Thursday, December 30, 2010

Brian Leung's "Take Me Home"

Brian Leung is the author of the acclaimed story collection World Famous Love Acts, and the novel Lost Me.

Here he shares some suggestions for the above-the-line talent in an adaptation of his new novel, Take Me Home:
While I’m writing I never think of my novels in terms of movies, but it’s hard to escape the issue once they are in print and readers make suggestions as to who they imagine playing the parts in a film.

For Take Me Home people have been stuck as to who would play Wing Lee (sheesh folks, Jackie Chan is too old and not handsome enough). A list of questionable/dubious suggestions for Addie Maine include The Olson Twins, Molly Ringwald, Nicole Kidman, and Miley Cyrus. If we can time travel, I’d suggest a young Katherine Hepburn if she could ditch the patrician accent!

But probably, I’d trust Ang Lee to direct the film and cast some really fine actors. Brokeback Mountain shows he has the gentle touch, and we’ve seen what he can do with action films. That said, I’d want Ron Howard to at least arm wrestle for the chance to direct Take Me Home. We could do that smack down on pay-per-view.
Learn more about Take Me Home at Brian Leung's website.

Writers Read: Brian Leung.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 27, 2010

Keith Hollihan's "The Four Stages of Cruelty"

Keith Hollihan worked as a business analyst and ghostwriter before publishing his first novel. Born in Canada, he has traveled widely and lived in Japan and the Czech Republic. He now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Hollihan's new novel is The Four Stages of Cruelty.

Here he shares some author's input on casting a big screen adaptation of the novel:
The Four Stages of Cruelty is set in a maximum security penitentiary, but its protagonist and first-person narrator is a female corrections officer. Kali Williams is as professional, efficient, jaded, and tough as any of her male co-workers but she also has a strong sense of right and wrong. Her voice showed up in my third draft of this book, and took over the story. To me she embodied the whistleblower who can no longer abide the corruption and systematic abuse around her.

To me, the role calls out for a strong female lead. Vera Farmiga showed that blue collar realism in Debra Granik’s Down to the Bone. Michelle Monaghan had the integrity and sensitivity to go with her toughness in Gone Baby Gone. Naomi Watts has all the range you could want. There are so many good actresses out there right now, taking on challenging roles, it would just be a pleasure to see what could be done.

As for the men, they wouldn’t stand a chance.
Read an excerpt from The Four Stages of Cruelty, and learn more about the book and author at Keith Hollihan's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Four Stages of Cruelty.

Writers Read: Keith Hollihan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gerry Bartlett's "Real Vampires Have More to Love"

Gerry Bartlett is a former teacher and now writes full time. She also owns an antique business on the historic strand in Galveston, Texas.

Here she provides some casting ideas for an adaptation of her Glory St. Clair Real Vampires series, of which the latest installment, Real Vampires Have More to Love, is out now from Berkley:
I actually have a group of fans who started a petition to have my Glory St. Clair books made into a movie or TV series. I can only dream. And it’s really fun to imagine actresses as Glory. She was bloating when she was turned vampire in 1604, but the voluptuous look so popular then is so…not in 2010. And Glory always stays current. I’ve often thought about Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary. She gained serious weight for that role. Perfect. Not many of today’s actresses are up for that, but my lead would have to be willing. Scarlett Johansson, plus a few pounds, would be an ideal Glory.

As for the hero… Well, make that heroes. Glory has three guys who have become love interests in the series. Her main squeeze is Jeremy Blade aka Jeremiah Campbell. From the beginning, I’ve pictured Gerard Butler in a kilt. Hugh Jackman could be Rafael Valdez but he’d have to lose his accent. Yum. And then there’s my rock star. I’m still searching for the perfect hunk for that guy. Think longish dark hair, slim build and bright blue eyes. All of these are fantasy men. I frequently ask my friends on Facebook for suggestions and they are all over it. Believe me, we have a lot of fun picking stars for the Real Vampires movies. First to be produced: Real Vampires Have Curves, soon to be at a theater near you. The vampires will be in the seats at the late showing, not eating popcorn. Watch your neck.
Read an excerpt from Real Vampires Have More to Love and visit Gerry Bartlet's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Real Vampires Have More to Love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 20, 2010

Libby Hellmann's "Set the Night on Fire"

Libby Fischer Hellmann's crime fiction thrillers include An Eye For Murder, A Picture Of Guilt, An Image Of Death, A Shot To Die For, Easy Innocence, and Doubleback.

Here she shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of her latest novel, Set the Night on Fire:
As some of you may know, I studied film in graduate school, worked on a couple of features, and settled into the life of an industrial film/video producer before I started writing novels. So I’ve always approached novel writing like a film-maker. I can’t write a scene without imagining it edited and printed, complete with pans, dolly shots, close-ups, and dressed sets.

Set the Night on Fire was (and is) a film-maker’s dream: a wealth of colorful characters, locations, and, in the portion that goes back to the late Sixties, opportunities to recreate what came before. Frankly, while writing the book, I was more concerned with getting the Chicago settings right than the characters. I obsessed over the apartment/commune the characters inhabited in Old Town, the way Marshall Field’s would have looked, a community hospital on the North Side, Maxwell Street. I hope I’ve done them all justice.

But now comes the fun part. There are more characters in this novel than in some of my others, and some of them are portrayed both as young idealists in the Sixties, as well as more mature adults in the present. I haven’t chosen them all, but here’s what I have so far.

Lila Hilliard: My protagonist. A ‘30s professional financial manager.
In the present: definitely Natalie Portman

Casey Hilliard: Her father.
In the present: Robin Williams

Dar Gantner:
In the present: George Clooney (of course)
In the past: Ryan Gosling

Alix Kerr:
In the past: Emma Watson or Sarah Carter. Maybe Naomi Watts

In the past: Patrick Dempsey
In the present: John Slattery

In the past: Lindsay Lohan
In the present: Ashley Judd

Aunt Val:
In the present: Elizabeth Perkins

Wow! What a cast! I can’t wait!
Watch the video trailer for Set the Night on Fire.

Visit Libby Fischer Hellmann's website and group blog, The Outfit.

My Book, The Movie: A Shot To Die For.

My Book, The Movie: Easy Innocence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Freda Warrington's "Midsummer Night"

Freda Warrington is the author of nineteen (and a half) novels including Elfland, A Blackbird in Silver Darkness, A Taste of Blood Wine and Dracula the Undead. Elfland won the Romantic Times Award for Best Fantasy Novel of 2009, and her second novel for Tor, Midsummer Night, has just been published with another stunning cover by KY Craft.

Here she sketches out some ideas for casting her characters in an adaptation of Midsummer Night:
I suppose most authors indulge this fantasy – actually, I’ve shared moments of great hilarity with friends as we suggested the most inappropriate actors imaginable to take the parts in our own novels and those of other writers. Usually my characters jump into my head from nowhere, but sometimes they are inspired by real-life actors or even a face in a magazine. Would it be possible to cast Midsummer Night?

The sculptor, Dame Juliana Flagg, came out of my head, but I think there’s probably only one choice for her – Dame Helen Mirren. Dame Judi Dench has the charisma – all these dames, there ain’t nothin’ like a dame! – but I see Juliana as tallish, willowy, very attractive for her sixty-something years. Her husband Charles would have to be played by Ian Richardson as seen in his elegantly sinister role in the TV drama, House of Cards – because that’s who I had in mind when he turned up in my story. Sadly he died in 2007 so I really don’t know how to replace him.

My younger characters would be more difficult. Who could carry off Rufus? He’d need to be unfeasibly gorgeous, able to carry off long hair and colourful clothing without looking completely ridiculous. And for Leith – well, a young Rufus Sewell, perhaps. Someone who possesses an irresistible, dark Byronic beauty… I’ll have to think about that one.

I’ve seen the actor who should play Peta Lyon, but I have no idea who she is! I’d already created Peta as a character. Some time later I was watching an episode of Eastenders (a British soap) and there was a scene on a train. One of the characters was acting out their bit of drama while being looked at askance by one of the other “passengers”, an extra. I remember this extra as being arty-looking in purple bohemian-style clothing. She had a chalk-pale complexion, dark lips and blood-red hair. And I thought, oh my god, it’s Peta! So all I need to do is find out who on earth she was!

As for Colin, Juliana’s apprentice and ‘bit of rough’ from New Zealand – no question, it’s another Eastenders actor, the yummy Rob Kazinsky who played “bad boy” Sean Slater. And for Ned Badger – I think Sting, hamming it up in a dark wig, would be perfect.

Gill is half-English, half-Hindu, thin and athletic with long blue-black hair. Again, I’m stumped. That leaves me stuck on three of the most important characters, Gill, Rufus and Leith. I’ll really have to think about this. Suggestions, anyone? Who’d be a casting director?
Learn more about the book and author at Freda Warrington's website, blog, and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Elfland.

The Page 69 Test: Midsummer Night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 13, 2010

Allison Leotta's "Law of Attraction"

Allison Leotta is a federal sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington, D.C. She has been a federal prosecutor for ten years. Like the heroine in Law of Attraction, her debut legal thriller, Leotta started out in the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting misdemeanor domestic violence cases. She now handles the most serious sex crimes in D.C. Leotta is a graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School.

Here she shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of Law of Attraction:
This is a great exercise! Your blog spurred a very fun weekend for my mom and me, sitting down with stacks of Us and Star magazines and poring over glossy pictures of actors.

When I wrote my novel, Law of Attraction, I didn’t have actors in mind. I’m a sex-crimes prosecutor in D.C., so my story was inspired by details from real people I work with and real cases I’ve handled.

My protagonist, Anna Curtis, holds the same job I do, prosecuting sex crimes and domestic violence in D.C. She’s smart and sexy, but very young and naive. Have you seen the movie Juno? I like the actress Ellen Page from that film. She has a charming earnestness that would work for Anna. My mom likes Amanda Seyfried, Amy Adams or Rachel McAdams for the role.

At the beginning of Law of Attraction, Anna starts to fall in love with Nick Wagner, a charming but bad-boy public defender. They share an electric attraction, which Anna suppresses when they end up on opposite sides of a domestic-violence homicide case. Anna feels guilty about her role in the murder and her own dark past, and sees this case as her shot at redemption. Nick tries to win back Anna, while beating her in court. For Nick, I picture a cross between a young John Cusack and Jimmy Stewart, with a hint of James Franco to give him some edge. My mom votes for Jake Gyllenhaal.

Investigating the murder, Anna works with the Homicide Chief, a handsome but intimidating prosecutor named Jack Bailey. He’s in his mid-thirties, African-American, with a clean-shaven head and green eyes. Anna learns some valuable lessons from Jack – but they may be too late for the mess she lands herself in with Nick. For Jack, I’m thinking Idris Elba, the actor who played Stringer Bell on The Wire and who’s now on The Office. Or maybe the Old Spice guy – he’s pretty dreamy. My mom gives the nod to Denzel Washington.

Okay, now that’s we’ve nailed down our cast, I can’t wait to see Law of Attraction on the big screen!
Learn more about the book and author at Allison Leotta's website and blog.

Writers Read: Allison Leotta.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gary Corby's "The Pericles Commission"

Gary Corby is a first time novelist, former systems programmer at Microsoft, and lives in Australia with his wife and two daughters.

His new book is The Pericles Commission.

Here he sketches out some ideas about the talent who might bring the novel to life in a cinematic adaptation:
My debut novel is The Pericles Commission, a murder mystery set in Classical Athens. Nicolaos, the ambitious son of a minor sculptor, walks the mean streets of Classical Athens as an agent for the promising young politician Pericles. Murder and mayhem don't faze Nico; what's really on his mind is how to get closer (much closer) to Diotima, the intelligent and annoyingly virgin priestess of Artemis, and how to shake off his irritating 12 year old brother Socrates.

The chances of anyone turning an ancient murder mystery into a movie is so low, I can say anything I like without looking foolish...oh, hang on, what about Julius Caesar, by that genre writer...what's his name...oh yeah, Bill Shakespeare. All right, maybe it can happen if you're a literary genius.

I'm at a disadvantage here, because I know pretty much nada about modern movies. I rarely watch them! So this'll be patchy, but here goes...

For my hero Nicolaos, I'll have Thespis, who was an actor back in ancient Greece. Yes, this is the guy from whom we get the word thespian. It seems only fair Thespis should have top billing.

For my heroine Diotima, I'll have Rachel Weisz, because she did a great job in The Mummy.

For Pericles, I'll have Hugh Jackman, because we went to the same high school. He was about 5 years below me, I think, and I can't for the life of me remember him, though one his brothers Ian was in my year. Also, Jackman is on record as having said he'd like to play Socrates some time. My Socrates is 12 years old, so Jackman will have to make do with being a political rather than philosophic genius. Which brings me to...

Socrates will be played by Sophocles. Yes, that's Sophocles the famous tragic playwright. Sophocles played in the chorus when he was a boy, so we know he can act, and the real Sophocles and the real Socrates were drinking buddies. Sophocles would be perfect for the part, if only we had a time machine.

For Pythax, the brutally tough chief of the city guard, I'll have Russell Crowe. Pythax should be played like the ancient equivalent of a hardened New York police captain.

And for Director, I'll have Peter Cornwell, who recently directed The Haunting in Connecticut. Peter, his elder brother and my good friend Richard, and I and a few others spent many happy hours at their house playing D&D when we were kids.
Read more about The Pericles Commission at the publisher's website.

Visit Gary Corby's blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Pericles Commission.

Writers Read: Gary Corby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jeri Westerson's "The Demon's Parchment"

Jeri Westerson is the author of Veil of Lies, Serpent in the Thorns, and The Demon's Parchment.

Here she shares some ideas for casting adaptations of her Crispin Guest novels: 
The first time I put the words “Crispin Guest” to paper was sometime in 2002. He was to be my first foray into medieval mystery where before I had written, apparently, unsellable historical novels. He was to be a true detective not an amateur sleuth of the monk or nun variety that seemed to populate medieval mysteries. He was to be my cross-pollination of genres between hard-boiled detective fiction and the medieval mystery. I was inventing “Medieval Noir” and my detective was going to be extremely important to the series.

When I write novels, I do see them as movies because I grew up on movies, especially old, swashbuckling types. But there are plenty of modern adventure movies that catch my attention, too. So when I started thinking about who Crispin Guest was — an ex-knight down on his luck with the skills and wits to re-invent himself into the “Tracker”, a very physical medieval PI — I needed a face, a personality to reflect the anguish of his past, the toughness of his bearing, and the inherent nobility to which he was raised. And when I saw the movie X-Men, with a swaggering Hugh Jackman as the tortured Wolverine, I knew I’d found my man. And then some years later, seeing his work as the sarcastic and clever Van Helsing, sealed the deal. As an actor, he’s got a good deep voice for the character, he’s handsome, likeable, with an edgy sense of humor and enough pathos behind the eyes to carry it off. He’s really my first and only choice.

As for side characters, I saw Mark Addy in A Knight’s Tale as Roland, and with his round and pliable face and his humanity, I cast him as the tavern owner and Crispin’s friend, Gilbert Langton. As for Gilbert’s wife Eleanor, Julie Walters as she portrayed Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, had the right amount of moxy and nurture to fulfill the role (with padding as she has for those roles, because in reality, she is a tiny lady).

As for the all-important Jack Tucker, Crispin's apprentice who was a cutpurse and street urchin, I also got my casting from Harry Potter and found the young Rupert Grint who plays Ron Weasley, as the perfect kid to do the job. But that was a long time ago when those kids in Harry Potter were still kids. Now he’s far too old for the part, but I’m sure there are any number of up and comers in British cinema who can step into those worn shoes.

I don’t know if all authors hear this, but every time I make an appearance, I am always told by readers what a great movie my books would make. I hope Hollywood notices that, too, at some point. I write them as movies. I can’t help it. So an adaptation would be pretty easy. Are you listening, Hollywood?
Learn more about the author and her work at Jeri Westerson's website, her "Getting Medieval" blog, and the Crispin Guest Medieval Noir blog.

The Page 69 Test: Veil of Lies.

The Page 69 Test: Serpent in the Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Demon's Parchment.

Writers Read: Jeri Westerson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ken Harmon's "The Fat Man"

Ken Harmon's new book is The Fat Man, "a satire of traditional Christmas stories and noir" in which "a hardboiled elf is framed for murder in a North Pole world that plays reindeer games for keeps, and where favorite holiday characters live complex lives beyond December."

Here he shares his vision of some classic actors and a director to bring his story to life on the big screen:
In The Fat Man – A Tale of North Pole Noir, Gumdrop Coal is a hard-boiled elf framed for murder in a Kringle Town that’s got more than its fair share of Naughty guys and dolls. In paying homage to the great detective novels of the 30’s and 40’s, naturally I imagined Gumdrop played by a diminutive Humphrey Bogart, a well-traveled fedora pulled down over his pointy elf ears and a wrinkled trench coat to keep the chill of the North Pole in its place. Dingleberry Fizz, Gumdrop’s ever-optimistic best friend, would be a grinning, cow-licked Mickey Rooney and Rosebud Jubilee, a peppermint stick chewing reporter is a mix of the great dames from that era of movies, Barbara Stanwyck, Rosalind Russell and Jean Arthur. Orson Welles would take a star turn as Charles “Candy” Cane, naturally, and the grotesque Not So Tiny Tim could only be played by Charles Laughton. I would sprinkle the rest of the cast with cameos with as many stars of yesteryear that heaven would give me and if Billy Wilder could direct it – that would suit me right down the ground. Perhaps one day there will be a technology that allows us to do just that. (Is there an app for that?)
Visit Ken Harmon's website.

Writers Read: Ken Harmon.

The Page 69 Test: The Fat Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Roberta Gately's "Lipstick in Afghanistan"

A nurse, humanitarian aid worker, and writer, Roberta Gately has served in third-world war zones ranging from Africa to Afghanistan. She has written extensively on the subject of refugees for the Journal of Emergency Nursing, as well as a series of articles for the BBC Worlds News Online. She speaks regularly on the plight of the world's refugees and displaced.

Booklist called her new novel Lipstick in Afghanistan an “[a]bsorbing debut… In this utterly engrossing read, Gately vividly evokes the beauty and tragedy of Afghanistan.”

Here she shares some ideas for principal cast and director of an adaptation of the novel:
Ahh – isn’t this every writer’s dream question? I confess that when I was writing Lipstick in Afghanistan, the story played out in my mind much like a movie, and I actually wrote one character, Major Doyle, known as “Chief” to his men, with George Clooney in mind. I know – I imagine a host of writers choose Clooney as their lead. But for me, the image of Clooney, his mannerisms and speech, actually helped me to develop this character and though his role is small, it’s vital to the story. It is the Chief who guides the soldiers and ultimately, their actions.

For the other characters, I admit I’ve started the casting process in my daydreams. For Elsa, my young American nurse, I see Ashley Greene or Vanessa Hudgens in the role. Each brings the necessary physical appearance and the trace of vulnerability that envelops Elsa. Vanessa, with her dark hair and flashing eyes, would also be a perfect Parween, my feisty Afghan heroine.

For Mike, Elsa’s love interest, Zac Efron would be a good fit, especially if Vanessa Hudgens plays Elsa. For Dave, Mike’s best friend, Ryan Phillippe would be perfect.

And finally, my choice for director – as long as I’m reaching for the stars – Clint Eastwood of course!

So – those are my daydreams. Hollywood – are you there?
Read an excerpt from Lipstick in Afghanistan, and learn more about the book and author at Roberta Gately's website and blog.

Writers Read: Roberta Gately.

The Page 69 Test: Lipstick in Afghanistan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Katia Lief's "Next Time You See Me"

Born in France to American parents, Katia Lief moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in Massachusetts and New York. She teaches fiction writing as a part-time faculty member at the New School in Manhattan and lives in Brooklyn.

Lief's latest novels are You Are Next and Next Time You See Me.

Here she shares some ideas on who might bring her characters to life in a cinematic adaptation:
Next Time You See Me is the second in a series of suspense novels beginning with You Are Next, in which two strong characters, Karin Schaeffer and Mac MacLeary, battle evil and also come together romantically. Karin is the emotional heart of the series. She’s a damaged, impulsive, restless former cop whose combination of training and fearlessness draws her to danger; she’s also a strong, resilient, loving woman who feels perhaps too deeply. Tall and lean, with the ability to look plain or beautiful, and the capacity for a broad range of emotion, Hilary Swank would make a perfect Karin Schaeffer.

And Matt Damon would make her pitch-perfect counterpart as Mac MacLeary, whose strength and persistence help Karin save herself in You Are Next, and whose love shows her that renewed life after a terrible loss is possible. Matt’s quiet handsomeness and Hilary’s quirky beauty would create sparks on screen. They’re both excellent actors with a palpable presence; they’re both smart and they’re both sexy. I can close my eyes and see them bring Karin and Mac to three-dimensional life as their story catapults across the big screen in Next Time You See Me.

Detective Billy Staples, whose role grows in Karin and Mac’s lives throughout the first two novels, and takes center stage in the third (not yet published) book, should be played by Jamie Foxx, a talented actor with the chops to grow his character in scope and depth as his connection to two trouble-magnets whiplashes him into danger beyond that of his day job with the NYPD.

The movie version of Next Time You See Me would be directed by my husband, Oliver Lief, who produced, directed and edited the book trailer. But if I couldn’t get him, I’d try Roman Polanski, whose films are among my very favorites.
Read an excerpt from Next Time You See Me and view the trailer.

Visit Katia Lief's website.

The Page 69 Test: Next Time You See Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sheldon Russell's "The Insane Train"

A former Oklahoma public school English teacher, Sheldon Russell retired as a professor emeritus from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2000. With The Yard Dog (Minotaur Books, 2009), he introduced the Hook Runyon series. The first book finds Hook investigating a murder at an Oklahoma railroad yard near a German POW camp during WWII.

Russell's second Hook Runyon novel, The Insane Train, is out this month.

Here is Russell's choice to portray his main character when Hook hits the big screen:
My protagonist in The Insane Train is Hook Runyon, a one-arm railroad bull who collects rare books and drinks busthead liquor. He’s both down-in-the dirt tough and intellectually curious. He’s sensitive but lethal and has an abiding affection for the underdogs of the world.

The actor who comes to mind, I mean as long as we’re dreaming here, is George Clooney. Consider Clooney’s performance in the movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? No matter how uneducated and unsophisticated his character, no one but no one underestimates his intelligence and wit. He’s a perfect choice to play Hook.
Learn more about the book and author at Sheldon Russell's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Yard Dog.

Writers Read: Sheldon Russell.

The Page 69 Test
: The Insane Train.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 22, 2010

Keith Raffel's "Smasher"

Keith Raffel is the author of Dot Dead and Smasher.

Here he shares some ideas for casting a cinematic adaptation of Smasher:
A pair of award-winning scriptwriters have picked up an option on my Smasher: A Silicon Valley Thriller. I do know the chances of actually seeing it on the screen at the cineplex are about the same as a Wall Street banker turning down her bonus. Still, like Willy Loman, a man "is got to dream." So humor me, will you, and play along?

Who should play the protoganist Ian Michaels? He's 37 or so, about six feet tall, dark hair. He's a Silicon Valley workaholic and a pretty good runner. Here are some candidates my kids and wife came up with.

Chris O'Donnell? Kind of a pretty boy. I don't think so.

My kids are big fans of the show Chuck and are plumping hard for its star Zachary Levi. He plays a klutzy spy on the show, but my wife is convinced he’s the guy.

Leo DiCaprio? Well, he is a genuine movie star and we'd get funded if he opted in, wouldn't we?

And what incredibly talented actor can take on Rowena Goldberg, 30, top homicide prosecutor and marathoner who's married to the aforementioned Ian? She's about 30, 5' 4", and brunette.

Here's my first pick to play Rowena, but I'm told she's no longer available. Sigh. If only.

Natalie Portman? If she doesn’t get the role, I am going to have a lot of irate friends, both men and women. (Like Rowena, she's even Jewish.)

And there's also Jill Flint from another of my kids' favorite shows, Royal Pains.

The English actress Rebecca Hall who plays Claire in Ben Affleck’s recent The Town may have the right looks, but my oldest daughter is not crazy about the American accent she used in the film.

Finally, there's the scene-stealer part – Ricky Frankson, a driven, Silicon Valley billionaire and fan of Sun Tzu's Art of War. Here's the description from the book:
All in all, Frankson looked about as good as a man of sixty-one could look. A field of wavy black hair showed nary a gray strand that might betray his age. A deep notch divided his eyebrows, but the forehead above them was unlined and his cheeks were smooth. The girth of his biceps, half-hidden by the sleeves of the T-shirt, substantiated the rumor that his early morning routine included weightlifting in a home gym. Scuttlebutt also had it that he invested tens of millions in biotech companies researching life extension. Maybe he was a beta tester. Or maybe he had a portrait up in his attic that aged in his stead.
If George gets the part, my wife promises she’d accompany me to the premiere.

Who plays driven better than Al Pacino?
Read an excerpt from Smasher, and learn more about the book and author at Keith Raffel's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 19, 2010

Miles Corwin's "Kind of Blue"

Miles Corwin, a former crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, is the author of three nonfiction books: The Killing Season, a national bestseller; And Still We Rise, the winner of the PEN West award for nonfiction and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; and Homicide Special, a Los Angeles Times bestseller.

Here he shares his idea for the lead actor and director of an adaptation of Kind of Blue, his first novel:
My main character, Ash Levine, is a Jewish LAPD homicide detective. The actor would not have to be Jewish, but I think I might help if he was Jewish or part-Jewish. I liked the English movie, An Education, and Peter Sarsgaard is a terrific actor. But he simply wasn’t convincing as a Jewish character. He couldn’t pull it off.

Ben Stiller or David Schwimmer might work as Ash Levine. A young Paul Newman would be wonderful.

The guy I’d like to direct the movie is Curtis Hanson. My book has a noirish feel, and Hanson really captured that mood in L.A. Confidential.
Learn more about the book and author at Miles Corwin's website.

Writers Read: Miles Corwin.

The Page 69 Test: Kind of Blue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Paul Grossman's"The Sleepwalkers"

Paul Grossman has been a freelance journalist for many years with published articles in major magazines such as Vanity Fair and Details. He had a highly successful Actor’s Equity reading of his first stage play, The Pariah, at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan—a drama about Hannah Arendt and the Adolf Eichmann war-crimes trial, which is currently in the hands of the Perry Street Theater Company for production development. Grossman is also a long time teacher of writing and literature at Hunter College.

His new novel is The Sleepwalkers.

Here he shares some thoughts about a big screen adaptation of the novel:
The Sleepwalkers would make an extremely exciting but very big budget movie. The setting--Berlin in the early 1930s--is such an integral part of the story. Potsdammerplatz, throbbing with traffic. Alexanderplatz, swarming with crowds. A chase scene through the Tietz Department Store alone would make a real thrill ride through one of the great emporiums of prewar Europe.

I’m not sure about a director or any of the other cast members, but I definitely have one star in mind for the lead: Adrien Brody. His unmistakably Semitic face and intelligent, sympathetic eyes make a dream candidate for the role of Inspektor Willi Kraus.
Visit Paul Grossman's website.

Writers Read: Paul Grossman.

The Page 69 Test: The Sleepwalkers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mary Anna Evans' "Strangers"

Mary Anna Evans is the author of the award-winning Faye Longchamp archaeological mysteries: Artifacts, Relics, Effigies, Findings, Floodgates, and the recently released sixth novel in the series, Strangers.

Should Faye Longchamp make the jump from page to screen, here's Evans' idea of the actors who should play the major roles:
Ooh! I love this game!

I'm not one of those writers who always has an actor or actress in mind when I write my characters. This makes it especially fun to pretend I'm a casting director, so I can select people I think would be believable in the roles. My imaginary people are very special to me, so being able to say "Ross looks like President Obama...and he talks like him, too," is an easy way to tell people what's in my mind as I spin my tales.

While playing the movie-casting game with my friends, they always turn the conversation to finding a way to wangle screen time for themselves. Someone will say, "I want to be the cranky librarian in Findings!!!" Then someone else will say "I want to be the voodoo queen in Floodgates!!!" I hate to break it to them, but I think they'll be relegated to non-speaking roles in a crowd scene in Wally's bar. This is because most of them have northern accents, which doesn't really work in the vicinity of Sopchoppy, Florida. I, however, have never lost my Mississippi drawl, so I might actually get to talk.

I've always pictured Halle Berry as Faye, the archaeologist heroine of all my books, but Hollywood would have to work a little movie magic. Faye is a bit less curvaceous than Halle Berry, so much so that she is mistaken for a boy from a distance. Only a blind man could mistake Ms. Berry for a boy, so the movie's costumer would need to be a genius. If I were Halle Berry, I'd give my eyeteeth to play a character as smart and tough and resourceful as Faye. And she'd get to run and jump and dig and just generally get dirty. I'd think that would be fun for an actress.

Her best friend Joe is particularly difficult to cast. He has to look very young--about 25--for the plot of Artifacts to work, so several actors who come to mind are just too old. Among those are Lou Diamond Phillips, A Martinez, and Jimmy Smits. Taylor Lautner is young enough, and he has the required eye-popping Native American good looks, but he is about nine inches shorter than the six-foot-six Joe Wolf Mantooth.

Or, come to think of it, I chose the name "Mantooth" for Joe, because I wanted a Native American name that was familiar to mainstream America. I remembered Randolph Mantooth from Emergency!, the show about paramedics from the 1970s. In his youth, Randolph Mantooth would have had the right look, and he's half Seminole, so he has a Native American heritage that's not completely unlike the mostly Creek Joe. He's six-foot-one, so we're getting close to Joe's skyscraper build. Jimmy Smits is six-foot-three, though, so he's even closer.

I get an awful lot of email from ladies who desperately wish Joe were real. Let's all picture a buff 25-year-old Jimmy Smits with hair to his waist...hmmm...oh, my. Yes. I do believe he'll do.

For the new release, Strangers, I need an ethereal blonde for the missing girl, Glynis Smithson. Either Evan Rachel Wood or a very young Gwyneth Paltrow would fill the bill. For the Jazz Age beauty Allyce Dunkirk, only a haunted brunette with a slender form, delicate features, and dark eyes will do--perhaps Natalie Wood. And for the doomed silent movie starlet, Lilibeth Campbell, I need someone curvaceous, ambitious, naive, and barely out of her teens. Let's go with Jean Harlow at age 20.

I think I'll stop there, before I begin casting inanimate objects. Because I know exactly what the brooding and possibly haunted house, Dunkirk Manor, looks like...
Learn more about the author and her work at Mary Anna Evans' website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Floodgates.

The Page 69 Test: Strangers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Todd Ritter's "Death Notice"

An editor and journalist for more than 15 years, Todd Ritter began his career as a film critic while attending Penn State University. His favorite films are thrillers, although he has a soft spot for horror movies that scare the wits out of him. He considers Alfred Hitchcock to be the greatest director the world has ever seen. His debut mystery, Death Notice, was released in October by Minotaur Books.

He thinks it would make a fantastic movie. With, he writes, the correct casting, of course:
I know a lot of authors envision actors and actresses when writing their main characters. I’m guilty as charged. Kind of. When I started writing Death Notice, one particular actress served as my muse for Chief Kat Campbell, the heart and soul of the book. Her name is Elizabeth Mitchell, and fans of the show Lost will know her as Dr. Juliet Burke. Kat is a single mother to a 10-year-old son with Down syndrome. She’s also the police chief of a small town terrorized by a serial killer. The actress who plays her needs that rare combination of maternal warmth and kick-ass toughness. Mitchell has that combo in spades. Plus, she really knows how to wield a gun. (The runner-up would be Ashley Judd, my agent’s suggestion and another great choice to play Kat.)

The two male protagonists of Death Notice are more difficult to cast, mostly because everything about them — looks, attitudes, flaws and strengths — sprang completely from my imagination. Nick Donnelly, the state police investigator brought in to help Kat catch the killer, is handsome, intelligent and brings a bit of street smarts to a sleepy farm community. Jon Hamm, of Mad Men fame, would make a great Nick. He’s got the looks and the smarts, plus he’d be able to show the way the case slowly eats away at Nick piece by piece.

Then there’s Henry Goll, the obituary writer who becomes the unwitting link between the police and the killer. Henry is scarred, both physically and emotionally, from an accident five years earlier. He is also a bit of a recluse, and the murders drag him kicking and screaming into a world of human interaction that he wants no part of. Whoever plays him needs to express Henry’s fear, reticence and pain while simultaneously showing a man waking up to all that the world can offer. In other words, we need a heavy-hitter.

Enter Robert Downey Jr. He can do drama. He can do action. And he can do world-weary. Even better, he can do all three at once. In my mind, he’s the perfect Henry.
Learn more about Death Notice and its author at Todd Ritters' website.

Writers Read: Todd Ritter.

The Page 69 Test: Death Notice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Patricia Gussin's "And Then There Was One"

Patricia Gussin is the author of And Then There Was One, The Test, Twisted Justice, and Shadow of Death.

Here she shares some observations about the challenges in casting an adaptation of And Then There Was One:
One job that I’ll never have is that of casting director. No, you’ll never see my name scrolling across the big screen, at least not in that capacity. When I consider And Then There Was One as a movie I see it starting just as it did in the book. A nineteen year old and a nine year old, cousins, frantic, looking for nine year old Jackie’s two sisters, Sammie and Alex. Jackie and Alex and Sammie are identical triplets. They live in Tampa and they are visiting cousins in a suburb of Detroit. The three girls and their older cousin are at a mall. All four went into a movie theater. To resolve a squabble about which movie to see, the four slit up into twosomes. No big deal, the movies were showing right next to each other. But as Jackie and her cousin waited, Sammie and Alex never came out.

Family and law enforcement descend on the mall, but the girls disappeared. The tension is severe and the emotions running on overdrive.

So let’s take a look at the scene. First the parents. Mom, Katie Monroe, is a forensic pediatric psychiatrist in Tampa. she is African American, grew up in Detroit and was in town visiting family. Dad, Scott Monroe, is at a Yankee game in the Bronx. He, too, grew up nearby Detroit in Gross Pointe. He’s white and is a former professional baseball player, now a sports commentator and affiliated with the Yankee’s spring training operation in Tampa.

That’s the primary cast. A family of five. A smart, attractive forty something black woman, a good-looking, well muscled white man, and three adorable little girls, identical in looks, but not in personalities. Jackie, the safe triplet, is logical, well balanced, even-keeled. Alex, one of the missing girls is sweet, shy, sensitive. Sammie is rebellious one, a trouble maker. All three are avid baseball fans.

Wouldn’t it be fun to cast this movie? There aren’t many movies about biracial families. And Then There Was One is anything but stereotypical. They are a happy, American whose life disintegrate before them.

During the search for the girls, Special Agent Streeter, FBI, lead the charge. He is atypical for a fibber. He’s truly collaborative and genuinely concerned and doggedly persistent. But as the week goes n with still no idea of who took Alex and Sammie or why, he’s haunted by self-doubts.

The Monroe parents are devastated, of course, but could they have played a role?

No one knows.

This is super-charged psychological thriller. It requires a black woman as the mother, a white man as the father, and three girls who look very much alike. Jackie the safe triplet is the primary child actress with a role that must portray the avalanche of survivor guilt that takes her over the breaking point. A strong (could be white or black) FBI agent and a cast of very, very bad villains. At the risk of tipping off the plot, the role of Kathy Bates in Misery, does come to mind.

But where to find identical nine year olds that could pass for triplets. I think that the trailer put together by CoS Productions did a good job.
Visit Patricia Gussin's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: And Then There Was One.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Joseph Skibell's "A Curable Romantic"

Joseph Skibell is the author of the novels A Blessing on the Moon, The English Disease, and the recently released A Curable Romantic. He has received a Halls Fiction Fellowship, a Michener Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, among other awards. He teaches at Emory University and is the director of the Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature.

Here he shares some ideas for writer, director and principal cast for an adaptation of  A Curable Romantic:
A public confession: recently a colleague showed me a letter he’d received from Tom Stoppard. Knowing my publisher would soon be mailing out galleys of my novel, A Curable Romantic, I committed the address on the letterhead to memory and put Mr. Stoppard name at the top of the recipient list.

I was wrong. I know it was wrong. But I was already thinking about a movie. The first thing you need is a good script, and Stoppard’s witty erudition as a dramatist would be perfect for bringing the book to the screen.

There are even Stoppardian puns in the text. My favorite: renouncing his fees from the patients he couldn’t cure as a general practitioner on the Russian Steppes, Dr. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto, tells the novel’s protagonist Dr. Sammelsohn that he didn’t feel right taking a patient’s “ruble without a cause.”

Stoppard is a longtime collaborator of Steven Spielberg, and I hoped he might mention the book to him. Spielberg’s ability to work on an epic canvas, his preoccupation with innocence as a theme, his understanding of the thin membrane between imagination and reality, are in tune with the novel’s concerns. My wife Barbara worked as a dietitian in LA, and she treated Spielberg’s stepfather once. That’s the only connection I have, so it’s probably better if Tom Stoppard serves as the go-between.

Meanwhile, the visual and literary playfulness of Spike Jonze and Wes Anderson recommend these men for the job as well, and I’m sorry that Francois Truffaut is dead.

For actors? Though they’re probably too old to play him at 39, both Robert Downey Jr. and George Clooney would make perfect Sigmund Freuds. I think they’d have fun with the smugness and moral obtuseness of my version of the man. My brother, Steven Skybell, a Broadway actor, is also perfect for the part. According to family lore, we’re actually related to Freud, so perhaps there’d be a family resemblance in his portrayal.

For Dr. L.L. Zamenhof, the gentle, utopian creator of Esperanto? A younger Wally Shawn is physically close, but Shawn’s performances are always propelled by a wonderful mania. I doubt he could compellingly portray Dr. Zamenhof’s gentleness and humility. Were he of the right age, Dustin Hoffman could play either of these men, as well as Dr. Sammelsohn’s third father figure: Rabbi Kalonymos Kalmish Szapira, the so-called Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto. Rabbi Szapira is a heroic, if little-known figure of the 20th Century, and Hoffman would know exactly how to portray the smallness of the person and the greatness of the man.

Ita, Dr. Sammelsohn’s second wife and the tragic heroine of A Curable Romantic, never really appears “onstage.” We see her, as a child, in Sammelsohn’s memories, then as a dybbuk living inside Freud’s patient Emma Eckstein, then as a spirit speaking through an Esperantist named Fraŭlino Zinger, then reincarnated as a small boy and finally as a young doctor in the Warsaw Ghetto. The only actress I know who could portray Emma as Emma, and Ita as Emma, ad infinitum, is of course Meryl Streep.

(I’m beginning to wonder when I last saw a movie? These are mostly the great actors from my childhood!)

For my protagonist, Dr. Jakob Josef Sammelsohn?

I don’t know if he has the acting chops, but I’d recommend Justin Rice, the sometime film actor and guitarist for the Indie band Bishop Allen. He’s funny, charming and endearing onscreen, and he looks exactly like I did when I was his age. It’s almost eerie, in fact. Barbara and I were watching the two Andrew Bujalski movies he appears in recently, and I kept saying to her, “Remind when I made these films again? It’s weird, but I don’t remember being a rock star.”
Read more about A Curable Romantic and visit Joseph Skibell's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Curable Romantic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trish J. MacGregor's "Esperanza"

Trish J. MacGregor was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. She has always been interested in the hidden, the mysterious, the unseen, and in her latest novel, Esperanza, was able to combine this interest with her love of Ecuador.

Here is MacGregor's take on the cast and director for the picture should Esperanza be adapted for the big screen:
What a cool thing to write about! Good visualization, too.

Okay, since Ian Ritter looks like George Clooney, he’s the ideal for that role. For Tess Livingston, an FBI agent whose near-death experience turns her life inside out, Scarlett Johansson is my pick. Dominica, the bruja whose tribe in Esperanza now numbers 60,000, the largest anywhere in the world – I think Alice Braga, from I Am Legend and City of God, would be close to perfect. But hey, if she’s busy, Penélope Cruz would be great and then her hubby, Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) could play Dominica’s brujo lover, Ben.

For the shape shifter, dog/human – Nomad/Wayra – Johnny Depp, please. For Charlie, Tess’s dead father, now a light chaser (the good guys), Richard Gere. Then there’s Tess’s mother, a former hippie, psychiatric ER nurse, now 63, cool lady: Susan Sarandon. For Tess’s niece, 19-year-old computer geek, Maddie, well, I’m not sure. I’ll have to ask my daughter, who is Maddie’s age!

Director? I don’t know. This book touches on questions about life after death. Clint Eastwood is doing Hereafter, so he probably wouldn’t be interested something that’s so close in theme. Vincent Ward, who directed What Dreams May Come, based on Richard Matheson’s wonderful book, would be my next choice.

Of course, the movie would end up costing what has been spent on the war in Iraq, so… It’s fun to dream, though.
Visit Trish J. MacGregor's website and blog.

Writers Read: Trish J. MacGregor.

The Page 69 Test: Esperanza.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Toby Ball's "The Vaults"

Toby Ball works at the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. The Vaults, his first novel, was published in September by St. Martin's Press.

Here he shares his preferences for the above-the-line talent for a cinematic adaptation of the novel:
I definitely did not write The Vaults with any particular actors in mind, though the sensibility of gangster movies from the 1930s and 40s was very much an influence. That said, casting the film had become a popular conversation topic, generally over drinks.

Here's my vision:

Frank Frings would be played by Ed Norton of ten years ago or possibly George Clooney.

Arthur Puskis would be played by a sixty-year-old Bruce Dern. No one else will do.

Ethan Poole would be played by either a mid-twenties Mark Wahlberg or seventies icon, John Saxon.

Nora Aspen would be played by Scarlett Johansson.

Carla would be played by a mid-twenties Nastassja Kinski or a big money producer's girlfriend if we have to go that route.

Red Henry would be played by Alec Baldwin who doesn't have the size to play the hulking mayor, but can convey the outsize personality necessary to capture the essence of a bully.

I'm a big Stanley Kubrick fan and think he would do a great job directing. The hallway scenes in The Shining could easily be translated to Puskis in The Vaults.
Visit Toby Ball's website and blog.

Writers Read: Toby Ball.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Anna Elliott's "Dark Moon of Avalon"

Anna Elliott is the author of the Twilight of Avalon Trilogy from Simon & Schuster's Touchstone imprint. The trilogy comprises Twilight of Avalon, Dark Moon of Avalon, and the upcoming Sunrise of Avalon.

Here she lays out her actor preferences for the lead roles in an adaptation of Dark Moon of Avalon:
In Dark Moon of Avalon, the young former High Queen Isolde and her friend and protector Trystan are reunited in a new and dangerous quest to keep the usurper Lord Marche and his Saxon allies from the throne of Britain. Using Isolde's wit and talent for healing and Trystan's strength and bravery, they must act as diplomats, persuading the rulers of the smaller kingdoms, from Ireland to Cornwall, that their allegiance to the High King is needed to keep Britain from a despot's hands.

If I were casting the roles of Trystan and Isolde for a movie, one of my first choices for Trystan would be Matt Bomer, currently starring on the hit TV show White Collar. He's very similar in appearance to the way I've always pictured Trystan in my head with his intense blue eyes and lean, angular good looks. But more than that, the character he plays on White Collar is a man of mystery, a rogue with a conscience and a sense of honor, and that describes Trystan perfectly. Trystan is a mercenary warrior and a spy, adept at subterfuge and disguise. His sense of honor is not always in accordance with the law, yet he does have his own strict code of honor and loyalty that he will not violate under any terms. And like Matt Bomer's character in White Collar, Trystan's highest loyalty is to the woman he loves.

Isolde is harder for me to cast than Trystan, maybe because she's so close to my heart. But I loved the performances Eva Green gave in Kingdom of Heaven and Casino Royale. Like the character of Sibylla in Kingdom of Heaven, Isolde is a woman of courage fighting for the right to control her own destiny in a male-dominated world. She is strong, but wounded by trauma in her own past, and her journey in Dark Moon of Avalon is one of healing her heart and winning the right to chose her own love.
Read the prologue to Dark Moon of Avalon, and watch the video trailer.

Learn more about the book and author at Anna Elliott's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Dark Moon of Avalon.

Writers Read: Anna Elliott.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Meg Gardiner's Jo Beckett series

Meg Gardiner's novels include the Jo Beckett series -- The Dirty Secrets Club, The Memory Collector, and The Liar's Lullaby.

Here she shares her thinking about casting a big screen adaptation of the novels:
I’m outside the box, thinking.

The characters in the Jo Beckett series live vividly, and sometimes obstreperously, inside my head. I know what they look like. So do readers—when I asked them who should play the characters in the movie, I got twenty-five different answers.

So, how can I pick a single cast? In this era of HD, 3D, avatars and performance capture, why collapse the possibilities to a single face? Let’s not. I’m casting Jo Beckett, The Movie with a few mashups.

Jo is a forensic psychiatrist—a deadshrinker. The Kirkus Mystery and Thriller Review called her a “rock climber, monkey wrangler, and confessor extraordinaire.” She needs spunk, intelligence, and some serious physicality.

Movie Jo: Rachel McAdams crossed with Zoë Saldana (in either Uhura or Neytiri mode). She’d be feisty, tenacious, and could climb mountains until the banshees carried her away.

Gabe Quintana: He’s Jo’s boyfriend—a pararescueman with the California Air National Guard, a grad student, and a single dad. Make him the love child of Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me, Ranger in the upcoming One For The Money) and Timothy Olyphant.

Amy Tang, SFPD homicide detective—she’s a tough, smart cop, and Jo has been known to call her Spiky, the Goth Gnome: Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) with a punk haircut.

Ferd Bismuth, Jo’s hypochondriac neighbor—he’s ungainly, smart, and hopelessly in love with Jo: Mike White combined with Dileep Rao.

There. Piece of cake.
Learn more about the author and her work at Meg Gardiner's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Meg Gardiner's Evan Delaney series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Joan Frances Turner's "Dust"

Joan Frances Turner was born in Rhode Island and grew up in the Calumet Region of northwest Indiana. A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School, she lives near the Indiana Dunes with her family and a garden full of spring onions and tiger lilies, weather permitting.

Dust, her first novel, is a story of the undead from their own point of view, as they battle time, decay, the loved ones they left behind, encroaching humanity and each other. Or, think Watership Down with zombies instead of rabbits.

Here she explains who ought to do the makeup on a cinematic adaptation of well as her choices for actors in the main roles:
Whenever anyone asks me--as they occasionally do--who my dream cast for Dust might include, my answer is always an immediate, "I honestly have no idea but please, please, please let Rick Baker do the makeup." Having the man responsible for An American Werewolf in London, The Ring, Videodrome, Star Wars, The Howling and dozens of other films--not to mention, of course, the dancing zombies in Michael Jackson's "Thriller"--as my makeup and special effects impresario would be a genuine honor, and at that point they can honestly do whatever they like with the script. (Not that anyone ever consults the writer about such things, anyway.)

That said, imaginary-casting Dust is still great fun, for the simple reason that Hollywood thrives on prettiness and most of our players would have to be willing to get down in the dirt and spectacularly ugly. Assuming, since this is all fantasy, that I can cast without regard to time, place or real-world age, here's a few suggestions:

--Jessie: Our POV protagonist, Jessie is an "everywoman" zombie, an angry teenage girl turned angry young woman trapped in a slowly decaying body and searching, with little success, for a surrogate family like she never had alive. Busy Philipps, who played the tough, needy Kim Kelly on Freaks and Geeks, springs to mind right away, or possibly Kristen Stewart.

--Joe: Jessie's…not quite boyfriend, since zombies don't have libidos or romantic attachments as humans imagine them, but the closest to such a thing as she'll get while undead. A few folks have spoken of the book having an Outsiders vibe, and a friend called Joe "Ponyboy with maggots"--so who better than C. Thomas Howell, who played Ponyboy in the Francis Ford Coppola Outsiders adaptation. If he's willing to let himself be covered head to toe with seething artificial grubs, he's a shoo-in.

--Renee: A friend of Jessie's, Renee is not just freshly dead but also "conventionally" blonde, girlish and pretty, so really any Hollywood ingénue who wants to mix it up in a big fight scene--and let her scalp get torn off in the process--could fit the bill.

--Florian: The zombie gang paterfamilias, a walking skeleton who's lost most of his earthly appetites. The character actors Peter Weller and Peter Greene both have the right vaguely cadaverous vibe for the part, though they'd have to be aged up. Actually, since this is fantasy casting an elderly Henry Fonda would be ideal.

--Billy: A big, bloated shambles of a corpse, the gang comic with a vicious, ravenous edge: a perfect part for a character actor or comedian who can go funny or frightening as the situation demands. "Big and bloated" he isn't, but with some judicious padding and makeup Steve Buscemi would be a great choice.

--Linc: The "thinker" of the gang, quiet and meditative and far stronger than he appears. Either a teenaged Marlon Taylor (who played the younger Mike Hanlon, future town librarian, in Stephen King's It) or, based on his work in the 1993 indie film Suture, a similarly aged-down Dennis Haysbert.

Of the above, my "dream" choices no matter who they played would be Steve Buscemi, Peter Weller and Peter Greene. But as noted, if Rick Baker raised a hand to participate, they could cast Lady Gaga as Florian and I'd still be good with it.
Read an excerpt from Dust, and learn more about the book and author at Joan Frances Turner's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Dust.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 18, 2010

Joanne Rendell's "Out of the Shadows"

Joanne Rendell's novels include The Professors' Wives' Club, Crossing Washington Square, and the recently released Out of the Shadows.

Here she shares some ideas for director and cast of a big screen adaptation of Out of the Shadows:
When I fantasize about Out of the Shadows coming out on the big screen, I can’t help but think of the 2002 movie Possession (Neil LaBute’s screen adaptation of A.S. Byatt’s novel of the same name). My novel tells the story of Clara Fitzgerald, a woman who thinks she is related to the author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. On her journey to learn the truth, Clara uncovers startling secrets about the past and her present. The book is told from alternating points of view between Clara and the young Mary Shelley preparing to write Frankenstein. Like Possession, it weaves a historical story into a very contemporary one and tries to tease out the echoes between past and present – and our possible future too.

Because of the similarities with Possession, I’d love to see Gywneth Paltrow playing Clara just as she played the lead in the LaBute movie. Paltrow has a fascinating and paradoxical quality about her: aloof yet vulnerable; feminine and beautiful but also regal and tough. Clara is a similarly paradoxical woman in Out of the Shadows. She’s an accomplished professor, a beautiful and tender woman. But she’s been living too long in the shadow of her very successful fiancé. They have moved from city to city, university to university, following his meteoric rise in the world of genetic research. Somewhere along the way, Clara’s dreams and passions have been lost. Her mother has also just died and this loss has set her adrift. Out of the Shadows charts her journey of self-discovery and finding out where her heart truly belongs.

Alongside Paltrow, I imagine an actor like Billy Crudup playing Clara’s fiancé. Crudup did a great job playing the slick, handsome, but ultimately spiky ex-husband in the recent movie Eat Pray Love. Anthony is a similarly handsome and polished man, but he has a darker side too where his hubris and narcissism reside.

A movie adaptation of Out of the Shadows would need two actors to play Mary Shelley as a young girl and as a teenager. I recently watched the new BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility (so wonderful!) and a young actress called Lucy Boynton played the youngest Dashwood sister, Margaret. Boynton exuded a feisty, adventuresome but sweet charm that would fit a young Shelley. As for the teenage Mary, I imagine someone like Anna Paquin, although she is a teenager no longer! Like the headstrong but thoughtful Mary, there is something soulful and smart, passionate and strong about Paquin.

Anna Paquin reminds me of my dream director too. In short, Jane Campion (Paquin was the little girl in the beautiful and tragic movie The Piano, of course). No one does atmospheric historicals or unique dramas about women quite the way Campion does.
Learn more about the book and author at Joanne Rendell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rick Mofina's "The Panic Zone"

Rick Mofina is a former crime reporter and the award-winning author of several acclaimed thrillers. He's interviewed murderers face-to-face on death row and patrolled with the LAPD and the RCMP. His true-crime articles have appeared in the New York Times, Marie Claire, Reader's Digest and Penthouse. He's reported from the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Africa, Qatar and Kuwait's border with Iraq.

Mofina's novels include Every Fear, A Perfect Grave, Six Seconds, Vengeance Road, and the latest, The Panic Zone.  His thoughts about the actors who might star in an adaptation of The Panic Zone:
If my book The Panic Zone were made into a movie, I would cast Ethan Hawke in the role of Jack Gannon, the New York-based wire service reporter on the trail of a global plot to change the world. As the architect of that plot, Doctor Gretchen Sutsoff, the former CIA scientist, I would cast Meryl Streep or Glenn Close. I see George Clooney as Lancer, the federal security agent, working desperately connecting the dots and in the role of Emma Lane, the tormented young mother searching for her baby boy, I would cast Ellen Page.
Learn more about the book and author at Rick Mofina's website.

The Page 69 Test: Every Fear.

My Book, The Movie: A Perfect Grave.

The Page 69 Test: Six Seconds.

The Page 69 Test: Vengeance Road.

Writers Read: Rick Mofina.

--Marshal Zeringue