Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kim Fay's "The Map of Lost Memories"

Born in Seattle and raised throughout Washington State, Kim Fay lived in Vietnam for four years and still travels to Southeast Asia frequently. A former independent bookseller, she is the author of the historical novel The Map of Lost Memories and Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam, winner of the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards’ Best Asian Cuisine Book in the United States.

Here Fay dreamcasts an adaptation of The Map of Lost Memories:
When I started writing my novel, I was twenty-nine years old, the same age as my main character, Irene Blum. When I finished, fourteen years later, I was … well, you can do the math. The same goes for Cate Blanchett, the actress I had envisioned playing Irene. The problem with the latter, at least when it comes to The Map of Lost Memories making its way to the big screen, is that Irene will forever be twenty-nine, just as her partner-in-crime/rival Simone will always be in her early twenties, and her love interest Marc Rafferty in his early thirties. This knocks my supporting role original choices of Emily Mortimer and Clive Owen out of the picture, as well.

So my first round of casting isn’t feasible, just as the director of my dreams is no longer an option. When I heard the news that Anthony Minghella had died, I mourned not only for his family and friends, but also for the film version of my novel. The sense of place he created in The English Patient and the suspense he built in The Talented Mr. Ripley anchored him in the center of my fantasies about my book being made into a movie.

Granted, I didn’t have this fantasy often while I was writing the novel, but it did pass occasionally through my mind. I have it more now that the book is published and movie rights are an actual possibility. I really do think it would make a terrific film, my story about a young American woman on the hunt for a lost Cambodian treasure. The action takes place in 1920s Shanghai, Saigon and the Cambodian jungles, and each of the characters has contradictory motives and a secret past. With her Scandinavian coolness and hard-won resistance to emotion and vulnerability, Irene offers much for an actress. Naomi Watts would be great in this role. But there I go again. I can’t seem to let go of my own generation in my hunt for my leading lady. And so it continues to be for the rest of the cast, as I latch onto Daniel Craig for the hardened but still hopeful Marc and Marion Cotillard for the mercurial Frenchwoman Simone.

The only consolation is that some of my favorite actors have aged into suitability for two of my most memorable characters. Sigourney Weaver would be brilliant as Anne, a scholar in her sixties who left her husband and moved to Shanghai. And Anthony Hopkins, with his gravitas and ability to cast doubt with just a glance, would be ideal as Mr. Simms, the Machiavellian father figure who sets the entire story in motion.

As for the others, I will leave them to the casting experts in the hope that one day I will walk into a movie theater to watch my story and characters—larger than life—and find myself pleasantly surprised.
Learn more about the book and author at Kim Fay's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: The Map of Lost Memories.

--Marshal Zeringue