Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ronlyn Domingue's "The Mercy of Thin Air"

Ronlyn Domingue is the author of The Mercy of Thin Air, which Jodi Picoult called "that rarest of first novels -- a truly original voice, and a truly original story."

Here Domingue shares some thoughts about the casting for a film adaptation of the novel:
Here’s the basic story of The Mercy of Thin Air: New Orleans, 1920s. Raziela Nolan is in the throes of a magnificent love affair when she dies in a tragic accident. In an instant, she leaves behind her one true love and her dream of becoming a doctor -- but somehow, she still remains. Immediately after her death, Razi chooses to stay between -- a realm that exists after life and before whatever lies beyond it. Seventy-five years later, in this ghost-like state, Razi takes residence with a troubled couple whose history mirrors her own. Her intervention in their lives forces her to face the truth of what happened to her beloved Andrew and the nature of her very existence.

Movie-worthy? Readers certainly think so, because I’m asked all the time whether a movie is coming out. I’ve dabbled with the fantasy myself, right down to who might play certain roles. If I had any say in the matter, these are some picks I’d like to see.

Razi Nolan: Though many a fine contemporary actress has come to mind, Scarlett Johansson is the one who’d be the ultimate bee’s knees to play this intelligent, vivacious, and sensual character. I shall refrain from gushing any further.

Andrew O’Connell: If there’s a young actor who can fulfill this bit of cinematic alchemy, I’d like to see a combination of a young Paul Newman (without any overdone Southernisms) and Joaquin Phoenix, who handles emotional sensitivity and depth very well.

Amy Richmond: Here I see Kate Winslet or Jenna Fischer. Either could capture Amy’s spunk and sweetness.

Scott Duncan: Again, a tough call. However, Campbell Scott has shown a range in his roles that makes him a contender. (No Roger Dodger in this instance, though.)

Young Twolly (Razi’s friend): Despite Twolly’s reserved nature, she has a spirit about her. Maggie Gyllenhaal could tap into many facets of this character.

Chloe (Amy’s friend): Zooey Deschanel could handle the edginess and humor that’s part of Chloe.

There are several other minor roles, which may not even appear in a movie. But if Razi’s father Barrett did have a part, I vote for Johnny Depp, because of the way his eyes hold grief, but my agent picks Gabriel Byrne, who’s certainly an apt choice as well. For a quirky choice for Noble, the man who’s been between for about 200 years, Harvey Keitel could bring a simmering sullenness.

If/when a movie happens, it absolutely must be filmed in New Orleans, where this story lives and breathes. Other cities in Louisiana are part of the setting, and I’d like to see those included, too.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any films that accurately portray Louisiana and its people in our beauty and diversity. One of my greatest wishes is to have a team that will respect this uniqueness and not turn the story, its characters, or its places into Southern clichés. That’s been done enough. Time for something new.

All I have to wait for now is a major stroke of good luck for a stellar option.
Visit Ronlyn Domingue's website and MySpace page.

About The Mercy of Thin Air: read an excerpt; hear a clip; praise; Q&A.

The Page 69 Test: The Mercy of Thin Air.

--Marshal Zeringue