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