Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sandra McDonald's "The Outback Stars"

Sandra McDonald has been a Hollywood production assistant, a software instructor, a bureaucrat, and an officer in the United States Navy. Her short fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. Her novels include The Outback Stars and The Stars Down Under.

Here she develops some ideas about the cast--and the soundtrack and special effects--should her novel be adapted for the big screen:
My science fiction novels are about a beautiful military lieutenant and her handsome sergeant. Though, truth be told, I'm not that keen on external appearances. The values I appreciate most -- honesty, humor, courage -- are not unique to those of us with perfect hair and perfect faces. (And by "us" I don't mean me!) I never really describe my characters beyond a cursory "brown hair" or "blue eyes" and prefer to let readers build their own ideas of how a character looks.

That said, as a former Hollywood wannabe (I worked for CBS, Dreamworks and Dustin Hoffman during my brief career), when The Outback Stars and its sequels get made into movies I'd love to sit in on the casting calls. For Lieutenant Jodenny Scott, we'd need an actress with the expressiveness and forthrightness of Rachel Weisz (Evie in The Mummy). But also with the freshness and normal build as Liz White, who plays Annie Cartwright in the brilliant BBC series Life on Mars. Liz is just the right age, too. Speaking of fresh and young there's also Billie Piper (Rose on Doctor Who), though she'd have to go back to being a brunette for awhile. And she'd have to tell me all about kissing the Doctor, maybe over drinks on Sunset Boulevard.

Sergeant Terry Myell's a little tougher to cast. When I first starting writing him I had in mind a military man with the calm, practical, and resilient nature of Sgt. Zeke Anderson on Tour of Duty, played by Terence Knox. Joe Flanigan of Stargate Atlantis would be a shoo-in these days but he's a little older than my character, who's only twenty-eight. Instead I'd ask Jensen Ackles of Supernatural to come try out for the role. He's got the haircut already, and would enormously popular on any spaceship in the universe. And while we're dreaming, Jensen, I'm also available for lunch or dinner any day of the week. And breakfast. Call me.

For the soundtrack, John Williams. I was backstage with him once at an awards show, and all I could think of was the brilliant music of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Special effects? Only Industrial Light & Magic. I have no special picks for director, because there are so many good ones out there, but this "auteur" theory I keep hearing about? We'll have to have a sit down about that. In fact, let's talk about how the ship looks, and how important Australian Aboriginal mythology is to the story, and I also have some ideas for the movie posters --

Oops, gotta go. My assistant tells me Jensen Ackles is on the phone! But I'll see you all on big screen.
Read the first chapter of The Outback Stars, and learn more about the book and its author at The Outback Stars website, Sandra McDonald's website, and her LiveJournal.

--Marshal Zeringue