Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Lilith Saintcrow's "Dante Valentine series"

Lilith Saintcrow is the author of five novels in the "Dante Valentine series" as well as other books.

If the Dante Valentine series is adapted for the movies, here are Saintcrow's ideas about the principal cast members:
Since I'm a very visual writer, I usually do play the game with myself -- "who would I cast in my books?"

For the Valentine series, some of it is simple. I would love Fairuza Balk or Rachel Weisz as Dante, since both have that edge of competence. I would also, if I'm dreaming, like Cate Blanchett for the role, since Dante isn't traditionally pretty.

For Japhrimel, I would pick Karl Urban. There's a scene in The Bourne Supremacy where Karl, as the bad guy, shoots Bourne -- and that, right there, is Japh. He's also got the correct eyebrows. Though I would love to see what Adrien Brody would do with the part. Christian Bale would be pretty to look at, but if push came to shove it would be Brody. He just has the talent to play a demon, you know.

Other parts include: Kate Beckinsale as Gabriele Spocarelli, Tilda Swinton as Lucifer (the ONLY choice!) and Jason Statham as Jace. Giovanni Ribisi would be my first choice for Eddie, and as Santino? Brad Dourif. No question.

Can you tell I'm a film buff too?
The Dante Valentine series opens with Working For The Devil and closes with the fifth and final volume, To Hell and Back.

Learn more about the author and her books at Lilith Saintcrow's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Patricia Gussin's "Twisted Justice"

Patricia Gussin is the author of Shadow of Death, which was nominated for Best First Novel in the Thriller Awards sponsored by International Thriller Writers, and the recently released Twisted Justice.

Here she develops some ideas for actors and director should Twisted Justice be adapted for the movies:
The heart wrenching drama of Kramer vs. Kramer and the violent scenario of The War of the Roses bracket the domestic deception and betrayal that explode onto the scene in Twisted Justice. No one ever really knows what goes on in another’s marriage and in Twisted Justice what appears on the surface to be the ideal family, in the blink of an eye implodes, spiraling out of control toward devastation.

The perfect lives of Laura, a surgeon mother – Steve, a television news anchor father – and their five great kids – disintegrate into a nightmare when Steve’s sexy co-anchor is murdered. Both Laura and Steve are successful professionals and dedicated parents. Each in their own way. Each motivated by their own agenda. Each with dark secrets they are desperate to protect. But how does Steve react when Laura is accused of killing Kim?

The part of Laura would best be played by a mom-actress. A great choice because she is a dedicated mother and such a versatile leading actress is Gwyneth Paltrow. At the crux of the drama in Twisted Justice is a mother’s worst fear. Separation from her children is a visceral emotion for any mother, an emotion that would surely evoke genuine empathy from a woman who loves her children as much as Gwyneth Paltrow does.

Steve turns out to be the character everybody loves to hate. He has his reasons, and because Twisted Justice is a mystery, they cannot be revealed here. Steve’s character could be played very well by Kevin Costner. He’s handsome, egotistical, yet insecure and vulnerable. It is Steve who sets off the downward spiral and tangled web of intrigue as he turns on Laura in the worst imaginable way when she is charged with Kim’s murder.

As Laura’s fight for freedom dissolves into a bitter battle, pitting husband against wife, five innocent children are caught in the crossfire. Fourteen year old, Mike; eleven year old Kevin; ten year old identical twins, Natalie and Nicole; and the most victimized of them all, eight year old Patrick. Five casting opportunities open to young actors and actresses to play the children. It is difficult to imagine the pain that these kids go though as their parents’ betrayals and deceptions plunge them into a world of mortal danger.

The action is fast paced in Twisted Justice. The emotional stakes are high. And just as in real life, justice can be twisted, but it is seldom ever thwarted.

The last question: Who could best direct Twisted Justice? Steven Spielberg, of course.
Visit Patricia Gussin's website and view the Twisted Justice trailer.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow of Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sandra Parshall's "Disturbing the Dead"

Sandra Parshall is the author of The Heat of the Moon, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2006, and Disturbing the Dead, which came out in March 2007 to favorable reviews.

Should Disturbing the Dead ever be adapted for the movies, here are Parshall's thoughts -- with a little help from her friends -- about who might star in and direct the picture:
I’m probably a rarity in that I have difficulty picturing actors playing my characters – with one exception. Meryl Streep would be a natural to play Judith, Rachel’s mother in The Heat of the Moon.

I often clip photos of models from catalogs to inspire me when I begin writing new characters, but along the way my mental images diverge from those in the photos, and the pictures are discarded. “Casting” my second book, Disturbing the Dead, with models proved impossible because many of the characters are Melungeon – mixed race with dark skin and hair and, in a few cases, blue eyes.

Some of my friends have no trouble naming actors to play my characters, and their choices remind me that writing long, detailed descriptions of the people in a novel is a waste of time, because regardless of what I write, every reader will see the characters in his or her own way.

Gigi Pandian suggested Adam Beach for the role of Tom Bridger. My immediate reaction was, “He’s much too short!” I also think his features aren’t sharp enough. Tom is part Cherokee and looks it. Beach doesn’t have an angular Cherokee face. (I agree with Gigi, though, that he’s cute.)

Kim Striker thought Joe Lando could play Tom – and my immediate reaction to this suggestion was, “He’s much too old!” I looked Lando up on the internet, and sure enough, he’s more than 10 years older than Tom. I appreciate Kim’s comment on her choice, though, because it tells me I did a good job of presenting the character: “He has the same quiet competence, self-confidence and vulnerability I see in Tom.”

Kim nominated Kimberly Williams-Paisley from the Father of the Bride films and TV’s According to Jim to play Rachel Goddard, my young veterinarian heroine, because the actress has “an energy and enthusiasm I associate with Rachel” as well as the right physical appearance. True enough, but I could also accept Michelle Williams, suggested by Carol Baier, in the role.

Who would I want to direct the movie of Disturbing the Dead? No contest: the Coen brothers. With them in charge, I could be sure the book’s brooding, rather gothic tone would be conveyed whole to the screen. To tell you the truth, though, if anyone made a film of one of my books I would have no expectations. A book is a book and a movie is a movie, and any similarity between the two is purely coincidental.
Learn more about the author and her writing at Sandra Parshall's website.

The Page 69 Test: Disturbing the Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Kristy Kiernan's "Catching Genius"

In March 2007 Kristy Kiernan applied the Page 69 Test to Catching Genius, her debut novel.

Here she develops some ideas for actors and director should the book be adapted for the movies:

When I go to a baby shower I know that when they pass me a roll of toilet paper I'm supposed to tear off however many squares I think will go around the mommy-to-be's belly. It's an expected party-game, and I know how to play it.

In much the same way, when I attend a book club function, I know that as soon as someone says "movie" I'm going to be asked to cast Catching Genius. Though it's an expected game, I haven't gotten nearly as good at it as I have the whole toilet paper/pregnant belly game.

The truth is I didn't have actors in mind when I wrote the book. I envisioned sisters Connie and Estella, their mother June, the men in their lives, Luke, Tate, and Paul, and Connie's sons, Gib and Carson as wholly original beings. But after so many conversations about who readers thought should play my characters, I admit that I have finally given it some serious thought.

For Connie, a mix of resentment and love on the edge of a dangerous boiling point, I like the idea of Robin Wright Penn. There's a lot of depth there that could be easy to overlook because of her beauty, just like Connie.

For Estella, the damaged math genius who made her own life the way she wanted it (or thought she did), come on, who else but Jodie Foster? That scary intelligence mixed with vulnerability? Perfect! Plus she has the right hair for it.

June, fiercely loving, but demanding and occasionally unsympathetic, with a shocking story about her past that she kept from her own daughters, I struggle with. I think Glenn Close comes, well, close, but I keep seeing Jane Seymour tilting her head, June's quasi-haughty move, just so and think she might be perfect.

Luke, perpetual man-boy, whose infidelity pushes Connie over the edge, has a lot of contenders in Hollywood, but there must be a sad quality there, too, a history that he can't escape, no matter how much money he has, or how many baristas he fools around with. Possibly Rob Lowe?

Paul, Estella's love, tall, rangy, gentle. Smells like wood shavings and varnish, dances with Estella standing on his feet so she doesn't have to touch the grout lines. He's lovely, isn't he? I'm thinking Anthony Edwards.

And Tate, oh, all the women do love Tate. He's got problems, there's no question there, but he knows what they are, he knows where they came from, and once in a while he even owns up to them. Plus he brings fresh seafood over all the time and can build a bonfire. We need someone a little rough around the edges, someone with calluses on his hands who might take off to the woods for three days with nothing but a pocketknife. Luke Wilson has a quiet strength I like for Tate.

Gib, the troubled teenaged son of Connie, infuriated with his father, uncertain of his mother, jealous of his younger brother. He's a good kid, but what's going to become of him? I think Jason Dolley, star of a series on the Disney channel, would be an interesting choice.

And sweet Carson, concerned about everyone around him, into jazz clarinet and composing, unaware that he's a little prodigy. Nathan Gamble from Babel has just the right look, the right voice.

And the director? Please, does anyone do dysfunctional better than Jodie Foster? Watch Home For The Holidays before you suggest another director. She is exquisitely talented and does sibling relationships beautifully.

Read an excerpt from Catching Genius.

Curious about the inspiration for Catching Genius? Read Kiernan's backstory.

Visit Kristy Kiernan's website. Her new novel, Matters of Faith, comes out in August 2008.

The Page 69 Test: Catching Genius.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sarah Langan's "The Missing"

Sarah Langan received her MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University. She studied with Michael Cunningham, Nicholas Christopher, Helen Schulman, and Maureen Howard, among others, all of whom have been instrumental to her work. She is currently a master's candidate in environmental medicine at NYU.

Earlier this year Langan applied the Page 69 Test to The Keeper, her first novel.

Here she develops a few ideas about the cast and crew for a film adaptation of her new novel, The Missing:
I’d love for The Missing to be made into a movie, mostly because it would get more people to read the book. Also, I would become a rich and famous bizillionaire, and replace all my teeth with gold!

For directors, and we’re talking crazy mad dream here, I love Marty (in my dreams, I call him Marty) Scorsese. He’d handle the violence in the book with honesty, so that it never got campy or gleeful. Also, he understands intelligent women. His actresses fight the camera until it sees things their way, while lesser directors are happy to fill the screen with pretty (boring) smiles. Under his direction, Meg and Fenstad Wintrob’s love would be poignant, and Lois’ bitterness sympathetic.

For screenwriters, I love Brent Hanley (Frailty). He understands that horror comes from within, and his stories engage with the world. I’m also pretty thrilled with Ido Mizrahy and David Meyer -- the guys currently working on a screenplay (well, up until the strike) for The Keeper.

As for actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman would make a great Fenstad. I think he’d bring a quiet turmoil to the role. Fenstad Wintrob is the town psychiatrist in The Missing. While he madly loves his wife Meg, their marriage is unraveling. A year previous to the opening of the novel, she engaged in a short affair, which she regrets. Still, she remains unfulfilled, and he’s miserable, because he can’t figure out why she can’t enjoy life now that their nest is empty, and they’ve finally got time to themselves. Actually, Donald Sutherland thirty years ago would have been perfect. Then again, when is Donald Sutherland NOT perfect?

I wrote Meg’s character with Nicole Kidman in mind, mostly because Kidman is so frigging cool. But Maria Bello, Vera Farmiga, Linda Fiorentino, Rachel Griffiths, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Téa Leoni all have that same smart, type A sexiness that I envisioned for my heroine. She’s comfortable in her own skin, and accustomed to being in charge. Her weakness is her inability to be vulnerable, which I think is a nice twist, and more common than often gets written about.

Lois Larkin is the hero-turned-villain, and probably the most fun to imagine casting. Upon being dumped by her boyfriend of seven years for her best friend, and losing her job, Lois’ personality takes a turn toward the dark side, and her carnal appetites are unleashed. She’s gorgeous, wounded, angry, and infected with a virus that allows her to read other peoples’ thoughts. I like Angelina Jolie for the role. She’s great in everything she does. Or Rita Hayworth — she would have been amazing! Also, I can only imagine the crazy stuff Rita put up with, while living with Orson. I like to imagine she was the genius behind the genius all those years.
Learn more about The Missing at Sarah Langan's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Keeper.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Penni Russon's "Undine"

Tasmania-born Penni Russon is the author of The Undine trilogy, published by Random House in Australian and Greenwillow in the US, a series of magical books set in Hobart’s streets and the surrounding bush and seascapes.

Here she shares some ideas about film adaptations of the novels:
When I first imagined Undine as a movie (which was as I was writing the book!) I pictured it as a live action, but my four year old has recently fallen deeply in love with anime – films like My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away and Whisper of the Heart. When I started watching these with Frederique I definitely thought that it would be a great way to make Undine into a film. The dialogue in Totoro is some of the best I've ever heard in a film, the spirit of childhood is so perfectly captured. I think the Tasmanian landscape would be inspirational to a film-maker and Tasmania and Japan have a special relationship, maybe because we both know what it's like to see your country as fractured into islands – an image of Australia that 'mainlanders' don't share.

So without further ado, here's the cast list, bearing in mind that because its animation, age doesn't matter so much!

Undine: Emilie de Ravin

Trout: Richard Wilson

Lou: Rachel Griffiths

Prospero: Sam Neill

Richard: Hmm … someone from an Aussie soap probably (but I don't watch soaps). But someone young and smooth.

Jasper: An undiscovered, yet brilliant, yet balanced and happy in himself child actor

Max: Audrey Tatou

Grunt: Heath Ledger

I've mostly chosen Australians with international starpower because I want the movie to make LOTS of money. But Trout is a local, the first time I saw Richard Wilson on an ABC Kids show called Out There I knew he was Trout, he has the right blend of geeky and funny and vulnerable and self-possessed. Heath Ledger is exactly the kind of Australian boy I was picturing Grunt to be. I love Emilie as Clare in Lost, I love that she can look little and breakable but powerful and resilient too – her facial features are just right for Undine, so the illustrators should model Undine on her. Rachel Griffiths looks nothing like Lou but she would make a great Lou, she's got the energy and the shades of darkness Lou needs. Audrey Tatou would give Max an air of mystery (and not just because she has an accent!). I chose Sam Neill for Prospero just because I'd like to meet him. But I think he'd be great.

The music by the way, would be mostly supplied by The Waifs. But Kate Rusby's song 'Who Now Will Sing Me Lullabies?' is Undine's song in Drift.

It feels very naughty and fun playing this game! Now I should go and do something sensible. Sigh.
Learn more about the author and her novels at Penni Russon's website and her blog, Eglantine's Cake.

The Page 69 Test: Penni Russon's Breathe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ray Banks' "The Big Blind"

Ray Banks is the author of The Big Blind (his debut), Saturday's Child, and Donkey Punch.

Should The Big Blind be adapted for the big screen, here are the author's suggestions for the principal cast and director:
The Big Blind, the movie?

Okay, let's say I had it all my own way: The Big Blind would keep its northern British roots, that big Manchester rain and the grey concrete bleakness of modern trading estate Britain. If it ever made it to the screen, the visuals should make people think of wet dog - that's the best olfactory summary I can come up with. Maybe wet dog with the hint of stale lager.

For Alan Slater, our humble narrator and perpetually harassed double-glazing salesman, there's really no other choice than the De Niro of the Midlands, Paddy Considine. He's possibly a little old for the part, but he'd still nail it. Few other actors have that complete non-ego in their roles as Paddy, or as much variety - take a pinch of Dead Man's Shoes and mix it in with the terror of his slow fade in Coldplay's "God Put A Smile" video, glaze that over with the man's uncanny knack for realism, and Bob's your auntie's live-in lover.

Now for his hopelessly drunk and casually racist only friend, Les Beale. Here's a man I'd use in everything if I could, because he's not only the perfect Beale, but I could see him easily wearing DS Donkin's shoes, too. John Henshaw's name might not mean much to people, but Brits will know him from The Cops and Early Doors, and possibly the Post Office ad he's doing at the moment. He's a Manc, which helps, and he's got that nice mixture of benevolence and potential violence which'll be great for the part.

As for the rest. I don't know enough young British actresses to cast Lucy, really. Perhaps, given two or three years, a good post-Potter role for Emma Watson? Anyone snotty and young would be fine - they don't even have to be particularly good-looking. Ahmad, the Bollywood king and target of most of Beale's bigotry, would be Sanjay Dutt, a controversial Bollywood actor who specialises mostly in the tough-guy, and who's old and haggard enough to carry off those diamonds Beale covets so much. And finally, Stevie the unfortunate Scottish croupier - I can't think of anyone I'd rather see try to lick their way out of a bin bag than James McAvoy. After The Last King Of Scotland, it's obvious the lad can do pain, and I'm sure the budget will stretch to a ginger wig. Everyone else, make 'em non-actors - keep some verisimilitude.

Director: Well, my first choice for everything now is Simon Hynd, who just finished up a startling adaptation of a startling novel (Senseless) and who I'm sure would make this just as startling. Failing that, I think if we're using the De Niro of the Midlands, we could do a lot worse than use his Scorsese, Shane Meadows (Dead Man's Shoes, This Is England). Failing that, bring back Alan Clarke (The Firm, Scum) from the dead and make him work on my movie. I'm sure he'll work cheap in exchange for a new life.
Catch up with Ray Banks at his website and at Crimespace and MySpace.

The Page 69 Test: The Big Blind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 25, 2007

David Wellington's "13 Bullets" & "99 Coffins"

David Wellington is the author of the Monster Island trilogy, 13 Bullets, and 99 Coffins.

Here he shares some ideas about the casting for film adaptations of the vampire novels:
My novels, 13 Bullets and the upcoming 99 Coffins, are set in a world where vampires have long been a historical fact, having always lived beside, and preying on, the human population. They’re bigger than us, much faster, and almost impossible to kill even before they start drinking blood. Afterwards they’re virtually bulletproof. They can only be brought down by destroying their hearts — all other wounds heal instantly. They are hairless, pigment-free freaks with rows of wicked teeth and they don’t read poetry and date cute vampire hunters, and they don’t daintily sip blood from a pair of hickeys on your neck. They’d rather tear off your head and suck the blood from your spurting stump.

Needless to say humanity tries to fight back — and though we’re severely outmatched, the numbers are on our side. Over the centuries we’ve managed to turn the tide, ferreting out vampire lairs during the light of day and exterminating these predators wherever we find them. By the 1980s vampires are believed by most people to be extinct. Then, in the twenty-first century, evidence comes to light that this was nothing more than a fond hope. A cadre of vampires are back and slaughtering the good people of Pennsylvania. It falls on a pair of law enforcement agents to put them back in their coffins for good. One is an aging U.S. Marshal, the only living American who has fought a vampire before and lived. The other is a young State Trooper, a member of the Highway Patrol who has never discharged her weapon outside of a firing range.

The Fed is Jameson Arkeley, who has spent the last twenty years researching vampires and watching for them to come back — after what he saw in 1983 he alone knew they’d never really gone away. He’s described this way: “The man behind her wore a tan trench coat over a black suit. His hair was the color of steel wool, cut short and close to his head. He looked to be in pretty good shape but had to be at least sixty. Maybe seventy. In the flickering light of four in the morning, the creases on his face could have been wrinkles or they could have been scars. His eyes were hooded by deep, pouchy lids and his mouth was nothing more than a narrow slot in the bottom half of his face. ‘Good evening,’ he said, his voice thick and a little hoarse. His face folded up like a gas station road map. He was smiling, the kind of smile you give a child you don’t particularly like.”

I had a lot of different actors in mind when I wrote that description: Lee Marvin, Tommy Lee Jones, definitely Robert Mitchum. In a perfect world, one, that is, where time machines worked and were cheaply available, I would go back in time, kidnap John Hurt, make him beef up and learn how to do a perfect American accent.

Arkeley’s partner is Laura Caxton, a twenty-five year old lesbian State Trooper who rescues Greyhounds and turns out to be far more than she seems. There was never any doubt in my mind about what actress she looked like: Laura Linney, in a role similar to the one she played in The Mothman Prophecies.
Read more about 13 Bullets and 99 Coffins, and visit David Wellington's website.

The Page 69 Test: Monster Nation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Alex Scarrow's "A Thousand Suns"

Alex Scarrow is the author of the thrillers A Thousand Suns and Last Light.

About A Thousand Suns:
Off the coast of New England, a trawler tangles its nets on wreckage from sixty years ago - a B17 'flying fortress' , perfectly preserved and containing the final and most terrifying secret of WWII. When freelance photographer, Chris Roland, enters the sunken plane , what he discovers in the dark, tomb-like interior changes everything he knows about the end of the war and how desperately close it came to being the end of everything.

A Thousand Suns is a tale that cuts breathlessly between the present, as a long dormant and sinister agency stirs once more, readying to preserve the secret at any cost - and the past, as a young crew of German airmen, the very last of Hitler's Luftwaffe, fight impossible odds to save their country. As both plots race towards a conclusion, this most horrifying wartime revelation hangs in the balance.
Scarrow shares some casting ideas for a potential film adaptation:
The book started out as a screenplay anyway, so writing it as a novel, it already had the movie pace, and chapters that were effectively scenes. As I wrote the book, from page one I already had the cast in my head - something screenwriters do, more than novel writers I think. Anyway then, let's get on with casting...

Chris Roland, a wildlife photographer who explores the submerged ruins of a B-17 bomber off the coast of America. That role was always going to be played by Paul Bettany (Wimbledon, Da Vinci Code, Master and Commander). He's very English and self-effacing.

Max Kleinman, pilot and leader of a Luftwaffe crew, tasked with flying a captured B-17 bomber to America to drop the Nazis' one and only atom bomb on New York in the last few days of the war. I saw this character being played by a Kiefer Sutherland ten years younger. But obviously since we can't rewind the clock, I'd look at someone like Clive Owen.

Major Rall, a major in the Luftwaffe who puts together the audacious mission plan. Well now, I kept seeing Robert Duvall in The Eagle Has Landed. He'd be too old to play this similar role, so in his place I'd look at someone like Gary Oldman.

Hauser, an anti-semitic scientist who develops the Nazi bomb. A nasty, slimey, self-serving piece of work, this chap. I could only think of one bloke to play him, Doug Hutchison (the really nasty little prison guard in The Green Mile).

Wallace, an old man in the present who's spent a life working for the SOE, the CIA, comes out of the woodwork to reveal to Chris Roland the events that happened in the dying days of WWII. Obviously someone in their 80's, to be plausible. However, I think Anthony Hopkins could be aged ten years to look frail enough for the role.

As it happens, there are a couple film 'suits' sniffing around the movie rights, so it's always a possibility. Maybe one day. Whilst I'm still alive would be nice.
Visit the Scarrow Brothers' website, Alex Scarrow's blog, and read reviews of A Thousand Suns.

The Page 69 Test: A Thousand Suns.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Jack Getze's "Big Numbers"

Jack Getze, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the Los Angeles Times, covered financial and economic issues for more than 15 years; then he switched professions and later sold stocks and bonds for a regional securities firm on the New Jersey Shore.

Big Numbers, his first published novel, is based on his experiences as a retail broker, sales manager, and financial executive.

Here Getze shares some ideas about the casting for a film adaptation of Big Numbers:
I can't remember who I had in mind as Austin Carr twenty years ago when I started Big Numbers. But I rewrote Austin's first-person account two years ago with several pictures of Vince Vaughn pinned above my computer. I even have a shot of Vince posted on my Austin Carr's Crime Diary blog. The headline -- Only a Rumor Vince Wants the Part.

In fact, since Big Numbers is the first in a series, and I'm working on number three right now, the pictures of Vince Vaughn are still up. He's obviously my choice to play Austin in any movie. Vince's ability to crack wise with a straight face, the natural way he wears a business suit, and his ability to charm the ladies make him perfect for the part.

For the part of Kelly Burns, the pretty redhead who lures Austin astray, I've always had in mind Molly Ringwald. Molly starred in the John Hughes movies Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink, but the thing a lot of people remember about her is that she turned down the leading role of Julia Roberts' part in the 1990 smash Pretty Woman, and also Demi Moore's leading role in the film Ghost.

Molly's aged very well and now sports a mature sexiness that was missing in those teenage roles. I think she'd make a perfect seductress for the screen.

Austin's sidekick, bartender Luis Guererro, is tough to cast. He was based on a real bartender I knew twenty-five years ago in Red Bank, New Jersey, so I have a picture in my mind that's impossible to duplicate. But twenty years ago, Edward James Olmos came awfully darn close. Tough and intimidating with just a look, but soft-spoken and wise, I thought Olmos would -- like Luis -- would make Austin feel safe sitting at Luis's bar. Olmos is too old now, I suppose, but it's still his picture I have pinned on the board next to Vince Vaughn's.

As for Psycho Sam Attica, the former professional wrestler enraged by Austin's disastrous investment advice, I saw him on television last night as I was channel surfing. It's Hulk Hogan, who now has his own reality show.
Learn more about Jack Getze, Big Numbers, and Big Money -- the second Austin Carr Mystery due out in February 2008 -- at Getze's website and The Crimes of Austin Carr blog.

The Page 69 Test: Big Numbers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Billie Livingston's "Cease to Blush"

Billie Livingston is a fiction writer, poet, and sometime essayist. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, she grew up in Toronto and Vancouver, and has since lived in Tokyo, Hamburg, Munich and London, England. Her first employment was filling the dairy coolers in a Macs Milk. She went on to work varying lengths of time as a file clerk, receptionist, cocktail waitress, model, actor, chocolate sampler, and booth host at a plumber's convention. She lives in Vancouver.

Livingston is the author of two novels and a book of poetry. She has been shortlisted for the Journey Prize for fiction and the Pat Lowther Award for best book of poetry by a Canadian woman.

I asked who she would like to see cast in a film adaptation of her latest novel, Cease to Blush. Her reply:
When I’m in the middle of a book, I use my crow brain a lot. I take pictures of things and places so I can load them onto my laptop and refer to them as I write; I scribble down strangers’ conversations and stick their words in my characters’ mouths. Actors are easy to swipe because they’re always hanging around on my TV so I often make them act out what’s in my head to see if it will work or not.

When I was writing Cease to Blush, Angelina Jolie’s public and film personas often came to mind for the book’s narrator, Vivian. Especially a few years ago, Jolie seemed to be a bit of a train wreck, a flamboyantly rebellious and self-destructive woman yet one who had an obvious native intelligence and a scared, swollen heart. Every move she made struck me as a big F.U. to the world. That’s Vivian all over.

Vivian’s guy Frank is a little tougher to cast. Book reviewers often referred to Frank as the “sleazy” or “creepy” boyfriend but I would say Frank is just your average jerk. He’s is a bit of a gluttonous good-time Charlie who wants whatever he can get away with, but deep down he’s a lover not monster. Jack Nicholson in about 1972 would have made a really good Frank. Vince Vaughn might work. But he would have to play it straight, not goofy. Maybe Mark Ruffalo.

Cease to Blush deals with Vivian’s discovery that her recently deceased mother, Josie, was a burlesque dancer in the 1960s who went by the name Celia Dare and was rumored to have had affairs with Bobby Kennedy and Johnny Rosselli (the mobster who once ran Vegas and Los Angeles). For Bobby Kennedy, I would love to haul William Devane out of 1976 and drop him into it. Johnny Rosselli was known in his circle as “Don Juan” and “The Silver Fox” in the 50s and 60s. George Clooney perhaps? Ol’ George would be pleasantly weird casting since Josie/Celia Dare burlesques Rosemary Clooney, crooning “Come On a My House” whilst stripping in a San Francisco coffee house. Ol’ Clooney is probably a little young though and not the right temperament. Ray Liotta would likely be more in the right direction.

For the Josie/Celia Dare part, I’d need a twenty-something woman who could sing and dance — someone charismatic with the capacity to play from 16 years old to about 28. Emily Blunt might be up to the task. She can act and she’s been singing with Michael Bublé lately. But can she dance?

And last but perhaps most crucial, Annie West, the ballsy burlesque stripper from California would have to be Shirley MacLaine. If I could splice time, I would love for 1960s MacLaine to play Annie as a young stripper and contemporary MacLaine to play old but still ferocious Annie.
Read more about the author and her books at the official Billie Livingston website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tom Lewis's "Hitler's Judas"

Hitler's Judas is the latest novel from Tom Lewis.

The main storyline:

Martin Bormann, possibly the closest man to Adolf Hitler, knows Hitler’s insane decision to invade Russia will destroy The Fatherland. Already in a position of enormous power, Bormann forms an intricate plan of escape. But Bormann has no intentions of escaping as a pauper.

When the right moment comes, Bormann leaves the doomed Third Reich forever, taking with him $50 million in stolen Nazi gold. His surprising destination is Pea Island, a lonely strip of sand north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Will his plan succeed?

The author shares some ideas about actors and directors for a film adaptation:

I am certain that most fiction novelists write their books believing they would make good screenplays/movies. I know I do. In the case of my trilogy, Pea Island Gold, I definitely had in mind at least a successful mini-series for television. As well, I firmly believe that each stand-alone novel would be quite adaptable to dramatic film.

As for Hitler's Judas, casting for such a movie should not be a problem. There are many actors who could play the roles of the major characters. If I were choosing, I would love to see Anthony Hopkins play Martin Bormann. Hopkins is a consummate artist, and has a similar body build as Bormann. Gene Hackman could also effectively show Bormann’s devious, cruel, yet brilliant nature.

For the strong hero in the novel (Horst von Hellenbach) I can see a couple of actors who could fill that role admirably: Jude Law, and Viggo Mortensen. Both have the sensitivity required, and both have the looks of an intelligent, aristocratic German officer.

Any number of blond female actors could play Elisabeth Kroll, but I think Anne Heche could do a great job of playing that selfish, ambitious character.

Finally, choosing someone for the important part of Sunday Everette would be far more difficult. Those female African American actors who are currently very popular are probably not tall enough. Perhaps that role might best be played by someone relatively unknown. Nonetheless, it would be a lot of fun to try to find her!

Two directors come to mind for this story: German born Michael Haneke, and Quentin Tarantino. Either could bring this book to an exciting film.

Read more about the Pea Island Gold trilogy -- Sunday's Child is the first volume -- at Tom Lewis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 5, 2007

Steve Hockensmith's "Holmes on the Range"

Steve Hockensmith is the author of three novels featuring Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer: Holmes on the Range (2006), On the Wrong Track (2007), and the forthcoming The Black Dove (2008).

In March 2007 he applied the Page 69 Test to On the Wrong Track; here he explores possible casting choices for a film adaptation of the novels:
When people ask me who I’d like to play Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer, the cowboy heroes of my Holmes on the Range mysteries, my answer’s always the same: I don’t care if it’s the Wayans brothers, so long as the check clears.

I’ll admit it, though -- I’m just covering my emotional butt there. (And my butt does get rather verklempt, at times.) You see, I know as the writer I have no power over the casting whatsoever. Heck, I don’t have any power over anything, except maybe what I’ll have for lunch ... and even then it
has to be something in the fridge already.

So though it doesn’t make sense to care about something I have no control over (and which probably won’t ever happen anyway), care I would. And I’m sorry, Shawn and Marlon -- I don’t care how good the makeup was in White Chicks. I just can’t see you playing red-haired German-American cowboy-detectives.

Two actor-brothers I could see in the roles are Luke and Owen Wilson. After all, they’re from Texas, they’ve got great onscreen chemistry (as demonstrated by the charming caper-comedy Bottle Rocket) and they don’t look like total dorks when wearing Stetsons. (Owen cowboyed up in Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights, while Luke had a small supporting role in 3:10 to Yuma.) The tough part would be deciding who’d be who. Both could probably play the affable (if occasionally irritating) Big Red -- Luke could no doubt capture the character’s put-upon affection for his eccentric brother, while Owen could channel Big Red’s goofy jocularity in his sleep. But could either of them pull off Old Red, the cranky, brooding, brilliant-though-illiterate elder brother? I’m not so sure.

If I cast the casting net a little wider, though, I can come up with the perfect Old Red: Sam “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” Rockwell, who can do accents and ride horses and create compelling, intelligent oddballs at the drop of a 10-gallon hat. I think he’d even look O.K. with a carrot top and a handlebar mustache.

So pair Rockwell with one of the Wilson boys -- I’ll say Owen because, let’s face it, the poor guy could really use a fun, high-concept comeback vehicle right about now -- and bingo. Box-office gold. Or (to judge by the grosses for 3:10 to Yuma) silver, anyway. Bronze, at the very least.

So come on, Tinseltown -- go for the gold (or silver or bronze)! Call my dawg Rich over at CAA and make an offer!

Even if you represent the Wayans brothers.

Cuz, yeah, I admit it. I care who plays Big Red and Old Red ... but I care even more about paying off my mortgage....
Read Big Red's blog to learn more about Steve Hockensmith and his writing.

The Page 69 Test: On the Wrong Track.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Andrea MacPherson's "Beyond the Blue"

Andrea MacPherson is the author of four books: two novels, When She Was Electric (Raincoast, 2003) and Beyond the Blue (Random House, 2007) and two poetry collections, Natural Disasters (Palimpsest Press, 2007) and Away (Signature Editions, 2008).

Earlier this year she put the Page 69 Test to Beyond the Blue; here she imagines the dream cast for a film adaptation of the novel:
I’ve always thought about novels in a cinematic way: pan to the long, lingering sun-bleached fields. Tight focus on the way the loom whirs and spins, how the hand is acutely aware of the possibility of danger. But, in most cases, I don’t think about the characters as actors. Why? Because I imagine them as the characters they are — who they appear to be on the page.

So, I've thought a lot about who might play my characters in Beyond the Blue. First, it takes place in Dundee, Scotland in 1918. I need actors who might be chameleons, able to slip into eras and countries with ease. Then, who resembles them the most, in appearance, yes, but also in spirit? I have a relatively large cast, so my mind was whirring.

Morag: matriarch. Full of quiet, dignified hope. Older, but still handsome, well-spoken. Strong. More than anything, strength of character and vision. So it had to be Meryl Streep. I can imagine her in one of these bleak weaving rooms, tending looms but looking off in the distance — in that way she has — and you could see below the surface, all the shimmering hope just there.

Caro: eldest daughter. The ‘pretty’ one who wants, more than anything, a different sort of life than her mother has. Smarter than she lets on. Unafraid. Ambitious. Here, I see Rachel McAdams or Claire Danes. For their mix of beauty, intelligence and something that edges close to shyness, something that might be surprising.

Wallis: younger daughter. She is the one who most searingly feels the burdens of family and responsibility. Who is caught in the past, in the years when she felt she was really, truly happy. Still in love with a childhood friend, long gone to Ireland. I’d love to see Sarah Polley here. She’s beautiful, but not in the expected way; she seems determined, which is essential to Wallis’ character.

Imogen: orphaned, abandoned niece. Ethereal, haunted, distrustful of her own perceptions of the world around her. Imogen is having visions of her dead mother, and is uncertain how to cope with this grief. Who might play such a character? Dominique Swain or Thora Birch. Either has that quality — the only word to capture it, quality — that so defines Imogen and her journey.

Brigid: Morag’s dead sister, Imogen’s dead mother. Incredibly beautiful, fragile, complex. Brigid appears to Imogen as a ghostly essence, and appears in the earlier years of the story. This would have to be someone as ethereal as Imogen; a character certain of her wants; someone who changes the world around her. Cate Blanchett, Cate Blanchett, Cate Blanchett.

And then there are the men.

Oliver: Morag’s brother-in-law; Brigid’s husband; Imogen’s lost father. A man who walks away from a life he no longer recognizes. Handsome, charming, liked by almost everyone (not Morag, who is wary, aware of his flaws and his abandonment). The prodigal who returns. I think Clive Owen or Patrick Dempsey would be good fits — both have the ability to project emotion, to keep things bottled in in that inarticulate way, which would suit Oliver perfectly.

Desmond: mill owner. Destined-to-be-doomed lover of Caro. Callous. Unconcerned. Aware of his power and unafraid to exploit it, often. Gabriel Byrne would be lovely here: you can believe that women would flock to him, not only because he is attractive, but, more importantly, because you believe in his status, his ability to control any situation.

Godfrey: traveling healer. Slick. Untrustworthy. Something just off centre. A perfect match to Willem Dafoe.

There are other characters as well — again, that unwieldy cast: children; a dark, tragic woman who puts her head in a stove, a stray lover or two. But these are the ones who cement the novel for me, the ones I see in those sweeping glances of the cobbled streets of Dundee.
Read an excerpt from Beyond the Blue and learn more about MacPherson's work at her official website.

Read Linda L. Richards' 2007 interview with MacPherson in January Magazine.

The Page 69 Test: Beyond the Blue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Allen Wyler's "Deadly Errors"

Allen Wyler is a neurosurgeon and author of two thrillers, Deadly Errors and Dead Head.

Deadly Errors has been translated into several European languages. Originally published as a hardcover, it will be re-release in April 2008 as a mass market paperback. Here’s what the author has to say about a film adaptation of the novel:
Apparently, after listening to how other writers build their stories, I do mine backasswards. Meaning, instead of building the story around the character I start with the core idea and then figure out the ending, then work backwards outlining a series of scenes that logically lead up to the climax. Once this is done, I decide the actual location for each scene and photograph them with my digital camera so I can view the picture as I write.

Once this stage is reached, I ask, “Now, what about the characters?” I visualize actors who fit my characters’ physical attributes and then I begin creating their quirks and mannerisms.

So basically, I don’t do the film-to-book thing (or vice versa) until I’m ready to leave the outline stage and actually start writing. Only then do I develop each scene as I see the film play out.

Deadly Errors employs four main characters:

I envision Dermot Mulroney playing the main character and protagonist, Tyler Mathews, a neurosurgeon piecing his life back together after being falsely accused of drug abuse. Once he discovers that a flaw in the medical center’s new computerized records system is causing patient deaths and he tries to report this, he finds himself fighting for his life.

Jill Richardson, the beautiful VP of Risk Management for Maynard Medical Center (and female lead) could be played nicely by Rosamund Pike. Her allegiances remain ambiguous (is she helping Tyler or one of the enemy) until a scene leading up to the climax.

Arthur Benson is Maynard Medical Center’s CEO and ultimately the person responsible for covering up the problems with the computer. I believe Jeremy Piven would be a perfect fit for him.

Finally, there is Bernie Levy, the Bill Gates wannabe who coded the flawed computer program. Guy Pearce would fit the bill well.
Read more about Deadly Errors at Allen Wyler's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Head.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Louise Penny's "A Fatal Grace"

Louise Penny's first Three Pines mystery, Still Life, won the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada and the New Blood Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association. In the United States, it received the Dilys Award for the book that the members of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association most enjoyed selling over the past year. It was named one of the Kirkus Reviews' top ten mysteries of 2006 and received the most votes for the best mystery of the year from the online community DorothyL. The Cruellest Month, the third novel in the series, is out now in the U.K. and Canada and scheduled for release in the U.S. in early 2008.

I asked Penny what a film adaptation of the Three Pines novels might look like. Her reply:
What a great question, though a hard one to answer, since I never ever sit on planes imagining various stars thanking me for the luminous characters, the sparkling dialogue, the thrilling plot. I never practice my Academy Award speech or congratulate George Clooney on his Oscar win, playing Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. (An egregious miscasting I originally protested, but upon seeing the rushes I came to appreciate he understood the depth and compassion of Gamache. I eventually apologized to Mr. Clooney over an intimate dinner.) I never imagine the private jets landing at my village airport (built especially for them) to take me to P. Diddy’s yacht in St Tropez or having to lie to JK Rowling because she just won’t let the whole rivalry thing go and accept it really doesn’t matter that I’ve made way more money than her. After all, it is unfair to compare my Chief Inspector Gamache to a boy wizard. But really, some people.

However, as a personal favor to Marshal, I’ve agreed to this stretch.

The pivotal role in the Three Pines series, and certainly in A Fatal Grace, is Chief Inspector Gamache, a man in his mid-fifties, large and comfortable. His body speaks of engrossing reads by the fireplace, of café au laits and croissants, and quiet walks through Parc Mont Royal with his beloved wife and dog. His power comes from his stillness, his calm, his great presence. When he walks into a room people know the leader has arrived. He is kind, content and compassionate.

So you can see how George Clooney might be miscasting. Actually, while I was writing it I had two actors, or perhaps more characters, in mind. One was Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean Luc Picard. But the main imagine and feeling I had for Gamache was Lorne Greene, as Ben Cartwright.

So, I’d cast the late Lorne Greene. Of living actors I might, oddly enough, cast Kelsey Grammer. I know, it seems improbable, but he has an unexpected presence, as well as a smart sense of humor.

For Clara Morrow, a struggling artist and the main female character I’d cast Jennifer Saunders from Ab Fab. For her husband Peter, a deeply conflicted, brilliant artist I’d go with John Travolta – though he might make a great Gamache too. He probably shouldn’t play both roles, though.

Actually, I think Travolta would make a fantastic Ruth Zardo – an embittered, insightful poet. Winner of every major poetry prize and a real piece of work. She says what she thinks, and what she thinks is invariably uncharitable. Her saving grace is a sense of humor and an insight into herself. She knows how screwed up she is.

For Myrna, the retired psychologist from Montreal who now runs the New and Used Bookstore in Three Pines, I’d cast Oprah. (my new best friend, who begged for the part, even sending her private jet, not realizing I now have my own. Bought JK Rowling’s, during her now infamous and ill-fated hanger sale.)

A Fatal Grace also features three elderly women, the Three Graces, who hold a strange sway over the peaceful village. I’d cast Helen Hayes, Mildred Natwick (both of Snoop Sisters fame) and John Travolta. Or Eve Arden. If forced to use living actors I’d go for Elaine Stritch, Ginette Reno (in makeup) and Elizabeth Taylor (without).

For Olivier and Gabri, the wonderful owners of the Bistro and the B&B – who else but Ben Affleck and Matt Damon?

It’s gonna be big. It’s gonna be bigger than big!
Read more about Louise Penny and her books at her website.

The Page 69 Test: Still Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Whitney Gaskell's "Mommy Tracked"

Whitney Gaskell is the author of five novels including Testing Kate, to which she applied the Page 69 Test earlier this year.

Her latest novel is Mommy Tracked, which Publishers Weekly praised as a "sparkling example of 'mom lit'."

Gaskell took the novel through the "My Book, The Movie" exercise and came up with these casting ideas for a film adaptation:
The great thing about being able to fantasy cast the movie for my new book, Mommy Tracked, is that there are four protagonists and four love interests. That means there’s lots of room for all of my favorite actors!

So here’s my perfect cast for Mommy Tracked:

For Anna, who’s trying to figure out if she can balance a personal life with all of the demands of single motherhood ... it would have to be Reese Witherspoon. She brings so much talent and charm to every movie she’s in. I can’t think of anyone better to play likeable, down-to-earth Anna.

Noah, the owner of a local wine store who has a rocky record when it comes to relationships ... Patrick Dempsey. It wouldn’t be hard to understand why Anna would ditch her no dating policy for him!

Juliet, the workaholic lawyer who contemplates having an affair with her boss ... the coolly elegant Gwyneth Paltrow. She’d perfectly capture Juliet’s inner turmoil as her successful career causes tension at home.

Patrick, Juliet’s stay-at-home husband ... Mark Ruffalo, who would bring strength to the role of the domesticated dad. Plus, I’d love to see him opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in a movie; I think they’d have amazing chemistry.

Grace, the stay-at-home mom who’s obsessed with losing her baby weight ... the funny and charismatic Toni Collette. She’d keep the audience rooting for Grace, even while she diets her way into health problems.

Louis, Grace’s husband ... Ben Stiller. He’s funny as hell, and his grounded sex appeal would be a great match for Grace.

Chloe, new mom and part-time kleptomaniac ... Anne Hathaway. She has a vulnerable quality that reminds me of Chloe, who becomes overwhelmed with the challenges of a new baby and a husband who doesn’t want to grow up.

James, Chloe’s husband and the new dad with a Peter Pan complex ... Topher Grace from In Good Company. He has an exuberant personality that would make James likeable even as he screws up time after time.

So there’s my dream cast. Any takers out there in Hollywood?
Read an excerpt from Mommy Tracked and learn more about the book and author at Whitney Gaskell's website.

The Page 69 Test: Testing Kate.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Claire Cameron's "The Line Painter"

Claire Cameron was born in 1973 and grew up in Toronto. She studied history at Queen’s University and then worked as an instructor for Outward Bound, teaching mountaineering, climbing and whitewater rafting in Oregon. Moving to London in 1999, she founded Shift Media, a consultancy with clients including the BBC, McGraw-Hill and Oxford University Press. Cameron now lives in Toronto with her husband and son.

Here she explains both the relationship between the movies and her writing process and who she would like to play the main characters in The Line Painter, her first novel.
It's not hard for me to think of The Line Painter as a movie, because it was a film before it became a book.

When I write, I play a movie in my head. I stare at the wall while my characters mark their spots and rehearse their lines. I watch each scene on small screens that I store on the inside of my eyelids.

Translating the film in my head into a novel involves selecting small details that will bring the story to life on the written page. Instead of watching a character smoke, I describe how his fingers grip a cigarette. Rather than pan across a magnificent sunset, I focus on the one moment when the rim of the sun dips down.

This to say, I've thought a lot about who might play my characters.

I'd want Sarah Polley to play the main character, Carrie. After her boyfriend dies, she takes off on a road trip across Canada and her car breaks down in the middle of the night. I need a strong actress to portray a risk-taker who has a hunger for life, but also show the mix of emotions that are part of grieving. Polley's combination of intelligence and fragility would be perfect.

Joaquin Phoenix should play the male lead. Frank is the guy who paints the lines on the highway. He rescues Carrie from the roadside. Phoenix can morph into someone who wears his past on his sleeve. He can also evoke compassion from an audience. That mix is what I need in an actor, someone who looks like trouble from the outside, who somehow draws you in.

Polley and Phoenix would be an odd couple together, which is perfect for Carrie and Frank. The screen tests would tell, but I bet they would have a certain chemistry that would make them irresistible to watch.
Read an excerpt from The Line Painter and learn more about the novel.

Visit Claire Cameron's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 5, 2007

Catherine Ryan Hyde's "Love in the Present Tense"

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of: the novels Funerals for Horses, Pay it Forward, Electric God, Walter’s Purple Heart, and Love in the Present Tense; a collection of short fiction, Earthquake Weather; and the Young Adult novels, Becoming Chloe and The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance.

Here she shares her thoughts about casting for the adaptations for her books, with particular reference to Love in the Present Tense:
If they made one of my books into a movie, who would I want to see cast in the major roles? An unusually dicey question in my case. Or so it seems to me. Dicey because they did make one of my books (Pay It Forward) into a movie. And I certainly would not have chosen Kevin Spacey for the role of the African American Vietnam vet. That was a surprise.

Electric God is well on its way to film, but I see no such issues hovering around it, so I’ll just wait and see what they do.

Potentially next in line would be Love in the Present Tense. Here it gets interesting and dicey all over again.

In Love in the Present Tense, we have three major characters: Mitch, a white guy; Pearl, who is half black and half Korean; and her son Leonard, who is one quarter black and one quarter Korean, and whose father is an Italian cop.

So far we have a hardcover and paperback edition of the work in which Leonard is thoughtfully depicted in the cover art. His face doesn’t show, but the color of his skin is just about the way Mitch described it in the book: coffee just the way Mitch takes it (with a generous splash of half and half). Then there’s the UK edition (it hit the bestseller list in the UK due to its selection for a major TV book club) and the large print edition. And on these covers, Leonard is a white boy.

Sounds like I’m not answering the question, but I swear I am. Just in a roundabout way.

I don’t care who they get to play Mitch. Someone like Jake Gyllenhaal would be lovely, but I’m flexible. I just don’t want them to cast a white girl as Pearl, and a white boy as Leonard.

Maybe they will, and maybe they’ll say, “We just thought it didn’t matter. That it wasn’t important to the story.” Well, here’s a question. If it doesn’t matter, why can’t these characters be something other than white for a change?

When asked, I many times repeated that the casting of Kevin Spacey was done simply because of what it meant to get Kevin Spacey. In other words, all economics. Certainly economics plays the lead in every Hollywood movie. But it doesn’t account for two editions of Love in the Present Tense depicting Leonard as a white boy. If it happens again, I’m not going to say it’s something other than … I won’t say racist, because it’s such a powerful and ugly word. It implies hate. I don’t think the people who whiten my characters are full of hate. I just think that, on a level they don’t even know exists, they like white better. So I’ll say … Eurocentrist. I won’t go in front of groups or out in the press and claim it’s anything other than Eurocentrism. Because I’ll no longer believe it.

So, that’s my answer. Actors of color. I don’t care which ones. I only ask that they not have blonde hair and blue eyes. Many of my characters don’t. Because many people in the world around me don’t.

And, you know what? It does matter. It matters to the story and it matters to me.

So, Hollywood. Consider yourself challenged to create coffee-colored Leonard. What do you say?
Visit Catherine Ryan Hyde's official website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Victor Gischler's "Shotgun Opera"

Victor Gischler is the author of four hard-boiled crime novels. His debut novel Gun Monkeys was nominated for the Edgar Award. His work has been translated into Italian, French, Spanish and Japanese. He earned a Ph.D. in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. His fifth novel, Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse, is due out in June 2008 by the Touchstone/Fireside imprint of Simon & Schuster.

In March 2007 he applied the Page 69 Test to Shotgun Opera. Now he has taken the novel through the "My Book, The Movie" exercise and has come up with these ideas for a film adaptation:
I forget who said it, but somebody remarked Shotgun Opera would make a cool John Woo film. I guess I don’t have any problem with that. Shotgun Opera certainly has enough action. And it might have been excellent author J.D. Rhoades who said it reminded him of those Transporter films. That would be cool too. All of my novels have a cool dose of action, but it was Shotgun most of all that I wanted to have a “nonstop” feel, and so the above comparisons seem pretty good to me. If you took John Woo and a healthy pinch of that Robert Rodriguez quirkiness, I think you’d have it.

The protagonist of the book is a fellow named Mike Foley. Mike is in hiding now from him past life when he and his brothers hired out as freelance guns for the mob. Mike is in his mid-sixties, and I think Gabriel Byrne would be perfect for the part if he’d let the makeup artists age him by 10-12 years. I think he’d nail the part.

Casting the Three Sisters would be crucial and tricky. Nikki Enders (the oldest sister) needs to be somebody athletically kick-ass and in her mid-thirties. Hilary Swank? Hmmmmm. Maybe. Eva Longoria might make a good Middle Sister, and Baby sister needs to be some fierce-eyed, seventeen-year-old punk newcomer.

And let’s not forget our carnival freaks. I’m not sure who should play Jack Sprat, but his Alligator-wrestling wife should definitely be played by wrestler Joanie Laurer.

I suppose most authors think their novels would make pretty good films. I’m no different. My first novel Gun Monkeys is currently under option and The Pistol Poets has been optioned previously. There are some folks looking at Suicide Squeeze right now. But so far not a lot of film interest in Shotgun Opera. I think it’s a screenplay waiting to happen.
Visit Victor Gischler's Blogpocalypse.

The Page 69 Test: Shotgun Opera.

--Marshal Zeringue