Monday, August 30, 2010

Jeannie Holmes' "Blood Law"

Jeannie Holmes is a native of southwest Mississippi. A total caffeine junkie, she currently lives in Mobile, Alabama with her husband and four neurotic cats, and is hard to find during hurricane season. Her debut novel, Blood Law, was released by Dell Publishing in July 2010.

Blood Law has a modern twist on the vampire as well as combining love affairs gone sour, murder, forensic science, and complex family dynamics. If Hollywood called and wanted to turn Blood Law into a movie, here’s who Holmes would like to see in some of the roles:
Alexandra Sabian: I honestly have no idea who would play Alex. Others have suggested everyone from Jessica Alba to Jessica Biel to Evan Rachel Wood to Rose McGowan. I would have to leave casting this role up to people with more knowledge than I. My only requirement would be that whoever they cast is willing to color her hair red for the role, if she isn’t a natural redhead.

Varik Baudelaire: Hands down, I would want Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian from The Chronicles of Narnia) to play Varik. Even before I knew Ben Barnes existed, he is exactly how I pictured Varik in my head -– the hair, the dark eyes, the body. In my mind, he has both the natural sex appeal and the acting ability to play someone with a dark past he’s trying to atone for so Ben Barnes is my ideal Varik.

Stephen Sabian: Alex’s brother runs a vampire bar and has a lot of charm as well as temper, especially where Varik is considered. I’d love to see Kyle Schmid play Stephen. He’s proven in past roles that he can be very dynamic and quickly switch from happy to broody.

Tasha Lockwood: The lone human working with a bunch of vampires, Tasha is a complex character. I can see two possible women in the role. Either Halle Berry or Jada Pinkett Smith would be great in the role. Both are able to play kick-butt women who still have vulnerabilities to overcome.

Damian Alberez: As Chief Enforcer for the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigation, Damian is Alex’s boss and has a very distinctive physical appearance so the only actor who comes to mind to fill that role is Michael Clarke Duncan. He has the “look” of Damian but also the ability to play a variety of characters.

Sheriff Harvey Manser: Harvey is another difficult role to cast. I can see so many great actors playing Harvey. Gary Oldman, Fred Dalton Thompson, and Chris Bauer (Andy Bellefleur from True Blood) to name a few I’ve thought of along the way. I think I’ll have to leave casting Harvey up to the professionals.

Emily Sabian: If I’m going to dream, I’ll dream big and cast Meryl Streep as Alex’s mother. She’s wonderful in every role and I think she’d bring a lot of life to the role of a vampire fighting to protect her children.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeannie Holmes' website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 27, 2010

Alden Bell's "The Reapers Are the Angels"

Alden Bell is a pseudonym for Joshua Gaylord, whose first novel, Hummingbirds, was released in Fall 2009. He teaches at a New York City prep school and is an adjunct professor at The New School.

He lives in New York City with his wife, the Edgar Award-winning mystery writer, Megan Abbott.

Here he shares some ideas for the director and principal cast of an adaptation of his new novel, The Reapers Are the Angels:
The Reapers Are the Angels has a lot to do with American landscapes. So it’s worth noting that, for me, the cinematography would be as essential an element as the actors. The earth itself is a major character—and much of the story could be told simply through still shots of the post-apocalyptic devastation of the American South. Terrence Malick, for example, tells the most significant parts of his stories through visual images that make dialogue seem almost redundant. While Reapers is definitely driven by an action-heavy plot, I always love the contrast between moments of movement or violence and the moments of quiet stillness in between.

Let’s start with the director. Because I see Reapers as more of a Southern Gothic than a zombie novel, my ideal director for the film would be David Gordon Green—a masterful Malick-inspired filmmaker responsible for such achingly lovely movies as All the Real Girls and George Washington. I understand that one of his future projects will be a remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, which I’m dying to see because I think Green knows exactly how to balance lyrical beauty with morbid strangeness.

Temple, our heroine, is a tough, pragmatic, zombie-killing fifteen year old girl. It’s easy to picture Mia Wasikowska in the role, especially after her stunning performance in That Evening Sun. The actress for this role would have to be someone who has both an innocence and a kind of worn ruggedness, and I think both come naturally to her. Of course, after I saw Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone recently, it was hard for me not to picture her as Temple. And there’s still another part of me—a foolish, wild part of me—that would love to see what Miley Cyrus could do with the role.

The role of Moses Todd, the great bear-like man who both chases Temple across the landscape and acts as perverse father figure, is the most difficult for me to imagine on screen. Have you seen enough seasons of Survivor to recognize the bearded, gravel-voiced contestant named Rupert Boneham? I know he’s not an actor, but that’s who comes to mind when I think of Moses Todd. And it’s certainly not an obvious choice, but I can also picture Liev Schreiber in the role. Not just because he’s frequently the best part of every movie he’s in, but also because he is always walking that tenuous line between the comforting familiar and the horrifyingly strange. You never know whether to run toward him or away from him—and that’s a quality that I had in mind when I wrote Moses Todd.
Learn more about Alden Bell's work Joshua Gaylord's website.

Writers Read: Alden Bell.

The Page 69 Test: The Reapers Are the Angels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nancy Thayer's "Beachcombers"

Nancy Thayer is the New York Times bestselling author of Moon Shell Beach, The Hot Flash Club, The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again, Hot Flash Holidays, The Hot Flash Club Chills Out, Between Husbands and Friends, and Summer House. She lives on Nantucket.

Here is Thayer's take on casting an adaptation of her new novel, Beachcombers:
What fun to cast Beachcombers as a movie!

The major parts are for young women, and there are so many brilliant young actresses. For the three sisters, I'd cast Jessica Biel, Ellen Page, and Evangeline Lilly, because they're all beautiful and accomplished and I can easily envision them as sisters who love each other and often drive one another crazy.

Marina, the "older" woman at forty who rents the sisters' playhouse-turned-cottage in the Foxes' back yard, would be played by Demi Moore. What man could resist Demi Moore in his playhouse?

The father, Jim Fox, is around 50. He's a gentle, loving father, mystified and sorrowing for his wife who died fifteen years before, so the actor would need to be capable of sweetness. Jim is also a working man, a contractor who has a boat and loves to fish. He's a bit of the strong, silent type. I'd love to see John Shea play this role. He has a house on the island, and I've seen him around town. He's the perfect mixture of manly and gentle.

Bette Midler would be fabulous as Eartha, the bawdy, wealthy, hard-drinking socialite.

And for the three young men with whom the sisters find the possibility of romance, I'd cast Josh Holloway, Matthew Fox, and Naveen Andrews from the TV series Lost. And this time Josh Holloway would get Evangeline Lilly, which he should have on Lost...wait, am I getting carried away?
Read an excerpt from Beachcombers, and learn more about the book and author at Nancy Thayer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Beachcombers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 20, 2010

Robert Wickes' "The Hornbrook Prophecy"

Robert Wickes was a mild-mannered optometrist, just raising his family and minding his own business, until he moderated a community education class about current events and issues called, appropriately (but with apologies to Stanley Kramer and gang), It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The discussions and questions raised in the class about the state of the nation sent Wickes on a personal quest to find some answers and, eventually, led to his first book, The Myth America Pageant: How Government & Politics REALLY Affect the Ordinary Joe. If that book reached a conclusion of “change the business of politics or someday it will all hit the fan,” then it didn’t require much of a leap to write his first novel about that day when it does, indeed, all hit the fan.

In The Hornbrook Prophecy, America is on the brink of financial collapse as principled, but independent U.S. Senator Henley Hornbrook fights against a popular, but shallow, President Winston Dillard and his scheming First Lady. A nationwide tax revolt plunges the country into chaos before Hornbrook unveils a stunning plan that will forever change the nation and preserve its destiny.

Like many authors fantasizing about seeing their work on the silver screen, Wickes found it fun to offer some casting suggestions:
The Hornbrook Prophecy is not just about the skullduggery of politics, but about the unforeseen and sadly inevitable side effects of power and policy. I long envisioned (remember, I’m dreaming here) Tom Hanks as Hornbrook, but I think that Harrison Ford would be more believable as a decisive, impassioned, and principled and largely libertarian hero.

Dillard is mostly a smiling suit who loves to be loved, and Jon Voight would fill the roll nicely. On the other hand, Florence Dillard, long the ambitious brains behind her husband’s rise to power, is a hard-hitting political ideologue. After watching her as Patty Hewes in the TV series, Damages, I think Glenn Close would be absolutely perfect.

Hornbrook’s “special assistant” is Eagle McCall, a roguish half Blackfoot Indian/half Irish former Special Forces Major with a crush on a cute, widowed Congresswoman. Gerard Butler would be ideal, as McCall would need to be part-warrior King Leonidis (300), part-tender Gerry (P.S. I Love You), and part obnoxious fun-lover Mike Chadway (The Ugly Truth). Rachel McAdams would be a good fit for McCall’s love interest, Sunny Turner, wounded and vulnerable but able to push back when challenged.

A subplot in Alabama involves a Lieutenant Governor crusading for a radical inner city education program, an alluring state bureaucrat caught up in his fervor, a recovering alcoholic civil rights leader persuaded to join the cause, and a flamboyant activist lawyer. Terrence Howard, Thandie Newton, Morgan Freeman, and Jamie Foxx would be the perfect quartet. Unfortunately, the Alabama scenario would likely be the casualty of the brevity of a two-hour movie format.

Music? Start with Enya’s somber Tempus Vernum setting the perfect tone for the opening prologue in ancient Rome as centurions surround the Temple of Concord within which rages a debate that ends in the beheading of Cicero. Fade to opening credits then cut to modern day as Hornbrook spars with a reporter on the steps of the Capitol.
The Hornbrook Prophecy is a political thriller that will spark controversy from the classroom to the bar room and introduces new, principled heroes who fight for more than the girl or the gold. The novel hit book stores August 1. Learn more about the book and author at Robert Wickes' website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 16, 2010

Josie Brown's "Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives"

Josie Brown's novels include True Hollywood Lies and Impossibly Tongue-Tied.

Here she shares her actor preferences for the major roles in an adaptation of her new novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives:
I always write my books with actors in mind. For Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, hands down I'd love to see Julia Roberts as Lyssa, and Clive Owen as Harry --

Although it would be difficult to figure out why anyone would leave Clive (or, for that matter, his character, have to read the book to figure it all out).

In the book Harry is a blonde, but that could be rectified with a bottle of Loreal. Then again, why ruin a masterpiece? It's all in the acting anyway...

As for the two other main characters, I'd make Ted (Lyssa's husband) Robert Downey, Jr. (Perfect casting! It will give him a meaty role with some depth...) and for DeeDee -- Harry's wife -- it would be cool to get Vera Farmiga (Up In The Air), because I feel she has the versatility to play someone who could be cold and cruel on the outside -- but have some true longing on the inside.

Okay, CAA gods (with whom my book has landed), go do that voodoo you do so well!
Learn more about the book and author at Josie Brown's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lauren Belfer's "A Fierce Radiance"

Lauren Belfer's debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller, as well as a #1 Book Sense pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Award nominee, a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. City of Light was a bestseller in Great Britain and has been translated into seven languages.

Here are her thoughts about casting a cinematic adaptation of her latest novel, A Fierce Radiance:
My new novel, A Fierce Radiance, takes place during World War II, primarily in New York City and also overseas, with the Allied troops in North Africa. Claire Shipley, the main character, is a photojournalist with Life Magazine. She’s a brilliant, gorgeous, confident woman, and a single mother with a young son. Professionally, she’s struggling to succeed in a man’s world. In the tense days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, she stumbles upon the story of her career when she’s sent to a medical research center on New York’s Upper East Side to report on the testing of a miraculous new drug, penicillin. When the military makes penicillin development top secret, pharmaceutical companies, including a company owned by Claire’s estranged father, begin a cut-throat competition not only for penicillin but for other, similar medications that they expect will be worth a fortune – after all, how much will consumers pay to save the lives of their loved ones? Claire is drawn into a web of intrigue and murder. She’s also drawn into an intense love affair with Dr. James Stanton, the physician/researcher heading up the penicillin project for the government.

When I write fiction, I try imagine the story as a film that’s running in my head. Visualizing the scenes in this way allows me to make the book more immediate, and more tactile. As I wrote A Fierce Radiance, I saw it in terms of the films of the 1930s and 1940s, and that’s how I still see it – Greer Garson, say, as Claire Shipley, and Leslie Howard as Dr. James Stanton, with Dorothy McGuire as James Stanton’s scientist sister, Tia.

Of course I’d be thrilled if a modern film company produced the novel – but I’ll always visualize it as a film of the 1930s or 1940s.
Read an excerpt from A Fierce Radiance, and learn more about the book and author at Lauren Belfer's website.

Writers Read: Lauren Belfer.

The Page 69 Test: A Fierce Radiance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mindy Friddle's "Secret Keepers"

Mindy Friddle's first novel, The Garden Angel (St. Martin’s Press/Picador), a SIBA bestseller, was selected for Barnes and Noble's Discover Great New Writers program in 2004, and was a National Public Radio Morning Edition summer reading pick.

Here she shares some ideas about casting an adaptation of her second novel, Secret Keepers (St. Martin’s Press/Picador):
Secret Keepers is about a group of characters that are stuck--in a small southern town, in marriages, in estranged relationships with their children and parents, in past mistakes--and how they try to move on. Emma Hanley is the matriarch of this southern family, and like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, she yearns to leave Palmetto, her hometown. Her adult children give her fits. Bobby has daily conversations with his brother Will--who died in the Vietnam War. And Dora has a wicked shopping addiction and a controlling husband. When Dora’s old flame Jake Cary returns to town, he and his motley group of gardeners, the Blooming Idiots, complicate matters when they unearth some strangely beautiful plants and the Hanley family’s secrets.

Emma Hanley - Frances Conroy
I’ll never forget Frances Conroy's fascinating role as Ruth, the matriarch on HBO’s Six Feet Under. Both Frances and Emma, as it happens, are redheads and willowy and southern. Frances, born in Georgia, would capture Emma's soft lilt and steely kindness--and her unexpected chance for a late-in-life romance. She’d make Emma her own.

Dora Hanley Quattlebaum - Kim Dickens
Kim Dickens plays the chef Janette Desautel on HBO’s Treme with a kind of complex determination. Kim’s southern accent is genuine; she’s an Alabama girl. She’d be an ideal Dora-- strong-willed, compelling, and lovely--but bewildered: She finds herself nearing middle age, confused about who she really is, and who she loves.

Bobbie Hanley - Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling did a beautiful job portraying the socially inept, fragile but engaging Lars Lingstorm in Lars and the Real Girl. He could bring the same dignity and innocence to Bobby, a former science prodigy who struggles with bouts of schizophrenia. Bobby is obsessed with insects, and sees beauty in the natural world in his own skewed way.

Jake Cary - Benecio Del Toro
As police officer Javier Rodriguez in Traffic, Benecio Del Toro played a character both incorruptible and smoldering. Brooding and principled. It’s an attractive mix. Jake, head of the Blooming Idiots, is like that. He needs to have a head for business, but he has a soft heart for anyone who needs a hand, and he’s carrying a secret torch for Dora.

Gordon - Clarke Peters
Clarke Peters played the cool-headed and dedicated Lester Freamon on The Wire— a police detective who languishes, ignored, until his superb investigative talents are discovered. Clarke could bring his intensity and his humorous touch to Gordon—a war buddy of Jake who sleeps in the woods, who sees things others miss, whose latent gifts emerge and change everything.

Kyle Quattlebaum - Zach Gilford
Kyle is full of passion and mischief like his mother, Dora. Unlike his mother, he is close to Emma, his grandmother. Friday Night Lights Matt Saracen, played by Zach Gilford, is a sensitive, occasionally awkward but always appealing teenager, who is close to his grandmother. And, as it happens, Kim Dickens plays his mother on the show.

Screenplay - Nancy Oliver
I’m not even sure she does adaptations, but I’d be thrilled if Nancy Oliver wrote the screenplay for Secret Keepers. I love her original work—she wrote Lars and the Real Girl, and episodes of Six Feet Under. She leavens darkness with humor.

Director - Lasse Hallstrom
His work is sensitive but not sappy. Lasse Hallstrom directed some of my favorite films--My Life as a Dog, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules, and Chocolat. He has a flair for crafting exquisite tales tempered by humor. His films are full of prickly family dynamics and quirky oddballs. Secret Keepers has plenty of both.
Learn more about the book and author at Mindy Friddle's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Linda Castillo's "Pray for Silence"

New York Times bestselling author Linda Castillo is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, the Holt Medallion and a nomination for the Rita. About her mystery series set in Amish County:
Sworn to Silence was hailed by critics as one of the best thrillers of 2009. Bestselling author Linda Castillo once again immerses readers in the world of the Amish with Pray for Silence, the second novel in her Amish thriller series.

Murder returns to the idyllic town of Painters Mill, Ohio, when an Amish family is found slaughtered on their farm. Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her small force have few clues, no motive and no suspect. The investigation takes a treacherous turn when Kate realizes a personal connection to the case. With her own past resonating, she must confront an unspeakable evil to solve the murders—even if it means placing herself in the line of fire.
Here Castillo shares some ideas about casting the principal roles in an adaptation of her work:
I tend to be a visual writer. I see my characters, visualize the situations and events in my head as I write and the story unfolds. (If you’ve read Pray for Silence, I know that’s a scary thought , but I digress…)

I don’t usually “cast” my books with actual actors. Instead, I keep a sort of physical and psychological imprint of them in my mind as I write their stories. A few months ago, my agent mentioned there was some interest from Hollywood. Nothing has come to fruition yet, but at that point I started wondering: If the book were made into a movie or cable series, who would I cast to play the roles of my lead characters?

I spoke with my sister—who is an avid fan and terrific sounding board—and just for fun we discussed casting at length. With the exception of John Tomasetti, we agreed on every character. Here’s what we came up with:

Kate Burkholder: Evangeline Lilly (Kate from Lost)

John Tomasetti: Chris Noth (Detective Mike Logan from Law and Order)

Glock: Dennis Haysbert (Jonas Blane from The Unit)

Roland “Pickles” Shoemaker: Sam Elliott (Ghost Rider)

Sheriff Rasmussen: Nathan Fillion (Castle)

T.J. Banks: Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island)

My sister, by the way, envisioned Colin Farrell (Crazy Heart) as John Tomasetti.

Which actor do you feel would make the best John Tomasetti?
Learn more about the author and her work at Linda Castillo's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sworn to Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gregg Hurwitz's "They're Watching"

Gregg Hurwitz is the author of several novels, including The Crime Writer and Trust No One, and has been a finalist for the ITW Best Novel and the Ian Fleming Gold Dagger.

Here he shares some insights into the film adaptation of his new novel, They're Watching:
First up, here's an update on the film rights.

As for the leads who we'll go after, there are a lot of good options. Someone who is believable as an ordinary guy makes sense -- an Everyman. Which brings to mind Tobey Maguire or Jake Gyllenhaal. Another route would be Tom Cruise -- he is terrific with characters under pressure (think The Firm, not MI). Johnny Depp would also be terrific.
Learn more about They're Watching and its author at Gregg Hurwitz's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Crime Writer.

The Page 69 Test: They're Watching.

--Marshal Zeringue