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