Friday, December 11, 2009

Meg Gardiner's Evan Delaney series

Meg Gardiner's novels include the Jo Beckett series -- The Dirty Secrets Club and The Memory Collector -- and several Evan Delaney novels, which feature "a smart-aleck freelance journalist, deal with religious extremism, a high school reunion killer, and sex, drugs, and rock’n'roll. (They’re set in California. Of course they do.)"

China Lake (of the Evan Delaney series) won the 2009 Edgar award for Best Paperback Original; Stephen King calls the series “simply put, the finest crime-suspense series I’ve come across in the last twenty years.”

Here Gardiner explains some casting choices for a big screen adaptation of the novels:
Here I go, stepping into a bear trap.

I’ve always avoided being pinned down about who should play Evan Delaney. I write about her in the novels: She’s a tomboy who doesn’t know that she’s beautiful. She’s athletic, has a quick laugh, a quicker tongue, and a sharp sense of humor.

The books are fast-paced thrillers set in southern California. And when the Winnipeg Free Press reviewed Kill Chain, it said, “You just want to see what Rachel Weisz could do as Evan Delaney, a Santa Barbara freelance journalist whose father has gone missing.”

Rachel Weisz is fabulous. It’s a kick to hear that somebody sees her as Evan. Others have said they picture Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sarah Connor—meaning Linda Hamilton in the Terminator movies. And not one of those actors is the Evan of my imagination.

Here’s the wonderful thing about fiction: After I write the book, readers do creative work of their own, and imagine the world of the novel fresh in their own minds.

But if I had to pick a big-screen actress to play Evan, I’d go with Hilary Swank. She’s feisty but vulnerable, has strong looks with an underlying tenderness, and can run like hell. Plus, in Kill Chain, Evan says she has a better chance of landing the space shuttle than of fixing her computer. In The Core, Hilary Swank actually does land the space shuttle. That’s good enough for me.

(And in the background, my husband calls: “But give Evan Sigourney Weaver’s voice.”)

Other characters also take some thought. Jesse Blackburn, Evan’s boyfriend, combines Jensen Ackles from Supernatural with Keanu Reeves in Speed—and maybe Matt Damon in Jason Bourne mode, if his dialogue were written by The West Wing writers. But casting Jesse’s tricky. He’s a smartass, drives too fast, is as brave as all get out, and once had the world at his feet as a world-class athlete. But he’s been disabled by a hit-and-run driver. He can’t walk. Any hot men out there who are paraplegics and first class actors, please grab for the role. Meanwhile, the guy who comes closest to looking like him is Brazilian actor Reynaldo Gianecchini.

Then there’s Evan’s family. Mark Harmon would be great as her dad, Phil Delaney. Jamie Lee Curtis — though she’s too young in real life — would be good as Evan’s mom, Angie. And let’s have Jon Hamm play Evan’s fighter-pilot brother, Brian. Oh, yeah.

As for Evan’s guardian demons — the spy couple, Jax Rivera and Tim North — Jada Pinkett Smith would play a fierce Jax, and Jason Isaacs a coolly threatening Tim.

What do you know—that wasn’t painful at all. I don’t even have to gnaw off my own foot to get out of the trap.
Learn more about the author and her work at Meg Gardiner's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue