Friday, May 29, 2009

Joshilyn Jackson's "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming"

Joshilyn Jackson's bestselling debut novel, gods in Alabama won SIBA's 2005 Novel of the year Award and was a #1 BookSense pick. Her second book, Between, Georgia, was also a #1 BookSense pick.

Here she shares some casting ideas for a film adaptation of her latest novel, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, which is now available in paperback:
Writers love to sit around and drink too much cheap wine and cast their favorite actors in the blockbuster movie version of their books. I’ve spent more than one night getting tiddly on Shiraz and casting and recasting everything I’ve ever written, even though in real life, we writers have very little control over it.

That’s probably a good thing, because I’ve never actually seen a book become a movie. Instead, I’ve seen screenwriters and directors and actors take a book as a springboard and make something all their own out of it. Movies can be directly or distantly related to their book-of-origin, but either way, they are absolutely separate works in a different medium by artists other than the author.

In The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, the main character is Laurel Hawthorne, a thirty-something wife, mother, and art quilter whose placid life explodes into chaos on the night she is visited by the ghost of her 14-year old neighbor, Molly Dufresne. The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly floating lifelessly in the Hawthorne's backyard pool. No one in Laurel’s whitewashed neighborhood is up to solving the unseemly mystery of Molly’s death. Only her wayward, unpredictable sister, Thalia (who has a few ghosts of her own) is right for the task. But calling in a favor from Thalia is like walking straight into a frying pan protected only by Crisco…

I’ve always said that if Michael Caine wanted to make a movie out of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and play Laurel as a 60 year old drag queen with a heroin addiction, I would say, “That sounds like a really FRESH direction, Mr. Caine. Write me a check!”

But if they did by chance ask me? I’d cast Cate Blanchett as Thalia in a heartbeat. Her off-beat beauty, intensity and range are perfect. With Blanchett, there are a lot of Laurels that would work well, I think: Chloë Sevigny would be great, and it’s not the kind of role she usually gets.

I also think it would be interesting to have Charlize Theron play Laurel and Angelina Jolie play Thalia. They both have incredible range, are great listeners, and the interplay between the estranged sisters is, I think, the heart of the book. Also they look right: Theron is an Everywoman kind of beautiful, and Jolie has that exotic bone structure that can be gorgeous one second and downright frightening the next.

Laurel’s husband David is the lead male role---he and Thalia are in a war over who they want Laurel to be. I’d LIKE to cast Brendan Frasier. Because he is delicious. Also, anyone whose seen Gods and Monsters knows he is being HUGELY underused in the family friendly popcorn flicks he’s famous for…but he’s physically a little too broad shouldered and…did I already say delicious? David should be more gangly and ascetic, but in a sexy way. Maybe even slightly physically awkward. OH, I know! Adrien Brody. CUT! PRINT!
Read excerpts from The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, and learn more about the author and her books at Joshilyn Jackson's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

--Marshal Zeringue