Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jordan Summers' "Red"

Jordan Summers' many books include the Atlantean Quest series as well as the Phantom Warriors series.

Here she shares her preferences for director, producer, and stars in a big screen adaptation of Red, the first book in her Dead World series:
If I could choose a director for my novel, Red, it would be an easy decision. I love a lot of different directors, but Peter Jackson would have the job. I believe he (and Weta) could do wonders with the post-apocalyptic world I established, especially since there are genetically created werewolves, vampires, chimeras hiding in plain sight.

I’d want Jerry Bruckheimer to produce, although I’m not sure I can picture those two titans working together.

When it comes to the actors, the decision gets a little tougher. I originally started out with Hugh Jackman in mind for Sheriff Morgan Hunter, but that changed as I got to know Morgan better. He was a lot more rough and tumble than Hugh. He was striking, but not handsome in the traditional sense of the word. Morgan suddenly became a combination of Clive Owen and Daniel Craig. I’d audition those two for the part.

Gina ‘Red’ Santiago is the hardest to cast of them all. She’s tough, but rather naïve when it comes to social interaction. She’s been insulated, even though she’s in law enforcement. The actress would need to be able to play vulnerable and capable. When I first ‘saw’ her in my mind, I pictured Angelina Jolie. (I have no doubt she could pull off the role.) As I got into the story I realized Red was Hispanic, so my image of her began to change. It’s difficult to narrow down who I’d pick for the part, but I’d audition Rosario Dawson, Jordana Brewster, and Roselyn Sanchez. And you can bet, I’d be the first in line to see the finished product.
Learn more about the author and her work at Jordan Summers' website and blog.

Read about Crimson, the latest book in the Dead World Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Luke Lively's "A Questionable Life"

Luke Lively has over twenty-five years experience as a bank executive and currently runs Lively Consulting Services, providing leadership, training and operational support to the financial services industry. His clients include banks, insurance, internet and software companies. Lively regularly lectures on organizational change, leadership and client service to a variety of businesses, governmental, community and non-profit organizations and has been published in a number of banking publications including The American Banker.

If his debut novel A Questionable Life is adapted for the big screen, here are Lively's suggestions for director and principal cast:
My book, A Questionable Life, has been described as ideal for movie adaption, especially with the current economic and social conditions. Set against a backdrop of greed, deceit and corruption, the story follows a ruthless banker, Jack Oliver, as he attempts to climb to the top of the corporate ladder in Philadelphia. When his plans are derailed, Jack’s life begins an uncontrollable downward spiral. On the verge of losing everything he had worked to achieve, Jack’s best friend, John Helms connects him with an old, rural banker—Benjamin “Benny” Price. Benny helps Jack to change his greedy perspective by introducing Jack to a different kind of life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of rural Virginia—a life of giving.

- With much of the movie connected to hiking and the outdoors, the ideal Director would be Robert Redford. Redford has already made excellent movies in rural surroundings (A River Runs Through It). In addition, Redford won an Oscar directing a movie where a family was destroyed by class consciousness and greed (Ordinary People). Also in his list of directing credits is an inspirational story of redemption and hope (The Legend of Bagger Vance).


Benjamin “Benny” Price
- Redford, aging gracefully would also be ideal to play the role of Benny Price, the wise, experienced life-coach. Tall and exuding a calm confidence, Redford would fit perfectly as director and co-lead.

Jack Oliver
- Philip Seymour Hoffman is perfectly suited to take on the character of the despicable, greedy banker, Jack Oliver. Hoffman is engaging even when he is bad (Mission: Impossible III) and would bring the complex character traits and collision of ethics and morality Jack Oliver faces to life for movie audiences similar to his Oscar winning performance in Capote. Physically, Hoffman again fits the character of self-indulgent, hard-drinking and chain-smoking Jack Oliver.

Tina Oliver
- Julianne Moore not only looks like Tina, the left-behind wife of Jack Oliver, but has portrayed characters (The End of the Affair) struggling with life choices. Seeing Moore together with Hoffman would showcase the vast differences in how the two characters set out to find happiness together and instead are forced to deal with shattered dreams, forgiveness and redemption.

John Helms
- If ever there was a happy-go-lucky character described as a “Southern John F. Kennedy, Jr.” Matthew McConaughey fits the bill. The role of John Helms requires the good looks and womanizing exuberance McConaughey is capable of delivering. Seeing McConaughey and Hoffman on screen offers both a visual and philosophical divergence that would maintain a grip on audiences.

Ann Price
- Meryl Streep, utilizing Hollywood’s best make-up artists to age beyond her years, would be an amazing Ann Price. The final scenes of the movie pull together the themes of love, forgiveness and redemption. No one could be a better fit than Oscar winning Ms. Streep.

There you have it—a sure-fire Oscar winning film and office blockbuster, A Questionable Life.
Read more about the book and author at the publisher's website and Luke Lively's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gail Dayton's "New Blood"

Gail Dayton was born in Ohio, only because her dad was in the Air Force at the time. She got to Texas as soon as she could—at one year old. She was raised in Texas and Idaho, reading everything she could get her hands on, especially adventure stories. She was reading and loving fantasy and science fiction back when she still thought kissing was icky. Then she grew up.

Now, Dayton lives with her husband of 30-plus years on the Texas Gulf Coast two blocks from the beach, and writes fantasy romance for Tor Paranormal Romance. She reads in the back yard—the beach is too sandy for her Sony reader—but she still considers everything she reads a beach read.

Here she explains who she has in mind for the leads in a film adaptation of New Blood, published earlier this year:
I am one of those authors who needs to cast my main characters before I can really get a story untracked. Often, I use character actors—those actors who’ve made a career of playing the villain, or the hero’s best friend or father or brother. Sometimes I do use “the big names.” It’s not always my choice, because while sometimes I do cast my characters myself, sometimes they cast themselves after I’ve come up with the character, and sometimes they show up already wearing an actor’s face and tell me to get busy and write their story—once I figure out what it is.

That’s what happened with New Blood. Jax walked fully formed out of the swamp in my head where my story ideas come from. (Some authors have a basement, some have a factory in Tulsa, I have a swamp ... which probably gives you an idea of what’s in there.) He was wearing a brown leather duster over a Victorian era suit with a brocade waistcoat and high boots. He told me his name was Jax, he was searching for something but didn’t know what. It was my job to figure out what that was. Oh, and he was wearing the face of English actor Jason Flemyng.

Y’all may not be familiar with Flemyng. He played Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and did a fabulous job. But he first came to my attention as the coachman Nettley in From Hell. I had been seeing a lot of movies with Flemyng in them—and one day, Jax just showed up. It took me a while to realize that Jax had a lot of secrets to uncover, and that he belonged in the vague story idea I had about a universe where blood magic worked differently than what is found in the usual fantasy— a place where if you steal blood from someone, the magic would turn on you. During the story, Jax moves from a magic-haunted servant bound without will to the blood sorceress, to a man who chooses and fights for the destiny he wants. Flemyng is such a wonderfully talented actor, he can create all those nuances with ease.

And it was time to cast Amanusa, the heroine in New Blood. I had a lot of trouble with her, because she’s very tall, very blond, and more striking than beautiful. I had seen the Swedish athlete Carolina Klüft win the heptathlon at the Olympics in Greece in 2004, and thought she looked something like Amanusa. But she’s not an actress, is she? Wouldn’t work for a movie.

But Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager and many other television roles) could definitely play the part. She’s striking and beautiful. Amanusa grows into her beauty and her strength during the story, and Ryan plays strong women so well, it would be perfect for her.

I cast most of the secondary characters in New Blood, but the alchemist Harry Tomlinson, the conjurer Grey Carteret, and the would-be wizard Elinor Tavis will all get starring roles in their own books, so I’ll save those for another blog.

Besides, if I let the secondary characters have faces, they tend to get uppity and try to take over the story. Then I have to either do a characterectomy and take away face and personality, or I have to promise them their own book—like I did Harry, Grey and Elinor.
Learn more about the book and author at Gail Dayton's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lara Zielin's "Donut Days"

Lara Zielin is a magazine editor by day and young-adult author by night. She grew up in Wisconsin eating cheese and watching the Packers, both of which she never really stopped doing even after moving to Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Here she shares some thoughts about the actors and director for a big screen adaptation of her debut YA novel, Donut Days:
Donut Days’ protagonist, Emma, is something of a budding hipster living in a community of conformists. Her parents are evangelical ministers who want her to attend a Christian college when she graduates from high school, but Emma can think of nothing worse.

Emma has a funny, often sarcastic voice, so the actress who plays her would need to be edgy, but not too edgy since the book takes place in the Midwest and, well, no one is that mean in the heartland. I think Ellen Page would be a fabulous option. Emma Watson, too, if she lost the British accent. I also think Amanda Bynes could do the role a great justice, and also I’d like her to play me in the Lifetime movie they’ll make about me one of these days: Lara Zielin: The Lara Zielin story: Hallowed Pages [subtitle] Not Without My Pen.

Emma’s in a fight with her best friend, Nat, who is tall and gorgeous, and who has red hair. Her character is more conservative and simple than Emma, so I’m thinking of someone fresh-faced and wholesome like Hayden Panettiere (but with scarlet locks).

Emma’s love interest is a nerd-turned-hunk, which would be a fun twist to bring from real life to the screen. Peter Billingsley is a bronze god of a man, who was Ralphie in A Christmas Story. But he more directs than acts now, so maybe Patrick Dempsey, except a few years younger. But not too young, because then he’s back to being a geek. It’s very nearly a quandary, you see.

To direct, I’d love Rob Hess, who always does an amazing job of capturing humor and drama in his films (full disclosure: I’m sleeping with him. We’re married.).

If not Rob, then Mark Waters who did an awesome job making Mean Girls fast and engaging, or Spike Jonze because he’s amazing and why not. I mean, come on, Being John Malkovich? That’s just brilliant filmmaking right there.

I would caution all the actors and producers and the director that they’d better bring to set a love for donuts and pastries because a big chunk of the book/movie takes place as people camp out in front of a donut shop waiting for it to open (full disclosure: I gained 20 pounds writing this book. I called it research.).
Learn more about the book and author at Lara Zielin’s website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A.W. Hill's "Nowhere-Land"

A.W. Hill is the author of Nowhere-Land: A Stephan Raszer Investigation, as well as two previous Stephan Raszer novels; he has won numerous literary prizes. He is a Grammy Award-winning music supervisor for films, and was vice president of music for Walt Disney Pictures.

Here he shares some ideas for casting a cinematic adaptation of Nowhere-Land:
Stephan Raszer (the name is an acronym), protagonist of Nowhere-Land and the two novels that preceded it, was real for me long before any of his plots took shape.The first tic I pictured was the squint he registers when something doesn't smell right, or when he's faced with a metaphysical puzzlement. It's a gesture stolen from the facial repertoire of the great Steve McQueen, who is the most enduring model for Raszer. When the first book was in movie development at Paramount under Alphaville and director Alex Proyas, I had to give some serious thought to who a latter-day McQueen might be (not that I would have had any say about casting), and I thought of guys like Daniel Craig (not yet Bond), Guy Pearce, and Viggo Mortensen, all guys whose vulnerability is just barely disguised by tough exteriors, all "on the borderline of handsome." That's still pretty much how I see the character.

Raszer's women are a special breed of dirty angel. They're more grounded than he is, but only because their wings would otherwise carry them off. Monica Lord, his indispensable assistant, has always been Claire Danes. No one else comes remotely close. The character of Ruthie Endicott in Nowhere-Land, a "slice of rhubarb pie too good to spoil with ice cream," is a tougher call. She would be, I think, the present-day version of Valerie Bertinelli at 22. Cat's eyes, full of guile, and impossible to resist.
Learn more about the book and author at A.W. Hill's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Roxana Robinson's "Cost"

Roxana Robinson is the author of Cost, three earlier novels, and three short-story collections, as well as a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe. Four of these were named Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times, Best American Short Stories, and Vogue, among other publications. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the MacDowell Colony.

Here she shares her preferences for casting the main roles in Cost...and reminds us of the importance of location scouts and production designers:
If Cost were to be made into a movie, for the parents, Julia and Wendell, I think Meryl Streep and Sam Waterston would be excellent. They'd be able to enter into those characters beautifully. For the two sons, Steven and Jack, I'd see maybe Emile Hirsch and Jamie Bell.

This is all after the fact, though, as I don't write with actors in mind, and in fact I don't write with real physical people in mind.

Just as important as the actors would be the house. This is an old shabby white clapboard farmhouse on the coast of Maine. Beyond it is a meadow, sloping down to the water. Beside the house is an old barn, on the other side, an orchard. This would all have to be exactly right: I do write with a very clear sense of setting and structures.
Read an excerpt from Cost, and learn more about the book and author at Roxana Robinson’s website.

The Page 69 Test: Roxana Robinson's Cost.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vincent H. O’Neil's "Exile Trust"

Vincent O’Neil won the St. Martin’s Press “Malice Domestic” award in 2005 with his debut novel Murder in Exile. The “Exile” series consists of Murder in Exile, Reduced Circumstances, and Exile Trust. Exile Trust was also published as a large-print book by Thorndike Press, and will be released in early 2010 as a paperback in Harlequin’s new “Worldwide Mystery” imprint. His short story “Finish the Job” was selected for the anthology Quarry: Crime Stories by New England Writers (Level Best Books, November 2009) and another of his short stories, “Blood Tells” will appear in the anthology Bad Cop ... No Donut (Padwolf, 2010).

Here he shares some casting ideas for a big screen adaptation of his “Exile” series:
A pair of book reviews first prompted me to think about the possible casting of my “Exile” mystery novels. Both reviews covered the first book in the series, Murder in Exile, each in a different way. One observed that my main character, background checker Frank Cole, had Jim Rockford’s wisecracking good nature while another said Frank’s unbending loyalty conjured up memories of Thomas Magnum. As The Rockford Files and Magnum, PI are among my all-time favorite shows, this made me ponder who might play Frank and his friends if the “Exile” series ever made it to TV or the big screen.

Frank is a low-key guy, early thirties and quite bright. At the beginning of the series he relocates to the small town of Exile, Florida to restart his life after a disastrous business bankruptcy. His new job as a background checker is what pulls him into murder investigations—making Frank a reluctant amateur sleuth. He’s dogged in his approach and not afraid to make mistakes, but he’s more brains than brawn when it comes to fisticuffs or gunfights.

With all that in mind, I soon decided on Noah Wyle of the hit TV series ER (and many other endeavors) for the starring role. The actor playing Frank Cole has to demonstrate a self-deprecating intelligence backed up by stubborn determination and a good sense of humor. Noah Wyle has covered all those bases in his career, and he possesses one of Frank’s most important attributes: People just plain like him.

Frank is alone in Exile at first, but he soon finds a girlfriend in photographer Beth Ann Thibedault. She’s much more confident than Frank and tries to steer him in the right direction in the series’ second book, Reduced Circumstances. Those qualities made me think of Maggie Gyllenhaal, the smart prosecutor who gives tough love to Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight. Although that role qualified her to play Beth Ann all by itself, her performance in the literary-themed Stranger Than Fiction showed that she can also play the tender, nurturing partner that Frank needs as he tries to rebuild his life.

Frank’s best friend in Exile is a local retiree named Gray Toliver, a sarcastic know-it-all who would be annoying if he didn’t actually know it all. Gray acts as a sounding board for Frank’s early cases, but has to take over one of his investigations in the series’ third book, Exile Trust. Envisioning a crusty-yet-supportive actor for this role brought up one of my personal favorites, Robert Loggia. Blending two of his previous roles, that of Al Pacino’s doomed criminal mentor in Scarface and Hector Elizondo’s cagey assistant coach in Necessary Roughness would create a very close approximation of Gray Toliver. Loggia is the caliber of actor who can tell Frank he’s a naïve fool while in the same breath expressing complete confidence in his ability to get the job done—and that’s what Gray does best.

Last but not least, Exile’s chief of police is a brilliant small-town cop named Denny Dannon. Provided someone could pry him away from his outstanding spot on CSI, that role would have to go to the inimitable Laurence Fishburne. As Exile’s de facto mayor and guardian angel, Chief Dannon commands respect with just a look—and we all know Laurence Fishburne can do that.

An excellent cast for a great series. Anybody got their numbers?
Read sample chapters and discover other information about the books and author at Vincent H. O’Neil's website,

The Page 69 Test: Exile Trust.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lawrence Watt-Evans' "Dragon Weather"

Lawrence Watt-Evans has been a full-time writer and editor for more than twenty years. The author of more than thirty novels, over one hundred short stories, and more than one hundred and fifty published articles, Watt-Evans writes primarily in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic books. His short fiction has won the Hugo Award as well as twice winning the Asimov’s Readers Award.

Here he shares some casting ideas for the principal roles in an adaptation of Dragon Weather, a novel in the Obsidian Chronicles, the story of Arlian of the Smoking Mountain, a man obsessed with revenge on the dragons that killed his family:
The fact is, I try not to cast my novels -- I prefer to let the reader do it. I don't usually give much physical description of the protagonist, either, so that the reader can imagine himself in the role. (I know not every reader does that, but some do.)

But since you ask, let me consider one of my own favorites, Dragon Weather. I absolutely did not cast it when I was writing it, but I had a pretty good idea of what the characters were like, so looking back now, I can see who would fit. Alas, some of the ages aren't right, but allow me some impossibly good make-up, or maybe a little CGI, to fix that.

The book has a cast of hundreds, and I'm not going to try to find someone for every role; let's restrict it to the four most important characters.

I'm tired of the cliche of casting British actors for the villains and Americans for the heroes, but I can't help myself -- the chief villain, Lord Enziet, needs to be played by Alan Rickman. He's so good at playing supercilious villains, and his face and physique are perfect.

The poor doomed sweetheart, the girl called Sweet, I'd like to see played by Dichan Lachman -- if you don't recognize the name, she plays Sierra on the TV series Dollhouse. (I'd actually been thinking of maybe Kristin Bell or Sarah Michelle Gellar when I started on this, but then I remembered Lachman and that was that.)

For the mentor/sidekick Black, I'm thinking Russell Crowe.

As for the hero, Arlian of the Smoking Mountain -- well, it took me awhile, but you know, I think a younger Robert Downey, Jr. would be perfect. Arlian's a little disconnected from the people around him because he's obsessed with revenge, and Downey's good at that sort of disconnect. His appearance is very much what I'd imagined for Arlian. So if he wants it, the role is his.

And hey, that final confrontation between Arlian and Enziet, with Downey and Rickman -- I want to see that!
Learn more about the author and his work at Lawrence Watt-Evans' website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jim DeFelice's "Leopards Kill"

Jim DeFelice is the author of many military thrillers and has frequently collaborated with New York Times bestselling authors Stephen Coonts, Larry Bond, and Richard Marcinko. DeFelice’s solo novels include Threat Level Black, Coyote Bird, War Breaker, and My Brother's Keeper.

Here he shares an idea about which action-movie star might be a good lead for adaptations of a few of his novels, including Leopards Kill:
There’s one at every book signing – the reader who comes up and says, “You don’t look anything like your book.”

If I’m in a certain kind of mood – in other words, if the person is buying – I smile and ask, “What should I look like?”

The answer is inevitably an actor. The exact one tends to vary somewhat depending on age, but the most common by far is Bruce Willis.

What readers really mean – I think – is that they see Bruce Willis in the role of the book’s lead character. This is great, though it would be even better if Bruce Willis saw himself as the book’s lead character.

And that of the movie to follow.

Which makes sense – he stars in thrillers and action movies, I write thrillers and action books...

Now the truth is that I don’t actually model my characters after anyone when I’m writing them, not even me. (Honest.) But if Bruce Willis is the star of the movie they make of your book, all sorts of good things happen. So when they ask if I had “Bruce” in mind, I always agree. Who knows? They’re calling him by his first name; maybe they’re a friend of his.

Where it gets tricky is when the reader wants to know which Bruce Willis I had in mind: “He’s done so many movies... the Die Hard Bruce Willis? Or the True West Bruce Willis?”

More the former than the latter, but I’ll take what I can get.

What most people don’t know is that Bruce Willis did star in the movie version of a book I wrote – the novelization of The Sixth Sense. The only thing is, I wasn’t thinking of Bruce Willis when I wrote it. I had Anthony Hopkins in my head, and it was his voice I heard in every line. (Specifically, the Anthony Hopkins of The Edge, which I’d just seen twice before starting work on it. Don’t look for the book, by the way; as far as I know the only edition now in print is Japanese. The story about what happened is much longer than this blog, and has nothing to do with Bruce Willis.)

It’s possible that I’ve lost my chance with Bruce Willis, but I still try to make shots. Lately I’ve been working with a game company on a new video game. Recently one of the producers asked me who I saw as the lead character.

“Bruce Willis,” I said, without hesitating.

Of course, I just got the storyboards the other day, and I have to say, the character doesn’t look much like Bruce Willis – not even The First Deadly Sin Bruce Willis. I guess he wasn’t available.

I’m not ready to give up. One of my books, Leopards Kill, comes out in paperback this month. It’s an action adventure story, with a strong character, biblical themes, an epic landscape – a perfect Bruce Willis vehicle if ever there was one. I’ve been telling people that Bruce Willis would be perfect in it. Well, mostly I’ve been telling my agents that, in hopes that they’ll tell his agents that, but I’m happy to share.

The Bruce Willis of Tears of the Sun, by the way. If I have a choice.

I have learned a few things over the years about movie stars and book characters and fiction and fantasy.

After nominating Bruce Willis as the lead for the movie, most women readers ask me who I want to play the strong, smart, and sexy heroine.

I always smile and say, “My wife.”
Learn more about the author and his work at Jim DeFelice's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rebecca Barnhouse's "The Book of the Maidservant"

Rebecca Barnhouse teaches and writes about medieval topics and children’s literature set in the Middle Ages.

Here she shares some casting ideas for a cinematic adaptation of her new novel, The Book of the Maidservant:
I thought about this and then took a look at the blog. Can't believe it: THE EXACT SAME ACTORS were just cast in a zombie movie that I was considering for my middle grade novel set in the Middle Ages. I thought about changing things, but decided these actors are talented enough to pull off both roles with ease. So here's my vote:

Abigail Breslin would be perfect for Johanna, the maidservant of my title because she can be both naive and feisty. Plus, she has an appealingly medieval-looking face.

And who else could play Dame Margery Kempe, who was either exceedingly pious or completely bats, better than Kathy Bates?

John Mouse, the charming, waggish student on his way to the great law school in Bologna, is more problematic. I'm thinking there will have to be a casting call for a teenaged John Cusack type.

Finally, John C. Reilly is my choice for Petrus Tappester, the snarling owner of the Cock and Hen who bedevils both Johanna and Margery as they take their pilgrimage from England to Rome.
Learn more about the book and author at Rebecca Barnhouse's website.

--Marshal Zeringue