Thursday, August 22, 2019

John Birmingham's "The Cruel Stars"

John Birmingham is the author of Emergence, Resistance, Ascendance, After America, Without Warning, Final Impact, Designated Targets, Weapons of Choice, and other novels, as well as Leviathan, which won the National Award for Nonfiction at Australia’s Adelaide Festival of the Arts, and the novella Stalin’s Hammer: Rome. He has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, Rolling Stone, Penthouse, Playboy, and numerous other magazines.

Here Birmingham dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Cruel Stars:
It’s a brave or stupid writer who willingly gives away the names of the actors they imagine starring in the movie adaptation of their book. But I’m not especially brave, so here goes.

Like most writers I do have a screen adaptation of my latest book running 24/7 between my ears, but not all of the actors are stars. Some characters are based on people I know, or knew once upon a time. Others do indeed have IMDb pages.

The Cruel Stars, the space opera I’ve always wanted to write, is an ensemble piece, with five main characters telling the story. But one stands out. Lucinda Hardy. She is the first of our band of five, and her arc probably reaches the furthest and bends the most under the mass of all she has to carry. I know exactly who would play her, if I had the budget. Cobie Smulders. She has always looked like she could kick your ass three ways from Sunday, but she would also take a moment to feel bad about it.

So too with the foul mouthed and even fouler tempered 700-year-old Scotsman, Fraser McLennan, one-time admiral of the Terran Fleets, now living in self imposed exile, picking over the corpse of an enormous, derelict generation ship. This role can only be played by Dr Who. I mean Malcolm Tucker! I mean Peter Capaldi!

Look at him. He’s terrifying. Whole armadas of invading Space Nazis would quake to contemplate the bollocking he’d give them.

I have some leeway with my third pick, for Booker3, my vat-grown Terran Defence Force special operator turned political prisoner. Because Booker is a piece of software which gets poured into whatever vessel is needed for the fight ahead, anyone can play him. But only Daniel Kaluuya should. The multi-talented brit Brit is well known for his physical presence and fighting chops in Black Panther, but with his role as Chris Washington in Get Out he also has a proven ability to portray characters who’ve got in way over their heads. He’d be great at the fights, but even better at the quietly aggrieved outrage that seethes within this character.

There is no casting Sephina L’Trel, kickass lesbian, legendary space pirate, and Mistress and Commander of the Je Ne Regrette Rein. She’s based on an old friend. But if anyone was to capture this badass on screen, perhaps a young Thandie Newton might have a chance. Her gnarly physicality in West World is a good match for all of the damage Sephina absorbs and deals out when she sets her mind on vengeance in TCS.

Finally, we have Princess Alessia, first of her name, last of her clan, and super-pissed that she even has to go through with all of this princess bullshit anyway. Alessia is not like the other characters. She’s a kid for one thing. And she had no mad fighting skills or even much of a personal history of conflict. But she does have sass and she’s willing to learn. And because that there can be only one Princess Alessia for me...Maisie Williams, AKA Game of Thrones' Arya Stark.
Follow John Birmingham on Facebook and Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 19, 2019

Louisa Treger's "The Dragon Lady"

Louisa Treger has worked as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. Treger subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early 20th century women’s writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship “for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature.” The Lodger was published in 2014, The Dragon Lady in 2019 and she is currently working on her third novel.

Here Treger dreamcasts an adaptation of The Dragon Lady:
When this site's editor invited me to do this blog, I jumped at the chance. Surely choosing movie stars for your characters is a game every author plays once in a while?

The Dragon Lady blends fact with fiction to tell the story of Lady Virginia Courtauld – beautiful and defiant, with a scandalous past and a tattoo of a snake running the length of one leg. After a brief marriage to an Italian aristocrat, she wed Stephen Courtauld, a war hero, mountaineer, orchid collector, and heir to a textile fortune. Ostracized for being a foreign divorcee at the time of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, Virginia moved with Stephen to Rhodesia, where their philanthropic attempts to better the lives of all the colony’s inhabitants, black and white, led to anonymous death threats, misunderstandings and a shooting. Many people had reason to dislike Virginia, but who had reason enough to pull the trigger?

Virginia is vibrant, capricious and captivating. She is also insecure - desperate for social acceptance and a comfortable, comforting place to call home. I think that Rachel Weisz would portray every one of her qualities to perfection.

Stephen would have to be played by Ralph Fiennes because nobody does chilly reserve masking a deeply compassionate core like he does.

Catherine, a thirteen-year-old growing up in desperate isolation who unwittingly gets caught up in the adult tragedy unfolding around her, would be played by Elizabeth Olsen. Those big startled eyes, and that mixture of innocence and being wise beyond her years, are perfect to portray childhood, family dysfunction, and disillusionment.
Visit Louisa Treger's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Lodger.

Coffee with a Canine: Louisa Treger & Monty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 17, 2019

T. Greenwood's "Keeping Lucy"

T. Greenwood is the author of thirteen 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.

In Keeping Lucy, Greenwood's new novel--
Ginny Richardson's heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded." Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on.

But two years later, when Ginny's best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth--its squalid hallways filled with neglected children--she knows she can't leave her daughter there. With Ginny's six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.
Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Keeping Lucy:
I love this game! Here is my dream cast:

Ginny: Brie Larson.

Ab Jr.: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (he's a bit older than Ab, but has a boyish quality to him).

Ab Sr.: Ralph Fiennes.

Marsha: Shailene Woodley or Ellen Page (whoever's calendar is free).

Peyton and Lucy: I'd love to see the children cast be non-actors -- just regular kids
Visit T. Greenwood's website.

Writers Read: T. Greenwood.

The Page 69 Test: Keeping Lucy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Reese Hogan's "Shrouded Loyalties"

Reese Hogan loves nothing more than creating broken relationships in broken worlds. With a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in journalism, Hogan has spent the last twenty years honing her craft by taking classes, listening to podcasts, and attending writing workshops and critique groups. She is passionate about music, especially alternative and punk rock, and believes that art can reach out in a way no other form of communication can. She lives with her family in New Mexico.

Here Hogan dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Shrouded Loyalties:
I never thought about a cast for Shrouded Loyalties until I participated in a Twitter chat prompt for debut authors, and this came up as one of the questions. I ended up getting really into it, and making an aesthetics board to post on that day. I took a lot of time scouring the internet and picking the perfect person for each role. Here were my choices for the top five main characters:

Mila Blackwood: Letitia Wright. I fell in love with Letitia Wright when I watched Black Panther, and I think she could really pull off Blackwood’s military-minded submariner character who struggles with anger issues.

Klara Yana Hollanelea: Erika Linder. Klara Yana is a female spy who disguises herself as a male for the entirety of the book, and I have never seen anyone pull this off as convincingly as Erika Linder. The second I found her, I knew she was perfect for the role.

Andrew Blackwood: Myles Truitt. Andrew is a 17 year-old orphan who struggles with depression and self-loathing, and is drawn into enemy collaboration as he looks for acceptance. I felt Myles Truitt’s look could pull from that uniquely teenage combination of innocence and torment, and I very much saw Andrew when I found him.

Cu Zanthus Ayaterossi: Pier Gabriel Lajoie. Cu Zanthus is the enemy soldier who seduces Andrew. He’s only 19, but he’s already been a spy for five years, so he’s very good at taking on whatever look he needs to. Pier Gabriel Lajoie seems to fit the bill perfectly for someone that Andrew would fall for.

Leuftkernel Lyanirus: David Tennant. This was a no-brainer for me. Tennant is my favorite actor, and he would fit entirely too well into the role of a ruthless commander with a bad habit of killing his own soldiers when his temper snaps.
Visit Reese Hogan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Heather Hepler's "We Were Beautiful"

Heather Hepler is the author of several books for teens and tweens, including Frosted Kisses (2015), Love? Maybe (2012), and The Cupcake Queen (2009).

Here Hepler dreamcasts an adaptation of her newest novel, We Were Beautiful:
Here is a quick synopsis of We Were Beautiful.

It’s been a year since fifteen-year-old Mia Hopkins was in a car crash that killed her older sister, Rachel, and left her own face terribly scarred. The doctors tell her she was lucky to survive. Her therapist says it will take time to heal. The police reports claim there were trace amounts of alcohol in her bloodstream. But no matter how much she tries to reconstruct the events of that fateful night, Mia’s memory is spotty at best. She’s left with accusations, rumors, and guilt so powerful it is quickly consuming her. As the rest of Mia’s family struggles with their own grief, Mia is sent to New York City to spend the summer with a grandmother she’s never met. All Mia wants to do is hide from the world, but instead she’s stuck with a summer job in the bustling kitchens of the café down the street. There she meets Fig—blue-haired, friendly, and vivacious—who takes Mia under her wing. As Mia gets to know Fig and her friends—including Cooper, the artistic boy who’s always on Mia’s mind—she realizes that she’s not the only one with a painful past.

I’ve thought a lot about making this into a movie. The settings between coastal Maine and New York City were what initially drew me into Mia’s story. The cast is pretty straightforward for me. I’d pretty much just ask actors that I love. Here are my suggestions for some of the principals.

Cooper: Noah Centineo – because well he’s in everything recently, but mostly because he was the perfect love interest in Sierra Burgess is a Loser.

Mia: Chloë Grace Moretz – She’s beautiful and funny and smart. She could make the story all those things.

Fig: Masie Williams – because I need to keep Game of Thrones in my life somehow. And because she’s awesome and strong and cool.

I’d have to think more about the other characters, but if I could make space for some 80’s stars like Mollie Ringwold or Winona Ryder I would. I would write in a new part for Keanu Reeves just so I could meet him.

The best part of making We Were Beautiful into a movie would be filming in New York City. The book is set in the summer, but I’m thinking we could film in the spring when it isn’t so darn hot. There is also a lot of food mentioned in the books – cannoli, pie, cotton candy, etc. It might be hard to not leave the theater craving some dessert.

I would be nervous about having one of my books turned into a movie. So often movies just don’t live up to the book’s story. But I think with the right cast and right director, it can often be just perfect.
Visit Heather Hepler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Kira Jane Buxton's "Hollow Kingdom"

Kira Jane Buxton's writing has appeared in The New York Times, NewYorker.com, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Huffington Post, and more. She calls the tropical utopia of Seattle home and spends her time with three cats, a dog, two crows, a charm of hummingbirds, and a husband.

Here Buxton dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Hollow Kingdom:
Given that Hollow Kingdom is told from the perspectives of animals, the production would have to be animated (it is interestingly also illegal to film a migrating domestic bird due to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act). As I wrote, I actually hadn’t imagined a particular actor voicing S.T., the foul-mouthed crow and narrator (crowtagonist!). Robert Petkoff does all the voices for Hollow Kingdom’s audiobook perfectly, so I’d be thrilled if he also did the screen adaptation voice of our vociferous crow. I could imagine that based on his brilliant voicing of Rocket the raccoon from Guardians Of The Galaxy that Bradley Cooper would also do an incredible job. Or Steve Buscemi. Kraai is another crow in the novel, the beautiful and regal head of the U.W. Bothell murder. He is described as having “the voice of God or James Earl Jones” (I obviously wasn’t affected by watching The Lion King as a kid at all). Kristen Schaal would make a wonderful Winnie The Poodle, a very spoiled miniature poodle who lives in Bellevue, Washington (and based on a real very spoiled miniature poodle who lives in Berkeley, California). There is an egocentric domestic short-haired tabby named Genghis Cat, and I think he would be voiced beautifully by Jemaine Clement or Benedict Cumberbatch. The Big Yin, Billy Connelly is my dream voice for Angus the narcissistic Highland Cow. And Steve Buscemi could be any character, but he really should be someone. I love Steve Buscemi. It’s exciting to imagine this menagerie galavanting across our screens (and vaguely ironic given that the book has a message about technological addiction.) The TV rights have in fact been optioned by AMC, so we shall see!
Visit Kira Jane Buxton's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kira Jane Buxton & Ewok.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 9, 2019

Noelle Salazar's "The Flight Girls"

Noelle Salazar was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where she's been a Navy recruit, a medical assistant, an NFL cheerleader and always a storyteller. As a novelist, she has done extensive research into the Women Airforce Service Pilots, interviewing vets and visiting the training facility—now a museum dedicated to the WASP—in Sweetwater, Texas. When she’s not writing, she can be found dodging raindrops and daydreaming of her next book. Salazar lives in Bothell, Washington, with her husband and two children.

Here Salazar dreamcasts an adaptation of The Flight Girls, her first novel:
I love imagining actresses/actors in the roles of my characters. It helps bring them to life in my mind. I can see the expressions on their faces and body movements. From the get-go I always pictured Rachael Taylor in the role of Audrey. She's beautiful, with the classic features I imagine Audrey to have, and gives great "serious expression". And when she smiles, she lights up the screen.

As for James Hart - who could play such a super man but.. Superman? Henry Cavill is who I picture as the serious pilot and dreamy love interest.

As for Carter, Sam Heughan. I mean, if anyone is going to avert Audrey's attention for a moment, he'd be the man to do it.

I imagine Brittany Snow as Carol Ann with her expressive eyes.

Alexandra Daddario would be Catherine.

And Ruby and Nola would be played respectively by Olivia Cooke and Shailene Woodley.
Visit Noelle Salazar's website.

Writers Read: Noelle Salazar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Patrick Coleman's "The Churchgoer"

Patrick Coleman makes things from words, sounds, and occasional pictures. His debut collection of poems, Fire Season, was written after the birth of his first child by speaking aloud into a digital audio recorder on the long commute between the art museum where he worked and his home in a rural neighborhood that burned in the Witch Creek Fire of 2007. It won the 2015 Berkshire Prize and was released by Tupelo Press on December 1, 2018. His short-form prose has appeared in Hobart, ZYZZYVA, Zócalo Public Square, the Writer's Chronicle, the Black Warrior Review, Juked, and the Utne Reader, among others. The Art of Music, an exhibition catalogue on the relationship between visual arts and music that he edited and contributed to, was co-published by Yale University Press and the San Diego Museum of Art. Coleman earned an MFA from Indiana University and a BA from the University of California Irvine. He lives in Ramona, California, with his wife and two daughters, and is the Assistant Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

Here Coleman dreamcasts an adaptation of his first novel, The Churchgoer:
I honestly hadn’t thought about until yesterday, when my wife and I started joking around about it in the car. I don’t “see” characters like that when I write. (Is that a strange thing to admit? I just read the amazing Janet Fitch’s response here and she certainly does, and if she does everyone should, right?) For Mark Haines, the ex-Evangelical pastor who tells the story and is the protagonist, you’d need someone 50-ish who clearly had been able to turn on that youth preacher-y charm at one time, but who’s flipped the switch and seen some rough times. Owen Wilson would be kind of perfect—that Texas-gone-Californian twang has been heard in many a megachurch sanctuary—or his brother Luke. Ethan Hawke—he played a priest once, close enough—or Ed Norton would do a good job with it. Maybe John Corbett taking a dark turn; that’d be fun to see. Or give it to Kirk Cameron—that’d be a turn!—or Jim Caviezel!
Visit Patrick Coleman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 5, 2019

Bernard Schaffer's "An Unsettled Grave"

Bernard Schaffer is an author, full-time police detective, and father of two. As a twenty-year veteran police officer, he’s a court recognized narcotics expert, a graduate of the prestigious Top Gun Undercover Law Enforcement Training Program, child forensic interviewer, and possesses a Class A certification in the use of wiretaps. A child actor, Schaffer appeared in multiple television commercials, performances at the Walnut Street Theater (where his picture still hangs in one of the upper, darker corners), Saturday Night Live, and the Nickelodeon series Don’t Just Sit There. Schaffer is the author of multiple independently-published books and series, including Superbia, Grendel Unit, Guns of Seneca 6, and more. A die-hard supporter of the Philadelphia Union, he is proud to say that he’s never been ejected from a game. Yet.

Here Schaffer dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, An Unsettled Grave:
You know, the movie question comes up a lot and I never really have a good answer for it. I love cinema. Everything from black and white foreign films to the MCU. But for me, books are a different thing.

I like the old school New York method actors best, so give me one of them. Marlon Brando, Mickey Rourke, guys like that.

For Carrie, the female lead of the Santero and Rein Thriller Series, I’d have to say a younger Jessica Chastain. Emma Stone might work. Someone who starts off in the first book as young and idealistic but committed to catching bad guys. She is smiling and hopeful. But then, over time, as she sinks deeper and deeper into the true horror of what human beings do to one another, you see that spark go out of her eyes and it’s replaced by something else. A darkness that never goes away.

As far as directors go, I’m fan of many. The thing is, the directors I like would take the source material and change it to suit their own vision. That’s okay, because the movie is its own thing, a different creature from the books entirely, but you need someone with a bright enough creative vision that if they’re going to monkey around with my story, it had better be monkeyed around with correctly. I’d trust Coppola or Scorsese or Tarantino with that all day. I’ve been a fan of the Russo Brothers since Community. I’ve been a fan of Cary Fukunaga since True Detective.

It can’t just be anyone though. I have friends who’ve sold the movie rights to their books to anyone who came along, just to say they did it. I haven’t had to cross that bridge yet, so who knows how well my morality holds up when they start waving dollar signs in front of me.

As for now, replace my dialogue with forty-five minutes of CGI explosions and we’re going to have a problem. I will come see you.
Visit Bernard Schaffer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Sarah Elaine Smith's "Marilou Is Everywhere"

Sarah Elaine Smith was born and raised in Greene County, Pennsylvania. She has studied at the Michener Center for Writers, UT-Austin (MFA, poetry); the Iowa Writers' Workshop (MFA, fiction); and Carnegie Mellon University (BA, English and Creative Writing). She has worked as a metadata analyst (signed an NDA & shall say no more!), a college teacher, a proofreader/copyeditor, design consultant, waitress, and ghostwriter. Her work has received support from the MacDowell Colony, the Rona Jaffe Wallace Foundation, and the Keene Prize for Literature, among other generous entities.

Here Smith shares her vision for an adaptation of Marilou Is Everywhere, her first novel:
The movie is called Marilou Is Everywhere: This Ain't No Winter's Bone. When people see the trailer, they go, "Isn't this kind of like Winter's Bone? and that gravely voiceover guy from all the movie trailers says NO. Jennifer Lawrence stands outside the theater holding a sign that says "I AM Jennifer Lawrence and I am NOT in this movie." Cindy is played by an unknown but brilliant young actor with a face that seems to move in and out of shadow when she smiles. Jude is played by Storm Reid. Anjelica Huston plays Bernadette. Virgil and Clinton are played by a real-life pair of brothers who were fixing an HVAC system in the studio the day of casting. Everything is shot in Greene County, PA, and West-by-God-Virginia. "Heat Wave" by Snail Mail plays over the opening credits and "Touch 'Em With Love" by Bobbie Gentry plays over the closing. It's one of those movies where there's all these static shots of: a dripping faucet, a huge black snake crossing a two-lane road and disappearing into the grass like a melting shadow, Clinton wiping a smudge of dirt on Cindy's forehead and laughing, the sumac bushes at the edge of the forest shuddering in the wind, as if something huge had just passed through, Cindy tracing words in the dust on the tailgates of trucks parked in front of Pecjack's gas station: LUCK, SNAKE, LOOSIFER. Emotional states are conveyed by how long the characters stare at things like flies bumping against the windows. Everyone who goes to the movie on their first date falls in love.
Visit Sarah Elaine Smith's website.

The Page 69 Test: Marilou Is Everywhere.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fiona Davis's "The Chelsea Girls"

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 Chelsea Girls:
The Chelsea Girls is set in the New York City theater world during the McCarthy era, as a playwright and an actress are trying to mount a show on Broadway. Then it jumps to 1967, as the ramifications of that time become clear. Hazel and Maxine live in the Chelsea Hotel, which is full of eccentric characters, many taken from real life. In a perfect world, I’d have the people who make cameos in the book appear in the movie, musicians like Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin, playwrights like Arthur Miller. (Deep sigh).

However, while I was writing the manuscript, I had three photos above my desk of actors who I imagined as the lead characters. In real life, the actors come from a mix of generations, which means we unfortunately can’t bring them all together for the movie shoot.

Hazel Ripley is a reluctant actress and budding playwright who’s trying to mount a play on Broadway during the McCarthy era. I imaged Grace Kelly in the role, as she’s someone who is pretty but in a soft, quiet, smart way.

Her best friend, Maxine Mead, is the exact opposite, a flashy redhead who’s not afraid of attention. I bet Jessica Chastain would eat that role right up.

Finally, there’s an FBI agent who’s sweet and vulnerable, and I pictured Ryan Reynolds as Sam as I was writing the book. He’d be great. And then I’d get to meet him…
Visit Fiona Davis's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Address.

My Book, The Movie: The Masterpiece.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Janet Fitch's "Chimes of a Lost Cathedral"

Janet Fitch is an American author and teacher of fiction writing.

She is the author of the #1 national bestseller White Oleander, a novel translated into 24 languages, an Oprah Book Club book and the basis of a feature film, Paint It Black, also widely translated and made into a 2017 film, and an epic novel of the Russian Revolution, The Revolution of Marina M.

The journey that began with The Revolution of Marina M. concludes in Fitch's new novel, Chimes of a Lost Cathedral, in which passionate young poet, lover, and idealist Marina Makarova emerges as a woman in full during the transformative years of the Russian Revolution. Having undergone unimaginable hardship, she’s now at the height of her creative power and understanding, living the shared life of poetry--when the revolution finally reveals its true direction for the future.

Here Fitch dreamcasts an adaptation of The Revolution of Marina M. and Chimes of a Lost Cathedral:
I definitely use actors as I’m thinking of my characters. They allow me to observe physicality, characterize gestures and voices, that certain flavor of bodily presence. I can use photographs and films to formulate descriptions of facial expressions and physical attitudes, and more than that, the feel of a certain personality—often a meld between the actor and a specific performance of theirs.

The actress I would imagine playing Marina Makarova would be a young Franka Potente as I saw her in The Bourne Identity—pretty sometimes, but also plain if in a bad situation, very physical and passionate and unrestrained, quick to laugh, a fighter, always authentic to her own nature.

Her father I always saw as Bergman’s great star Erland Josephson—bright and a bit arrogant, with a current of sensuality behind his image of control. Her spiritualist, society matron mother I imagined as a prematurely silverhaired Vanessa Redgrave.

Her friends? The avid Marxist Varvara I could imagine as Helena Kallianiotes from Five Easy Pieces—the obsessive hitchhiker--or maybe Geraldine Chaplin in her no-shit mode in Remember My Name. Mina Katzevs I always imagined as Julia Sawalha as Saffy from Ab Fab, the resentful good girl. Zina Ostrovskaya I always saw as Helena Bonham-Carter.

Marina’s lover Kolya, her grand passion, I imagined along the lines of a young Klaus Maria Brandauer--that sly, clever, charming rascally guy. What we call a Charming Bastard. Genya, the revolutionary poet and Marina’s husband, is physically like the very young Gerard Depardieu, but more and more I saw his young Brando-like complexity, the bursts of bravado, heroism or violence, also the extreme tenderness as well as a tendency to sulk.

The crime boss Arkady von Princip I always saw as Bergman’s remarkable star Max von Sydow and the one-armed Stepan Radulovich as the Russian star Nikita Mikhalkov. Ukashin, the mystic, was an intense Ben Kingsley.

What director would I like to film Chimes of a Lost Cathedral? Andrei Tarkovsky, of course. I watched The Mirror over and over in the writing of the book. Tarkovsky’s father was a famous Russian poet, too, so it would complete the circle.
Visit Janet Fitch's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Revolution of Marina M..

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Angie Kim's "Miracle Creek"

Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore. She attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, then practiced as a trial lawyer at Williams & Connolly. Her stories have won the Glamour Essay Contest and the Wabash Prize in Fiction, and appeared in numerous publications including Vogue, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Slate, The Southern Review, Sycamore Review, The Asian American Literary Review, and PANK. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three sons.

Here Kim dreamcasts an adaptation of Miracle Creek, her first novel:
I wrote Miracle Creek between 2012 and 2015, and during that time, I was obsessed with the TV show, The Americans. So it’s probably not surprising that I pictured actors/actresses from that show playing the characters in my novel. Young Yoo, the Korean immigrant mother, for example, I pictured being played by Ruthie Ann Miles, the amazing Tony-award-winning actress who portrayed the Korean immigrant character Young-hee. Elizabeth, the mother on trial for murdering her 8-year old son, I pictured being played by Keri Russell (who played Elizabeth Jennings in The Americans), and I thought Matthew Rhys would make an amazing Matt Thompson, who plays the doctor being treated for infertility in the pressurized oxygen chamber. Finally, even though he wasn’t in The Americans, I pictured Daniel Dae Kim as Pak Yoo, the Korean immigrant father and the paralyzed owner/operator of the oxygen chamber at the center of Miracle Creek.
Visit Angie Kim's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 26, 2019

Christopher Ruocchio's "Howling Dark"

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

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Howling Dark, the second novel of his galaxy-spanning Sun Eater series:
I’ve not wavered in my determination that Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen from Game of Thrones) is still the perfect actor for Hadrian. Not only does he have the look, but I’m consistently impressed with his depth and range in each role I see him in, and have no trouble seeing him as both the romantic, Byronic figure that Hadrian is and the Bonaparte/Darth Vader-esque terror he must become. I have reconsidered Valka. I rewatched Skyfall recently and very much enjoyed Berenice Marlohe’s too-brief turn as Severine. She was pure class with a sharp-edged cruelty in her mannerisms that were pure Valka to me.

I’ll do a couple new ones. The Undying, the Lord of Vorgossos, is in my mind played by the great Ken Watanabe. The Undying is simultaneously a very old man kept alive by machines that feed his mostly replaced-by-machines body and an almost god-like half-machine entity that rules over and controls the resources of an entire planet, and Watanabe could capture both facets I think very well, with that dark timbre, one can easily imagine his voice booming from speakers the size of houses.

It’s no secret that Hadrian is hunting the alien Cielcin, and no spoiler really to say he finds them in the end. The chieftain he meets, Prince Aranata Otiolo, would be played excellently by someone like Zachary Quinto. I’ve been a Quinto fan since his villainous turn on Heroes back in the day, and I hear he’s great in NOS4A2. But putting him in prosthetics and letting him loose to chew scenery with the best of them would be bloody marvelous.
Follow Christopher Ruocchio on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Empire of Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Emily Devenport's "Medusa in the Graveyard"

Emily Devenport has written several novels under various pseudonyms including one which was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick award.

Here Devenport dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Medusa in the Graveyard:
I thought up a cast for Medusa Uploaded while I was still writing it, and I'm still happy with the people I pictured in those roles: Ruth Negga as Oichi, Vanessa Williams as Lady Sheba, Nichelle Nichols as Lady Gloria, Michelle Yeoh as Oichi's mother, Neal McDonough as Gennady Mironenko, Mehcad Brooks as Nuruddin, Sendhil Ramamurthy as Captain Nemo, Chiaki Kuriyama as Medusa. I pictured them all while I was writing the sequel, Medusa in the Graveyard, but a few of the new characters may be more challenging to cast.

For instance, there's Cocteau, an engineer on the Union Ship, Merlin: Her hair was so white, I wondered if she lightened it. The contrast with her dark skin made her look like a magical creature. A fairy godmother? An elf? Yet despite her apparent age, her skin was smooth, and Cocteau’s accented voice possessed the timbre of a fine instrument...

Cicely Tyson is the first actress who comes to my mind, but possibly that's because I'm American. Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge are also easy to picture. I'm not as familiar with African actresses, or French, or British. Someday soon I may see a movie or TV show in which the perfect Cocteau is a player.

Merlin's captain, Epatha Thomas, is much easier to peg. I knew who she was as soon as she appeared on the page: S. Epatha Merkerson, who played Anita van Buren on Law & Order. As far as I'm concerned, they should have called that the S. Epatha Merkerson Show.

Baba Yaga, the world engineer, is another challenge. In stories and movies, she has been depicted as an evil crone, her features sometimes ridiculously distorted. I think it makes more sense for her to be played by an elderly Lidiya Vertinskaya, who played the Phoenix/Siren in Aleksandr Ptushko's film, Sadko. Lidiya has the sort of demeanor you would expect from a woman who could hatch plots for thousands of years.

If you remember the young Keisha Castle-Hughes from the cover of the Whale Rider DVD, you can picture Ahi, and I would be tempted to cast Grace Park as Fire. While we're on the subject of Polynesian actors, I'd like to state, for the record, that any resemblance between Jay Momoa, scion of Momoa movers, and the actor Jason Momoa is purely coincidental. However, should Jason Momoa decide he would like to play a role in Medusa in the Graveyard, that would be so awesome!!

Dr Mirzakhani, another Merlin crew member, might be played by Tala Ashe – and while I'm mining the cast of Legends of Tomorrow, I think Keiynan Lonsdale, who plays Wally West, would make a perfect Ashur. Representative Lee, an expert negotiator, should be played by the peerless B.D. Wong.

Communications Officer Narm could be played by Lee Min-ho. Dress him all in black, and he's there. When I think of Ambassador Argus Fabricus, I can't help picturing Max von Sydow in his heyday, from The Seventh Seal. Cocteau's colleague, Engineer Wilson, is also a Scandinavian type, so maybe Alexander Skarsgård has the right vibe for him.

Last but not least is Bomarigala, survivor of OMSK and muckety-muck of the Weapons Clan. Picture Mark Chao from the Detective Dee movies, and you'll have a good idea what he's like.

The cast of Medusa in the Graveyard is a lot more diverse, so much so that many of the characters will have to be depicted through CGI. At least I wrote in a ready-made soundtrack.

Cue the Default Majesty Music, roll credits...
Visit Emily Devenport's blog.

My Book, The Movie: Medusa Uploaded.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 22, 2019

Jennifer Honeybourn's "Just My Luck"

Jennifer Honeybourn is a fan of British accents, Broadway musicals, and epic, happily-ever-after love stories. If she could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, she’d have high tea with Walt Disney, JK Rowling, and her nana. She lives in Stratford, Ontario with her husband, daughter and cat in a house filled with books.

Here Honeybourn dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Just My Luck:
I think it’s probably every writer’s dream to see one of their books made into a movie. One of the first things I do when I start a new book is cast the characters in my head — and for some reason, I usually pull from Disney Channel stars. For Just My Luck, I imagined:

Marty Taylor: Laura Marano. She starred on the Disney Channel’s Austin and Ally and, more recently, in The Perfect Date on Netflix. I especially loved her character in that movie.

Will Foster: Noah Centineo. He was really great in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the Netflix adaption of Jenny Han’s wonderful book. And, coincidentally, he starred opposite Laura Marano in The Perfect Date. Plus, it wouldn’t take much to style his hair into Will’s trademark pompadour.

Hayes Foster: I think Bradley Steven Perry, who was on Good Luck Charlie, has the perfect look for Hayes, Will’s spoiled and very entitled younger brother.

Ansel Taylor: Ansel is a redhead, so I think KG Apa, the actor who stars as Archie Andrews on Riverdale would fit the part.

Nalani xx: Auli'i Cravalho, the actress who played Moana. She’s also a beautiful singer, so maybe she could sing something for the soundtrack!

Director: I would love for Ali Wong to direct Just My Luck. I loved Always Be My Maybe and I think her sense of humor would elevate the book.
Visit Jennifer Honeybourn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel's "In the Woods"

About In the Woods by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel:
It should have been just another quiet night on the farm when Logan witnessed the attack, but it wasn’t.

Something is in the woods.
Something unexplainable.
Something deadly.

Hundreds of miles away, Chrystal’s plans for summer in Manhattan are abruptly upended when her dad reads tabloid coverage of some kind of grisly incident in Oklahoma. When they arrive to investigate, they find a witness: a surprisingly good-looking farm boy.

As townsfolk start disappearing and the attacks get ever closer, Logan and Chrystal will have to find out the truth about whatever’s hiding in the woods…before they become targets themselves.
Here Jones dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
Chrystal – She’s strong. She’s talented. Her dad is a bit eccentric. So is she. She quote Kierkegaard and has a bass guitar. She’s got the Maya Hawke vibe going on. So Maya Hawke?

Logan – He’s trying to be a poet. He’s kind of failing. He’s got farm boy arm strength and some kind eyes and a ridiculously charming smile. He’s occasionally sexist, but he’s trying. So, maybe Roshon Fegan?

Mr. Lawson-Smith (Chrystal’s dad) – Quirky? Eccentric? Basically Doctor Who as a kindergarten teacher/cryptozoologist? I’m going for Matt Smith. Oh! But if Maya Hawke is Chrystal it would be tremendous for her dad to be her actual dad. I think Ethan Hawke could pull off the vibe here.

The Monster – I can’t tell because it would be such a spoiler. Such a spoiler.
Visit Carrie Jones's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Carrie Jones & Tala.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Chris Tebbetts's "Me Myself & Him"

Chris Tebbetts is the New York Times bestselling coauthor of James Patterson’s Middle School series. Originally from Yellow Springs, Ohio, Tebbetts is a graduate of Northwestern University. He lives and writes in Vermont.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Me Myself & Him:
I love questions like this—in part because I was a film major in college; I’m a freak for movies in general; and when I write, some part of me is always imagining my scenes on the screen. I think about where I’d put the camera (aka, what I want to show the reader), when to use a long shot (description of the setting), when to go in for a close up (get inside the character’s head), etc., etc., etc.

As for my prospective actors, I saw a preview the other day for Spiderman: Far From Home, and I have to say, Tom Holland has that average-guy, accessible-but-funny feel to him that I associate with my character Chris (who is, of course, partially based on myself). And Zendaya has impressed me ever since launching off from the Disney Channel (is that where she came from?). She’d be perfect for Anna. As for the character of Wexler, I’d love to see what Thomas Barbusca (who was so good in the movie version of another of my books, Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life) could do with that role.
Visit Chris Tebbetts's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 15, 2019

Keely Hutton's "Secret Soldiers"

Keely Hutton is a novelist, educational journalist, and former teacher. She is the recipient of the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop scholarship at Chautauqua.

Hutton has worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar to tell his story in her first novel, Soldier Boy.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Secret Soldiers:
If I could cast a movie adaptation of Secret Soldiers, I would pick the following talented actors for the main roles.

Thomas – Noah Jupe, the young British actor who played Marcus Abbott in A Quiet Place could handle the emotional range of the 13-year-old Dover miner desperate to get to the Western Front.

George – Levi Miller, the young Australian actor who played Peter in Pan and Calvin in A Wrinkle in Time could bring the charismatic London street urchin to life.

Charlie – Jacob Tremblay, the young Canadian actor who played Auggie in Wonder and Jack in Room would break hearts as the vulnerable runaway.

Frederick – Finn Wolfhard, the young Canadian actor who plays Mike Wheeler on the show Stranger Things could handle the character arc of the arrogant Eton student.

James – Tom Holland, the British actor who plays my favorite Spider Man ever would be an amazing older brother for Thomas.

Bagger – Jerome Flynn, the British actor who played Bennet Drake in Ripper Street (one of my favorite characters on one of my favorite shows) and Bronn on Game of Thrones would nail the tough, but loveable crew leader.

Mole – Paul Anderson, the British actor who plays Arthur Shelby Jr. in Peaky Blinders, the show that inspired my research into the WW1 tunnellers, would slay as the crew’s kicker.

Boomer – Naveen Andrews, the British actor who played Jafar on the show Once Upon a Time in Wonderland would be amazing as the crew’s explosion expert and Thomas’s mentor.

Bats –Raphael Corkhill, the British actor who narrated the audiobook for Secret Soldiers and plays Kaiser Wilhelm II in the upcoming film The German King would be fantastic in the role of the crew’s listener.

For a composer, I’d love John Williams, Alan Silvestri, or Hans Zimmer. I listened to all three composers’ work while writing Secret Soldiers and love the emotional impact their scores bring to films.
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

My Book, The Movie: Soldier Boy.

The Page 69 Test: Secret Soldiers.

Writers Read: Keely Hutton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 13, 2019

J. Todd Scott's "This Side of Night"

J. Todd Scott was born in rural Kentucky and attended college and law school in Virginia, where he set aside an early ambition to write to pursue a career as a federal agent. His assignments have taken him all over the U.S and the world, but a badge and gun never replaced his passion for books and writing. He now resides in the American Southwest, and when he’s not hunting down very bad men, he’s hard at work on his next book.

His debut novel, The Far Empty, was published in 2016.

Here Scott dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, This Side of Night:
This is a more interesting question now that I’ve been more actively involved in the “Hollywood side” of things on several projects, including the adaptation and development of my own books. Throughout the process, I’ve met both actors and directors, and I find the whole book-to-script-to-screen process fascinating…and slow…and frustrating….

That being said, I love the idea of making films, and often visualize how I’d “shoot” my own novel scenes as I write them. I’ve always had a “pocket list” of directors I’d be thrilled to see work on the Big Bend novels (and frankly, This Side of Night is probably the most “cinematic” of the three), but there are some great female directors working now I’d love to see tackle my stuff, particularly since America Reynosa is such a central character. In no particular order: Jennifer Kent, Sarah Polley, and Karyn Kusama.
Visit J. Todd Scott's website.

The Page 69 Test: High White Sun.

My Book, The Movie: High White Sun.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Julie McElwain's "Betrayal in Time"

Julie McElwain is a national award-winning journalist. Born and raised in North Dakota, she graduated from North Dakota State University (Go, Bison!), and moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for a fashion trade newspaper. Currently, she is an editor for CBS Soaps In Depth, covering the No. 1 daytime drama, The Young & The Restless.

Her first novel, A Murder In Time, was one of the top 10 picks by the National Librarian Association for its April 2016 book list, and was selected as the mystery to read in 2016 by OverDrive Inc., a digital distributor serving more than 34,000 libraries around the world. The novel was also a finalist for the 2016 Goodreads’ readers choice awards in the Sci-fi category, and made Bustle’s list of 9 Most Addictive Mystery series for 2017.

The series continues Kendra Donovan’s adventures in Regency England with A Twist in Time, Caught in Time, and Betrayal in Time.

When McElwain is not on her laptop, she enjoys traveling, exploring different cultures, spending time with family and meeting friends for Happy Hour. She lives in Long Beach, California.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Betrayal in Time:
When my first book, A Murder in Time, was published, many people asked me who I envisioned as Kendra when I was writing the book. Honestly, I didn’t have anyone in mind when I was writing the novel. Kendra was purely a figment of my imagination. However, since A Murder in Time was optioned for a TV series, I have had a chance to fantasize a bit. I love that there are a lot of action-oriented roles for women in Hollywood these days — where a woman saves the day rather than waiting to be saved. Kendra is a super-smart, slightly awkward, kick-ass woman who saves the day. Based on that, I can see several actresses in the role, but narrowed them down to the following four. Cobie Smulders, who showed off her comedic skills in How I Met Your Mother, and then flexed her muscle (literally) by playing Turner in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back as well as Maria in the Avengers movies. Summer Glau. She was the Terminator in the TV series. Really, does anything more need to be said? Priyanka Chopra, who played an FBI agent in the TV series Quantico, and also has an international reputation as being an action star. And, finally, Sofia Pernas, who is playing an action role on CBS’ summer adventure series, Blood & Treasure.

If I’m fantasy casting, I might as well cast Kendra’s love interest, Alec, with Aidan Turner. The guy has already sent temperatures rising with his role as Ross Poldark in the Masterpiece Theater TV series, Poldark. I think the uber-talented Turner would fill Alec’s Hessian boots quite nicely, thank you very much!
Visit Julie McElwain's website.

The Page 69 Test: Caught in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Adam Mitzner's "A Matter of Will"

Adam Mitzner is currently the head of the litigation department of Pavia & Harcourt LLP in midtown Manhattan and the author of several acclaimed novels, including Dead Certain, A Conflict of Interest, A Case of Redemption, Losing Faith, The Girl from Home, Dead Certain and Never Goodbye.

Here Mitzner dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, A Matter of Will:
As it turns out, A Matter of Will is already under option for film treatment by Company X and Emily Siegel. We haven’t discussed actors yet, but if they let me cast it (and I know they won’t), I’d go with:

Will Matthews — Ansel Elgort. I loved him in Baby Driver, and he is a graduate of New York City’s high school of performing arts, which both my daughters attended.

Sam Abaddon — The part calls for someone too handsome to be believed, with a definite dark side. Jon Hamm could do it justice, but it might hew too close to his Don Draper character. Idris Elba would also kill it, and a British accent would be great.

Gwen Lipton — I’m a huge fan of Nina Dobrev, and I think she’d be perfect as Will’s love interest who is not only beautiful, but clearly smarter than he is.

Eve Deveraux — Once again, the part calls for beauty and an intelligence the audience recognizes, but the other characters might not. There’s a plethora of great age appropriate actors: Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Connelly, Halle Barry, please have your agent call me.
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mitzner's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Matter of Will.

Writers Read: Adam Mitzner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 5, 2019

Domenica Ruta's "Last Day"

In Domenica Ruta’s Last Day,
the end of the world comes once a year. Every May 28, humanity gathers to anticipate the planet’s demise—and to celebrate as if the day is truly its last.

On this holiday, three intersecting sets of characters embark on a possibly last-chance quest for redemption. In Boston, bookish wunderkind Sarah is looking for love and maybe a cosmic reversal from the much older Kurt, a tattoo artist she met at last year’s Last Day BBQ—but he’s still trying to make amends to the family he destroyed long ago. Dysfunctional Karen keeps getting into trouble, especially when the voices she’s been hearing coax her to abandon everything to search for her long-lost adoptive brother; her friend Rosette has left the Jehovah’s Witnesses to follow a new pastor at the Last Kingdom on Earth, where she brings Karen on this fateful day. Meanwhile, above them all, three astronauts on the International Space Station, Bear, an American; Russian Svec; and billionaire Japanese space tourist Yui, contemplate their lives as well as their precious Earth from afar.
Here Ruta dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
Sarah Moss should be played by Kiernan Shipka, the prodigiously talented actress who played Sally Draper on Mad Men.

Kurt should be played by either Mark Ruffalo or Robert Downey Jr in their early 40s incarnation.

Bear should be played by Ed Harris.

Karen should be played by Rebel Wilson.
Visit Domenica Ruta's website.

The Page 69 Test: Last Day.

Writers Read: Domenica Ruta.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Ashley Dyer's "The Cutting Room"

Ashley Dyer is the pseudonym for prize-winning novelist Margaret Murphy working in consultation with policing and forensics expert, Helen Pepper.

Dyer's new novel is The Cutting Room.

Here Murphy dreamcasts an adaptation of The Cutting Room:
An Oscar-winning Hollywood production company actually did show an interest in the Carver & Lake series even before Splinter in the Blood (book #1) was published. It was heady stuff for a time, and slightly surreal, having transatlantic discussions over the phone, as well as meeting with British film and TV producers. Ultimately, it all came to nought, but it was fun while it lasted. It was only after producers asked if I had a dream cast in mind, that I gave this some thought, because as a rule, although I have a picture of the protagonists in my head, I rarely base them on actors.

In The Cutting Room, Carver and Lake are on the trail of a social media savvy serial killer who calls himself the ‘Ferryman’; a sadistic narcissist with artistic pretensions who makes his victims the centrepiece of his art works.

Emily Blunt would be perfect as Ruth Lake. Ruth is reserved, though far from shy, and has a phenomenal inner strength and integrity. She’s serious, and can be tough, but has a sense of humour, and she’s compassionate. Although she isn’t always honest with Carver or her colleagues, she is honest with herself—and she is harbouring a dreadful secret—at least some of which is revealed in this novel, when a man comes back into her life who was very special to her in her teens and early twenties. Emily Blunt is superb in every movie I’ve ever seen her in, from the kick-ass action heroine in Edge of Tomorrow, to a vulnerable-but-stoic FBI agent in Sicario; and she conveyed such raw emotion in A Quiet Place—much of it without dialogue—that I know she could bring all of Ruth’s many-layered complexities to life onscreen.

Greg Carver, meanwhile, is slowly regaining his strength after an attack that nearly ended him and he can’t seem to shake the hallucinations and bewildering auras which are a legacy of his injuries. He is grateful to Ruth who covers for him at work, but terrified that the after-effects of his head trauma, together with the PTSD flashbacks he’s suffering, will finish his career, so he’s pushing himself too hard, too fast, and is in deep denial—sometimes even building barriers against Ruth. But the auras—blurs of coloured light which ‘halo’ people he interacts with—seem to correspond to their mood, and Carver begins to regard his infirmity as a strength. Jake Gyllenhaal has a tremendous range and seems completely fearless in the roles he takes on. I’d love for him to play Carver, knowing that he would convey Carver’s intensity and vulnerability, his terror and bewilderment, and also the courage and determination that make him a great cop.

As for the director ... I toyed with the Christopher Nolan (and there aren’t many who can say that!), because he creates such strong visual experiences and dizzying disorientation in his films, notably Memento, and Inception. But in the end, I think Martin Scorsese would be the director for me: Shutter Island, adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel, was highly inventive, creating truly startling images in the hallucinatory sequences and conveying the weirdness and dark gothic tone of the book brilliantly. I’d love to see what he’d do with Greg Carver’s flashbacks, visions and auras, as well as the seriously twisted ‘artworks’ the murderer creates.
Visit Ashley Dyer's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Ashley Dyer.

The Page 69 Test: The Cutting Room.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Richard Zimler's "The Warsaw Anagrams"

Richard Zimler's novels include The Search for Sana, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, and The Seventh Gate. He has won many prizes for his writing and has lectured on Sephardic Jewish culture all over the world. He now lives in Porto, Portugal, where he teaches journalism and writes.

Here Zimler dreamcasts an adaptation of his novel, The Warsaw Anagrams:
The Warsaw Anagrams is a noir mystery set inside Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto. The narrator, Erik Cohen, is an elderly psychiatrist, except that the reader discovers right away that he is already dead. Erik is an ibbur – a ghost – who has failed to pass over to the Other Side. Why? He theorizes that it is because he still has a duty to fulfill in our world. Except that he doesn’t know what it is. He tells the story of his last year in the Warsaw ghetto in the hopes of discovering what it is.

A little context… In the autumn of 1940, the Nazis sealed 400,000 Jews inside a small area of the Polish capital, creating an urban island cut off from the outside world. Erik is forced to move into a tiny apartment there with his niece and his beloved nine-year-old nephew, Adam.

One bitterly cold winter day, Adam goes missing. The next morning, his body is discovered in the barbed wire surrounding this Jewish ghetto. For what possible reason has his body been murdered?

Erik fights off his crushing rage and despair by vowing to find his nephew’s killer – and take revenge. His childhood friend Izzy – whose quick courage and wicked sense of humor keeps Erik from losing his nerve – joins him in the desperate and dangerous search.

A Portuguese producer is currently trying to secure funding for the film, but I don’t know where the projects stands (the author is always the last to know!). The role of Erik would have to be played by a very charismatic and talented actor. Erik isn’t a demonstrative man, so the actor would have to be able to capture the viewer’s attention through small and telling gestures – and through modulations in his voice. One actor that the producer and I have discussed is Jeremy Irons. Another possibility would be Mandy Patinkin. I think both of them could do a great job (and get an Oscar nomination!). For Izzy, the other main role, I would like Mark Rylance. I saw him in Bridge of Spies and was very impressed. I think that he and Jeremy Irons or Mandy Patinkin would make an incredible duo.
Visit Richard Zimler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Catherine Chung's "The Tenth Muse"

Catherine Chung was born in Evanston, IL, and grew up in New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Writing has been her life-long passion, but as an undergraduate she indulged in a brief, one-sided affair with mathematics at the University of Chicago followed by a few years in Santa Monica working at a think tank by the sea.

Eventually she attended Cornell University for her MFA, and since then she and her books have been given shelter and encouragement from The MacDowell Colony, Jentel, Hedgebrook, SFAI, Camargo, The University of Leipzig, VCCA, UCross, Yaddo, Civitella Ranieri, The Jerome Foundation, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. Her brother, Heesoo Chung, has also given her a bed and fed her lots of ice cream at criticał times.

Chung is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Director’s Visitorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She was a Granta New Voice, and won an Honorable Mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award with her first novel, Forgotten Country, which was a Booklist, Bookpage, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2012. She has published work in The New York Times, The Rumpus, and Granta, and is a fiction editor at Guernica Magazine. She lives in New York City.

Here Chung dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Tenth Muse:
When I was growing up, my white friends would sometimes ask each other who they'd want to play them in the movie of their lives. As a child, I was always at a loss: there were no Asian American child actresses I knew by name. I don't know when the first time I saw one was, but to be honest, it's not something I likely would have wanted to commemorate: the Asian American onscreen characters of my childhood were the foreign exchange students in the goofy clothes who spoke with accents, or the nerds everyone else made fun of and picked on, who carried calculators and protractors, whose noses were buried in giant books. It's not that these depictions didn't reflect my experience: they did, in the most painful ways. I wanted nothing to do with them.

When my first book came out, people would ask me who I wanted to play the Korean American family in my novel. "When was the last time you saw a movie about an Asian American family?" I deflected--refusing to play along. "How many Asian American actors and actresses can you even name?" The Joy Luck Club had come out when I was in middle school, and almost two decades had passed by that point. I had loved that movie: had loved seeing beautiful, complicated Asian American women living a range of different lives whose stories were treated with compassion and love and whose mothers' backstories, also lovingly told, were equal parts glamorous and tragic. That whole movie was filled with a tortured longing I understood: the yearning of the second generation to immerse itself fully in the New World in tension with the desire to hold on to history, to culture, to family, to love.

And then, for a long time, there was nothing that even compared. I loved Lucy Liu and Sandra Oh and Margaret Cho, but I wanted more for them, and more for myself. I wanted them in leading roles, I wanted them surrounded by other Asian faces, for the focus to be on the full range of their experiences as Asian American women--something I hadn't seen enough of, something I was hungry for.

The last two years in Asian American cinema and television have been a revelation, to say the least. When I think of Crazy Rich Asians, To All The Boys I Loved Before, and Always Be My Maybe I am filled with devoted, celebratory, gleeful pride, as if someone in my family had made them. For the first time, this question of who would play the lead role of my protagonist Katherine in the movie of my book feels like a joyous one to answer. And since I'm new at this, since it's my first time really allowing myself to ask this question, I find that I am greedy. I want everyone. Setting aside practicalities of age, etc, I want the first Asian American actress I ever fell in love with, the one whose face I've missed for so many years--Ming-Na Wen with her soulful eyes and quiet depth, I want Lucy Liu and her radiant energy and sparkling charm, Sandra Oh with her charisma, range, and humanity. I want Gemma Chan for her angelic beauty, and even more for the way her thoughts telegraph across her face and the intelligence that shines through everything she does (she could also play the young version of Katherine's mother with heartbreaking clarity)--and Olivia Munn with her sharp, forceful, unapologetic and charmingly eccentric personality, and who is also the only actress on this list who's biracial, as Katherine is. Any of these phenomenally talented actresses could inhabit Katherine--a math genius struggling to find a place for herself in the male dominated world of higher mathematics and simultaneously trying to come to an understanding of her family's history and her own identity--in different and beautiful ways, and I love daydreaming about the different ways they'd play her. And I love, too, daydreaming about the actresses whose work I don't know yet, the actresses I know are coming for us, ready to finally embody the stories we've been waiting with such hunger to see, and the stories we have yet to tell.
Visit Catherine Chung's website.

Writers Read: Catherine Chung.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 24, 2019

Season Butler's "Cygnet"

Cygnet is Season Butler's debut novel.

About the book:
As rising sea levels advance toward The Kid’s cliff-front home, her old-age-separatist neighbours grow less patient with her presence and her parents are nowhere to be found. Cygnet‘s teenage protagonist confronts the dilemmas of coming-of-age in a time of personal and global uncertainty; leaving her island home means risking losing her parents forever, but staying becomes less possible with each passing day. It’s a story about identity, loyalty and survival in a historical moment when our dependable structures are being undone, vanishing and evolving faster than we can reckon with the old world’s loss. And sometimes it’s funny…
Here Butler dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
Amandla Stenberg is The Kid. No question. I’m a great admirer of Stenberg as a thinker and activist as well as a performer, so she would be the ideal embodiment of an intersectional protagonist.

Cygnet’s flashback scenes would be irresistible with Donald Glover and Lupita Nyong'o as The Kid’s parents, and Nichelle Nichols (the original Star Trek’s Commander Uhura) as Lolly.

Oprah Winfrey would bring wise-woman realness to the role of Rose. This might be controversial, but I can see Mrs Tyburn played by Dolly Parton in conservative drag. If she’s not available, Madonna could bring a similar power and glamour to the part. And there would be a poetic eeriness to casting Betty White as The Duchess.

Bette Midler has the perfect presence to play Suzie-Q (remember her 1979 take on Janice Joplin?), with Rutger Hauer, or maybe an aged-up Forest Whitaker, as her Johnny-Come-Lately. The truth-telling Earl – who saw it all coming decades ago – would be a great cameo for Sidney Poitier or Morgan Freeman.

I’d ask Timothée Chalamet to take a stab at Jason.

Swan Island itself would be played by its real-life inspiration, Star Island, with its stunning, peaceful landscape (and sublime seascape), plus landmarks like the Oceanic Hotel and Gosport Chapel, which I borrowed for my book.

But the final say in all of this would go to the film’s director, Barry Jenkins.
Visit Season Butler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Binnie Kirshenbaum's "Rabbits for Food"

Binnie Kirshenbaum is a novelist and short story writer. She has twice won the Critic's Choice Award and the Discovery Award. She was one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists and one of Paper magazine's Beautiful People. Her books have been selected as Favorite Books of the Year by The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek, Vogue and National Public Radio. Her work has been translated into seven languages. She is a professor and Fiction Director at Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts.

Here Kirshenbaum dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Rabbits for Food:
There’s no costume nor any amount of make-up to transform Ricky Gervais into an attractive forty-three year old woman, but he’d be pitch perfect in the role of Bunny. While many fine actresses could be entirely convincingly as a clinically depressed woman—Keira Knightly was amazing as the severely mentally Sabine Spielrein in A Most Dangerous Method —but Bunny is not only deeply depressed. She is acerbic, anti-socially honest, and she has deep compassion for all animals and oppressed people. As Gervais does in his stand-up routines, and when he hosted the Oscars, Bunny wields her wit like a machete. She is wincingly funny. This willingness to speak truth as she sees it coupled with her anguished vulnerability results in comic excruciation; a state of being of which Ricky Gervais is the master. When my husband and I binge-watched The Office we laughed ourselves sick but by the end, I was weeping. I asked my husband, “Why am I crying?”

“How could you not be crying?” he said. “This is the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Gervais’s character could not conceal his desperation to be loved by everyone; a desperation that thwarted any chance of fulfilling that need. Bunny’s desperation is better concealed, but the bottom line is the same. He wants to be loved. She wants to be special. His attempts to mask his humiliation fail, as do Bunny’s efforts to bury her shame.

For the obvious reasons, Gervais will never be cast as Bunny. In the terrific film Will You Ever Forgive Me, the extraordinarily versatile Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel was hilariously acerbic, anti-socially honest rude, and unbearably lonely. She’d make for a great Bunny, but to risk a comment of the sort Rickey Gervais might make, she’s too plump for the role. I say this only because it matters that Bunny is thin, too thin.

As to the right director, I haven’t a clue, but some years ago I gave a reading in Florida, after which an older woman marched up to me and asked, “Do you know my son?”

Her son was Todd Solondz, and I told her that I loved his films, but no, I didn’t know him.

“I thought you’d know each other,” she said, “because you’re both kooky.”
Learn more about the book and author at Binnie Kirshenbaum's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Scenic Route.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Roselle Lim's "Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune"

Roselle Lim is a Filipino-Chinese writer living on the north shore of Lake Erie.

She loves to write about food and magic.

When she isn't writing, she is sewing, sketching, or pursuing the next craft project.

Here Lim dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune:
If my book were turned into a film, I would love Lulu Wang to direct. As a Chinese filmmaker, director, and writer, I think she would capture the essential essence of the book. Her film, The Farewell, looks beautiful. I can't wait to watch.

For the lead, I’m open to anyone. I feel I haven’t yet found the right fit.

Ming-Na Wen would be ideal as Miranda, Natalie’s mother. (If the film had been made circa The Joy Luck Club, she would have been perfect as the lead. She portrayed the kind of vulnerability Natalie possesses.) I love her range for comedy, action, and drama. Her current stint as Melinda May on Agents of SHIELD is one of my favorite characters. I am confident she can portray Miranda and the complexities of agoraphobia, anxiety, and depression.

Old Wu to me has always been James Hong. I never pictured anyone else in the role. James is an amazing actor and he brings the gravitas and complexity to the hardened, unforgiving restauranteur.

When I was writing the book, I always pictured Daniel Henney as Natalie’s love interest. I can also see Lewis Tan or Simu Liu for the role. Daniel Lee is dreamy, charming, and romantic, qualities all three actors possess.

Celia was written with the late Lydia Shum in mind. A comedienne who exuded the kindness and warmth of the best friend you wish you had.

For Evelyn Yu, the fortuneteller, I’d love to see the legendary Michelle Yeoh. Her versatility is perfect for the mysterious, enigmatic teashop owner. In an ideal world, the part is more of a cameo, so I hope she can squeeze it into her busy schedule.

The Chius are the married couple of the neighborhood. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon (Appa and Umma from Kim’s Convenience) have the type of chemistry I’d love to see. We need to feel the decades together as a couple and the strain and tension from a failing business.
Visit Roselle Lim's website.

The Page 69 Test: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune.

--Marshal Zeringue

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