at the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, as witnessed through the eyes of an FBI Special Agent on assignment to stop a nuclear smuggling operation out of Russia. Smith’s newest book continues his style of page-turning thrillers steeped with colorful characters. Here are some of his thoughts on a big screen adaptation of The Fourth Courier:
The sense of scene is crucial to my writing. It’s how I think about a story. Before I start new work, I always have the opening and closing scenes in my head, and then I figure out what I need to get from start to finish.

I think it comes from growing up in a house where the television was never turned off. My sisters and I were even allowed to watch TV while doing homework if we kept our grades up. Sometimes I joke that canned laughter was the soundtrack of my childhood. I haven’t owned a television for many years, but growing up with it exposed me to telling stories in scenes, and it’s why my readers often say they can see my stories as they read them.

For me, it’s not difficult to go between prose and screenplays. In fact, I use the process of adapting a novel to the screen as an editing tool. It helps me sharpen the novel’s dialogue and tighten the story.

It’s harder for me to cast my screenplays than to write them. (Thankfully there are casting directors.) Fresh Voices International had this to say about my adaptation of Cooper’s Promise:

“Cooper Chance is a complex character in the vein of classical leading men. If Humphrey Bogart were alive today, he’d be attracted to this role.”

I’m using that as inspiration for suggesting a classic all-star cast for The Fourth Courier:

Cary Grant as FBI Special Agent James (Jay) Porter, an altogether likable guy who’s whipsawed by a nasty custody battle for his two sons back home while fighting bad guys in Poland to avert a nuclear disaster.

Sidney Poitier as his sidekick, Kurt Crawford, a black gay CIA agent who uses both his race and sexuality in key ways to help break the case.

Audrey Hepburn as Lilka, Jay’s new love interest, a sensitive and vulnerable woman struggling to protect her son while surviving the new world order.

Michael York as Jay’s Polish counterpart, Detective Kulski, a devoted family man who’s determined to crack the case before a portable atomic bomb gets into the wrong hands.

Boris Karloff as Dr. Sergej Ustinov, a genius Russian physicist who’s been driven mad by what he was required to sacrifice as part of a genetics engineering project.

Joan Crawford as Basia Husarska, the Director of Poland’s Bureau of Organized Crime, ready to sell anything, including herself, to achieve her dreams.

Humphrey Bogart as General Dravko Mladic, a fervent Serbian nationalist with a mad plan to recreate a country that no longer exists.
Visit Timothy Jay Smith's website.

Writers Read: Timothy Jay Smith.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Jack McDevitt's "Octavia Gone"

Jack McDevitt is an American science fiction author. He has won multiple awards including the International UPC Science Fiction award for Ships in the Night, a Nebula for Seeker, a Campbell Award for Omega, and the Robert Heinlein Lifetime Achievement Award. He has over 20 novels available in print, ebook and audio. He resides in Georgia with his lovely wife, Maureen.

Here McDevitt dreamcasts the leads for an adaptation of Octavia Gone, the latest Alex Benedict novel:
My favorite lead characters in TV dramas both appeared in the same series, JAG, and I guess that indicates how well the chemistry worked. David James Elliott and Catherine Bell portrayed naval officers working for the Judge Advocates Office where they had to settle legal issues, which often meant unraveling mysteries and complications. I’d have chosen them first to play Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath in Octavia Gone. Or any of the other narratives in the series.

They’d have been electric, especially under the direction of Steven Spielberg.
Learn more about the book and author at Jack McDevitt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 29, 2019

Daniel Kennefick's "No Shadow of a Doubt"

Daniel Kennefick is associate professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He is the author of Traveling at the Speed of Thought: Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves and a coauthor of An Einstein Encyclopedia.

Here he shares some thoughts on a big screen adaptation of his new book, No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse That Confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity:
It’s not so difficult to imagine how the film world would decide to adapt my book for the screen, because it’s already been done! The story of the 1919 eclipse which confirmed Einstein’s theory of Relativity is of such scientific importance that the television movie Einstein and Eddington was made by the BBC in 2008. It starred David Tennant (of Dr. Who fame) as Arthur Stanley Eddington, the most famous of the Astronomers involved in the expedition, and Andy Serkis as Einstein. The movie was not without its flaws. The opening scene shows Eddington completing his preparations on the island of Principe the night before the eclipse with the scene illuminated by an enormous full Moon. Of course an eclipse of the Sun can only take place at the dark of the Moon! But it was quite entertaining with convincing performances. So, why even write my book if the story I’m telling is that well known? Well, the characters I wanted to bring to the fore were almost completely left out of the film. That’s common enough when adapting for the screen, but even written accounts have neglected or slighted these other astronomers, most notably the man who actually led the planning of the expeditions and who oversaw the analysis of the data they took. That man was England’s Astronomer Royal, Sir Frank Watson Dyson.

Dyson was in charge of planning for all British eclipse expeditions at this time. He brought Eddington on board in this case because of the latter’s theoretical expertise but minutes of the planning meetings and letters between them show that Dyson was very much the senior man. This was because his own research dealt extensively with the kind of precision astrometry (the measurement of the positions of stars) which was required to test Einstein’s theory. The movie refers to Eddington as the “best measuring man in England,” but in real life, and for this specific task, that man was Dyson. Weirdly, the movie almost completely removes Dyson from the story. Much of his role is absorbed into a composite character, given the name of the English physicist Sir Oliver Lodge, who had nothing to do with the eclipse in actual history. Jim Broadbent, the well-known character actor, does a fine job with this role, and I rather like to think of him playing Dyson in a more fully rounded portrayal of the 1919 expeditions.

I say expeditions because there were two expeditions, one to Principe, off the coast of west Africa, and the other to the Brazilian city of Sobral. The movie has Dyson’s character assisting Eddington on Principe. In reality he was in charge of the other expedition, but did not travel to Brazil, leaving that task to two of his assistants. But it was this expedition which actually obtained the data which overthrew Newton and made Einstein famous. Eddington's data was of limited value because clouds almost completely obscured his view of the Sun. Thus it was Dyson who directed the analysis of the important data and it is his hand writing that is found on the data analysis sheets, written months after the eclipse, making the decisive statement in favor of Einstein. The movie hilariously has the data analysis performed by Eddington in front of an audience of fellow scientists in November 1919. Of course this famous joint meeting of two English learned societies was only arranged by Dyson after the team at his observatory in Greenwich (which did not include Eddington) had finished its painstaking analysis of the data. I hope my book will highlight his central contribution to this most famous of scientific experiments in this centenary year.
Learn more about No Shadow of a Doubt at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 19, 2019

Todd Strasser's "Summer of '69"

Todd Strasser is the internationally best-selling author of more than one hundred books for children and teens, including Fallout and The Beast of Cretacea, as well as the classics The Wave and Give a Boy a Gun, which are taught in classrooms around the world.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Summer of '69:
Like most people I love movies and good television, but in the nearly fifty years that I’ve been writing novels, I’ve never thought about what actors might play my characters. So this is sort of new to me.

Looking at contemporary actors for Summer of ’69 with the understanding that they’d be required to spend a fair amount of time acting -- or just plain being -- stoned, I think Ryan Gosling would be a good choice for the main character Lucas.

For his two close friends I’d choose Paul Dano for Milton, and Jonah Hill for Arno.

For his two love interests, I’d want Emma Watson for Robin, and Zooey Deschanel for Tinsley.

For his troubled cousin, Barry, it would have to be Joaquin Phoenix.

And David Oyelowo would make an excellent Charles, his draft counselor.
Visit Todd Strasser's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Dave Patterson's "Soon the Light Will Be Perfect"

Dave Patterson is an award-winning writer, musician and high school English teacher. He received his MA in English from the Bread Loaf School of English and an M.F.A. from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Soon the Light Will Be Perfect:
Let’s get weird. Imagine you could take the virtuoso skill set of Philip Seymour Hoffman with a dash of John C. Reilly and cram it all inside a twelve year old actor. That would be the dream for the lead role. This would allow for a striking gravitas, a deep humanity, and a disarming sense of humor for the lead. I imagine this movie demanding understated performances. There’s a menacing undercurrent to the life of this family that could be ruined by over-the-top performances. My hybrid Philip Seymour Hoffman/John C. Reilly clone would nail the nuanced darkness creeping in at the edges of the child lead.

For the parents, I’d love, love, love to see thirty-something versions of Frances McDormand and Gary Sinise as the mother and father. It just blew my mind a little to envision their performances in the roles of a sick-with-cancer mother and an out-of-work father. They would bring a fire to this family on the brink of collapse.

The dream director to guide my child prodigy and in-their-primes McDormand and Sinise: Alan Ball of Six Feet Under and American Beauty fame. The humanity he injects into his characters always dazzles. He achieves a tone that at once feels both uplifting and terrifying--like tragedy can strike at any moment, but so can profound beauty. You’re never sure what’s around the corner in an Alan Ball production, but you know it will be something riveting. He’s also great at navigating the murky waters of family dynamics, as evidenced most recently in HBO’s Here and Now. He allows each family member to become their own idiosyncratic human being, then he has these character continually bash into each other in poetic and violent ways.

Okay, now I’m excited. How do we make this happen? It can’t be hard. We just need a cloning kit, a time machine, and a hundred million dollars.
Visit Dave Patterson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 12, 2019

Suzanne Hinman's "The Grandest Madison Square Garden"

Suzanne Hinman holds a Ph.D. in American art history and has been a curator, gallerist, museum director, professor, and an art model. She owned an art gallery in Santa Fe and then served as director of galleries at the Savannah College of Art and Design, the world's largest art school. Her interest in the artists and architects of the American Gilded Age and the famed Cornish Art Colony in New Hampshire grew while associate director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College. The author continues to reside near Cornish as an independent scholar.

Here Hinman dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal, and Architecture in Gilded Age New York:
The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal, and Architecture in Gilded Age New York considers in detail the design, planning, and construction of the magnificent 1890 Madison Square Garden, the second to stand on Madison Square. But it is also essentially the story of two men, chronicling the lives and collaboration of arguably America’s grandest architect Stanford White and the equally talented sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who completed two versions of the nude goddess Diana to top what would be the Garden’s and America’s tallest tower. The nature of their intimate relationships, with each other as well as their wives and lovers, are examined as well as their aesthetic achievements.

As to who should play them, my immediate response would be George Clooney and George Clooney! He would portray both the effusive, exuberant, ever-on-the-prowl red-haired Stanford White, with his great mustache, as well as Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the more streetwise, moodier, and obsessively perfectionist sculptor, with his darker-red beard—by which they might conveniently be told apart.

Somewhat more seriously, I might suggest ginger-haired Scottish actor Kevin McKidd for Stanford White, again with mustache, or perhaps another Scotsman, Douglas Henshall; for Saint-Gaudens, Henshall’s partner on the series Shetland, the Brit Marc Bonnar.

But truly, I’ve always imagined that rather than a Hollywood film, that the book would make a wonderful Ken Burns-style documentary series. There are so many larger-than-life characters and themes of consequence for examination, not only for the Gilded Age, but issues that persist into our day. Aside from the obvious complexities of the period, the fabulous wealth and the stark contrast between classes, there lies the threat of urban terrorism; a flood of immigration; continuing political corruption; the emergence of new roles for women, including both artist and nude model; the amazing technological advances, especially electricity (with the Diana the first sculpture to be so illuminated); the fabulous expositions including the Chicago World’s Fair and the White City to which Saint-Gaudens’s first version of Diana was exiled; the beginnings of “contemporary” art and architecture; and the emergence of the nature of homosexuality from the pyscho-medical shadows and the development of a vital gay culture in New York.

In addition, to add to the real-life drama, the book reveals a little-known national scandal regarding Saint-Gaudens and nudity, while also proposing a surprising new theory regarding White’s “murder-of-the century” on the top of Madison Square Garden—both of which are better examined through a documentary lens.
Visit Suzanne Hinman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Katy Loutzenhiser's "If You're Out There"

Katy Loutzenhiser grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, dabbling in many art forms and watching age-inappropriate movies. After graduating from Bowdoin College, she found an unlikely home in the Chicago comedy scene and regularly sang improvised musicals in public. These days she writes YA books in Brooklyn, where she lives with her husband. She is probably eating a burrito right now.

Here Loutzenhiser shares some casting suggestions for some of the characters in an adaptation of her new novel, If You're Out There:
It's actually incredibly difficult for me to dream-cast the main characters in If You're Out There, maybe because they're such precious, unique little snowflakes in my mind! But I can definitely picture the characters around them.

Paul Rudd would make for a killer Zan's dad. (He's made some mistakes in his life, but oh man--with Paul in the role we'd root for him!)

I've had a longstanding daydream of Amy Adams playing Zan's flustered, extremely Irish Spanish teacher, Señora O'Connell.

And I think Lana Condor would make for a delightful Samantha, Zan's potty-mouth law student coworker at the vegan diner where she works.

Oh, and for director: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey or Mindy Kaling. Just imagining it makes me swoon. If only!
Visit Katy Loutzenhiser's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 8, 2019

Randy Overbeck's "Blood on the Chesapeake"

Randy Overbeck is a writer, educator, researcher and speaker in much demand. During his three plus decades of educational experience, he has performed many of the roles depicted in his writing with responsibilities ranging from coach and yearbook advisor to principal and superintendent. His new ghost story/mystery is Blood on the Chesapeake. As the title suggests, the novel is set on the famous Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, home to endless shorelines, incredible sunsets and some of the best sailing in the world. Blood is first in a new series of paranormal mysteries, The Haunted Shores Mysteries.

Here Overbeck dreamcasts an adaptation of Blood on the Chesapeake:
The producer who lands the movie rights for Blood on the Chesapeake will discover very fertile cinematic ground. Complex and layered characters of different ages, breathtakingly beautiful settings of small seaside towns, and scenes upon the majestic Chesapeake Bay that are sometimes tranquil and picturesque and other times terrifying and harrowing, will combine to make the movie version compelling and memorable. Throw in the eerie quality of the ghost story and the puzzle that viewers get to unravel along with our heroes and you have the potential for successful moviemaking. Even the demographics are right for film audiences. The story features two heroic couples, one in their teens and a second in their twenties, both struggling against the status quo. For good measure, there is even another pair of good guys, a couple in their forties. And perhaps, most important, the story at the core—the tragedy of racial injustice—is as real and raw today as it was in the earlier decades depicted in the narrative.

Ah, but all of this begs the question, where would you find such a broad cast to pull off this cinematic accomplishment? I’ve seen my share of movies—though I must confess I usually prefer the book version—but I’m no expert. Still, I take a stab at playing casting director.

For Darrell Henshaw, our flawed but focused ghost hunter and protagonist (not to mention high school teacher and football coach) I think I’d tap Logan Lehman. He can pull off the almost handsome look of Darrell and has shown the range to be able to capture both Darrell’s terrors and triumphs. His partner, Erin Caveny, would be played by Brie Larson, provided her screen time won’t be monopolized by the Avengers movies. She already demonstrated she can pull off the tough, but tender role Erin plays in the story. For Al and Sara McClure, I had fun in choosing Matt LeBlanc and Juliette Lewis. Matt is a logical choice for the wise-cracking Al and Juliette is a good fit for the steady Sara. (Yes, I realize Juliette often plays darker characters, but her work is evidence of the range she would need for the role of Sara.)

For the teens in the story, selecting actors was a little more challenging. After some consideration and some help, I’d tap Molly Caitlyn Quinn for the young Kelly, her Irish heritage and red hair giving her an advantage. For Hank, I’d send a casting call to the young British actor, John Boyega, who is, like Hank, black, quite large and handsome, and can act well without talking.

No casting effort can be complete with finding great talent for the antagonists. For the trio of Williams, Dr. Remington and Officer Brown, I’d select the gifted character actors of Richard Roxburgh, Stacy Keach and John Goodman.

I know, all together, considerable star power.
Follow Randy Overbeck on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, and check out his webpage.

Writers Read: Randy Overbeck.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 5, 2019

Robert Dugoni's "The Eighth Sister"

Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon best selling author of The Tracy Crosswhite series, My Sister’s Grave, Her Final Breath, In the Clearing, and The Trapped Girl.

Here Dugoni dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Eighth Sister:
When I wrote The Eighth Sister I had Denzel Washington in mind to play Charles Jenkins. Jenkins is African American, over the age of 60, but fit and very competent. I’ve since had people suggest making Jenkins younger so that Will Smith or Idris Elba could play him. All of them would be fantastic and it would be an incredible lead.

The other lead is the antagonist, FSB Agent Viktor Federov. Russell Crowe would be great in the role, as would be Gerard Butler.

As for Jenkins wife, Salma Hayek would be perfect for the role.

There are many other characters, but those are the leads.
Learn more about the book and author at Robert Dugoni's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Dan Stout's "Titanshade"

Dan Stout lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he writes about fever dreams and half-glimpsed shapes in the shadows. His prize-winning fiction draws on his travels throughout Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Rim, as well as an employment history spanning everything from subpoena server to assistant well driller.

Here Stout shares some input regarding an adaptation of his new novel, Titanshade:
I admit to not having the most in-depth knowledge of who’s active in Hollywood, so I can’t do much in the way of dream casting. I can, however, talk about design work all day long! I’ve said before that Jordu Schell is an amazing creature designer, and I’d love to see the kind of takes he’d have on the world of Titanshade. Other designers like Simon Lee have an incredible dynamic element to their designs, and Don Lanning manages to give even the most horrific creatures a sense of power and grace, but Schell’s stuff always has a disquieting sense of otherness and alien appeal that I love.

In an ideal world, I’d love to see makeup that was a combination of practical and computer effects, much like the blend that was used so effectively in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. There, the full body suit allowed Doug Jones to imbue the character with genuine emotions, while the CGI eyes and fins provided additional layers of realism. That costume design by Luis Sequeira, creature sculpt by Mike Hill, and fabrication by Jasper Anderson and the rest of the Legacy Effects team is outstanding.

And I’ll cut myself off there, because otherwise I’ll be talking creature design and effects all day long!
Visit Dan Stout's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Lorna Landvik's "Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes)"

Lorna Landvik's novels include the bestselling Patty Jane’s House of Curl, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, Oh My Stars, Best to Laugh, and Once in a Blue Moon Lodge. She has performed stand-up and improvisational comedy around the country and is a public speaker, playwright, and actor most recently in the one-woman, all-improvised show Party in the Rec Room. She lives in Minneapolis.

Here Landvik dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes):
My terms during contract negotiations: I write the screenplay (I want Screenwriters Guild dental insurance!) and act in a minor comic role (maybe as Caroline’s evangelical Christian mother), and the film be directed by a woman (Mimi Leder or Greta Gerwig or Patty Jenkins). Other than that, I’m easy.

I never picture a real person or actor while I’m writing and in fact, while I feel I intimately know my characters, I see more their essence than their physicality but as a fan of old movies, I’d make suggestions like these to the casting director:

For Haze Evans, who appears in the book as a vibrant woman in her thirties — how about a young Rosalind Russell. For Haze Evans, who also appears as a comatose (!) octogenarian — how about an old Rosalind Russell.

For Susan McGrath, the newspaper publisher dealing with a dissolving marriage and a teenaged son (what a combo!) — Irene Dunne

For Sam, Susan’s dorky/thoughtful, sullen/open-hearted, scared/full-of-bravado son — hmmm, maybe a teenaged Jackie Cooper?

P.S. I don’t live in the past, I just cast there…
Visit Lorna Landvik's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 25, 2019

Leanna Renee Hieber's "Miss Violet and the Great War"

Leanna Renee Hieber is an actress, playwright, ghost tour guide and award-winning, bestselling author.

Here she dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of her new book, Miss Violet and the Great War.
Acting and writing were always entwined for me, growing up. I wrote plays for my high school while performing leading roles, then I earned a collegiate performance degree and began a career in classical theatre. All the while I was writing novels, beginning the long road towards eventual publication. One can imagine, then, how important it is to me that I feel a character within me strongly or I cast someone in the role to help envision their portrayal. I find, writing my 13th novel, I only need to cast one or two anchor characters; presences I need to leap onto my pages. For my debut series, one anchor of an actor led all the rest.

It isn’t any surprise to anyone who has followed my Strangely Beautiful saga in all it’s complications since the debut of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker in 2009 that the hero of the saga, Professor Alexi Rychman was inspired by the actor Alan Rickman, may he rest in peace.

It’s blatant, I left absolutely no doubt in the far-too-on-the-nose character name and the descriptions of a rich, sonorous voice. But I’m an author who loves homage. Once Alexi named himself and his character was formed from many different Alan Rickman performances, from Snape to Mesmer to Colonel Brandon, he couldn’t be renamed. I kept writing and my Alexi began to take on the unique qualities that make him one of my most remarked-upon heroes. (For those keeping particular score there is a dash of Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton in the fantastic BBC Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South that flavors Alexi’s burning stoicism.)

Ten years after my debut and several reissues later, renamed Strangely Beautiful thanks to Tor Books, Alexi and his family live again in Miss Violet and the Great War. This fourth and final book in the saga was never released due to the initial publisher’s closure, so it has been a bittersweet number of years waiting for this book to take shape, and losing Alan Rickman in the process was devastating.

I wish his brilliance was still with us to mark the occasion. When he died, I hadn’t heard the news, it was an explosion of texts, messages and emails all offering ‘condolences for my loss’ and I went into a panic because I thought the world knew something I didn’t about one of my real-life loved ones, not just my celebrity inspiration. But when I found out what the fuss was about, I was gutted. My hero. I was honored that friends and readers thought of me, and Alexi, as I’ve always been vocal about this inspiration.

What I loved about writing Alexi in Miss Violet and the Great War was writing him well into his ‘retirement’ years. He rallies like the hero he is in order to protect his wife and daughter, at all costs. Watching and admiring Alan Rickman all my life, he grew older as Alexi did. I had the privilege of seeing him on stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, dressed in the exact attire I’d costumed my Alexi in, in this case Rickman was performing a Henrik Ibsen play. It was like watching Alexi from afar for just a bit.

It has been hard to wrap up the Strangely Beautiful saga. Quite an emotional journey. But in the end, this series is about love, hope, light, art, beauty, friendship and family pulling through in dark times. I hope it creates as moving an atmospheric, lyrical and brilliantly acted movie in your mind as it’s been playing in mine all these years.
Visit Leanna Renee Hieber's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 22, 2019

Shelley Sackier's "The Antidote"

Shelley Sackier is the author of The Freemason's Daughter, Dear Opl, and the recently released The Antidote.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Antidote:
I’ve been so thoroughly disappointed with most book to screen adaptations in the past, that I oftentimes finding myself shouting at the screen, “Oh, my godfathers! Who was your casting director?!”

Yeah, it’s hard for me to keep quiet during films—especially if I loved the book and feel I know the characters deeply.

So … that said, I’m about to throw myself into peril with the rest of those directors and attempt to put a rather famous face on those of my lead roles.

Bear with me. And please don’t write me hate mail.

For Fee—the young apprentice healer, who discovers she has the nifty little gift of magic in her fingertips, I would love to cast Emilia Clarke (Khaleesi from Game of Thrones)—but with her natural dark hair. There is an innocence required to play her role successfully, but Fee also possesses a deep, thrumming desire to seek out her inner strength and blooming magical power. It’s a stretch of a character arc, but I can see this being a good match.

Xavi—Fee’s best friend and soon-to-be-king, would be served really well if played by an actor like Ansel Elgort (The Fault in our Stars). There is a quiet intensity that swirls around Xavi, and the last vestiges of boyhood that tethers him to the reader as still ‘one of us.’

Savva—Fee’s mentor in the art of healing—is a role that requires a malleable face that can emote a thousand words with not one spoken. Savva is an elderly woman who is full of wisdom, tamped down emotion, and crushing secrets. Dame Judith Dench (“M” in all the Bond films and six bazillion others everyone should watch) would be an absolute catch.

And lastly, Mistress Goodsong—the healer of Fee’s opposing kingdom—is one that will likely make you think I’ve lost my marbles. But hear me out. This woman is both maternal, but a warrior. She is gentle, but razor sharp. She is a natural caretaker, yet must feed her own insatiable appetite. I need this woman to have the face of the United States Senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill, but the acting skills of Meryl Streep.

There we have it. My dream cast for The Antidote!
Visit Shelley Sackier's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Elisabeth Elo's "Finding Katarina M."

Elisabeth Elo grew up in Boston, attended Brown University, and earned a PhD in American Literature at Brandeis University. She has published scholarly articles on subjects as diverse as Walt Whitman and Cinderella, and her essays and Pushcart-nominated short stories have appeared in a variety of publications. Elo worked as a magazine editor, a high-tech product manager, and a halfway house counselor before beginning to write fiction.

Her novels are Finding Katarina M. and North of Boston.

Here Elo dreamcasts the lead for Finding Katarina M.:
I have only one request. Please cast Rachel Weisz as Dr. Natalie March!

Thirty-nine-year-old Natalie is a powerful if understated person. She’s reached the peak of her profession through brains and hard work. She’s confident, but she knows from experience that disease always wins in the end, so she has a certain humility. She sticks to the facts and doesn’t get ahead of herself, but she is also quite willing to take the next step, and the next, as options present themselves. I have no idea whether she’s beautiful or not. She doesn’t think about it, so neither did I. Her looks are irrelevant.

Rachel Weisz is, of course, very beautiful, but in her last role as the Duchess of Marlborough in The Favourite, she didn’t rely on her beauty at all. Instead, she stole every scene (in my opinion) with force of character and a certain blunt physical presence. It was the first time I’d ever seen a woman do that in a film, and it made a big impression on me. I’d love to see Rachel Weisz bring out Natalie’s steady, strong charisma. She’s the perfect match.
Visit Elisabeth Elo's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Elisabeth Elo & Freddie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 18, 2019

Joy Fielding's "All the Wrong Places"

Joy Fielding is the New York Times bestselling author of Someone Is Watching, Now You See Her, Still Life, Mad River Road, See Jane Run, and other acclaimed novels. She divides her time between Toronto and Palm Beach, Florida.

Here Fielding dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, All the Wrong Places:
There are strong roles for four women in this book, and any number of fine actresses who could play any of the younger women roles: Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, Brie Larson, Lucy Boynton, Amy Adams, to name a few.

As for Joan, the oldest of the women at 70, I'd suggest Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, or Helen Mirren.

As for the character of Mr. Right Now, he would have to be devastatingly handsome, so I would suggest someone like Chris Pine or Zac Efron. (Again, no shortage of handsome men in Hollywood.)
Learn more about the book and author at Joy Fielding's website.

My Book, The Movie: Shadow Creek.

My Book, The Movie: Someone Is Watching.

My Book, The Movie: The Bad Daughter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 15, 2019

Karen Odden's "A Dangerous Duet"

Karen Odden's interest in the Victorian era goes back to her New York University doctoral dissertation, which explored how the medical, parliamentary, and literary representations of nineteenth-century railway disasters helped to create a discourse out of which Freud and others fashioned their ideas of “trauma.”

Odden has served as an Associate Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and taught classes in English language and literature at New York University and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She has contributed essays and chapters to books and journals, including Studies in the Novel, Journal of Victorian Culture, and Victorian Crime, Madness, and Sensation; for ten years, she served as an Assistant Editor for the academic journal, Victorian Literature and Culture; and she has written introductions for Barnes and Noble’s Classics Series editions of books by Dickens and Trollope. Prior to receiving her Ph.D. in English, she worked as an Editorial Assistant at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and McGraw-Hill, as a Media Buyer for Christie’s Auction House in New York, and as a bartender at the airport in Rochester, where she learned how to stop being shy. Her first book, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today Bestseller and won the 2017 New Mexico-Arizona award for eBook Fiction.

Here Odden dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, A Dangerous Duet:
I’d tap Emma Watson for any one of my heroines. She has such a mobile, expressive face; she can light up with joy, but she also displays a quiet fierceness and a capacity for insight in many of her roles. My heroine Nell Hallam is passionate about her piano but reflective—and well aware of the danger of her mother’s legacy of mental illness.

Ben Barnes for Jack. I had him in mind as I wrote; his face is dark, pensive, watchful, expressive. In the film Prince Caspian, he suggests a searing pain stemming from a father-figure’s betrayal quite similar to the one Jack experiences.

Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy, would make a brilliant Stephen Gagnon, my sociopathic violin player.
Visit Karen Odden's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Karen Odden and Rosy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Amber Royer's "Pure Chocolate"

Amber Royer writes fun science fiction involving chocolate, aliens, lovesick AIs, time travel, and more. She teaches enrichment/continuing education creative writing classes for both teens and adults at UT Arlington.

Here Royer dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Pure Chocolate:
My friends and I did a book trailer for Pure Chocolate. You can see the Chocoverse books have potential for visual appeal. It is after all meant to be a telenovela-on-the-page, crossed with a space opera, so there’s tons of drama – and a goodly amount of action. (New to the Chocoverse? Here’s a trailer for the first book, Free Chocolate).

When we did the trailers, we intentionally kept faces fuzzed, so that the reader could imagine these characters any way they wanted. Which makes this whole “dreamcast your book” exercise feel a little counterintuitive. But you asked, so I brainstormed.

There would need to be a goodly bit of CGI because the cast of my books includes a cop who’s a 7-foot tall venomous reptilian humanoid, and a number of named characters who are lemon-yellow giants with double-rows of shark teeth and oversized whale-like eyes. But if you focus on the characters who are human (or human-ish) who are important to both books:

Bo’s an ex-actress in her mid twenties who has fled across the galaxy to get away from the paparazzi after scandal ruined her career. She’s enrolled in a culinary academy on a backwater planet at the beginning of the first book, but she’ll be traveling the galaxy before all this is over. In my mind Bo looks a lot like Angelique Boyer before she went blonde.

Brill is Bo’s boyfriend – from the planet Krom. From the outside, Krom look human – with the exception of their chromashifting irises, which let you read their emotions in their eyes. But Krom can move at flash speeds and have book lungs, so they can go extended periods without having to breathe. They also have significantly longer lifespans, so while Brill’s older than Bo, he should look eternally young. I pictured Brill looking a bit like James Franco circa Spiderman 1. Although Liam Hemsworth is a pretty good match for how the artists have rendered Brill on the covers of both books, and that image has kinda grown on me.

Eva Longoria would have enough “presence” to play Bo’s diva mamá. Mamá Lavonda’s the most popular celebrity chef on Earth in a future where chefs are bigger than rock stars. She’s used to getting what she wants – but she’s had to live through a lot, including the violent death of Bo’s father, to get there.

And Nathan Fillion would be able to pull off the air of danger combined with perfect comic timing needed for Frank, Mamá’s boyfriend and a man of hidden motives, whose true intentions and loyalties come clear pretty quickly in the first book, making his relationship with Mamá – and Bo – complex to say the least.

Bo meets Kaliel, a human transport pilot who’s been grounded after causing an incident that could spark war, in the first book when she goes to Rio to steal the source of chocolate – in the form of an unfermented cocoa pod. Sparks fly and much drama ensues. I picture Kaliel looking a bit like Dayo Okeniyi.

Lastly, there’s Chestla, who is an alpha predator on her home planet Evevron. But if she doesn’t smile and show off her predator’s teeth, and you slap a pair of sunglasses on her to hide the slit-pupil green eyes, she could be mistaken for human from a distance. Chestla’s both a warrior and a nurturer, and has an incredibly optimistic disposition in even the most dire of circumstances. I think Amanda Seyfried could play her admirably.
Visit Amber Royer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Free Chocolate.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 11, 2019

Devin Murphy's "Tiny Americans"

Devin Murphy grew up near Buffalo, NY in a family with Dutch roots. He holds a BA/MA from St. Bonaventure University, an MFA from Colorado State University, a PhD from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, and is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Bradley University. He has worked various jobs in national parks around the country and once had a three–year stint at sea that led him to over fifty countries on all seven continents. His fiction has appeared in over 60 literary journals and anthologies, including The Missouri Review, Glimmer Train, The Chicago Tribune, New Stories from the Midwest, and Confrontation. He lives with his wife and children in Chicago.

Here Murphy dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Tiny Americans:
This is fun to think about. Tiny Americans is about one family over thirty years, really focusing on their adult lives, so I will cast the adult versions here.

The father, is an outdoors type who has not taken great care of himself, so would need to be a bit weathered. I love everything Ed Harris and Will Patton, so I’d put in a call to those guys.

The German, artist mother, Catrin, is loving and volatile, and hits some real emotional depths in the book, so let’s dream big for her: Meryl Streep, or Susan Sarandon.

Jamie, the philosopher, mother, and truth teller of the family is both beautiful and smart despite shouldering the weight of deep dysfunctions. Can we cast Jennifer Connolly or Helena Bonham Carter please?

Lewis, the older brother, is a seafarer, and a rugged guy. I imagine something along the lines Christian Bale from Out of the Furnace.

The final main character, Connor, is also a bit rough looking, but capable of cleaning up and going out into modern society and fitting in. Let’s see if Jeremy Renner can duplicate his Wind River look.

So, do you call all these super stars or do I?
Visit Devin Murphy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Alyssa Wees's "The Waking Forest"

In between training in ballet and watching lots of Disney movies, Alyssa Wees grew up writing stories starring her Beanie Babies. She earned a BA in English from Creighton University and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Currently she works as an assistant librarian in youth services at an awesome public library. She lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband and their two cats.

Here Wees explains her choice for director of an adaptation of her debut novel, The Waking Forest:
When I write, I don’t picture my characters as certain actors, and even now that I’m done writing The Waking Forest, I still don’t have much of a dream cast. But I do have a dream director: Guillermo Del Toro. The wonder and darkness of Pan’s Labyrinth, one of my favorite movies, inspired the way I played with magic in The Waking Forest and thought about what it means to see into another, stranger world that no one else seems to see. For Ofelia in the movie, her fantasy world interwoven with the real one is both a blessing and a burden, and Rhea in The Waking Forest experiences a similar sense of awe as well as a weight as she discovers a realm that seems to exist outside the often rigid bounds of reality. Many of his films deal with magic and fairy tale tropes, and he has such a beautiful and haunting understanding of monstrousness that I think he’d perfectly capture the tone and themes of The Waking Forest.
Visit Alyssa Wees's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Vanessa McGrady's "Rock Needs River"

Vanessa McGrady spends time thinking about feminist parenting, high-vibrational food, and badass ways to do things better. She often wonders why people aren’t more freaked out about plastic in the oceans. Whether in New York, the Pacific Northwest, or Glendale, California, she is grateful to call each place home.

After two years of waiting to adopt—slogging through paperwork and bouncing between hope and despair—a miracle finally happened for McGrady. Her sweet baby, Grace, was a dream come true. Then McGrady made a highly uncommon gesture: when Grace’s biological parents became homeless, McGrady invited them to stay.

Here McGrady dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Rock Needs River: A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption:
If they make my book into a movie, I’d love to see Drew Barrymore play me.

I could see Jared Leto/Adrien Brody/Viggo Mortenson as Bill, Kristen Stewart/Dakota Fanning as Bridgett.

For Peter, Daniel Craig or Dennis Quaid.

Of course, we could tell it as it was, but I’d also love to experiment with a twist in the cinematic re-telling. Maybe a same-sex couple or cast some POC to add a transracial adoption element.
Visit Vanessa McGrady's website.

--Marshal Zeringue