Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Will McIntosh's "Hitchers"

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 in 2011, and his second novel, Hitchers, has just been released. 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 Hitchers:
A-list actors should be lining up to read for the three central roles in Hitchers. The reason can be explained in one word: Oscar. Actors win Oscars for playing challenging roles, and all three of the starring roles in Hitchers require the actor to play dual parts: The character, and the dead person possessing the character. They’re challenging roles, for sure! Here are my casting choices:

Finn Darby. Colin Farrell gets the role of the tortured cartoonist, partly because he’s Irish. Playing Finn when he is controlled by his ranting, drunken, dead Irish grandfather will require someone who can put on a dynamite Irish brogue. Farrell also has the emotional range to play a tortured soul like Finn. It’s an introspective role -- the character’s face must always carry the weight of his responsibility for the deaths of both his wife and, as a boy, his twin sister. This role has Oscar written all over it.

Summer. The actor playing Summer has to be thin and slight, cute but not stunning. She has to be believable as a poor, struggling single mom working as a waitress. She also has to convince an audience that she is possessed by a voluptuous, flamboyant Latina woman. It’s a tall order. I’d like to cast Carey Mulligan for this role, because she looks like the picture of Summer I have in my head, she’s already taken on quite a few challenging roles for someone who’s only twenty-seven, and she worked as a barmaid once upon a time. The problem is, she’s British. Maybe we can alter Summer’s background a bit to incorporate her being British into the plot. Sure, that wouldn’t be too difficult. Carey Mulligan it is.

Mick Mercury. The aging, hard-drinking, washed-up British rocker must surely go to an aging British rocker. The question is, which one? This rocker must have a magnetic presence, be somewhat roguish, charming, extraverted, a bit blue-collar, in his late 50s or thereabouts. He must still be able to belt out a tune, and, above all, must be able to act, because he’ll be playing two very different roles. Some decent candidates are just too old to be convincing, such as Mick Jagger or Keith Richards. Ozzy Ozborne? A really nice fit, but I’m uneasy about his ability to take on the second persona convincingly. Elvis Costello is an interesting possibility, but he’s not British. I decided to go with David Bowie. Bowie is a bit more cultured than Mercury, but the man can act, and he has the dynamic presence and powerful voice I’m looking for.

That leaves just a few supporting roles. For Finn’s tough as nails grandmother, I’d love to convince Maureen O’Hara to come out of retirement. For Finn’s mom, Sigourney Weaver. There’s a scene where Finn’s furious mom tries to smack Finn’s grandfather right out of him, and I could picture Ms. Weaver bringing the right amount of rage to that scene.

So there it is. If you read this, Mr. Farrell, let's talk. Call me!
Learn more about the book and author at Will McIntosh's website.

My Book, The Movie: Will McIntosh's Soft Apocalypse.

Writers Read: Will McIntosh.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pam Houston's "Contents May Have Shifted"

Pam Houston divides her time between her ranch in Colorado and the University of California at Davis, where she is director of the Creative Writing Program. She has been a frequent contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine, and her writing appears regularly in More and other publications. She in the author of the best-selling Cowboys Are My Weakness.

Here Houston shares some ideas for director and main cast members for an adaptation of her new novel, Contents May Have Shifted:
If they make Contents May Have Shifted into a film, I would want Sandra Bullock to play the Pam character. I say this party because I know her production company was seriously considering buying my last book, Sight Hound for a while (they eventually passed) but during that time I did a little research and found out we feel the same way about animals in general and dogs in particular, about several works of literature and other things, (the questionable taste in men on both our parts hardly needs to be spoken of.) But beyond the practicalities of that I see a lot of myself in her, in her authenticity, her humor, and maybe most of all what I would call her “try.”

I love Philip Seymour Hoffman about the best of any male actor these days, and I especially like him in a romantic role, which he does not get all that often, so I think I would like him to play Rick. Annette Bening is perfect for Cinder. (Hey, this is more fun than I thought it was going to be). Drew Barrymore would make a great Willow. (How we doing on budget so far?) Laura Linney as Janine, the acupuncturist. Salma Hayek as Ruby. Maybe Geoffrey Rush as Fenton the human. This book has so many characters, I think I better stop here.

As for a director, I think I would throw that back to Sandra Bullock. This book needs a woman at the helm, I think, and one who is able to laugh at herself.
Learn more about the book and author at Pam Houston's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Pam Houston and Fenton Johnson.

The Page 69 Test: Contents May Have Shifted.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kevin Fox's "Until the Next Time"

Kevin Fox is a producer and writer for the Fox TV series Lie to Me, and his professional screenwriter credits include the film The Negotiator. He splits his time between coasts, living in both Los Angeles and New Jersey.

Here he dreamcasts a big screen adaptation of his debut novel, Until the Next Time:
Until the Next Time is actually comprised of two intertwined stories – that of Michael Corrigan, who is fleeing a murder charge in the United States and gets caught up in the ‘Troubles’ in Ireland in 1972 – and that of Sean Corrigan, his nephew, who goes back to Ireland twenty-five years later to solve the mystery surrounding his uncle’s death. Both men fall in love in Ireland, and both are at odds with the ‘Hard Men’ of the Provisional IRA.

Michael, who was a New York City Police Officer before fleeing The States, is a bit more worldly than Sean, but gets in over his head in Ireland and has an accessible vulnerability. There is no actor who I think would be more adept at playing Michael than Matt Damon, given the nuances of the role.

Sean is a bit more naïve, a modern-day Holden Caulfield, fumbling his way through life, likeable but frustrating in his lack of understanding of the world. Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Three Musketeers) can easily convey these qualities, and in spite of the fact that he is not from an Irish background, has the looks of the black Irish.

For Declan Murphy, our likeable IRA rogue, there is only one choice for me, the man who played Michael Collins himself, Liam Neeson. I believe we can still love Liam, as we need to still love Michael, even when he’s killing people.

There are two women that are crucial to the story, Kate, the love that Michael loses who I am sure that Cate Blanchett could embody and make the world fall in love with her as she has so many times before – and Anne, the foul-mouthed, sharp-edged girl-of-the-world that teaches Sean everything she knows. For Anne, Saoirse Ronan is the only actress that I could imagine.

There is one other character that haunts the book, in both stories: Jimmy Coonan, a sociopath that enjoys the bloodshed of the ‘Troubles’ while still managing to charm those around him. For the young Coonan, Cillian Murphy would be ideal, and I am sure that Colin Farrell would find himself at home in Coonan’s skin.
Learn more about the book and author at Kevin Fox's website.

The Page 69 Test: Until the Next Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Elizabeth Hand's "Available Dark"

Elizabeth Hand, a New York Times notable author, has won the Shirley Jackson Award, the James Tiptree Award, the Nebula Award (twice), the World Fantasy Award (three times), and many others. Her novella, “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon,” was nominated for a Hugo Award.

Here she writes about her preference for the director and principal cast of an adaptation of her new novel, Available Dark:
I have a long list of directors, but lately I’ve been leaning toward Quentin Tarantino, because he’s got such great taste in rock and roll. He could just write the screenplay if he wants to — he did the honors for Tony Scott’s True Romance, one of my all-time favorite movies. I think Tarantino could do justice to the twisted romance between Cass and Quinn that’s at the heart of Available Dark — this book is my version of Casablanca.

There are so many terrific women actors who I think could do a great job with Cass Neary: Frances McDormand, Jodie Foster, Daryl Hannah, Annette Bening, Ellen Barkin, even Meg Ryan. Still, as far as dream casting goes, I’d love to see Charlize Theron in the role. She has the right physique — tall, blonde, valkyric — and her remarkable work in Monster proves she can capture a deeply conflicted, flawed character and not lost the viewer’s interest and empathy. Ellen Barkin would be my next choice — she’s definitely got the voice and the New York attitude down cold.

As for Quinn O’Boyle —the inimitable Steve Buscemi. And Galdur, the legendary black metal guitarist holed up in the Icelandic wilderness, is a role tailor-made for Viggo Mortensen, especially considering Mortensen’s Danish background. Like Theron, Mortensen’s an actor who can do beautiful and scary at the same time. Plus I can totally seeing him learn to shred for the role, if he doesn’t already know how to play tremolo guitar.
Learn more about the book and author at Elizabeth Hand's website.

Read about Elizabeth Hand's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Elly Griffiths’s "The House at Sea’s End"

Elly Griffiths’s Ruth Galloway novels have been praised as “highly atmospheric” (New York Times Book Review), “remarkable” (Richmond Times-Dispatch), and “gripping” (Louise Penny). Now, in The House at Sea’s End, the beloved forensic archeologist returns, called in to investigate when human bones surface on a remote Norfolk beach.

Here Griffiths shares some ideas about casting a cinematic adaptation of the novel:
In The House at Sea’s End six bodies are found buried at the foot of a cliff in a remote Norfolk village. Dr Ruth Galloway is called in to investigate and is once more in contact with DCI Harry Nelson, the father of her child. The bodies date from the Second World War but someone is still alive who would kill to protect their secret.

People have said that Ruth is an unusual heroine – she’s overweight, untidy and rather shy. I’d hate her to be played by a skinny glamour model but I can’t think of anyone who’d be quite right. I’d love to see Michael Fassbender as Nelson (well, I can dream, can’t I?). He has Irish roots, just like Nelson, and he did gritty Northern hero beautifully in Jane Eyre. I can see David Tennant or Russell Brand as Cathbad, Ruth’s druid friend. I’m sure there are many actors who could do justice to beautiful Shona, oafish Clough and clever Judy. Maybe I’ll just have to play Ruth myself....
Learn more about the book and author at Elly Griffiths's website.

The Ruth Galloway novels include The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone.

The Page 69 Test: The Crossing Places.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thomas A. Robinson & Lanette Ruff's "Out of the Mouths of Babes"

Thomas A. Robinson  is Professor of Religious Studies at The University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, and Lanette D. Ruff teaches Criminology at Eastern College in New Brunswick, Canada.

Here they dreamcast a big screen adaptation of their new book, Out of the Mouths of Babes: Girl Evangelists in the Flapper Era:
Our book is about girl preachers in the 1920s, the decade that represented one of the most radical changes in the perception of the feminine, with the rude and risqué flapper providing the new image, and girl evangelists standing for traditional manners and morals. This was the age of the child star, and children had a welcoming stage, whether promoting Hollywood or heaven. The most famous of these girl evangelists, Uldine Utley, was actually called “the Garbo of the Pulpit,” and both Utley and Garbo had superstar quality, each on their own stage. At least one movie was made at the time that reflected the clash of cultures experienced during the roaring twenties: Cecil B. deMille’s last silent movie, The Godless Girl.

Any of the sets of a Hollywood movie featuring the 1920s would work just fine in converting our book to a movie. It was the age of Prohibition on the one hand, and of illegal alcohol and speakeasies on the other. It was the age of fiery evangelists, such as Billy Sunday and Aimee Semple McPherson on the one hand, and of Al Capone and Bugs Moran on the other.

Casting for the girl evangelists would open the door for anyone from age three to their twenties, for some of the girls were three when they started and many were well into adulthood before they dropped the “Girl Evangelist” moniker. For the star girl evangelist, Uldine Utley, Miley Cyrus could play that role. Not only has she experienced being a child star, she can sing, and many of the girl evangelists were singers as well as preachers. Whether Miley could be made up to appear to be eleven might stretch the role, for Uldine hit the stage at that age and quickly gained national fame. Perhaps Chloë Moretz (of Hugo) could play the earliest years.

For the host of other girl evangelists, many actors could fill the role, but they would need to be white and American, for that was, with few exceptions, what the girl evangelists were.

For flappers, almost any Hollywood actress would do for they are now what the flappers started—independent young women flaunting their freedom and their sexuality, and often challenging convention.

But one older woman would need to be in the cast. The hottest American revivalist turned 30 as the “roaring twenties” began. Her name was Aimee Semple McPherson, and she planted her flag (and built her 5300-seat church—with a Hollywood-like stage) just five miles from Hollywood. She became a role model for the young girl preachers, and she featured many of them on her stage. Maybe Molly Parker (of Deadwood, Swingtown, The Firm) could play that role, since she sings as well as acts, and she is Canadian, as Aimee Semple McPherson was.
Learn more about the golden age of girl evangelists at Thomas A. Robinson’s website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 18, 2012

David Schiff's "The Ellington Century"

David Alan Schiff is R.P. Wollenberg Professor of Music at Reed College. He is a composer, journalist whose articles have appeared in publications including the New York Times and the Atlantic, and the author of George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue and The Music of Elliot Carter.

His new book is The Ellington Century.

Here Schiff shares some thoughts on casting an adaptation of the book:
The Ellington Century is a celebration of Duke Ellington's music, not a biography. The star of a movie version could be Ellington himself since there is lots of film footage going back to 1930 and the short "Black and Tan Fantasy" where Ellington already cut quite an elegant figure playing himself as a young genius.

Ellington appeared in many other movies including Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder for which he composed his first film score.
Learn more about the book and author at David Schiff's website and the University of California Press.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Andromeda Romano-Lax's "The Detour"

Born in 1970 in Chicago, Andromeda Romano-Lax worked as a freelance journalist and travel writer before turning to fiction. Her first novel, The Spanish Bow, was translated into eleven languages and was chosen as a New York Times Editors’ Choice, BookSense pick, and one of Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year.

Here Romano-Lax shares her suggestions for casting a big screen adaptation of the recently released The Detour, a novel set in Italy 1938, about art, adventure, and second chances:
When The Detour opens, in 1938, my young Bavarian narrator, Ernst Vogler, is a little naïve. He desperately wants to be apolitical, to lose himself in the world of classical art. But alas, he works for the world’s most unscrupulous art collector, a.k.a. the Führer. Too bad for Vogler. It’s hard to do the Nazis’ dirty work without a little bit of misfortune rubbing off on you.

Vogler is sent by the Führer to Italy to retrieve a famous ancient statue, the Discus Thrower. From his first hours in Rome, everything goes wrong. What is supposed to be a simple assignment ends up becoming a rural road trip that changes Vogler’s life.

In terms of casting, we need a man who can pass for young (24) and slightly older (34), a man who is athletic but also intellectual, a man who starts out strait-laced and becomes—finally—more willing to take risks, to pursue passion, to reconsider everything. (And oh yes, we must believe that an Italian woman will fall for him. Yes, this movie gets an R rating.)

I’m thinking Leonardo DiCaprio. Not just because he can play both the anxious waif and the wiser, older man, but because this German role would give him a nice acting workout. Furthermore, consider his first name. The actor’s parents named him after the Renaissance master because DiCaprio’s pregnant German mother first felt little Leo kick in an art museum, while she was looking at a DaVinci painting. That makes him a natural for bringing an art-inspired Italian road adventure to life. Leonardo’s father, George, happens to be a screenwriter, and also half-Italian and half-Bavarian. This would be a nifty father-son project, giving them some connecting time in Bella Italia. (Anyone itching to start an email campaign to the DiCaprios? Please be my guest!)

In truth, I wasn’t imagining DiCaprio when I wrote The Detour, but I was definitely thinking cinematically. In contrast with my sprawling, episodic, Don Quixote-inspired first novel, The Spanish Bow, this second novel is slimmer and more focused, very visual, more sensual, more reliant on landscape and artistic imagery. Chronologically, nearly all of the action takes place over just a few days. It’s a road-trip story, even with some weightier ideas about Nazi art acquisition and body politics thrown into the mix. And it’s also a would-be buddy flick, with two Italian policemen named Cosimo and Enzo—one serious, the other more funny and flamboyant—providing the sidekick roles. In Act III, the buddy story gives way to a love story featuring an expressive and unconventional woman, Rosina. (A Penelope Cruz type, perhaps, but Italian and unknown?) When I wrote the scene with Rosina bathing nude, by lamplight, in an old Italian farmhouse, I was seeing it on the silver screen in my mind.

And while we’re talking about movies, can I squeeze in one other film-adaptation fantasy? My first novel—The Spanish Bow; set in Spain, Germany, and southern France from the 1890s through 1940s—features a Catalan cellist, a stoic little guy, who can be either passionate or pompous, depending on when you catch him. My dream actor for the role? Without a doubt: Paul Giamatti. He has played John Adams and a washed-up writer who loves pinot noir, but as a multilingual, highly political, world-famous cellist, I think he could get some serious Academy attention. Mr. Giamatti, are you out there? Your cello, sir, awaits….
Learn more about the book and author at Andromeda Romano-Lax's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Spanish Bow.

The Page 69 Test: The Detour.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Marie Brennan's "With Fate Conspire"

Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Here Brennan dreamcasts adaptations of A Star Shall Fall and With Fate Conspire, the latest novels in the Onyx Court series:
The Onyx Court series has always been very hit-or-miss for me when it comes to imaginary casting. Some characters, I know right off the bat; others never get cast at all. When I posted before, discussing the first two books of the series, I had good faces for Lune (the faerie queen), Michael Deven (the mortal protagonist of Midnight Never Come), and Jack Ellin (one of the two mortals at the center of In Ashes Lie) -- but nobody for Invidiana or Antony Ware.

Two books on, my batting average is still patchy. Irrith, the faerie protagonist for the eighteenth-century A Star Shall Fall, needs to be somebody small and pixie-ish. I visualize her being something like Julie Cox, with those big eyes and pointy little chin. Make her about four inches shorter, and she'd be a pretty good match. (Though Irrith rarely dresses as elegantly as Cox does in that picture, which I believe is from Children of Dune.) I don't have anybody for her mortal counterpart, though, Galen St. Clair. It's easier to find pixie-ish women in Hollywood than small, slender men. In terms of build, Galen should be along the lines of Cillian Murphy, but he's already "taken" -- Murphy is my closest match for Tiresias, one of the secondary characters in Midnight Never Come.

Moving on to With Fate Conspire, the fourth (and for now, final) book in the series, I again find it easier to cast the faerie than the mortal; the difference is, this time the genders are flipped. Just as I had Paul Bettany in mind when I started writing Jack Ellin, Dead Rick was Burn Gorman before I ever put a word down on the page. I've seen him in a few things, but it's specifically his character from Torchwood, Owen Harper, that put him on my casting list: not to put too fine a point on it, but I needed somebody I could imagine being bitter and cynical, and Gorman plays that in spades. Plus he has this raw edge that resonated in my imagination; Dead Rick is a skriker, a shapeshifter whose presence can be a death omen. I can see Gorman in that role.

I can't see anybody as the mortal protagonist, though, Eliza O'Malley. I want somebody who looks Irish -- of the dark-haired sort, not the red -- but the hard part is that Eliza shouldn't be pretty. The movie industry has all kinds of attractive young ladies, but very few that look like they've grown up poor in nineteenth-century Whitechapel. Even with makeup and ratty clothing, they all look too clean, too soft -- too sheltered. (Frankly, I need somebody who can do the sort of raw edge that Gorman can; unfortunately, that isn't a very marketable quality for an actress.) I actually spent a while looking through Victorian photographs, hoping to find somebody appropriate, but I struck out there, too. So Eliza, alas, remains uncast.

The interesting question, of course, is whether any of my castings match at all with what my readers imagine! Likely not, but the point of them is to help me visualize the characters; in that respect, they've done their job.
Learn more about the Onyx Court series at Marie Brennan's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: With Fate Conspire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sara Benincasa's "Agorafabulous!"

Sara Benincasa is an award-winning comedian, writer and host of the popular podcast, Sex and Other Human Activities, available on iTunes. Her outspoken, sexually-charged comedy has won praise from the Chicago Tribune, CNN, The Guardian, and The New York Times, and has earned her an ECNY (Emerging Comedian of New York) Award and a Webby nomination. Her new book is Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom, which is based on her critically acclaimed solo show about panic attacks and agoraphobia.

Here Benincasa shares her suggestions for casting a big screen adaptation of Agorafabulous!:
Agorafabulous!: Dispatches From My Bedroom is my memoir of my struggle with mental illness. I take the reader on a magical journey from summer academic camp to a disastrous trip to Sicily to an ill-fated stint at college in Boston to an emergency room in North Carolina to the ashram of a crazy gay spiritual guru in Pennsylvania to a classroom full of boner-haunted 14-year-olds in Texas to a maybe-miscarriage and a definite-comedy career in New York City. It's a heady romp through good times and bad, which is obviously why it should be made into a big major motion picture, and why someone should pay me vast amounts of money for the right to do such a thing.

Obviously, Zach Galifianakis ought to play me. He looks handsome in a dress in my sticky lady fantasies, so he'd look cute as hell in the fin-de-siecle J. Crew and Delia's gear I sport for much of the narrative.

My short Italian mother who rescued me from my agoraphobic cave of filth (a.k.a. apartment) will be played by Sophia Loren, who is maybe slightly older than she is, but evs.

My best friend Katherine, who called my parents in college to tell them I'd gone nuts, will be played by Zooey Deschanel. This is because Katherine looks like Zooey Deschanel if Zooey Deschanel had a huge rack and a New Orleans accent.

My BFF Alexandra, who intervened and also helped save my life, will be played by Julia Stiles, because she looks a lot like Julia Stiles.

Any man I ever hump in the context of the story will be played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, because I would not object to him putting it on me in real life, and also because he and Zach Galifianakis would undoubtedly have sizzling onscreen chemistry.

My dad, who helped me to eat again and to go for walks outside the confines of my house, would be played by fellow ginger Amy Adams in a career-making performance that would surely garner an Oscar nomination.

In short, Agorafabulous! the movie would be the best fucking cinematic experience anyone has ever had, ever. Hollywood can feel free to email me. Let's make this shit happen, world.
Visit Sara Benincasa's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 10, 2012

Amy Hatvany's "Outside the Lines"

Amy Hatvany's books include Best Kept Secret.

Here she shares some ideas for director and main cast members for an adaptation of her new novel, Outside the Lines:
As an author, it is only in the dark, quiet moments of morning that I allow myself to ponder the “what ifs.” What if someone wants to make a movie of this book? What if this particular dream came true?

The story is told from two points of view - David West, a talented artist who slowly deteriorates into mental illness and Eden, the daughter he abandons when she is ten years old. For David, I imagine Robert Downey, Jr. in the role, simply because I believe he could carry off the character’s extremes - the highs and lows, the love he feels for his daughter and the hatred he feels toward himself and his illness. In the book he is described as “whip-thin, but sinewy and strong.”

Eden is a more challenging pick, because the story is told back and forth in time, so the reader gets to know her as a child and an adult. If Abigail Breslin could dye her hair black, her emotional range would make her perfect for the role of young Eden, and as an adult, I picture her Jennifer Connelly - intelligent, compassionate, and strong.

Without a doubt, my dream director for any of my novels would be Nicole Holofcener - I fell in love with her keen eye in Walking & Talking and then Lovely & Amazing came along and she once again blew me away. She is fearless, and I would trust her implicitly to visually translate the story.
Learn more about the book and author at Amy Hatvany's website.

The Page 69 Test: Outside the Lines.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mike Mullin's "Ashfall"

Mike Mullin is the author of Ashfall, which was recently named one of the top 5 young adult novels of 2011 by NPR. He’s not much of a movie buff, however, so he invited Jenny at Forever Young Adult to dreamcast Ashfall:
In Ashfall, the super volcano in Yellowstone National Park erupts, bringing an end to the world as we know it. Not only is most of the continental U.S. covered in feet of ash, but food sources have been privatized and the general population has turned into thieving, murdering cannibals (you know, like they do). Alex stayed behind when his family headed across state lines to visit his uncle -- right before the eruption -- and now he's determined to make his way to them.

Alex is a reluctant hero, and Alex Esmail (as seen as "Pest" in Attack The Block) would be the perfect young actor to bring levity to the role while still being able to pull off the intensity the situation calls for. I think he'd also be pretty adorable in his attempts to romance Darla, who is a hard-ass genius hell-bent on survival. Whether she's tending to a nasty wound Alex sustained in a fight, or gutting rabbits, or grinding corn in a bicycle-powered mill, Darla's fierce power could be portrayed by no one but Saoirse Ronan (did you see Hanna?). She would be able to depict Darla's severity and vulnerability, while being the perfect foil to Esmail's charm.
Learn more about the book and author at Mike Mullin's website and blog.

Writers Read: Mike Mullin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bill Fitzhugh's "The Exterminators"

Bill Fitzhugh is a writer. He’s published novels and short stories, has written television and film scripts, and he writes, produces, and hosts a show on the Deep Track Channel of Sirius-XM Satellite radio.

His latest novel is The Exterminators.

Here Fitzhugh shares some insights into bringing his written work to the big screen:
My first novel, Pest Control, started life as a screenplay that every studio in Los Angeles rejected. After I turned it into a novel, Warner Brothers bought the rights and paid several people to turn it back into a screenplay and then didn't bother to make it. And now, I've just published the sequel, The Exterminators. Warner Brothers owns the rights to the characters to this too. Back in 1991 when my then screenwriting partner and I were writing the script, we had Billy Crystal in mind for Bob Dillon and Arnold Schwarzenegger in mind for Klaus. Billy is too old for the part now, but Arnold would be perfect (in fact even better now that he's older). The same thing that happened with Pest Control also happened with Cross Dressing. Wrote a screenplay that every studio in town rejected. Then I wrote it as a novel and Universal Studios bought it. I didn't really have any actors in mind for Dan Steele or Sister Peg. So feel free to read it and do the casting yourself.
Learn more about the book and author at Bill Fitzhugh's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Exterminators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jeffrey Abt's "American Egyptologist"

Jeffrey Abt is associate professor in the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History at Wayne State University. He is the author of A Museum on the Verge: A Socioeconomic History of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1885–2000.

Here he writes about his choice for the lead in a big-screen adaptation of his new book, American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute:
Harrison Ford, of course, is my first choice. But I’d cast him as he is today: older, seasoned by life’s travails, less swashbuckling, but still charismatic. Though seemingly far-fetched, my preference comes from Indiana Jones’s remark, near the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, that he studied archaeology at the University of Chicago—the school where my subject, James Henry Breasted, created his Oriental Institute. When George Lucas was asked why he wrote Chicago into the film, he replied it was because he believed Chicago was “one of the best universities for archaeological study.” That impression underscores the impact of Breasted’s career on the American imagination.

Breasted was not just an Egyptologist and daring explorer, however. He was also a brilliant scholar and captivating speaker who, more than any other American, brought the ancient Near East to life for generations of his fellow citizens. Perhaps, if George Lucas and Steven Spielberg wanted to add yet one more chapter to the Indiana Jones saga, they might well return to the college campus where it began. But this time the film would start with an older and more circumspect Jones as he recalled a career in which an outward life of bold explorations overshadowed personal struggles with the great questions of his era.
Learn more about American Egyptologist at the University of Chicago Press website and Jeffrey Abt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wessel Ebersohn's "The October Killings" & "Those Who Love Night"

Wessel Ebersohn is an internationally published author who was born and lives in South Africa.

Here he dreamcasts adaptations of his recent novels, The October Killings and Those Who Love Night:
These two thrillers have the same central characters, Yudel Gordon and Abigail Bukula, but the settings are very different. The October Killings takes place in South Africa, a country where utilities work and much of the population lives by the standards of developed countries. The future is still uncertain but, for now, things function and human rights are observed.

Those Who Love Night, on the other hand, takes place in Zimbabwe, a dictatorship where the electric power comes and goes without warning, where traffic lights only work intermittently and where only the well-heeled shop in supermarkets. For the impoverished majority life is a continual struggle for survival.

Of the two central characters, Yudel Gordon, has been around longer than Abigail, having appeared in three earlier books without Abigail. He is ageing, Jewish, very intelligent and intuitive. His strengths are balanced by surprising vulnerability. He sometimes lacks confidence, but makes up for this, by great tenacity.

If I could choose an actor to play him Al Pacino would be my choice. Pacino possesses the subtlety and sensitivity, underlain by strength, that would be needed to do justice to Yudel. He is also about the right age and build. His obvious intelligence means that he would not have to pretend it. His many great performances speak for themselves.

Thandie Newton is my Abigail. Like Abigail she is very good looking, but she is more than that. The real sophistication that she projects would be perfect for Abigail. It would also not hurt that she was born African, in fact a Zimbabwean. And of course she is a great actress. Especially her portrayal of Jefferson’s Sally sticks in the mind.

It seems to me that playing the villain must be at least as hard as playing a hero. The villain in The October Killings is not seen very often, but the part is vital. Someone is needed who can convey his torments without over-acting. I think Edward Norton would be wonderful in the part.

Jonas Chunga, Abigail’s Nemesis in Those Who Love Night, is really a creature of circumstance. He has become a powerful figure in the security apparatus of the dictatorship. The part requires an intelligent actor with a naturally strong presence. I would choose Lawrence Fishburne. He has the look and the ability for this demanding part.

If I could choose the director I would have to ask for Clint Eastwood. His transformation from just another action hero to arguably the greatest director in films today is simply astonishing. I think particularly of Mystic River and Changeling as reflecting the sense that my stories would need. I think the man is a genius of his medium.

If I could not get Eastwood, I would look for Alan Parker. I admire all his work, but his style in The Life of David Gale would also be perfect for my books. He too is a truly great exponent of his art.
Learn more about the books and author at Wessel Ebersohn's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The October Killings.

--Marshal Zeringue