Saturday, August 4, 2012

Margaret Dilloway's "The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns"

Margaret Dilloway was inspired by her Japanese mother's experiences when she wrote The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, and especially by a book her father had given to her mother called The American Way of Housekeeping.

Here the author shares some suggestions for casting a big screen adaptation of The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns:
I didn’t have any specific actors in mind as I was writing The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns except for two (which you will read about below), but when I see certain actors they conjure my characters. It’s shaping up to be an extraordinary (and probably extraordinarily expensive) cast.

Galilee Garner (Gal for short) is a high school biology teacher in her mid-30s whose amateur rose breeding hobby seems close to a breakthrough: the new Hulthemia rose, which breeders have been trying to perfect for 200 years.

Gal has one other major concern besides her students and her roses: she has end-stage kidney failure from a childhood ailment, and therefore must use dialysis every other day. Her long-term struggles with her kidneys have contributed to her stubborn way of thinking, which is really necessary for survival.

To keep herself going, Gal adheres to a rigid schedule, which she believes should include emotional distance from other people. She hasn’t seen her older sister Becky or her niece in years. Becky’s struggled with substance abuse and mostly cut herself off from the family. When Gal’s niece Riley arrives unexpectedly, Gal must re-examine her life and start having real relationships.

The other day I was looking at some website and saw a photo of Michelle Williams and Jason Segel together, and I immediately thought of them for my imaginary movie. Gal would be a very difficult role, because on the outside, Gal is very tough-minded. Williams needs to make her empathetic and convey her internal sweetness and grace. I think she would be able to do it perfectly.

Jason Segel is my choice for George Morton, the new chemistry teacher who shakes up the friendship between Gal and her teacher friend, Dara. His character is recovering from a bitter divorce, and has moved from the private sector to teaching. He’s got to be hopeful, the one who sees Gal’s beauty when she can’t see it herself.

I’d like Chloë Grace Moretz for Gal's neglected niece, Riley. She’s a teenager who vacillates between acting like a jaded grown-up, and being a very injured kid.

For Gal’s sister, Becky, I pictured Jennifer Aniston. Becky is in pharmaceutical sales, an ice princess with a vulnerable core. During the sisters’ childhood, Becky was often neglected due to her sister being so ill. Gal is clearly the family favorite, and it’s affected Becky profoundly.

Gal’s mother is a fiercely protective woman who has to yell at a lot of doctors. She’s a painter, kind of a hippie. Again, a difficult character. You love her for how she defends Gal, kind of hate her for how she treats Becky. My choice is Meryl Streep.

Dara, Gal’s best and pretty much only friend, is a very sweet art teacher who can’t seem to settle down with one man. Amy Adams would be perfect as the concerned woman who has her own issues to work out.

For Byron Madaffer, the rival rose grower, I had an actor in mind: Daniel Craig. Byron is a morally ambiguous character, and Craig would bring out his depths.

Mark Walters is a minor character who plays a pivotal role as another patient awaiting transplant. He’s got a white mustache and always dresses in white. When I wrote Walters, I was actually picturing Mark Twain, but my daughter just suggested Alan Rickman and I think he'd make an interesting choice.

Brad is another important minor character, one of Gal’s star students who is harboring a secret. My pick for him is Dylan O’Brien.
Learn more about the book and author at Margaret Dilloway's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue