Friday, April 19, 2019

Todd Strasser's "Summer of '69"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 12, 2019

Suzanne Hinman's "The Grandest Madison Square Garden"

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 8, 2019

Randy Overbeck's "Blood on the Chesapeake"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writers Read: Randy Overbeck.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 5, 2019

Robert Dugoni's "The Eighth Sister"

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Dan Stout's "Titanshade"

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 22, 2019

Shelley Sackier's "The Antidote"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue