Monday, August 31, 2009

Jessica Andersen's "Skykeepers"

Jessica Andersen's Novels of the Final Prophecy are inspired by the Mayan Long Count calendar and how time is slated to end on December 21, 2012 in a global cataclysm.

Here she shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of the novels for a television series:
I’m often asked how I would cast the movie version of Skykeepers, which is the third book in a sexy series about a group of magic-wielding warriors, called Nightkeepers, who must fight the demon creatures of the underworld to prevent the annihilation of mankind on the December 21, 2012 doomsday hinted at by the ancient Mayan calendar.

First off, I’d far rather see it be a TV series than a movie. The interwoven storylines, intricate mythology and constantly developing arcs would be tough (imho) to pull off in a two-hour format, but would lend themselves to a (new) Battlestar Galactica-like gritty, character-driven TV series. With more sex. And, as was done in BSG with a few exceptions, I wouldn’t necessarily look to cast known faces in the roles.

Instead, I would look for non-headliner actors who evoke the various Nightkeepers, who are larger than life, sexy, charismatic and tough, with a warrior’s edge and an adrenaline junkie’s lust for adventure. But that isn’t to say that I don’t have a few faces in mind, or some pictures in my head when I write. For example, the Nightkeepers’ king, Strike, is (a taller version of) Oded Fehr.

Meanwhile, Red-Boar is Wes Studi, and his son, Rabbit, is early Eminem. Trust me … it works just fine in my head!

To me, though, one of the best parts of reading a book (versus watching the story on the big or little screen) is that it gives us the opportunity to let the author paint the characters in our heads … and then adjust them slightly to our own personal preferences.
For more information on the Keepers books, please check out Jessica Andersen's website.

Read an excerpt from Skykeepers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Louisa Edwards's "Can’t Stand the Heat"

Former editor Louisa Edwards unites her love of cooking and romance in the Recipe for Love series. Can’t Stand the Heat, Edwards's debut, will hit bookshelves on September 1, 2009. On the Steamy Side, the second Recipe for Love novel, will be out in March of 2010.

Here Edwards shares her ideas for casting the big screen adaptation of Can’t Stand the Heat:
Can’t Stand the Heat might be my first book, but I’ve already refined my casting technique! My all-time favorite procrastination game when starting a new Recipe for Love novel is to cast the entire thing. I do it for every book; I have extensive files full of links to headshots and publicity stills. Clearly, this blog and I were made for each other!

I’d need someone charismatic, energetic, and irrepressible to play my hotshot chef hero, Adam Temple. With his wavy dark hair and mischievous grin that only hints at the intensity lurking in his brown eyes, I think Dominic West would work very well. I can see him daring a restaurant reviewer to spend a day in his kitchen doing real work, can’t you?

For pretty redhead, Miranda Wake, my snarky food critic who needs to learn to unwind, I’d cast the ever-adorable Amy Adams. Amy has a softness to her that rounds out Miranda’s edges. She also has a core of strength that is essential for a young woman who had to grow up overnight when her parents were killed, leaving Miranda to care for her heartbroken younger brother, Jess.

Jess, who drops out of college and onto Miranda’s doorstep with his camera and a whole lot of baggage, is a tough one. But I think Aaron Ashmore, of Smallville fame, could definitely pull off Jess’s blend of innocence and insight. By contrast, the easiest character to cast is Frankie Boyd, Adam’s punk-rock sous chef and best friend. Without a doubt, Justin Theroux is the man for the job; he embodies wild, soulful, tough-as-nails and loyal-to-a-fault Frankie to perfection.

Believe me, I could give you the complete cast list from Adam’s Southern gentleman restaurant manager who hires Jess as a waiter to the burnt out celebrity chef who hates Miranda’s guts, but maybe they can wait until the next book comes out…
For excerpts and deleted scenes from the Recipe for Love novels, as well as a tantalizing free original prequel, recipes, and more, visit Louisa Edwards's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli's "Dead Floating Lovers"

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli is a novelist; shorts story writer; journalist; columnist; and nature writer.

Her Emily Kincaid mysteries are Dead Dancing Women and Dead Floating Lovers.

Here she shares her vision of the lead actors should the novels be adapted for the movies:
Oh my God! Who's the actress from Fargo? Her--she's the perfect Deputy Dolly Wakowski--kind of square-bodied, kind of officious, but always a step ahead of the people who condescend to her. I love when the underdog makes a total ass of the big shot.

And for Emily Kincaid--since she's partly me she'll have to be gorgeous, thin, not over 35, and have the ability to make any man fall in love with her on sight. So, let's see: JLo? Too many kids.

So--OK--Nicole Kidman--she'd do and have the gentleness to put up with Dolly.
Learn more about the author and her work at Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jennie Bentley's "Spackled and Spooked"

A career as a REALTOR® and professional renovator has given author Jennie Bentley plenty of fodder for her series of Do-It-Yourself Home Renovation Mysteries.

The first book in the series, Fatal Fixer-Upper, was published in November 2008. The follow-up, Spackled and Spooked, has just been released.

Here Bentley shares some ideas for several of the principal cast members should the series be adapted for the big screen:
My offer of a three book contract to write an in-house series of home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime came with a two page outline for what my editor envisioned the books would be like. That included the names and thumbnail sketches of the major and secondary characters, the setting, and the basic set-up for the first book as well as the series.

The only character that had an actual description attached was the love interest and hot handyman, Mike Ellis. He was supposed to look like Bill Pullman, I remember.

Nothing against Bill Pullman, but the image wasn’t working for me. Nor was the name, which hit too close to home for comfort. Literally. My husband’s name is Mike. So when Mike’s name changed to Derek, Bill Pullman changed to... something more like Aaron Eckhart, I think. Six feet tall, give or take, with streaky blondish-brown hair, and dreamy blue eyes with crinkles at the corners.

True confession: I haven’t actually gazed deeply into Aaron Eckhart’s eyes, so I don’t know if they’re dreamy blue or some other color. Derek’s are dreamy blue, though. In case of a movie, Aaron will just have to wear contacts if his eyes are the wrong shade.

Derek’s nickname for Avery, his girlfriend and the main character in the books, is Tink, short for Tinkerbell. That should give you a pretty good idea of what she looks like. Short—about 5’2” or so—with lots of kinky Mello-Yello hair she sometimes keeps piled on top of her head so it won’t get into the paint or wallpaper glue she’s using. Like Peter Pan’s Tink, she often folds her arms across her chest and sticks her lower lip out, obstinately. I think Kate Hudson might do for Avery. She has that slightly daffy, naive quality I think Avery needs.

As far as the supporting cast, we have Kate McGillicutty, Avery’s new best friend, who’s a statuesque copper-curled redhead in her late thirties, with a figure to rival Jane Russell’s and an open and friendly, freckled face. Figures like that are hard to come by, and I’m certainly open to suggestions. Same for Chief of Police Wayne Rasmussen, Kate’s fiancé: 6’3” and lanky, mid-forties, with curly salt-and-pepper hair and a friendly, informal demeanor (except when he’s arresting the bad guys). I’m sure I could find someone who fit the bill, but no one comes to mind, particularly.

To round out the top five, we have a character that is totally my own invention: the snake in the grass, lovely Melissa James, AKA the former Mrs. Derek Ellis. Melissa is gorgeous and elegant: at least five inches taller than Avery, with longer legs, bigger boobs, and straight, moonlight-pale hair cut in a razor-sharp wedge. Perfection incarnate, and she was married to Derek for five years, while Avery’s only known him a few months. I’m thinking Leslie Bibb might do. In this picture she certainly fits the bill.

So there you have it. The characters of the DIY series according to me, the person whose head they inhabit. If a movie was made, these actors would be able to play the parts. Doesn’t mean they’re an exact match to the pictures in my head, but they’re close enough. I’m always open to suggestions, though, so if you know someone who might make a great Kate or Wayne, or for that matter a better Avery, Derek or Melissa, drop me a line at my Facebook page!
Read more about the books and author at Jennie Bentley's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sharon Potts' "In Their Blood"

Sharon Potts is a former business executive, entrepreneur, CPA, and soccer mom. She is a former officer of Mystery Writers of America and served as co-chair of SleuthFest, its annual writers conference. In Their Blood is her debut novel.

Publishers Weekly called In Their Blood a “red-hot suspense novel” and gave it a starred review.

New York Times best-selling author Michael Connelly said, “In Their Blood starts with a bang and never lets up. This is thriller writing the way it is supposed to be.”

Here is Potts’ unusual take on the casting an adaptation of In Their Blood:
An Interview with Alfred Hitchcock

I: Mr. Hitchcock, welcome. I understand you have agreed to produce and direct In Their Blood, based on the novel by the same name by Sharon Potts. After your long absence from the movie industry, what made you decide to return, and why did you choose In Their Blood for your long awaited reprise?

AH: Good evening. It feels like decades since a psychological suspense thriller has come to my attention, knocking on heaven’s gate, so to speak. I was intrigued by In Their Blood because it captured so many elements that I consider hallmarks of my own work—a seemingly ordinary family that, without warning, is swept into a nightmare, the psychological battle between perception and reality, and a relentless sense of impending doom.

I: Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of the plot?

AH: Certainly. Set in steamy, seductive, scam-ridden Miami, In Their Blood is the story of a brother and sister who are determined to find their parents’ murderer. In the process, they discover their mother and father are not the people they had believed them to be.

I: I realize that the parents don’t actually have a lot of screen time, but Rachel and D.C. Stroeb represent an important presence throughout the story. Who are you considering for their roles?

AH: Coming as I do from a place that knows no boundaries, I have the luxury of working with actors who transcend the inconvenience of the here and now. For the ill-fated Rachel and D.C. Stroeb, I am considering James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Jimmy has the boyish, all-American bearing of Professor Stroeb. I believe with direction, Jimmy can show a bit of the self-centered arrogance that made D.C. a possible murder target. And the lovely, cool Grace Kelly should do well with the Rachel character, a successful, respected CPA-firm partner who appears incapable of compromise.

I: And have you cast the young protagonist, Jeremy Stroeb, and his kid sister Elise?

AH: Jeremy is a restless, irresponsible twenty-two year old, who’s dropped out of college to backpack around Europe. He’s forced to grow up fast when he assumes guardianship for his sister and makes the decision to find his parents’ murderer. I’ve come under pressure to consider Shia LaBeouf or Zac Efron, but I’m afraid I’m leaning toward Leonardo DiCaprio from around the time of his role in Titanic. And for sixteen-year old Elise, so fragile and yet determined—it will have to be the young Elizabeth Taylor as she appeared in Little Women.

I: Jeremy has liaisons with two young women, each claiming she can help him find his parents’ murderer.

AH: Ahhh, yes. Professor Stroeb’s sensuous French-Peruvian graduate assistant, Marina, must be played by Penélope Cruz. And Alexis Bledel is under consideration for the smart, analytical Robbie Ivy.

I: What’s next for you, Mr. Hitchcock?

AH: I have acquired the rights to the sequel to In Their Blood, yet another psychological thriller. Author Potts returns to the dark glitter of South Beach, a city filled with angels and devils. Coming from where I am, that should be far easier for me to cast.
Read the prologue to In Their Blood, and learn more about the book and author at Sharon Potts' website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Susanne Alleyn's "The Cavalier of the Apocalypse"

Susanne Alleyn was born in Munich, Germany, and grew up in western Massachusetts and New York City, earning a bachelor's of fine arts in theater from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She has been researching and writing about the French Revolution since her teens and is currently working on her fourth Aristide Ravel historical mystery.

Although The Cavalier of the Apocalypse is the newest installment in the series and each novel may be read as a stand-alone, it is a prequel to Game of Patience and A Treasury of Regrets, and readers new to the series will ideally read it first.

Here Alleyn shares her thoughts on the cast of a film (or BBC television) adaptation of The Cavalier of the Apocalypse:
Oh goody! I’ve been indulging myself with fantasy casting ever since I began writing the Aristide Ravel historical mysteries back in 2002. So, the dream cast of the movie (or, more likely, the classy BBC TV adaptation--they do costume stuff so well) of the latest novel in the series, The Cavalier of the Apocalypse:

My absolute, only choice for 18th-century Parisian sleuth Aristide Ravel is Adrien Brody. I’d never actually heard of him until I was halfway through writing Game of Patience, the first published novel in the series. I’d finally found a DVD of The Affair of the Necklace, which is the (mostly) true story of an elaborate scam that made headlines in 1785 and didn’t help the reputation of the French royals as history lurched its way toward the Revolution. (The mystery in The Cavalier of the Apocalypse, by the way, happens to have a good deal to do with the historical Diamond Necklace Affair.) Halfway through the movie, Brody turns up (in 18th-century costume, of course) as a sleazy but dashing adventurer. I nearly shouted “That’s Aristide!” And then, “Who is this guy?”

A few months later, of course, Adrien Brody became much more famous with The Pianist and his subsequent Academy Award. But he has always been my first choice for playing Ravel. Tall, lanky, dark, with one of those wonderful aquiline noses that are so ubiquitous among the French, and with a distinctly European look to him, he is, physically, exactly right, and he could also carry off Ravel’s somberness, sensitivity, sharp intelligence, and occasional dry wit impeccably.

OK, if Adrien Brody weren’t available, I could live with Johnny Depp in the role, though he’s a little too beautiful for Ravel. But sometimes we have to make sacrifices...

Ravel’s employer/mentor/sidekick, Inspector Brasseur? Hmm. I keep seeing Robbie Coltrane in the part, though he’d have to drop about 20 years if he were cast--Brasseur’s about 37 in Cavalier. Or maybe Brian Dennehy (same caveat applies). Someone big, solidly built, forceful but essentially good-humored, and deceptively stolid-looking.

I hadn’t had any casting ideas about Olivier Derville, Ravel’s old school friend who both helps and hinders him during the case, until someone mentioned Paul Bettany. Bingo! Not conventionally handsome, but undoubtedly good-looking, lean and rangy, and able to carry off Derville’s style, polish, and shrewdness, with a hint of arrogance.
Orlando Bloom is looking more and more like a good choice for what I think should be a dual role: the elusive Marquis de Beaupréau and also Beaupréau’s devoted servant, Moreau. Beaupréau and Moreau are unacknowledged half-brothers (the late marquis played around), and strongly resemble each other. Moreau (the much larger role) is rather like Bloom’s role in Pirates of the Caribbean: he’s sincere, instantly likeable, a little naïve. Beaupréau, on the other hand, is a perfect 18th-century French aristocrat--debonair, polished, completely self-assured, a bit high-handed--with one twist: he’s a passionate liberal and is working for a revolution. An actor could have a lot of fun contrasting the two characters.

Sophie and Eugénie, the dead man’s sister and widow, could be played, respectively, by the French actresses Audrey Tautou (adorable, lively, with a hint of mischief) and Julie Delpy (pallid, fragile, ethereal), if each were ten years younger. Sigh. But no doubt there are plenty of up-and-coming young French actors who could fill these roles!

Got to go email a friend who might have some connections at the BBC...
Read the first chapters of The Cavalier of the Apocalypse, and learn more about the book and author at Susanne Alleyn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mahbod Seraji's "Rooftops of Tehran"

Born in Iran, author Mahbod Seraji came to the United States at the age of 19 and settled in Iowa, where he earned his bachelors, masters and Doctorate degrees from the University of Iowa. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area, where he works as a management consultant.

His newly released debut novel is Rooftops of Tehran.

Here he shares his tale about taking the first step in seeing a novel adapted for the movies--getting it into the hands of a powerful Hollywood player:
Marshal’s question of who should play my main characters in Rooftops of Tehran, if the book was ever turned into a movie was intriguing to me for a good reason. When an Advance Reader Copy of Rooftops was sent to me to proofread, I took it along on a trip to Iran, aiming to use the painfully protracted time on the plane to complete my assignment from my editor. Of course I have to admit that I loved holding my new book in my hands, feeling it, smelling it, looking at the title on the cover, at my name. My book was published, a childhood dream had come true – I couldn’t possibly part with it so soon after receiving it in the mail.

On the morning of my return from Iran, I was in the first class lounge of the Airport in Tehran, when I heard a loud group enter the room led, much to my surprise, by Annette Bening, dressed in a long overcoat, a pair of black jeans and a black scarf covering her blond hair. She was smiling, and looked confident with the commanding presence of an Oscar winning actor. She was walking toward the coffee counter accompanied by Alfre Woodard and Sid Ganis, all of them in Iran on a cultural exchange program according to the papers. It’s funny how a person like me pretends to be unaffected when in the presence of such big name celebrities.

A few minutes later we all boarded the plane. Annette and Sid sat two rows in front of me. Breakfast was served after takeoff, and the lights in the cabin were dimmed, and Sid fell asleep right away, while Annette started reading a book.

I wish she was reading Rooftops of Tehran,” I thought with a smile, since my book had not even been released yet. But then a thought flashed through my head which I fervently began to dismiss. “No, this is my first copy,” I bickered bitterly.

“But you have another one at home,” my alter ego argued back.

“This copy is special to me!”

“Oh, get real. Write something inside the cover and hand it to her.”

Suddenly, Annette stood up. She carefully stepped over the stretched body of Sid, mindful not to wake him, and walked to the bathroom by the cockpit.

“Write it,” the bad guy inside me screamed again.

I quickly scribbled something and rushed up to her as she came out of the bathroom and started to open the overhead compartment where she had stored her carry on. “Can I help you with your luggage Ms. Bening?”

“Shush…,” she pointed to the almost lifeless body of Sid. “He’s asleep,” she whispered.

The look on her face was not friendly, and I immediately felt like running back to my seat, but it was too late. “I’ve written a book,” I mumbled. “Here, can you take it?” My voice cracked. I knew I was blowing it. “I mean, may I give it to you?” I corrected myself.

“Yes,” she whispered, a tiny splash of a smile sneaked up to her face. She took the book, and I rushed toward the bathroom, sick with nausea. I’d given my first book away and in such a disgraceful clumsy manner. She would never read it. I wouldn’t read a book written by a guy who sounded like me.

I took an Ambien in the bathroom, and went back to my seat, avoiding eye contact with the person in row 2 seat A. The damn Ambien was no match for my crowded disturbed mind and for the feeling of melancholy that had suddenly engulfed me.

We landed in London several hours later, and she and her gang walked out of the plane in front of me. I was feeling miserable. I don’t know why. It certainly wasn’t because I had given the first copy of my book away (after all, I had another one at home, as my alter ego had reminded me so forcefully).

When I got home I shared the story with my wife, who excitedly assured me that this was nothing short of a miracle, and that soon people from Hollywood would be calling to ask my opinion on casting Ahmed, Pasha and Zari, my main characters. So many possibilities…. We talked for a long time and I have to admit I enjoyed the exploration and the dreaming process.

A few weeks later I received an email titled Rooftops of Tehran from a young woman named Annie, who worked at Heathrow’s First Class Lounge. She said that she had found my book on a table - It had been left there for a long time, and no one had claimed it. So she had taken it home, read it and fallen in love with it. She had shared it with her sister, Naf, who also loved it, and now the two of them, my biggest fans in the UK, were telling all their friends to read the story. Annie added that she knew the book was not released, and was more than willing to mail it back to me. I sat back in my chair and speculated on what could have happened for a long time. Had Annette dumped my book? I began to laugh, and called my agent, my publisher and my wife and for some reason we all found the story utterly humorous. Then, I wrote Annie a note and thanked her for her wonderful email, for her generosity in reaching out to me, and for her gracious offer to send the book back, but I begged her to keep it till I could send her signed copies of the actual release.

Since that day I have been thinking a lot about how the world is full of lovely people like Annie and Naf, but I haven’t thought at all about who could play my characters in a movie.
Learn more about the book and author at Mahbod Seraji's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wendy Lee's "Happy Family"

Wendy Lee is a graduate of Stanford University and New York University’s Creative Writing Program. She worked for two years in China as a volunteer English teacher and now lives in New York City. Her first novel, Happy Family, was named one of the top ten first novels of 2008 by Booklist.

Here she shares some ideas for cast and director of a cinematic adaptation of Happy Family:
If my book was made into a movie, the two most important roles to cast would be Jane, an art curator who lives with her theater-critic husband in New York; and Hua, the young Chinese immigrant who is hired as the nanny to Jane’s adopted daughter from China. Jane is intelligent and generous, but she is also almost willfully naïve in believing the best about other people. Hua’s heart has been toughened by the many losses in her life, but she responds eagerly to any glimmer of human warmth that comes her way.

I picture Julianne Moore as Jane, not only because both of them have red hair, but because Moore always seemed to me like the quintessential West Village mother. Years ago, before I moved to New York, I read in a magazine about Moore walking around the Village with her director husband and their baby—it just sounded so lovely and wholesome. It also made me want to move to New York so that I might run into Julianne Moore on the street.

Choosing an actress for Hua is harder, because, well, there just aren’t that many well-known Chinese actresses out there. It reminds me of the time I was at a wedding, and someone suggested that we cast the bridal party. The bride got to be played by Jennifer Aniston, and I got to be played by Lucy Liu, of course, because no one could think of any other Chinese-American actresses. But I digress.

I used to think Zhang Ziyi would be perfect as Hua. She’s young, Chinese, can speak English, and she can play both coy and innocent. It would also probably give the actress a welcome respite from playing a Japanese geisha, martial arts goddess, or sidekick to Jackie Chan. Yes, my book could be a Zhang Ziyi vehicle!

Then I saw a short film called The Princess of Nebraska, which is based on a short story by Yiyun Li and directed by Wayne Wang. The actress in it is named Li Ling, and she plays a character not unlike Hua—a Chinese immigrant who finds herself lost, physically and spiritually, in a big American city. I think she could capture Hua’s desperate yearning for connection, as well as her resourcefulness.

Come to think of it, Wayne Wang would be a good choice as director, although the movie version of my book would be more on the level of Dim Sum than The Joy Luck Club. I imagine it as a scrappy little independent picture, and I would be able to watch it at the Angelika downtown.
Read an excerpt from Happy Family, and learn more about the book and author at Wendy Lee's website.

The Page 69 Test: Happy Family.

--Marshal Zeringue