Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bruce DeSilva's "Providence Rag"

Bruce DeSilva grew up in a tiny Massachusetts mill town where the mill closed when he was ten. He had an austere childhood bereft of iPods, X-Boxes, and all the other cool stuff that hadn’t been invented yet. In this parochial little town, metaphors and alliteration were also in short supply. Nevertheless, his crime fiction has won the Edgar and Macavity Awards; has been listed as a finalist for the Shamus, Anthony, and Barry Awards; and has been published in ten foreign languages. His short stories have appeared in Akashic Press's award-winning noir anthologies. He has reviewed books for the New York Times Sunday Book Review and Publishers Weekly, and his reviews for The Associated Press have appeared in hundreds of other publications. Previously, he was a journalist for forty years, most recently as writing coach world-wide for The Associated Press, editing stories that won nearly every major journalism prize including the Pulitzer. He and his wife, the poet Patricia Smith, live in New Jersey with two enormous dogs named Brady and Rondo.

Here he shares some ideas for the screen adaptation of his series of crime novels featuring Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter at a dying Providence, R.I., newspaper:
I think my first two novels, Rogue Island and Cliff Walk, would work best as the inspiration for a television series. Most Hollywood crime movies are filled with car chases, prolonged gun-battles, and explosions; and those two books are bereft of them. But the best TV crime dramas—shows like HBO’s True Detective and FX’s Justified—place a premium on character development and sense of place. However, my third novel, Providence Rag, with its menacing villain, chilling murder scenes, and violent mass protests, is made to order for the movies. Back when I began work on my first novel, Dennis Lehane, one of our finest crime novelists, advised me against envisioning any actor in the lead role. If you do, he said, it will unduly influence your character development—and not for the better. So I resisted. But when I finished that book, I couldn’t help but picture Dennis Leary, the Boston-born the actor/director who created Rescue Me for the FX television network, playing Mulligan. Leary has the perfect build and embodies my protagonist’s wise-guy attitude and dislike of authority. He’s a dozen years older than Mulligan, but I think he can play younger. And with his native Boston accent, he’s a good bet to master the Rhode Island accent, a quirky blend of Boston and Long Island. Liev Schreiber, the San Francisco-born actor whose varied career has seen him play the lead in Hamlet to rave reviews and star in the movie Defiance alongside Daniel Craig, is the right age and also has that look. And his mastery of the working class Boston accent in his current role on Showtime’s Ray Donovan offers hope that he could learn to talk like a Providence native, too. On the other hand, the movie would make more money if Brad Pitt or Matt Damon, another Boston native, could be sweet-talked into it. The noir mood Clint Eastwood gave his best film, The Unforgiven, is what I envision for Providence Rag; so, Clint, I’m waiting for your call.
Learn more about the book and author at Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Rogue Island.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva and Brady.

The Page 69 Test: Cliff Walk.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Rondo and Brady.

Writers Read: Bruce DeSilva.

--Marshal Zeringue