Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Erin Lindsay McCabe's "I Shall Be Near To You"

Erin Lindsay McCabe studied literature and history at University of California, Santa Cruz, earned a teaching credential at California State University, Chico, and taught high school English for seven years before completing her MFA in Creative Writing at St. Mary’s College of California in 2010. A recipient of the 2008 Jim Townsend Scholarship for Excellence in Creative Writing and the 2009 Leonard Michaels Scholarship for Literary Excellence, McCabe has taught Composition at St. Mary’s College of California and Butte College.

A California native, McCabe lives in the Sierra Foothills with her husband, son, and a small menagerie that includes one dog, four cats, two horses, ten chickens, and three goats.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her acclaimed new novel, I Shall Be Near to You:
My Book, The Movie: I Shall Be Near To You, starring Jennifer Lawrence

I still remember watching the movie Winter’s Bone in the only art-house east of Oakland, CA (since demolished). We were barely into the movie when I leaned over to my husband and whispered, “That’s Rosetta.”

I had no idea who the actress was, but I knew almost the instant she appeared on screen that she was perfect to play the part of Rosetta, the feisty, strong-willed young woman who disguises herself as a man and enlists in the Union Army with her new husband in my novel I Shall Be Near To You. After the movie ended, we stayed to watch the credits and find out who that actress was.

“Jennifer Lawrence,” I said when her name rolled up the screen. “She’s my girl.” At the time, I had a draft of my novel finished and I had no idea if my book would be published, let alone if it might ever be made into a movie. And of course, that was before Jennifer Lawrence became Jennifer Lawrence. But I loved how she brought a fierce and quiet determination to the role of Ree Dolly in Winter’s Bone, traits that Rosetta shares, evidenced as she goes against her husband’s wishes to fight on the battlefield. I admired how Jennifer Lawrence could be strong and yet tender and vulnerable, just like Rosetta is as she struggles to find ways to still be a wife even when she’s wearing a soldier’s uniform. Somehow Jennifer Lawrence managed to portray Ree’s love for her family even though she never spoke it. And she never let Ree break down but you could see her holding the pieces together by sheer force of will, just as Rosetta must after the horror of Antietam.

Since then, I’ve watched Jennifer Lawrence bring those same qualities to life in the other characters she’s played. I’ve watched her tackle physically challenging roles, requiring that she shoot guns (and arrows) and throw punches. I’ve laughed as she’s taken on roles that allow for a bit of comedy, convincing me even further that she could bring Rosetta’s sense of humor to the screen. And then too, as J.Law has let more and more of her personality loose on the red carpet and various awards stages, I’ve loved her irreverence, the way she speaks whatever is on her mind, how sometimes she acts with beautiful humanity when you’d least expect it, just as Rosetta does. She seems genuine in a way that reminds me of Rosetta and in a way that must be difficult for someone on such a public stage with an image and a career to protect. It makes me think she would understand Rosetta’s drive to be true to herself at the same time that she’s hiding much of what’s essential about herself, the way there is truth to the part that Rosetta plays, the way a disguise can’t keep everything secret.

And then, of course, J.Law went ahead and chopped all her hair off, just like Rosetta does. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.
Visit Erin Lindsay McCabe's website and Facebook page.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Erin Lindsay McCabe & Roxy.

--Marshal Zeringue