Thursday, June 19, 2008

Deborah & Joel Shlian's "Rabbit in the Moon"

Deborah and Joel Shlian are the authors of three novels: Double Illusion, which won rave reviews from the Los Angeles Times and was optioned for film; Wednesday's Child, which earned comparisons to Mary Higgins Clark and was nominated for an Edgar Award; and the newly released, Rabbit in the Moon.

Here Deborah shares some ideas about the cast and soundtrack should their new novel be adapted for the big screen:
My husband and I are physicians who practiced medicine in Los Angeles for many years. Now you can’t live in Southern California for very long without getting bitten by the Hollywood bug. Everyone you meet is something else on the side- your dentist is a producer, your lawyer is an agent, and of course every waitress is an actress. Even though we wrote Rabbit in the Moon as a novel, we always visualized it as a film. That’s one major characteristic of our writing style— fast-paced and cinematic. While we did the same for our two previous novels (Double Illusion and Wednesday’s Child), both of which were actually optioned for film (though never made), Rabbit in the Moon is our most ambitious book and the one we feel is best suited for a feature film.

Here’s what a reviewer wrote: “Rabbit in the Moon is an international thriller of epic proportions. American-born-and-proud Lili Quan is a driven woman — young, a medical doctor, and passionately strong in her convictions and views on life. She’s also stubbornly avoiding a heritage she’d rather not identify with. But when two completely different cultures and secret political agendas collide, she slowly learns that her overall importance in a whirlwind of seemingly unconnected events cannot even begin to be imagined. It’s an east vs. west, old vs. young, democratic vs. communistic, yin vs. yang struggle for an elusive secret with unlimited and priceless potential. One that men…and even governments…are willing to kill for…”

The story is told against the backdrop of the most tumultuous seven weeks in recent Chinese history: from the rise of the Student democracy movement in April, 1989 to its fall with the Tiananmen massacre on June 4th.

If I were casting the movie myself, I would probably start with the character of Lili Quan. A good friend sent me the resume for the actress Elizabeth Tsing. She is not only gorgeous, she is an expert in tai chi and martial arts. There’s an exciting motorcycle chase scene through Beijing in the story that would require an agile, athletic actress.

For Dr. Richard Trenton, someone like Ed Harris has the military bearing of the tough ex-Army Chief of Medicine to play Lili’s nemesis.

Although Dylan O’Hara is blonde, blue-eyed in the book, he’s a first generation Irish American so Dublin born Jonathan Rhys Meyers could probably pull it off. On the other hand, I could see Leonardo DiCaprio in the role as well.

Chow Yun Fat would be wonderful as the ruthless, ambitious, Dr. Seng while I see someone like Kevin Spacey as Charlie Halliday, the rogue CIA agent.

I leave casting of the main Chinese characters (Lili’s grandfather Ni Fu Cheng, her Chinese lover, Chi-Wen Zhou and the three old timers) to the director—someone like Elizabeth Sung who has the experience and sensitivity to appreciate a complex east meets west story.

Finally, the music. As we were writing the book, we listened to Karen (Hua-Qi) Han’s gorgeous erhu playing. Karen happens to be a dear friend and some of the inspiration for our main character Lili, as well as the person to whom we dedicated our book. As Karen herself says, the 2000-year-old Chinese violin has a unique voice like quality that evokes Eastern cultural traditions. If a movie is made, we hope Karen will play (and perhaps compose) the music. She has been a featured musician in just about every Hollywood movie score that requires the erhu including The Joy Luck Club, The Last Emperor and Kung Fu Panda.
Listen to the podcast of the prologue of Rabbit in the Moon and view the book trailer.

Learn more about the book and authors at Deborah and Joel Shlian's website.

--Marshal Zeringue