Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sandra Ruttan's "Suspicious Circumstances"

Sandra Ruttan's debut crime novel is Suspicious Circumstances, which Clive Cussler called "one of the most satisfying mysteries going that grips the reader from beginning to end."

Here Ruttan shares some thoughts about the casting for a film adaptation of the novel:
In Suspicious Circumstances reporter Lara Kelly suspects there’s more to the story than what meets the eye – or in this case, the lens. When Duane Brodie turns up in her office with a video of a woman apparently falling to her death, Lara’s curious. When Duane claims he took the video to the police and they dismissed him, she’s intrigued.

Her article on an apparent suicide could have been the end of the story. Instead, her editor talks about smearing the local police captain. Captain Patrick Collins sends Detective Tymen Farraday to check out Lara’s story. When Lara is attacked Farraday is forced work with her to find out what really happened to the woman on the video.

This is the kind of story where the catalyst is just the tip of the iceberg. It delves into conspiracies, the politics of power and people who manipulate the law for personal gain. At the heart of the story, the issue is one of trust. Lara and Farraday both have reasons to be reluctant to trust each other, and the heart of the book is about the evolution of their relationship, and how they deal with their doubts about each other and all the people around them, while knowing their lives are at risk in a case that’s anything but what it originally appeared to be. Suspicious Circumstances could make a great movie if it had the right director and great writers handling the screenplay.

Director: Clark Johnson would make a great option. He has experience on both sides of the camera. Directed three episodes of The Shield, two episodes of The Wire. Has directed episodes of Law & Order: SVU and NYPD Blue. This guy understand cop dramas. He understands how to deal with both action and intelligence in a script. He’d be a good choice, but in all honesty any director David Simon recommends would have me jumping for joy.

Writers: Someone capable of doing what Tom Fontana did when he wrote "Three Men and Adena," an Emmy-winning script, for Homicide. The strengths were in dialogue and facial expressions and interactions between people. My writing is heavy on dialogue.

A few thoughts on actors.

Lara Kelly: Vera Farmiga, (The Departed) would be a good choice, or Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, The Last King of Scotland). Gillian’s great. Cross Keri Russell with Julianne Nicholson (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Conviction) and you’d have the perfect look.

To play Tymen Farraday? Law & Order: Criminal Intent’s Jordan Bridges is a good fit. If I were to pick someone with more experience, I would select Guy Pearce. I loved him in L.A. Confidential. My only hesitation is the age. I think for Farraday Jordan might be a better fit overall.

Jimmy? Jeff Perry (Grey’s Anatomy, Nash Bridges).

To play Patrick Collins? Jay Karnes (The Shield), maybe. It took me two days to come up with the main characters, because I didn’t have actors in mind when writing, and I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore.

The actors portraying Lara and Farraday could make or break the movie. They’d need a certain chemistry, the kind of bond that comes from trust, not sex. I’d be happy to leave the decisions to the pros, although it was fun to think about it.
Visit Sandra Ruttan's website, her blog, and Spinetingler Magazine.

The Page 69 Test: Suspicious Circumstances.

--Marshal Zeringue