Monday, January 28, 2008

Rhonda Pollero's "Knock 'em Dead"

Rhonda Pollero is the author of more than thirty novels, including two humorous mysteries featuring Finley Anderson Tanner, Knock Off and (coming in February 2008) Knock 'em Dead.

Here's how she would cast film adaptations of Knock Off and Knock 'em Dead:
Okay, I’ll admit it, I ALWAYS have an actor in mind when I craft a character. Not because I’m thinking any of my books will make it to film or television, but because I’m a visual learner and use photographs of celebrities – and non-celebs – when I’m creating my character binder. FYI – soap opera sites are great for this because they have photos of people ranging in age from birth to near death. MySpace and Facebook opened up a whole new world from me to cull photos.

Enough about that - who should play Finley? Me, – but only if we did “Finley Anderson Tanner – the Overweight, Wrinkled Midlife Years.” Since it can’t be me, I’d pick Emily Proctor. She’s the right height and body type and she manages to blend sexy and smart effortlessly. The thing about Finley is at first glance, people only see her as beautiful. The beautiful is the cocoon that camouflages her intelligence. When Emily Proctor was on The West Wing (my all time fave show), the Sam Seaborn character (played by Rob Lowe) upon seeing her all dressed up for a function said, “You’d make a good dog break his leash.” Even though that line of dialogue was spoken years ago, it stayed with me as a great jumping off point for developing a character. So when Finley was being born and that phrase suddenly popped into my head, I immediately thought of Emily Proctor as my visual Finley.

I do visuals for all my characters, not just the major ones. This actually serves two purposes. First and foremost, it provides continuity when writing a continuing character. As I began Knock 'em Dead, book 2 in the series, I just flipped open my character binder and there was Emily staring back at me. I did change her eye color and Finley does not have a southern accent, so she really is the visual. The second purpose it serves is during the process is that I can imagine Emily Proctor walking through each scene, so it gives me a physicality to build on when I’m actually writing.

Finley’s voice would be played by different actresses. When I hear her in my head, her voice is one part Valerie Harper (minus the accent) for humor and one-liners; one part Allison Janney for intelligence and reasoning skills; and one part Reese Witherspoon (minus the accent) for that hint of innocence Finley has when it comes to tackling new situations. Notice there’s a lot of minus the accent going on here. Finley doesn’t have any discernable accent.

For Liam I’d chose television actor Eddie Cahill. He had me at jet-black hair and piercing blue eyes. He has that just-below-the-surface smoldering sensuality that Liam brings to the Finley mysteries. No swagger, not even a hint that he knows he’s attractive. That kind of confidence is what I wanted for Liam and I think Eddie would be a perfect Liam – I wouldn’t even need voiceovers.

So I suppose if I had the job of casting the movie, I’d need some sort of character Mr. Potatohead™ casting ability. Either that or a good voice coach.

Hope you enjoy
Knock 'em Dead.
Visit Rhonda Pellero's website and her blog; learn more about the Finley Anderson Tanner books.

Read an excerpt from Knock Off and an excerpt from Knock 'em Dead.

The Page 69 Test: Knock Off.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chris Mooney's "The Secret Friend"

Chris Mooney is the critically acclaimed author of Deviant Ways, World Without End, and Remembering Sarah, which was nominated for the Barry Award and the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Last year he applied the Page 69 Test to his latest novel, The Missing.

Here he suggests actors who might play the main characters in a film adaptation of The Secret Friend, the second novel in his Darby McCormick series:
This is a tough one - and a subject that's under fierce debate in the Mooney household. For The Secret Friend, the next Darby book, there are two major characters - Darby McCormick and Malcolm Fletcher. To play Malcolm Flether, the former FBI profiler who is now on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, my vote would be for Daniel Day Lewis. I think he would bring an entirely new dimension to the character. My wife's vote is for Frank Langella, and while he's a great character actor, my vote remains remains for Daniel Day Lewis. As for Darby McCormick, you would need a strong actress to play her - someone who has a lot of emotional depth. As long as Lindsay Lohan or Jennifer Lopez didn't play her, I'd be a happy camper.
Read more about Chris Mooney and his fiction.

The Page 69 Test: The Missing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lev Raphael's "The German Money"

Lev Raphael's books include the award-winning Dancing on Tisha B'Av, two novels about Holocaust survivors, Winter Eyes and The German Money, and a collection of Jewish memoirs and essays, Journeys & Arrivals.

Last year he applied the Page 69 Test to Hot Rocks, one of his Nick Hoffman mysteries.

Here he develops some ideas for a film adaptation of The German Money:
My novel The German Money is the story of three adult children of a Holocaust survivor dealing with the surprises of her Will after she dies unexpectedly. It's an intimate family drama interwoven with a mystery,with scenes and dialogue I would love to see on-screen, more than any other of my books. Writing is solitary, of course, but this book brought me a lot of contact with the world: because it was a Jewish Book Council pick, I toured Jewish Book Fairs in the US; the English publisher had me read in London and Glasgow, and the German publisher sent me on a two-week tour of Austria and Germany.

So I'm not surprised that someone's been doggedly been trying to make a movie out of it, and has come close twice to putting together a deal. That means I've had lots of time to think about casting, which also means dreaming of some of my favorite actors. Robert Downey, Jr. would make the perfect lead, playing Paul, a neurotic Jewish man fleeing his past. Rachel Weisz would be luminous as Valerie, the women he loves but abandoned, who's now a successful writer. For Simon, the bisexual screwed-up brother, Justin Kirk would have just the right look and energy, and Laura Linney, one of my favorite actresses, would be ideal as Paul and Simon's beautiful, cold, angry sister. I'm also thinking of how they'd look together, as well as their acting styles. The family friend with a pivotal role would have to be Olympia Dukakis.

And for the director, I'd want John Curran, who did an amazing job with the Andre Dubus stories that made up We Don't Live Here Anymore. Fun to fantasize about, but not as much fun as writing the next book, and the one after that....
Read more about The German Money and Lev Raphael at his website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Kate Pepper's "One Cold Night"

Kate Pepper's novels include Five Days in Summer (2004), Seven Minutes to Noon (2005), One Cold Night (2006), and Here She Lies. In April 2007 she applied the Page 69 Test to Here She Lies.

Here she develops some ideas for a film adaptation of One Cold Night:
Whenever I visualize Dave Strauss, the detective whose quest to find his kidnapped teenage sister-in-law and whose love for his wife are at the heart of my thriller One Cold Night, I see Viggo Mortensen: quiet, intense, brooding, intelligent, and sexy. Dave is a man whose greatest attributes include his keen investigative instincts, the self-doubt inspired by a seasoned past, and his ability to deeply love and cherish his wife, Susan. I can see Mortensen embodying this character with conviction and soul.

Susan is played by Diane Lane, but maybe that’s just because I remember the sizzling chemistry between Mortensen and Lane in the 1999 movie A Walk on the Moon. Both these actors are not only gorgeous but have an emotional range along with the ability to play smart down-to-earth characters, and I like that a lot. (I went to graduate school with Diane’s late father, Burt Lane. He was older than the rest of us but he fit in because he was a great guy, completely unpretentious; at the time, he spoke only briefly of his then-nineteen year old daughter who was about to star in a movie called The Cotton Club. That film sank like a stone while Diane rose to stardom. I’ve always wanted to meet her to tell her how proud her dad was of her.)

In the role of Detective Lupe Ramos, I see Rosie Perez, because no one else has the comic grit to simultaneously strut in tight jeans and snap orders in a high-pitched voice like Rosie. Lupe Ramos is both tough and funny; her appearance in a scene guarantees that the plot will propel forward and also supply some needed comic relief … especially when she’s with her partner, Detective Alexei Bruno.

If Robin Williams would be willing to be cast in a supporting role, he’d make a brilliant Bruno, a leather-clad Russian whose English is peppered with malapropisms. On the outside, Lupe and Bruno seem like opposites, but as partners they’re in perfect synch and much sharper than they appear at first glance. They work seamlessly with Dave in pursuit of a kidnapper who may also be a long-sought killer.

And to play Lisa Bailey, Susan’s fourteen-year-old sister whose abduction sparks the story into action and leads to the revelation of a long-held family secret that nearly wrecks Dave and Susan’s marriage, give me Evan Rachel Wood. Wood embodies the mix of feistiness and sweet innocence that helps Lisa survive her ordeal, and like Lisa, Wood sings like an angel.

Last but not least, among the lead players is not a person but a place that is the main setting for One Cold Night: Dumbo, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass. This gritty waterfront neighborhood in Brooklyn, directly across from lower Manhattan, once inspired Walt Whitman to write his poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” and now straddles a haunting sense of history in its cobblestone streets and nineteenth century warehouses, with the high-rises and galleries that mark its recent gentrification. The heart of the neighborhood was recently given landmark status to preserve its historic nature, and so no matter how long it takes this movie to get made, the neighborhood that is one of the story’s main characters will be waiting, mostly intact, to supply the sense of atmospheric mystery it lends this thriller in spades. Dumbo is where Dave and Susan live, where Susan has her handmade-chocolate shop, where Lisa vanishes, and where Dave begins his search for her on what becomes the longest, coldest night of all their lives.
Read excerpts and learn more about the author and her work at Kate Pepper's website and her blog.

The Page 69 Test: Here She Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bill Cameron's "Lost Dog"

Bill Cameron is the author of Lost Dog and stories and poems.

Here he develops some ideas for actors should Lost Dog be adapted for the big screen:
Way back when I first started writing Lost Dog, I was already visualizing the movie version. As each new character materialized on the page, the casting director in my mind was on the job. The brooding, yet smart-assed form of John Cusack would be Peter. Dennis Farina as crusty Skin Kadash. Gillian Anderson as perky Ruby Jane (yes, I confess to a deep and abiding Scully crush). Jake was a tricky one, and while I never settled on a specific choice, any of the boy toys from Beverly Hills 90210 had the inside track.

Those are the main folks, and I confess to never having cast the support roles, though secretly I dreamed of being Jake’s first male victim, a fellow who dies before the start of the action and only appears in a photograph late in the novel. Yeah, a bit part, but then I can’t act my way out of a speeding ticket.

The nature of publishing being what it is, so much time passed between my initial concepts and the actual appearance of Lost Dog as a book that my thoughts have had to change as a matter of necessity. Let’s face it, actors age even if characters on the page don’t. Much as I still adore Cusack and Anderson, I fear they’ve aged past Peter and Ruby Jane. Alas. If I could still have them in the mid-90s, ... But no.

So I’m looking now to fresh fish. After much rumination, I realized that the perfect choice already had practice as an on-screen couple: John Krasinski and Mandy Moore. Okay, so it didn’t go so well for them with License to Wed, but I’m a man who believes in second chances. John, Mandy? What do you say? You in?

Dennis Farina could still do Skin, though I’ve recently found myself taken with John C. Reilly. He’s got a quirky presence on screen, plus amazing range. And for Detective Mulvaney I’ve settled on Emma Thompson. I don’t even care if she loses the English accent for the role; she’s Mulvaney.

And for Jake now that the 90210 Boy Toys are getting their first face lifts? Haley Joel Osment, of course. Not only is he the perfect age and more than capable of projecting darkly creepy, but he sees dead people. In Lost Dog he’ll get to make some of his own.
Read an excerpt from Lost Dog and visit Bill Cameron's website where you can view a video trailer for the novel.

The Page 69 Test: Lost Dog.

--Marshal Zeringue