Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lisa Morton's "Netherworld"

Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, award-winning prose writer, and Halloween expert. Her work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening”, and Famous Monsters called her "one of the best writers in dark fiction today". Her novels include The Castle of Los Angeles and Malediction. A multiple Bram Stoker Award® winner, she lives in North Hollywood, California.

Here Morton dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Netherworld:
Netherworld first came about when I was working on a short story that involved the character Van Helsing from Dracula, and I started to imagine how much fun a globe-trotting nineteenth-century female version of Van Helsing would be. I immediately thought, Aha – this character would be like a cross between Abraham Van Helsing and Emma Peel from The Avengers. For those of you who may either be too young to know or don’t remember, The Avengers was the 1960s British spy series that starred Diana Rigg (before knighthood) as a witty karate-chopping genius in one-piece jumpsuits, and she’s probably my all-time favorite fictitious character. Given that, I have to say that my vision of Diana Furnaval, my protagonist in Netherworld, will always involve ‘60s-era Diana Rigg.

In Netherworld, Lady Furnaval acquires a traveling companion who is a young Chinese sailor named Yi-kin. I’m a big fan of Asian cinema – I speak some Cantonese, and my first book was a study of the work of the influential Hong Kong filmmaker Tsui Hark – and Yi-kin is really an homage to one of my favorite actors, superstar Cheng Yi-kin (also known as Ekin Cheng). Although Cheng is now in his forties (Yi-kin is less than half his age), he starred in his big breakout movie Young and Dangerous when he was young, and he usually portrays strong characters who are very devoted to their friends and loved ones.

The third major character in Netherworld is an enigmatic scholar and bookseller named Stephen Chappell. Diana, who is still mourning her late husband William, is nonetheless instantly attracted to Stephen, so he needs to be a charismatic performer who can suggest an ethereal quality. I’ve liked Ewan McGregor since Trainspotting (wherein he was, I’ll grant you, anything but ethereal!), so I think he’d make a fine Chappell.

The last character I’ll mention is Mina, Diana’s other dedicated companion…and a cat. Mina was absolutely based on my cat Roxie, who thought she was my protector (seriously, she growled whenever she heard strange noises outside, and I’d just look at her and say, “What do you think you’re going to do? You weigh nine pounds!”). Unfortunately Roxie passed away from a rare disease last October, but she would have been too impatient and imperious to endure a film set anyways.
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Morton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue