Thursday, December 30, 2010

Brian Leung's "Take Me Home"

Brian Leung is the author of the acclaimed story collection World Famous Love Acts, and the novel Lost Me.

Here he shares some suggestions for the above-the-line talent in an adaptation of his new novel, Take Me Home:
While I’m writing I never think of my novels in terms of movies, but it’s hard to escape the issue once they are in print and readers make suggestions as to who they imagine playing the parts in a film.

For Take Me Home people have been stuck as to who would play Wing Lee (sheesh folks, Jackie Chan is too old and not handsome enough). A list of questionable/dubious suggestions for Addie Maine include The Olson Twins, Molly Ringwald, Nicole Kidman, and Miley Cyrus. If we can time travel, I’d suggest a young Katherine Hepburn if she could ditch the patrician accent!

But probably, I’d trust Ang Lee to direct the film and cast some really fine actors. Brokeback Mountain shows he has the gentle touch, and we’ve seen what he can do with action films. That said, I’d want Ron Howard to at least arm wrestle for the chance to direct Take Me Home. We could do that smack down on pay-per-view.
Learn more about Take Me Home at Brian Leung's website.

Writers Read: Brian Leung.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 27, 2010

Keith Hollihan's "The Four Stages of Cruelty"

Keith Hollihan worked as a business analyst and ghostwriter before publishing his first novel. Born in Canada, he has traveled widely and lived in Japan and the Czech Republic. He now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Hollihan's new novel is The Four Stages of Cruelty.

Here he shares some author's input on casting a big screen adaptation of the novel:
The Four Stages of Cruelty is set in a maximum security penitentiary, but its protagonist and first-person narrator is a female corrections officer. Kali Williams is as professional, efficient, jaded, and tough as any of her male co-workers but she also has a strong sense of right and wrong. Her voice showed up in my third draft of this book, and took over the story. To me she embodied the whistleblower who can no longer abide the corruption and systematic abuse around her.

To me, the role calls out for a strong female lead. Vera Farmiga showed that blue collar realism in Debra Granik’s Down to the Bone. Michelle Monaghan had the integrity and sensitivity to go with her toughness in Gone Baby Gone. Naomi Watts has all the range you could want. There are so many good actresses out there right now, taking on challenging roles, it would just be a pleasure to see what could be done.

As for the men, they wouldn’t stand a chance.
Read an excerpt from The Four Stages of Cruelty, and learn more about the book and author at Keith Hollihan's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Four Stages of Cruelty.

Writers Read: Keith Hollihan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gerry Bartlett's "Real Vampires Have More to Love"

Gerry Bartlett is a former teacher and now writes full time. She also owns an antique business on the historic strand in Galveston, Texas.

Here she provides some casting ideas for an adaptation of her Glory St. Clair Real Vampires series, of which the latest installment, Real Vampires Have More to Love, is out now from Berkley:
I actually have a group of fans who started a petition to have my Glory St. Clair books made into a movie or TV series. I can only dream. And it’s really fun to imagine actresses as Glory. She was bloating when she was turned vampire in 1604, but the voluptuous look so popular then is so…not in 2010. And Glory always stays current. I’ve often thought about Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary. She gained serious weight for that role. Perfect. Not many of today’s actresses are up for that, but my lead would have to be willing. Scarlett Johansson, plus a few pounds, would be an ideal Glory.

As for the hero… Well, make that heroes. Glory has three guys who have become love interests in the series. Her main squeeze is Jeremy Blade aka Jeremiah Campbell. From the beginning, I’ve pictured Gerard Butler in a kilt. Hugh Jackman could be Rafael Valdez but he’d have to lose his accent. Yum. And then there’s my rock star. I’m still searching for the perfect hunk for that guy. Think longish dark hair, slim build and bright blue eyes. All of these are fantasy men. I frequently ask my friends on Facebook for suggestions and they are all over it. Believe me, we have a lot of fun picking stars for the Real Vampires movies. First to be produced: Real Vampires Have Curves, soon to be at a theater near you. The vampires will be in the seats at the late showing, not eating popcorn. Watch your neck.
Read an excerpt from Real Vampires Have More to Love and visit Gerry Bartlet's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Real Vampires Have More to Love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 20, 2010

Libby Hellmann's "Set the Night on Fire"

Libby Fischer Hellmann's crime fiction thrillers include An Eye For Murder, A Picture Of Guilt, An Image Of Death, A Shot To Die For, Easy Innocence, and Doubleback.

Here she shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of her latest novel, Set the Night on Fire:
As some of you may know, I studied film in graduate school, worked on a couple of features, and settled into the life of an industrial film/video producer before I started writing novels. So I’ve always approached novel writing like a film-maker. I can’t write a scene without imagining it edited and printed, complete with pans, dolly shots, close-ups, and dressed sets.

Set the Night on Fire was (and is) a film-maker’s dream: a wealth of colorful characters, locations, and, in the portion that goes back to the late Sixties, opportunities to recreate what came before. Frankly, while writing the book, I was more concerned with getting the Chicago settings right than the characters. I obsessed over the apartment/commune the characters inhabited in Old Town, the way Marshall Field’s would have looked, a community hospital on the North Side, Maxwell Street. I hope I’ve done them all justice.

But now comes the fun part. There are more characters in this novel than in some of my others, and some of them are portrayed both as young idealists in the Sixties, as well as more mature adults in the present. I haven’t chosen them all, but here’s what I have so far.

Lila Hilliard: My protagonist. A ‘30s professional financial manager.
In the present: definitely Natalie Portman

Casey Hilliard: Her father.
In the present: Robin Williams

Dar Gantner:
In the present: George Clooney (of course)
In the past: Ryan Gosling

Alix Kerr:
In the past: Emma Watson or Sarah Carter. Maybe Naomi Watts

In the past: Patrick Dempsey
In the present: John Slattery

In the past: Lindsay Lohan
In the present: Ashley Judd

Aunt Val:
In the present: Elizabeth Perkins

Wow! What a cast! I can’t wait!
Watch the video trailer for Set the Night on Fire.

Visit Libby Fischer Hellmann's website and group blog, The Outfit.

My Book, The Movie: A Shot To Die For.

My Book, The Movie: Easy Innocence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Freda Warrington's "Midsummer Night"

Freda Warrington is the author of nineteen (and a half) novels including Elfland, A Blackbird in Silver Darkness, A Taste of Blood Wine and Dracula the Undead. Elfland won the Romantic Times Award for Best Fantasy Novel of 2009, and her second novel for Tor, Midsummer Night, has just been published with another stunning cover by KY Craft.

Here she sketches out some ideas for casting her characters in an adaptation of Midsummer Night:
I suppose most authors indulge this fantasy – actually, I’ve shared moments of great hilarity with friends as we suggested the most inappropriate actors imaginable to take the parts in our own novels and those of other writers. Usually my characters jump into my head from nowhere, but sometimes they are inspired by real-life actors or even a face in a magazine. Would it be possible to cast Midsummer Night?

The sculptor, Dame Juliana Flagg, came out of my head, but I think there’s probably only one choice for her – Dame Helen Mirren. Dame Judi Dench has the charisma – all these dames, there ain’t nothin’ like a dame! – but I see Juliana as tallish, willowy, very attractive for her sixty-something years. Her husband Charles would have to be played by Ian Richardson as seen in his elegantly sinister role in the TV drama, House of Cards – because that’s who I had in mind when he turned up in my story. Sadly he died in 2007 so I really don’t know how to replace him.

My younger characters would be more difficult. Who could carry off Rufus? He’d need to be unfeasibly gorgeous, able to carry off long hair and colourful clothing without looking completely ridiculous. And for Leith – well, a young Rufus Sewell, perhaps. Someone who possesses an irresistible, dark Byronic beauty… I’ll have to think about that one.

I’ve seen the actor who should play Peta Lyon, but I have no idea who she is! I’d already created Peta as a character. Some time later I was watching an episode of Eastenders (a British soap) and there was a scene on a train. One of the characters was acting out their bit of drama while being looked at askance by one of the other “passengers”, an extra. I remember this extra as being arty-looking in purple bohemian-style clothing. She had a chalk-pale complexion, dark lips and blood-red hair. And I thought, oh my god, it’s Peta! So all I need to do is find out who on earth she was!

As for Colin, Juliana’s apprentice and ‘bit of rough’ from New Zealand – no question, it’s another Eastenders actor, the yummy Rob Kazinsky who played “bad boy” Sean Slater. And for Ned Badger – I think Sting, hamming it up in a dark wig, would be perfect.

Gill is half-English, half-Hindu, thin and athletic with long blue-black hair. Again, I’m stumped. That leaves me stuck on three of the most important characters, Gill, Rufus and Leith. I’ll really have to think about this. Suggestions, anyone? Who’d be a casting director?
Learn more about the book and author at Freda Warrington's website, blog, and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Elfland.

The Page 69 Test: Midsummer Night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 13, 2010

Allison Leotta's "Law of Attraction"

Allison Leotta is a federal sex-crimes prosecutor in Washington, D.C. She has been a federal prosecutor for ten years. Like the heroine in Law of Attraction, her debut legal thriller, Leotta started out in the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuting misdemeanor domestic violence cases. She now handles the most serious sex crimes in D.C. Leotta is a graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School.

Here she shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of Law of Attraction:
This is a great exercise! Your blog spurred a very fun weekend for my mom and me, sitting down with stacks of Us and Star magazines and poring over glossy pictures of actors.

When I wrote my novel, Law of Attraction, I didn’t have actors in mind. I’m a sex-crimes prosecutor in D.C., so my story was inspired by details from real people I work with and real cases I’ve handled.

My protagonist, Anna Curtis, holds the same job I do, prosecuting sex crimes and domestic violence in D.C. She’s smart and sexy, but very young and naive. Have you seen the movie Juno? I like the actress Ellen Page from that film. She has a charming earnestness that would work for Anna. My mom likes Amanda Seyfried, Amy Adams or Rachel McAdams for the role.

At the beginning of Law of Attraction, Anna starts to fall in love with Nick Wagner, a charming but bad-boy public defender. They share an electric attraction, which Anna suppresses when they end up on opposite sides of a domestic-violence homicide case. Anna feels guilty about her role in the murder and her own dark past, and sees this case as her shot at redemption. Nick tries to win back Anna, while beating her in court. For Nick, I picture a cross between a young John Cusack and Jimmy Stewart, with a hint of James Franco to give him some edge. My mom votes for Jake Gyllenhaal.

Investigating the murder, Anna works with the Homicide Chief, a handsome but intimidating prosecutor named Jack Bailey. He’s in his mid-thirties, African-American, with a clean-shaven head and green eyes. Anna learns some valuable lessons from Jack – but they may be too late for the mess she lands herself in with Nick. For Jack, I’m thinking Idris Elba, the actor who played Stringer Bell on The Wire and who’s now on The Office. Or maybe the Old Spice guy – he’s pretty dreamy. My mom gives the nod to Denzel Washington.

Okay, now that’s we’ve nailed down our cast, I can’t wait to see Law of Attraction on the big screen!
Learn more about the book and author at Allison Leotta's website and blog.

Writers Read: Allison Leotta.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gary Corby's "The Pericles Commission"

Gary Corby is a first time novelist, former systems programmer at Microsoft, and lives in Australia with his wife and two daughters.

His new book is The Pericles Commission.

Here he sketches out some ideas about the talent who might bring the novel to life in a cinematic adaptation:
My debut novel is The Pericles Commission, a murder mystery set in Classical Athens. Nicolaos, the ambitious son of a minor sculptor, walks the mean streets of Classical Athens as an agent for the promising young politician Pericles. Murder and mayhem don't faze Nico; what's really on his mind is how to get closer (much closer) to Diotima, the intelligent and annoyingly virgin priestess of Artemis, and how to shake off his irritating 12 year old brother Socrates.

The chances of anyone turning an ancient murder mystery into a movie is so low, I can say anything I like without looking foolish...oh, hang on, what about Julius Caesar, by that genre writer...what's his name...oh yeah, Bill Shakespeare. All right, maybe it can happen if you're a literary genius.

I'm at a disadvantage here, because I know pretty much nada about modern movies. I rarely watch them! So this'll be patchy, but here goes...

For my hero Nicolaos, I'll have Thespis, who was an actor back in ancient Greece. Yes, this is the guy from whom we get the word thespian. It seems only fair Thespis should have top billing.

For my heroine Diotima, I'll have Rachel Weisz, because she did a great job in The Mummy.

For Pericles, I'll have Hugh Jackman, because we went to the same high school. He was about 5 years below me, I think, and I can't for the life of me remember him, though one his brothers Ian was in my year. Also, Jackman is on record as having said he'd like to play Socrates some time. My Socrates is 12 years old, so Jackman will have to make do with being a political rather than philosophic genius. Which brings me to...

Socrates will be played by Sophocles. Yes, that's Sophocles the famous tragic playwright. Sophocles played in the chorus when he was a boy, so we know he can act, and the real Sophocles and the real Socrates were drinking buddies. Sophocles would be perfect for the part, if only we had a time machine.

For Pythax, the brutally tough chief of the city guard, I'll have Russell Crowe. Pythax should be played like the ancient equivalent of a hardened New York police captain.

And for Director, I'll have Peter Cornwell, who recently directed The Haunting in Connecticut. Peter, his elder brother and my good friend Richard, and I and a few others spent many happy hours at their house playing D&D when we were kids.
Read more about The Pericles Commission at the publisher's website.

Visit Gary Corby's blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Pericles Commission.

Writers Read: Gary Corby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jeri Westerson's "The Demon's Parchment"

Jeri Westerson is the author of Veil of Lies, Serpent in the Thorns, and The Demon's Parchment.

Here she shares some ideas for casting adaptations of her Crispin Guest novels: 
The first time I put the words “Crispin Guest” to paper was sometime in 2002. He was to be my first foray into medieval mystery where before I had written, apparently, unsellable historical novels. He was to be a true detective not an amateur sleuth of the monk or nun variety that seemed to populate medieval mysteries. He was to be my cross-pollination of genres between hard-boiled detective fiction and the medieval mystery. I was inventing “Medieval Noir” and my detective was going to be extremely important to the series.

When I write novels, I do see them as movies because I grew up on movies, especially old, swashbuckling types. But there are plenty of modern adventure movies that catch my attention, too. So when I started thinking about who Crispin Guest was — an ex-knight down on his luck with the skills and wits to re-invent himself into the “Tracker”, a very physical medieval PI — I needed a face, a personality to reflect the anguish of his past, the toughness of his bearing, and the inherent nobility to which he was raised. And when I saw the movie X-Men, with a swaggering Hugh Jackman as the tortured Wolverine, I knew I’d found my man. And then some years later, seeing his work as the sarcastic and clever Van Helsing, sealed the deal. As an actor, he’s got a good deep voice for the character, he’s handsome, likeable, with an edgy sense of humor and enough pathos behind the eyes to carry it off. He’s really my first and only choice.

As for side characters, I saw Mark Addy in A Knight’s Tale as Roland, and with his round and pliable face and his humanity, I cast him as the tavern owner and Crispin’s friend, Gilbert Langton. As for Gilbert’s wife Eleanor, Julie Walters as she portrayed Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, had the right amount of moxy and nurture to fulfill the role (with padding as she has for those roles, because in reality, she is a tiny lady).

As for the all-important Jack Tucker, Crispin's apprentice who was a cutpurse and street urchin, I also got my casting from Harry Potter and found the young Rupert Grint who plays Ron Weasley, as the perfect kid to do the job. But that was a long time ago when those kids in Harry Potter were still kids. Now he’s far too old for the part, but I’m sure there are any number of up and comers in British cinema who can step into those worn shoes.

I don’t know if all authors hear this, but every time I make an appearance, I am always told by readers what a great movie my books would make. I hope Hollywood notices that, too, at some point. I write them as movies. I can’t help it. So an adaptation would be pretty easy. Are you listening, Hollywood?
Learn more about the author and her work at Jeri Westerson's website, her "Getting Medieval" blog, and the Crispin Guest Medieval Noir blog.

The Page 69 Test: Veil of Lies.

The Page 69 Test: Serpent in the Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Demon's Parchment.

Writers Read: Jeri Westerson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ken Harmon's "The Fat Man"

Ken Harmon's new book is The Fat Man, "a satire of traditional Christmas stories and noir" in which "a hardboiled elf is framed for murder in a North Pole world that plays reindeer games for keeps, and where favorite holiday characters live complex lives beyond December."

Here he shares his vision of some classic actors and a director to bring his story to life on the big screen:
In The Fat Man – A Tale of North Pole Noir, Gumdrop Coal is a hard-boiled elf framed for murder in a Kringle Town that’s got more than its fair share of Naughty guys and dolls. In paying homage to the great detective novels of the 30’s and 40’s, naturally I imagined Gumdrop played by a diminutive Humphrey Bogart, a well-traveled fedora pulled down over his pointy elf ears and a wrinkled trench coat to keep the chill of the North Pole in its place. Dingleberry Fizz, Gumdrop’s ever-optimistic best friend, would be a grinning, cow-licked Mickey Rooney and Rosebud Jubilee, a peppermint stick chewing reporter is a mix of the great dames from that era of movies, Barbara Stanwyck, Rosalind Russell and Jean Arthur. Orson Welles would take a star turn as Charles “Candy” Cane, naturally, and the grotesque Not So Tiny Tim could only be played by Charles Laughton. I would sprinkle the rest of the cast with cameos with as many stars of yesteryear that heaven would give me and if Billy Wilder could direct it – that would suit me right down the ground. Perhaps one day there will be a technology that allows us to do just that. (Is there an app for that?)
Visit Ken Harmon's website.

Writers Read: Ken Harmon.

The Page 69 Test: The Fat Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Roberta Gately's "Lipstick in Afghanistan"

A nurse, humanitarian aid worker, and writer, Roberta Gately has served in third-world war zones ranging from Africa to Afghanistan. She has written extensively on the subject of refugees for the Journal of Emergency Nursing, as well as a series of articles for the BBC Worlds News Online. She speaks regularly on the plight of the world's refugees and displaced.

Booklist called her new novel Lipstick in Afghanistan an “[a]bsorbing debut… In this utterly engrossing read, Gately vividly evokes the beauty and tragedy of Afghanistan.”

Here she shares some ideas for principal cast and director of an adaptation of the novel:
Ahh – isn’t this every writer’s dream question? I confess that when I was writing Lipstick in Afghanistan, the story played out in my mind much like a movie, and I actually wrote one character, Major Doyle, known as “Chief” to his men, with George Clooney in mind. I know – I imagine a host of writers choose Clooney as their lead. But for me, the image of Clooney, his mannerisms and speech, actually helped me to develop this character and though his role is small, it’s vital to the story. It is the Chief who guides the soldiers and ultimately, their actions.

For the other characters, I admit I’ve started the casting process in my daydreams. For Elsa, my young American nurse, I see Ashley Greene or Vanessa Hudgens in the role. Each brings the necessary physical appearance and the trace of vulnerability that envelops Elsa. Vanessa, with her dark hair and flashing eyes, would also be a perfect Parween, my feisty Afghan heroine.

For Mike, Elsa’s love interest, Zac Efron would be a good fit, especially if Vanessa Hudgens plays Elsa. For Dave, Mike’s best friend, Ryan Phillippe would be perfect.

And finally, my choice for director – as long as I’m reaching for the stars – Clint Eastwood of course!

So – those are my daydreams. Hollywood – are you there?
Read an excerpt from Lipstick in Afghanistan, and learn more about the book and author at Roberta Gately's website and blog.

Writers Read: Roberta Gately.

The Page 69 Test: Lipstick in Afghanistan.

--Marshal Zeringue