Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Win Blevins' "Stone Song"

Win Blevins' many books include the novel Stone Song (which won the Spur award and the Mountains and Plains Booksellers award for fiction), three volumes of informal history, a volume of natural history, and a dictionary. He has also sold several screenplays and countless short stories and magazine and newspaper articles.

Here he shares a few thoughts on casting cinematic adaptations of his work:
If they make my book into a movie, they can use anyone they damn well please. One book was extraordinarily close to being made, directed by John Milius, with Clint Eastwood, got into pre-production and two months from shoot date and delayed. Never happened. Have been hired to write seven screenplays, nothing happened. Writing for movies is iffy enough--writing for particular actors approaches madness.
Visit Win Blevins' website and the blog for his alter ego, author Caleb Fox.

The Page 69 Test: Caleb Fox's Zadayi Red.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 26, 2010

J.T. Ellison's "The Cold Room"

J.T. Ellison is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Taylor Jackson series, including All the Pretty Girls, 14, Judas Kiss, and The Cold Room. She was named “Best Mystery/Thriller Writer of 2008” by the Nashville Scene.

Here she sketches out some casting options for a big screen version of The Cold Room:
I normally shy away from giving detailed ideas of who I think would be a good actor or actress to play my characters would they get made into a movie, because I don’t like to put someone in the mind of the reader before they have a chance to decide on their own.

But my wonderful readers have lots of ideas about who should play homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson, and FBI Profiler John Baldwin. Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Blake Lively are all favorite contenders, though I’d have to throw Amanda Righetti into the mix as well – she’s got the exact profile I imagine for Taylor. And Baldwin is always a clean-cut up Hugh Jackman, or Thomas Gibson, though Baldwin’s green eyes are one of his commanding features, so I’m not sure the perfect actor has been picked for him yet. I’ll throw a new thought out there… Depending on how he ages, Chace Crawford wouldn’t be a bad choice.

The Cold Room
has a couple of new characters in it, namely Renn McKenzie, Taylor’s new partner, and James “Memphis” Highsmythe, the Viscount Dulsie, and Detective Inspector for New Scotland Yard. McKenzie is hard – he’s serious, and not everything he seems on the surface. Someone like Leonardo DiCaprio would be a good fit.

Memphis, on the other hand, leaps off the page at people. I based him on a very psychical version of Daniel Craig and features of Trevor Donovan, but my editor, with no reservations whatsoever, immediately saw him as Simon Baker. We’re both big fans of The Mentalist, and ever since she said that, I haven’t been able to get Baker out of my head when I’m writing Memphis.

So there you have it. An Aussie to play an upper-class Brit. I bet he could pull it off!
Learn more about the book and author at J.T. Ellison's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: the Taylor Jackson series.

The Page 69 Test: The Cold Room.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fiona Jayde's "Cold Victory"

Fiona Jayde is "is an author of kickass, action packed, steamy romances, possesses a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and blue belt in Aikido, a web developer, scared to death of heights, loves jazz piano, can bench-press about 20 pounds — with effort, was taught English by Nora Roberts and Growing Pains, and when not plotting murder and mayhem enjoys steamy romance novels, sexy spy thrillers, murky mysteries and movies where things frequently blow up."

Here she shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of her novella, Cold Victory:
I rarely associate the characters I see in my head with people already in existence. Perhaps this is because I don't write "visually" but instead focus on the inner core of the character and layer in visual cues later during revisions.

However, in my recent release Cold Victory, my lead hero - Commander Galen Stark - came to me in a very specific form -based on the wrestler turned actor John Cena. That's right - the WWE star who's recently been starring in all these macho movies. (And while I love macho movies where things blow up, I can't say I saw any of his... Yet.)

Somehow, when I saw Stark in my head, he looked like John Cena. Huge strong body, strong hero's jaw, low brusque voice, commanding presence, graceful despite the bulky muscles. And there's muscles. Plenty of em. I saw a video of Cena talking about his girlfriend with his face just glowing, and I knew I had Stark right there - big tough guy with a soft spot for the heroine.

As far as my heroine - Zoya Scott - I can't say I had an actress in mind. This is typically my MO - I see the characters in my head, but rarely do they resemble anyone. If I were to cast Zoya - a hotshot pilot with a feminine side - I'd ask for Katee Sackhoff.

Perhaps some would argue she would be typecast - having already played a hot shot pilot in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. And perhaps I'm biased, since I know she'd do the hotshot pilot role incredibly well. But in addition to the badass chick qualities, Katee Sackhoff has shown an incredible range of emotions - from love to hate, betrayal and redemption - which would be perfect for Zoya. She'd have to dye her hair red, but those are just logistics.

It would be interesting to see these two paired together - both of them kickass in their own way, as actors and as the roles they would play.
Read an excerpt from Cold Victory, watch the trailer, and learn more about the author and her work at Fiona Jayde's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 20, 2010

John Dobbyn's "Frame Up"

John F. Dobbyn is a Professor of Law at Villanova Law School and the author of numerous legal books and short fiction. A native of Boston, he received his J.D. from Boston College Law School and LL.M. from Harvard Law School. He practiced law at Burns & Levinson in Boston before going into teaching.

Here he shares some casting ideas for the two leads in adaptations of his Devlin and Knight legal thrillers, Neon Dragon and Frame Up:
My two primary characters are both criminal trial attorneys who were unwillingly thrown together in the first novel, Neon Dragon, and developed such a bond that by the end of that adventure in the inner-not-so-sanctum of the Boston Chinese tong they left their Boston firm and formed a two person partnership. The second novel takes them into the midst of a collision between the Boston mafia and a Russian organized crime group over stolen and forged art.

Michael is twenty-seven years old. He is a former prosecutor turned defense counsel who keeps to a true path on behalf of his clients, his profession, his partner, and himself - even when he has to bluff and lie to do it. He epitomizes John Wayne's definition of "courage." It is "being scared to death, and saddling up anyway."

The closest resemblance to type casting that I can come, knowing Michael inside and out, is my favorite Boston actor, Matt Damon.

Lex Devlin is a bit more problematical. He starts in Neon Dragon having been dragged through some rough years, losing his wife of forty years and being the unwitting target of a syndicate that blackens his good name and honor with unresolved and untrue charges of jury fixing. He is in his seventies and built like a solid block. He is the worst nightmare of prosecuting attorneys and the Angel of Death to young law associates until Michael ventures forth to rescue his reputation, and a more human bond is cemented in Neon Dragon. My choice for casting is hands down the late, great Spencer Tracy. I'm hard put to believe there will ever be another Lex Devlin or Spencer Tracy.
Learn more about the books and author at John Dobbyn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Craig McDonald's "Print the Legend"

Craig McDonald's debut novel Head Games, was selected as a 2008 Edgar nominee for Best First Novel by an American Author. It is followed by Toros & Torsos and the newly released Print the Legend.

Here he explains which actors--and director--might be best suited to bring his characters to life on the big screen:
Like many novelists, I’ve had my intoxicating near-brushes with film adaptation.

Based solely on its description in a Publishers Lunch announcement, my debut novel, Head Games, attracted quite a bit of film interest. My own secret choice to play my continuing character Hector Lassiter in that novel, bizarrely enough, asked my publisher for a look at the novel. My vision of Hector Lassiter almost came to me.

Like most novelists who get Hollywood nibbles, my chance to have my first-choice actor portray my ongoing character didn’t bite firmly enough to be reeled in.

Print the Legend, my third novel, again features crime novelist Hector Lassiter, who is popularly known as the “man who lives what he writes and writes what he lives.”

Print the Legend explores the death of Ernest Hemingway in Ketchum, Idaho, in the summer of 1961, and raises questions regarding the possibility that Hem’s death was something other than an act of suicide. The novel also explores J. Edgar Hoover’s crazed and too-often destructive surveillance of key American writers, including not just Hemingway, but Carl Sandburg, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner and Dorothy Parker, among many others.

Hector Lassiter has centered two previous novels, both of which dropped Hector on to famous film sets: Head Games found Hector visiting the set of Orson WellesTouch of Evil. Toros & Torsos placed Hector on the set of The Lady From Shanghai. Because my novels tend to spread over decades and to dart in and out of time, they present certain challenges in casting. In Toros & Toros, we variously encounter 35-, 37-, 47-, 59- and 61-year-old Hector.

Print the Legend, on the other hand, is set largely in the mid-to-late 1960s. Hector’s age ranges from 65 to 72 through this novel. I’ve long established that Hector bears a strong resemblance to actor William Holden; Hector has a kind of Old Hollywood panache. As Holden is no longer available, my own choice to portray the Hector of Print the Legend would probably be Harrison Ford…a man of the right vintage, but still a physically imposing and vital masculine presence.

Print the Legend positions Hector between two formidable female foils. One is aspiring young fiction writer Hannah Paulson, an unhappily married, Scottish immigrant who is also nine-months pregnant. The other is Papa’s widow: the profane, alcoholic, sharp and salty tongued Mary Hemingway. Print the Legend might be the one of my novels that could actually present a potential acting role for Meryl Streep: she has the look, and the talent, to evoke all of the bombastic, alcoholic, larger-than-life, infuriating — and ultimately tragic — facets of Papa’s last wife.

Hannah is probably the most-challenging role to cast. She retains her Scottish accent; she is blond, pretty and has some very dark undertones. The woman I keep finding my mind returning to is the British actress Sophia Myles.

For the role of Donovan Creedy, rogue and racist FBI agent/paperback thriller writer — Hector’s bête noire and a character inspired by Watergate Plumber E. Howard Hunt — I favor John Hurt.

Head Games I have always have envisioned as a Robert Rodriguez-directed film (Sam Peckinpah being, well, very dead). Toros & Torsos I’ve privately imagined as a Guillermo del Toro film.

Print the Legend I’d love to see interpreted by director Alan Rudolph, whose film The Moderns partly inspired Toros & Torsos and whose blurring of art and reality informs all of the my novels published to-date, but none perhaps so strongly as Print the Legend.

Odds of any of this happening?

Damned near zero.

But as Hemingway wrote at the end of The Sun Also Rises, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
Read more about Print the Legend, and learn more about the author and his work at Craig McDonald's website, blog, and Crimespace page.

Read "The Story Behind the Story: Print the Legend, by Craig McDonald," at The Rap Sheet.

The Page 69 Test: Toros & Torsos.

The Page 69 Test: Head Games.

The Page 69 Test: Print the Legend.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kristina Springer's "The Espressologist"

Kristina Springer has a Bachelor of Arts in English Education from Illinois State University and a Master of Arts in Writing from DePaul University. The Espressologist, her first novel, was published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in the fall of 2009.

Here she shares some ideas about the cast for a cinematic adaptation of The Espressologist:
I’ve always thought The Espressologist would make a super cute movie—as I wrote it, it kind of played out as a movie in my head. Though I have to say that I didn’t think of specific actors while writing.

Since, however, I’ve assembled my dream cast list: As the sweet and funny Jane: Selena Gomez from Wizards of Waverly Place. As the adorable and kinda goofy Cam: Cory Monteith from Glee. As best friend Em: Emma Roberts from Unfabulous. As arch enemy Melissa: Emily Osment from Hannah Montana. And finally, as the ever manipulative but hot frat boy Will: Taylor Lautner from Twilight.

Easy cast list to put together right?
Read an excerpt from The Espressologist.

Learn more about Kristina Springer and her books at her website and blog, and become a Facebook fan of The Espressologist.

Writers Read: Kristina Springer.

The Page 69 Test: The Espressologist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

John McFetridge's "Let It Ride"

John McFetridge lives in Toronto and works as a staff writer for the TV cop show The Bridge, airing on CBS this fall. He is the author of the crime novels Dirty Sweet, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, and the recently released Let It Ride.

Here here suggests some actors who might best portray the characters of Let It Ride in a big screen adaptation:
Yes, I do cast my books in my head as I write them. My casting ideas don’t always make sense, sometimes I cast actors thirty or forty years younger than they are now, sometimes they aren’t even alive.

But I’ve worked a little in the movies and TV so when I’m writing a book I sometimes like to have things that I could never get on screen. I recently worked as a writer on the TV show, The Bridge, which will air on CTV in Canada starting March 5th and has been picked up by CBS in the USA (and 70 other countries), but no air date has been set. For that show we had six regular characters for each episode and six guest stars. We had two main standing sets and each episode shot three days in the studio and three days on locations. There was also some amount of night and day scenes that I never really understood.

So, Let It Ride has a lot of characters and a lot of locations. Some of the characters have been in my previous books and some are new to this one.

Of the new characters, the main one is Vernard ‘Get’ McGetty, a drug dealer from Detroit who joined the army and met some Canadians in Afghanistan shipping back huge amounts of dope. Get stayed in touch and in Let It Ride he comes to Toronto to make some deals. There are a lot of guys who could play the part. In my head it was a younger Don Cheadle. It could be Chris Bridges.

In Toronto Get meets Sunitha, a former massage parlour worker who’s now robbing spas. Writing the book I was thinking of Parminder Nagra from Bend It Like Beckham and ER. I hope the character is a little complicated and has some depth. She and Get have some candid conversations and start to question everything about their lives but are, I hope, realistic in their outlook.

JT has been in a few of my books now. I never believed that about characters taking on a life of their own but he really did. An unnamed ‘hangaround’ trying to join the biker gang in Dirty Sweet he became a character in Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and is back here. He’s Get’s contact from their military days. I always saw JT as a clean-cut, straightforward guy like Jason Priestly – maybe more from his 90210 days.

And there are a lot of other characters. The cops have been in previous books. Here homicide Detective Maureen McKeon is back from maternity leave (and having some trouble with that) and partnered again with Andre Price. I see McKeon as played by someone like Mary Lynn Rajskub and Price as Wes Williams, a Canadian actor who used to be known as the rapper Maestro Fresh Wes.
View the trailer for Let It Ride, and learn more about the author and his work at John McFetridge's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Let It Ride.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Jennifer Stevenson's "Fools Paradise"

Jennifer Stevenson is the author of four books that only look like they’re way too much about sex. She is a founding member of Book View Cafe, speed roller skater, swimmer, horsewoman, crow fancier, and messy gardener.

Here she lays out some casting ideas--and choice for director--should her latest novel be adapted for the movies:
Fools Paradise is my favorite book about my favorite men—stagehands, those blue-collar knights of chivalry, those workaholic, playaholic, unsung heroes behind the curtain.

This book more than any other came about through a collage. I knew it would begin with a Porsche Targa full of live smelt. I knew the hero and heroine would be trapped in a family feud, powerless to stop it from exploding, until they fake a betrothal that carries them way beyond sanity.

I didn’t know the characters.

Then I did the collage.

I found two faces in magazines who are two models, as far as I know. I haven’t been able to identify either of them. (If you can name them, email me and I’ll send you a free copy of the ebook!) The guy (center) is such a perfect combination of not-as-dumb-as-I-look and pure hunk that I fell in love with him. The girl (upper left) looks like every Catholic high school girl who ever wore enough makeup to look slutty-sweet. When I realized that they were surrounded by tough-looking old men, the book came to life.

But we need actors for the movie, not so-far-nameless models.

Cast: Shrek in his Shrek 2handsome Shrek” mode would be perfect for Bobbyjay, if he’d be willing to dye his hair blond for the role. Bobbyjay Morton is widely considered the dumbest of the five stagehands named Bobby Morton, all of them his own relatives. He cleans up their messes out of family loyalty. But when he falls for Daisy Ditorelli, granddaughter of his family’s worst enemy, he’s willing to risk everything to make her happy. I loved Shrek’s willingness to sacrifice his own happiness for love—that makes him a perfect Bobbyjay.

Amanda Seyfried would be a wonderfully delicate Daisy Ditorelli. Daisy flunked out of high school by goofing off. Now she keeps house for her doting but strict grandfather. She wants to be a stagehand like the men in her family, but her grandfather won’t let his angelina preciosa anywhere near those animals. She cooks, she cleans, she fights off her sexually-harrassing cousin, and she dreams of wearing steel-toed boots and packing a crescent wrench and getting, you know, like, paid to work sixty hours a week. I’d love to see Seyfried make that transformation from household drudge to kick-ass girl stagehand.

Dennis Quaid should play sexy older roadie, Badger Kenack, Daisy’s childhood heartthrob. There’s something so hot about those weathered roadies. That’s why many groupies prefer them to actual rock stars—roadies are chivalrous and horny, well-travelled yet down-to-earth, hunky without the star ego. Plus, Quaid looks yummy in Levis.

I would pick Eli Wallach for Marty Ditorelli, Daisy’s Machiavellian grandfather. You can easily believe he dotes on his granddaughter and supports his ne’er-do-well grandsons—but also that he once kneecapped a rival with a baseball bat, led his own soldiers in bottle-to-bottle bar fights, and has run for office against his enemy, once his best friend, for more than twenty years, purely to mess with his head.

I’d want Gene Hackman for Bobby Morton Sr., the not-as-nice-as-he-seems patriarch of Bobbyjay’s family. Bobby Sr. stole Daisy’s grandfather’s girl back when they were young stagehands and best friends. His likeable Joe facade conceals a political animal who mercilessly uses his soldiers—especially Bobbyjay—to get himself elected.

Do I get to pick my favorite director / producer, too? Judd Apatow. That guy understands that today’s hero can be coarse, vulgar, stupid, even stoned, and yet tender, self-sacrificing, kind-hearted, generous, and oh yeah good in bed.
Fools Paradise is now available on Kindle, Smashwords, and BookViewCafe.com.

Visit Jennifer Stevenson's BVC page and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chris Knopf's "Short Squeeze"

Chris Knopf is author of the Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery series, including The Last Refuge, Two Time, Head Wounds, and Hard Stop, which won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Mystery. A copywriter by trade, Knopf is a principal of Mintz & Hoke Communications Group. He lives with his wife, Mary, and dog, Samuel Beckett, in Avon, Connecticut, and Southampton, New York, where he sets sail on the sacred Little Peconic Bay.

His new novel is Short Squeeze.

Here he sketches out some casting choices as well as options for director for an adaptation of the new book:
When I did the casting for the film version of my book Two Time a few years ago, I made what some thought was a bold decision to give the part of Jackie Swaitkowski, in a crucial supporting role, to Drew Barrymore. Well, now that Jackie has a series of her own, beginning with Short Squeeze (St.Martin’s, Jan 2010), I feel even better about that choice. While Drew continues to exercise her significant comedic abilities, she also proved her depth and versatility when she played Edith Bouvier Beale in Grey Gardens. Jackie is impetuous on the verge of reckless, intelligent, pig-headed, but occasionally stricken with a loss of confidence, a perennial wise-cracker, but sometimes overwhelmed by tender sentiment, tomboyish but eager to be a girl in the right circumstances, not so great at commitment, but deeply fond of certain nut job friends, a quirky dresser and all-out slob of a housekeeper. And uncontrollably curious and determined when on the hunt of a killer. Doesn’t that sound like a woman played by Drew Barrymore?

Her boyfriend Harry Goodlander, the 6’ 8” bald logistics expert, looks like Harlan Coben only much taller. Harlan’s a writer, not an actor, so we’d have to get Tim Robbins, who’s 6’5”, to shave his head and put lifts in his shoes.

Since Richard Gere is often seen around the Hamptons, I think he’d make a fine Sam Acquillo. (He played Clifford Irving in The Hoax, based on a book published by The Permanent Press, who also publishes the Sam Acquillo series.) He’s a bit older, but still ruggedly handsome, intelligent and capable of both comedic and tragic turns, which would suit Sam.

Ross Semple, the over-educated, oddball police chief would be played to perfection by Kevin Spacey. We’d just need wardrobe to get him a pair of thick black-framed glasses and a polyester shirt.

Jim Belushi has Detective Joe Sullivan written all over him. Except for the hair. Sullivan has a blond crew cut. We’d have to get make-up in on the screen test, but I’m sure Jim would do what it takes to land such a sought-after part. Jackie and Joe have a mutual love-want-to-kill relationship. Comic, irritated, long-suffering. Belushi and Drew could riff on that all day.

As far as the less pleasant characters go, Rainn Wilson is Fuzzy Wolsonowicz, no question. He’s got it all – creepy facial hair, twitchy face, haunted eyes.

His adopted mother, Eunice, is Helen Mirren. Haughty, whippet thin, cagey, slightly regal (hey, she played Queen Elizabeth…) You can easily see her deep disappointment when contemplating Rainn, her adopted son.

We don’t get to see much of him, but the part of Sergey Pontecello, the Russo-Italian tin-plated European nobleman and soon-to-be mangled corpse was actually written with David Strathairn playing Pierce Patchett in L.A. Confidential in my mind’s eye. Just age him a bit and add the accent. (I wonder how David would react to my writing that a cartoonist would draw Sergey’s face as a rat.)

Who directs? I’d love to have Mike Nichols, who did such a great job on Charlie Wilson’s War. He’s about 79 years old at this point, but Clint Eastwood, also 79, has proven age is hardly a barrier to directorial excellence. At this writing, I don’t know if Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for best picture. If not, I think we can afford her (somebody call New York).
Visit Chris Knopf's website.

My Book, The Movie: Two Time.

--Marshal Zeringue