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