Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stephen Leather's "False Friends"

Stephen Leather was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as the (London) Times, the Daily Mail, and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. He began writing full-time in 1992. His bestsellers have been translated into more than ten languages.

Here Leather shares a suggestion for casting the lead in an adaptation of False Friends, the ninth book in the bestselling Dan "Spider" Shepherd series:
The actor I’d most like to play my hero Dan “Spider” Shepherd is Clive Owen, star of Sin City, Children of Men and Killer Elite. He’s brilliant and looks fit enough to have been a special forces soldier and an undercover cop. He’s got that brooding menacing presence that makes for a great hero, or a great villain.

I didn’t have an actor in mind when I started writing the first Spider Shepherd book – Hard Landing – almost ten years ago. I don’t know how most writers work but when I’m writing a scene I tend to picture myself as the hero. That’s not to say that I see myself as a thirty-something action hero who can jump out of a plane with guns blazing. It’s just that the dialogue comes from me and as I write I imagine I am in the scene relating to the characters. Also I tend to keep the description of my heroes as brief as possible. That’s an old writer’s trick – the less you describe the hero, the more likely the reader is to identify with him.

Shepherd was in his early thirties when I started writing Hard Landing, and now that the ninth, False Friends, is on the shelves he’s in his forties. During that time he has progressed from being an undercover cop, working for SOCA (the British FBI) and lately as an MI5 agent. Clive is 47 but looks younger. I know because I’ve seen him in the flesh. I had dinner with him and a group of pals in London and within minutes I realised he’d be perfect for the part. He’s a lovely man and signed autographs for anyone who came up to him, always with a smile and a friendly word. In person he’s much softer and gentler than his screen persona, and I could see him easily playing the action man parts but also portraying the softer side to Shepherd’s character. Shepherd is a single parent as well as a Government agent and has a teenage son to deal with in between missions.

I didn’t mention the Shepherd books during the dinner. It wasn’t the time or the place. In fact he was more interested in my previous career as a journalist. I had fish and chips. I can’t remember what he ordered. I did mention to my agent that he’d be the perfect actor to play Spider Shepherd, but nothing ever came of it. Maybe one day…
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Leather's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue