Sunday, February 28, 2010

David B. Coe's "The Dark-Eyes' War"

David B. Coe is winner of the William L. Crawford Award for his first series, The LonTobyn Chronicle. He is also author of the popular Winds of the Forelands series.

Here he shares some ideas for the principal cast and director of a cinematic adaptation of the newly released The Dark-Eyes' War:
I love this site's concept and I'm happy to be a part of the fun.

My newest novel, The Dark-Eyes' War, is the third and final volume in my Blood of the Southlands trilogy (the other two volumes were The Sorcerers' Plague and The Horsemen's Gambit). Blood of the Southlands is an epic fantasy about prejudice and revenge and the unintended consequences of both. The population of the Southlands is divided between two races: the Qirsi, white-haired, pale-complexioned sorcerers who are physically frail, but wield powerful magic, and the Eandi, who are more like the people of our own world.

There are five characters in The Dark-Eyes' War who I'd like to cast, but finding the right actors exclusively from today's crop of Hollywood talent strikes me as too difficult. So, I'm going to take the liberty of traveling back and forth between Hollywood generations.

Grinsa ja Arriet -- Grinsa is a Qirsi Weaver, the most powerful kind of sorcerer. Weavers can bind together the magics of many Qirsi and wield them as a single weapon. They also tend to be more hale and physically powerful than other Qirsi. I think I'd like to see him played by Sean Bean (Boromir, from LOTR). Bean would have to grow his hair out and dye it white/blond, but he'd be terrific in the role.

Cresenne ja Terba -- Grinsa's love. She began (in an earlier book in my previous series, Winds of the Forelands) by seducing him on behalf of a renegade Qirsi Weaver, and then trying to have him killed. But she became pregnant with his child and eventually they fell in love. Long story; much drama. But back to the point: I'd like to go back in time for this one and cast a young Eva Marie Saint (North By Northwest, On the Waterfront) in this role. She'd be perfect both physically and because of her gentle strength.

Tiryna Onjaef -- an Eandi woman, and a captain in the army of Qalsyn. She is beautiful, ambitious, tough as hell. She's also rash and impetuous. I'd give this part to a young Katherine Ross (from The Graduate and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).

Enly Tolm -- an Eandi man, also a captain in the Qalsyn army. A rival of Tirnya's, and also a former lover. Let's just say they have a fiery relationship. I'd have Goran Visnjic (of ER fame) play Enly.

Besh -- My favorite character in the series. Besh is an old Eandi conjurer who leaves his home to try to keep the Southlands from descending into civil war. He's devoted to his family, but driven by a sense of duty. He's stubborn, opinionated, high tempered, but he's also compassionate and courageous. I would give this part to Ben Kingsley.

I have a little room left, and so I'd like to choose my director. I've always been a huge fan of Peter Weir, who manages to bring mystery and darkness, but also epic sweep to his movies. He'd be my first choice as director.

Again, thanks for the chance to play along. This has been fun.
Read sample chapters from The Dark-Eyes' War (and Coe's other books), and learn more about the books and author, at David B. Coe's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mark Greaney's "The Gray Man"

Mark Greaney has a degree in International Relations and Political Science and is pursuing his Masters in Intelligence Studies with a concentration in Criminal Intelligence. He's reputed to speak good Spanish and bad German.

Here he shares some thoughts about the principal cast of a big screen adaptation of The Gray Man, his debut novel:
The Gray Man has been optioned for film by a Hollywood/London studio partnership, so I am constantly asked who I see in a big screen adaptation of my book. Consequently I’ve had time to consider this, though as far as I understand these convoluted film contracts, they could make my hard edge thriller into an animated film or a Bollywood dance spectacular, or they could populate the roles with cats or Claymation characters if they chose to do so. I have no say in the matter… but if I did?

The hero, Court Gentry, is the Gray Man. He travels the world in a low profile manner; he’s the guy that sat on the bench next to you at the train station who you never noticed, the man on the street that no one remembers one second after he passes. But both mentally and physically he is a coiled spring of potential energy, ready to go into action if the need arises. I like Casey Affleck in the role; I’ve never seen him in anything remotely like this character, but I bet he’d be great.

Sir Donald Fitzroy, Gentry’s venerable English handler, would best be played by Sir Michael Caine. Fitzroy is a tad younger, but Caine could best exemplify both the urbane sophistication of a cultured English gentleman, as well as the cynical and crafty hard edge of an aged spymaster who cut his teeth battling the IRA by running doomed agents in the back alleys of Belfast.

Lloyd, the young, well-educated attorney for the evil French corporation LaurentGroup, is at once intelligent and a bit of a nut case. In order to save a massive natural gas contract for his firm he must bring the head of the Gray Man to the president of Nigeria. He’s in over his head, his very life is dependent on the success of his assignment, and as both the Gray Man and the clock begin to defy him, there is absolutely nothing he won’t do to achieve his ends. I like James Franco or Topher Grace in this role.

Kurt Riegel is the German Security Chief for LaurentGroup. He is tough but fair, a man of honor working a dirty job for a corrupt company. He endeavors to bring about the Gray Man’s destruction because it is his duty to uphold the wishes of his employer, but he derives no pleasure from it. He sees Gentry as an honorable man, though it is his job to kill him, and Lloyd as a reckless fool though they must work together for the good of their masters. I wrote the book long before I saw the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds, but when I saw Nazi Colonel Hans Landa, played by Christoph Waltz, I thought he’d be extraordinary in the part. Sadly I just looked up the spelling of his name on IMDB, and I see he is 5’8”; Kurt Riegel is described as 6’5”, so Hollywood special effects would need to come into play!

Lazlo Szabo is the crippled Hungarian forger who Court must visit for documents. I see Peter Stormare in this role. Maurice, Court’s dying instructor at the CIA’s Autonomous Asset Development Program, could be played by Scott Glenn. Clare Fitzroy, the eight-year old granddaughter of Sir Donald, plays a key role in the novel, but I don’t know a single eight-year old English actress, so I’m at a loss for this important part.
Read an excerpt from The Gray Man, and learn more about the book and author at Mark Greaney's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Gray Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Graham Brown's "Black Rain"

Graham Brown is a former pilot, lawyer and executive at a small health care company. He lives in Tucson, Arizona, where he is currently at work on his second novel, a sequel to the recently released Black Rain.

Here he shares some casting ideas for a cinematic adaptation of Black Rain:
What a great idea this blog is. What writer hasn’t cast their movie a hundred times in their own heads?

First, a little about the plot. Black Rain is a techno-thriller that takes place in the jungle. It meshes the actual Mayan creation legend with a race for elements that could bring about working cold fusion and provide the energy source of the 21st century.

The characters include Danielle Laidlaw, the young, attractive team leader, thrust into the spotlight when her mentor is called back to Washington D.C. An ex-CIA mercenary who goes by the name of Hawker. Unlike most “rogue cops,” Hawker played by his own rules and got burned. He’s now a fugitive and a pariah, hired only because he is expendable. He’s ready to let go of any moral compunction if it means getting back to the world’s good graces. The third main character is a university professor named McCarter. He’s grieving from the loss of his wife after a long battle with cancer and joins the team despite its seemingly absurd goals, just to get away from himself.

So who to play these characters? They’re somewhat archetypical, but I think I’ve taken a fresh angle on all them. The readers will have to be the judge of that.

In many ways, Danielle is the main character, and the most difficult to cast. She has to come across as smart, formidable. That’s far more important than her being beautiful, on the other hand if we can cover all the bases… Angelina Jolie would work, the character is roughly thirty, attractive and forced to be manipulative to get what she’s after. And she’s smart. Whatever some people think about Angelina, she’s definitely smart, stunning and if can be manipulative if she needs to be: a force to be reckoned with, I like that. But if she wasn’t available, Olivia Wilde immediately comes to mind, (Dr. Remy 'Thirteen' Hadley on House). Those eyes, that smile and she always seems like the sharpest blade in the room when I watch her. So definitely Olivia would be great. As she said “smart is sexy.”

That brings us to Hawker our ex-CIA mercenary. Of course George Clooney would work. The guy never gets his props for being a great actor but he can downright pull off the deep roles. In this case, the I ruined my life through my own arrogance role (anyone who saw Michael Clayton knows this – and if you haven’t you’re really missing a great movie.) But I have a feeling he’s not into this type project. So who? Either of the main leads from Lost would do a great job. Matthew Fox brings incredible intensity to the screen. Josh Holloway, who plays Sawyer is fantastic as the handsome, world weary traveler with a self deprecating sense of humor. Both are traits I’ve tried to instill in the character. So yeah, I’ll take either of those guys.

Finally Professor McCarter, this is the one role I have always known who to cast in, right from day one. James Earl Jones where are you, sir? This character is the moral centerpiece of the story; in many he pulls the group together and acts like a mentor as they threaten to splinter apart. He has to have gravitas, depth. I swear I could hear Mr. Jones’ voice every time McCarter had some dialogue. I’ve never pictured anyone else for it and I never will.
Read an excerpt from Black Rain, and learn more about the book and author at Graham Brown's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kathleen Rooney's "For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs"

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and the author of Live Nude Girl.

Here she shares her view on the biggest casting decision should her latest book, For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs, be adapted for the big screen:
The movie of my book would be animated. Since it is a collection of 11 individual essays, I am the only character who appears in each one. I would like to be played by Lisa Simpson. Her essential optimism—often misunderstood, often comically disappointed—makes her perfect for the role.
Visit Kathleen Rooney's website.

The Page 99 Test: For You, for You I Am Trilling These Songs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Matt Beynon Rees' “The Fourth Assassin”

Matt Beynon Rees is the author of the acclaimed series of novels featuring Palestinian detective Omar Yussef: The Collaborator of Bethlehem, which won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger award, A Grave in Gaza, The Samaritan's Secret, and the newly released The Fourth Assassin.

In 2007 he shared some thoughts on who might play his main character in an adaptation of The Collaborator of Bethlehem. Here he revisits the issue:
I didn’t need to think of an actor. Not until I’d finished my book. Then the thinking really started.

The Palestinian detective hero of my books, Omar Yussef, is based on a real Palestinian friend of mine who lives in the Dehaisha Refugee Camp on the edge of Bethlehem in the West Bank. I had no problem visualizing him when I wrote about Omar, because I saw him most days. We spent a lot of time together and, with a gentleman as frequently cantankerous as my real-life chum, believe me, I got the full tour.

Then came publication of the first of my Palestinian crime novels, The Collaborator of Bethlehem. The estimable Marshal Zeringue invited me to write a post for this blog. Instead of having a famous actor always in mind, I had to run through potential candidates.

My wife insisted Pacino was just right for Omar. But I preferred the quiet, gentle Swiss actor Bruno Ganz – who proved he could do cantankerous when he played Hitler a few years ago in Downfall.

At the Leipzig Book Fair last year, my Berlin-based film agent chatted with me about some negotiations with a German tv channel which wanted to make a series based on Omar. As we talked, crowds of local kids dressed in “Manga” costume milled about (apparently this is some Japanese animation thing that has cult dressing-up status among people young enough to make me feel very old.) He asked if I had an actor in
mind for Omar. I mentioned Ganz.

“No, it won’t work,” Roland said.

“Why not?” I asked, as I was bumped from behind by some German kid dressed up as a vampire samurai.

“He’s not Arab. It really ought to be an Arab. But it’s difficult to find an Arab actor who’s well-known enough to carry a production and also speaks German.”

“So Pacino’s out too, I guess.”

“Well, movies are different from tv,” he said, “and if it sold in America, things might be different, too.”

I think they might be different now that The Fourth Assassin has been released. In this new installment of my Palestinian series, Omar comes to New York for a UN conference, only to uncover an assassination plot. The suspect: his own son.

I’d guess the New York setting might make the series seem just that little bit less dauntingly foreign – without betraying its core and making it into just another American detective story.

Which leaves me free to name names.

So here it is: Tony Shalhoub. He showed great dramatic range in The Siege, which was written by Lawrence Wright, a journalist colleague of mine who later won a Pulitzer for The Looming Tower, a nonfiction account of the story behind the 9/11 terrorists. Shalhoub had a nice cameo in 1408, an otherwise typically over the top Stephen King thing. I don’t really watch tv, but I gather Monk is great.

Oh, and I forgot to mention: Tony Shalhoub’s an Arab. He’s descended from Lebanese immigrants.

I hope that’s good enough. I mean, don’t make me find an actor big enough to carry a Hollywood movie who’s actually Palestinian…
The Page 69 Test: The Fourth Assassin.

Visit Matt Beynon Rees' website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jessica Verday's "The Hollow"

Jessica Verday wrote the first draft of her debut novel, The Hollow, by hand, using thirteen spiral-bound notebooks and fifteen black pens. She likes: things that smell nice, rainy nights, old books, cemeteries, Johnny Cash, zombie movies, L.J. Smith books, abandoned buildings, trains, and snow. She is currently hand-writing the continuation of Abbey and Caspian’s story from her home in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.

Here she shares her preferences for the actors in an adaptation of The Hollow:
For my two main characters, I picture Abbey being played by Alexis Bledel and Caspian being played by either Tom Felton or Gaspard Ulliel.

For Nikolas I've pictured mostly Johnny Cash or Michael Caine.

As far as the rest of the cast, they are still part of my imagination although I think I'd like to hear my readers' thoughts.
Watch the video trailer for The Hollow, and learn more about the book and author at Jessica Verday's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hope Tarr's "Twelve Nights"

Hope Tarr is the award-winning author of a dozen books (and counting) including Twelve Nights (Harlequin, December 2009).

Here she shares some thoughts about the major cast in a cinematic adaptation of Twelve Nights:
Ah, the thought of seeing one’s humble novel played out upon the Silver Screen, what writer hasn’t fantasized about that glittering, fantastical moment, including bringing one’s fictional hero (and sometimes heroine) to life by casting honest to goodness actors to play their parts?

Callum Fraser, the hero of my Scottish Medieval Blaze, Twelve Nights, is the classic romance hero, a raven-haired warrior and rogue with abs of steel, and a sexy, penetrating gaze that can see straight through to a woman’s soul, not to mention her…unmentionables. Who better to serve as a role model-cum-muse than the “Dark Knight” himself, multi-talented actor, Christian Bale?

His most un-heroic mommy-shoving episode aside, Bale is hands-down “hawt” not to mention one of the few child actors in Hollywood (Empire of the Sun) to ace consistent box office wonder-dom as a grown-up.

For my heroine, Alys, several possibilities pop to mind, including me in a blond wig. Okay, only kidding…sort of.

Nubile young blondes aren’t exactly in short supply in Tinsel Town, not now, not ever, so casting my petite, blue-eyed, golden-haired heroine comes off as something of a cakewalk. Still, I’m especially keen on Kristen Bell. Slender and slight, the about to turn thirty-year-old has the right physicality for sure. Though she played the self-absorbed TV star bitch goddess in Forgetting Sarah Marshall with admirable aplomb, her upcoming performance in When in Rome reveals a softer, more vulnerable side very much in line with Alys’s gentle if ultimately courageous personality.

As for secondary characters, I keep seeing Nicole Kidman as Brianna MacLeod, Alys’s friend and the heroine of the prequel, Bound to Please. Kidman movies are, admittedly, a hit or miss for me—Australia, really, what was she thinking? Still, roles such as depressive author, Virginia Woolf in The Hours reveal that the tall red-haired Aussie has wracked up sufficient maturity and yes, gravitas to pull off the part of my alpha female laird.

Christian, Kristen, Nicole, the ball’s in your court, babes. Have your “people” contact my “people” and let’s get this party started. Or check out my web site and, as they say, make me an offer. ;)
Look for Hope Tarr's The Tutor in August 2010 and her novella, “Tomorrow’s Destiny” in a Harlequin Victorian Christmas anthology with bestselling authors, Betina Krahn and Jacquie D’Alessandro coming December 2010. In the meantime, please visit her website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kelli Stanley’s "City of Dragons"

Kelli Stanley is the author of the critically acclaimed Nox Dormienda, which won the Bruce Alexander Award for best historical mystery and was nominated for a Macavity Award. She lives in San Francisco, California.

Here she shares some ideas about director and principal cast for a big screen adaptation of her new novel, City of Dragons:
First, I want to thank Marshal for letting my imagination run wild in the fields of celluloid! I loved dreaming about film adaptations for Nox Dormienda, my first novel, and am thrilled to be back!

City of Dragons is a PI series set in 1940 San Francisco, a reimagining of noir with the censorship gloves off and a femme fatale in the driver’s seat. And period pieces are almost as tough as my protagonist.

Miranda Corbie is a PI, ex-Spanish Civil War nurse and former escort. She’s a rich, complex character, and City of Dragons is really her book—and her movie. I’m also adamant about trying to capture the truth of the era … to not get lost in the fog of nostalgia but to show both the beauty and the ugliness of the past.

After all, you scratch 2010 and underneath—covered up with a veneer of social progress and respectability—is 1940, with all the concomitant human problems that still plague us: poverty, crime, racism, sexism, ignorance.

But—and this is important—I don’t see it as “neo-noir.” I envision the film almost with a post-war neo-realism vibe, mixed with some expressionistic camera movement—Otto Preminger, maybe, or Charles Vidor or Jacques Tourneur or Nicholas Ray.

So … it’s tricky. I don’t want a director who thinks of noir as a pastiche, as something to mimic. I want a director who understands organically what the genre and style were, and understands what I’ve tried to do with the book.

Originally I thought I’d dream up two casts—one contemporary, one from the ‘40s. Then I realized that City of Dragons would not have been able to have been made in 1940—at least not as a faithful adaptation. So let’s stick with directors and actors that could really bring 1940 San Francisco to life seventy years later.

My dream directors for the project? Curtis Hanson and Clint Eastwood. They’re both great, mature cinephiles who can coax jaw-dropping performances from actors, and neither one of them relies on special effects to construct a film.

As for Miranda … well, if you could picture Rita Hayworth as Gilda, except much tougher and more cynical, that might give you an idea of what she’s like. She’s 33 but looks younger, about 5’7”, auburn hair, brown eyes. She’s a beautiful woman, and she uses it. She has to—it’s her bread and butter. She’s a broken idealist, and that is the most cynical condition in the world.

A number of top actresses could bring different gifts to the role, different nuances to her character. Angelina Jolie can do beauty that’s tough, hard and yet vulnerable. Kate Winslet, too. Charlize Theron and Catherine Zeta-Jones would also bring unique charisma to Miranda.

Of course I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Hollywood will come knocking, and we’ll see an A-list production of City of Dragons—a big screen Miranda and 1940 San Francisco in all her sinful splendor. My film agents are working on it—after all, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
Read an excerpt from City of Dragons, and learn more about the novel and author at Kelli Stanley's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Nox Dormienda.

The Page 69 Test: City of Dragons.

--Marshal Zeringue