Monday, April 30, 2012

Zoë Marriott's "Shadows on the Moon"

Zoë Marriott lives in a little house in a town by the sea, with two rescued cats, a springer/cocker spaniel known as The Devil Hound, and over 10,000 books. Her first YA novel -The Swan Kingdom, a fairytale retelling based on Hans Christian Andersen's 'Wild Swans' - was written when she was only twenty one, and published to wide critical acclaim when she was twenty-four. She has since had two more award-winning young adult fantasies published, and has five further novels scheduled for publication in the next four years.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Shadows on the Moon:
Shadows on the Moon is hard to cast because it is set in Tsuki no Hikari no Kuni, or The Moonlit Lands - a fairytale version of Japan. All the main cast are Asian, and the male romantic lead is black. Sadly, even today you don't often see young Asian or black romantic leads in Hollywood! But I would still love to see a film of this book. The lush beauty of Japan isn't celebrated on film nearly as often as it should be, and my heart would thrill to see the imaginary world I created spring to life on screen.

In order to cast Suzume - the sheltered child of a poet who transforms first into Rin, a humble, fear-stricken drudge, and then Yue, a supernaturally beautiful courtesan who is desperate to avenge the death of her family - I need to look abroad. The Japanese actress who most brings Suzume to mind is Horikita Maki. She's young and beautiful, but her face has a changeable, vulnerable quality which I think could portray my main character's broken soul perfectly.

A young British actor who might work as Otieno, the foreigner who breaks through Suzume's practised illusions with his warmth, humour and devotion is John Boyega. He impressed me very much in the British low budget horror flick Attack the Block. Even though he was playing quite a scary character - an apparently morally bankrupt inner city thug - at the end of the film, when he risks sacrificing his life to save the other inhabitants of his tower block, he truly brought tears to my eyes. The fact that he's physically stunning also helps! I think he would be wonderful, especially if he would grow his hair out into the required dreadlocks...
Learn more about the book and author at Zoë Marriott's website and blog.

Writers Read: Zoë Marriott.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Richard Harland's "Liberator"

Richard Harland is the author of many fantasy, horror, and science fiction novels for young readers, including Worldshaker, Liberator, the Eddon and Vail series, the Heaven and Earth Trilogy, and the Wolf Kingdom quartet, which won the Aurealis Award. He lives in Australia.

Here Harland shares his conviction about the right director for an adaptation of Liberator, as well as some suggestions for the principal cast:
For the film of Liberator, the one thing I’m definite on is my director. David Fincher! Sorry, Hollywood, I just won’t accept anyone else. When Se7en came out, it blew my mind away, and I’ve admired almost everything Fincher has directed since: The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That’s an awesome list by any count! And Fincher has exactly the right talents for my brand of steampunk fantasy. I need his skill with action (for some huge action scenes in Liberator); I need his use of sound to create ominous atmospheres (for all the dark, brooding scenes); and I need his ability to maximise shock and surprise (for many moments of jaw-dropping revelation). Most of all, I need his visual imagination. Se7en blew me away because it used colour effects I’d never seen before in a movie: dark, glinting, metallic colours, steel and bronze and copper. Other directors have followed the same path since, but there’s still no one who can do it better than Fincher. His visual imagination is just crying out for the steampunk industrial settings of Liberator.

Seriously, I reckon steampunk is a gift to any movie director. So much amazing imagery: gaunt machines, smoke and steam, fire and sparks—and in the case of Liberator and its predecessor, Worldshaker, sheer vast scale. As in, mobile juggernauts three miles long! Think what Martin Scorsese did with steampunk imagery in Hugo … and Scorsese isn’t even an obvious steampunk director. Whereas steampunk and David Fincher are a marriage made in Heaven. I suspect he must’ve worked that out for himself, because I see his next movie is his vision of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Can’t wait!

(Memo to David: when you’ve proved yourself on gigantic under-the-sea vessels, try moving on to even bigger over-the-land vessels!)

Actors for Liberator are harder to pick. I visualize my characters very strongly—that’s one of my best ways of getting a handle on them. But my visualizations come from real people or composites of real people. When I try to think of actors, I start thinking in terms of roles in previous movies … for example, I think of Jennifer Lawrence for Riff, only because Riff has a lot in common with Katniss in The Hunger Games. But if I’m serious about this, I have to think of potential roles not past roles, and focus on faces and body language.

Okay. Steve Buscemi could do a great Mr Gibber, the crazy schoolteacher with the rubbery lips. And Bill Nighy fits the bill for Col’s permanently depressed father, Orris Porpentine.

For Col himself, I think someone like Ewan McGregor. A bit earnest, a bit awkward, yet stubborn and determined … and he’ll need a baffled, thwarted look when Riff breaks it off with him. Yes, Ewan could fill that spot.

Lye needs to be beautiful, but in a cold sort of way. She’s also a fanatic, and her crucial feature is her piercing eyes. The most piercing eyes I know belong to Saoirse Ronan—not the biggest name in the business, but she was in Atonement, The Lovely Bones and The Way Back. She’d need a change of hair colour to black.

As for Riff, my third major character, I give up on actors. I can’t go past this image [above left] I found –

That’s what the Riff in my mind looks like!
Learn more about the book and author at Richard Harland's website.

Writers Read: Richard Harland.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 26, 2012

J.T. Ellison's "A Deeper Darkness"

J.T. Ellison is the international award-winning author of eight critically acclaimed novels and multiple short stories.

Here she shares some ideas for adapting her new novel A Deeper Darkness, the first featuring medical examiner Samantha Owens, for the cinema:
I’ve never started a book with a preconception of the actors who may play the parts in mind, but that wasn’t the case for A Deeper Darkness. I picked the actors before I wrote the story, mostly because it’s a new series for me, with lots of new characters, and I wanted the visuals for the main characters so I could more easily identify with them in the story. I took to Pinterest to build a board of the novel, complete with important images, and even more importantly, the cast. It’s an all-star, blockbuster group, but these were the people I was imagining as I wrote the story.

Dr. Samantha Owens – Natalie Portman

Major Edward Donovan – Ewan McGregor

Sergeant Alexander (Xander) Whitfield – Josh Hartnett

Detective Darren Fletcher – Robert Downey, Jr.

Eleanor Donovan – Helen Mirren

Susan Donovan – Michelle Williams

If anyone wants to send a book their way, let me know!
Learn more about the book and author at J.T. Ellison's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Deeper Darkness.

Writers Read: J.T. Ellison.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Meg Donohue's "How to Eat a Cupcake"

Meg Donohue has an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, daughters, dog, and a weakness for salted caramel cupcakes.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of How to Eat a Cupcake, her first novel:
It would be so fun to see How to Eat a Cupcake on the big--or little!--screen. I think America Ferrera would be a great Annie Quintana—she’s Latina, is winsomely feisty, and can be very funny. I think January Jones does a fantastic job playing an ice princess on Mad Men and she is a classic, Grace Kelly beauty like Julia St. Clair. I also think America Ferrara and January Jones seem like such an odd pairing that they could have really interesting chemistry, just as Annie and Julia do. The strangeness of seeing them share the screen could make for an exciting film. I’d be first in line!

I shared a slew of other casting ideas on How to Eat a Cupcake's Pinterest board.
Learn more about the book and author at Meg Donohue's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: How to Eat a Cupcake.

Writers Read: Meg Donohue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 23, 2012

Joseph Olshan's "Cloudland"

Joseph Olshan is the award-winning author of ten novels including Nightswimmer and The Conversion. He spends most of the year in Vermont.

Here he shares his preferences for the lead in an adaptation of his latest novel, Cloudland:
I feel lucky to have had at least one of my books made into a movie (Clara's Heart that starred Whoopi Goldberg) and perhaps less lucky to have had the story-line of another book stolen by a Hollywood studio and made into a television movie that was so bad I couldn't bring myself to start a legal proceeding. As Cloudland makes the rounds of the movie studios, I am imagining it as a film.

The casting of the main character, Catherine Winslow, is the most crucial because she is the one who will carry the film. Catherine is in her early forties, a seasoned yet disillusioned journalist who has given up her high-powered career to live in rural Vermont and write a household hints column. She is a highly intellectual yet damaged soul who reads voraciously and who dares to have an affair with a former student 15 years her junior. Because Kate Winslet chose one of my earlier novels (The Waterline) as one of her three favorite books of all time, I obviously give her the first right of refusal for the role. I think it would be a perfect vehicle for this actress who would have no trouble playing a brainy, quirky and very attractive sleuth who discovers the frozen body of a woman; but should she turn the role down, I have two alternates.

The first would be Laura Linney who is a very close friend of Kate Winslett and who is certainly an intellectual in comparison to many actors in her league. Laura's father is the writer Romulus Linney, so I have no doubt she grew up in a household where books were read and discussed.

If Laura turns the role down, then I'd go to Patricia Clarkson whom I saw at the Opera the other night and who looked absolutely gorgeous in a black velvet dress. Patricia is a bit older than the character in the novel, but she looks fantastic. I think Clarkson would bring a great deal of personal insight to my heroine, the brilliant, disillusioned and cynical Catherine.
Learn more about the book and author at Joseph Olshan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Cloudland.

Writers Read: Joseph Olshan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tupelo Hassman’s "girlchild"

Tupelo Hassman graduated from Columbia's MFA program. Her writing has been published in Paper Street Press, The Portland Review Literary Journal, Tantalum, We Still Like, ZYZZYVA, and by and Hassman is a contributing author to Heliography, Invisible City Audio Tours' first tour and is curating its fourth tour, The Landmark Revelation Society. She kept a video journal of girlchild's book tour for the short documentary Hardbound: A Novel's Life on the Road.

Here she shares some ideas for adapting her debut novel, girlchild, for the big screen:
Imagining girlchild as a film has been on my mind since girlchild was a zygote, when she was just about thirty pages, maybe eight of them any good, and I was still an undergrad at the community college where I now teach. Complete hubris, right? The book was still a twinkle in my eye but I was able to imagine its film version! This confidence is all thanks to my first Creative Writing prof, Jim Krusoe. Jim is the one who introduced me to filmmaker Michael Hacker, and so it began.

Michael was looking for stories to adapt for the big screen and I have no idea what I was looking for but over the ten years since we met, a novel grew where there was none, as did one of my greatest friendships. Michael has been there through the bad things that can happen in a decade: the death of my father, the brain injury suffered by a dear brother, innumerable breakups that are pretty specks in the past now but were so very important at the time, and, for each of us, the heart death of losing a beloved dog. We’ve been friends through the good too: my acceptance to USC as a first-generation college student, then to Columbia, Michael’s marriage to the world’s most beautiful bride, my engagement to the man who has made me believe in the future, and the publication of girlchild.

Michael will be the one to adapt girlchild for the big screen. The script he’s written is a gorgeous creation, at once perfectly like and unlike the novel he’s watched grow almost from nothing, “grow straight toward the sky as if soil were only a myth,” as Rory Dawn, girlchild’s protagonist says of plants that have taken root in the metal graveyard of the Calle, the trailer park where she lives. Michael’s pushed me about plot points, we’ve argued about chronology, he’s listened to every concern, in short: I don’t know if there would be this girlchild without Michael.

And bonus: Michael Hacker is a brilliant independent filmmaker.

Over the years I’ve dreamed of my favorite actors to fill the roles in the story of Rory Dawn’s life (even though I’ve never been able to cast a Rory Dawn, even in my imagination): Juliette Lewis for Rory’s mom, Josie, Holly Hunter for Rory’s grandma (we’d have to age her, but it would be so worth it), Tina Fey as Rory’s casserole-toting friend, Pigeon, Jeremy Davies as her brother, Ronald, and thinking of Josh Brolin as The Hardware Man gives me a perfect sad chill. I haven’t had to worry about filling the role of filmmaker, though, because the future of my girlchild has long been in hands I trust.

Here’s a quintessential Michael moment: When I left Los Angeles for grad school in New York, Michael and I were having goodbye coffee at a sidewalk café in Los Feliz. I handed him the self-addressed stamped postcard I’d brought as my I’m-going-away gift and he took out a pen, wrote on the postcard “Come back!” and ran right across the street to drop it in a blue postal bin. Message received. girlchild and I aren’t going anywhere.
Learn more about the book and author at Tupelo Hassman's website.

The Page 69 Test: girlchild.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kathy Hepinstall's "Blue Asylum"

Kathy Hepinstall is the author of The House of Gentle Men (a Los Angeles Times bestseller), The Absence of Nectar (a national bestseller), and The Prince of Lost Places. She is an award-winning creative director and advertising writer, whose clients have included top brands in American business.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Blue Asylum:
When casting Blue Asylum I'd have to look for some actors and actresses with a bit of an edge. Some thoughts:

Dr. Cowell: The pompous and yet dissatisfied and restless psychiatrist of the insane asylum Stanley Tucci could capture both his arrogance and vulnerability.

Iris: The main character. A slave-holder's wife wrongfully sent to the asylum. It seems like this is a role for an actress with a classic, "old-fashioned" kind of look to her. Someone with dignity, a ferociousness under the surface and a heart. It would be tough to find the right actress, because Iris is only in her mid twenties in the book. I think of some of Hitchcock's blondes. Someone modern might be Natalie Portman? I don't know if I've ever seen her in a movie, so I'm grasping at straws.

Wendell: Dr. Cowell's disaffected twelve year old son. Well, he's just a kid. He's vulnerable like his dad, but he's also a boy. A sweaty, sensitive, lamb-and-lunatic loving boy. Maybe a young Macaulay Culkin, like his role in My Girl. Or the kid from About a Boy.

Mary: Dr. Cowell's mercurial, money-spending, slightly hysterical wife. A younger Kathy Bates comes to mind immediately.

Ambrose: He's got a haunted, but still handsome look. The kind of man a woman wants to marry and cure. Going to reach back to Montgomery Clift.
Visit Kathy Hepinstall's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wiley Cash's "A Land More Kind Than Home"

Wiley Cash is from western North Carolina. He has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and teaches English at Bethany College.

His stories have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Roanoke Review and The Carolina Quarterly.

Here he shares some casting insights in the event that his first novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, is adapted for the big screen:
A Land More Kind Than Home tells the story of two young brothers and the evil they face in a small North Carolina town in the form of Carson Chambliss, a snake-handling, poison-drinking, fire- carrying pastor whose past is just as mysterious as the power he claims to possess. I didn’t set out to write a novel that features a dangerous religious leader, but it seems that Chambliss has stolen the show; he’s the character that most readers want to talk about. I have to admit that I had a lot of fun creating Chambliss; he brings tension and discomfort to the scene whenever he’s on the page. His terrifying interaction with Adelaide Lyle, the church matriarch who knows too much about him, is what my agent used to sell the novel. Even the sheriff investigating the tragedy that occurs inside the church is made uneasy in Chambliss’s presence.

But imagining Chambliss as an actor was something I hadn’t really thought about until I saw  Ed Harris in Gone Baby Gone, the film adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s wonderful novel. There’s a scene in which Harris’s character is explaining how he treated a father after discovering that the man’s young son had suffered years of abuse. Harris’s narration is calm and measured at first, but when his authority to bend the law is challenged, he suddenly exhibits a righteous anger that is shocking in its intensity. As I watched the scene unfold, I felt my skin begin to crawl; That’s Chambliss, I thought. In my mind, Ed Harris has been Chambliss ever since.

As actors, the other characters don’t loom as large in my imagination. They live on the page for me, and it’s there that I can see them best. But, if I had my choice, I would love to see Sissy Spacek play Adelaide Lyle. She’s obviously too young for the role, but she played a great character who is much older than her in the film adaptation of The Help, so I think she could do the same here. I want Spacek for the role because of her beautiful voice. The audio book of To Kill a Mockingbird was released a few years ago with Spacek as the reader. It’s incredible. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve had a crush on Sissy Spacek since I saw her in Coal Miner’s Daughter.

I’ve gone back and forth a couple of times about who I imagine playing Clem Barefield, a local sheriff with his own painful past who must untangle the events that led to the tragedy inside the church. Tommy Lee Jones is an obvious choice; he’s played law enforcement so often that it probably feels like a part-time job to him. I’ve also thought about Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall. These two actors can evince both a sense of tragedy and hope just by looking into the camera. I’d always really appreciated Hackman, but he blew me away in The Royal Tenenbaums. And Duvall in The Apostle? I could watch that movie ten times a day and still tear up during the baptismal scenes.

I love all of these actors, and I’d pay to watch them do anything from taking a nap to reading the phone book. I couldn’t go wrong with a single one of them.
Learn more about the book and author at Wiley Cash's website.

Writers Read: Wiley Cash.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Robin Wasserman's "The Book of Blood and Shadow"

Robin Wasserman is the author of the Seven Deadly Sins series, Hacking Harvard, and the Skinned trilogy, which bestselling author Scott Westerfeld called "spellbinding." She has a master's degree in the history of science, and is fascinated by Renaissance philosophy, religion, magic, science, and the interplay among them.

Here she shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of her new novel, The Book of Blood and Shadow:
I’m the kind of writer who never really pictures what her characters look like (just as I’m the kind of reader who has no idea what anyone else’s characters look like), so the casting question is always a tough one for me—fortunately, I’m obsessed with the idea of my books getting turned into movies and TV shows, so it’s one I tend to invest a lot of time puzzling out. And it’s a lot easier when I’m allowed to pick and choose actors from different generations (not least because all of my favorite teen movies come from the 80s.) I’ll start with Max—boyfriend of Nora (the main character)—who’s the only character for whom I actually had an actor in mind from the start: Christian Slater, specifically as seen in Pump Up the Volume, ie the world’s sexiest nerd. If you haven’t seen the movie (and if you haven’t, you should, immediately), basically Christian Slater plays a reserved, awkward kid who radiates the kind of intensity that makes most people uncomfortable…and that’s hiding an entire secret self that he’s either too afraid or too angry to show the world. Plus, those glasses!

As for Eli, the mysterious—and seriously snarky—guy who pops up out of nowhere and won’t go away, I think I might go with my current obsession, Sebastian Stan (who you might know from Gossip Girl, but who I love from the too-soon-departed Kings). He’s got the right combo of sexy, snarky, and dark, at least if he could tone down the sneer.

Adrienne, Nora’s best friend with brains, beauty, and an agenda of her own, seems like the most carefree girl in the world but has just lost the (presumed) love of her life. So she needs to be played by someone who could pull off both tough and vulnerable, and cover both with a sheen of don’t-give-a-crap cool that you could mistake for shallowness if you didn’t know better. Maybe it’s the Battlestar Galactica fan in me talking, but if I could build a time machine and snag teenage Grace Park, I’d take her.

The toughest to cast, of course, is Nora, who’s smart and damaged and extremely well practiced at keeping all her emotions to herself, which means she’d have to be played by an actress who could reveal a lot without saying very much. The early Winona Ryder (circa Heathers and Beetlejuice) comes to mind (though that may just be because I love her, especially circa those days), and weirdly, I think Kristen Stewart might have pulled it off back in her In the Land of Women days (weird, vaguely terrible movie – good acting). But in the end, I think I’d go with Alessandra Torresani, the star of the late, great, Caprica, who did an amazing job playing a girl who’d been turned into a robot, and spent many scenes standing totally still…while still managing to be the most interesting person on the screen. Best of all, she’s actually the right age, so if anyone in Hollywood is out there reading this…let’s get on it!
Learn more about the book and author at Robin Wasserman's website and blog.

Wasserman is also the author of the Seven Deadly Sins series, Hacking Harvard, and the Skinned trilogy, which bestselling author Scott Westerfeld called "spellbinding."

Writers Read: Robin Wasserman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 13, 2012

April Henry's "Girl, Stolen"

April Henry is the New York Times bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novel The Night She Disappeared and the thriller Face of Betrayal, co-authored with Lis Wiehl.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her YA novel, Girl, Stolen:
Girl, Stolen would make a great movie. With no CGI, the budget would be pretty reasonable, and it offers two strong roles for young actors looking to expand their skills.

Girl, Stolen is about sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder. Sick, she is resting in the back of her car while her step-mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Her step-mom leaves the keys in the ignition in case Cheyenne gets cold. Cheyenne's doesn't just have pneumonia. She's also blind from an accident three years ago that killed her mom and left Cheyenne feeling vulnerable and weak. When she hears a car door slam and the engine turn over, Cheyenne realizes that someone is stealing the car--with her inside!

Griffin didn't mean to kidnap Cheyenne. All he wanted to do was steal a car to take home to his dad who runs a chop shop. Cheyenne begs them to let her go, since she can't tell the police what they look like. But once Roy finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. Can Cheyenne survive this nightmare? And if she does, at what price?

The role of Cheyenne Wilder would be great for any young actress looking for a stretch role. One actress who would have no trouble carrying it off is Hailee Steinfeld. She played Mattie Ross in 2010's remake of True Grit. I think she would do a wonderful job playing a blind girl who learns that she is stronger than she thinks.

Charlie McDermott plays Axl on the TV show The Middle, but I think of how well he played a confused and angry teen in the movie Frozen River. He would make an excellent Griffin.

Norman Reedus makes such a great backwoods baddy in The Walking Dead - he would be perfect in the role of Griffin's dad Roy. Roy isn't above turning his son's mistake to his own advantage - and a potential payout of millions of dollars.
Learn more about the book and author at April Henry's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tiffany Baker's "The Gilly Salt Sisters"

Tiffany Baker is the author of the New York Times bestselling The Little Giant of Aberdeen County and the newly released The Gilly Salt Sisters.

Here she shares some ideas for casting a big screen adaptation of the new novel:
I think The Gilly Salt Sisters would look gorgeous on film—all those ocean shots, and think what someone could do with the setting of the salt marsh on Cape Cod. The heart of the story is the relationship between the two sisters. Jo is all grit and determination. The actress who played her would have to have a bit of a rough edge. Maybe someone like Holly Hunter? Claire is the opposite: flighty, snobby, frail on the outside but steely in her core. Also, she’s a redhead. Someone pointed out that the cover of my book, which is supposed to be a portrait of Claire, looks like a young Nicole Kidman, and that is actually spot-on casting. And then there’s Dee, the young girl who’s pregnant by Claire’s husband. She’s sort of like a puppy. She’s young and rushes into things without knowing what she’s getting into. She’s not dumb, exactly, but she’s not very sophisticated. Someone like Amanda Bynes, maybe, who has such a great physicality about her? The really important thing, I think, would be to see how all three women interact, since they all end up together on the salt farm. Three women who all have a history with the same man cooped up together—what could go possibly go wrong? The answer: Plenty!
Learn more about the author and her work at Tiffany Baker's website.

Writers Read: Tiffany Baker.

The Page 69 Test:  The Gilly Salt Sisters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Peter Behrens's "The O'Briens"

Peter Behrens is the author of The O'Briens and The Law of Dreams (which received Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and was published around the world to wide acclaim) and Night Driving, a collection of short stories. His stories and essays have appeared in many publications, including The Atlantic and Tin House. Honors he has received include a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University’s Creative Writing Program.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of The O'Briens:
The protagonist of The O'Briens is Joe O'Brien, a poor boy who grows up in the backwoods of Canada, determined to take care of everyone in his family except himself (he doesn't know how to.) He makes a fortune building railroads in the West and becomes a paterfamilias and patriarch but once every couple of years ducks out of his life and catches a night train to NYC, where he holes up in a hotel suite at The Pierre and drinks himself to a stupor. He marries a brilliant and beautiful woman, Iseult, in Venice Beach, 1912; their marriage spans most of a century. They raise children, and lose children to the war (WWII) , and struggle always against native loneliness. I want Matt Damon to play powerful tormented Joe, in the movie. Johnny Depp to play his brilliant, troubled fighter ace brother, Grattan. Naomi Watts or Uma Thurman to play wise, questioning, passionate Iseult Wilkins O'Brien. Emma Watson to play their daughter, Margo; Hunter Parrish to play their fighter pilot son, Mike.
Read more about the novel and author at Peter Behrens' website.

The Page 69 Test: The Law of Dreams.

My Book, The Movie: The Law of Dreams.

Writers Read: Peter Behrens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Deborah Grabien's "Uncle John's Band"

Deborah Grabien is the author of the JP Kinkaid Chronicles, including the newly released Uncle John's Band.

Here she shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of the series:
Show me a fiction writer anywhere in the western world who claims they haven’t cast the film version of their work, and I’ll show you a writer I don’t think I believe. I’m not personally big on popular culture these days – since everything from writing to cooking to singing has become a form of competition, the only TV I watch regularly are BBC America’s Top Gear, weather shows like Stormchasers, and hockey games (which are supposed to be competition) – but I’ve cast my latest book. Hell, I’ve cast the entire series, because the Kinkaid Chronicles are now at eight books and counting.

These are books about adults, growing up emotionally to match their actual ages in the muffling, surreal world of rock stardom. They do adult things. When we meet them in Rock & Roll Never Forgets, it’s June 2005 and John Kinkaid is mid-fiftyish. Bree Godwin is eleven years his junior. So, casting them was easy: Ralph Fiennes or (a solid choice, all things considered) Rick Springfield as JP. I was spoiled for choice for Bree, but my personal choices boiled down to Rene Russo, Susan Sarandon or Famke Janssen. My only drawback with Sarandon is her height – Bree is a big girl, five-ten or thereabouts and curvy. Still, she has everything else that character needs.

Something interesting happened along the way – as the characters aged, so did the actors. And they aged into just the way I see the characters seven years after the series began.

So I’m sticking with my original choices. All I ask is, let me write the screenplay.
Learn more about the books and author at Deborah Grabien's website.

The Page 69 Test: While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 6, 2012

James Thompson's "Helsinki White"

James Thompson is an established author in Finland. His novel, Snow Angels, the first in the Inspector Vaara series, was released in the U.S. by Putnam and marked his entrance into the international crime fiction scene. Booklist named it one of the ten best debut crime novels of 2010, and it was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Strand Critics awards. His second Vaara novel, Lucifer’s Tears, released in March, 2011, earned starred reviews from all quarters, and was named one the best novels of the year by Kirkus.

When the third book in the series, Helsinki White, was released last month, Thompson replied to a query about casting an adaptation of the novels:
Good question, since the film rights for the first three books in my Inspector Vaara series have been optioned, and the fourth soon will be. The first novel is a murder mystery set in Kittilä, a small town in the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, next to the ski resort, Levi. The next two books take place in Finland, are centered in Helsinki, but include the city of Turku and the islands of Åland as settings. One might think of it as a Millenium Trilogy-type project, but set in Finland rather than Sweden (note: same type of project, but not storytelling. My writing style and Larsson’s have little in common).

The great challenge for actors taking the leading roles is language. As is becoming increasingly common practice, the language that would naturally be spoken by the characters is spoken in the film. Finns speak more languages than any nationality on the planet, with an average of four. The most commonly spoken, after Finnish, are Swedish (a second national language), English, and Russian. The series protagonist, Kari Vaari, speaks all of these fluently, with the exception of his Russian, which is weak.

Kari, a policeman, is married to an American named Kate. She hasn’t lived in Finland long enough to learn to speak the language, which is notoriously difficult, and so Kari and Kate speak English with each other. In the rest of his life, Kari speaks Finnish. I’m co-screenwriter, by the way, and I’m sure we can write it in such a way that the actor playing Kari need only speak those two languages, although in the book, he speaks a few words of Russian and Swedish.

I must admit that I’m almost completely out of touch with American pop culture, having not lived there for fourteen years, and watch few Hollywood films. Except for major stars, I know little about what actors are currently famous, or what their skills are. George Clooney demonstrated his ability to learn and act in foreign languages in Syriana. Matt Damon did the same in The Bourne Identity. I think either would do well in the role of Kari Vaara.

I read in a Finnish newspaper that Matt Damon stated he has Finnish ancestry, would like to find a worthwhile project here, and make an extended stay to learn about his roots. My agent contacted his agent, but I’ve had no reply. However, given his talents and motivations, it seems to me that playing Vaara in Snow Angels and the following films would suit Damon very well.
Learn more about the book and author at James Thompson's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Snow Angels.

The Page 69 Test: Helsinki White.

Writers Read: James Thompson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Michael Norman's "Skeleton Picnic"

Michael Norman is a Salt Lake City mystery author who has written four novels. His Sam Kincaid novels include The Commission and Silent Witness. His mysteries featuring Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Law Enforcement Ranger J.D. Books include On Deadly Ground and his new novel, Skeleton Picnic. Norman’s books are published by the Poisoned Pen Press in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Here he identifies some possible actors and directors for a movie adaptation of his J.D. Books mystery, Skeleton Picnic.
Skeleton Picnic tells the story of Rolly and Abigail Rogers, a prominent and well respected southern Utah couple who reside near the Arizona border. Despite their reputation as pillars of the community, the Rogers also happen to be notorious pot hunters who illegally gather and sell ancient Anasazi and Fremont Indian antiquities. On their first pot hunting trip of the spring season, the couple disappears into the desert wilderness without a trace. Suspecting foul play, local Sheriff Charley Sutter calls on BLM Law Enforcement Ranger and former Denver Police Department Robbery/Homicide detective, J.D. Books for help.

Like many writers, I never think about movie casting while writing the story—afterward, maybe. Recently, however, while doing an author event for a local library, I was asked which actors I would choose in the movie version of the J.D. Books novels. At the time, I dodged the question but later began to think about it. I settled on the following main characters.

Recognizing that the J.D. Books mysteries are really contemporary westerns set in the desert southwest, I knew I wanted rugged actors who had played similar roles. For the character of Kane County Sheriff Charley Sutter, the pick was easy, and in fact, a toss-up between two actors. I can envision either Ed Harris who gave wonderful performances as lawman Virgil Cole in Robert B. Parker’s Appaloosa, Resolution, and Brimstone, or Academy award winner Chris Cooper. Cooper first came to my attention playing opposite Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in the wonderful mini-series, Lonesome Dove. Cooper played Sheriff July Johnson. Duvall would have made a great Charley Sutter had he been a bit younger.

I had a more difficult time trying to decide who to cast in the lead role of BLM Law Enforcement Ranger J.D. Books. I knew I wanted a rugged, action oriented actor who would be convincing as a cop carrying plenty of baggage. In the end, I decided on two possibilities and here they are in order of preference: Timothy Olyphant from Justified or Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men and many others).

As for directors, my first choice would be Clint Eastwood followed by Utah’s own Robert Redford.

Yikes. This could be a very expensive movie.
Learn more about the book and author at Michael Norman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 2, 2012

Katherine Govier's "The Printmaker's Daughter"

Katherine Govier is the author of nine novels and three short story collections. Her novel Creation, about John James Audubon in Labrador, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2003.

Govier's fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the United Kingdom, the United States, and throughout the Commonwealth, and in translation in Holland, Italy, Turkey, and Slovenia. She is the winner of Canada's Marian Engel Award for a woman writer (1997) and the Toronto Book Award (1992).

Here she shares some ideas for casting a big screen adaptation of her most recent novel, The Printmaker's Daughter:
I would like Margaret Cho to play Oei, the daughter of the great Japanese printmaker, Hokusai. She's divorced, she is not considered beautiful (which, in 19th century Japan, when to be beautiful was a woman's first obligation, was a big problem) and she has a sour demeanor and a sharp tongue.

I know Margaret is not Japanese. She's Korean, and sort of Chinese, as she says on her blog. But she's so perfect to play this woman artist with a surreal imagination who defies all the expectations of women except one-- she's dutiful to her father.

Now who could play Hokusai, that genius trickster, old by 40 and ageless until he dies at 89? Ken Watanabe? Yes, that would be good.
Learn more about the book and author at Katherine Govier's website.

Writers Read: Katherine Govier.

--Marshal Zeringue