Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Zoë Sharp's "Fifth Victim"

Zoë Sharp wrote her first novel when she was fifteen, and created the no-nonsense Charlie Fox after receiving death-threat letters as a photojournalist. Her work has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Barry (twice), Benjamin Franklin, and Macavity Awards in the United States, as well as the CWA Short Story Dagger. Charlie Fox was optioned for TV by Twentieth Century Fox and one of Sharp’s short stories was made into a short film.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of the Charlie Fox series:
I think everybody who writes their main character in first person has the problem of how best to describe them on the page. You can’t have them constantly looking in a mirror – and Charlie really is not the kind of girl who spends a lot of time gazing at her reflection. In fact, usually she only glances in a reflective surface to check her scars aren’t too visible.

My favourite description of Charlie came from Paul Goat Allen at the Chicago Tribune and doesn’t tell you what she looks like at all, but describes her perfectly: ‘Ill-tempered, aggressive and borderline psychotic, Fox is also compassionate, introspective and highly principled: arguably one of the most enigmatic − and coolest − heroines in contemporary genre fiction.’

What I do know about her is that she’s late twenties, with reddish-blonde hair cut so it will fit under a motorcycle helmet and still retain some style. She favours bike leathers over a dress but when she has to dress up she picks something dark so it won’t show the blood and stretchy enough not to restrict movement. Having seen Red Cap, I used to think that Tamzin Outhwaite might be right for the role, but now I think Kate Beckinsale might be just right for Charlie. Her performances in the Underworld movies show she certainly has the physical ability to play the character. Or possibly Natalia Tena just for a different face. I confess when I hear Charlie’s voice in my head, it’s that of Clare Corbett, who does the UK audiobook versions.

Because Charlie sees and describes the other characters as she encounters them, it’s always a lot easier to build up their pictures. Mind you, that changes all the time. For her former army training instructor and lover, Sean Meyer, maybe a brooding Sam Worthington, or even Max Beasley. And once Charlie and Sean move to New York City to join Parker Armstrong’s close-protection agency, his role would have to be taken by Mark Harmon. I always saw Charlie’s clinical surgeon father as Michael Kitchen, but her mother was more difficult to cast. Hmm, I wonder if Frances McDormand can do a really good upper-middle-class English accent…?

Oh, and directors? Got to be the late John Frankenheimer. Yes, I know he isn’t with us any longer, but this is my world, right?
Visit Zoë Sharp’s website, blog, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Third Strike.

The Page 69 Test: Fifth Victim.

Writers Read: Zoë Sharp.

--Marshal Zeringue