Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mary Anna Evans' "Strangers"

Mary Anna Evans is the author of the award-winning Faye Longchamp archaeological mysteries: Artifacts, Relics, Effigies, Findings, Floodgates, and the recently released sixth novel in the series, Strangers.

Should Faye Longchamp make the jump from page to screen, here's Evans' idea of the actors who should play the major roles:
Ooh! I love this game!

I'm not one of those writers who always has an actor or actress in mind when I write my characters. This makes it especially fun to pretend I'm a casting director, so I can select people I think would be believable in the roles. My imaginary people are very special to me, so being able to say "Ross looks like President Obama...and he talks like him, too," is an easy way to tell people what's in my mind as I spin my tales.

While playing the movie-casting game with my friends, they always turn the conversation to finding a way to wangle screen time for themselves. Someone will say, "I want to be the cranky librarian in Findings!!!" Then someone else will say "I want to be the voodoo queen in Floodgates!!!" I hate to break it to them, but I think they'll be relegated to non-speaking roles in a crowd scene in Wally's bar. This is because most of them have northern accents, which doesn't really work in the vicinity of Sopchoppy, Florida. I, however, have never lost my Mississippi drawl, so I might actually get to talk.

I've always pictured Halle Berry as Faye, the archaeologist heroine of all my books, but Hollywood would have to work a little movie magic. Faye is a bit less curvaceous than Halle Berry, so much so that she is mistaken for a boy from a distance. Only a blind man could mistake Ms. Berry for a boy, so the movie's costumer would need to be a genius. If I were Halle Berry, I'd give my eyeteeth to play a character as smart and tough and resourceful as Faye. And she'd get to run and jump and dig and just generally get dirty. I'd think that would be fun for an actress.

Her best friend Joe is particularly difficult to cast. He has to look very young--about 25--for the plot of Artifacts to work, so several actors who come to mind are just too old. Among those are Lou Diamond Phillips, A Martinez, and Jimmy Smits. Taylor Lautner is young enough, and he has the required eye-popping Native American good looks, but he is about nine inches shorter than the six-foot-six Joe Wolf Mantooth.

Or, come to think of it, I chose the name "Mantooth" for Joe, because I wanted a Native American name that was familiar to mainstream America. I remembered Randolph Mantooth from Emergency!, the show about paramedics from the 1970s. In his youth, Randolph Mantooth would have had the right look, and he's half Seminole, so he has a Native American heritage that's not completely unlike the mostly Creek Joe. He's six-foot-one, so we're getting close to Joe's skyscraper build. Jimmy Smits is six-foot-three, though, so he's even closer.

I get an awful lot of email from ladies who desperately wish Joe were real. Let's all picture a buff 25-year-old Jimmy Smits with hair to his waist...hmmm...oh, my. Yes. I do believe he'll do.

For the new release, Strangers, I need an ethereal blonde for the missing girl, Glynis Smithson. Either Evan Rachel Wood or a very young Gwyneth Paltrow would fill the bill. For the Jazz Age beauty Allyce Dunkirk, only a haunted brunette with a slender form, delicate features, and dark eyes will do--perhaps Natalie Wood. And for the doomed silent movie starlet, Lilibeth Campbell, I need someone curvaceous, ambitious, naive, and barely out of her teens. Let's go with Jean Harlow at age 20.

I think I'll stop there, before I begin casting inanimate objects. Because I know exactly what the brooding and possibly haunted house, Dunkirk Manor, looks like...
Learn more about the author and her work at Mary Anna Evans' website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Floodgates.

The Page 69 Test: Strangers.

--Marshal Zeringue