Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Victoria Houston's "Dead Spider"

Victoria Houston is the author of the Loon Lake Mysteries, which are set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin against a background of fishing – fly fishing as well as fishing for muskie, bass, bluegill and walleyes.

Here Houston dreamcasts the three main characters in an adaptation of Dead Spider, the newest book in the series:
The retired, widowed Dr. Paul “Doc” Osborne would be played by George Clooney (only ten years older than he is at the moment!).

His neighbor and nemesis, the 32-year-old fishing guide, Ray Pradt, should be played by a young Robert Downey, Jr. (the actor will have to shave ten years off his age).

And the heart of my stories — the tough cop/expert fly fisherman and Loon Lake Chief of Police Lewellyn “Lew” Ferris is not unlike the dedicated, determined detectives played by Olivia Colman in the BBC’s Broadchurch and in HBO’s The Night Manager. Lew is Lew is neither blond nor beautiful but tough, wise and kind.

These are the actors whom I think might best capture the best and the worst of my characters.
Learn more about the book and author at Victoria Houston's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Insider.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Insider.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 24, 2017

Jason Hewitt's "Devastation Road"

Jason Hewitt is a novelist, playwright and actor. He was born in Oxford, and lives in London. His debut novel, The Dynamite Room, was long-listed for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Authors' Club First Novel Award.

Here Hewitt dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Devastation Road:
Writing Devastation Road I always had James McAvoy in mind for Owen, probably because I had a picture of him from Atonement on my Inspiration Board. Now, he’s probably a little old for the role, or certainly would be by the time any movie version was put into production. Waking up in a field in May 1945 with no idea of where he is or why, Owen is a complex character that needs to have an air of bewildered innocence about him; however there is darker side to him too and he holds within him a deeply buried guilt. Age-wise Jeremy Irvine is probably better suited now, if only we could make him a little scrawnier and a bit dirty behind the ears. Ideally, Owen would not be played by an actor who is instantly recognisable. (Daniel Radcliffe, sorry, but you need not apply.) The whole point of Owen is his ordinariness. He’s just a man trying to get home but finding himself in extraordinary circumstances and with little idea of who he is going home to.

The first travelling companion Owen meets is Janek, a 16-year old Czech boy who speaks little English. Janek was inspired in part by Jamie Bell’s character in the film Defiance. Like James McAvoy, Jamie is a bit too grown up now but I think Billy Howle has the same sort of look. US readers may not have come across Billy Howle yet but he was in the film The Sense of an Ending and is in the forthcoming movie adaptation of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach.

I can’t say much about the character Connie without giving her storyline away. All I will say is that she’s an attractive young woman who strays and then pays the price. I think Alicia Vikander would do a great job. She has the charisma and looks that Connie has, but also Connie’s embittered emotion. Failing that, Lily James has the same beguiling intensity. She was mesmerising in Baby Driver, but I first discovered her in the BBC TV adaptation of War and Peace.

Irena has the most devastating storyline and would need to be played by a actor that was prepared to shave off their hair and really be put through the emotional ringer. Irena keeps her feelings pressed deep beneath the surface and is full of secrets but her tragic truth is always bubbling away beneath. She commits the most unforgiveable act and yet still needs to win the audience’s empathy. Writing her I always envisaged Samantha Morton’s character in Minority Report. Samantha has that perfect pale complexion and yet also the emotionally wounded look that Irena has. I think Carey Mulligan would do a great job too – someone that can be understated throughout most of the story and then sock us with a stomach-tightening wallop of emotion come the end.

Martha, my lead American character, requires no thought. Owen thinks she looks like Loretta Young, the 30s-40s actress, so, naturally, that’s who I’d want playing her. Unfortunately, Loretta Young died in 2000 but Natalie Portman did such a good job transforming into Jackie Kennedy that I’m sure she could transform herself into Martha looking like Loretta Young (if that’s not too complicated).

As for director, it would have to be Terrence Malick, especially if he collaborated with his usual Director of Photography, Emmanuel Lubezki. The story is set in the devastated heartlands of post-war Europe and yet it’s May and Nature is at its most bounteous. I’d want a director with as much an eye for beauty as for the horrors that lie within the grass.
Visit Jason Hewitt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Beth McMullen's "Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls"

Beth McMullen is the author of the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series and several adult mysteries. Her books have heroes and bad guys, action and messy situations. An avid reader, she once missed her subway stop and rode the train all the way to Brooklyn because the book she was reading was that good. She lives in Northern California with her family, two cats and a parakeet named Zeus, who is sick of the cats eyeballing him like he’s dinner.

Here McMullen dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls:
This is a tough one! I’m finding out how few actresses under the age of fifteen I can actually identify.

For Abby Hunter, maybe Siena Agudong, who is on Nickelodeon, but only if she can pull off funny.

For Jennifer Hunter, Abby’s mother, Sandra Bullock –that one was easy.
Visit Beth McMullen's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 21, 2017

Jo Perry's "Dead Is Good"

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 latest novel, Dead is Good:
I still think Jonah Hill would make a fine Charles Stone, my chunky, rueful, murdered protagonist, even though Hill is now extremely slim. Zach Galifianakis could step in as Charlie, too--he's good at playing self-deprecating, smart, and messed up men. And Charles is messed up in Dead Is Good, as he returns to to the living world help the one woman he truly loved in life, and whom still loves in death, Grace Morgan. Grace is a prickly, brave and complicated person––a performance artist who breaks barriers, who likes to shock, and who can be haughty and remote. I would love to see Tatiana Maslany play Grace, and considering Maslany's magnificent and endlessly creative performances in Orphan Black, Maslany could also play Grace's sister, Hope. Another actress who would be very fine as Grace is Alison Tollman of Fargo. Charles has a smug,brother whom he hates. I think Dean Winters ("Mayhem" on those Allstate commercials) would be perfect. William H. Macy could play the homeless man named Goldberg.

And I can't imagine a real dog who would play Rose who is composite of all that is good and beautiful and wise in dogs. And I worry about the often cruel methods used with animal actors. So I hope that Rose would be computer-generated.
Visit Jo Perry's website.

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

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Better.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Best.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Best.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jack Grimwood's "Moskva"

Jack Grimwood, a.k.a Jon Courtenay Grimwood, was born in Malta and christened in the upturned bell of a ship. He grew up in the Far East, Britain, and Scandinavia. Apart from novels, he writes for national newspapers including the Times, Telegraph, Independent, and Guardian. Grimwood is two-time winner of the BSFA Award for Best Novel, with Felaheen, and End of the World Blues. His literary novel The Last Banquet was shortlisted for Le Prix Montesquieu 2015.

Here Grimwood dreamcasts an adaptation of Moskva, his first thriller:
I think Casablanca era Humphrey Bogart for Tom Fox. Either that or early Bond Daniel Craig. Both have the cynicism and the damage and the need to do the right thing, at war with a wish for the world to leave them alone.

The Tom Hiddleston from Only Lovers Left Alive for Dennisov. Just the right mixture of dangerous, charming and barking mad for an alcoholic, ex special forces, son of a Soviet general. The CGI guys could probably have fun with his artificial leg made from a helicopter spring too.

I know everyone thinks of him as Hagrid from Harry Potter but Robbie Coltrane would make a good Russian mafia boss and I can really see him as Beziki, sitting half naked in his private sauna, knowing he has to go to war with the Soviet Politburo and understanding how hard a battle that is to win.

Wax Angel is hard to cast. She's strong and fierce and absolutely pivotal to the whole story. In my head, thinking about it now, she has to be Maggie Smith in full on Professor McGonagall mode.

Beetlejuice era Winona Ryder for Alex Masterton on the run in Moscow and only slowly realising how much trouble she's made for herself. Elisabeth Moss for her mother, Lady Masterton. She's younger than her husband, had Alex early, and she's fighting the demands of being a diplomat's wife and the having had to put her own life on hold.

Lady Caro Fox has to be Keira Knightley, playing a great great descendant of the part she played in The Duchess. Brittle and complex but nothing like as unsympathetic as she first appears. Her and Tom's daughter, Becca, is only ever seen in flashback, and is almost an unknown to everyone except her little brother, so I feel she should be played by an unknown.

Finally, General Dennisov needs to be played by Anthony Hopkins at his most deliciously depraved and twisted. An elderly Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs wasn't in my head when I wrote the character but he should have been.
Visit Jack Grimwood's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 17, 2017

Gary Corby's "Death On Delos"

Gary Corby is the author of the Athenian Mystery series, starring Nicolaos, his girlfriend Diotima, and his irritating twelve year old brother Socrates.

Corby lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife, two daughters, two ducks, two budgerigars, and a brush turkey that is almost as irritating as Socrates.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of the latest book in the Athenian Mystery series, Death on Delos:
Death On Delos is set on a small, isolated island, complete with a holy sanctuary and a substantial number of slightly odd people. Too many to cast here! So let me give you a snapshot.

The detective in this story is the female lead! Plus, she's pregnant. For Diotima I will therefore cast Alyssa Milano, because not many actors could do a funny, pregnant detective, but I suspect she could.

For Nico, hero of my tale, I want to cast Kyle MacLachlan. He was the detective in both Blue Velvet and the FBI agent in the original Twin Peaks. I think he could probably cope with the weirdness in which Nico is constantly enmeshed.

For Meren, the priestess of Artemis I will cast Merryn Anderson. That's because Meren was named for Merryn. She's a friend of ours, and there's a story behind this. When I was writing the draft of the scene in which the priestess first appears, I happened to be sitting in the living room of a holiday house with a bunch of my old school friends and their families. We do this get together once a year. I was scribbling away in pen on the back of an old printout, which is how I sometimes write first drafts. When I got to the new character I said, "I need a name." Merryn happened to be sitting beside me, and while Merryn is not remotely ancient Greek, Meren will pass. So that's how she became Meren.

For Anaxinos, the High Priest of the Delian Apollo, I will cast Pope Francis. The two jobs are kind of equivalent.

For Damon, the slightly crazy chief of the island village I will cast Gustaf Skarsgård. Because he does a fantastic job of being the slightly crazed Floki in Vikings.

For Karnon the Accountant I will cast Kenny G, the Saxophonist. Believe it or not, Kenny G is a trained accountant.

Lastly, for Pericles, I will cast Linus Roache, because he does such a great King Ecbert.
Visit Gary Corby's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 14, 2017

Claire Booth's "Another Man's Ground"

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.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Another Man's Ground, the second Sheriff Hank Worth Mystery:
The Hank Worth series has three main recurring characters: Hank, the sheriff of my fictional Branson County, Missouri; his chief deputy, Sheila Turley; and young deputy Sam Karnes.

Hank has a very dry sense of humor and an innate kindness that both would need to come across on screen. He also has a Latina mother, and speaks Spanish fluently. Because of all that, I’d love to have Oscar Isaac cast as Hank. (He might have time in between the new Star Wars movies, right?)

Sheila is the sheriff’s department’s only African American deputy and one of the only women. She has a very tough outer shell as a result. She’s had to work twice as hard as anyone else to get where she is in law enforcement in the Ozarks. She’s also fantastic at her job, and regularly bails Hank out of situations. I think Octavia Spencer would be perfect. With her acting, she has the great ability to be both caring and tough as nails, which are traits Sheila has as well.

Sam, whom Hank has nicknamed “The Pup,” is a young, eager deputy who’s often assigned to help with Hank’s investigations. His physique – tall and lanky – is key to his character, so the actor who I’d dream cast needs to be the same. Logan Lerman from the Percy Jackson movies and The Perks of Being a Wallflower would fit the bill wonderfully. He can portray wide-eyed naiveté but still have that toughness that my Sam character needs to have.

Lastly, in Another Man’s Ground, there’s a key character named Jasper Kinney. He’s in his 70s, and he’s lived on his property in the Ozark woods his entire life. His motivations aren’t clear early on, but he’s a menacing presence in the book. The late Eli Wallach would have been perfect for that character. Since this is dream casting, I’m going to choose him anyway!
Visit Claire Booth's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Deborah E. Kennedy's "Tornado Weather"

Deborah E. Kennedy is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana and a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has worked as both a reporter and editor, and also holds a Master's in Fiction Writing and English Literature from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Here Kennedy dreamcasts an adaptation of Tornado Weather, her debut novel:
Tornado Weather is teeming with characters – casting the whole thing would be like casting Game of Thrones before the Red Wedding. So I'm going to focus on three pivotal ones. Love triangles, amiright? The triangle is the strongest geometric shape out there, which could explain the timeless appeal of love stories that take that particular form. Who could forget Humphrey Bogart versus William Holden in Sabrina? Or Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story? And, of course, there was Pearl Harbor, which gave Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett a chance to fight over Kate Beckinsale while I guess a war of some sort raged in the background?

A teenage love triangle looms large in my book, Tornado Weather, pitting the brittle but brilliant Renee Seaver against Marissa “the Italian Slut” Marino in a battle for the affections of Benny Bradenton, a handsome and charming boy whose dad operates a chain of gas stations and convenience stores around northern Indiana. I started this book back in 2009 and originally thought Kristen Stewart would be perfect as Renee, with Vanessa Hudgens stepping into the role of Marissa. Taylor Kitsch would be a convincing as the two-timing Benny. Or maybe Milo Ventimiglia. Now that the book and those stars have aged, it's time to rethink the triangle. Sophie Turner as Renee. Zendaya as Marissa. Ellar Coltrane as Benny. Or better yet, Donald Glover. Let's see those nice boys play bad.

Maybe, if I begged them, the Duffer Brothers would direct? Stranger things have happened...
Follow Deborah E. Kennedy on Facebook and Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 10, 2017

Kathleen Anne Kenney's "Girl on the Leeside"

Kathleen Anne Kenney is an author, freelance writer, and playwright. Her writing has appeared in Big River, Coulee Region Women, and Ireland of the Welcomes, as well as other publications. She has had numerous short plays presented in Minnesota theaters and has published the play The Ghost of an Idea, a one-actor piece about Charles Dickens. Her play New Menu was a winner in the 2012 Rochester Repertory Theatre’s national short-play competition. She is currently at work on a novel based on her 2014 stage play, The Bootleg Blues.

Here Kenney dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Girl on the Leeside:
Though I didn’t have specific actors in mind when I wrote the novel, because most of the characters are Irish it was important to have that lilting, authentic intonation in the dialogue. So the voices in my head were those of Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hind for Uncle Kee.

For Katie I thought of Sinead Cusack, for Galway Gwen I definitely heard the voice of Fionnula Flanagan, and for Siobhan the lovely Saoirse Ronan. She was perfect in Brooklyn.

For a director, I’d love to have Kirk Jones or John Crowley who have directed Irish-themed films in the past.

And how wonderful it would be if it could be filmed in Connemara, completely on location!
Visit Kathleen Anne Kenney's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 7, 2017

Leigh Fought's "Women in the World of Frederick Douglass"

Leigh Fought is Assistant Professor of History at LeMoyne College. She is the author of Southern Womanhood and Slavery: A Biography of Louisa S. McCord and an editor of The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series Three: Correspondence, Volume 1: 1842-1852.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest book, Women in the World of Frederick Douglass:
Women in the World of Frederick Douglass follows the life of nineteenth century black civil rights activist through the eyes of the women who made him. These are only a few, and don’t include Douglass’s mother, Harriet Bailey; his slave mistress, Lucretia Auld; his sisters; abolitionists Abby Kelly, Isabel Jennings, Maria Weston Chapman, Ellen and Anna Richardson, and Amy Post; German-language journalist Ottilie Assing; and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, all of whom played significant roles in his life and the book.

Betsey Bailey, Douglass’s grandmother: Angela Bassett. In other roles, Bassett has consistently captured the elements of strength, grit, wit, calculation, and compassion necessary for a woman like Betsey Bailey, who navigated her large family through the fateful turns of life under capricious master.

Sophia Auld, Douglass’s mistress: Jennifer Lawrence. Sophia Auld first treated little Frederick with dignity and taught him to read, but at the threat of her husband turned against him and became cold. I imagine the earlier scenes much like those of Katniss and Rue in The Hunger Games and later ones requiring the edge that Lawrence showed in Winter’s Bone.

Anna Murray: Viola Davis. Frederick’s biographers have depicted Anna, Douglass’s wife of forty-four years, in unflattering ways because they cannot fathom that Frederick could love a dark-skinned woman who did not read. Viola Davis has similar features as Anna, but a person would have to be a fool to consider her anything but beautiful and intelligent. She would therefore shift perceptions of Anna, animating her with greater justice than any written words have.

Julia Griffiths: For the Englishwoman who saved Douglass’s newspaper, The North Star, and revitalized antislavery in Western New York, earning her the animosity of abolitionists in Boston -- one of the central dramas in the early part of the book -- but Douglass’s undying friendship, cast actress Olivia Colman. She would respect the role, bringing no-nonsense intelligence to the part, and giving Griffiths her due as a serious actor in Douglass’s life.

Rosetta Douglass Sprague, Douglass’s daughter: Kerry Washington could capture the innocence, steel, and frustration of Rosetta’s struggles to be independent, to please to very different parents (but mostly her father), and to play the mediator in a family of very strong personalities, despite having one herself (a bit like Olivia Pope).

Helen Pitts: Laura Linney. The white woman who became Frederick Douglass’s second wife, faced criticism and ostracism along with her husband from both black, white, family, friend, and stranger alike, bearing all with poise and dignity. This is Laura Linney’s métier.

Frederick Douglass: An inevitably controversial casting choice, the actor would have to convey the type of charisma that Douglass still projects across 150 years. At the same time, the actor must resemble Douglass enough not to distract the audience.

Dennis Haysbert, most famous for Allstate commercials, has the height, resonant voice, resemblance, and relaxed quality of the older Lion of Anacostia. You can imagine him sitting on the porch of Cedar Hill or standing on the deck of a ship in the Mediterranean and marveling at how far he had risen in life. At the same time, you can see him marshal the kind of controlled fury necessary for his frustration with the rollback of the Civil Rights Act or the rise of lynching in the South.

Ricky Whittle, who plays Shadow Moon on American Gods, bears enough of a resemblance to the younger Douglass to melt into the character in the same way that Helen Mirren did with Elizabeth I. Whittle also has the physicality and background in modeling allow him to project the electricity apparent in all of the younger Douglass’s photos.
Learn more about Women in the World of Frederick Douglass at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue