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

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

David Downie's "The Gardener of Eden"

David D. Downie has called Paris and the Marais home since 1986. He has written for over 50 publications worldwide including Bon Appétit, The Los Angeles Times, Town & Country Travel, The San Francisco Chronicle,, and He is the author of the critically acclaimed Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light, three Terroir guides, as well as several cookbooks and crime novels. He lives with his wife, Alison Harris, a photographer, and creates custom tours via his "Paris, Paris Tours" blog site.

Here Downie dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Gardener of Eden:
The Gardener of Eden was made to be filmed by Alfred Hitchcock. I grew up watching Hitchcock’s movies and his TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Think of the terrifying shower scene in Psycho, the breathless crop-duster scene in North by Northwest, the horrible, obsessive pecking of gulls and the seaside setting in The Birds. Then fold in the dizzying, tower-top and the deeply creepy in-the-giant-redwoods scenes of Vertigo. Hitchcock was the “Master of Suspense,” the Michelangelo of the psychological thriller, a genre that relies as much on chiseled character development and a feeling of ratcheting tension as on action or violence.

So, when the hero of The Gardener of Eden, James Paul Adams first appears on the darkly beautiful, wave-lashed beach below the cliffs of Carverville, Hitchcock’s camera would pick out the flapping black hooded windbreaker that makes the mysterious, solitary figure look like a cross of Jesus Christ and Rasputin. The lens would then zoom on the shiny spent gun-shells clutched in James’s hands, his big, gnarled hands clasped behind his arched back, as if he were a prisoner cuffed from behind and made to march to the gallows.

Jimmy Stewart could play the role, though the rougher, gruffer, tougher Gregory Peck might be a better fit. Tall, handsome, idealistic, fearless—and flawed—that is James, a Hitchcock character through and through. A sonorous baritone rusty from lack of use—because James, once a high-flying lawyer and judge, has become a wandering recluse. He’s a lavishly bearded, long-haired beachcomber who rarely speaks to anyone as he quests to find his former life and the lost love of that life.

The role of Beverley, the garrulous, gourmandizing, bowling-ball-shaped innkeeper of The Eden Resort & Cottages, where James winds up being the gardener, goes to Marsha Mason. Who? The Goodbye Girl—and dozens of other greats. Mason has been playing in Grace and Frankie in recent years, but was nominated four times for Oscars when I was growing up, plays serious and comic roles with equal flair, and has the smarts and style of Beverley. Hitchcock would approve.

Kristin Scott Thomas, though only 20 when Hitchcock died in 1980, is the book’s fictional Maggie, no question. She’s beautiful, tough, smart and faithful, and, like Beverley, runs rings around most of the other characters in the novel. Maggie hasn’t seen James in nearly forty years, but her heart is still his, for way too many reasons to explain here. Think of her in The English Patient, playing alongside Ralph Fiennes. Now that I mention him, Fiennes would be a perfect James. Both are English, not American, but they’re so good it doesn’t matter.

Sidney Greenstreet, another Brit, as played in The Maltese Falcon, would make a fine Harvey Murphy, the fat, sadistic county sheriff in The Gardener of Eden, though Ernest Borgnine at his most sinister, say, in Bad Day at Black Rock, might even be a better choice.

One of my favorite character actors, ever, Harvey Keitel, lifted from The Duellists, is the perfect Clem Kelly, the ornery, evil mayor of Carverville and editor of its propaganda sheet, The Carverville Lighthouse.

If Jussie Smollett were a few years younger and not in custody, he might be a good fit for Alexander, aka Taz, the surprising, goofy teenage hero who saves everyone’s bacon. Though only seventeen, Taz certainly knows Hitchcock’s repertoire. Does Smollett? Maybe. So, I am open to suggestions. Let me know?
Visit David Downie's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Gardener of Eden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Claire Booth's "A Deadly Turn"

Claire Booth is a former true crime writer, ghostwriter, and reporter. She lives in California. The Branson Beauty, featuring Sheriff Hank Worth, is her first novel.

In 2017 she dreamcasted an adaptation of Another Man's Ground, the second Sheriff Hank Worth Mystery.

Here Booth revisits the exercise for volume 3 in the series, A Deadly Turn:
There are a few new characters in this newest installment of my Sheriff Hank Worth series. The first, Dale Raker, is a city police detective who teams with county sheriff Hank to investigate a murder. He’s a wide, solid native Missourian, and I think Eric Stonestreet would be perfect.

The other new character is an aging country music star. He’d been a huge success and is trying to make a go of it again in a Branson, Missouri theater. I would love, love, love to see Sam Elliott in that role.

And to recap my mainstays, I’d love Oscar Isaacs as Hank, Octavia Spencer as Chief Deputy Sheila Turley, and Logan Lerman as young deputy Sam Karnes.
Visit Claire Booth's website.

My Book, The Movie: Another Man's Ground.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 1, 2019

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's "Stolen Girl"

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is the acclaimed author of over sixteen picture books and novels. Her earlier picture books include Enough, Silver Threads, Daughter of War, Aram's Choice and The Best Gifts.

In 2013 she won the Silver Birch Fiction Award for Making Bombs for Hitler and the Red Cedar Award for Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue from War.

Here Skrypuch dreamcasts the lead in an adaptation of Stolen Girl, the latest volume in her WWII trilogy:
Stolen Girl starts off with Nadia, a new immigrant to Canada, just after World War II. She doesn't know her past and is almost afraid of finding out about it. For a film treatment, there would need to be an actor playing her current age, which is 12, as well as who she was in her flashbacks, at about age 6 to 8. For the younger girl, the actor in the book trailer would be absolutely perfect.

For twelve-year-old Nadia, Millie Bobby Brown who played Eleven in Stranger Things would nail it.
Visit Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's website.

My Book, The Movie: Making Bombs for Hitler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Soraya Lane's "The Spitfire Girls"

Soraya M. Lane graduated with a law degree before realizing that law wasn't the career for her and that her future was in writing. She is the author of historical and contemporary women's fiction, and her novel Wives of War was an Amazon Charts bestseller.

Lane lives on a small farm in her native New Zealand with her husband, their two young sons and a collection of four legged friends. When she's not writing, she loves to be outside playing make-believe with her children or snuggled up inside reading.

Here Lane dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Spitfire Girls:
I am very visual when I start writing a new book, and I like to be able to “see” my characters, so I actually spend time “casting” my characters, which usually involves scanning the internet for images to match with each character, and then I create a Pinterest board. For my new release, The Spitfire Girls, I would love to see Emilia Clarke (of Game of Thrones & Me Before You fame) as my petite, gutsy pilot Ruby; Jessica Biel as capable leader May; and Jennifer Lawrence as brazen, gorgeous American pilot Lizzie. And my favourite hero in the story is Benjamin, and I’ve always imagined him as Tom Hardy.

Last year, one of the most exciting moments of my career happened when I signed with film agent Addison Duffy at United Talent Agency. We had a very surreal phone call about my books, and she wanted to know my dream list of producers/directors/actors. So now I’m always writing thinking “imagine if this was turned into a film”. It may never happen, but a girl can dream!
Visit Soraya Lane's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 25, 2019

W. K. Stratton's "The Wild Bunch"

W.K. Stratton is the author of several books of nonfiction and poetry. He has written for Sports Illustrated, Outside, GQ, and Texas Monthly, and was named a Fellow of the Texas Institute of Letters in 2017. He is a longtime resident of Austin, Texas.

Here Stratton dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film:
As I wrote Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film, it actually did play out like a movie in my mind, though my book is a nonfiction work about, well, the making of a movie. My book had a definite story arc built around this question: Could an artist, in this case Sam Peckinpah, be able to achieve a second act in American life after squandering his first? Peckinpah had been blacklisted in Hollywood during the mid-1960s, not for political reasons, but because of his “difficult” personality and alcoholism. It was not clear at all whether he would be given a chance to return to the director’s chair for a big screen production. When, through almost a fluke set of circumstances, he wound up with the opportunity to direct The Wild Bunch, it was a make it or break it proposition. He had to succeed in order to have a career as a director.

The Wild Bunch is an outlaw picture, a story concerning the complicated relationships among men on the edge, set along the U.S.-Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution. Peckinpah felt kinship to the characters in his greatest movie. Yet he was also a soft-spoken man with a somewhat slight build who was well educated and very well read. He put himself through enormous hardships in Mexico during the filming of his movie.

Years ago, I kicked around the notion of a movie about the making of Peckinpah’s notorious Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. For that dream picture, I saw Tommy Lee Jones playing Peckinpah. But now, for a movie about the making of The Wild Bunch, I think I’d choose Sam Rockwell to play Sam. Rockwell has the body type of Peckinpah, and he looks somewhat similar in the face to the director. Peckinpah had his moments of intensity, sometimes insanity, and when I watch Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, I think, yes, he has the right stuff to capture that aspect of Sam as well.

As for the star of The Wild Bunch, William Holden? Holden was once Hollywood royalty, but time had passed him by. Plus he’d abused himself through over-drinking for decades. He would have to work on his voice some to do it, but Sean Penn (yes, Sean Penn) comes to mind as Holden. There is enough similarity in the two stars’ faces to allow Penn to pull it off visually, I think. And I believe that Penn might have a sense of what it was like to once have been at the top of the heap and now, well, not so much so, which could help him inform the role.

For Ernest Borgnine, I have another eccentric choice: Leonardo DiCaprio. He would have to age himself a bit for the part, and it would be a character unlike any I’ve seen him play, but I’d like to see him take on the challenge. It would be entertaining to see DiCaprio reenacting Borgnine’s maniacal giggle.

As for the role of Robert Ryan, I’m thinking Matthew McConaughey. He has that gaunt toughness that a portrayal of Ryan would require. For the role of Jaime Sánchez, who played Angel, the young Mexican member of the outlaw gang, I’d go with Gael Garcia Bernal, who was so impressive in both Y Tu Mama Tambien and The Motorcycle Diaries. The role would require an actor who can be both tough and sensitive simultaneously. Bernal would nail it.

For the part of Sonia Amelio, who had The Wild Bunch’s most significant female role, Teresa, the young actresss Yalitza Aparicio is my overwhelming number-one choice. The Amelio role would be small but important and would require an ability to emote much through facial expressions. Aparicio is the one. She blew me away with her performance in Roma. She has the skills to pull it off.

And as for who would play Strother Martin, well, there’s really only one choice, isn’t there? Billy Bob Thornton.
Visit W. K. Stratton's website.

Writers Read: W. K. Stratton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 22, 2019

Jo Perry's "Dead Is Beautiful"

Jo Perry earned a Ph.D. in English, taught college literature and writing, produced and wrote episodic television, and has published articles, book reviews, and poetry.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist Thomas Perry.

They have two adult children. Their three cats and two dogs are rescues.

Here Perry dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Dead is Beautiful:
In case your readers don't know, my protagonists are a murdered man and a dead dog he encounters in the afterlife.

That said, being alive should not disqualify any human (or canine actors) from the parts. I have always thought that Jonah Hill before he lost weight would have made a perfect Charles, but now that he's slim, I nominate Seth Rogen.

Dead Is Beautiful also features Charles's living sibling whom he refers to as his "shit brother." Joaquin Phoenix could play shit brother very well.

I have no dog actors in mind for Rose.
Visit Jo Perry's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Beautiful.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A.F. Brady's "Once a Liar"

A.F. Brady is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor/Psychotherapist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Brown University and two Masters degrees in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. She is a life-long New Yorker, and resides in Manhattan with her husband and their family, including Maurice the canine.

Here Brady dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Once a Liar:
Peter Caine: I would love to see Jon Hamm or Tom Hardy play Peter. Both actors are exceedingly good looking, and both play evil so well. I have heard that they are really nice guys in real life, and that’s exactly the kind of person I’m after. Someone who is playing a sociopath, and doing it convincingly, because that taps into the nuances of Peter’s own struggles within himself.

Juliette: I would love to have someone who personifies grace, elegance and kindness, but packs a heavy dose of “not gonna take your shit.” Either Katharine or Audrey Hepburn would have done glorious work with Juliette. As far as living actresses, I think Cate Blanchett or Charlize Theron would be excellent choices.

Sinan: I absolutely adore Sinan, and I fear I can’t find anyone I know of who is perfect. I would love it if he were played by a member of the LGBT community, and if he were really Turkish, British or any combination of the two.

Marcus: Jack Nicholson. Please. While I love Jack Nicholson, and I don’t love Marcus, I think he is the only person who can pull it off perfectly. Marcus is conniving, manipulative, brilliant, and cold. He is callous, and morally bankrupt yet charming. If Melvin Udall, R.P. McMurphy, the Joker and Jack Torrance were crammed into one human, Jack Nicholson’s Marcus Rhodes would be born.

Claire: I would love Marion Cotillard, or Kate Winslet. They’re both such forces, and Claire has to be strong and resourceful to manage being in a relationship with Peter.

Jamie: Alex Pettyfer or Dave Franco. Jamie is a teenager, so my age range may be flawed, but I feel like these guys can do a brooding, charismatic, conflicted teenager with the best of them.

Harrison Doyle: John Goodman. I just love when John Goodman plays someone unlikable.

As a woman writing from the perspective of a man, I would love to continue that theme and have a female director. I think Kathryn Bigelow would be an excellent choice.
Visit A.F. Brady's website.

Coffee with a Canine: A.F. Brady & Maurice.

The Page 69 Test: Once a Liar.

Writers Read: A.F. Brady.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 18, 2019

Robin Blake's "Rough Music"

Robin Blake is the author of acclaimed works on the artists Van Dyck and Stubbs. He has written, produced and presented extensively for radio, and is widely published as a critic.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of Rough Music, his latest Cragg & Fidelis mystery:
To have the luxury of personally screen-casting the characters in my novels! A prospect as delightful as it is unlikely, but here goes.

Titus Cragg is in his early forties – a strong but not overbearing character, capable of great courage, even foolhardiness, but also a man of tender feelings, particularly towards his wife. He can be grumpy, and is on occasion really angry, about the kind of injustices that he frequently faces in his job as coroner. But he is also humorous, tolerant and rarely vindictive. His greatest interest – outside family and work – is his library, and it is to books that he often turns when needing guidance. So: a bookish, uxorious, strong-minded, liberally inclined, justice loving, middle-aged lawyer. Who could take that role?

Sir Ian McKellen would have been perfect for the part, as he was born in Wigan just down the road from Preston. Unfortunately he is now more at home playing white-bearded wizards older than time, rather than forty-something lawyers. I have recently been admiring the BBC television adaptation of Les Miserables in which Dominic West makes a very good job of playing Jean Valjean. Watching him I thought more than once that he would make a pretty good Cragg. Perhaps there is a slightly over-solemn quality in his manner, but if he can lighten up a little I will settle for him.

Elizabeth Cragg is fifteen years younger than Titus. Of course she is pretty, but she is never flighty. Indeed her common sense is legendary and she more than once puts her husband right when his usually reliable judgement lets him down. She also lights up the Cragg family home in Preston with her laughter and sense of fun.

The laughter and the down-to-earth wisdom would be effortlessly provided by Olivia Colman, but I need a younger actor (sorry Olivia), so I’m going for the woman who played opposite Colman in the hit film The Favourite, Emma Stone. Her fine turn as Abigail Masham shows she is well capable of doing a period role and she looks marvellous in silk gowns and garters.

Dr Luke Fidelis is in his mid-thirties. He is cool, tall, rather athletic and impulsive, and possesses an acute analytic intelligence. But he can lose his cool altogether at the sight of a pretty wench. Physically I want someone tall, strong , intense and unorthodoxly attractive – someone like the young Daniel Day-Lewis . Benedict Cumberbatch perhaps but, even at 43, he is a shade too old (sorry Benedict). There must be someone out there…

Robert Furzey, Cragg’s clerk, is a rambunctious piece of work, always complaining about his working conditions though, at the bottom, a loyal employee. Tony Robinson, so memorable as Baldrick in Blackadder, could do it (very much cleaned up compared with Baldrick of course). The same goes for Ron Cook, who was in the TV Les Mis as ‘Hair and Teeth Dealer’, but who I also recently saw on stage in the London season of one-act Pinter plays. I’m sure either actor could project the right paradoxical mixture of burning resentment and tenacious loyalty.
Visit Robin Blake's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Adele Parks's "I Invited Her In"

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000, and since then she's written well over a dozen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages.

Here Parks dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, I Invited Her In:
When I wrote I Invited Her In, I did not dare envisage any particular movie stars to play the roles. I guess I think it’s tempting fate because I secretly long for a movie deal and don’t want to appear presumptive to the capricious fates who can, you know, somehow secretly read my mind and then perhaps deny me my greatest wish! But what the heck, let's throw caution to the wind and have some fun casting!

OK first off, I’d love to cast incredible Amy Adams as Mel. Adams has tremendous range and I can see her as a struggling, desperate, young mum as well as a fierce tiger ready to defend her family against any threat. She’d bring enormous sympathy and warmth to Mel.

I’d cast the utterly beautiful and equally talented Anne Hathaway as Abi. She’d slip between seductive siren and best friend ever with irresistible poise.

Chiwetel Ejiofor would make the perfect Ben. He’s got everything I hope Ben has. He has that illusive and desirable combination, as he appears to be wise, kind, humorous and dependable – all that combined with smoking hot.

I feel extremely uncomfortable casting Liam, considering everything…All I would say is he has to be young, fresh, naive yet delicious. I’ll leave that to your imaginations.
Visit Adele Parks's website.

The Page 69 Test: I Invited Her In.

Writers Read: Adele Parks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Darius Hinks's "The Ingenious"

Darius Hinks works and lives in Nottinghamshire, England. He spent the nineties playing guitar for the grunge band, Cable, but when his music career ended in a bitter lawsuit, he turned to writing. His first novel, Warrior Priest, won the David Gemmell Morningstar award and, so far at least, none of his novels have resulted in litigation.

Here Hinks suggests a lead--and a director--for an adaptation of his new novel, The Ingenious:
One of my influences when writing the novel was Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s brilliant Fleabag series. My favourite heroes are the ones who tumble headlong through a story being erratic and unpredictable and always looking like they’re about to implode. So, if I was going to cast someone as Isten, Phoebe Waller-Bridge would be a good option. Isten’s pretty tough though, so maybe Waller-Bridge with a little Eva Green thrown in for good measure. If I could choose the director, my first choice would be David Lynch on account of him being an unalloyed absolute bloody genius. I can’t imagine his version of The Ingenious would in any way resemble the book, but I’m sure it would be incredible, so if anyone is on coffee-drinking terms with him, please let him know that he’s safe to crack on and we can sort out contracts later. In the unlikely event that David Lynch isn’t available, Terrence Malick would be my second choice. I think we’d end up with some long, lingering shots of sunlight breaking through trees and a mumbled monologue or two, but it would be a thing of such profound beauty that it wouldn’t matter.
Visit Darius Hinks's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Ingenious.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Brian Freeman's "The Crooked Street"

Brian Freeman is a bestselling author of psychological thrillers, including the Frost Easton and Jonathan Stride series.

Here Freeman dreamcasts the latest Frost Easton thriller, The Crooked Street:
I’ve written the entire Frost Easton series – starting with The Night Bird and The Voice Inside and now continuing with The Crooked Street – with television and movies in mind. Yes, I mean you, film agents. Get busy.

So what would that look like?

Start with the fact that I love the romance and drama of the San Francisco setting in the books. I was a huge fan of Hitchcock’s Vertigo growing up, and I think you’ll find echoes of that tone in how I approach the city. I like to play up its natural beauty and also take advantage of its mystery: the fog, the crazy-steep streets (remember Bullitt?), the high bridges and the cold depths of the bay. I try to give readers a “you are there” feel in all of my settings, and that would play out perfectly in bringing these books to the screen. The scenes are written visually to make them come alive in your head.

Who would play the leads?

Okay, I’ll let you in on a secret. I actually wrote the character of Frost with Justin Timberlake in mind. Read the descriptions, and I think you’ll picture him in your head. (JT, are you listening? Time to pick up a copy of the books.) There’s something about his combination of youthfulness, sex appeal, and “Boy Scout” charm that fits naturally with Frost. I’d love to see him tackle the character.

And the other characters? Well, Frost’s love interest is a redhead named Tabby Blaine, and I can’t imagine a better redhead to play the part than Emma Stone. She’d have a lot of chemistry with JT, too, don’t you think? Sounds like a good combination to me.

Those are my ideas. Now you tell me yours! I know readers always have ideas of their own about which actors should play their favorite characters. Plus, I deliberately paint my characters in watercolors, so that readers can fill in the gaps with their own imagination. As a result, your perfect Frost may look very different than mine. That’s okay.

Don’t tell Justin, though. I really want him to tackle the movie.
Visit Brian Freeman's official website and follow him on Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Padma Venkatraman's "The Bridge Home"

Padma Venkatraman was born in Chennai, India, and became an American citizen after attaining a Ph.D. in oceanography from The College of William and Mary.

She is the author of A Time to Dance, Island's End, and Climbing the Stairs.

Venkatraman lives in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.

Here she shares some ideas for the director of a big-screen adaptation of her new novel, The Bridge Home:
There are so many brilliant actors and actresses out there - and so many amazing directors - I think, if The Bridge Home were made into a movie, I'd love for it to be directed by someone like Aparna Sen (Mr. and Mrs. Iyer) or Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay) or Deepa Mehta (Fire) or Gauri Shinde (English Vinglish) or Gurinder Chada (Bend it Like Beckham)... really, just any of the amazing up and coming desi (South Asian) women directors we have in the world of film, these days.
Visit Padma Venkatraman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Bridge Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 8, 2019

Jane A. Adams's "Kith and Kin"

Jane A. Adams is a British writer of psychological thrillers. Her first book, The Greenway, was nominated for a CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and an Author's Club Best First Novel Award. She has a degree in Sociology and was once lead vocalist in a folk rock band.

Here Adams dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Kith and Kin:
Having finally got around to watching The Hateful Eight, I have to wonder what Tarantino would do with Henry Johnstone…

Or maybe Jim Jarmusch. I’d love to know how he’d film a Henry Johnstone book… I’ve a real fondness for both Ghost Dog and Broken Flowers in particular (Ghost Dog inspired an as yet unfinished novella) and though I’m sure I’d end up with a very different Henry, it would certainly be interesting.

So, who would play Henry… Cary Grant would have been nice…

John Light has the right kind of look but I didn’t have a particular person in mind. Henry kind of appeared in a fragmentary way and the first scene I really wrote for him – quite a way into the first book, The Murder Book, and taking place when Henry arrives in the village of Thoresway – I wasn’t actually sure I liked him very much. He has pale grey eyes that can turn really hard and a certain coldness, on occasion, but I think John Light would work really well.

Mickey Hitchens, so my daughter tells me, looks like Jerome Flynn who was recently in Ripper Street and I think she’s probably about right – though Mickey is stockier and more solid.

Inevitably though, if a Henry Johnstone book was ever made into a film, that would then become an entity in its own right and whatever vision I might have would undoubtedly be different, as film is a whole different animal. I once tried to adapt my first book, The Greenway, into a screenplay and found it very difficult – though also fascinating. What the experience taught me, though, is that the decision making process is utterly different and what works on the page when writing a novel often has to be approached from a totally different perspective.
Visit Jane A. Adams's website.

The Page 69 Test: Kith and Kin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Simon Ings's "The Smoke"

Simon Ings is the author of novels (some science fiction, some not) and non-fiction, including the Baillie Gifford longlisted Stalin and The Scientists. His debut novel Hot Head was widely acclaimed. He is the arts editor of New Scientist magazine and can often be found writing in possibly the coldest flat in London.

Here Ings dreamcasts an adaptation of his newest novel, The Smoke:
No one in their right mind would make a movie of The Smoke, a story that ends more or less where it begins. TV could work, though: there's enough science-fictional fol-de-rol here to last at least six seasons.

One major point in The Smoke's favour is that it's a love story, and a fairly classic one at that: a conscientious young man trying and ultimately failing to hold onto a woman who's too bright for him.

Our protagonist, then, needs to be someone who can do awkward. Enter Domhnall Gleeson. He was Caleb in Ex Machina. For a real fish-out-of-water performance, though, you need to reach for Richard Curtis's ghastly 2013 romcom About Time. Is Gleeson playing a 21-year-old or a fourteen-year-old, or what? Add to this Gleeson's rabid, off-his-trolley General Hux in the new Star Wars movies and you have a drably wrapped little nail bomb just waiting to go off. Perfect.

His lover, Fel, is a hard one: not only do her smarts outweigh her looks, she's also funny, damn it. So Keira Knightley's out.

How about Maisie Williams -- Arya Stark in HBO's Game of Thrones? She has that corvid quality. She'd peck out your eye if she thought it was shiny enough.
Visit Simon Ings's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Smoke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 4, 2019

Jane Corry's "The Dead Ex"

Jane Corry is the author of The Dead Ex, published by Pamela Dorman Books. Her previous books, My Husband’s Wife and Blood Sisters, were international bestsellers.

Here Corry dreamcasts an adaptation of The Dead Ex:
Last year, My Husband’s Wife (my first book for Penguin) was optioned for television by Big Talk and Mr Mudd. So exciting! When I write, I always see the plot and characters visually, rather like a film. Lots of readers have contacted me, saying they’d love to see The Dead Ex on screen. I do hope that will happen one day! If it does, I’d love the following characters to play the leads. However, I should add a note here to say that I’m more familiar with actors of my generation than the younger ones. So I have taken that into account as you will see from below!

Vicki, the aromatherapist with a dark past: Nicole Kidman. She would give Vicki that vital combination of edginess and vulnerability.

Scarlet, the little girl who is connected in some way with Vicki (I won’t spoil the plot by revealing how!): A female young Macaulay Culkin.

Helen, the young woman who has set her sights on David: Daisy Ridley. By coincidence, I was in the same class as Louise, her mother – our parents used to share the school run - and Daisy is the spitting image of my old contemporary in looks! Every time I see Daisy on screen, I feel as though I’m in school uniform again….

David, the no-good husband of Vicki: Dominic West. I can’t decide if he terrifies me or whether he’s just devastatingly attractive. Maybe a bit of both which is why he would be perfect for the part.
Follow Jane Corry on Twitter and Facebook.

My Book, The Movie: My Husband's Wife.

My Book, The Movie: Blood Sisters.

The Page 69 Test: The Dead Ex.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 2, 2019

James Brabazon's "The Break Line"

James Brabazon is an author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker. Based in the UK, he has traveled to more than seventy countries, investigating, filming, and directing in the world’s most hostile environments. He is the author of All Fall Down, The Break Line, and the international bestseller My Friend the Mercenary, a memoir recounting his experiences of the Liberian civil war and the Equatorial Guinea coup plot.

Here Brabazon dreamcasts an adaptation of The Break Line:
The audio book of The Break Line was read by the brilliant Irish actor Jason O’Mara. He’s exactly the right age, and he’s from the right place in Ireland to get the accent absolutely spot on. He did the read so well that his voice has become Max McLean’s voice in my head as I write the sequel. I as so thrilled when he agreed to do the read, and he’s been very supportive of the book. He’d be great as Max McLean.

Ana María would have to be played by Ana Ularu. I’d never seen her on screen before and then I watched Matthew Ross’s film Siberia. It was as if my Ana María had walked in shot…

Sonny Boy? Liam Neeson. General King? Charles Dance, for sure. Commander Frank Knight is a tricky one. Stephen Rae, perhaps… or Gary Oldman. And the MI6 bigwig David Mason would have to be played by Colin Firth, naturally.

Ezra Black is another tricky one because… well, let’s just say he’s the least fictional of all the characters in The Break Line. I think it has to be Tzachi Halevy though, probably best-known outside of Israel for playing the Special Forces operator Naor in the Netflix series Fauda.

Juliet was practically written for Emma Stone. And the brilliant Roberts, who is the character I would most like to sit and have a beer with, would, I think be a perfect role for Jimmy Akingbola.

And the director? Paul Greengrass or Martin Campbell.
Visit James Brabazon's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Break Line.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Jack Kelly's "The Edge of Anarchy"

Jack Kelly is a journalist, historian, and one-time screenwriter. His latest book The Edge of Anarchy: The Railroad Barons, the Gilded Age, and the Greatest Labor Uprising in America was praised by the New York Times as “timely and urgent ... a thrilling description of the boycott of Pullman cars and equipment by Eugene Debs’s fledgling American Railway Union.

Here Kelly shares some thoughts on adapting the book for the big screen:
How would I adapt The Edge of Anarchy into a movie? The book details the greatest labor disturbance in U.S. history, the 1894 Pullman Strike, which shut down rail service to much of the nation and brought rioting and food shortages to major cities.

Labor history has not attracted many feature film makers. Norma Rae, Matewan, On the Waterfront ... the list runs out pretty quickly. To succeed the movie needs a strong protagonist. The Edge of Anarchy has this in Eugene Debs, the dynamic leader of the American Railway Union. A good villain is essential – George Pullman and U.S. Attorney General Richard Olney, who called in the army, will both serve nicely. A female lead: Jennie Curtis, a seamstress who electrified the union delegates and became a voice for the strike. A narrator: Debs’s younger brother Theodore, always at his side.

Christian Bale would be able to handle the role of Debs, as proven particularly by his work in The Big Short. The director of that film, Adam McKay, might be a good choice for his ability to explain a complicated situation.

Plenty of action and suspense, along with some great Gilded Age period detail, with the contrasts between mansions and tenements, gala balls and sweat shops. The workers lose the strike, but Debs returns from jail in triumph as a hundred thousand supporters welcome him home. Cue the credits.
Learn more about the book and author at Jack Kelly's website.

The Page 99 Test: Band of Giants.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles's "Headlong"

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles was born and educated in London and had a variety of jobs in the commercial world before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed Bill Slider mysteries and the historical Morland Dynasty series. She lives in London, is married with three children and enjoys music, wine, gardening, horses and the English countryside.

Here Harrod-Eagles dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Headlong:
I didn’t have anyone in mind for Bill when I wrote my first Bill Slider mystery, Orchestrated Death. He entered my head fully formed as soon as I started writing, and I instantly knew everything about him, what he looked like, his back story, what he liked and disliked. I have no idea where he came from, and he didn’t look like anyone I knew, on screen or off screen.

Once the first book was published, people started asking me who I would see as playing him – it seems to be a topic of perennial interest – so I had to give it some thought. I saw him as slightly stocky in build, of middling height, fair but not blonde, and with great charm, though not classical good looks. At that time, I thought Michael Kitchen would make a good Slider. I’ve always been susceptible to voices, and I liked his slight edginess of tone. And Michael Jayston, when he was young, had the right sort of sidelong smile and exuded the right warmth. Slider is a man you instantly like and trust, and Michael Jayston as Peter Guillam in the TV series of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy conveyed that sort of patient firmness and reliability.

Among present actors, Johnny Flynn has the sexy edge to his voice, and in Vanity Fair I thought it was interesting how he brought a tough edge to the otherwise blanket niceness of Dobbin. Tom Bateman, an actor I admire greatly, would make a super Atherton; and perhaps he and Johnny Flynn would like to work together again…?

For Joanna, Carey Mulligan or Romola Garai could both fit the bill – someone not classically beautiful but attractive, with a slightly quirky sort of face, and a look of intelligence and humour about them. Going back a bit, a young Helen Mirren would have fit the bill. My daughter says I think of her as Joanna because I resembled her when I was young; but I have to say, I was never that good-looking!
Visit Cynthia Harrod-Eagles's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Edward Humes's "Burned"

Edward Humes is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author whose books include Garbology, Mississippi Mud, and the PEN Award-winning No Matter How Loud I Shout.

Here Humes dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn’t:
There are two leading roles if Burned were to be made into a movie: The character of Raquel Cohen, attorney at the California Innocence Project, and her client, Jo Ann Parks, who has been in prison for more than half her lifetime, convicted of killing her three children by setting fire to their home and trapping them inside. Cohen is trying to prove Parks innocent and, in the process, expose the failings of forensic science used in thousands of other cases.

My choice to play the brilliant, quirky, cynical yet idealistic Cohen is either Jessica Biel, who was mesmerizing in The Sinner, or Homeland star Claire Danes, who can basically do anything. It’s a toss-up: Either would be fantastic.

For her chameleon-like ability to become anyone, and to blur into ambiguity the line between innocence and guilt, I would want Charlize Theron to play Jo Ann Parks. That would be the Theron from Monster, not Atomic Blonde (though don’t get me wrong -- I loved Atomic Blonde).

There are a couple of juicy pivotal supporting roles I think actors would relish: Jo Ann’s creepy husband, Ronald, who was the original prime suspect in the fire, would provide wonderful fodder for Edward Norton. And my pick to play the fire scientist who becomes certain Parks was wrongly convicted, Dr. Greg Gorbett, is actor Chris Pine, the current incarnation of James T. Kirk. Why? Because the good doctor is a dead ringer for Pine. Or vice versa. And he has the kind of forceful personality necessary to declare that the original fire science experts got it wrong, and that not only did they falsely accuse and convict Parks, but that there is no evidence that any crime was committed at all.
Learn more about the book and author at Edward Humes's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 25, 2019

Chris Cander's "The Weight of a Piano"

Chris Cander graduated from the Honors College at the University of Houston, in the city where she was raised and still lives, with her husband, daughter, and son. For seven years she has been a writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools there. She serves on the Inprint advisory board and stewards several Little Free Libraries in her community. Her first novel,11 Stories, won the Independent Publisher Gold Medal for Popular Fiction, and her novel Whisper Hollow was long-listed for the Great Santini Fiction Prize by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. She is also the author of The Word Burglar, which won the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award (silver).

Here Cander dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Weight of a Piano:
Clara: Annie Murphy. I’m a huge Schitt’s Creek fan. I watched all four seasons in a few weeks while I was recovering from hamstring surgery. Annie’s character on the show, Alexis, is nothing like Clara—who’s strong, quiet, determined, vulnerable, evolving—but I know Annie could pull it off.

Peter: Armie Hammer. I’d actually love for him to play Greg, because he was born in Santa Monica, CA to parents who were Russian Jewish immigrants to the US. But he’s too tall for that role. I think he’d play the role of Peter brilliantly, though: a physically strong and emotionally sensitive auto mechanic.

Katya: Alicia Vikander. She’s a smart, savvy actress who only wants to play complex, multi-dimensional roles. She’s Swedish but could easily do a Russian accent. She grew up playing violin, so she understands how someone could have a passionate attachment to an instrument, and she learned to play piano for her role in A Royal Affair.

Mikhail: Eli Roth. He’s Jewish with Russian ancestry and studied the language in school. He likes to get in character and does great voices, so I think he’d be able to portray Mikhail’s distinct personality well.

Greg: Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Those piercing blue eyes. I don’t know him but he seems to have a slightly dangerous undercurrent beneath the cultivated politeness that I think matches Greg. Another option would be Tom Payne, who can embrace a pensive and brooding character like Greg.

Boris: Grigoriy Dobrygin. He’s a talented actor and director, but also an actual Russian ballet dancer. In March 2015, he told Interview magazine, "I really want to go back on the big stage and dance something. I didn't finish my last year at the academy—I was not assigned to the theatre. And this was what was once the meaning of life: to dance.”

And of course, the music in a movie version would be exquisite. Here’s a Spotify playlist I made of all the pieces I mentioned in the book.
Visit Chris Cander's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Mike Chen's "Here and Now and Then"

Mike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. He has contributed to major geek websites (The Mary Sue, The Portalist, Tor) and covered the NHL for mainstream media outlets. A member of SFWA and Codex Writers, Chen lives in the Bay Area, where he can be found playing video games and watching Doctor Who with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals.

Here Chen dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Here and Now and Then:
I tend to dream cast my roles while writing. This is purely out of logistical need -- I find I can visualize a scene better (and thus translate it to prose better) if I have an actor in mind, complete with voice tics. For Here and Now and Then, it all started with Idris Elba as main character Kin Stewart, particularly Elba from Luther (sharp-eyed readers will find two easter eggs for this).

For the supporting cast, I basically plucked actors from the past decade of Doctor Who. Part of it comes from my own amusement; Karen Gillan as Heather and Arthur Darvill as Markus were somewhat arbitrary picks stemming from the fact that this was a time travel book heavily influenced by Doctor Who. I inserted them early on in drafting and they remained and became integral to my internal visualization of dramatic beats.

For Penny, I wrote her specifically with Doctor Who alum Jenna Coleman (and current star of Victoria) in mind. I wish I could say that this was a decision made from her brilliant abilities, the way she can be equally vulnerable and fierce, her playful comedic timing. Which are all true, as seen both in Doctor Who and her post-Who work. But it's mostly because I have a crush on her, which my wife gives me plenty of grief about.
Visit Mike Chen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 21, 2019

Marius Gabriel's "The Parisians"

Marius Gabriel was accused by Cosmopolitan magazine of ‘keeping you reading while your dinner burns’. He served his author apprenticeship as a student at Newcastle University, where, to finance his postgraduate research, he wrote thirty-three steamy romances under a pseudonym. Gabriel's novels include The Ocean Liner, The Seventh Moon, The Original Sin, and the Redcliffe Sisters series, Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye, Take Me to Your Heart Again, and The Designer.

Here Gabriel dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Parisians:
One of the main characters in The Parisians is the French actress Arletty, who was disgraced for having an affair with a Nazi officer during the German occupation of France. Naturally, in an ideal world, I would have her play herself – that would be something to see!

Other characters include Coco Chanel. I can see Ruth Wilson doing a wonderful job with that role.

And we also have the chief of the Luftwaffe, Herman Goering, appearing in several scenes. I think John Goodman would be the perfect choice.
Visit Marius Gabriel's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Parisians.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 19, 2019

James Cambias's "Arkad's World"

James Cambias has been nominated for the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the 2001 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He lives in Western Massachusetts.

Here Cambias dreamcasts an adaptation of his newest novel, Arkad's World:
Arkad's World would make a pretty kick-ass movie. It's got action, comedy, intrigue, and a dash of romance. It wouldn't be cheap, though. The book chronicles a journey across an alien planet, with at least four distinct unearthly landscapes and a host of alien beings. You'd pretty much have to shoot the entire thing on a soundstage in front of a green screen, and animate the rest of the world. The artwork of Thom Tenerey and Simon Stalenhag would be a good guide for what the setting looks like.

The four main characters are humans, and so could be played by real actors. Here's my dream-casting of the leads:

Arkad: His name originates in Turkish, but Arkad himself has diverse ancestry. He's fourteen (sort of) and should be small for his age, wiry, and indomitable. One sees very few boys depicted that way recently, but Finn Wolfhard, who plays the character "Mike" on the TV series Stranger Things is a good fit.

Jacob Sato: I more or less envisioned Idris Elba when I described him, so let's just go with that. Idris Elba playing Indiana Jones in space. Can you get a cooler character description than that?

Ree Bright: Ree is genetically engineered by aliens, so she should have a slightly inhuman "uncanny valley" air about her. In many ways she's the hardest to cast, if only because most actresses get their jobs precisely because they can project warmth and empathy. I think the actress Rooney Mara (from the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo film) could pull it off, as she can manage a very off-beat look and a chilly affect.

Baichi: Baichi is a superhuman blend of human and alien nanotechnology. Think of her as Superman in the body of a girl who looks about fourteen, who must tightly regulate her emotions because of what might happen if she loses control. The part requires an actress who can be both a "creepy inhuman cyborg" and the vulnerable real girl inside the mask. I think Mackenzie Foy (who was in Interstellar) with a layer of dead-white makeup could play her.

Arkad's World has a lot of alien characters, none of which are even remotely human-shaped. There will be no "rubber forehead" actors or stuntmen in costumes. All the aliens would have to be puppets, animations, or a mix of the two.

The Itooti are somewhat bird-like, so they should have voices reminiscent of birds — not melodic songbirds, though. They should sound like a cross between crows and East End London football hooligans.

Pfifu have fairly simple speech apparatus, so give them plain voices with a bit of a Daffy Duck lisp. Much of their communication is visual, using tentacle gestures. An absolute master of dance and puppetry might be able to convey those meanings to a human viewer by movement alone, but it's more likely we'd have to rely on subtitles.

The Vziim have deep, throaty voices, and keep their own languages secret from outsiders, so they would simply speak in a heavily-accented version of the pidgin common to all species on the planet. Their society is clannish, mercenary, and paranoid; perhaps they should have the cultivated but vaguely-foreign sound of Bond movie villains.

Finally, the dreaded Psthao-Psthao speak only in whispers.

I would absolutely adore seeing Arkad on the screen. I visualized everything in the story, which does mean that no film version would look precisely like what I saw inside my head as I wrote the book. But it would be fun to see how others might envision it.
Visit James L. Cambias's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Darkling Sea.

Writers Read: James L. Cambias.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Victoria L. Harrison's "Fight Like a Tiger"

Victoria L. Harrison is an instructor in the department of historical studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She has published essays in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society and Ohio Valley History.

Here Harrison dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Fight Like a Tiger: Conway Barbour and the Challenges of the Black Middle Class in Nineteenth-Century America:
This is a fun exercise! First, the basics. Fight Like a Tiger follows the life of an ambitious former slave, Conway Barbour, and his adventures in search of upward mobility in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. The book argues that the idea of a black middle class traced its origins to the free black population of mid-century and developed alongside the idea of a white middle class. Barbour’s story, across four decades and several states, epitomizes that development.

He was something of a rascal, often willing to color outside the lines to reach his goals. As the story takes place across decades, (and cost is not an issue here) we might need younger and older versions of some of the main players. Donald Glover would be terrific as Barbour’s younger self; I have always envisioned Denzel Washington as an older Barbour. Charming and rather untrustworthy fills the bill.

Lupita Nyong'o would be perfect as Barbour’s first wife, Cornelia, a former slave herself. Alfre Woodard would be her older self. Frances, Barbour’s second wife, (Did I mention he was a bigamist?) was younger than Cornelia and born free. I am thinking Zoe Soldana (young) and Viola Davis (older). In an ahistorical but dramaturgically cool twist in the movie, Cornelia gets her revenge on Barbour in Chicot County, Arkansas, at the end of the film. Between the two women, Barbour fathered fifteen children, so there is ample room for cameos of the next generation of African American actors.

Like most successful free blacks in the nineteenth century, Barbour attached himself to white benefactors like Henry Basse, who financed Barbour’s businesses in Alton, Ill., (Tom Hanks) and Arkansas Governor Powell Clayton (Matthew McConaughey), who helped put Barbour in the state legislature.

Barbour’s nemesis in the legislature was a black conservative, Ed Fulton (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) His rival for political dominance in Chicot County, Arkansas, was James W. Mason (Shemar Moore). In fact, it was Mason – the son of Arkansas’s largest antebellum slaveholder – who was most responsible for frustrating Barbour’s ambitions.

I would put Ridley Scott at the helm. So, what do you think? Any takers?
Learn more about Fight Like a Tiger at the Southern Illinois University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Molly MacRae's "Crewel and Unusual"

Molly MacRae spent twenty years in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Upper East Tennessee, where she managed The Book Place, an independent  bookstore; may it rest in peace. Before the lure of books hooked her, she was curator of the history museum in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town.

MacRae lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois, where she connects children with books at the public library.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Crewel and Unusual (Haunted Yarn Shop Series #6):
A few years ago, I cast the recurring characters in the Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries (see My Book, The Movie – Knot the Usual Suspects, October 21, 2015). Those choices still stand, so here’s my dream cast for the characters new to the series who appear in Crewel and Unusual. (Side note: I chose this cast two weeks before the Golden Globes and I can’t believe how prescient I was considering Patricia Arquette’s win and the stir created by Jamie Lee Curtis’ stunning appearance).

For Belinda Moyer – Patricia Arquette. Belinda is bright, but not terribly well-educated. She knows a good deal when she sees one, but isn’t the savviest businesswoman. She’s suspicious and secretive. Arquette will be able to balance these contradictions sympathetically. Of course, now that Arquette has won the Golden Globe, she might be too busy.

For Martha the enamelist – Jamie Lee Curtis. Martha is confident, matter-of-fact, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She wears her gray hair in a long braid, so Curtis will have to wear a wig, but I bet she’ll do it and look like a goddess.

For Sierra Estep – Emma Roberts. Sierra is a young woman tackling her first professional job after graduate school and faced with some unusual and trying situations. Roberts will bring the right notes of high-strung energy and comedy to the role.

For Simon Grace – Drew Carey. Simon is a man who loves to play roles. He’s a college administrator, part time bookseller, and a not terribly successful amateur actor. Carey will understand the complications of Simon’s life.

For Russell Moyer – Kevin Bacon. Russell is a quiet, retired civil servant who doesn’t quite understand what’s going on. Bacon will give him with the right laconic touch.

For Nervie Bales – Parker Posey. Minerva “Nervie” Bales scurries and worries. Posey will give her the right nervous energy.

For Al Rogalla and Inspector Bruce of Scotland Yard – the real deals. Inspector Bruce can only be played by the real Bruce, a Scottie who lives with my friends Val and Mike Rogalla. Mike “Al” Rogalla can play himself, too.
Visit Molly MacRae's website.

The Page 69 Test: Crewel and Unusual.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Jess Montgomery's "The Widows"

Jess Montgomery is the author of the Kinship Historical Mysteries. Under her given name, she wears several other literary hats: she is a newspaper columnist, focusing on the literary life, authors and events of her native Dayton, Ohio for the Dayton Daily News; Executive Director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop at University of Dayton; and is an adjunct mentor in the Seton Hill University Low-Residency Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program.

Here Montogomery shares some ideas for a big-screen adaptation of her new novel, The Widows:
As I wrote The Widows, I listened—repeatedly—to the soundtrack from the movie, Batman Begins. There are no bats in The Widows. The novel is set in 1920s Appalachia, as two women investigate murder and fight for their community.

But I’ve come to love writing to acoustic music. It helps me focus. And the sweeping, rhythmic score of Batman Begins was empowering to me, giving me courage to write some of the tougher scenes that at first I wanted to shirk from. (But that, of course, would not be fair to readers—or to me as a writer.)

Music also plays a role in the novel, particularly ballads and gospel. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the first thing I think about with “My Book, The Movie” for The Widows is who I’d like to write a theme song. And that is… Roseanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, and singer-songwriter in her own right. I think she’d love and understand the two narrators of The Widows--Lily Ross (inspired by Ohio’s true first female sheriff in 1925) who becomes sheriff after her husband Daniel is killed in the line of duty, and Marvena Whitcomb, widow of a coal miner, a union organizer, and moonshiner. I believe Ms. Cash would find plenty to inspire her in their gritty, challenging yet ultimately hopeful story.

Though Daniel dies early in the novel, he lives in the memories of Lily and Marvena, and in people in the community. He is an important presence, and would need to be portrayed in flashback scenes. I’d love to see the actor Jared Padalecki play Daniel, especially if The Widows became the basis of a limited television series. Of course, Mr. Padalecki plays Sam Winchester on the long-running television show Supernatural, so I’m not sure when he’d find time to fit this project into his schedule! Still, Supernatural is my not-so-guilty television-watching pleasure, and I’ve come to admire Mr. Padalecki’s range in portraying emotions in a subtle way. He also looks similarly to how I see Daniel—tall, a bit larger-than-life, dark-haired.

I’d love to have a woman direct The Widows movie/series. This is, after all, a novel that stars two tough yet tender women. So, why not have Reese Witherspoon direct? Or Geena Davis? I’d certainly be thrilled.

Of course, this leaves the main characters—Lily and Marvena. But the truth is, I’m stumped as to who should play these roles. They’d have to be played by actresses who could carry strong roles, yet not overshadow one another. I’m sure either Ms. Witherspoon or Ms. Davis will find the right actresses!
Visit Jess Montgomery's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Mark Alpert's "The Coming Storm"

Mark Alpert is an internationally bestselling author of science thrillers. His first novel, Final Theory (2008), was published in 24 languages and optioned for film. He says his latest thriller, The Coming Storm, is a cautionary tale that President Trump will probably savage on Twitter.

Here Alpert dreamcasts an adaptation of the new novel:
My latest science thriller, The Coming Storm, is set in a dystopian near-future in which global warming has swamped New York City and a brutal White House has forced immigrants and the poor into the flooded detention zones. The novel’s heroine, Jenna Khan, is a brilliant geneticist who quits her laboratory after the government uses her genetic-engineering research for its ruthless campaign of repression.

Jenna is a Muslim woman in her thirties, a daughter of Pakistani immigrants. A good actress to portray her would Sofia Boutella, who appeared in Atomic Blonde and Star Trek Beyond. Boutella has done plenty of physically demanding roles, and that talent would definitely come in handy for playing Jenna, who has to race across Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens to stay ahead of the militarized federal police.

Jenna’s companion at the start of the novel is Derek Powell, a former soldier victimized by the government’s experiments. He’s an ambiguous character, part hero and part villain, so my choice for this role would be Michael B. Jordan, the hero of Creed and the villain of Black Panther.

A more purely villainous character in the book is Lieutenant Rick Frazier, who is a queasy combination of badass and psychopath. I see someone like Chris Hemsworth in the role, assuming the Thor actor is willing to venture into darker places.

Last but not least is the character of the U.S. president, who roughly resembles the current occupant of the office but is even farther gone. (Which is hard to imagine, right?) It would be wonderful if the director of The Coming Storm movie could find a real politician to play the role. Maybe it could be arranged as part of a community-service sentence, a plea deal negotiated between the Special Counsel and the indicted co-conspirators? We shall wait and see.
Learn more about the book and author at Mark Alpert's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Omega Theory.

My Book, The Movie: Extinction.

My Book, The Movie: The Furies.

--Marshal Zeringue