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