Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mark Terry's "The Fallen"

Mark Terry is the author of three Derek Stillwater novels, The Devil's Pitchfork, The Serpent's Kiss, and The Fallen, as well as two standalone novels, Dirty Deeds and Dancing in the Dark. In addition, he is the author of Catfish Guru, a collection of mystery novellas, numerous short stories and literally hundreds of magazine and trade journal articles.

Here he shares some guidance for casting a big screen adaptation of his series:
My new book, The Fallen, is the third to feature Homeland Security troubleshooter Dr. Derek Stillwater. He’s a PhD in microbiology and biochemistry, an expert on biological and chemical terrorism, and a former Special Forces bio/chem weapons expert. What sets him apart—I think and am told—from the typical action hero are his neuroses: he’s superstitious, wears a St. Sebastian’s medal, a four-leaf clover, and ju-ju beads. He’s a hypochondriac who believes he’ll end up killed by a chemical or biological weapon. He was raised by missionary physicians in various countries around the world, and he is very, very good at what he does, although he’s not very good at coloring inside the lines. Various critics have compared Derek favorably to Jason Bourne and to 24’s Jack Bauer, which is fair enough.

So who should play him in the film? (And no, no film in the works—yet. But we’ve had many, many nibbles, including from George Clooney’s production company and Will Smith’s production company).

What, Jack Black or Whoopi Goldberg’s not available? Hmmm. Well, I think Clooney would be awesome, even if his action films to-date have been so-so. Will Smith? Yeah, interesting. He could do it. So could Matt Damon or Kiefer Sutherland, although the role would probably overlap just a bit with their own very successful franchises. And frankly, for the first Derek Stillwater novel, The Devil's Pitchfork, I would have loved to see Matt Damon play Derek Stillwater and Ben Affleck play the bad guy terrorist, Richard Coffee (who is also in The Fallen). Or for that matter, vice versa, Affleck as Derek and Damon as the bad guy. We don’t get to see Matt Damon play villains very often.

But if I were suddenly given the chance to cast a Derek Stillwater film and Clooney and Damon and Sutherland weren’t available … my top choice would be Nicolas Cage. Cage did a somewhat similar character in The Rock with Sean Connery, playing FBI expert in biological and chemical weapons Dr. Stanley Goodspeed. Goodspeed had some similar neuroses and vulnerabilities to Derek, although Derek, as an agent and soldier, is significantly more competent. But Cage would be just about right to bring that slightly off-center aspect to life.

Now, about Whoopi Goldberg…
Read chapters 1-6 of The Fallen, and learn more about the book and author at Mark Terry's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Fallen.

--Marshal Zeringue