Friday, May 4, 2012

Kate Quinn's "Empress of the Seven Hills"

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she first got hooked on ancient Rome while watching I, Claudius at the age of seven. She wrote her first book during her freshman year in college, retreating from a Boston winter into ancient Rome, and it was later published as Mistress of Rome. A prequel followed, titled Daughters of Rome, and then a sequel--the newly released Empress of the Seven Hills--written while her husband was deployed to the Middle East.

Here Quinn shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of Empress of the Seven Hills:
A question like this is pure wish fulfillment for authors – especially historical fiction authors, who don't have much chance of getting their books made into movies. It doesn't cost me anything to write about all those Colosseum fights and battles between endless legions and Roman forums with crowds of thousands, but such movies are prohibitively expensive to make, so I doubt HBO will be burning up my phone line anytime soon with offers to turn Empress of the Seven Hills into a star-studded 7-season miniseries. But it's fun to dream, so here's my ideal cast.

Vix: oddly enough, my brash and abrasive soldier hero is the hardest to cast. For one thing, he starts the book out as a swaggering boy of nineteen, and ends as a capable war hero of thirty-three. I'll go with Chris Hemsworth – his action flick Thor was fairly forgettable, but he showed humor, charisma, and swagger just like Vix, and in Snow White and the Huntsman he proved he could swing a sword with serious heft.

Sabina: Emma Watson would be perfect for my intelligent, reticent, and just-a-bit-mysterious heroine. Playing a senator's daughter with a yen for adventure, Ms. Watson would get to dress up and dine with emperors, or go grunge to hunker down with legionaries, all with equal aplomb. Plus rock a pixie cut.

Hadrian: for Sabina's husband and the book's villain, I'll pick Wentworth Miller. His stint in Prison Break showed him as charming and intelligent, his good looks hiding a serpentine mind and a cool, detached ruthlessness – perfect for Hadrian.

Titus: Vix's unlikely best friend is a shy over-educated patrician boy who grows into confident man-to-be-reckoned-with, and I can think of no one better than Zach Gilford. As the teenage quarterback in Friday Night Lights he showed both sweetness and steel beneath a gawky inarticulate surface.

Emperor Trajan: the confident, charismatic man's-man emperor of Rome, beloved by all and especially by Vix who is his protege. Put Harrison Ford in a breastplate, and we're done.

Empress Plotina: with a name like that, you know Trajan's wife will be a scheming villainness. Michelle Forbes would be perfect; handsome but cold.

Mirah: Vix's fiery Jewish wife with the red hair? Emma Stone.

Senator Marcus Norbanus: Gabriel Byrne would be perfect for Sabina's intellectual senator father.

Faustina: Sabina's little sister, who grows up into a beauty and sets her sights on the shy Titus for a future husband. Jessica Brown Findlay plays an identical type in Downton Abbey as an earl's spirited rebel daughter who uses beauty, charm, wit, and everything else in her arsenal to make sure she gets her own way. Just like Faustina.

Now that we have a cast, can I write the screenplay?
Learn more about Empress of the Seven Hills and its author at Kate Quinn's website and blog.

Writers Read: Kate Quinn.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Kate Quinn and Caesar.

--Marshal Zeringue