Sunday, April 20, 2008

Karen Miller's "Empress"

Karen Miller is the author of the bestselling fantasy duology Kingmaker, Kingbreaker, the currently releasing fantasy trilogy Godspeaker, and the bestselling tie-in novel Stargate SG-1: Alliances.

Here she develops some casting ideas should Empress, of the Godspeaker trilogy, be adapted for the big screen:
Hollywood being what it is, the chances of this, or any of my books, being made into a movie are slim to none. But I do have a lot of fun playing casting director when I’m writing – sometimes it helps to have a known ‘face’ in your head when you’re searching for a character’s physicality. Or sometimes once you’re done, you suddenly see a face that fits the face you’ve been writing about for ages. That can be quite freaky, actually. As though your inner dreams are suddenly dressed in flesh.

Empress is my latest book, the first installment of the Godspeaker trilogy. It’s epic, historical fantasy, I suppose you’d describe it. The scope of the trilogy is pretty wide, in a geographical and socio-political sense. In Empress, the reader is introduced to the harsh land of Mijak, where the god isn’t just some theoretical, possibly non-existent being, but a living, breathing, physically manifested presence. Not believing in the god is like saying you don’t believe in trees – even as a tree is falling on top of you. It’s the story of one unwanted girl-child, Hekat, who’s sold into slavery, and rises to the very heights of power … at an enormous cost not only to herself, but the people around her. And it’s about what happens when she sets her sights on giving her bloodthirsty god the whole world.

Initially, thinking of Hekat, Halle Berry came to mind because Hekat’s beautiful and so is Ms Berry. Then I saw an episode of America’s Next Top Model, and my perfect Hekat was on it! I can’t remember which season it was, or the model’s name now, but it was the one where they went to Hawaii to do bikini shots in the season opener. She wore a head wrap and looked so fierce and so beautiful, she was the incarnation of Hekat. She was so how I saw Hekat in my mind it totally threw me.

Nagarak, the powerful and terrifying high priest, is absolutely Carl Lumbly. Not lovely Carl Lumbly, as he was in Alias, but as he was in the Battlestar Galactica episode ‘Hero’, playing Bulldog. I saw that episode and went, Whoah! It’s Nagarak!

With Vortka, the novice priest whose life gets tangled with Hekat’s, I think of Taye Diggs. Vortka is a sweet, sweet man – far too kind and loving for the world he was born into. Taye Diggs has the best smile, and that kind of gentleness in him, I think.

Grown-up Zandakar, Hekat’s son, at least in terms of his physicality, is absolutely Henry Simmons. He does a shirtless scene in NYPD Blue that is eye-boggling, to say the least. I think at some point there’s some full body nudity with him – anyway, his extraordinary physique is totally Zandakar. And there’s the right kind of strength in his face, too. Just give him a pair of blue contact lenses and we’re laughing!

I see Denzel Washington as Raklion, the beleagured warlord and Hekat’s mate. Like Vortka, and unlike Nagarak, Raklion has a great deal of kindness in him. He can be tough and brutal, because that’s what his life requires, but there’s gentleness there too. He’s not devastatingly handsome, but there’s a core of inner strength and purpose to him.

So that’s how I’d cast my book as a film, if ever it was going to be filmed. But it won’t – there’s way too much blood-letting, I think, even for Hollywood!
Read an excerpt from Empress, and learn more about the author and her work at Karen Miller's website and her LiveJournal.

--Marshal Zeringue