Thursday, August 9, 2012

Carolyn Wall's "Playing With Matches"

Carolyn Wall is the author of the internationally acclaimed novel Sweeping Up Glass as well as the recently released Playing With Matches.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of the new novel:
I’m overjoyed with reactions to my second novel, Playing With Matches. It was fun to write and, in need of a setting, I did what fiction often writers do – I chose a town in one state and moved it to another. Thus, a chunk of Texas is now in Mississippi. I love the Gulf coast and have witnessed what hurricanes can do – even when they travel upriver. None of those things were hard to write. Neither were Belize or the Mississippi prison.

Creating people, however, has always been my first love.

While I wrote Playing With Matches, I did not visualize particular actors in each role – unusual for me. My favorite character – although I loved many in this book -- was that southern black gentleman, Uncle Cunny Gholar. As her earliest teacher at the domino table under the willow, this pin stripe-suited man with his pencil-thin mustache, is frustrated with young Clea Shine. She knows everything and will argue. But she will not subtract. Cunny Gholar is a role that begs for a young version of the late Sherman Hemsley. Now, however, there’s Will Smith to consider – the only actor whose facial expressions are greater than words, but he’s just not skinny enough.

Cousin Bitsy, a strong, sexy role throughout, will be played by Gabourey Sidibe – a fantastic match that would steal the show. However – and I laugh as I write this -- I welcome help filling the bedroom slippers of the irascible Miss Shookie. Wheezer, kept under a house as a child, requires a pale, blond actor. And Thomas – well, I never developed much visual for him. As for Sunnie, his undressed, desk-hopping, red-haired student – well, any undressed, red-haired actress will do. (You can see that I was, and remain, on Clea’s side.)

Through the writing of the book, I adored the invincible Jerusha Lovemore who’s fed up with her sister and niece from page one. I considered Loretta Devine for this part, but Mo’Nique is an excellent character actor, and I can almost see her pulling this off. Not sure, though, whether to team Gabby with Mo’Nique so soon, on the heels of Precious.

The main character, Clea – all grown up -- fits Cate Blanchett to a tee. The lovely Cate would have to be made-down, rather than up, to feature plainness, that beautiful commonness she portrayed in The Gift. She’d be the perfect candidate for this now-single mom who has been betrayed, is on the run, and is terrified for her children. I can see her with an ultra-smart daughter rescued from South America, and rocking five-year-old Harry, who won’t talk anymore.

But -- calling all movie-goers! I need help lining up Finn – a thirteen-year-old who lives in a tree – and Clea the child. She’d need to be willful and brilliant, show an abnormal curiosity and able to carry off frequent heartbreaks. A child who could carefully play with matches.

In the book that is currently on my computer – soon to be the third novel, the lead will bring home an Academy Award for Mare Winningham. Watch for it – no title, yet. I’m hoping Mare’s character will give me a clue.
Visit Carolyn Wall's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue