Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jeff Somers's "Chum"

Jeff Somers was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and regrets nothing. He is the author of the Avery Cates series of novels published by Orbit Books and The Ustari Cycle books Trickster and Fabricator (Pocket Books). He sold his first novel at age 16 to a tiny publisher in California which quickly went out of business and has spent the last two decades assuring potential publishers that this was a coincidence. Somers publishes a zine called The Inner Swine and has also published a few dozen short stories; his story “Ringing the Changes” was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2006, edited by Scott Turow and his story “Sift, Almost Invisible, Through” appeared in the anthology Crimes by Moonlight, published by Berkley Hardcover and edited by Charlaine Harris.

Here Somers dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Chum:
The problem with casting your book is that Hollywood pre-selects for gorgeous, and none of my characters as conceived, with a few exceptions, are that good-looking. Probably because they’re all based on me in some way.

I never actually think about casting my book as I write and don’t have actors in mind as I create characters. Sometimes I use an actor as a physical template, but that’s not quite the same thing. After the book is done, though, it’s a lot of fun. I always imagine Chum as a POV film, where each sequence is shot from the POV of the character. I have no idea if that would be a good idea in practice, because I don’t make movies for a living.

We also have to get one thing straight: If someone pays me, say, three or four of those big bags marked with a green dollar sign in exchange for the film rights, they can cast whoever they want. They can cast Justin Bieber and all five of the One Direction kids and make it into a musical. They can cast Miley Cyrus in the male lead if they toss a few more bags onto the pile. I’ve heard of authors who have something referred to as “artistic integrity.” I do not know and do not wish to know what that is. I have a taste for top-shelf liquor and if Corey Haim sees Chum as his comeback vehicle and backs a dump truck full of gold coins onto my lawn, the movie is his.

Still, for fun: Let’s see ... the protagonist is Henry, no last name given. Henry’s a bit of a dummy and imagines he’s a good guy right up until the universe teaches him otherwise. I think Ryan Gosling has the right perplexed expression on his face for this character, though he’s likely too good-looking. We could tweeze off some hair, though, and get him into the zone.

For the evil plotting drink-stirring straw of the book, Tom Wallace, I see Tom Hardy if he can chisel the accent off. His voice is ideal, and as long as he’d be willing to also chisel off some muscles and do a Raging Bull turn with his belly, we’d be in business.

The other main male character, Dave “Bick” Bickerman, is touchy, as he’s not presented as a good-looking guy, is easily an alcoholic, and is kind of unlikable. Obviously this is a job for a slightly younger Joel McHale. Or maybe we could pass of McHale’s age as the effects of a lifestyle that would kill mortal men.

For the women of the book, I see Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an ideal Denise. She’s pretty and sarcastic but in a very unthreatening way. And for the dually doomed Harrows sisters, Mary and Miriam, I think the Fanning sisters would be great. By the time a film version got off the ground Elle Fanning would likely be the precise right age.

Then again, if producers came to me and said Brad Pitt wanted to see if he could still play a 30-year old, I’d be too busy bathing in a tub filled with gold coins to care.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Somers's website.

--Marshal Zeringue