Monday, February 28, 2011

Craig McDonald's "One True Sentence"

Craig McDonald is the Edgar®/Anthony nominated author of Head Games, Toros & Torsos, and Print the Legend.

Here he shares some ideas for cast, director, and music composer for an adaptation of his latest Hector Lassiter novel, One True Sentence:
There will come a time when George Lucas will deliver on his alleged promise (threat?) to cast movies using digitally resurrected, long dead actors. When that moment arrives, it would finally be feasible to cast the movie I see in my head when I think about One True Sentence, the fourth Hector Lassiter historical literary thriller — one peopled by pop culture titans who have left indelible images of themselves in readers’ heads.

The novel is set in 1924 Paris, but the characters who cross my pages left myriad photos — and even some grainy film footage — of themselves to posterity. We all know how Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas and other City of Lights luminaries looked back then.

My series character, crime novelist and screenwriter Hector Lassiter, has always been personified by the actor William Holden for me. In fact, in several books, his resemblance to Holden is remarked on (in a still-to-be-published Lassiter novel, a key plot point revolves around a seventy-something Lassiter actually posing as Holden). So, in that George Lucas virtual world, Lassiter would be played by a young Holden. His love interest, the darkly enticing mystery writer, Brinke Devlin, would be portrayed by the silent-screen siren who largely inspired her, Louise Brooks.

But, for now (and to the possible chagrin of Mr. Lucas), we have to content ourselves to casting living actors. That being the case, for Texas-born Hector Lassiter I envision Texas-born actor Jensen Ackles, who has come into his own as the charming, charismatic and very gray character Dean Winchester on the cult-favorite television series Supernatural. Hector, too, is a charming, capable guy who can stray into some very dark behavior yet remain winning. It’s a tough tightrope to walk, but Ackles can do it with aplomb.

For Hector’s sidekick, a still largely unknown Ernest Hemingway, I envision actor Timothy Olyphant. He’s got a the bearing, the attitude and intensity to bring off the young Hemingway, a man whom even those who despised him in the 1920s agreed had the kind of rare charisma that robbed rooms of oxygen when he entered them.

Hector’s first great love, Brinke Devlin is a bit trickier to pin down. As Louise Brooks is no longer available, I lean toward another actress who was nearly as often in my mind’s-eye as I wrote the novel, fellow Columbus, Ohio native Alana De La Garza, probably best known for her work on Law & Order. Brinke, a smalltown Ohio girl who is a couple of years older than Hector, worldlier and a longtime expatriate amidst the capitals of Europe, requires the kind of American yet exotic presence Ms. De La Garza embodies.

In a prior piece for this site regarding my third Lassiter novel, Print the Legend, I mentioned my love for the films of Alan Rudolph, particularly his movies Trouble in Mind and The Moderns. The latter is set in 1925 Paris and features many of the same historical figures who appear in One True Sentence. The Moderns left a profound mark on me as a moviegoer and certainly affected my own sense of 1920s Paris. (I even crept a few mentions of characters from The Moderns into Lassiter #2, the surrealist-art focused thriller Toros & Torsos).

If I was in the position to “Zanuck” this sucker, I’d have Alan Rudolph directing — pushing these gifted actors through the labyrinthine dark of the One True Sentence plot, all of it set against a soundtrack composed by Mark Isham.
Learn more about the author and his work at Craig McDonald's website and blog.

Read "The Story Behind the Story: One True Sentence, by Craig McDonald" at The Rap Sheet.

The Page 69 Test: One True Sentence.

Writers Read: Craig McDonald.

--Marshal Zeringue