Friday, December 30, 2011

Patrick Lee's "Deep Sky"

Patrick Lee's first novel, The Breach, hit the world at the beginning of 2010. It was followed by a sequel, Ghost Country, and the final volume of the trilogy, Deep Sky, is out this week. The series tells the story of Travis Chase, a man who finds himself caught up in the chain of events surrounding the world's most violently kept secret.

Here the author shares some insights about casting the lead in an adaptation of the series:
Strangely enough, the character I never have a visual sense of is my protagonist, Travis Chase. That's probably because I'm usually writing from his point of view, the story focusing on what he sees and, more importantly, what he thinks.

Other characters I do get a sense of, visually, but not specifically enough that any certain actor or actress comes to mind.

In the past, I've hinted that a great lead actor would be a CGI mix of Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. This would be cost-effective and probably not difficult to schedule.

Alternatively, they could always cast me in the role, freeing up the budget to cast someone like Natalie Portman as Paige Campbell. That is a brilliant idea--why am I the first to think of it?

Failing that, I'm available to play Man in Elevator. Or the off-screen role of Man getting yelled at by the key grip for tripping over lighting cords.
Learn more about the book and author at Patrick Lee's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Garret Freymann-Weyr's "French Ducks in Venice"

Garret Freymann-Weyr (née Weyr) was born and raised in New York City. She inexplicably went to college in North Carolina (UNC-Chapel Hill) and, just as inexplicably, got an MFA in film (NYU). She now lives in North Carolina with her husband. She has written five books for young adults, one of which, somewhat inexplicably, won a Printz honor. Her work has been sold to countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, and China. Her new book, French Ducks in Venice, is a picture book for a younger audience.

Here she shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of French Ducks in Venice:
This feels a little like Fantasy Football for book geeks, so I’m super thrilled to play. Writing a picture book is like being the groom at a wedding – you play a vital role, but you are also irrelevant.

So being an imaginary casting director is a job promotion....

Our story, such as it is, concerns two ducks, Georges and Cecile, who must cope with the fact that their parental figures (a magical dressmaker, Polina Panova, and an equally magical filmmaker, Sebastian Sterling) have split. Sebastian Sterling goes away one morning, never to return. Polina, as result, is sad, which enrages Georges, who wishes to comfort his beautiful mother figure. He goes on a quest for a perfect present and brings her some magical light.

I may have overdone the whole magical element in this description to the point that if you read this far, you want to throw up in your mouth a little, but it works as a story ... you will have to trust me on this.

On to the casting.

Because two of the main characters are ducks, this would probably involve some kind of animation or voice work but, given this is a game of pretend, I’m going to stick with actors whose face or personalities remind me of my characters. Since I based both Polina Panova and Sebastian Sterling on my beautiful, talented, and mysterious sister who is a 1st A.D. and a director, I have to pick Sandra Bullock for Polina. Whenever someone who has worked with ‘Sandy,’ meets my sister, she has to hear about how much they look alike. Jon Hamm for Sebastian Sterling because Hamm looks like he knows how to think (critical for a filmmaker) and also sort of looks like the guy you just know is going to be a jerk, which Sebastian is. Hugh Laurie (from Blackadder and Jeeves, not House) for Georges, because they share an eager desire to please in spite of not understanding how. Emma Thompson for Cecile because ... well, does anyone ever need to explain Emma Thompson?

Okay, back to my real life. Thanks for asking me to play.
Visit Garret Freymann-Weyr's website and view the video trailer for French Ducks in Venice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 26, 2011

Nick Drake's "Egypt: The Book of Chaos"

Nick Drake's critically acclaimed novel Nefertiti was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award; his Tutankhamun was a Publishers Weekly top 100 books selection. He has published two award-winning collections of poetry, and his play Success was performed at the National Theatre in London, where he is a literary associate. Drake's screenplays include the critically acclaimed Romulus, My Father (starring Eric Bana), which won Best Film at the Australian Film Awards in 2007.

Here he writes about the actor he'd like to see play the lead in an adaptation of his latest novel, Egypt: The Book of Chaos:
Rahotep, the detective at the heart of Egypt (and its two predecessors), is a man who feels at home in the rough backstreets of Thebes, but spend much of his time in the extraordinary elite world of the Palace and high government. As a detective, he's someone who just looks at a crime scene, to see what is there that should not be, and what is not there that should be. He's also someone who understands the labyrinth of the human heart. I'd love someone like Eric Bana to play him - charismatic, complex, with an edge of danger and an emotional depth and feeling for the dark poetry of the soul of things. Bana is an incredibly gifted actor with a powerful presence; I often had him in mind while I was writing.
Learn more about the book and author at Nick Drake's website.

The Page 69 Test: Egypt: The Book of Chaos.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Kristine Louise Haugen's "Richard Bentley"

What made the classical scholar Richard Bentley deserve to be so viciously skewered by two of the literary giants of his day—Jonathan Swift in the Battle of the Books and Alexander Pope in the Dunciad? The answer, according to Kristine Haugen in her new biography, Richard Bentley: Poetry and Enlightenment: he had the temerity to bring classical study out of the scholar’s closet and into the drawing rooms of polite society.

Here Haugen shares some insights about casting the biopic adapted from her book:
Unfortunately for Bentley, his personality and persona resembled those of Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood (2007). The tone of his writings was aggressive and peremptory, not to say bullying, toward his readers. His treatment of his underlings in Cambridge University was so vile that he was repeatedly sued, eventually stripped of his degrees, and finally ejected from the mastership of Trinity College.

But it was in the actual contents of Bentley's literary scholarship that his violent disposition emerged most clearly. His greatest notoriety rests on his work as a textual critic — that is, deciding whether the traditional words in a text are correct. Here, Bentley slashed and burned gleefully, whether his target was the lyric poet Horace, the playwright Terence, or the very recently departed John Milton. Bentley attacked not only authors but the idea of authorship itself: he might accurately have said, with Day-Lewis' egregious oilman Daniel Plainview,
"I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people."
This ruthless and combative Bentley is what's revealed to us by a wide-ranging crane shot, if you will. But a close-up of Bentley in the act of working shows us a different character, less alarming but still wonderfully strange: someone like John Cusack in High Fidelity (2000). Blessed and cursed with a photographic memory, drawn like a moth to the making of lists, and openly obsessive-compulsive, Bentley loved poetry as passionately as Rob Gordon loved LPs. In fact, he couldn't stop talking about it. By common consensus, it's rare to read Bentley and believe everything he says — but it's impossible not to learn something new.

It's true that unlike the terminal cuteness of Cusack, Bentley's perverse charm carries him only so far with us. Above all, his fixation with the "right" and "wrong" words is no longer attractive. But in other respects, he was one of the most appealing literary readers of his time. Here are the top five reasons.

5. Rejecting Aristotle's stale and abstract literary theories, Bentley insisted on directly encountering and judging the words of a poem.

4. He was endlessly fascinated with poetic form, above all poetic meter.

3. Unlike many predecessors, he worked to mount systematic arguments wherever he could, drawing readers in rather than repelling them with disconnected details.

2. Nearly the most important of all, Bentley aimed to bring serious research in the humanities before a wider public — a goal that remains capitally important today.

1. In a word, Bentley is our ancestor; to a degree, even, Bentley is us.
Learn more about Richard Bentley at the Harvard University Press website.

Kristine Louise Haugen is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at The California Institute of Technology.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 22, 2011

J.J. Murphy's "Algonquin Round Table Mysteries"

J.J. Murphy, an award-winning health care writer in Pennsylvania, has also been a long-time Dorothy Parker fan.

She started writing The Algonquin Round Table Mysteries after the birth of twin daughters, as an escape from toddler television.

Here she shares some thoughts on adapting the series for the cinema:
Who could play the infamous Dorothy Parker and the members of the Algonquin Round Table in a movie? Fortunately or unfortunately, these were real people. So their appearances are already a matter of record.

Also, I’m going to cheat...I have my own poll on my website, so I’ll let the readers decide. Here’s how they voted:

Dorothy Parker. She was a petite, brown-haired, sharp-tongued young woman [photo left]. So the candidates for this role include Emily Blunt (with 9% of the votes), Rachel McAdams (with 10%), Ellen Page (15%), and Anne Hathaway (18%). But the winner is...Christina Ricci, with almost half (47%) of the votes.

Interestingly, write-in candidates include Helena Bonham-Carter, Selma Blair and even Lady Gaga (now that would make an interesting movie!)

Robert Benchley. He was a slender fellow with an oval face and a carefree, mischievous smile. Actors for this role include Jason Segel (with 5% of the votes), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (with 14%), James McAvoy (21%), and Edward Norton (24%). But the winner is...Ryan Gosling with more than one-third (37%) of the votes.

William Faulkner, as a young unknown, shows up in the first book, Murder Your Darlings. That’s a tough one to cast, and wasn’t up for a vote. Faulkner was a soulful, thoughtful man but with obvious weaknesses. Perhaps Michael Cera?

Harry Houdini, in the sunset of his career, appears in the second book, You Might As Well Die. Who could play an older version of this intense magician? Harvey Keitel played Houdini in a movie in 1997, so let’s bring him back for another go-round.

Casting an imaginary movie is a great game to play. But hopefully Hollywood will make the actual movie...someday. I’ll bring the popcorn!
Learn more about the books and author at J.J. Murphy's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tim Riley's "Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music"

NPR critic Tim Riley is the author of Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary (Knopf/Vintage 1988); Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary (Knopf/Vintage1992, Da Capo 1999); Madonna: Illustrated (Hyperion 1992); Fever: How Rock'N'Roll Transformed Gender In America (St. Martin's/Picador 2005).

Here he writes about the above-the-line talent for an adaptation of his latest book, Lennon: The Man, The Myth, The Music:
This is easy: Brad Pitt has been talking about doing Lennon for a couple years, and he would be both box office and a fascinating entry to the Lennon sweepstakes. My favorite Lennon so far is Ian Hart in The Hours and Times, but those who underrate Pitt should watch The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The role calls for a combustible mix of hilarity and doom.

Cameron Crowe should direct, obviously. Yoko: much harder to cast, but I'd vote for Cate Blanchett. She's a chameleon with a vast sense of humorous ennui. Ryan Reynolds as Paul McCartney, Christopher Plummer as George Martin, Adam Lambert as George Harrison, Jack Black as Allen Klein, Fozzie the Bear as Ringo Starr, Scarlett Johansson or Angelina Jolie as Julia Stanley Lennon, Wally Cox as Brian Epstein, and Maggie Smith as Aunt Mimi -- in this movie she gets to... kill John's dog Sally.
Learn more about the book and author at Tim Riley's website.

Lennon: The Man, The Myth, The Music is on the Christian Science Monitor's list of the five best books on John Lennon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kameron Hurley's "Bel Dame Apocrypha"

Kameron Hurley currently hacks out a living as a marketing and advertising writer in Ohio. Her personal and professional exploits have taken her all around the world. She spent much of her roaring 20′s traveling, pretending to learn how to box, and trying not to die spectacularly. Along the way, she justified her nomadic lifestyle by picking up degrees in history from the University of Alaska and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Here she shares some ideas for casting adaptations of the first two volumes of the Bel Dame Apocrypha:
Oh, the God’s War and Infidel movies… the bloodiest, most bad-ass piece of awesome you have ever seen, combining the ragtag mercenary team dynamics of Firefly with the lovely brutality of The 300, all marinated in some of the most terrifying female combat scenes… well, ever.

I can just picture it now…

Primary Recurring Characters:

Nyx. Most folks are likely thinking Michelle Rodriguez for this part, and I won’t lie that the Michelle from Girlfight with a really glorious tan could be an epic Nyx. She is, however, a tad short, and I’m not sure she’d have the physical stopping power Nyx needs. I have yet to find another mainstream actress I think could pull off this role, though.

Rhys. He may not have the acting chops for it yet, but Isaiah Mustafa is still my first pick as the beautiful, devout magician Nyx signs for her team. I do know he’s a little too tall to actually go toe-to-toe with Nyx (especially if Rodriguez was cast), so Taye Diggs or Donald Glover might have to work.

Infidel Supporting Cast:

Suha. Who doesn’t want to give Gina Torres another awesome SF role, this time as a former drug addict and war vet with a stomach for torture? But let’s not discount the epic Angela Basset from Strange Days, either. The last ten years have given her a very nice edge that would work great for Suha.

Eshe. At just 14, Eshe is difficult to cast. It’d need to be somebody young, intense, and not anything special to look at. That’s a tough kid to find in Hollywood these days.

Inaya. There are a few different ways Inaya could go. A too-pretty, half-breed, closeted shapeshifter struggling with her responsibilities as a mother and as a rebel operative? Could easily go to another Firefly alum, Morena Baccarin or Zuleikha Robinson, who could totally hold her own with Nyx.

Khos. I’m in for Vin Diesel playing Khos. Mainly because it would encourage him to actually get this film made between iterations of The Fast & The Furious and the latest installation of Riddick. Also, bazillions of women everywhere seem to think Khos is Really Hot and should get more screen time. Barring that, I could see Jason Momoa don blond dreadlocks and make angry faces at Nyx.

God’s War Supporting Cast:

Taite. I was pleased folks seemed to like Taite, the crackerjack communications hacker, even if he didn’t get a lot of screen time. Easy pick for this one is Dani Pudi.

Anneke. The most strangely motivated of the bunch, I’ve seen a couple stellar contenders. Small, dark, intense, and a little bit mad, Anneke could probably be played by somebody like Tannishtha Chatterjee.
Learn more about the books and author at Kameron Hurley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 16, 2011

Caragh O'Brien's "Birthmarked"

Since earning a master’s in writing at Johns Hopkins University, Caragh O'Brien has been a high school teacher, a published author of romance novels, and now a novelist for teens. Her first young adult novel, Birthmarked, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, and on the ALA Amelia Bloomer list.

Here she shares some thoughts on adapting Birthmarked for the big screen:
I’m often asked if Birthmarked will be a movie, but the chances of it being picked up are so slim that it’s like imagining the book being chosen by an astronaut to take along to the moon. I’ve been perfectly happy knowing it exists exclusively as a novel.

That said, I’ll take a wild stab at one name. I like the imagination, humor, and sensitivity of Drew Barrymore’s work with Ever After, 50 First Dates, and Whip It, and I have this secret feeling that if she were the producer, she’d understand Gaia Stone and do a wonderful job with the project.

I’d be curious to see what a costume designer would do with the clothes and hats, and it would be fun to see sets that could capture both the primitive life outside the wall and the wealthier society within.

For actors, I’d like the teenage roles to be played by actors who are truly the right ages and not older. I’d prefer they be incredibly good actors, but also unknown, so we can watch them without superimposing our impressions of previous rolls upon them. Getting someone with the right eyes for Leon would be tricky.

Most important, I would wish for the film to be made by happy, driven people who work impossibly hard and love what they do. That’s what I imagine for Birthmarked as a film.
Learn more about the book and author at Caragh O'Brien's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Joyce and Jim Lavene's "A Spirited Gift"

Joyce and Jim Lavene are a married writing couple who live in North Carolina with their family. They get help from their cat, Quincy, and their big puppy, Rudi, who they rescued in 2010. They have been writing together since 1994 and published since 1999. Last year marked their 52nd book in print. They enjoy writing mysteries but are at home with fantasy, romance and non-fiction. The couple both work for their small, hometown newspaper, The Weekly Post.

Here Joyce Lavene reports on the film adaptation of A Spirited Gift, their latest Missing Pieces Mystery:
I can see the cast and crew walking up the red carpet now with dozens of reporters asking questions. It was tough choosing who would be in the movie since dozens of really famous movie stars were begging to be a part of the production. Fortunately, the producers let me make that decision since I know best.

For the lead role of psychic mayor Dae O’Donnell, Natalie Portman was my top choice. She’s a little thinner than Dae but she gained a few pounds for the role and she was fine.

For her love interest and psychic handler, ex-FBI agent Kevin Brickman could only be played by Robert Downey, Jr. He may not be a perfect match for Kevin, but I don’t care because I get to meet him and stare at him while he’s working. Love that man! He loves A Spirited Gift and makes room in his busy schedule to play the part.

I see Jennifer Hudson playing Shayla Lily, Dae’s friend and psychic cohort from New Orleans. She’d be perfect advising Dae and helping her try to talk to her dead mother.

Ed Asner is the only one who could play Dae’s grandfather, the retired sheriff of Dare County. He’s tough but kind. He knows what should be done and makes excuses for Dae not doing it. Plus I hear he makes some mean flapjacks in real life, which he does a lot in the Missing Pieces Mysteries.

And who’s that getting out of the limo to make his way up the red carpet? The only person who could possibly play the ghost of pirate Rafe Masterson, scourge of Duck – Johnny Depp. We had to add a few extra scars to that handsome face but he loved playing the part. He has such a large – cutlass. I think he liked peeking in at Dae when he was invisible. And he did that last parting scene so well, it made me cry.

I’ve heard that the movie has pre-sold a million tickets for the opening weekend. It’s very exciting. It was actually filmed in Duck, North Carolina where the book is set. We had a great time down there with everyone at Duck’s Cottage (they provided great coffee for the whole production every day). I’ve heard they plan to make movies of the first two books, A Timely Vision and A Touch of Gold too.

Hope Robert Downey, Jr. can clear some space for those too!
Learn more about the authors and their work at Joyce and Jim Lavene's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 12, 2011

Michael Broyles's "Beethoven in America"

Michael Broyles is Professor of Music at Florida State University and former Distinguished Professor of Music and Professor of American History at Pennsylvania State University. His book, Leo Ornstein: Modernist Dilemmas, Personal Choices, written with Denise Von Glahn, won the Irving Lowens Prize in 2007.

He here shares some ideas about adapting--and casting the adaptation of-- his new book, Beethoven in America:
How do you make a movie about story that spans two-hundred years of American history, about an icon who was long dead, and when alive never set foot on America? It’s not easy, but Hollywood has always relished challenges. Some possibilities:
In a recent Broadway play, 33 Variations, Beethoven bridged time and space to appear to Jane Fonda. He also visited a dysfunctional twentieth-century family in Beethoven’s Tenth. Why not again? The Transcendentalist writer Margaret Fuller wrote passionate letters to Beethoven as if he were there. In the film he could actually respond. Think of the cinematic fantasies that could unleash, think what a director could do with that.

Theosophy, which made great use of Beethoven, grew out of the nineteenth-century Spiritualist movement, of the world of séances. Much more exciting than a few random ghostly raps on the kitchen table, Beethoven could announce himself, tap-tap-tap-taaaaaaaaaap.

Katherine Thomas, The Great Kat of the heavy metal world, claims to be Beethoven reincarnated. There could be a complete transformation here.

“Beethoven was black.” This could be a serious treatment of a hotly debated political and social issue in the 1960s and 70s or Beethoven himself could appear in a completely different guise. The possibilities are endless.

Beethoven could straighten out the musicologists who in the 1970s poured endlessly over all his sketches to glean his intentions. No amount of scholarship could beat a little channeling.
It would be a sprawling film, a postmodern agglomeration of vignettes held together by cascades of heady, powerful music.

We already have two Beethoven’s from recent films, Gary Oldman in Immortal Beloved and Ed Harris in Copying Beethoven. For my money Ed Harris gets the nod. Natalie Portman could play Margaret Fuller, a brilliant, high-spirited feminist of the early nineteenth century who found Beethoven’s music to be, among other qualities, erotic. Katherine Thomas could play Katherine Thomas, although I’m not sure of the transformation. Jamie Foxx, who demonstrated that he could capture Ray Charles, could be the black Beethoven, or he could be Malcolm X, who argued the case for Beethoven’s ethnic identity.
Learn more about Beethoven in America at the Indiana University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Derek Haas's "Dark Men"

Derek Haas is the author of the bestselling novel The Silver Bear. He also co-wrote the screenplays for 3:10 to Yuma, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, and Wanted, starring James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, and Angelina Jolie. His forthcoming film, The Double, starring Richard Gere and Topher Grace, is directed by his screenwriting partner Michael Brandt and will be released in 2011.

Here he offers some insights into the casting process, and shares some idea about the look of the actor who might play Columbus, the professional assassin in his latest novel Dark Men, in an adaptation:
I never picture actors when I'm writing my characters or my screenplays… I just see them in my mind's eye, so it's always hard for me when casting begins in earnest on my work. You'll get these actor lists submitted by the talent agencies, and they'll have Eddie Murphy and Daniel Radcliffe on the same list for the same role. Did you even read this screenplay? If I ever had to cast Columbus, it would be tough… his father was a white politician and his mother was a black prostitute, so I've always pictured him as dark skinned, mixed racially… sort of, well, if Clive Owen and Derek Jeter could be cross-pollenated.
Learn more about Dark Men at Derek Haas's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ed Kovacs's "Storm Damage"

Ed Kovacs has worked for many years as a private security contractor deploying to challenging locations worldwide. He is a member of AFIO, Association for Intelligence Officers, the International Thriller Writers organization, and the Mystery Writers of America.

Here he writes about the actors he could see playing the lead in an adaptation of his new novel, Storm Damage:
I don’t keep up with who the flavors of the year are, acting-wise. Since the hero of my crime novel Storm Damage is a genuine tough guy and MMA fighter who’s also smart and strongly ethical, I’d have to go with either Daniel Craig or Jason Statham, although my hero is written a bit younger. Statham because he’s physical and looks more like the character I imagined; Craig because he’s the whole package and brought a deadliness to the Bond role that had been sorely lacking for decades. No doubt there are many more great candidates and I probably make for a lousy casting director!

For my female lead I have no idea; I’d like to hear from my readers on that one. Before writing my books, I create about a five page, single-spaced backstory for each of my major characters. I do this even when I write screenplays, so I don’t need to be thinking about who would be good in the role. I have, however, gotten script-writing assignments for projects with stars already attached. The stars are seldom satisfied and often try to bring in their favorite writers for a dialogue “polish.”
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Kovacs's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Larry Karp's "A Perilous Conception"

Larry Karp grew up in Paterson, NJ and New York City. He practiced perinatal medicine (high-risk pregnancy care) and wrote general nonfiction books and articles for 25 years, then, in 1995, he left medical work to begin a second career, writing mystery novels. The backgrounds and settings of Karp's mysteries reflect many of his interests, including musical antiques, medical-ethical issues, and ragtime music.

Here he shares some thoughts on dream-casting an adaptation of his latest novel, A Perilous Conception:
My characters develop slowly as I write their stories, and as I get to know them better and better, they etch their appearances and behaviors into my mind. But the range of images readers construct of these same characters astonishes me. Seems that no one sees or hears quite the same people I do.

I think this probably represents success. A partnership exists between writers and readers, and my stories appear to give readers enough material to engage them, but allow them sufficient leeway to graft their own ideas neatly onto mine.

So if someone were to make a movie from A Perilous Conception, I wouldn't have any concerns about who should play Dr. Colin Sanford, Detective Bernie Baumgartner, or new-mother Joyce Kennett. Whoever the actors might be, they wouldn't coincide with my own vision. In fact, I can't recall ever seeing a movie, after having read the book on which it was based, where the movie characters looked and sounded like the people I'd constructed from the book. Better to let the movie people make their choices for A Perilous Conception according to their own lights, and not burden them with my preconceived notions which might hinder their efforts to produce a unified story.

But you know what I'd really love? A message on the screen immediately after the final scene of the movie: "This film was made because the production staff could not resist trying to put our own stamp on Larry Karp's mystery novel, A Perilous Conception. Any resemblance between Mr. Karp's work and ours is fortuitous. We encourage you to read A Perilous Conception, and enjoy creating your own unique production."
Learn more about the book and author at Larry Karp's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mary O'Connell's "The Sharp Time"

Mary O'Connell is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and the author of the short story collection, Living With Saints. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in several literary magazines, and she is the recipient of a James Michener Fellowship and a Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren Award.

Here she shares some ideas about casting the leads for an adaptation of The Sharp Time, her first novel:
I’ve already watched The Sharp Time in my head with this perfect cast. A girl can dream, and hope, and pray that someone buys the movie rights…

My dream cast for The Sharp Time, the movie:

Kyle Chandler as Henry Charbonneau: Calling all you Friday Night Lights devotees! Who wouldn’t want to see Coach Taylor play against type as a quirky vintage clothing storeowner? Vintage Frocks, Beautiful Shop, Can’t lose…

Sinead O’Connor as Erika of Erika’s Erotic Confections: Sinead O’Connor was so amazing as The Virgin Mary in The Butcher Boy and I certainly envision her as the kind-hearted baker with the edgy exterior. (I also listened to “Theology” incessantly while I wrote The Sharp Time.)

Clint Eastwood as Arne, the pawn shop owner: He would be so fantastic as Arne, a tough guy who wears a “Charlton Heston is my president T-shirt” but also reads Denis Johnson poetry out loud.

Rosie O’Donnell as Mrs. Bennett: She has that amiable midwestern veneer, but I think she could absolutely bring it if she played the awful teacher.

Nat DeWolf as Brother Bill: His acting has the emotional resonance that makes the simplest gestures meaningful, so he could certainly carry the last scene, where his wave goodbye means so much to Sandinista.

Laura Kirk as Heather Jones: She was such a gem in Lisa Picard is Famous, and she would be perfection as Sandinista’s beloved mother. Again, the specific actress I had in mind as I wrote…

Sandinista Jones: Somewhere there is an actress in her early twenties, temping or waiting tables and dreaming and hoping and that’s the girl for this role, just at the role of her friend Bradley should go to another young hopeful. Here’s to the dreams of the unknowns!
Learn more about the book and author at Mary O'Connell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mary Stanton's "Angel Condemned"

About Angel Condemned, Mary Stanton's fifth Beaufort & Company mystery:
Representing her Aunt Cissy’s fiancé, museum curator Prosper White, in a case of fraud, attorney and celestial advocate Brianna Winston-Beaufort hopes to settle the matter out of court. But when Prosper is murdered and Cissy’s arrested for the crime, Bree will have to solve the mystery of the Cross of Justinian—an artifact of interest in both Prosper’s lawsuit and Bree’s celestial case—to clear her aunt’s name...
Here are the author's hopes for casting Beaufort & Company in an adaptation:
Brianna Winston-Beaufort: Kyra Sedgwick (who can act being 28 even if she isn't).

Sam Hunter: George Clooney.

Lavinia Mather: Viola Davis, in a gray wig.
Learn more about the book and author at Mary Stanton's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Will McIntosh's "Soft Apocalypse"

Will McIntosh is a Hugo award winner and Nebula finalist whose short stories have appeared in Asimov’s (where he won the 2010 Reader's Award for short story), Strange Horizons, and Science Fiction and Fantasy: Best of the Year, and others. His debut novel, Soft Apocalypse, was published by Night Shade Books in 2011, and his second novel, Hitchers, will be out in February, 2012. A New Yorker transplanted to the rural south, McIntosh is a psychology professor at Georgia Southern University. In 2008 he became the father of twins.

Here he writes about the actors he could see playing his characters in an adaptation of Soft Apocalypse:
Jasper. The lead has to be someone who can step outside the typical Courageous Hero role and play an average guy in an awful situation. A guy who is often scared and confused, who starts out kind of immature and is forced by circumstances to grow up. I think James Franco is the guy. He has the right look and the right emotional range to pull it off, and he seems to thrive on challenging, atypical roles.

Ange. Since Ange is based on a real person, I asked her to cast herself. She thought Angelina Jolie would be good, because, “She's a total edgy badass, but with a soft side that only gets seen by the select few closest to her.” I’m wondering if she’s too old for the part. Ange is 26 at the start, maybe 34 in her last scene. Jolie is 36. If the director balks, I’d going with Amanda Seyfried, the female lead in the new SF Thriller, In Time. I think she can play edgy badass with a soft side, and she has the right look, which means she kind of looks like the real Ange.

Rumor. Rumor is easy. Naveen Andrews, who played Sayid on Lost. Rumor is either Indian or Middle Eastern, he’s a violent Dada terrorist who is (Spoiler alert) infected with Doctor Happy and turns into a big, bright-eyed teddy bear. I have to have Naveen for this part.

Deirdre. At first I was going to give the role of edgy, foul-mouthed, manic small-time rock star Deirdre to Maggie Gyllenhaal (if she’d be willing to accept a supporting role, of course), but then, out of the blue, I got an email from a young actress named Katie Royer, and in it she wrote, “So I guess what I'm saying is, if you ever make a movie of Soft Apocalypse- cast me. If there's ever a stage adaptation- cast me. If there's ever a photo shoot for a second edition book cover, action figures, or a giant poster for your living room wall- please, at least let me audition to portray Deirdre.” I checked out her website, watched the music videos she's starred in, and, she’s better looking than Deirdre, but otherwise, damn, I can see it! She looks to have the attitude and the energy to pull it off. I’m going with newcomer Katie Royer.

Cortez. This is a tough one. There aren’t many young, well-known Latino actors. It’s a shame, because I really need a big, muscular Latino actor with a great smile. Not too good looking, but pleasant looking. If Alex Rodriquez could act (and needed the money), he might work in the role. For now, the role is open.

Phoebe. The sweater-wearing redhead who could have been a lit professor specializing in Jane Austen if not for the collapse of society will be played by British actress Emily Blunt. Phoebe isn’t British in the novel, but a crisp British accent would be a nice touch, and Blunt would be perfect for depicting someone who remains classy, doesn’t curse, and always uses proper grammar despite the dirt, starvation, and ever-rising body count in Soft Apocalypse.
Visit Will McIntosh's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mignon Ballard's "Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause"

Mignon F. Ballard grew up in a small town in Georgia, and now lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

Here she shares some ideas about casting the leads in adaptations of two of her series, including her latest release, Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause:
I always knew who I’d like to play the part of the guardian angel in my Augusta Goodnight mystery series, and that would have been the late actress, Eve Arden. I even pictured Augusta as looking a bit like Eve, and her character also shared Augusta’s sometimes-tart tongue and practical way of looking at life.

I had to think a bit to decide on an actress who might be natural in the part of Miss Dimple and I believe any of these four would do my character justice, although I realize it might be a bit late for three of them: Dorothy McGuire came to mind because I loved the way she played the gentle yet courageous mother in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. And naturally, I would be honored to have Olivia de Havilland in the role. I can see her now swinging that purple umbrella as she steps sprightly over the sidewalks of Elderberry – and she’s already mastered the Southern accent for GWTW. Greer Garson was perfect in the part of Mrs. Miniver during the same time period of WWII and shared the noble gentility I find in Miss Dimple. And lastly, but not least, the fabulous English actress, Judi Dench. (If she’s not too busy, of course, and doesn’t mind temporarily ditching the British accent!)
Learn more about the author and her work at Mignon Ballard's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tom Lowe's "The Butterfly Forest"

Tom Lowe's Sean O'Brien mystery/thriller series includes A False Dawn, The 24th Letter, and The Butterfly Forest.

Here he shares some casting ideas for the lead of an adaptation of the Sean O'Brien books:
A very successful novelist friend of mine doesn't want to sell filmmakers the right to adapt his books on screen. And he's had plenty of offers. He feels that would taint or certainly influence the personal image readers form of his characters, especially his two popular protagonists. That's a fair assumption.

But I disagree.

Apparently, so do readers. I often get readers suggesting who could "play Sean O'Brien" if the novels are ever adapted into films. Some of the suggestions include Bradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds. I'd be happy to see either one of these guys in the role. I read where Tom Cruise will play Jack Reacher from one of Lee Child's novels. Reacher is depicted as 6'5", well into the 235 pound heavyweight category. Cruise is a good actor and can perhaps do well in the role. For my guy, Sean O'Brien, he's certainly not the size of Reacher, though he is 6'2", 185. I've thought that Colin Farrell could bring out O'Brien's character well. Hugh Jackman would be another one I believe would be good for the role.

Since Hollywood hasn't discovered Sean O'Brien, yet, I've cast my own version of O'Brien. He's a actor friend of mind who played the part remarkably well in a :42 second mini-movie. He did so in the book trailer for A False Dawn.
Learn more about the book and author at Tom Lowe's website.

The Page 69 Test: The 24th Letter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 25, 2011

Matt Rees's "Mozart's Last Aria"

Matt Rees is an award-winning crime novelist and foreign correspondent. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed Omar Yussef crime series, including The Collaborator of Bethlehem. He is also the author of Cain’s Field, a nonfiction account of Israeli and Palestinian society. Rees lives in Jerusalem.

Here he shares some suggestions about who should play the lead in an adaptation of his new novel, Mozart's Last Aria:
American actresses ought to be climbing over each other to option the film rights for Mozart's Last Aria. Why? Because the main character is a woman just over forty years old.

It’s well-known that all but a few actresses disappear from lead billing by the time they hit that age. Men, by contrast, can still be playing action heroes and romantic leads when they’re already in adult diapers.

Nannerl Mozart, the sister of the great composer, was a child prodigy at the piano, just like Wolfgang. But in her teens she was left at home by their ambitious father, while Wolfgang went to Italy to compose operas. After that, Nannerl was married off – eventually, at age 32, which was old maid territory in the late eighteenth century – and lived in a remote mountain village with her husband, a boring tax official.

In Mozart's Last Aria, she learns of her brother’s death and suspects foul play. (Mozart himself really did tell his wife that he was being poisoned and six weeks later he was dead.) She travels to Vienna to find out the truth. In the imperial capital, she uncovers a plot involving underground Masonic lodges, espionage, and a secret hidden in the libretto of Wolfgang’s last great opera, The Magic Flute.

As I wrote the novel, I was able to keep in mind the image of Nannerl, painted at about the age at which I portray her. She looked remarkably like Wolfgang, had Wolfgang been a cross-dresser. I used some traditional Zulu techniques (called “family constellations”) to connect with the energy field of the real Nannerl (sounds “New Agey” but it’s a technique I find very useful as a writer.)

Still, I had some of my favorite actresses in mind for the qualities I think they’d be able to embody in a movie version of Mozart's Last Aria.

For Nannerl, I imagined both Juliette Binoche and Julia Roberts for the quality of restrained humor they’ve both been able to bring to roles. Nannerl must be a quiet woman who has spent years far away from the limelight, a woman accustomed to disappointment after her brother was favored over her. Both Juliette and Julia would be able to convey the intelligence of Nannerl that survived those years of disappointment. That’s important because in the course of the novel she learns things which enable her to come to a new understanding of her brother – and herself. It also takes an actress who can embody the vulnerability of a woman in that era.

Incidentally, for the blind piano virtuoso Maria Theresia von Paradies, who has a significant role in the book, I had in mind the gorgeous Béatrice Dalle. Paradies had done what Nannerl was unable to do – made a career as a performer, despite being a woman. Her blindness, I believe, made her disregard a great many of the restrictions of the day and gave her a belief in her talent that someone like Nannerl would’ve suppressed.

I’ve been a Dalle fan since I saw her doing the nasty in her first movie Betty Blue, and despite the fact that she’s clearly a bit nuts (or that she just doesn't care what anyone thinks of her) I’ve continued to enjoy her movies. Plus she was great as a blind girl in Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth. It’s time she reprised blindness.
Learn more about about the book and author at Matt Beynon Rees' website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Craig McDonald's "El Gavilan"

Edgar®-nominee Craig McDonald is an award-winning journalist, editor and fiction writer. His short fiction has appeared in literary magazines, anthologies and several online crime fiction sites.

Here he writes about the actors he could see playing his characters in an adaptation of El Gavilan, his new novel:
El Gavilan is my first standalone novel following four entries in the Hector Lassiter series.

The Lassiter books are historical thrillers. El Gavilan is a novel about illegal immigration and a single murder committed in an Ohio town grappling with waves of undocumented workers.

The time is now.

The setting is, by-and-large, a re-imagined version of my hometown: Call it Main Street USA spilling over into an adjacent metro area-become-a-barrio.

The book—and any movie that might one day be made from it—is a kind of mash-up of a western and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. It’s an oater with Dodge Rams and vintage Impalas set to a soundtrack of sad border ballads and narcocorridos.

The novel tracks the investigations and conflicts of three very different brands of lawmen and the small town reporter who covers their efforts in the local weekly newspaper. Moving between the cops and the journalist—binding them in some ways—is a pretty young “legal” named Patricia whose family owns and operates the town’s favorite Mexican restaurant.

Here’s my dream cast:

I favor actor Timothy Olyphant of Deadwood and Justified fame to play the book’s “hero” Tell Lyon, an ex-Border Patrol agent whose family was murdered by a vengeful cartel chief.

In the part of Tell’s uneasy ally Able Hawk—the county sheriff whose nickname supplies the book’s title—I envision Jeff Bridges.

Rounding out the cast of key cops, I imagine a bark-knuckled and paunchy Russell Crowe as neighboring county sheriff Walt Pierce, a man given to escalating rather than diffusing tensions.

The plot of El Gavilan is fired by the murder of a widowed Latina mother named Thalia Ruiz. Thalia is not a mystery novel or potboiler’s throw-away crime victim: We get to know Thalia over the expanse of the novel, and we witness her family’s harrowing migration from southern Mexico across “The Devil’s Highway” and onto into the United States, and, eventually, to central Ohio.

In a perfect world, Thalia would be played by Salma Hayek. Her parents, Sofia and Francisco Gómez, would be played by the equally iconic Elizabeth Peña and Antonio Banderas. Those three famous actors would be tasked with embodying the deadly passage made—successfully and unsuccessfully—by generations of unknowable thousands of illegal immigrants.

My heavily compromised small town reporter Shawn O’Hara, the character whose story arc is arguably fiercest, would be personified by Chris Pine.

Patricia Maldonado, the young woman who is at points caught in a kind of crossfire between Tell, Able, Walt, Shawn and her larger Latino community—legal and illegal—is a pivotal and a harder piece of casting for me to settle on in my mind. One hour has me preferring one actress, the next another. That said, the actress I seem to return to most often when musing over this issue is Jessica Alba, so we’ll go that direction here.

That’s the cast, more or less, that populates the dusty, sun-drenched movie that runs in my head as I dip back into the book from time to time for a public reading or to prep for an interview.

Roll the credits…to the tune of Tom Russell warbling “Across the Borderline.”
Learn more about the author and his work at Craig McDonald's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 21, 2011

Charles Lemert's "Why Niebuhr Matters"

Charles Lemert is Senior Fellow at Yale's Center for Comparative Research. His recent books include The Structural Lie: Small Clues to Globalization (Paradigm, 2011) as well as Why Niebuhr Matters (Yale University Press, 2011).

Here he shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of Why Niebuhr Matters:
If Hollywood could do wonderful movies on, among others, the mathematical genius, John Nash (A Beautiful Mind) or Tolstoy (The Last Station), it could certainly make a popular, perhaps a hit, film out the life of Reinhold Niebuhr. Niebuhr's mind wove in and out of political controversy and very high-minded philosophy and theology. The drama and wonder of his life lies in his unblinking engagement with the evil of Hitler and post-war American arrogance combined with his calm in overcoming a debilitating stroke to continue his work as the most important moral and political thinker of mid-century America. I would see his role played very well by the Brad Pitt of Terrence Malick's Tree of Life or the Matt Damon of Clint Eastwood's Hereafter -- thoughtful men open in time to the mysteries of death and its beyond, both willing to tolerate not knowing the final answer.
Learn more about the book and author at Charles Lemert's website and the Yale University Press.

The Page 99 Test: Why Niebuhr Matters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Matthue Roth's "Losers"

Matthue Roth is the author of the novels Never Mind the Goldbergs and Candy in Action, and the memoir Yom Kippur a Go-Go.

Here he shares some ideas for cast and director of an adaptation of his novel Losers:
Two years ago I was in an uncomfortable situation. A production company wanted to put out my movie -- which is awesome, right? It's what every author dreams of, more or less. Everyday people, people like my parents' friends, don't read books. They hear about books. But movies, they actually see. Instead of being a rumor, I could control two entire hours of their lives.

"Cool," I said. "Which book do you want?" My novel Losers: hacker nerd-thugs who basically ran their school -- internet popularity power struggles, reconfiguring their GPAs and rosters so they didn't have to come in till lunchtime, that sort of thing?

But, no. "Write us a movie," they said. "Something new."

So I wrote them a movie. I called it 1/20. And then they went ahead and made it. It was about Obama's inauguration, but not really -- it was mostly about two high-school girls who ran away to Washington DC in order to see the Inauguration. They get lost. They meet strange people. They hook up, and break up, and things explode. All the weird and great and tragic things that happen when you're seventeen. It was an amazing experience, and they're still in post-production, but it sort of completely changed my way of thinking, as far as what happens when you write something on paper and then what happens when it gets acted out by live people on film.

Losers is my pride and joy. It's truer-to-life than my memoir, sort of an autobiography of my best friend. Over the course of a weekend, Jupiter Glazer, a Russian immigrant geek kid, sheds his accent, discovers punk, and accidentally gets into a relationship with the hottest girl in school.

The trouble with casting a movie about teenagers is that, as soon as you say a teenager's name, they've suddenly turned 35 years old. So I'm just going to pretend that I'm casting for the afterlife, and anybody's fair game.

Hollywood would probably want Jupiter to look like Christian Slater in Heathers. I'm going to go with Ewan McGregor, though -- five years before Trainspotting, with his hair a little shaggier and his eyes a little more feral.

His best friend, Vadim, in my head was always an Igor type. (Except, of course, that in Russia "Igor" is a name that real people actually have, and one of my best friends is named Igor, so I need to watch the references around him.) He's cool in his own way, but we'd probably have to prettify him up, so instead of, like, a 14-year-old Kyle MacLachlan who isn't quite ready to star in Blue Velvet, we'll probably have to go with what can only be described as a Wesley Crusher-type.

There. I said it. @Wilw, please don't hate on me forever.

For Devin, the diva-y, untouchable, too-popular-for-real-life girl who actually ends up being three-dimensional and cool, I want to say Sarah Michelle Gellar (but teenage -- of course). Not because of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I loved just as much as you did and we'd both love to see her reprising some variation on that theme, but because of the way she speaks. There's a tenth-of-a-second difference between the way actors talk and the way real people do, and Gellar gets that. She's not just a real person -- her characters are realer than any of us. That's how I pictured Devin to be. Underneath her perfect plastic exterior, she's secretly awesome.

And then there's Bates, whose character can only be described -- without giving too much away -- as Glenn Danzig meets Liberace. I'm tempted to say either of them -- or, so long as this is fantasy casting, both -- but I'd really love to see Jonah Hill, from Superbad, do it. Probably with a mohawk. Definitely in black leather. Or pleather, because as long as I'm calling the shots, I'm enforcing my super-dorky vegetarian agenda like nobody's business.

And if I can make one more request? The director. Gerardo del Castillo, who made 1/20, has my heart. David Lynch would get the spookiness perfect, and Judd Apatow would get the humor and the pacing -- with bonus points for his comic-book geek cred. But for the style of Losers, I'm thinking someone more along the lines of Amy Heckerling, who did Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless. Both those movies get their main characters and their time periods so perfectly, and they're both so completely different -- and I think that combination of wildness and innocence, of discovering the world and discovering yourself, are exactly what I wanted Losers to be.
Learn more about the author and his work at the official Matthue Roth website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nancy Jensen's "The Sisters"

Nancy Jensen, who received an MFA in Writing from Vermont College, has published stories and essays in numerous literary journals, including The Louisville Review, Other Voices, and Northwest Review. She was awarded an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council, and teaches English at Eastern Kentucky University.

Here she shares some insights on her difficulty of naming a dream cast for an adaptation of The Sisters, her first novel:
The first words out of my stepfather’s mouth when I called to tell him and my mother that St. Martin’s Press had made an offer for my novel The Sisters: “Tell them we want to be old-people extras in the movie!” Though my stepfather was the first, he certainly was not the only person who, on hearing news of impending publication, leapt immediately to some version of the same question: “What about the movie?”

I’m a film junkie—films like The Remains of the Day, Howard’s End, Enchanted April, All About Eve, Cinema Paradiso and Gosford Park give me the same deep, reflective pleasure I get from literature—so the idea of a gorgeous, well-written, brilliantly cast and subtly directed film based on The Sisters is alluring. Of course I’ve thought about it. A lot. But the instant someone asks me whom I would cast if I had a say—not that I would—I can never think of what American film actress would be right to play Bertie or Mabel or Grace or any of the other principal characters. I can only think of who would be wrong.

The trouble is all that sexiness. My characters are ordinary, working class women—women impossible for me to imagine vamping down the red carpet in golden glam at the Oscars, pouting at the camera, dropping names like Versace and Harry Winston. Okay, so I know they’re actresses and that actresses, with the help of film magic, can be roughed up like Charlize Theron in Monster, but that’s not appealing either—all the attention for the film (and sometimes the awarding of awards) turning on the weight gain, the false nose, the shabby dress, the smudge of dirt on the porcelain cheek.

So please, don’t ask me to think about casting.

But if I could have my one true wish, then give me Ang Lee, and any creative team he wanted to assemble, to make The Sisters, the movie. Why? Because Lee has proven in films like Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm, and Brokeback Mountain that he understands that what makes a great book goes well beyond plot to embrace tone, theme, and the building of character through often introspective, un-photographable tensions. Or if I can’t have Ang Lee, then give me Atom Egoyan, who made The Sweet Hereafter. I promise I wouldn’t even mind if, like The Sweet Hereafter, Egoyan made a film richer and more resonant than the book on which it’s based.
Visit Nancy Jensen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gary Corby's "The Ionia Sanction"

Gary Corby is a novelist and former systems programmer at Microsoft. He lives in Australia with his wife and two daughters.

Corby's debut novel is The Pericles Commission.

Here he writes about the actors he could see playing his characters in an adaptation of his new novel, The Ionia Sanction:
The Ionia Sanction is the story of Nicolaos, the only investigating agent in classical Athens, as he searches for stolen information that threatens the safety of Athens. One man has already died trying to protect the secret, another died trying to recover it. Now it's up to Nico to hunt it down, wherever it might be.

About half of the people in my stories are real people, the other half being figments of my demented imagination. So forthwith, I'll cast the major characters!

My wife tells me that Orlando Bloom would be perfect for my hero, Nicolaos. She also tells me that she's willing to take on the role of his girlfriend Diotima.

For Asia, the girl-slave who proves to be quite a handful, we'll have Chloe Moretz. She starred in Kick Ass; the movie was terrible, but she's the right age, and I like the promo shot of her holding a massive, silenced pistol.

For Themistocles, the strategic genius who saved Greece from the Persians, and then defected to the hated enemy, we'll have Laurence Olivier, firstly because it probably takes one genius to play another, and secondly because it would take an amazing actor to portray someone as deep and multi-layered as Themistocles.

For Mnesiptolema, the hardcase daughter of Themistocles, we'll have Helena Bonham Carter, because she dresses up well as a zombie. No, there are no zombies in this story, but if there were, Mnesiptolema would be one.

For Salaminia, the most famous warship of the ancient world, we'll use Olympia [photo left]. There's a good reason for that. Olympia is the world's only remaining trireme, so it's not like we've got a lot of choice. But in fact Olympia was built to ancient specs and probably looks exactly like the original triremes used to.

Barzanes, the devoutly religious and clinically cruel Persian agent, is a tough one to cast. Here's his first appearance: "A man stood there, a Persian, with the nose of a hawk and expressionless eyes under hair that was black as Hades." And later: "He wore a simple, unadorned tunic and no jewelry or display of any kind, yet stood out at this table of well dressed officers and overdressed civilians. The ringleted beard, the curled, black hair, the piercing dark eyes and the hawk-like nose gave him the air of a predator." After a lot of thought, I'm going with Jack Gwillim. Who, you ask? Well, he played King Aeetes in the original Jason and the Argonauts. A fitting finale for my cast.
Learn more about the book and author at Gary Corby's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 13, 2011

B. Kent Anderson's "Cold Glory"

B. Kent Anderson is a journalist and broadcaster. A graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma, he is currently a features writer for the Southwestern Publishing group of magazines. He lives with his three sons in Oklahoma City.

Here Anderson shares some suggestions about who should play the leads in an adaptation of his new novel, Cold Glory:
Now that Cold Glory has finally hit bookshelves, I’ve been asked at least a dozen times in the last two weeks about actors for the ever-elusive (and at this point, hypothetical) film of the story.

I honestly don’t write novels with an actor or actress in mind, but have found myself considering the possibilities in the last couple of weeks. My two series characters are college professor Nick Journey and federal investigator/researcher (and part-time concert pianist) Meg Tolman.

Journey is a middle-aged former ballplayer, now a professor at a small college in Oklahoma. He’s also a single father of a son with autism. He’s a little overweight, has high blood pressure and cholesterol. He’s not an indestructible action hero, so leading men like George Clooney and Tom Cruise, though being around the right age (early/mid forties) are out. I found myself leaning toward Sean Penn (though he is a few years old for the character). As he has aged, Penn has developed a bit of a weathered look that would serve Nick Journey well, I think. I have in mind Penn’s role as a weary, understated Secret Service agent in The Interpreter a few years ago, as being the type of look and feel that would be most appealing in Journey.

My fiancée said, “No, no, no!” when I mentioned Penn. She prefers Matt Damon, and I said, “No, no, no! I can’t have Jason Bourne as my college professor.” But she correctly pointed out that Damon has aged a few years since his Bourne Trilogy days, and after looking up a few photos, I can actually see it. Put some rumpled khakis on him and he could also be my Nick Journey. (Perhaps he and Penn could fight it out for the role?)

My female lead, Meg Tolman, is a five-foot-one, tough-talking fireball of a woman with short blond hair and a serious attitude. She also plays Rachmaninov with all the beauty and sensitivity of any top-notch professional pianist. I was at a total loss for an actress in her early thirties to play Tolman, but again my fiancée intervened and suggested Claire Danes. I’ve never seen any of Danes’s films (I don’t get out much, you see), but as soon as I pulled up her photos on Google, I did something of a double take and said, “That’s Meg Tolman!” She brings the right combination of toughness and refinement that could bring Tolman to life on film.
Learn more about Cold Glory at B. Kent Anderson's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 11, 2011

Paul Doiron’s "Trespasser"

Paul Doiron’s first novel, The Poacher’s Son, won the Barry Award and the Strand Critics Award for Best First Mystery of 2010. His second book in his Mike Bowditch series of rural crime novels is Trespasser, which was called “a masterpiece of high-octane narrative” by Booklist and was an Independent Booksellers Association bestseller.

Here he writes about the actors he could imagine playing Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch and some of the other principal characters in Trespasser:
The first thing I should do is quote my film agent who says that, in his experience, novelists are poor casting agents for their own books.

Having said that, I’ll take a stab anyway. Mike Bowditch should be a great character for an actor to play—he’s brave and intelligent but impetuous and haunted by violence, both his own and others’—but Hollywood seems to have a dearth of promising male actors under the age of twenty-five (which is Mike’s age in this book). For that reason, I’d probably go with someone a little older like Ryan Gosling, who has the acting chops and has shown an inclination recently to play more physical roles. I haven’t seen enough of Charlie Hunnam’s work, but his performance on Sons of Anarchy has intrigued me.

Mike’s girlfriend Sarah is earnest and beautiful, but deliberately a bit bland—she comes from money and can’t imagine being the wife of an underpaid warden living in the back of beyond. Their relationship is based more on their physical attraction than either will admit. For a long time I pictured January Jones in the role. Scarlett Johansson certainly has the animal magnetism to keep Mike from recognizing how little else they have in common. But there are so many great you female actors working now, it would be hard to go wrong.

In Trespasser a rape and killing take place that resembles an incident from seven years earlier, which means that the man already convicted was either railroaded or that a copy-cat is on the loose. The convict, Erland Jefferts, is a highly charismatic guy who has attracted a cadre of defenders (some attracted to his cause by his looks). I think an actor who projects uncomplicated likability, like Ryan Reynolds, might be right for that part.

Jefferts’ chief advocate and public spokesman is a bluff, blunt New Yorker. Dustin Hoffman would have a ball.

Another important character in the book is a slightly menacing Maine State Trooper. He’s a big and beefy guy who doesn’t quite strike Mike as being what he appears to be. One actor who came to mind recently was Josh Holloway, who played Sawyer on Lost, provided he could drop the Southern twang.

Mike’s supervisor, Sergeant Kathy Frost, is fortyish, smart, witty, and profane which leaves a single choice—Sandra Bullock.

I’ve always thought the plum role in my books is the retired Game Warden Pilot Charley Stevens. Charley is wise and folksy, not conventionally educated but the smartest man in any room he enters. He’s also a daredevil in the air, the best woodsman alive, and a bit of a boy at heart. You’d think any number of great male actors would enjoy playing him: Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones. (Please no Maine accents.) One unconventional choice would be Harrison Ford who would get to bring character traits from his roles as Han Solo and John Book (from Witness) to a unique character in his sixties.
Learn more about Paul Doiron at his website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Poacher's Son.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stephen Beachy's "boneyard"

Stephen Beachy is the author of the novels The Whistling Song and Distortion, as well as the twinned novellas Some Phantom/No Time Flat. His writing has appeared in BOMB, The New York Times Magazine, Chicago Review, Best Gay American Fiction, New York magazine and elsewhere. Raised by an ex-Amish father in Iowa, he now lives in California and teaches at the University of San Francisco.

Here he shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of his new novel, boneyard:
If they make boneyard into a movie, Justin Bieber would probably have to play the disturbed Amish boy at its center, Jake Yoder. He looks like a disturbed Amish boy, doesn't he? He doesn't really look like Jake, who has darker hair and bluer eyes and inappropriate affect, but we could work around that. I'm also a character in my book, and so is the editor, Judith Owsley Brown - we write battling footnotes that interpret Jake Yoder's text. Judith would definitely have to be played by Naomi Watts, who can do that kind of mildly uptight but morally concerned thing quite well, and who's just so brilliant there isn't much she can't do. I would like to be played by Barbara Hershey in male drag. Ever since I saw Barbara get raped by an invisible entity in The Entity I've felt an odd kinship with her, as I often feel as if something invisible and malevolent is touching me inappropriately. Maybe it's just a metaphor for capitalism or technology, but since boneyard deals with entities, abuse, horror and malevolent psychologists, her presence would add some rich meta-layers.
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Beachy's website; view the boneyard trailer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 7, 2011

Alan Lazar's "Roam"

Alan Lazar is a platinum-selling musician/composer whose career began in his native South Africa. He lives in Los Angeles, where he has composed music for more than 30 films and TV shows.

Here he shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of Roam, his first novel:
The hero of Roam is a dog, half-beagle and half-poodle. So, no conventional movie stars need apply. In Marley and Me, I believe the dog was an incredible composite of fourteen real dogs and some CGI. If Roam is a live-action film I guess it would be something similar. Alternatively Roam might be a fully animated film. I’m a huge fan of pretty much all the Pixar movies, and I’d love for Roam to be made over there. Up and Toy Story 3 both got my tear ducts pumping. They handle dramatic subject matter with such a beautiful touch.

If Roam is live action, we’d need to cast the main human character, a beautiful concert pianist named Katey. She’s the original owner, or Great Love, of Nelson, our hero dog. The agent selling the movie rights asked for a couple of names for Katey, and I came up with Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway and Kirsten Dunst. All would be great choices.

Thatcher is a truck driver Nelson spends some quality time with, and he’s one of the favorite characters of many who’ve read the book. I somehow imagine Jeff Bridges in the role, one of my favorite actors. I just loved him in Crazy Heart recently. He’s a little old for the role, though, as Thatcher’s only 40, but they managed to shave off a lot of years in Tron, so maybe…

Another of Nelson’s owners is Jake, and his son Oliver. He’s Latino. Benjamin Bratt could be good in this role, although I would love for Guillermo del Toro to play it. If Mario Lopez took himself a bit more seriously, he could also be good, as he’s likely to be the right age by the time the movie might get made.
Learn more about the book and author at Alan Lazar's website.

--Marshal Zeringue