Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kelli Stanley's "Nox Dormienda"

Kelli Stanley is the author of Nox Dormienda: A Long Night for Sleeping.

Here she develops some ideas about the cast and director should her novel be adapted for the big screen:
First, I’d like to thank Marshal for inviting me … My Book, My Movie is a terrific blog, and provides a much needed outlet for frustrated writers who love to fantasize about film adaptations!

Meanwhile, back at the keyboard …

I dabbled in screenplays in the 90s, back when I owned a comic book store. I acquired an LA agent (not a great one, but a nice person); realized that I’d actually have to move to LA if I wanted to pursue this seriously; and returned to school for my M.A. in Classics.

No offense to LA—I love the place. But I already had a home in San Francisco, and the idea of compromise and more compromise was fast becoming less and less appealing as a career choice.

Flash forward a few years (you can visualize the spinning newspapers, if you’d like) … inspired by Chandler, the Noir City film festival and the idea of using my degree for something, I wrote a mystery-thriller while in grad school, and after the normal period of ups and downs and hand-wringing, it’s just been published. It’s a new hybrid genre I call Roman Noir: historical setting (Roman Britain, 83 AD) meets the firecracker pace and snappy-bitter dialogue of the hardboiled golden age.

So now, finally, thanks to Marshal … I can return to my would-be mogul days, and dream of my cast … and because I’m a classic film fan (and a Gemini), I have two: Late ‘40s Nox Dormienda and contemporary Nox Dormienda (because where there’s a book out, there’s hope!)

TCM Version (circa 1946)

Arcturus … a doctor and a romantic cynic, torn between two worlds and a double heritage … half-Roman, half-native, fitting in nowhere. Mid thirties, tall for the era (thanks to his Celtic mother), ruggedly good-looking. William Holden or Robert Mitchum.

Gwyna … the drop-dead beautiful widow who walks into the office (in this case, a triclinium) and who may be as much trouble as she looks. Early to mid twenties. A breath-taking blonde in the book. I’d choose Rita Hayworth and make Gwyna a red head. Grace Kelly is too young in ‘46, Lana Turner not refined enough.

On the altar of an underground temple, a butchered corpse is discovered … a now-dead spy for the Emperor … and Gwyna’s fianc√©. Arcturus has one week to unravel who murdered him and why before civil war erupts between Britannia and Rome.

Fortunately, he has help in the form of a loyal freedman (former slave) named Bilicho. His best friend, a little older, craggy but appealing. I’m thinking Pat O’Brien, or maybe (against type) Charles McGraw.

Directed by: Fred Zinnemann, Billy Wilder, or John Huston.

OK … and now for the modern version, coming to a movie palace or TV screen near you (hey – it’s a fantasy, right?).

Arcturus: Clive Owen (who is starring as Marlowe in a new Frank Miller adaptation of a Chandler short story). I’d also be very happy with Russell Crowe or Daniel Craig (who wouldn’t?!).

Gwyna: If only Michelle Pfeiffer were younger … as it is, another non-blonde: Angelina Jolie (we can dye her hair) … or possibly, Keira Knightly. Neither have the delicacy that I’d like, though. Aw, let’s just search until we find someone who looks like Grace Kelly or Rita Hayworth!

Bilicho: Graham McTavish … a sexy kind of Bilicho (it’s 2008, we can do this!).

Directed by: Me! (OK, I’ll settle for Curtis Hanson).
Learn more about the novel and author at Kelli Stanley's website and her blog.

--Marshal Zeringue