Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Liane Moriarty's "What Alice Forgot"

Liane Moriarty is the author of three novels: Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary and most recently, What Alice Forgot (Amy Einhorn/Putnam). What Alice Forgot is the story of a woman who loses ten years of her memory. She thinks she’s 29, pregnant with her first child and blissfully in love with her husband. In fact, she’s 39, the mother of three children, and she’s in the middle of a bitter divorce. Publishers Weekly described it as "moving, well-paced and thoroughly pleasurable." Book clubs love it because it gives everyone a chance to reflect on how their lives have changed over the past decade and what their younger selves would think of the people they’ve become. Moriarty is also the author of the Nicola Berry series for children, and all her books have been published around the world. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and two small children.

Moriarty, on casting the big screen adaptation of What Alice Forgot:
I have sold the movie rights to What Alice Forgot and the producers were talking about someone like Jennifer Aniston or Reese Witherspoon for the role of Alice. I also think Sandra Bullock would be wonderful. Alice is a whimsical, feminine character and she’s found herself in a completely confusing situation (losing ten years of her memory) but she’s not a fool, so the challenge would be to make her endearing and sympathetic, without making her just plain dippy and idiotic. I’d love to see someone like Toni Collette play the role of Alice’s sister Elisabeth, a woman who has had to endure years of battling infertility and miscarriages. I think she could perfectly convey this character’s fragility and brittleness, without making her too bitter. I’d cast Brad Pitt for the role of Nick. He’d be entirely unsuitable, far too good-looking, but I think we’d all learn to live with that.
Learn more about the book and author at Liane Moriarty's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Alice Forgot.

Writers Read: Liane Moriarty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lee Martin's "Break the Skin"

Lee Martin is the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Bright Forever; a novel, Quakertown; a story collection, The Least You Need to Know; and two memoirs, From Our House and Turning Bones. He has won a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, a Lawrence Foundation Award, and the Glenna Luschei Prize. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he directs the creative writing program at The Ohio State University.

Here he shares some suggestions for casting the lead characters in an adaptation of his new novel, Break the Skin:
It’s always fun to think about who might play whom in a movie version of one of my novels. I like to do what directors rarely do—disregard the age and look of an actor and consider instead how he or she, based on past performances, might connect with the inner lives I’ve created for my characters.

My new novel, Break the Skin, is on one level the story of a murder plot wrapped up in practical magic, but more than that it’s a story of love and how far people will go in order to feel that they matter to someone.

One of the narrators is a nineteen-year-old girl, Laney, who is boyish and sometimes timid and sometimes too forward for her own good, especially when it comes to her older friend, Delilah Dade. When the book opens, Delilah has lost her boyfriend to a woman named Rose MacAdow, and Laney, who dabbles in spells, invites Delilah to believe that Rose has placed a hex on them. The only way to stop the hex, Delilah says, is to kill Rose. Even though Delilah and Laney eventually decide the revenge plot will never work, they’ve set into motion a sequence of events that Laney, no matter how hard she tries, can’t stop. I see Laney as a combination of Hilary Swank and Ellen Page—the eagerness to please and the desire for acceptance that we see in the Hilary Swank of Boys Don’t Cry, and the sharp sweetness of Ellen Page in Juno.

Rose MacAdow is described as a big woman with a big heart, a loving woman who’s eager to protect what’s hers, a woman who believes she can control her future through spells cast for love. I had Mama Cass Eliott’s face in mind when I wrote the character, but now, when I think of Rose, I somehow imagine Liv Tyler and her combination of sweetness and grit.

Casting Delilah Dade is simple. I immediately think of Susan Sarandon and the women she’s portrayed who’ve been hurt too often by men, and who’ve developed a toughness that just barely masks their hope and desire for true love. That’s what Delilah thinks she’s found in the musician, Tweet, but then he leaves her for Rose.

Tweet is a free spirit, always following whatever riff or variation he can find in his life. I think of someone like James Franco and that “what-the-hell” smirk of so many of his characters who are about to take a step into unknown, but intriguing, territory.

A hanger-on with Tweet’s band, Lester Stipp, becomes Laney’s boyfriend. Lester is a gentle spirit who’s eager to have friends. A veteran of the Iraq War, he suffers from dissociative fugues, which cause him to occasionally forget who he is and where he lives. I think of the eccentric characters that Johnny Depp has played, particularly Sam in Benny & Joon.

During one of his fugues, Lester ends up in Texas where a tattoo artist, Betty Ruiz, known as Miss Baby, convinces him that he’s her husband. Miss Baby is the other narrator of the novel. She’s a head-strong Mexican-American woman, who’s also an incurable romantic. I think of America Ferrera from her role in Real Women Have Curves. Miss Baby and Lester fall in love. Then she finds out the police are looking for him in connection with a crime in Illinois, a crime that involves Laney. Everything is about to change forever.
Learn more about the book and author at Lee Martin's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Break the Skin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reavis Z. Wortham's "The Rock Hole"

Reavis Z. Wortham recently retired from 35 years in public education, the past 25 in the Communications Department of the Garland ISD in Texas, and the final 4 as the Director. He is now a full-time freelance writer and novelist. His first book, Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Café, was released in 1999.

Here he shares some ideas for casting a cinematic adaptation of his new novel, The Rock Hole, the first mystery in The Red River Series:
The Rock Hole is set in rural 1964 Lamar County, Texas. A bottomland farming community, the setting is reminiscent of the classic movie, Home From the Hill, from the novel of the same name. There is not a lot of beautiful scenery, simply tree-lined rivers and fields, and many hardscrabble farms.

I had no preconceived notions about who might play these parts. The main character, Ned Parker, is based on my grandfather who was constable during that time. He isn’t your traditional svelte, good looking gumshoe, rather a time-worn, balding, pot-bellied farmer who serves his community after he gets off a tractor each day. A number of people have suggested Robert Duvall for this role, but my agent Jeanie Pantelakis at Sullivan Maxx is insistent that Ed Harris play the part. Ed’s gonna have to grow a belly first, though.

If I had anyone in mind to play the almost mythical deputy John Washington, it would be Michael Clarke Duncan. His performance in The Green Mile hung around the edges of my mind while I was writing the book, but truly the character was based on someone I knew as a child.

The ten-year-old boy and girl are wide open to interpretation. The kids in my book trailer for The Rock Hole were local children who did a great job. They should be played by up and coming youngsters who can shoulder the characteristics of sickly, but adventurous Top, and precocious, foul-mouthed Pepper.

Colin Egglesfield, Cody, the half-Choctaw Vietnam veteran who has just returned home. His chiseled features already tell the story of a man who is tormented by what he saw in the jungles just before the war truly exploded for the American people.

My youngest daughter votes for comedian Ron White to take the role of the old East Texas judge O.C. Rains. He has the hair, and the Texas accent necessary to invoke an the soft-hearted curmudgeon very easily.

Tantoo Cardinal is the perfect Miss Becky, wife of constable Ned Parker. She is of mixed Native American and European descent and true to the nature of the book. She has a wonderfully careworn face that will haunt the audience and show the true spirit of a full blood Choctaw farm wife who wants nothing more than to keep her family safe and to serve her savior.
Learn more about the book and author at Reavis Z. Wortham's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Rock Hole.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Michele Young-Stone's "The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors"

Michele Young-Stone's debut novel The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors came out last year to wide acclaim and is now available in paperback.

Here she shares some ideas for casting a big-screen adaptation of the novel:
People always ask: When your book is made into a movie, who do you want to star in it?

I have zero illusions—but lots of fantasies!!!!!! My sister used to ask if my niece could be in it as an extra. I guess… Oh, sure! What the hell…

At that time, the novel wasn’t even published. But, all that said, here is my wish list:

Becca Burke (main character—feisty redhead) Abigail Breslin with curls. She is a fantastic actress.

Buckley Pitank (next main character—victim of fate or God’s will; Biblical Job figure; wonderful boy; loves his mother more than ice cream) Someone unknown, someone like the actor from About a Boy; someone with serious talent, but hasn’t had his big break…

Abigail Pitank (Buckley’s mother): Beat down but triumphant. Katie Holmes plus one-hundred pounds.

Paddy John (Salty sailor with no filter): Jeff Bridges—absolutely and without a doubt. Definitely Jeff Bridges.

Mary Wickle Burke: (Becca’s drunken poetic abused mom) Amy Adams; she can play any age. She’s superb.

Patty-Cake: (Sexy, determined; ambitious; talented) Scarlett Johansson.

Rowan Burke: Son-of-a-bitch womanizer, chemist; Aaron Eckhart.
I want Helena Bonham Carter in the movie version, but I’m not sure who I’d want her to play. Ever since I saw her in Lady Jane, I’ve been in love with her, and unlike the fashion critics, I adore her style! I was once super Goth and I still like to retain my funk in fashion.
Read an excerpt from The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, and learn more about the book and author at Michele Young-Stone's website, blog, and Facebook fan page. 

The Page 69 Test: The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Michele Young-Stone & Emma (May 2010) and Coffee with a Canine: Michele Young-Stone & Emma Peel and Chauncey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Man Martin's "Paradise Dogs"

Man Martin is a writer, teacher, and founding member of the Perambulators living in Atlanta, Georgia. His debut novel, Days of the Endless Corvette, made him Georgia Author of the Year in 2008.

Here he shares his picks for the cast of an adaptation of his new novel, Paradise Dogs:
Casting a hypothetical film version of Paradise Dogs, what a fun indulgence! But it won’t have any relevance to someone who doesn’t know the plot, so in a nutshell, it’s about Adam Newman, an alcoholic entrepreneur attempting to reunite with his estranged ex-wife, recover a fortune in missing diamonds, and expose a communist conspiracy. He and his shy, nerdy son – who happens to be in love with his half-brother’s girlfriend - embark on a series of misadventures with mistaken identities, jailhouse weddings, bar fights, and secret government agents.

So now that you know that, here’s how I would cast it.

Adam Newman – Nicolas Cage or else Gary Busey. Nicolas Cage makes some of the best movies I’ve ever seen and some of the worst. This would be one of his good movies. In Leaving Las Vegas he played an alcoholic with such terrifying believability, I couldn’t get him out of my head while writing Paradise Dogs. But really Gary Busey might also the type I’d want. I couldn’t find a really recent photo of him, but I suspect by now he looks rode hard and put up wet. But he’s the type of person you might follow against your better judgment into a world of trouble. Look at his face. You’d never trust a guy like that, but he trusts himself so much.

Addison Newman – The part of Adam’s son needs to go to a relative unknown; the obvious and conventional choices, John Francis Daley and Michael Cera, are too overexposed and too long in the tooth for this project. Erik Per Sullivan – who played the youngest brother on Malcolm in the Middle might work out. I think, though, Olly Alexander would be the best choice. In the god-awful Gulliver’s Travels, he was praised for his “oddly nervous charm.” Nervous, odd, and charm: that’s what we need for Addison Newman.

Kathleen Neligan – Another crucial and difficult role to cast. Hollywood is even tougher on young actresses than on actors. Talented, young, and pretty is a recipe for getting over-hyped and over exposed; they quickly become caricatures of themselves. I don’t know her work, but Teresa Palmer looks right for the part. Pretty, but not too pretty. A believable girl-next-door who’d give you hell if you called her the girl-next-door.

Lily Manzana and Evelyn Newman, Adam Newman’s girlfriend and ex-wife – Eva Langoria would be the pick for Adam’s Cuban fiancée. Petite but strong-willed, a Cubana who would speak perfectly unaccented English, having dutifully studied “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power,” but get the idioms just wrong, always selecting the biggest and most impressive word instead of the right one. Patricia Heaton as Adam’s ex-wife, sensible and down-to-earth, but you wouldn’t be surprised to hear her wax eloquent about raising earthworms.

Walt Disney – Uncle Walt makes a cameo in the story, a perfect role for Johnny Depp who’s been overused in the Pirates franchise but I think would make a wonderfully deadpan lunatic Disney. Or maybe Nicolas Cage could play Disney… hmmm…
Visit Man Martin's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Man Martin and Zoe.

Writers Read: Man Martin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rebecca Makkai's "The Borrower"

Rebecca Makkai’s stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2008, 2009, and 2010, and have appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, and on NPR’s Selected Shorts.

Here she shares some ideas about writer-director, soundtrack, and cast for an adaptation of her new novel, The Borrower:
A small part of me hopes that if The Borrower is ever turned into a movie, Charlie Kaufman will write the script and turn it into a twisted meta-film wherein both he and I are characters getting kidnapped by my protagonist.

Failing that, I’d hope for a Little Miss Sunshine aesthetic. Quirky but not cutesy. I love movies where there’s so much clutter in the background that it feels absolutely real. Little Miss Sunshine was like that, as was the underrated The Family Stone. The early part of The Borrower is set in the children’s section of a public library, and I’d hate to see a sanitized version. There should be books and puppets and germy puzzles and posters everywhere. Lucy isn’t a particularly organized or responsible librarian, either, and I think it’s been a long time since she’s taken the Lysol to the board books.

On the other hand, I’d also love a surreal, glossy, Amélie-style glow over everything. Why not?

Zooey Deschanel must play Lucy. If she does not want to play Lucy, she must somehow be forced. I’m afraid this fake-movie-producer gig has me a little high on power. I’m starting to get why Hollywood is so strange. In the unlikely event that Zooey Deschanel will not bow to my every whim, I will grudgingly accept either Claire Danes or Chloe Sevigny.

I can’t tell you who should play Ian, the ten-year-old boy whose evangelical parents fear he is gay, because realistically any movie of my book wouldn’t get made until five or six years from now, so this kid would have to be currently four years old. But if we could somehow reverse-age Chris Colfer (Kurt on Glee), the timing would be just about perfect. I’m sure that can be arranged.

I realize movies have different rules than books, and any responsible screenplay writer would quickly smash some of my male characters together. Two of them, Tim and Glenn, are about the same age. Okay, so we name him Glim or Ten or something, and instead of a helpful gay neighbor and a sleazy straight musician love interest, he becomes the helpful love interest. I’m okay with that. Jason Segel is hereby cast as Glim.

Lucy’s father is in the Russian mafia, and this presents a problem. Do you go with someone intimidating, or someone Russian? I can’t think of any scary Russian actors. Is it better to have Robert De Niro fake an accent, or Mikhail Baryshnikov try to look sketchy? Baryshnikov did a surprisingly fabulous job in Sex and the City, so the job is his.

I think I’d care most about the soundtrack, though. When I feel manipulated by a movie, it’s usually because a whiny string section is insisting that I feel moved. I love movies with real songs, ones you might have heard before but aren’t sick of yet, ones that fit the scene because in real life yes, we do have music playing. What we don’t have are random violin bursts emphasizing our every move. Of course Wes Anderson does the best soundtracks in the world, so he’s welcome to sign on for just that part.

Oh, and an original Rufus Wainwright song as the credits roll. Is that too much to ask?
Learn more about the author and her work at Rebecca Makkai's website.

Writers Read: Rebecca Makkai (August 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 17, 2011

Clare O'Donohue's "Missing Persons"

Clare O'Donohue worked on the HGTV show, Simply Quilts for four seasons, eventually becoming the Supervising Producer, and has written and produced for a lot of other shows as well. In the last twelve years, she worked on shows for The History Channel, truTV, Food Network, A&E, Discovery, TLC, and others.

In 2008 she published The Lover’s Knot, the first in the Someday Quilts series, and followed the debut with A Drunkard’s Path and The Double Cross. The Devil’s Puzzle, the fourth novel in the series, arrives in the fall of 2011.

Here she shares some suggestions for the lead characters in an adaptation of her new novel, Missing Persons, the first novel in her new, edgier mystery series:
In Missing Persons, I introduce Kate Conway, a 37-year-old freelance television producer whose about-to-be-ex-husband has died under suspicious circumstances. Kate is left with a pile of secrets, her crazy in-laws, and her husband's girlfriend, Vera, who wants to be friends. And as much as Kate would love to fall apart, she has bills to pay. In order to keep a roof over her head, Kate is willing to compromise her ethics to do her job. (In this case exploiting the family of a missing girl for a true crime show). Her sarcasm and her stubborness keep her on her feet even when things become creepy and threatening. I could see Jennifer Garner in her role, because I think Garner can be tough and girl-next-door. She's very attractive but not glamorous and, I'm just guessing, but she looks like she could handle a dirty joke or a dead mouse, but would run like hell from anyone with a gun. That's Kate. Mirielle Enos, who is starring in AMC's The Killing, is another possibility. Her character is also tough while trying very hard not to fall apart and Enos is terrific at walking that line.

Vera is a bit tougher to cast. She's 41, blond, and earth-mothery. Kate wants to hate Vera but can't. I wanted to hate Vera when I started writing the book, but couldn't either. She kind of grows on you in a ditsy but intelligent sort of way. I kept thinking of the late, great Judy Holliday when I wrote the character. Both Vera and Kate are likable people who make some inexcusable choices, so it's a hard balance for an actress, but I think they'd be fun women to play.
Learn more about the book and author at Clare O'Donohue's website and blog.

Read about the crime novel O'Donohue would most like to have written.

The Page 69 Test: Missing Persons.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Scott Sparling's "Wire to Wire"

Scott Sparling grew up near railroad tracks in Michigan. He now lives outside Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.

Here he shares some insights into adapting his new novel Wire to Wire for the big screen:
Okay, I’m stumped. I have no idea who should play the main characters in Wire to Wire.Here’s what I do know:

The big railroad ferry that carries freight trains across Lake Michigan – called the Chief Tecumseh in the book – should be played by the ship it is based on, the Arthur K. Atkinson. Unless it’s already been sunk or turned into scrap metal.

The song over the credits should be Joe Ely’s “Boxcars,” Bob Seger’s “Railroad Days,” or Jon Dee Graham’s “Beautifully Broken.”

No glue should be huffed during the making of the film.

More seriously, I think the reason I can’t picture actors playing Slater or Harp or Lane from Wire to Wire is that I’ve lived with the characters too long in my head. So I turned to my editors for help. Here’s what they said:

For Lane – the damaged, glue-sniffing but irresistible woman at that apex of the love triangle – try Mila Kunis or Emmy Rossum. It needs to be someone who can look through all the lies life has to offer, and is seriously freaked. Remember the expression on the face of that famous National Geographic Afghan refuge? Like that.

Michael Slater spends a lot of time staring at video screens and having visions/hallucinations. That might lead to Emile Hirsch, who got pretty trippy in Into the Wild, or Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul.

For Charlie – the small-time drug dealer, puppet-master of Wolverine, Michigan where the book is set – the editors agree on Giovanni Ribisi from Public Enemies and Avatar. Pretty close match, I think.

Harp is the strong, proud, uncompromising freight rider in the book, and he’s the one character I have a Hollywood match for. Taylor Kitsch of Friday Night Lights. I can totally see him rolling into a boxcar and fading into the night.
Learn more about the book and author at Scott Sparling's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Wire to Wire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 13, 2011

Robert Dugoni's "Murder One"

Robert Dugoni practiced as a civil litigator in San Francisco and Seattle for seventeen years. In 1999 he left the full-time practice of law to write, and is a two-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times before obtaining his doctorate of jurisprudence from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.

Here he shares some ideas about casting the lead in an adaptation of his new novel, Murder One:
I’ve had readers suggest Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Junior. Damon and Downey seem more the type. I never thought Downey until I saw him in the Sherlock Holmes movie and he carried it off so well. I can’t honestly say who would fit the role well. I’d almost like to see an unknown or little known actor get a shot. Since Murder One is the fourth in the series, it would have to be an actor with some staying power.
Learn more about the book and author at Robert Dugoni's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Wrongful Death.

Writers Read: Robert Dugoni.

The Page 69 Test: Bodily Harm.

My Book, The Movie: Bodily Harm.

The Page 69 Test: Murder One.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jason Henderson's Alex Van Helsing series

Jason Henderson is from Dallas, Texas, and writes the Alex Van Helsing series. The first Alex Van Helsing book, Vampire Rising, comes out in paperback on July 26th, the same day as the hardback of the second adventure, Voice of the Undead.

Here Henderson highlights the main considerations in casting the leads for adaptations of the series.
I love the question of “how would you cast a movie?” of the Alex books because—well, this is how I think of these books while I write them. I see a movie in my head.

Here’s the first five sentences of Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead:
Alex Van Helsing accelerated the gunmetal-gray Kawasaki Ninja and watched the trees along the road around Lake Geneva melt into a twilight blur. Just a few miles to Glenarvon Academy, just a few more minutes, and no one would be the wiser.

Training had gone on longer than Alex had expected. What was supposed to be a late Saturday afternoon exercise with Sangster, his—what should he call Sangster?—his mentor had turned into a half-day ordeal. Sangster, who everyone else knew as Glenarvon’s literature teacher, had let Alex join him and a team of active agents in a mock incursion into a vampire stronghold.
So, what have we learned?

We know that Alex is a young vampire-hunting spy who rides a motorcycle, and that he has a mentor, also a literature teacher, named Sangster. So these are the roles I would worry about the most.

Sangster? That’s easy. Mr. Sangster, Alex’s insanely fit, machine-gun-wielding, enigmatic literature teacher, is patterned after Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 2. In fact, the first time we learn Sangster’s secret, it’s in a scene where Sangster rides the Triumph that Cruise rode in MI:2. So, over a decade after MI:2, Cruise is still your go-to guy for Mr. Sangster.

But Alex Van Helsing. That’s tougher. Alex is 14 years old, so he doesn’t use a firearm—he favors a vampire-destroying composite plastic crossbow-- and rather than the larger Triumph Speed Triple that Sangster favors, Alex rides a sleek Kawasaki Ninja. Alex is described as dark-haired and fit enough to climb mountains and jump out of airplanes, and he’s not described as being ridiculously tall. In movie terms, by the way “14” doesn’t translate to anything we need to worry about. He could be a 16 year old, an 18 year old. The point is: high school. How old is Jonny Quest? Who knows?

I go to a lot of schools and people take one look at these covers and say: Justin Bieber. But I have no idea if the Canadian megastar is the type to fight vampires while riding a motorcycle, so we should probably puzzle over this some more.

Look at Alex on the covers above and below.

Nah, it’s impossible. Alex is Alex. When Harry Potter was first cast, we had no idea who Daniel Radcliffe was, and now he is Harry. So maybe a complete unknown is the way to go. Tell you one thing—the young actor would have to have gravitas, the ability to seem older than his years and also crack a joke. He has to be 14 going on 30.

Can I go back into the past? Remember how Parker Stevenson on The Hardy Boys always seemed so stoic, even when trying to re-start a private plane that was about to crash into the earth? No? Well, anyway, we need someone like that.

In my mind, I see these characters. They are. Casting is much harder.
Learn more about Jason Henderson and his work at Alex Van Helsing: The Blog.

Writers Read: Jason Henderson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Diane Janes's "Why Didn't You Come for Me?"

Diane Janes is a full time author, who lives and writes in the English Lake District. Prior to be accepted for publication she was shortlisted twice for the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger and her first novel The Pull of the Moon was a finalist for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in 2010.

Here she shares some ideas for casting a big screen adaptation of her latest novel, Why Didn't You Come for Me?:
Why Didn’t You Come For Me? is set mainly in the English Lake District which contains some of Britain’s most beautiful scenery (remember Miss Potter?) so in theory it should be a movie maker’s dream. Other scenes include a real life castle in Scotland and a west country seaside village. All these locations are well off the beaten track, thereby avoiding problems with crowds and extraneous noise – just in case any movie maker out there happens to be thinking about picking up the option…

An ideal cast? Ralph Fiennes would make a good Marcus, I think and Aidan Turner would do a good cameo as Jo’s first husband Dominic. (Aidan Turner would also do a fantastic job with Danny, one of the leading characters in my first novel The Pull of the Moon.)

For Jo, we would need someone still beautiful, but past the first flush of youth – I hate the way women looking far too young, too glamorous and with never a hair out of place are cast in leading roles which require an older, more careworn face. Aside from these reservations, I don’t have a particular actress in mind – let it just be someone who is capable of conveying the full emotional range required by the part – and not Renée Zellweger – who does a good English accent, but is too robust to play Jo.

Supporting roles? Although she looks nothing like Maisie Perry as I envisage her, Alison Steadman is such a great actress that she would do a superb job with Maisie Perry. The same applies to Philip Glenister and the part of Brian, the artist and gallery owner. Sean would need to be played by an up and coming teenage actor, still in drama school, who would obviously go on to win some kind of Most Promising Newcomer award before conquering Hollywood – his presence alone ensuring that the film attained ‘classic’ status….
Learn more about the book and author at Diane Janes's website.

The Page 69 Test: Why Didn't You Come for Me?.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Will Allison's "Long Drive Home"

Will Allison's debut novel, What You Have Left, was selected for Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers, Borders Original Voices, and Book Sense Picks, and was named one of 2007's notable books by the San Francisco Chronicle. His short stories have appeared in magazines such as Zoetrope: All-Story, Glimmer Train, and One Story and have received special mention in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Short Stories anthologies. He is the former executive editor of Story.

Here he explains his choice for director and star of an adaptation of his new novel, Long Drive Home:
I occasionally daydream of Zach Braff directing a film version of Long Drive Home. Braff grew up in South Orange, New Jersey, which is where I live and where the book is set. I thought he had such a perfectly light touch in his only movie, Garden State, not to mention an inspired performance. Natalie Portman was a revelation, too.

I also like the idea of Braff playing the protagonist, Glen Bauer. The novel walks a fine line, inviting readers to identify with a character who makes some terrible decisions with disatrous consequences. I find Braff, as an actor, naturally sympathetic. I think his appeal would create an interesting tension onscreen--a guy you want to like, even root for, against your better judgment.

At any rate, I hope Braff directs another movie soon.
Learn more about the book and author at Will Allison's website.

The Page 69 Test: Long Drive Home.

Writer's Read: Will Allison.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Adam Mitzner's "A Conflict of Interest"

Adam Mitzner graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. and M.A. in politics, and from there went directly on to law school at the University of Virginia.

After law school, he joined the litigation department of a large New York City law firm, and after a few more stops, is currently the head of the litigation department of Pavia & Harcourt LLP. Pavia & Harcourt recently received some fame because it is the law firm where Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor practiced before she was appointed to the bench.

Here he shares some ideas about casting a big screen adaptation of his new novel, A Conflict of Interest:
I don't think about casting when I'm creating characters. More often than not, they're an amalgam of people I actually know. However, after A Conflict of Interest was finished, and there was some movie interest, I couldn't help but wonder who could bring the characters to life. I think that Michael Ohlig is perhaps the most complicated of the book's characters, and so I'd like to see a very talented actor in the role. Someone who can portray what I see as Ohlig's swashbuckling nature, as well as a vulnerability. Maybe Harrison Ford, or Jeff Bridges or Pierce Brosnan?

As for the protagonist, Alex Miller, perhaps it's my and Alex's love of Batman that would have me cast Christian Bale, but he combines the intelligence and conflict that I was going for with Alex. A similar mix of intelligence and beauty is necessary for the female leads -- Abby Sloan and Elizabeth Miller. For Abby -- Rachel McAdams? Elizabeth is an artist, so I'd want someone with a creative flair, but she's also a serious person. I was a big Lost fan -- Evangeline Lilly?
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mitzner's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Conflict of Interest.

Writers Read: Adam Mitzner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 2, 2011

David Gullette's "Dreaming Nicaragua"

David Gullette is an English professor at Simmons College and the author of two books about revolutionary poetry in Nicaragua.

Here he shares some suggestions for casting an adaptation of his new novel, Dreaming Nicaragua:
The year is 2000: Jesse Pelletier is a Vietnam Vet who runs a small hotel in a little port on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. He’s 56. It’s been 10 years since he divorced his wife and got on his daughter’s shit-list. But the daughter, Suzy, has decided to come to Nicaragua to visit the old man and see if they can reconcile. Jesse’s love interest is a half-Nicaraguan California woman, Caitlin Cuadra, who has her own sailboat: she’s skinny, tough and gorgeous in a post-chemo sort of way (she’s been battling the Big C.) Jesse’s old Vietnam buddy Tapper also turns up—he says he’s been exporting Nica shrimp to LA (turns out he also trained Contras in Honduras in the 8os): he’s semi-drugged-up, foul-mouthed, and clearly into more stuff than just shrimp.

Jesse should be played by a solid 50-ish actor who knows how to suggest a subfloor of panic and bad dreams beneath a surface of calm and competence: Kevin Spacey. (I would have said Sam Shepard, but he’s too old.)

Suzy is a plummy role for a stubborn, snarky 20-something: Jennifer Lawrence is just old enough for this part.

Caitlin has to look like a woman returning from near-death: the face gaunt, savaged, intensely sexy: Patti Smith has the authenticity to ace the role. That she’s not an “actress” is perfect.

Tapper was written with Nick Nolte in mind—not the earnest photographer of his first Nica movie, Under Fire, but a darker, more menacing riff on the role of the homeless dude in Down and Out in Beverly Hills.
Read more about Dreaming Nicaragua at the Fenway Press website.

The Page 69 Test: Dreaming Nicaragua.

--Marshal Zeringue