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