Thursday, January 31, 2013

Karen E. Bender's "A Town of Empty Rooms"

Karen E. Bender is the author of the novel Like Normal People, which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her second novel, A Town of Empty Rooms:
For Rabbi Golden, the complicated rabbi who divides his congregation, the perfect choice would be Jeremy Piven. Watching Piven become the explosive-yet-sentimental agent Ari Gold on Entourage helped me imagine the rabbi in my book. Piven could bring Ari’s frenetic style to his portrayal of the rabbi; I can just see him standing on the bima in the temple, all of the congregants looking up at him and hoping he will lead them.

For Serena Hirsch, I’d want an actress around who can project aggrieved, hopeful, and maybe a little naive. Julianne Margulies comes to mind, or, in a surprising and daring career move, Julia Roberts.

Dan Shine is a PR guy who lets his desire for everything to go well lead him to bad decisions. I’d want an actor who is good at playing a suppressed character--someone who has an upbeat exterior but is brooding inside. I'd choose Tom Cruise, who, in Jerry Maguire, had the perfect PR guy handshake.

Forrest Sanders is the seemingly hospitable neighbor who quickly reveals darker intentions. Gene Hackman can make cheerful seem threatening, with just the right sort of smile.
Learn more about the book and author at Karen Bender's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Carl Rollyson's "Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews"

Carl Rollyson, Professor of Journalism at Baruch College, has published more than forty books ranging in subject matter from biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, Martha Gellhorn, Norman Mailer, Rebecca West, Susan Sontag, and Jill Craigie to studies of American culture, genealogy, children’s biography, film, and literary criticism. He has authored more than 500 articles on American and European literature and history. His latest books are Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews, a biography of Dana Andrews published by University Press of Mississippi in September 2012, and the biography American Isis: The Life and Death of Sylvia Plath, released in January 2013.

Here Rollyson shares some ideas for adapting Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews for the big screen:
I've had many talks with Susan Andrews about who should play her father in a movie. Here is what she wrote to me: "Lately, I’ve been watching the new hit TV series Mad Men. The lead character reminds me in some ways of my father. He’s got this secret past and all the trappings of success: the wife, the children, the home in the burbs, and yet he’s strangely dislocated. Reviewers have called him an existential hero.” Jon Hamm, playing Don Draper has Dana's tightly-wound affect, and that understated style that made Dana's performances in Laura, Fallen Angel, and Where the Sidewalk Ends so compelling.

Secret past? Well, my biography explains that. Dana said relatively little about his growing up in Texas, and what Susan knew turned out to be a myth. She had always heard that her father was a poor preacher's boy who had run away from home when his sweetheart's family rejected him, thinking that this young kid with stars in his eyes would never make it in Hollywood. Well, as I began to research my biography I discovered that the preacher was not quite so poor and the sweetheart's family not quite so hostile to the aspiring actor. But, no matter, because the truth turned out to be even more dramatic than the myth.

The story of Dana's Depression-era decade-long struggle to get a movie contract was drama enough for a biography, since it included stints as a ditch digger, fig picker, bus driver, and gas jockey even as he trained his voice for opera and then suffered through the shocking death of his young, pregnant wife. Stardom, heavy drinking, and the downward slide of his career make for melancholy reading at some points, but what redeems Dana is an utter lack of self-pity and a nobility that made his fellow actor, Norman Lloyd, call him a "prince among men."

Not that many movie star biographies have a happy ending. But Dana's does. He was able to conquer his alcoholism, revive his career on stage, and remain a good father and husband that his family continues to cherish.

If Jon Hamm is not available to play Dana, George Clooney could step in. I think he would play the redemptive part of Dana's story without descending to the sentimentality that ruins so many biopics. Too bad Burt Lancaster is not still around to play Dana's father, the fire-breathing philandering Baptist preacher who specialized in condemning two of the greatest sin-making activities: drinking and making movies!
View the video trailer for Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews, and learn more about the book and author at Carl Rollyson's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jennifer Kloester's "Georgette Heyer"

While living in the jungle in Papua New Guinea Jennifer Kloester discovered Georgette Heyer's Regency novels and fell in love with the romance, the humor and the glorious prose. Ten years of research produced a PhD and two books: Georgette Heyer's Regency World (an illustrated companion to the glittering era of so many of Georgette Heyer's novels) and Georgette Heyer.

Here Kloester dreamcasts not only a biopic of her subject but adaptations of several Heyer novels as well:
Georgette Heyer was a highly intelligent, feisty woman with a great sense of humour and I can think of no one better to play her in a movie about her life than Helena Bonham Carter. As her husband, Ronald Rougier, I'd love to see Gerard Butler in the role.

My biography of Heyer takes us from the Edwardian era and the Great War right through the 1930s and 1940s, the Second World War, and the massive social upheavals of the 1950s and 1960s so there'd be lots of opportunities to create parts for some wonderful actors. I'd love to see Liam Neeson and Colin Firth as her two most influential publishers: A.S. Frere and Charles Evans of Heinemann. Those two men were responsible for the careers of some of the most famous writers of the twentieth century but they detested each other. Georgette Heyer was one of their biggest stars and she adored Frere and loathed Evans so I can see the sparks flying between them.

But it's Heyer's historical novels that would make really great films and television series.

I've always had this vision for a TV series of Heyer's brilliant novel, A Civil Contract, in which Geoffrey Rush would play the heroine's super-wealthy but vulgar father, Jonathan Chawleigh. In the novel, Chawleigh is a marvellous comic character who dominates every scene he's in. Dame Maggie Smith could play the part of Lady Nassington. Heyer wrote some great scenes for those two which would showcase their enormous talent. Toni Collette would be terrific as the heroine, Jenny Chawleigh, and Jenny's charming but emotionally-torn husband, Adam Deveril, could be played by British actor Alex Pettyfer who was so good in Magic Mike and I am Number Four. As the girl Adam gives up to save his family from ruin I'd adore to see Jayne Wisener in the role of Julia Oversley. She's beautiful like Julia and I think she could play the part of the narcissistic, over-romantic 'third party in the marriage' really well.

Another Heyer novel that I'd love to see on film is The Talisman Ring. It's a very funny book and the part of Sir Hugh Thane might have been specially written for Stephen Fry (who is a big Heyer fan). As his sister Sarah Thane, I'd cast Bonnie Wright, and either Ben Barnes or Stephen Moyer could play the irrepressible Ludovic Lavenham to Anna Popplewell's Eustacie de Vauban. As the hero, Sir Tristram Shield, no one could be better than the fabulous Richard Armitage and I know he'd win every heart including Sarah's! As for the villain, Basil Lavenham, Daniel Day Lewis would be perfect.

There are at least a dozen Heyer novels that would make terrific films and all of them are set in the same period as Jane Austen's novels. They're romantic and dashing and funny and clever and I can think of loads of great actors who could bring them brilliantly to life on the screen especially if Tom Hooper were in the Director's chair. Hooper has a great sense of story and a wonderful aesthetic eye and he would know exactly how to convey the style and humour of a Heyer novel just as he did in The King’s Speech.
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Kloester's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Roberta Gately's "The Bracelet"

Roberta Gately, author of The Bracelet, has served as a nurse and humanitarian aid worker in war zones ranging from Afghanistan to Africa, about which she wrote a series of articles for the BBC World News Online. She is also the author of the novel Lipstick in Afghanistan.

Here she dreacasts an adaptation of The Bracelet:
As with so many writers, when I write, the scenes and characters play out in my thoughts much like a movie, and I can easily imagine The Bracelet on the big screen. I've already created my dream cast which would include Amanda Seyfried as Abby Monroe. She exudes the bright young nurse image for me. For Nick Sinclair -- I'd go for the real-life brash and bold James Franco to play the New York Times reporter Nick. I think he can instill just the right amount of arrogance into Nick.

For secondary characters -- Uncle Imtiaz -- Paul Giamatti -- with the right amount of make-up -- could do justice to this very unjust and cruel character. For Najeela -- Indian actress Tena Desae -- a perfect blend of beauty and mystery. For Lars -- Rutger Hauer -- to portray the wily international entrepreneur. And for Hana -- the housekeeper with a secret life -- I am stumped. I can see her in my mind's eye but she will require just the right amount of make-up to transform her from a frumpy maid to the self-assured woman she is.

As for the setting, the house I described as the UN staff house, actually does exist in Peshawar, Pakistan on Railway Road. It was home to me and so many who worked with Afghan refugees during the waning days of the Soviet invasion. And the American Club, despite years of threats, still stands -- a little bit of home in a very foreign place.
Learn more about the book and author at Roberta Gately's website, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Lipstick in Afghanistan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jenny Milchman's "Cover of Snow"

Jenny Milchman lives in New Jersey with her family.

Here she shares some insights about adapting Cover of Snow, her first novel, for the big screen:
When I am writing, I see my novel in cinematic scenes, but I’m picturing the characters as I created them, versus real actors or actresses. So I don’t have any sort of cast in mind for my debut novel, Cover of Snow, if it were made into a movie.

But I do have a director.

Two of my favorite movies are directed by Rob Reiner, and they’re both based on novels by Stephen King: Misery and Stand by Me (which was the novella The Body). It took me thirteen years to get published, and in that time Rob Reiner went from directing to…not directing. Or so I hear. (I’m not exactly a Hollywood insider).

In many ways, I needed all the time it took me to get published. I wrote seven novels before Cover of Snow, and six of them weren’t publication-worthy. The editor I finally found my way to—through a series of hitches and failed connections and false starts—is the person I feel was meant to transform my book into the one I always wanted to write. It couldn’t have worked out sooner than it did. And yet…that time cost me my dream director.

Novels and movies are very different beasts. When you are writing a novel, you can rely on the characters’ inner workings and psychological backgrounds to give them life; you can use symbol and metaphor and image to flesh out a theme. None of that translates to film. Somehow Rob Reiner has a feeling for both media. By the time he is done you forget that what you are watching ever existed in another form. It is sheer story.

The novella The Body deals with boyhood friendship and the transformation that occurs as boys become men. It’s a deeply interior book, but it does have strong visual elements. Train tracks. Fight scenes. Death. Reiner relies on both interior and exterior. He mines the visual for all its drama, but the film concludes with the main character sitting alone in his car, reading a newspaper article as he mourns a great loss in his life. Both literally and figuratively, Reiner begins and ends with a story.

I wish he could do that for my book, too.
Learn more about the book and author at Jenny Milchman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Emily Raboteau's "Searching for Zion"

Emily Raboteau is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Professor's Daughter. Her fiction and essays have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best African American Fiction, The Guardian, Oxford American, Tin House, and elsewhere. Recipient of numerous awards including a Pushcart Prize and a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Raboteau also teaches writing at City College, in Harlem.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora:
Imagining Searching for Zion as a movie is a little disconcerting since it’s a memoir. But it pleases me to imagine giving work to so many black actors. Since the book is an exploration of Zionist movements across the African diaspora it would have an even more variegated cast than The Wire, which I loved for its broad spectrum of black experience. The production would need to be shot in the locations I traveled: Israel, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ghana and areas of the southern United States. The soundtrack would include Negro spirituals, gospel music and reggae songs about Zion and/or the “Promised Land,” including Bob Marley’s “Iron, Lion, Zion.” This would be my dream-cast of the major roles:

Rashida Jones of The Office and Parks and Recreation as myself. She’s got the racial ambiguity to pull it off and the right comic sensibility. Also, I like to kid myself that I’m that hot. She looks young enough to play the 23 year-old I was at the start of my journey as well as the 33 year-old I was at the finish.

Record producer Quincy Jones (Rashida’s father) as my father, Princeton professor, Albert Raboteau. Jones may not be an actor, but the man produced Thriller. He’s got the gravitas and the charm.

Natalie Portman as my courageous childhood best friend, Tamar, who lives in Israel.

Comedian/musician Reggie Watts as my boyfriend, then husband, Victor. They’re lovably weird in similar ways.

Am I allowed to resurrect people from the dead for this exercise? Because I can’t imagine casting anyone other than the late Ossie Davis alongside his wife, Ruby Dee, as John and Mary Ellen Ray, the disillusioned, hilarious, bohemian, American ex-pat couple I had the pleasure of meeting in Ghana.

Bob Marley’s widow, Rita Marley, as herself.

Mutabaruka as Brother Bryan, a Jamaican emigrant, “jack of all-trades,” living in Shashemene, Ethiopia.

Cedric the Entertainer as the slick Atlanta-based televangelist of the prosperity gospel, Reverend Creflo Dollar.

Delroy Lindo as Dr. Khazriel, Head of the School of the Prophets in the Black Hebrew community of Dimona, Israel.

Kim Coles as my cousin Tracy, a Hurricane Katrina survivor transplanted from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi to Atlanta. They don’t look alike but exude the same kind of warmth.
Learn more about the book and author at Emily Raboteau's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Maryka Biaggio’s "Parlor Games"

Maryka Biaggio, Ph.D, a professor of psychology for 30 years, undertook writing fiction as a serious pursuit around 2000. She attended writing conferences, started a critique group, and devoted half her time to writing. She improved her craft by completing three novels before writing Parlor Games. Now she splits her time between writing and working as a higher education consultant. Excerpts of her novels have garnered Willamette Writers and Belle Lettres awards. She specializes in writing historical fiction about real people.

Here the author shares some ideas for the director and leads for an adaptation of Parlor Games:
How much fun did I have imagining Parlor Games as a movie? Perhaps an excerpt of the Booklist review will give a hint: “The deliciously fabulous foibles and follies of a woman born into hardscrabble circumstances but determined to make her way in the world with wit, beauty, and a brazen ability to exploit her feminine charms….[Biaggio] makes the most of every entertaining opportunity—and, hey, a girl’s gotta make a living, especially with a particularly persistent Pinkerton hot on her heels. Sheer, frenetic fun.”

So, seeing my cunning characters cavorting on the screen? Now that’s fun!

First, we need someone with verve and poise to play May, our enchanting protagonist. I believe Scarlett Johansson would be a great pick. She’s saucy and knows how to charm and allure. And about that dastardly Pinkerton detective—he must be, by turns, suave and brash. Add a dash of swaggering confidence and who should appear but Harry Connick, Jr., sporting a waxed and downturned mustache.

I picture May’s true love, Johnny, as a blond, blue-eyed young man who oozes joie de vivre. He should not be overly familiar, but rather a fresh face, one without any baggage to interfere with him portraying the honest cordiality, sportive cheeriness, and touch of naiveté that May found “pinch-me beguiling.”

As for the director, he or she must be versed in capturing nuanced exchanges. He should be adept at coaxing all manner of complicated interactions out of the cast who play such games as wangling, romancing, baiting, and hoodwinking. Calling David Fincher.

A silver screen rendition of Parlor Games would surely be a romp. And a cable series would work marvelously, too. After all, the picaresque tradition lends itself well to serial treatment: May’s adventures and misadventures do leave one wondering what scheme she might next devise or how she’ll extricate herself from the most recent calamity. Let the fun and games begin!
Learn more about the book and author at Maryka Biaggio's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 18, 2013

Haywood Smith's "Out of Warranty"

Haywood Smith's novels include Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch, The Red Hat Club, Red Hat Club Rides Again, Wedding Belles, Ladies of the Lake, Waking Up Dixie, and Wife-in-Law.

In Out of Warranty, Haywood's new novel, widowed Cassie, still grieving for the love of her life and facing destitution because of her medical bills, decides she has to remarry for better health coverage. Enter one-legged hermit and curmudgeon Jack Wilson, on the same appointment schedule at their specialist’s, who’s rude and obnoxious, but eventually tries to help by setting up e-dating for Cassie. After a hilarious round of fix-ups and e-dating, Cassie’s left with no hope and no prospects.

That’s when Jack offers a strictly business marriage that could solve both their problems, with a serious set of house rules, including separate bedrooms. How well it will work remains to be seen.

Here Smith shares some suggestions for two of the leads in a big screen adaptation of the novel:
Though I didn't visualize anyone in particular when I wrote the book, I'd love to see Robert Redford play Jack, and Diane Keaton play Cassie's mother. As for Cassie, I see her with a beautiful, classic face, big brown eyes, cute, short brown hair, and a few extra pounds, who looks ten years younger than fifty-five. No actor comes to mind, but she should definitely have a good sense of humor.
Learn more about the book and author at Haywood Smith's website.

Writers Read: Haywood Smith.

The Page 69 Test: Out of Warranty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mary Robinette Kowal's "Glamour in Glass"

Mary Robinette Kowal's first novel Shades of Milk and Honey was a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. The sequel to Shades, Glamour in Glass, follows the lives of main characters Jane and David Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.

In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent's concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon…to escaping it.

Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison…and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country's war.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Glamour in Glass:
Jane Vincent: Laura Carmichael best known for her role as Lady Edith Crawley on Downton Abbey would be perfect. Granted, she's prettier than Jane is in my head, but she can do the awkward lack of self-confidence so beautifully and yet has force when she needs it.

David Vincent: Nathan Fillion -- If he were younger, had curls, and were British. He has the right build and can brood like Vincent. The brooding is really what Vincent needs, and he's a physically powerful man, but not lean. Tall, broad shoulders and a heavy brow. Plus, Vincent does have a streak of fun in him, it's just hidden to everyone except the people who he really trusts.

Anne-Marie: Audrey Tautou best known in the US for Amélie. That apparent innocence coupled with mischief would be a good match for Anne-Marie.

Madame Meynard: Laura Smet. So sassy while remaining elegant.

Mme Chastain: Juliette Binoche. You probably know her from Chocolat. She's charming and strong.

M. Chastain: Vincent Cassel. I love the way he can be charming with an undercurrent of danger.

Lieutenant Segal: I actually based him on a real person, not an actor, so it's hard to find someone who is a good fit. Gaspard Ulliel comes close though. The casual grace of his movements and that little smirk he has, which implies that he has a secret he'd like to share with you if he can just get you alone.
Learn more about the book and author at Mary Robinette Kowal's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 14, 2013

Kate Watterson's "Frozen"

Kate Watterson grew up on a steady diet of mystery/suspense novels. If it involves murder and intrigue, she is bound to be hooked. Watterson also writes award-winning historical novels as Emma Wildes.

Here she shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of her new novel, Frozen:
Frozen is the first in a series about Detective Ellie MacIntosh -- followed by Thaw (April 2013), Charred (June), Bleed (Sept.) and Buried (Jan. 2014). Hmm. I think for Ellie I’d pick maybe  Joelle Carter (Justified, FX) because she’s able to play a convincingly tough lady and she fits the character, and I’d love to see if she could do a Wisconsin accent. I also think Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs) would be perfect. Savvy and self-reliant.

Male actors… Matt Bohmer (White Collar) for Bryce Grantham pretty much hands down. A good-looking, understated man who finds himself in an untenable position. I think Bohmer could really pull it off.

On the other hand, in Charred, Ellie’s new partner, Jason Santiago, is a pretty in-your-face, profane, but very talented and street smart detective from a big city background. I’m picturing Matt Damon.

Wouldn’t that be fun?
Learn more about the book and author at Kate Watterson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mitchell Scott Lewis's "Death in the 12th House"

Mitchell Scott Lewis has been a practicing astrologer and teacher in New York City for more than twenty years. His Starlight Detective Agency mysteries are Murder in the 11th House and the recently released Death in the 12th House: Where Neptune Rules.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of the new novel:
When they make my book into a movie, astrologer-detective David Lowell could be played by several actors. Al Pacino, or Liam Neeson come to mind. My first choice would have been Dennis Hopper, who I was fortunate enough to meet and spend an afternoon with shortly before his death; a truly exhilarating experience. I had a bit part in a movie Dennis made with Jackie Bissett and a great cast, written and directed by Linda Yellen, which so far has not been released.

Lowell’s secretary, Sarah, is a feisty, street smart woman in her early thirties. I would love to see Drew Barrymore in the role.

Lowell’s daughter, Melinda should be played by a self-assured woman also in her 30’s. There are a number of current actresses who would do justice to the role including Scarlett Johansson.
Learn more about the book and author at Mitchell Scott Lewis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Adam Mansbach's "Rage Is Back"

Adam Mansbach’s books include the number one international bestseller Go the Fuck to Sleep, the California Book Award– winning novel The End of the Jews, and the cult classic Angry Black White Boy. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, and The Believer, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.

Here he shares some suggestions for casting an adaptation of his new novel, Rage Is Back:
First, let me say that it's a pleasure to answer this question about Rage Is Back instead of Go the Fuck to Sleep (which is being made into a feature film by Fox 2000, and I have absolutely no idea how). These days, when I think about adaptation, I'm as drawn to high-end cable as to film: building out a story over several seasons, instead of shaving the novel down into a two hour story.

That said, I feel like Rage Is Back moves quickly to enough to go either way, and I've been lucky enough to have some film and theatrical interest already. I didn't write it with any actors in mind – though there are real-life graffiti writers like PHASE 2, RAMMELLZEE and KASE 2 who are partial models for some of the characters.

Danny Hoch performs most of the audiobook, with The GZA and Wyatt Cenac contributing smaller roles, and I think Danny, who's an old friend of mine, would be great as Billy Rage, the famed graff writer who returns to NYC after sixteen years on the run, and also makes his way back to sanity after a psychic attack by a rival shaman in the Amazon basin.

As Cloud 9, a graffiti writer and grand larcenist who was Billy's best friend back in the day and plays a crucial role in the epic mission to paint every subway train in the NYC system in one weekend, I'm thinking Michael K. Williams, or maybe the rapper Sean Price.

As Dondi, the book's eighteen-year-old biracial narrator, I'm really not sure. Probably some incredibly talented unknown kid who shows up to auditions and blows everybody away with how naturally he inhabits this code-switching, brilliant stoner who grew up in the shadow of his parents' outlaw fame, got kicked out of his prep school for selling weed, and is equally comfortable quoting Homer and Jay-Z.

As Dondi's mother Karen, a tough-as-nails literary agent and former graff writer, Nia Long comes to mind.

As Ambassador Dengue Fever, a blind, housebound, glue-sniffing mad genius who somehow has his finger on the pulse of everything happening in the underground tunnels of the city, I'd have to go with Forest Whitaker. Or Wendell Pierce.

As Lou, the (female, 6'6") chief of the underground tunnel-dwellers known as the Mole People, I have no idea.

As Supreme Chemistry, graffiti originator and ideologue, beef-starter, camouflage-suit-wearer, and liberal user of a blackjack, Jeffrey Wright.

And as Anastacio Bracken, the villainous (and possibly demon-affiliated) former Vandal Squad cop whose run for mayor sets much of the book's action in motion, Robert De Niro.
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mansbach's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sam Thomas's "The Midwife’s Tale"

Sam Thomas has a PhD in history with a focus on Reformation England and recently leaped from the tenure track into a teaching position at a secondary school near Cleveland, Ohio.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Midwife's Tale:
Ah, when you ask who I’d cast in The Midwife’s Tale, you’ve stirred up a marital hornet’s nest worthy of Gone Girl, as my wife and I have gone eleven rounds over this with no agreement.

My main character is Bridget Hodgson, an English midwife practicing her trade (and solving murders) in the midst of the English Civil War. (Puritans, Oliver Cromwell, chopping off the king’s head and all that good stuff.) My wife is convinced we need Kate Winslet for the role, but I just don’t see it. Yes, she’s beautiful enough, but she just doesn’t project the power that my protagonist has. As a result, I’m going with Cate Blanchett. Maybe it’s because I first saw her in Elizabeth, but to me she just radiates authority, and I need that in an actor.

For the sidekick, Martha Hawkins, I’m going to say Jennifer Lawrence. I want someone young enough to play a maidservant, but tough enough to sell my character’s troubled past. If you’ve seen Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, you know she’s got that piece figured out.

The two other recurring characters are Bridget’s nephew Will Hodgson, and her nemesis Rebecca Hooke. For Will I need an actor who’s relatively young and scrappy – Jack O’Connell of This is England seems to fit the bill. And for Rebecca, I think Lauren Graham. Again, she’s got the age and authority the character needs, and provides a nice contrast with Blanchett.
View the trailer for The Midwife’s Tale, and learn more about the book and author at Sam Thomas's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Walter Greatshell's "Terminal Island"

Walter Greatshell's books include Xombies: Apocalypticon and Xombies: Apocalypse Blues.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Terminal Island:
Hmm, if my book Terminal Island were to be made into a movie, there would be several important roles to fill:

First, the main character, Henry Cadmus, would require two actors, one representing him as a ten-year-old boy visiting the island for the first time with his enigmatic mother, and the other as a 40-year-old man returning there to track her down. The perfect actor to play the boy would have been Haley Joel Osment at the age he was when he made The Sixth Sense. Of course, Osment is too old now, but any boy cast for the role would have to achieve that same quality of alienation and wounded innocence.

The middle-aged Henry is a war veteran and devoted husband and father, who has repressed the traumas of his past and resents having to revisit them by returning to Catalina Island. The ideal actor for this role would be someone like Clive Owen, who captured the perfect mixture of dark humor and total desperation in the movie Children of Men. He’s the right age and the right look, and he has the physicality that the role would require.

For Henry’s offbeat wife, Ruby, an arts enthusiast with a toddler in one hand and an HD video camera in the other, a good choice would be someone who can project intelligence, irony, and a sneaky dark side. A couple of actresses who spring to mind are Olivia Williams (Rushmore), or Rebecca Hall (Vicki Christina Barcelona). For that matter, either one of them would also be perfect to play Henry’s mother in the flashback scenes. To play his more elderly mom in the present day scenes, I would love to see either Charlotte Rampling or Isabella Rossellini.

For the role of the hulking private detective, Carol Arbuthnot, someone with that same quality of physical menace would have to be cast—I’m thinking of Michael Chiklis, who already played a very similar Thing. But someone even bigger would be better, which leads me to think that the ultimate might be… Sylvester Stallone! But would he be willing to shave his head and be called Carol? If so, he’s the guy.
View the video trailer for Terminal Island, and visit Walter Greatshell's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Terminal Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christine Wade's "Seven Locks"

Christine Wade is a researcher and writer who fell in love with the Hudson River when she first attended Bard College and has lived on its shores in New York City and the Catskill Mountains ever since. Seven Locks, her first novel, won a James Jones Fellowship Award for an unpublished novel in 2009.

Here she shares some ideas for the above-the-line talent that might bring her novel to the big screen:
Seven Locks is set in the Catskill Mountains on the Great Hudson River in the latter part of the 18th Century, so the grand and magical landscape would definitely be part of the cinematic interpretation. The stars in the film would be actors who loved that landscape. Vera Famiga would play the main character. She already lives on a goat farm in the Catskills; she cards and spins; and she is tough enough and sweet enough to embody my character----an unapologetic farm wife who does whatever is needed whenever. Mark Ruffalo would play the French trapper, who discourses on the virtues of the indigenous tribes and the great romance of the landscape and its people, and who may or may not be a rake. Judith, the daughter, needs to be portrayed by several actresses as she ages from seven-years-old to an adolescent and then a young mother. There I would need some clever casting support. Perhaps Paul Dano could portray her moody brother, but he would have to have a young actor play his 10 year old part. I don’t know if he has any relationship to the Mid-Hudson Valley. Hmm, I’m not familiar with any African-American actors who live in the Catskills (for the roles of Thomas and Susanna), but I’m sure they exist in the communities of Hudson or Poughkeepsie, Newburgh or Kingston. It would be a thrill to discover a new Mid-Hudson Valley star. If local actors are not available, then perhaps Viola Davis could be persuaded to play the sister of Chewetel Ejiofor, who would make a perfect prophet.

I totally trust Vera to direct.
Learn more about the book and author at Christine Wade's website.

The Page 69 Test: Seven Locks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lisa O'Donnell's "The Death of Bees"

Lisa O'Donnell won the Orange Screenwriting Prize in 2000 for The Wedding Gift and, in the same year, was nominated for the Dennis Potter New Screenwriters Award. A native of Scotland, O'Donnell is now a full-time writer and lives in Los Angeles with her two children.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Death of Bees, her first novel:
I would love to see The Death of Bees as a movie. It’s dramatic, vivid, rich in action and heartbreaking, while at the same time comedic. My dream director would be Jim Sheridan who directed In America, My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father. He has an amazing voice and I love his work. He also has a gift for weeding out talent. You could trust him with anything.

I would like to see two unknown young actresses given an opportunity to play Marnie and Nelly. I have very fixed ideas in how they should look and I would know them immediately if I saw them in front of me in a casting situation. Marnie is pretty and vulnerable. She’s hard, but gentle. Nelly is beautiful, but weird.

I would love to see John Hurt as Lennie. I love John Hurt and when I was writing Lennie it was always his voice I heard in my head.

James Cosmo is Robert T MacDonald. A strong hulking man with eyes that can hide anything.

Goran Visnjic as Vlado because Vlado is a beautiful older man and Goran’s accent is perfect.

Samantha Morton as Izzy because Samantha Morton can be anyone she wants.

Robbie Carlisle as Gene because I love how compassionate he can be in one role and utterly psychotic in another role.
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa O'Donnell's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Death of Bees.

Writers Read: Lisa O'Donnell.

--Marshal Zeringue