Saturday, July 30, 2011

Paul Malmont's "The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown"

Paul Malmont is the author of The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown, out this month from Simon & Schuster.

Here he suggests some possible directors and actors for an adaptation of the new novel:
Any discussion about the casting of my novel, The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown, has to start with the director.
Steven Spielberg. No one does WW2, light and dark, better than the master. Plus, who better to tell the origin story of the genre that has been so rewarding to him?

Francis Ford Coppola. This guy invented the modern ensemble period epic. For all its scope, Amazing is really a character piece, so I think this would be a natural fit for him.

Paul Thomas Anderson. The contemporary master of ensemble pieces and multi-layered story-telling. The guy can open up a moment on film like nobody else.

Duncan Jones. Did you see Moon?

Christopher Nolan. Why not?
And now to the cast. The fun thing about casting it, is that it’s a big cast with lots of juicy roles for hot, young talent.
Robert Heinlein: A terrific leading man who would be amazing in this role is Lee Pace. Great in Pushing Daisies. Even greater in The Fall. Michael Fassbender from X-Men, has the dark energy needed to pull off this complicated role of the brilliant leader. In a somewhat different vein, so does Leonardo DiCaprio.

Isaac Asimov: Daniel Radcliffe. He’s young, earnest and intelligent. Plus a little naïve-looking.

L. Ron Hubbard: Seth Rogan or Chris Pine, both work different sides of swagger and charm.

L. Sprague de Camp: Aaron Johnson or Ben Barnes both have the touch of patrician New York society about them.

Virginia Gerstenfeld: Anne Hathaway or Olivia Wilde have the intelligence and style to pull off the 40’s patter and clothes.

Catherine de Camp: Evan Rachel Wood. She does debauched style with wit and grace. Perfect.

Gertrude Asimov: Kat Dennings or Kristen Stewart. Young, earthy and sly. The perfect foil for Isaac’s naiveté.
When it comes to some of the other members of the story, I have to go back to my dream cast for The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril in which they first appear and own center stage:
Walter Gibson. I’d love to have Michael J. Fox cured and suited up for this part. Matthew Broderick, would be great, too. If he’s still acting. But, I’d be happy if Sam Rockwell gears up for it, plus he’s worked with Duncan Jones (hint, Duncan, hint). I wanted Robert Downey Jr. for this pre-Iron Man. Still do.

Lester Dent. Matthew Fox or Aaron Eckhart. The stoic, charming center of the story. Lee Pace, if DiCaprio takes the role of Heinlein from him.

Norma Dent. Heather Graham. Too often stuck playing goofball—I think she’d be a terrific 30’s-40’s adventuress.
Before I close out, I’d like to make the point that The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril and The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown would make an incredible TV-series, as much as I’d love to see it on a theater screen. Think of it as Mad Men with pulp mags instead of advertising. You’re welcome, Hollywood!
Learn more about the book and author at Paul Malmont's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Paul Malmont's Jack London in Paradise.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Christine Cody's "Bloodlands"

Christine Cody is the author of the new postapocalyptic supernatural Western Bloodlands series. The first book, Bloodlands, launched this week and will be followed by Blood Rules (August 30) and In Blood We Trust (September 27).

Here she shares some ideas for casting a big screen adaptation of the Bloodlands story:
In the near-distant future, there is a place called the New Badlands. It’s a desolate area in the West forged by the terrible events that altered the entire country. A place where a few frightened citizens retreated underground to shelter from the brutal weather ... and from a society gone terribly dangerous.

This is the story of a drifter, Gabriel, who comes to the New Badlands and is taken in by reluctant settlers after he’s wounded. If this is reminiscent of a bare-bones plot from one of many classic Westerns, you’d be right—but with a paranormal twist on all those Western tropes. One such trope is the lead character, Gabriel. He’s just like the “drifter/gunslinger” who’s searching for redemption and what’s left of his humanity, but instead of being a cowboy, he’s a fangslinging vampire, and he’s literally lost his soul. I wish we still had Gary Cooper around for this role—or a thirty-ish Russell Crowe. Whoever plays Gabriel would need a sort of bruised beauty about him, an edgy good-guy quality with a hint of tragedy lurking in his steady gaze.

The heroine, Mariah Lyander, is far easier to cast for me. She’s in her early twenties, waifish with red hair that’s been cut to the chin by her knife. She’s got a core of anger that separates her from the other settlers, and she’s mysterious, traumatized by a past she can’t let go of. Even so, she’s no victim. I can see a strong, young, up-and-coming actress like Imogen Poots or Mia Wasikowska fleshing out Mariah—and enthralling Gabriel enough to make him want to “out” himself and protect the settlers when a monster slayer appears in the New Badlands.

One of my favorite characters to write was the villain of the piece—the “cruel rancher nemesis” trope who, along with his hired thugs, harasses Gabriel and the settlers. In most Westerns, this part would be played by a smooth older man with silver hair and dandy clothes. In Bloodlands, I went a different direction for Johnson Stamp: he’s in his early twenties, having left behind the urban hubs for a new life out in the nowheres. It’s only when his employees start turning up dead that he confronts his neighbors, thinking that they’re going too far in protecting their territory. I wrote this part with the actor Ryan Donawho in mind because his eyes say so much—they can be full of pain or arrogance, and they can be as dark as the depths of a gun barrel. He fits Stamp to a T.

There are a couple of standout settlers who would be fun to cast, too. One of them is the oldster—the feisty motormouth who’d be John Wayne’s deputy or sidekick. Someone like Michael Douglas (or Kevin Bacon, if he were at least fifteen years older!) would bring this guy to life. There’s also Zel Hopkins, a fifty-ish ex-cop who can still kick ass. Who better to do that than, say, Sons of Anarchy’s Katey Sagal?
Learn more about the book and author at the Bloodlands wesbite and on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Will Lavender's "Dominance"

Will Lavender is a graduate of Centre College with an MFA from Bard College. His debut novel, Obedience, was a New York Times and international bestseller. His novels have been sold in 13 countries.

Here he explains why a certain celebrated director might be perfect for an adaptation of his new novel, Dominance:
I always have an idea of how I want my books to “feel.” Tone isn’t something your English 101 prof scribbles on the chalk board; I really believe in it. In fact, I take tone so seriously I rewrite only to create a kind of menacing hum beneath the story. I want my books to be creepy, harrowing freakfests that set readers on the edge of their seats.

Roman Polanski, regardless of how one feels about his politics or his past, seems to direct with a very particular tone in mind. His early films (especially the paranoid, jarring Knife in the Water) have the kind of unspoken menace I am always shooting for when I write. The four characters in Knife act honestly, always one of the traits of a good film, but they also act as if they know something the viewer does not. There is a dreadful, almost sickening feeling about the film; it is the feeling that a viewer gets when he knows the characters are heading toward a reckoning.

My books are not feel-good events. They are bombastic, they use horror tropes, but at their hearts I think they are the kinds of things Polanski was drawn to early in his career. They’re paranoid thrillers, basically, with the characters all refusing to give up the novel’s central mystery. Dominance hinges on the hidden identity of a reclusive author, and every character seems to know that author’s identity but refuses to tell. There is a fine line between manipulation and gamesmanship, and the mystery writer must walk the tightrope perfectly between the two to keep the reader invested in his game; Polanski’s best films, even the recent and only mildly successful The Ghost Writer (the novel Polanski pulled from is one of the more brilliant paranoid thrillers I’ve read), balance this wire perfectly. The reader comes out of his films with the blurred, disorienting feeling that he has been guided through a dream world. I hope Dominance achieves something like this, and I would love to see Polanski take a crack at my novel.
Learn more about the author and his work at Will Lavender's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Obedience.

Writers Read: Will Lavender.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 25, 2011

Edie Meidav's "Lola, California"

Edie Meidav is the author of The Far Field: A Novel of Ceylon and Crawl Space.

Winner of a Lannan Fellowship, a Howard Fellowship, the Kafka Prize for Fiction by an American Woman, and the Bard Fiction Prize, she teaches at Bard College.

Here she proposes some suggestions for cast and director of an adaptation of her acclaimed new novel, Lola, California:
Years ago I saw Robert Duvall in The Apostle and you could say that, if we were to freeze time, he would be the ideal lead for any movie based on any of my novels. For Lola, California, however, maybe Ed Harris would be a good latterday descendant of Duvall, capable of playing Vic Mahler as he awaits his end on Death Row. Could, however, Laura Linney be his daughter and play one of the Lolas? Ever since I saw her in You Can Count on Me, I've been smitten: her actor's modus operandi is to strip herself of all ego and plunge into a role, a feat to which we could all aspire. Could Sofia Coppola be the right director? Who knows? What a wonderful indulgence, all this imagining. When I lived in Los Angeles, every Jack and Jane at the Rose Cafe spoke, between long sips of their health elixirs, about who could play whom in their unsold screenplays, and I cannot help but feel their spirit shimmying within this paragraph.
Learn more about the book and author at Edie Meidav's website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Edie Meidav.

The Page 69 Test: Lola, California.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ellen Block's "The Definition of Wind"

Ellen Block is the award-winning, internationally published author of five books, and she is also the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. Block lives in Los Angeles, where she is currently at work on a new novel.

Here she shares some ideas for casting a big-screen adaptation of her latest novel, The Definition of Wind:
As an author living in LA, I'm no stranger to playing the "who would you cast" game. In fact, I often find myself describing the characters via actors in order to bring them to life for people unfamiliar with my past books. The Hollywood-style pitch for my latest novel goes something like this...

Imagine Sandra Bullock...she's a grieving widow, haunted by the loss of her beloved husband and son in a tragic house fire, so she retreats to a quaintly quirky little island in North Carolina's Outer Banks to become the caretaker of an old lighthouse and recuperate. But she quickly discovers that the lighthouse may be as haunted as she is.

With the summer tourist season ushering in sizzling temperatures along with crowds of tourists, our heroine realizes that the hectic world she fled has landed on her doorstep and she isn't sure she can stand the heat. When visitors and natives alike start buzzing about a sunken treasure located off the coast and clues to it's location supposedly being hidden in the lighthouse, she soon becomes the focus of everybody's attention, including a handsome, seductive bachelor...think Aaron Eckhart in aviator shades and khaki shorts. Meanwhile, an attractive, but brooding local fisherman she has a connection with...picture Mark Ruffalo...starts acting strangely. Is he interested in her or is he after the treasure too? Amid the swarms of tourists, it's hard to tell harmless vacationers from those harboring dark intentions.

As Independence Day draws near and she faces fireworks of her own, Sandra Bullock must decide: should she stay on Chapel Isle—risking another heartbreak and even her own safety—or allow the ghosts of her past and the dangers of the present to chase her away?
Learn more about the book and author at Ellen Block's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 22, 2011

Steven Gould's "7th Sigma"

Steven Gould is the author of Jumper, Wildside, Helm, Blind Waves, Reflex, and Jumper: Griffin’s Story, as well as many short stories. He is the recipient of the Hal Clement Young Adult Award for Science Fiction and has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards.

Here he shares some insights into adapting his new novel, 7th Sigma, for the big screen:
Having already had a movie made out of one of my books, this one makes me wince. They're were several candidates for the role of Davy in my first novel Jumper, but we ended up with Young Darth Vader.

The character in 7th Sigma, Kimble, starts out at 12 and ends up at eighteen so it would have to be either an actor with incredible range or a couple of actors. However, this would be so far out in the future that really we're talking about actors who aren't on the scene yet or are child actors now. My dream would be a young Justin Long but he's really too old for the part now.

Unfortunately, movie directors are just as likely to age the part as they are to pick an actor of appropriate age, or race, or sex.
Learn more about the book and author at Steven Gould's website.

Gould is the author of Jumper, Wildside, Helm, Blind Waves, Reflex, and Jumper: Griffin’s Story, as well as many short stories. He is the recipient of the Hal Clement Young Adult Award for Science Fiction and has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards.

Writers Read: Steven Gould.

The Page 69 Test: 7th Sigma.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dawn Tripp's "Game of Secrets"

Dawn Tripp graduated from Harvard and lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. She is the author of the novels Moon Tide and The Season of Open Water, which won the Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction.

Here she shares some suggestions for cast and director of an adaptation of her new novel, Game of Secrets:
Love this question. I am a bookworm, 100 percent geek, and I rarely have a character in my head pinned to a movie star, but oddly enough, as I was writing Game of Secrets, I did.

Game of Secrets is a mystery, a small-town murder played out through a Scrabble game. And from the start, I saw the two women sitting down to that game so clearly: Meryl Streep is Jane—Jane is deeply intuitive, but slightly ajar. She is 60 when she comes to play a last Scrabble game with Ada Varick who, years ago, was Jane's father's lover, and the irresistibly beautiful reason he was killed. I want Helen Mirren for Ada. Only Helen Mirren. Something about the expressiveness of her mouth, that slightly wicked gorgeous way she has. That’s Ada.

Marne, Jane’s daughter, crept into the story as a satellite character, then woke up with a voice of her own. She threw me at first—so judgmental, moody and cynical--but she is funny, a wry sense of humor, she made me laugh. I could feel how alive she was, how on the verge. She feels so much, and yet is stubbornly unwilling to let herself feel. Natalie Portman for Marne, or perhaps Marla Sokoloff, plus five years. While it first appears that Jane and Ada meet to play their game as some kind of reckoning with the past, the stakes shift when Marne falls for Ada’s youngest son, 42 year old Ray. Viggo Mortensen please, sun-tanned, pick-up truck stoic Yank, with that jaw you just want to run your finger down.

One of the most crucial characters is Huck Varick, Ray’s older brother. He’s tough to pin down. At one point, Marne describes how Huck—whom she can’t stand—still has “that dazed sort of juvenile swagger like he just stepped out of Bruce Springsteen song gone amok.” Sean Penn or Jeff Bridges. Both have the edge of the older Huck. Oddly enough, before I knew any details about the kind of man Huck would grow up to be—a man whose brutal past and views are easy to dislike or disdain, before I even knew his name, I saw Huck only as a teenage boy, driving fast down an unfinished highway in a borrowed car, heat in his hands because he loved a girl. As that boy, Huck is the embodiment of raw and simple desire, not only for that girl but for the freedom of the dream she represents. Young Huck has a James Dean kind of doom about him. He is like fire underground. And I love that about him. James Franco for young Huck.

But who for director? At the end of the day, I want a director who can do for Game of Secrets what Minghella did for Ondaatje's English Patient—transmute those key aspects of a novel’s story in such a way that it breathes an entirely different life in the form of a film.
Learn more about the book and author at Dawn Tripp's website.

The Page 69 Test: Game of Secrets.

Writers Read: Dawn Tripp.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bill Crider's "The Wild Hog Murders"

Bill Crider is the winner of two Anthony Awards and is an Edgar Award finalist.

Here he shares some ideas about the leading man--and the titular squealers--in an adaptation of his new novel, The Wild Hog Murders, the latest of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries:
I think that the last time I answered this question, I said I’d like to see Tommy Lee Jones play the part of Sheriff Dan Rhodes. That must have stuck with me because I wrote a joke about it into The Wild Hog Murders. I’d still love to see Jones in the part, but what I’m wondering about now is how they’d do the wild hogs if they made a movie of this book. With all the CGI special effects these days, they’d probably just do them with a computer, but it would be more fun if they used real wild hogs. Real ones would be hard to control, and they’d need a good hog wrangler. They’d probably need some brave stuntmen, too.

The hogs have been in every book about Rhodes, including the first one (Too Late to Die), in which they played a major role. At the time I wrote that one, more than twenty-five years ago, I had no idea that they’d become such an integral part of the series. The real ones were already making pests of themselves, but I didn’t know that they’d become such a huge problem in the state of Texas. Nobody else did, either, but just as they’ve been taking over more and more real territory, they’ve been occupying more time in the books. This time they get center stage, so if there was ever a movie, maybe one of them would become a breakout star, the Lassie of hogs. Hey, it could happen.

Seepy Benton, by the way, insists that if there is a movie, he’s going to play himself.
Learn more about the book and author at Bill Crider's website and blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder, Murder Among the OWLS, Of All Sad Words, Murder in Four Parts, and Murder in the Air.

The Page 69 Test: The Wild Hog Murders.

Writers Read: Bill Crider.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hannah Nordhaus's "The Beekeeper's Lament"

Award-winning journalist Hannah Nordhaus has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, the Village Voice, Outside magazine, and other publications.

Here she shares some cast preferences for an adaptation of her new book, The Beekeeper's Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America:
I want Nicholson! Jack Nicholson and my main character, migratory beekeeper John Miller, have the same booming voice (though Miller doesn’t growl quite so much), a similar, eye-rolling sense of drama, a frenetic vibe, and a wicked sense of humor. They even have the same hairline. Sure, Nicholson’s older than my beekeeper-in-mid-career (and mid-life) crisis, but there’s hair dye for that, right? If Nicholson doesn’t work out, I’ll take Chris Cooper. I’d like Jack Lemmon, back from the dead, to play Miller’s best friend Larry Krause. And I only ask that someone beautiful play me, so I can bask in her reflected loveliness. She must have curly hair, so bees can get stuck in it.
Learn more about the book and author at Hannah Nordhaus's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: The Beekeeper's Lament.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lynn Kiele Bonasia's "Countess Nobody"

Lynn Kiele Bonasia is the author of three novels. Released this June, Countess Nobody, her first novel for young adults, is about a teenage girl whose noble dreams are dashed when she learns she won’t inherit the family title. Summer Shift and Some Assembly Required are women’s fiction set on Cape Cod where Bonasia lives and writes.

Here she shares some ideas for casting a big screen adaptation of Countess Nobody:
I have no trouble imagining who might star in my two adult Cape novel fantasy film adaptations, but casting for my latest book, Countess Nobody, which happens to be a novel for young adults, left me in quandary. The last time I picked up a People Magazine, Scarlett Johansson was the “it” girl. Ok, maybe I’m not that bad but I did cheat a little for this exercise and tapped some of the kids in my publisher’s office, Egmont USA. Thanks to Sam, in particular, for these amazing recommendations.

Countess Nobody is about a young girl whose tiara dreams are dashed when she learns that, just because she’s a girl, she won’t inherit the family title. For my nobility-challenged heroine, Sophie, I choose Dakota Fanning. Aside from knowing that she has the acting chops, she’s also the right mix of smart and plucky to play a teenager who doesn’t roll over when faced with disappointment.

For Sam, Sophie’s charmingly clueless twin brother who has no idea how really good looking he is, my beefcake consultant at Egmont suggested Alex Pettyfer. Let’s assume, for the sake of my fantasy, that he’s one of those British actors who can fake an American accent like nobody’s business. Because he’s otherwise ridiculously appealing and I think he’d make a great Sam. And, at the very least, someone fun for girls to look at on a big screen for two hours.

Which brings me to the role of Spencer, Sophie’s beloved, for whom I choose dark, handsome heartthrob Colton Haynes, who tried out for Edward in Twilight but lost to Robert Pattinson. No worries, Colton. You’d make a perfect Spencer. And you won’t have to drink any animal blood-tinis.

While it’s fun to think who might play my characters in a movie, I truthfully don’t think about “casting” when I’m writing. For me, characters need to come about organically for me to be able to inhabit them. So, no matter how adeptly cast, the people in my head will never see the big screen and I’m fine with that.
Learn more about the book and author at Lynn Kiele Bonasia's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Lynn Kiele Bonasia & Kiele.

The Page 69 Test: Summer Shift.

Writers Read: Lynn Kiele Bonasia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

David Hagberg's "Abyss"

David Hagberg is a former Air Force cryptographer who has traveled extensively in Europe, the Arctic, and the Caribbean and has spoken at CIA functions. He has published more than twenty novels of suspense, including the bestselling Allah's Scorpion, Dance With the Dragon, and The Expediter.

Here he shares some suggestions for director and stars for an adaptation of his latest thriller, Abyss:
My nasty little story telling secret concerns the age of Kirk McGarvey who has been the main character in fifteen novels and counting. Without Honor, the first story, he is hiding in plain sight in Switzerland with a live in girlfriend and his go to hell kit—cash, several passports, credit cards and his pistol a Walther PPK, suppressor and a couple extra magazines of ammunition. An assignment for the CIA that went bad in mid-stream ruined his marriage and forced him to go to ground.

At that point he was a man of fifty or so, with a background in Air Force intel in Vietnam.

Move forward to my new novel Abyss, set right now, and Mac is still about fifty or so, and I no longer mention any Vietnam connection, because that would put him in his late sixties. I’ve never aged him, and I blame it all on Mickey Spillane, who early in my career gave me two pieces of advice: If you have a character you like, don’t age them, your readers won’t care. And, if your plot sags kill someone important.

With all that in mind Bruce Willis has always been in my head as McGarvey. The actor is so goddamned versatile. The problem of course is that Willis has aged, where Mac has not. Right now I’m seeing Russell Crowe, one of my favorites, as Mac.

So in Abyss which is basically an ecological thriller (global warming and all that) Mac goes up against Brian DeCamp, a highly trained former South African Self Defense Force mercenary who has been hired to sabotage a nuclear power plant. Of course he’s Matt Damon.

DeCamp has been hired by Anne Marie Marinaccio who is a multi-billionaire hedge fund/derivatives manager doing business in Dubai because she’s wanted for financial crimes in the U.S This woman is evil, manipulative and as driven to continue making money as she is brilliant. I can’t see anyone else in the role except for Meryl Streep.

But driving the entire story is the NOAA ocean scientist Dr. Eve Larsen—think a bronzed, outdoorsy Hilary Swank —who has devised a system to take limitless energy out of the Gulf Stream and other ocean currents, not only generating cheap electricity from a non-polluting resource, but actually having the potential to change the weather planet wide. Dr.Larsen will win the Nobel Peace Prize for her science, but just about everyone who makes money from fossil fuels and nuclear energy will come gunning for her.

And how about Ridley Scott or  James Cameron to direct?

Ah, I can see myself sitting back now with a bottle Veuve Clicquot, my feet up, watching the opening credits.
Learn more about the book and author at David Hagberg's website.

Writers Read: David Hagberg.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chevy Stevens's "Still Missing"

Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a Realtor. At open houses, waiting between potential buyers, she spent hours scaring herself with thoughts of horrible things that could happen to her. Her most terrifying scenario, which began with being abducted, was the inspiration for Still Missing. After six months Stevens sold her house and left real estate so she could finish the book. She enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s hiking with her husband and dog in the local mountains. Her new novel is Never Knowing.

Here Stevens shares some ideas for the principal cast of a Still Missing adaptation:
When I first started writing Still Missing, which has now been optioned for a movie, I used to imagine Gary Kincaid, the lead detective, as George Clooney and Annie, the main character, as Angelina Jolie, how she was in the movie Girl, Interrupted. But since it took a few years to finish the book, and it might take a couple of more before it’s ever made into a movie, I don’t think either of them would be age appropriate anymore.

These days, I’d love to see Natalie Portman as the lead actress, playing Annie. She’s very talented and also gorgeous in a vulnerable but tough way. For The Freak, I often thought of Owen Wilson when I was writing and I used his mannerisms and way of moving and speaking as inspiration. If he ever wanted to break away from comedies, this would be the movie for him! Funny enough, I had a fan on my Facebook comment that for some reason she kept thinking of Owen Wilson when she was reading The Freak, so I thought that was really interesting. The other actor that I think would be perfect is Neal McDonough. There’s something very arresting about him, but in a scary fascinating kind of way.
Visit the official Chevy Stevens website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Chevy Stevens and Annie.

Writers Read: Chevy Stevens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Roger Smith's "Dust Devils"

Roger Smith was born in Johannesburg and now lives in Cape Town. His debut thriller, Mixed Blood (2009), was published in six countries and won the Deutscher Krimi Preis (German Crime Prize). His second book, Wake Up Dead (2010), was a 10 best pick of the Philadelphia Enquirer, Times (South Africa) and Krimiwelt (Germany) and was nominated for the German Krimi-Blitz Reader’s Award. Mixed Blood and Wake Up Dead were nominated for Spinetingler Magazine New Voice Awards in the U.S. and both books are in development as feature films.

Here he shares his take on the stars of an adaptation of his third book, Dust Devils:
It’s ironic that you ask me this about Dust Devils, because it is my only book not to be in development as a feature film (although, happily, there is real interest.) Mixed Blood and Wake Up Dead are destined for the big screen, and as Dust Devils shares a character with Mixed Blood, Zulu investigator Disaster Zondi who’ll be played by Samuel L. Jackson in that movie, let’s cast Mr Jackson in Dust Devils, too.

Zondi is an urban sophisticate, living in the sprawling metropolis of Johannesburg, an enclave of privilege surrounded by encroaching ghettoes, very far from his birthplace, the rural Zulu valley he fled as a youth. Zondi’s boss and mentor made the mistake of investigating the corrupt minister of justice, and his investigative unit has been disbanded and Zondi is on the loose – and when a mysterious wedding invite is faxed to him, he is drawn back to his birthplace and the ghosts of his past. Samuel L. would lay his trademark veneer of cool over the already chilly Zondi.

In a parallel-narrative, ex-political activist Robert Dell’s wife and children are murdered and he is framed for their killing – sending him on the run. Viggo Mortensen would be perfect to play the one-time pacifist who picks up a gun, becoming everything he hates to avenge what he loves.

Dell’s only ally is his oldest enemy: his father, an ex-CIA hitman. Bobby Goodbread, a Texan who married a South African, has just been released from prison for crimes he committed in the employ of the apartheid regime. Dying of cancer and desperate for redemption, Goodbread leads his son into the heart of darkness, hunting the real killer. Kris Kristofferson, with his gravely voice and the roadmap of wrinkles around those flinty eyes, would be the man to play Goodbread. He’d have to crop his hair short, though. I wonder if he’d oblige?

The toxic glue binding Dust Devils is Inja “Dog” Mazibuko, a Zulu warlord in the employ of the minister of justice, who killed Dell’s family at the command of his master. Inja is about to take his third wife in a traditional marriage, a teenage girl who may or may not be Disaster Zondi’s daughter. Surprisingly, the British actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, comes to mind to play Inja. Ejiofor is a handsome, urbane, man, but I’d love to see him play Inja Mazibuko, as nasty a character as I have ever written: a killer of women and children who rules his dusty fiefdom with an AK-47 in his hand.
Watch the Dust Devils trailer, and learn more about the book and author at Roger Smith's website.

Read about Roger Smith's top 10 crime novels.

The Page 69 Test: Mixed Blood.

The Page 69 Test: Wake Up Dead.

Writers Read: Roger Smith.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 8, 2011

D.B. Henson's "Deed to Death"

D.B. Henson was born and raised in the southern United States. Her love of reading began at age six when she was given the first book in the Trixie Belden Mystery series. Shortly thereafter, she began writing stories of her own.

A former real estate agent, Henson most recently worked as the director of marketing for a construction company. During a slump in the housing market, she made the decision to leave the construction industry and pursue her life-long dream of writing.

Here she shares her casting suggestions for an adaptation of her novel, Deed to Death:
Every author dreams of watching the characters he or she created come to life on the silver screen. I’m no exception. In Deed to Death, everyone has a secret and no one is who they appear to be. When writing the novel, I really didn’t have any particular actors in mind, but it only took a few minutes to decide who I would love to see in the roles of the main characters.

Evangeline Lilly as Toni Matthews:

I was a fan of the television series Lost, and I think Evangeline would be wonderful as the lead character. In the role of Kate Austen, the Canadian actress proved her ability to portray a woman who is not only a fighter and survivor, but also one who possesses an underlying sadness and vulnerability. These are all traits Toni Matthews shares.

Kate Hudson as Jill Shore:

When you think of Kate Hudson, you automatically think romantic comedy. However, I loved her in The Skeleton Key. In the spooky suspense film, Kate showed she has the necessary skills to master a dramatic role. She’s also a match for Jill’s physical description.

Ashton Kutcher as Mark Ross:

I’ll always remember watching Ashton Kutcher in The Butterfly Effect. Another actor known mainly for comedy, Kutcher’s portrayal of troubled Evan Treborn haunted me long after I left the theater. Not only is his appearance similar to that of Mark Ross, I believe he would bring an interesting edginess to the role.

Josh Duhamel as Brian Chadwick:

Once upon a time, I was hooked on the soap opera All My Children. Josh got his start on the show playing the much-loved former con artist Leo du Pres. Excellent as Leo, Duhamel’s acting ability has continued to improve over the years. I think he would infuse the role of Brian Chadwick with an underlying boyish charm.
Learn more about the book and author at D.B. Henson's website and blog.

Writers Read: D.B. Henson.

The Page 69 Test: Deed to Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bernadette Pajer's "A Spark of Death"

Bernadette Pajer's A Spark of Death is the first book in the Professor Bradshaw Mysteries.

Here she provides some perspective on casting an adaptation of the series:
Who would play Professor Benjamin Bradshaw in the movie A Spark of Death? Well ... the story is in tight third-person POV, and I never actually describe Bradshaw. His age, 35, is known, his dour, plodding personality that's breaking free, his intelligence and dislike of society. A few remarks are made by other characters. An assistant professor says Bradshaw is almost handsome when he smiles. Physically, though, he's whoever the reader sees him as. I know what he looks like to me, but I hesitate to say because I don't want to contrast with an image in a reader's mind. Two of my friends read the book in manuscript form. When talking about it afterward, one believed Bradshaw was short, fair, and had a mustache. The other was positive he was tall, dark, and clean-shaven. Both were certain they saw him as I described him. I did mention once that he "shaved" but gave no specifics. A man with a mustache shaves, so does a man without one.

It's a matter of getting the feel of the character right, not so much the looks, of course. The British do such a great job with mystery series, like the new Sherlock. They somehow nailed the mood and personality of an historical character in a contemporary setting. Brilliant! I wonder who that director would choose to play Bradshaw? I'd love to see the whole Professor Bradshaw Mystery Series filmed for Masterpiece Mystery on PBS. Dare to dream, what? (Sorry, I've been reading Sayers).
Learn more about the book and author at Bernadette Pajer's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Spark of Death.

Writers Read: Bernadette Pajer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Phil Rickman's "The Bones of Avalon"

Phil Rickman has worked as a BBC radio and TV reporter, and he currently writes and presents the book program “Phil the Shelf’ on BBC Radio Wales. He is also the author of the internationally bestselling crime series featuring Merrily Watkins.

Here he shares some suggestions for casting the lead character in a cinematic adaptation of his latest novel, The Bones of Avalon:
The Bones of Avalon is about Dr John Dee, astrologer-royal to Queen Elizabeth I. The only existing portraits of Dee are as an old man. But In the book he's only 32, so I asked a friend, artist and graphic designer Bev Craven if he could digitally rejuvenate Dee from one of these portraits. Interestingly, the result reveals young Dee looking very much like the actor Laurence Fox (if you get the cop-show Inspector Lewis over there, Fox plays Lewis's sidekick, Hathaway). He's such a good actor that I'd love him to play Dee. Maybe it's, you know, meant to be....
Learn more about the book and author at Phil Rickman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kamala Nair's "The Girl in the Garden"

Kamala Nair was born in London and grew up in the United States. A graduate of Wellesley College, she studied literature at Oxford University and received an M.Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin in 2005.

Her she shares some ideas for lead and director of an adaptation of her new novel, The Girl in the Garden:
If The Girl in the Garden were to be made into a movie, I would be interested to see what Alfonso Cuarón would do as director. I’m a huge fan of his work, and in particular, I love how he captures the dark magic of beloved novels, such as A Little Princess and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In A Little Princess in particular, Cuarón beautifully conveys the emotions of childhood, and the juxtaposition of the wild beauty of India, where Sara Crewe is surrounded by love and joy, with the drab world of New York where she is cruelly treated, is perfectly rendered. In terms of casting, I loved Nandita Das’s performance as the Ayah in Deepa Mehta’s film, Earth. Her portrayal of the character and the quality of her beauty reminds me of Amma.
Learn more about the book and author at Kamala Nair's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl in the Garden.

Writers Read: Kamala Nair.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dean Bakopoulos's "My American Unhappiness"

Dean Bakopoulos's is the author of the novel Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, a New York Times Notable Book, and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is a professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University, and the former director of both the Wisconsin Book Festival and the Wisconsin Humanities Council.

Here he shares some casting suggestions for the leads in an adaptation of his new novel, My American Unhappiness:
The most difficult challenge of writing My American Unhappiness was creating a protagonist, Zeke Pappas, who has so buried his own pain with manic intellectual pursuits, that he can no longer function with any sort of steadiness. His emotional core is fried by years of bad luck and over-thinking, and the only time Zeke feels alive is when it is struggling to make a connection, often sexual, with a beautiful woman. It’s a thrill for him to feel anything authentic, and in pursuit of such a thrill he allows much of his life to spin out of control—jobs, friendships, familial relationships.

It’s a novel about a big-hearted but hard-to-like guy on the verge of a crack-up. Perhaps it’s too easy to say I’d like James Franco to play Zeke, but I’m an admirer of his performances and also of his rather manic zealousness as an artist too. He understands both the power of restraint and the excitement of post-modern pyrotechnics. He’s serious, but not afraid of playfulness as an actor and artist. It’d be a more comedic role for him, with a dark subtext, and I’d think he’d understand this character.

Zeke has four love interests in the book, including a delusional preoccupation with Sofia Coppola, but his main love interest is Minn, the only one whom he might actually stand a chance with, and she must be a happy counterpoint to Zeke’s unbalanced exuberance and moodiness. Perhaps Zooey Deschanel, whom I like a great deal, could play Minn.

The whole novel is structured in the three-act format of a screenplay, and so I think there’s something to the idea of My American Unhappiness as a film. Unlike my first novel, Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, which has been optioned up by American Zoetrope, Universal, and Lionsgate at various stages in its shelf life, this is a novel that would be a straightforward adaptation. It is the story of delusion, both the lies we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel relevant, and about the lies our country tells itself in order to feel sustainable. And it’s funnier too.
Learn more about the book and author at Dean Bakopoulos's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue