Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tiffany Hawk's "Love Me Anyway"

Tiffany Hawk is writer living near Washington D.C. whose work has appeared in such places as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, National Geographic Traveler and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Her debut novel, Love Me Anyway, is a darkly funny look into the emotional heart of the airline industry, with all its allure, loneliness, and ever-present temptations.

Here Hawk dreamcasts a big-screen adaptation of Love Me Anyway:
I had so much fun with this. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my writer friends and I sometimes fantasize about seeing our books on the big screen, as wildly unrealistic as that is. It’s funny, though, to reimagine these characters for what turns out to be the second time. Very early on, my book was inspired by real people, but as their characters took on a life of their own, they began to form their own distinctive appearances in my mind, not quite like their inspirations, and not like actors either.

I would love to see Kirsten Dunst as Emily, the shy 23 year-old who finds both her awakening and her undoing up there in the sky. Dunst was brilliant as a flight attendant in the movie Elizabethtown. She absolutely embodied the complexity of the airline life – she had this innocence and openness, and yet you could tell she’d seen everything.

KC is young, beautiful, and blonde, but she’s also carrying a lot of baggage. As a flight attendant, she has the whole world in front of her, but all she really wants is to bring her mom back to health and her estranged father back into their lives. I think Adrianne Palicki, who was pitch perfect as Tyra on Friday Night Lights, would knock it out of the park. Like Tyra, KC had few opportunities as a child, but she has the chutzpah to create the life she really wants – if only she could stop getting involved with the wrong men.

Here’s where I get political. Disturbingly, Hollywood still doesn’t cast Asian men in leading roles, unless it’s a martial arts flick, so I fear it would be difficult to cast Tien, the married man Emily cannot resist. It has been suggested many times that if the book were to become a film, I should just be realistic and change the male lead to a white American. No! The legacy of Vietnam is an important part of the story, and it’s also a story about opening up and letting the world in. Besides, I refuse to perpetuate racism and xenophobia.

Daniel Dae Kim from Lost and Hawaii Five-O would be an obvious choice because he is so well known, but a friend also reminded me of Dustin Nguyen of 21 Jumpstreet fame. Yes! It’s kismet. Dustin and Tien share a last name, and both escaped from Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon. More importantly, there is something very soulful about Dustin Nguyen. I think he could pull off Tien’s inner torment – the impossibility of loving two women, of trying to keep his family together but failing to end the affair that makes him feel alive and wanted and young again.

Of course, as I fantasize about the big screen, I should mention the small screen. Thanks to a fabulous director/animator named Jerrold Ridenour, Love Me Anyway has already been made into a brilliant (I think) short film that you can watch right now.
Learn more about the book and author at Tiffany Hawk's website.

--Marshal Zeringue