Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene Fleming's "The Brink of Fame"

It's 1913 in Irene Fleming's new novel, The Brink of Fame, and Emily Daggett Weiss is left stranded and destitute. Film tycoon Carl Laemmle comes to her rescue with a job offer directing a film in Hollywood, provided she can track down and bring back Laemmle’s own missing star actor....

Here Fleming shares some suggestions for the dream cast of an adaptation of the novel:
I have to mix actors from different eras to get the desired effect. The actress who plays Emily Daggett should have a beautiful speaking voice, which lets out most of the young moderns with their nasal California accents. Carey Mulligan, maybe. Or back in the day, Jean Arthur.

I have always seen Holbert Bruns as Jimmy Stewart.

And the feckless Adam Weiss would be a handsome, high-strung star of the silents, John Gilbert.
Learn more about the book and author at Irene Fleming's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Edge of Ruin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 29, 2011

Elana Johnson's "Possession"

Elana Johnson's debut novel, Possession, is now available from Simon & Schuster.

Here she shares some preferences for the cast of an adaptation of Possession:
If Possession were made into a film, I’d really like to see David Henrie (Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place) as Jag Barque. He’s got the whole rebel vibe going on, even though he’s the good guy on Wizards. Give him some gel though, and yeah. He could totally be Jag Barque.

For the female lead, Violet Schoenfeld, I honestly have no idea, because I always picture her as a cartoon in my head. Lame, I know!

Maybe for Zenn Bower, the calm, cool “good guy” I’d pick someone like Chad Michael Murray. He feels very Zenn-ish, with that light blond spiky hair.
Learn more about the book and author at Elana Johnson's website and blog.

Writers Read: Elana Johnson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jodi Compton's "Thieves Get Rich, Saints Get Shot"

Jodi Compton is the author of the acclaimed novels Hailey’s War, The 37th Hour, and Sympathy Between Humans.

Here she develops some ideas for the cast of an adaptation of her new novel, Thieves Get Rich, Saints Get Shot:
Let me start with this: Thieves is a sequel, so if you’re an obsessive reader of “My Book, the Movie”, you might remember that last year I picked two actors for the lead roles of Hailey Cain and Serena Delgadillo. They were Abbie Cornish (Stop-Loss) and, age notwithstanding, Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy). I say “age notwithstanding” because Hailey, who was 23 at the beginning of Hailey’s War, is still only 25 as Thieves gets underway. Serena “Warchild” Delgadillo is only six months older than her.

You might also, if you have perfect recall like that famous Russian guy, remember that I promised to watch more youth television and movies, in order to find the ideal actors to age-appropriately play these roles. After some thought, I've decided the 29-year-old Cornish is still a good choice for Hailey. For Serena, I'm bumping Ramirez in favor of Luciana Carro, the actress who played the brash Viper pilot Louanne "Kat" Katrane on the new Battlestar Galactica.

Meanwhile, with the publication of Thieves we’ve got some new players on the scene, one of whom is -- no kidding -- almost 50! This is Magnus Ford, the “Shadow Man”. He’s a highly-placed gang intelligence detective in the LAPD, who is both adversary and ally to Hailey. Absolutely, this role is made to be played by David Morse. I can say that so confidently for a reason. I’ve written elsewhere about the fact that House M.D. has been an influence on the Hailey Cain novels, and the character of Magnus Ford was partly inspired by Morse’s performance as Det. Mike Tritter, the nemesis who nearly succeeds in getting the Vicodin-addicted Dr. House convicted of prescription forgery. As Tritter, Morse was soft-spoken, menacing, implacable, yet somehow relatable in his motives -- everything I want Magnus Ford to be. I know this actor has played a great many cops in his time, though, and he’s probably dying to play a shy reference librarian. It’s would take more than a box of Omaha steaks to get him on board, should Thieves ever be in pre-production.

Our other significant newcomer is Ford’s protege Joel Kelleher. He’s 26 -- oh great, that again! -- and a SWAT-team member, therefore learning fast on the job after Ford pulls him off SWAT duty to do undercover gang intelligence work. I think Sam Worthington is an obvious choice here; he's even got the reddish-brown hair that's not too far from Joel's red.
Learn more about the book and author at Jodi Compton's website.

My Book, The Movie: Hailey's War.

The Page 69 Test: Thieves Get Rich, Saints Get Shot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Linda Urbach's "Madame Bovary's Daughter"

Linda Urbach is a published author and screenwriter. Her third novel, Madame Bovary’s Daughter, addresses the question: Whatever happened to the only daughter of the scandalous Madame Bovary, literature’s greatest adulteress and worst mother?

Here she develops some ideas for the cast and director of an adaptation of Madame Bovary’s Daughter:
Before the first scene is even shot, I have to pay a visit to my bank to deposit the enormous check I’ve received for the movie rights to Madame Bovary’s Daughter. Then I have to make an appointment with my accountant to find out how I can avoid paying taxes on such a huge sum. (Unfortunately, there turns out to be no legal way.)

Then I hold auditions for the much sought after part of Berthe Bovary. If you think it’s easy choosing between Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman you’re crazy. As it turns out, I don’t have to choose, I cast all three actresses in different roles. Nicole Kidman plays Madame Bovary, Charlize Theron plays Helene and Natalie Portman plays the lead. Now for the director. I want Sofia Coppola. I have to get my agent to call her agent but they had a huge row some years ago and refuse to talk to each other.

My agent suggests alternatives. What about Miranda July? Her new movie has gotten great reviews. No, I want Sofia. She understands the history of French fashion better than any other director any Hollywood. So I will just call her directly. First I have to get her number. Does anyone have Sofia Coppola’s cell phone number?
Learn more about the book and author at Linda Urbach's website and blog.

Writers Read: Linda Urbach.

The Page 69 Test: Madame Bovary's Daughter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Brandi Lynn Ryder's "In Malice, Quite Close"

Brandi Lynn Ryder lives in the heart of Napa Valley.

In Malice, Quite Close, her first novel, is now out from Viking.

Here she explains why it's difficult for her to cast an adaptation of the novel:
So, who would you cast in the movie? Oddly enough, this is probably the question I’m asked more than any other. Perhaps, it’s not that odd… We are a visual culture, after all. Like everyone, I love the movies (though I tend to favor films made long before I was born), and I’m great at casting other people’s books. Why is it that I find it impossible to cast my own?

It’s not that I don’t think it would make a great movie: art, obsession and murder are the fodder of my favorite films. And I even think of writing in a very visual way, as painting with words... I see scenes play out before me like theater: my characters walk and talk in finely detailed rooms; I see the views through their windows, hear their voices in my head, smell their perfume and cologne and what they’re having for dinner. My job, as I see it, is just to type as fast as I can once they do something interesting!

But the truth is, I don’t see Johnny Depp or Julia Roberts (as wonderful as they are), or even my beloved Jeremy Irons or Jonathan Rhys Meyers (though these are closer) in these scenes, I see the characters themselves. One of the early options for cover art had a young woman pictured on the cover, and though it was artfully done, my editors and I all had the same reaction. “But that’s not Gisele!”

I find it tremendously exciting to think of readers picturing my characters as vividly as I do and, of course, very differently. Even my characters have an opinion on the subject. At one point, Tristan, who is French, likens himself to Yves Montand. (Though really, in my opinion, not so much...) With my first novel just appearing on shelves, this is one of the pleasures I anticipate most. It is, I think, the triumph of a conceptual art over others. Readers become the co-creators of an author’s world.

And the art of any great actor is to inhabit a role and make it their own. Should I be fortunate enough to see In Malice, Quite Close translated to the big screen, I am sure to find myself sitting in the audience rapt, as flesh and blood beings embody my characters and play out their stories in their own unique way. I sincerely hope I do have this pleasure, as I’ve already promised casting rights to my sister… And naturally, if I happen to bump into my Tristan Mourault or Robin Dresden on a busy street corner, I’d absolutely accost the poor soul and insist they play the role, (whether they act or not!)

And for all of this, I just hope for an understanding director and offer my apologies in advance.
Learn more about the book and author at Brandi Lynn Ryder's website.

Writers Read: Brandi Lynn Ryder.

The Page 69 Test: In Malice, Quite Close.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Declan Burke's "Absolute Zero Cool"

Declan Burke is the author of Eightball Boogie (2003) and The Big O (2007). He is the editor of Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century (Liberties Press, 2011), and hosts a website dedicated to Irish crime fiction called Crime Always Pays.

Here he lays out his choices for cast and director of an adaptation of his new novel, Absolute Zero Cool:
I think it’s fair to say that only George Clooney could pull off the required blend of charm, talent, good looks and mischievous star quality required to play the lead character in Absolute Zero Cool.

That’s mainly because the lead character is a writer who becomes embroiled in redrafting an abandoned novel when that story’s central character, a sociopathic hospital porter called Karlsson, demands to be rewritten in a more reader-friendly fashion so that he can escape the half-life limbo of being stuck in the literary equivalent of purgatory.

The writer, incidentally, goes unnamed throughout the novel, although it just so happens that he has previously published novels titled Eightball Boogie and The Big O, as has a certain Declan Burke.

So who should play 'Declan Burke'? George Clooney, hands down.

As for Karlsson, I think Steve Buscemi would do a fine job there, particularly as Karlsson, growing ever more desperate to escape his limbo, decides to blow up ‘his’ hospital in a bid to garner attention from commissioning editors.

Karlsson’s long-suffering girlfriend, Cassie, is a smart, funny and attractive woman who’s only real character flaw is to be attracted to a sociopath. I think Hayley Atwell would do a fine job fleshing out Cassie. But I’d hate to have to turn down Scarlett Johansson if she really, really wanted to play the part.

As for the director, I believe Clooney is the man again. I like him a lot, not least because he’s willing to mix things up: he can play the fool when he wants to, and he has great comic timing - the book is a black comedy, by the way - but he also has the chops to create serious work that has important things to say. He’s got a good eye, too.

All that said, I’d be shocked beyond words if Absolute Zero Cool was ever adapted for film. For one thing, my books tend to be dialogue-heavy, and few things kill a movie’s buzz more than characters sitting around jawing.

It’s also true that films and books represent two very different kinds of storytelling which target different parts of the brain. The book is more aimed at the internal imagination, whereas the film appeals to a more external imagination; words versus pictures, to over-simplify things. And Absolute Zero Cool is very much a book that appeals to the internal imagination, I think. I really don’t think it would translate very well to the big screen, dramatic scenes of exploding hospitals notwithstanding.

Then again, and to paraphrase William Goldman, when it comes to Hollywood and movies, no one knows anything…
Learn more about the book and author at the Crime Always Pays blog.

The Page 99 Test: The Big O.

The Page 69 Test: Absolute Zero Cool.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ray Banks' "Beast of Burden"

Scotland's Ray Banks has been a double-glazing salesman, a croupier, a dole monkey, and a disgruntled temp. His books include The Big Blind, Saturday's Child, Sucker Punch, and No More Heroes.

Here he shares some preferences for cast and director of an adaptation of his latest novel, Beast of Burden:
Like Russel McLean, I've always thought of the Cal Innes books as more of a TV series than a movie, and given the parochial nature of the books, I have a feeling that most of the actors I'm about to mention will be unfamiliar to most people. Still, ploughing on...

Cal Innes - The "hero" of the series, a twenty-something former pill-popping private eye and a self-conscious stroke victim in Beast of Burden. Cal originally started off looking like a young Billy Bragg, but over the years the one actor who keeps coming to mind is Toby Kebbell. Kebbell's probably best known for his outstanding performance as Anthony in Shane Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes, or as Rob Gretton in Control, but he's had some reasonably high-profile Hollywood gigs, albeit in supporting roles. He'd be able to pull it off, no bother at all.

DS Donkin - The other narrator in Beast of Burden, a self-styled "maverick cop" and a laughing stock because of it. He's a drunk, a wifebeater and an all-round nasty piece of work. So I apologise in advance, because I remember casting him as Les Beale in The Big Blind too, but John Henshaw's my man for Donkin. I think the scene where Donkin takes an informant's shoes may have been inspired by something Henshaw did in a BBC series called The Cops, too.

Paulo Gray - The proprietor of the Lad's Club, a boxing club for ex-offenders. Father figure and mentor for Cal, and one of the reasons he was granted parole in the first place. So obviously he's got to be relatively handy and of an age where he's old enough to be Cal's dad. I would probably have Dean Andrews play the part, if I could. He's got a good boxer's face and, if he got rid of the Ashes to Ashes John C. Reilly look, he might look a bit hard.

“Uncle” Morris Tiernan – The local ganglord, father to Mo Tiernan, and reason Cal did two and a half years at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. If Brian Cox were a broad Manc, he’d be first choice. One of the best actors of his generation, and more than capable of quiet menace – just watch Manhunter if you don’t believe me.

Mo Tiernan – Morris’ son, an even nastier piece of work than Donkey. While he’s barely in Beast of Burden, he’s still a recurring character, and he’s based heavily on an actor from Coronation Street called Martin Hancock. When I worked the casinos in Manchester, the rumour was that Hancock was a massive pill-head. This clearly isn’t the case, but it’s a rumour that helped cement him in my mind as Mo.

As for the director, I’ll go with one of my usual suspects – Alan Clarke, Shane Meadows or perhaps even one of the guys who directed the individual Red Riding films: Julian Jarrold, James Marsh or Anand Tucker.

There, that should make it some grimy telly to remember.
Learn more about the book and author at Ray Banks' website.

The Page 69 Test: The Big Blind.

My Book, The Movie: The Big Blind.

The Page 99 Test: Saturday's Child.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Steve Brewer's "Calabama"

Steve Brewer is the author of more than 20 books, including the recent crime novels The Big Wink, Calabama and Firepower.

His first novel, Lonely Street, recently was made into a Hollywood comedy starring Robert Patrick, Jay Mohr and Joe Mantegna.

Here Brewer shares his choice for the lead in an adaptation of Calabama:
When I heard Ryan Gosling was starring in the film of James Sallis' great crime novel, Drive, I thought: "Well, hell. I wanted him for my movie."

Gosling, who was so brilliant in Stay, Blue Valentine and Lars and the Real Girl, would be perfect to play Eric Newlin, the callow slacker in my latest novel, Calabama.

Calabama is a hillbilly noir set in the wilds of far Northern California. Eric, a transplant from the Midwest, lives in the sun-baked city of Redding, where he works for his father-in-law. Eric hates his job, and his wife is shrew. He drinks too much, smokes pot, sneaks away from his responsibilities to go fishing -- anything to feel that he's not completely stuck in a rut, that his life isn't owned by others.

One night, as he's leaving a bar, a speeding Corvette flies right over Eric's head. The driver is killed, but Eric doesn't suffer a scratch. He decides this is an omen: His life is about to change. And he's correct. It goes right down the toilet. Soon, he's spiraled so far that he gets mixed up with the local crimelord, Rydell Vance, in a kidnapping scheme that's bound to go wrong.

Rydell Vance is one of my favorite creations. A fearless, treacherous villain with a two-toned mustache. I'm thinking James Brolin, with his squinty eyes, would be perfect for that role. Can you picture Brolin and Gosling, two such different physical types, facing off in a big, violent showdown? I think it would be great.

Somebody please get the message to Ryan Gosling for me. Soon as you're done with Drive, we've got a project for you. It's called Calabama.
Learn more about the book and author at Steve Brewer's blog.

My Book, The Movie: Lonely Street.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kathleen George's "Hideout"

Kathleen George, author of police thrillers, was an Edgar finalist for best novel for The Odds. A trade edition of The Odds was released last month.

Here she develops some ideas for the cast of an adaptation of her new novel, Hideout:
I read the other morning that Tom Cruise is slated to play Lee Child’s 6’5” huge, broad, tough, military, no-nonsense hero, Jack Reacher. After I screwed my head back on, I sat sighing about the possibility of losing characters I love—I mean love—to the screen. It doesn’t happen every time. It happens often. Once they’re changed drastically, are they ever yours again?

Right now, mine are still in my head. I may be poorer, but they’re what I had in mind. Often composites of people I’ve seen or known and you can’t do that in movies.

My new book is Hideout. It features Addie Ward and she’s almost 83, beautiful, earthy, natural. She always dresses with a little dash. She’s willing to climb to her roof to repair it. She keeps a vegetable and flower garden. Dirt doesn’t scare her. Almost nothing does. Most days she has food on the stove or a cake in the oven and though she’s alone, someone might come visiting and she is ready to feed them. Addie is very American. Why do I keep seeing Vanessa Redgrave, Eileen Atkins? Oh, yes, I saw a wonderful actress in The Royal Family. Jenny Sterlin. I looked her up and she’s born in England, too. Well, that tells me something. All these actresses are charming and subtle and my Addie has a lot going on.

Is it possible to clone Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad? He could play both young desperate look-alike brothers, Ryan and Jack Rutter. They were born in England (what is it with me?). They’re pale, thin, angry, desperate.

Actually a Hollywood subagent asked me to cast my last book, The Odds. There were those flickers of interest that, well, disappear after the flicker. Talk about a tough assignment. I’d look up and cast kids to play my four children characters and one year later, they were no longer right for the roles.

But my casting of the series detectives holds. It’s (and has been) Gabriel Byrne or someone who acts like his character on In Treatment. Though I didn’t originally picture Richard Christie like Byrne, the acting is right on target. Brooding, thoughtful, charming, charismatic. For his wife Marina I thought maybe Michelle Forbes or in a stretch Anne Hathaway. She’s beautiful, dark, a diva. For Colleen Greer, Melissa George or Scarlett Johansson. Colleen is very sexy even when she’s working to put a lid on it. Also, she’s smart, tough, determined, workaholic.

I wish I had a role for Aiden Gillen. I’m admiring everything he does in The Wire and Game of Thrones. Oh, and Allison Pill. I think she’s fantastic.

Maybe I’ll write characters based on them.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathleen George's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hideout.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 15, 2011

Colin Cotterill's "Killed at the Whim of a Hat"

Born in London, Colin Cotterill has worked as teacher in Israel, Australia, the U.S. and Japan before he started training teachers in Thailand. Cotterill and his wife live in a small fishing village on the Gulf of Siam in Southern Thailand. He’s won the Dilys and a CWA Dagger, and has been a finalist for several other awards.

Here he shares some ideas about casting the leads in an adaptation of his new novel, Killed at the Whim of a Hat:
This blog's editor always lumbers me with this MY BOOK THE MOVIE homework knowing full well I’ve exhausted all the bankable Asian actors in Hollywood. So, once again I’ll have to wait for the American version and stick a few white guys in there. Here we go:

Jimm: feisty 35 year-old Thai journalist – Salma Hayek with padding

Granddad Jah: honest traffic cop retired broke and grumpy – Tommy Lee Jones

Arny: Body-building pussy cat –

Mair: matriarch at outset of dementia – Susan Sarandon

Chompoo: effete police lieutenant – Guy Pearce

Ed the Grass Man: weed-wacking love interest – Olando Bloom

And I’d direct it myself because directors make a lot more money than novelists.
Visit Colin Cotterill's website.

The Page 69 Test: Killed at the Whim of a Hat.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Carson Morton's "Stealing Mona Lisa"

Carson Morton was born in London, England and moved with his family to the United States when he was eleven. He worked as a professional musician for many years, making an album for United Artists Records with his group Razmataz, and playing with the likes of John Sebastian, Billy Preston, and many others. He is a screenwriter and published playwright, and has worked in television as a consultant and composer.

Here he shares some cast preferences for an adaptation of his new novel, Stealing Mona Lisa:
Stealing Mona Lisa is set in the colorful and romantic Paris of 1911. I definitely see it as a movie with the wonders of CGI doing the heavy lifting when it comes to depicting the City of Lights during the waning years of La Belle Époque. CGI would be an essential tool in bringing to life the dramatic flooding of Paris by the restless River Seine, the setting of the book’s climax. Indeed, the story began life as a screenplay. So here goes:

There is only one person who can play the mysterious mastermind of the scheme to steal The Mona Lisa and sell six copies to six American robber barons. Johnny Depp is the Marquis de Valfierno. To play the real object of his obsession and the “bird in a gilded cage” wife of industrialist Joshua Hart, I’d pick Rosamund Pike. Her humble beauty and acting ability would be a joy to behold. Scarlett Johansson was born to play the beautiful but unpredictable young American pickpocket, Julia Conway (hmm… or perhaps Jennifer Lawrence). As for Émile, the young man whom Valfierno rescued as a street-urchin, Jamie Bell would do quite nicely, thank you. Now we come to the bad guys! For the vicious American robber baron, Joshua Hart, I would go with Tim Curry or even Kevin Spacey. Finally, to play the hapless, desperate Inspector Carnot, I would get down on my knees and beg Paul Giammatti to take the job!
Learn more about the book and author at Carson Morton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Stealing Mona Lisa.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 11, 2011

John Dalton's "The Inverted Forest"

John Dalton is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts and the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His first novel, Heaven Lake, won the Barnes and Noble 2004 Discover Award in fiction and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Heaven Lake was listed as a best book of the year by Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Dalton is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is currently a member of the English faculty at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he teaches in their MFA Writing Program.

Here he shares some ideas about casting the leads in an adaptation of his new novel, The Inverted Forest:
There are three primary / point of view characters in The Inverted Forest.

First there’s Schuller Kindermann, the seventy-eight-year-old director and founder of Kindermann Forest Summer Camp. Schuller is a fussy, judgmental and mostly foolish man. He’s never had a lover or, for that matter, any strong attraction to another person. As director of a summer camp, he’s frequently exasperated by the counselor’s unwise behavior.

The best actor for the job? The grand and amazing Christopher Plummer.

Second, there’s Wyatt Huddy, age twenty-two, large, physically imposing, a counselor at Kindermann Forest Summer Camp. Wyatt has a condition known as Apert syndrome that distorts his appearance. (The mid-section of the face is underdeveloped. The eyes are set too far apart or a bit uneven.) But the condition doesn’t necessarily mean that the individual is intellectually impaired. This is a complicated and isolating thing for a person to deal with: to appear to the outside world to be intellectually disabled, but inwardly to be as aware and knowing as everyone else. It’s an especially acute dilemma for Wyatt, since he’s serving as a counselor at a summer camp among more than a hundred state hospital patients who are, in fact, mentally disabled.

The best actor for the job? Ryan Gosling (with the help of a skillful make-up artist.)

Harriet Foster, age twenty-seven, camp nurse, the only African American employee at Kindermann Forest. She is the single mother of a bi-racial son, five-year-old James. Harriet is the only one at camp to recognize Wyatt’s condition, the only one whose compassion and loyalty to Wyatt lasts through the years.

The best actor for the job? Kerry Washington (though they’ll have to tone down her intense beauty / glamour so that she’s merely girl-next-door beautiful.)
Learn more about the book and author at John Dalton's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Inverted Forest.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rebecca Cantrell's "A Game of Lies"

Award-winning author Rebecca Cantrell majored in German, Creative Writing, and History at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin and Carnegie Mellon University. Her Hannah Vogel mystery series set in Berlin in the 1930s includes A Trace of Smoke, A Night of Long Knives, and A Game of Lies.

Here she shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of the Hannah Vogel books:
When I think of filming the Hannah Vogel books, I picture them as a feature film or a TV mini-series, something very arty and fun, like Wallander or Foyle's War. In my head, the series is sometimes filmed with an American version, sometimes a British version, and sometimes a German version, all with different actors (it's a busy place, my head).

I'm going to quickly cast the main characters in all three version, and take votes at the end. If none of the choices are perfect, feel free to write in your suggested actor or actress.

Hannah Vogel is strong, compassionate, and sometimes terribly vulnerable. She looks like an Aryan prize (blond hair, blue eyes), a fact that she exploits to slip through the Nazis' defenses.

Boris Krause is a solid, dependable banker who wants to take care of Hannah. He is all grown up, but still smoking hot.

Lars Lang plays a larger role in each book. He starts out as a staunch Nazi, but seems to move toward working to bring down the Nazi government. He's shorter than Boris, with dark hair and eyes.

Here is the Hollywood cast:
Hannah Vogel:
Naomi Watts
Boris Krause:
Aaron Eckhart
Lars Lang:
Edward Norton

The British cast:
Hannah Vogel:
Kate Winslet
Boris Krause:
Rufus Sewell
Lars Lang:
Michael Fassbender

The German cast:
Hannah Vogel:
Carice Van Houten
Boris Krause:
Sebastian Koch
Lars Lang:
Thomas Krettschman
These are pretty much perfect too, except I couldn't find a picture of Sebastian Koch that was the right size where he was clean shaven.
Time for voting! You can vote for those listed above, or choose someone completely different. Who is your favorite? [Comments are open below]
Learn more about the book and author at Rebecca Cantrell's website and blog.

Cantrell majored in German, Creative Writing, and History at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin and Carnegie Mellon University. Her Hannah Vogel mystery series set in Berlin in the 1930s includes A Trace of Smoke and A Night of Long Knives.

The Page 69 Test: A Trace of Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Trace of Smoke.

The Page 69 Test: A Game of Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tammy Kaehler's "Dead Man's Switch"

Before trying her hand at fiction, Tammy Kaehler established a career writing marketing materials, feature articles, executive speeches, and technical documentation. A fateful stint in corporate hospitality introduced her to the racing world, which inspired the first Kate Reilly racing mystery. Kaehler works as a technical writer in the Los Angeles area, where she lives with her husband and many cars.

Here she suggests some casting--and location--preferences for an adaptation of Dead Man’s Switch, the debut Kate Reilly racing mystery:
I couldn’t think of real life people as the characters while I was writing Dead Man’s Switch, for fear that would disturb the world I was creating in my mind or have influenced the characters in some way I didn’t want. Since then, I’ve done a little thinking, and I have some ideas—though I’m going to ignore ages and pretend these actors are all the right age for each character….

Christina Ricci as Kate Reilly: up-and-coming racecar driver, 24, small but strong, fair skin and black hair. I think of Kate as a bit more robust than Ricci (I’ve seen her in person and there’s almost nothing to her), but she has the look I picture for Kate, and I think she could portray both Kate’s toughness—required of a woman making her way as a racecar driver—and her vulnerability, fear, and inexperience as she deals with being suspected of murder.

Ryan Reynolds as Stuart Telarday: racing series VP, early thirties, tall, sandy-blond hair, stern. I think Reynolds is a physical match and could play both the cold, uptight aspects and the glimpses of helpful and warm personality that we see. Besides, Reynolds is cute; Stuart has to be cute underneath all that pain in the behind-ness.

Kristen Chenoweth as Holly Wilson: hospitality director for race team, Kate’s best friend, late twenties, flaming redhead, never wrinkled or flustered. Chenoweth is older than Holly, and not a redhead, but she’s the embodiment of the tiny person with an outsized personality I envisioned for the character.

Patrick Dempsey as Mike Munroe: Kate’s co-driver in the Corvette, thirties, goofy but caring, dark, shaggy hair. Dempsey doesn’t have the bear-like presence or demeanor I envisioned for Mike, but he’s got the requisite good-guy nature with a hint of temper underneath. Plus he races cars; there’s got to be a spot for him in this movie!

Lime Rock Park as Lime Rock Park: the racetrack in Northwest Connecticut. The location is as much a character as anyone else in Dead Man’s Switch, and there’s no getting around filming the movie on location. The crew would have a lovely time filming in the gorgeous New England setting.
Learn more about the book and author at Tammy Kaehler's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Man’s Switch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 5, 2011

Leslie Daniels' "Cleaning Nabokov's House"

Leslie Daniels' stories have appeared in Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, The Florida Review, Gulf Coast, The Santa Monica Review and New Ohio Review. The Shooting Gallery in New York City produced her one-act play. She has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Associated Writing Programs. From 2005 to 2010, she was the fiction editor for The Green Mountains Review.

Here she shares some ideas for casting a big screen adaptation of her debut novel, Cleaning Nabokov's House:
AAAhhhh you are asking me to casturbate in public! Yikes. OK, I think that the lead actress must be able to be funny, not in a light amusing way, darkly funny, the kind of woman who would make a joke out of anything; humor is her defense. She must also look plausibly down and out. So many of American movie stars are so polished it is hard to believe their lives as anything but enviable. The relationship between the two women would be very fun to act, like Julie & Julia. I think the pairing is key, and one must be older. I could see Susan Sarandon as the agent and Laura Linney as the protagonist. They are both wildly smart and independent, which is a key trait. The guy could be any number of actors, but I happen to love Sam Rockwell, he’s deadpan and sexy and odd. The ex-husband has to be someone who can play super uptight, maybe Stanley Tucci or Titus Welliver? Both are great. No, save Stan Tucci and Titus Welliver for the lawyers, and the ex-husband could be someone that people love to hate: Greg Kinnear, maybe. There are fun cameos for other parts: the mother, the male sex workers, the women sex clients.

My absolute favorite part to cast would be Rudy, the coach, and “a man of a certain age.” I would want Rainn Wilson, he would slay that role. Maybe he could take the part away from Robin Williams? Pass me a martini, I am on a roll.
Learn more about the book and author at Leslie Daniels's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Cleaning Nabokov's House.

Writers Read: Leslie Daniels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Melanie Benjamin's "The Autobiography Of Mrs. Tom Thumb"

Melanie Benjamin's historical novels are Alice I Have Been and the recently released The Autobiography Of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

Here she shares some perspective on the difficulties of adapting the new book for the screen and names one director with the vision to just maybe pull it off:
Honestly, I’ve never been able to think of The Autobiography Of Mrs. Tom Thumb in terms of a movie simply because it would be impossible to cast. The kind of dwarfism that General and Mrs. Tom Thumb had is not a kind that is common today; they were miniature people, perfectly formed. Today they would have been given human growth hormones, and while they wouldn’t be quite average-sized, they certainly would be more than three feet tall! However, I admit that sometimes I do allow myself to imagine what Tim Burton could do with this story; his Big Fish, which I love, used CGI to realistically imagine giants and Siamese Twins. I think he could do a wonderful job with Mrs. Tom Thumb.
Learn more about the book and author at Melanie Benjamin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Alice I Have Been.

The Page 69 Test: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Samuel Park's "This Burns My Heart"

Samuel Park is an Assistant Professor of English at Columbia College Chicago. He is a graduate of Stanford and the University of Southern California, where he earned his doctorate in English. He is the author of the novella Shakespeare's Sonnets and the writer-director of the short film of the same name, which was an official selection of numerous domestic and international film festivals.

Here he shares some cast preferences for an adaptation of his new novel, This Burns My Heart:
A bookseller once told me that she found This Burns My Heart to be very cinematic, and I think that’s probably true. When I wrote it, I was inspired not only by literature, but by films based on great novels, like Doctor Zhivago. I try to describe the setting in such a way that the reader can picture the action unfolding in front of her, as if it were all happening right then and there. So if I were to cast a movie version of This Burns My Heart, I’d pick the following actors:

Michelle Yeoh as the heroine Soo-Ja—

Yeoh projects a dignity and fire that would fit my main character Soo-Ja. In both Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha, Yeoh was cast as the wiser mentor-figure, women ruled by equal parts wisdom and passion. Early in This Burns My Heart, Soo-Ja makes an unfortunate choice with disastrous consequences. But rather than running away from her destiny, Soo-Ja takes it on and forges ahead bravely. Yeoh would give the character gravitas—the kind of inner strength one develops when you fearlessly stride forward, instead of timidly looking back.

Chow-Yun Fat as the hero Yul—

I describe Yul in the novel as a man who has mastered his youthful impulses, a stoic and kind-hearted former soldier who reminds the heroine of soil—firm and reliable. Chow always oozes decency in his performances, and I especially loved his work opposite Jodie Foster in Anna and the King. As the King of Siam, Chow is the essence of high moral character—a man incapable of being hurtful or mean. That’s the key to portraying Yul, the object of my main character’s secret longing.

Gong Li as the villainous Eun-Mee—

As selfish as her name suggests, Eun-Mee causes Soo-Ja no end of grief. Like most strong villains, Eun-Mee actually has a charming side to her and drives much of the narrative. One of the world’s great actresses, Gong was wonderful in Zhang Yimou’s films, in particular, and got to show her campy side in Memoirs of a Geisha, playing the devilish Hatsumomo. While Eun-Mee is not quite as bad as Hatsumomo, she is certainly full of tricks up her sleeve, and Gong would capture not only the character’s badness, but also the internal pain and hurt driving her behavior.
Learn more about the book and author at Samuel Park's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: This Burns My Heart.

Writers Read: Samuel Park.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 1, 2011

Brian M. Wiprud's "Ringer"

Brian M. Wiprud's novels include Feelers and Buy Back.

Here he shares some ideas about casting the lead in an adaptation of his new novel, Ringer:
This is a particularly pertinent question to my novel Ringer in as much as the book is written as an ad hoc movie treatment, complete with camera angles and suggestions by the protagonist Morty about who should play himself. Morty fancies himself a Latin lover, and in a cover letter to a film development company he posits that Jimmy Smits or Benjamin Bratt would be good choices, but that Antonio Banderas is probably too old. In a letter from the development company to a superior regarding Morty’s treatment, a producer mentions that Banderas is doing Nasonex Bee voice overs and would probably be cheaper to get for the movie than Bratt. Who do I think would be best for the role? Who am I to argue with my protagonist and a producer? Not to mention, I think it would be pretty hilarious to have Banderas in the role musing on how he thinks Banderas is too old to play himself, or Bratt saying that he is a superior choice to Banderas.
Learn more about the book and author at Brian M. Wiprud's website.

The Page 69 Test: Ringer.

--Marshal Zeringue