Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Russel D. McLean's "Mothers of the Disappeared"

Russel D McLean is the author of several novels featuring Dundonian PI J McNee. Born in Fife, McLean studied Philosophy at the University of Dundee before falling into bad company and entering the booktrade. He has been a reviewer, a freelance reader, a roving chair, a bookseller and an ezine editor.

Here McLean dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Mothers of the Disappeared:
When I first approached this theoretical question around the time of my debut novel, The Good Son, I wasn’t sure who could take on the character of J McNee, the dour Dundonian detective. I’m still not sure, to be honest. I like the idea of a lead who’s not as well known as the others in the cast, although I’ve softened a little on the idea of someone like David Tennant taking the lead. If he dialed back the performance, he might be suitably dark enough to play the character.

I still, after all these years, think that Brian Cox (the actor, not the physicist) would be perfect as David Burns, the aging gangster. Even more so the way this character has developed over four novels.

Actor turned crime novelist John Gordon Sinclair would probably work well as SCDEA agent Sandy Griggs. He has the physical presence and in some ways his own past plays into the role. A good guy turned apparently amoral, he would have a lot to play with this in this role. And given that so many people still think of him in the good guy role from his time in Gregory’s Girl while he has become a far more versatile actor, I think perhaps that could play into the role.

And the allegedly innocent man accused of killing several children? We need someone absolutely versatile making us doubt from moment to moment whether he is innocent or guilty. I wish I knew who that person was, but again wonder if someone unknown might be absolutely perfect: someone who we wouldn’t know whether to believe or not, with no baggage as an actor.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think that the book(s) would make a better TV series than they would movies. There are arcs running through these books that would breathe in the atmosphere of TV better than in the cinema. Yes, I think that’s something I’d love to see.
Visit Russel McLean's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

My Book, The Movie: The Lost Sister.

The Page 69 Test: Mothers of the Disappeared.

Writers Read: Russel D. McLean.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mark Alpert's "The Furies"

Mark Alpert is the author of The Furies and three other science thrillers: Final Theory, The Omega Theory and Extinction. He is also a contributing editor at Scientific American.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of The Furies:
The Furies is a mash-up of genres. It’s a science thriller about witches. Ariel Fury, the heroine, belongs to an ancient clan that has been steering the course of history for millennia. She has red hair and green eyes, the markers of a genetic mutation that has long made her family a target for mass murder. During the 16th and 17th centuries the witch-hunting mobs in France and Germany and England accused the Furies of being witches and burned nearly all of them at the stake. The few survivors fled to the wilderness of America and spent the next four hundred years living in seclusion. But revolutionary advances in genetic research in the 21st century trigger a civil war among the Furies, threatening to reveal their secrets and wreak havoc across the globe.

The book’s hero, John Rogers, meets Ariel at a bar in Greenwich Village. John is an ex-thug who formerly belonged to a drug gang and is now trying to go straight. He’s delighted when Ariel invites him to a tryst at her hotel, but their lustful encounter is interrupted by a band of rebellious Furies who ambush Ariel and nearly kill her. As John helps the wounded young woman return to her family’s compound in the woods of northern Michigan, he’s caught in the middle of the war among the Furies -- and both sides want him dead.

As I wrote the novel it ran through my mind like a movie, sort of a cross between Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code. In fact, when I wrote about Ariel I sometimes pictured her as Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione in the Potter movies. The role of John would be a little more difficult to cast. He has to be a sensitive bruiser, an action hero who can actually act, and ideally the actor would be mixed-race like the character (John had a black father and a white mother). One good candidate would be Wentworth Miller, who starred in the TV show Prison Break several years ago. The villain in The Furies -- a sadistic bastard named Sullivan -- should be played by either Christopher Walken or Willem Dafoe. Both of those guys scare the hell out of me.
Learn more about the book and author at Mark Alpert's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pauline Rowson's "Shroud of Evil"

Pauline Rowson is the author of the DI Andy Horton Series and of two stand-alone thrillers.

she dreamcasts an adaptation of Shroud of Evil, the eleventh in the Horton series:
On the wall above my desk are photographs of four men. They look down on me as I write my crime novels featuring the flawed and rugged DI Andy Horton and while two of the men in the photographs are dead and the other two are now too old to play DI Andy Horton in the movies of the series they all have one thing in common not only with each other but with Andy Horton – they have all been heroes.

Heroes have always fascinated me. It probably stems from reading so many thrillers and spy novels as a child. Then I married a hero, well he is to me, a former fire-fighter from Red Watch, Portsmouth, UK, who took many risks and saved many lives. It’s no wonder then that I turned to writing about a hero.

DI Andy Horton has been described as 'an especially good series hero, a likable fellow with plenty of street smarts and the requisite personal baggage - an abrasive supervisor (DCI Lorraine Bliss) and an antagonistic soon to be ex-wife.' Booklist (USA) and recently by a reader on Twitter, ‘He's an enigma, reliable but sometimes unreachable, a little lost, but knows what he wants! My fav. kind of DI.’

Heroes have to have flaws, after all they are human. DI Andy Horton is rugged, a maverick cop who hates paperwork and playing by the book which of course gets him into trouble with his superiors, particularly the ice maiden, DCI Lorraine Bliss, his boss in Portsmouth CID. Horton is prepared to take risks and is fearless in his search for justice. He's been raised in children’s homes after his mother abandoned him as a child when he was ten, which means he has a desperate need to belong, a need that is in some way satisfied by belonging to the family of the police and yet he continually finds himself on the outside. His experiences as a child have taught him never to trust and never to confide. He lives alone on his boat and rides a Harley Davidson.

So who would I get to play DI Andy Horton in the movies if I had casting clout? Every reader sees the character differently so casting the perfect hero is difficult, no it’s impossible. I wouldn’t know where to begin – except that Jason Statham’s name did come up when a producer was keen to develop the series for American television. Statham’s agent was duly approached but Statham had just been signed for another series. Sigh.

So who are the men on the wall, my heroes, who watch me while I write? They are, in no particular order of preference: Humphrey Bogart – think Frank McCloud in Key Largo, Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, Rick Leland in Across the Pacific; Cary Grant – think Roger O. Thornhill in North By Northwest; Johnnie in Suspicion; Harrison Ford – think Indiana Jones, Dr Richard Walker in Frantic, Dr Richard Kimble in The Fugitive, John Book in Witness. And then there’s Roger Moore, my favourite James Bond and before that the enigmatic Saint (I loved those novels). None of these men look like DI Andy Horton (not to me anyway) but they have all played heroes and as I pen another crime novel they and the characters they have brought to life on screen from the pen of other writers inspire me and spur me ever onwards.
For more information about Pauline Rowson, visit her website, Twitter perch, and the DI Andy Horton Marine Mystery Facebook page.

Writers Read: Pauline Rowson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ken Baker's "How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love"

Ken Baker is an E! Entertainment Television News Correspondent. He is the author of Fangirl, and his memoir, Man Made: A Memoir of My Body, is the inspiration for the upcoming film The Late Bloomer. He lives (and writes) in Hermosa Beach, California.

Here Baker dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love:
Reflecting the lack of roles for plus-sized actresses in Hollywood, it’s next to impossible to draft much of a list of known actresses who could play Emery Jackson, the outspoken and obese teen narrator of my new novel, How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love. Although the incredibly funny and talented Rebel Wilson is too old to play Emery, she would have been great, say, nearly ten years ago. So, given Hollywood’s lackluster stable of actresses who approximate Emery’s general age and physical appearance, I defer to Plan B: An actress who could play Emery who also is willing to add weight like others have, such as Charlize Theron in Monster and, to a lesser extent, Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

That actress is Miley Cyrus. Why? Well, Miley, whom I have interviewed many times over the years, is funny, brash, intelligent, and, as proved on Hannah Montana, she can deliver a snarky comedic line and also be dramatic and emotive. She is such a talented and charismatic musical performer, however, that Miley often has been under-rated and under-apprecaited as an actress. But playing Emery – after a physician-supervised weight gain, of course – would be a great fit for her, and the kind of body-transformation role that wins actresses Oscars!
Visit Ken Baker's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Ken Baker.

The Page 69 Test: How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Brian Doyle's "The Plover"

Brian Doyle edits Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He is the author of over one dozen books, including six collections of essays, two nonfiction books, two collections of “proems,” the short story collection Bin Laden’s Bald Spot, the novella Cat’s Foot, and the novel Mink River. He is also the editor of several anthologies, most recently Ho`olaule`a, a collection of writing about the Pacific islands.

Here Doyle dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, The Plover:
Hmm. This is a puzzler, for on the boat that is the central stage of The Plover there is:

· an ostensibly testy but not really captain, age 29 or 30, a strong guy but not huge, you know? I’d say Brad Pitt but he might be too handsome. A young Rod Taylor or Ward Bond would be great, but there I am showing my age. Chris Pine?

· his best friend, a long skinny sinewy guy with a long ponytail and long braided goatee -- a face-ponytail. One of those guys made out of steel wire. I need a lean guy about 6’ 3” here. Will wait for screen tests, or look at pro basketball rosters.

· His disabled mute daughter age 9 who is the hero of the book. I need a kid here who your heart opens and shivers and leaps and breaks every time the camera hits her. Sigh: screen test, I guess. Can’t be just adorable. Has to be wild and holy.

· An enormous woman with a crewcut and serious muscles. Queen Latifah maybe if she can hit the gym and muscle up and get a crewcut and not make me laugh every time she speaks.

· A herring gull who is no kidding a huge part of the cast. Screen test.

· An albatross. Could be male or female. I have a friend in Hawaii who knows a lot of albatrosses and I am pretty sure we can get a non-union one.

· A big cheerful brilliant Polynesian guy. Will look at Tongan and Samoan actors first here. Manti Te’o?

· A lean gentle brave young guy probably from Kazakhstan. Screen test.

· An evil guy from Mexico. Tempted to go with Danny Trejo here just for the extraordinary map of that face.

· Two wood rats. Any number of jokes come to mind here but I had better stop.
Learn more about The Plover.

My Book, The Movie: Doyle's Bin Laden’s Bald Spot.

The Page 69 Test: Mink River.

Writers Read: Brian Doyle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Daryl Gregory's "Afterparty"

Daryl Gregory was the 2009 winner of IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award for his first novel Pandemonium. His second novel, The Devil's Alphabet, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award and was named one of the best books of 2009 by Publishers Weekly. His short fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and The Year’s Best SF.

Here Gregory dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Afterparty:
I don’t usually have anyone famous in mind while I’m writing… but Lyda Rose, the hard-drinking and technically insane protagonist of Afterparty, was written with this woman in mind. That’s Lucinda Williams. I have no idea if she can act. But I know she could play Lyda. Lemmee explain.

Lyda’s an ex-neuroscientist. Ten years before, she overdosed on a drug she helped create. In small doses, Numinous gives that feeling of grace, of being in touch with some higher power. But OD, and it can install a permanent hallucination of a deity in your brain.

Now, ten years later, an underground church is making Numinous again, and Lyda has to shut them down. Her only companions are Ollie, a neuroatypical escapee from a psych ward, and Lyda’s own personal Jesus, the white-coated angel named Dr. Gloria.

I know Lucinda could play her, because she’s smart, and she knows hard living, and she understands the way the numinous can sneak up on you in the stuttering neon of a late-night bar. She’s a poet, with a voice is like molasses on hot pavement. And all the time I was writing the novel, I kept hearing her voice, and especially this song.

Thank you for “Drunken Angel,” Lucinda. Will you be in my movie?
Visit Daryl Gregory's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mike Harvkey's "In the Course of Human Events"

Mike Harvkey was born and raised in rural Missouri. He is a graduate fellow of Columbia University's Creative Writing MFA Program, a winner of Zoetrope All-Story Magazine's short fiction contest, and a black belt in Kyokushin karate. His short stories have been published in Mississippi Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Zoetrope All-Story Magazine, and other publications. He has been a contributing writer to The Believer, NYLON, NYLON Guys, Trunk, Backstage, Publishers Weekly, and The L.

Here Harvkey dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, In the Course of Human Events:
The only character in my novel who ever brought an actor to mind as I wrote was Jay Smalls, my novel's frightening patriarch and a character the author Aaron Gwyn (Wynne's War) called "a villain that would haunt Tyler Durden's dreams." Gwyn wasn't kidding; I had a dream about Jay. And in it, he looked an awful lot like John Hawkes. Hawkes's frightening "Teardrop" in Winter's Bone felt to me like a warm-up for Jay Smalls. Hawkes has a wide range, but on one side of it is some mean-spirited stuff.

He showed the opposite edge of that range in The Sessions, costarring with Helen Hunt. Hunt, aging gracefully unlike so many American actresses, has always been naturally sympathetic. But she's never been more interesting than she now, at 50. With Hawkes she had real chemistry and showed how fearless she can be if given the chance. All of this makes her a good choice for Jay's wife Jan, my book's most sympathetic character. My director of choice has been stocking his movies lately with yesterday's stars who few others bother with anymore, so I think he'd go for the this casting call.

But the story belongs to Clyde Twitty, a typical Midwestern guy. Decent, kind, caring. But the fallout from the economic collapse has saddled him with an anger that has no outlet. Beaten down by life and the broken promise of the American Dream, Clyde is numb when we meet him. Under Jay's brutal tutelage, however, Clyde gains confidence and, in time, adopts his teacher's extremist views. If the transformation weren't so troubling, you could almost say Clyde blossoms. I think Dean DeHaan, whose career is on fire, is a great fit for Clyde. DeHaan is 27 but looks 18 and has a fragile, almost sickly innocence that masks a sinister shadow. The casting director of this summer's Spiderman film saw it, picking DeHaan to play the villain. When Spidey's done with him he'll play one of cinema's biggest legends--James Dean--in Life.

My director of choice? Lars von Trier, naturally. Von Trier and my novel actually have an awful lot in common, and it's not just an obsession with the martyr complex. It's a fascination with America--its mythology, its standing in the world, and its promise. Since Dancer in the Dark, von Trier has set most of his films in the U.S. In Manderlay he took on our country's fraught relationship to race, a subject that also informs my book. Dancer in the Dark was about violence, justice, and the far-reaching power of the state, subjects I've also taken on. Von Trier is an outsider, a megalomaniac, a provocateur. He shoots beautifully, his films are audacious and visceral, he's naughty, and he gets fine performances. Best of all, with few overseers telling him what he can't do, von Trier could turn in a 3- or even 4-hour cut of In the Course of Human Events, which would make me delirious. The more I think about it the more certain I am: Lars von Trier is the right lunatic for the job.
Learn more about the book and author at Mike Harvkey's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

M.L. Rowland's "Zero-Degree Murder"

A former search and rescue worker for over a decade, M.L. Rowland lives at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in south-central Colorado.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Zero-Degree Murder:
Zero-Degree Murder is the first in a series of Search and Rescue mysteries featuring Gracie Kinkaid.

As a volunteer on Timber Creek Search and Rescue (SAR) in the mountains of southern California, Gracie routinely risks her life for total strangers. In Zero-Degree Murder, she’s called out on a search for hikers, members of a movie cast and crew, missing in a local wilderness area. The mission quickly goes from routine to deadly when her teammate, Steve, disappears with the radio, the only link to the outside world, and an early-season blizzard sets in. Gracie has to use all of her expertise to keep herself and mega-movie star, Rob Christian, alive not only against the elements, but against a “truly creepy” killer who’s stalking them.

A lot of people have told me this book would make a terrific movie. Taking place in the beautiful southern California mountains within the unique, relatively unknown world of Search and Rescue, it has some great characters and a lot of action with a little romance and an avalanche thrown in.

In her mid-thirties, Gracie is feisty, smart, emotionally skittish and socially inept with everyone but the guys on the SAR team. She’s a loner, estranged from her family. An EMT, she’s physically strong, experienced and skilled in the field of Search and Rescue. Her comfort zone is the down and dirty. “She [buys] Patagonia and North Face from sale racks and outlet malls, not Hermès and Dolce & Gabbana from boutiques in Paris or Milan. She [is] beer and take-out pizza, not French wine and whatever-the-French-[eat]. “ Gracie is beautiful in her own way, not by typical Hollywood standards (“...who the hell [wears ] makeup on a search?”). Because she’s so multifaceted, it was tricky identifying the right actress to play her. I finally decided Rose Byrne and Mamie Gummer fit the bill.

With SAR Team Commander, Ralph Hunter, in his low forties, still waters run very deep. An Army veteran “who’s seen the worst life has to offer,” he’s tough, capable, knowledgeable. He sneaks cigarettes in the SAR Command Post and his blood pressure is too high. In the six years since the death of his wife from breast cancer, Gracie has never seen him smile. He’s Gracie’s best friend and secretly in love with her. Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo are at the top of my list to play Ralph.

Hunky British actor, Rob Christian, is an international star a couple of years younger than Gracie. Normally he trusts no one outside of his own family. But within 24 hours of meeting Gracie, he finds he’s telling her things he hasn’t told his best mate. Not the pampered poodle Gracie expected him to be, Rob turns out to be down-to-earth and a genuinely nice guy. Rupert Friend and Dan Stephens are both perfect to play Rob.

With quirky townspeople, Gracie’s SAR teammates, and various flatlanders who need rescuing after getting themselves lost, injured or otherwise stuck in the mountains, there’s a host of other fun roles to fill.

The setting of Zero-Degree Murder is itself a character. “Imposing, forbidding, the mountain’s austere beauty beckon[s] unsuspecting hikers and mountaineers into its ice chutes and rocky canyons, every year claiming lives of men and women alike for its own. “ Several mountainous locations in Colorado, northern New Mexico or southern California would serve the remote, rugged setting well.

In the past, these types of stories were prohibitively expensive, nearly impossible to get produced. Thankfully now, with computer-generated imagery, anything is possible.

So let’s go for it!
Visit M.L. Rowland's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

David Kaiser's "No End Save Victory"

David Kaiser has taught history at Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, the Naval War College, and Williams College. His books include The Road to Dallas: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Here Kaiser dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War:
No End Save Victory is influenced by the generational approach to American history pioneered in the 1990s by William Strauss and Neil Howe. As I explain at some length in the text, most of the leadership of Roosevelt's administration--including the President himself--belonged to the Missionary generation, born approximately 1863-1883--the generation born in the wake of the Civil War, just as Boomers were born in the wake of the Second World War. They generally had a tall, stern bearing, a way with words, and a dedication to principles around which they ordered both their own lives and the life of the nation. Strauss and Howe's generational types show up very clearly in movies, and indeed, for many years I taught a course called Generations in Film exploring the last eight decades. Most of the actors I cast also came from the Missionary generation and would have done a wonderful job playing these characters. Lionel Barrymore also had the necessary mixture of gravitas and humor to play FDR himself.

Casting for No End Save Victory:

Franklin D. Roosevelt —  Lionel Barrymore

Secretary of War Henry M. Stimson —  Walter Huston

Admiral Harold Stark, Chief of Naval Operations —  Spencer Tracy

General George C. Marshall —  Samuel S. Hinds*

Secretary of State Cordell Hull —  Lewis Stone

Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox —  Guy Kibbee

Harry Hopkins —  Paul Muni

Missy LeHand —  Jean Arthur

Sumner Welles —  William Powell

Ambassador Lord Halifax —  Ronald Coleman

Eleanor Roosevelt —  May Robson

William Hastie —  Paul Robeson

Winston Churchill —  Charles Laughton

Ambassador Admiral Nomura —  Sessue Hayakawa

Sidney Hillman —  Edward G. Robinson

*George Bailey's father. He looks quite a bit like him.
Visit David Kaiser's blog, and read more about No End Save Victory at the Basic Books website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 14, 2014

Yvette Manessis Corporon's "When The Cypress Whispers"

Yvette Manessis Corporon is an Emmy Award-winning writer, producer, and author. She is currently a senior producer with the syndicated entertainment news show Extra. In addition to her Emmy Award, Yvette has received a Silurian Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the New York City Comptroller and City Council's Award for Greek Heritage and Culture. She is married to award-winning photojournalist David Corporon.

Here Corporon dreamcasts an adaptation of When the Cypress Whispers, her debut novel:
If they made a movie of When The Cypress Whispers I think hands down, Olympia Dukakis would make the perfect Yia-yia, the wise Greek grandmother. A Greek American herself, Olympia embodies all of the warmth, sass and spirit of Yia-yia. I’d love to sit with her over an afternoon cup of kafe and have her read my Greek coffee cup. Even if she didn’t know what she was doing, I’m sure she’d make it up and it would all be magical and perfect and spot on – just like her accent.

As for Daphne, our hardworking, confused, trapped between two cultures single mom, I think Rachel Weisz would be amazing. She’s so beautiful and ethereal, and I mean come on, that girl can act. I’d love to see her tackle the Greek dancing scene; I bet she would dance beautifully.

As for Yianni, the sexy and complicated fisherman - there’s only one choice for me, Alec Baldwin. Besides being a brilliant actor - as well as devilishly handsome, I have my own selfish reasons for wanting Alec on board. Alec’s wife Hilaria is one of my dearest friends and I am desperate to get the Baldwins to come to Greece with me. It would be the ultimate working vacation for our families. Just think of the possibilities, we’d film the movie by day, hang out in tavernas and Greek dance by night and my kids would help babysit baby Carmen. Sounds like the ultimate working vacation to me.
Learn more about the book and author at Yvette Corporon's website.

Writers Read: Yvette Manessis Corporon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ann Weisgarber's "The Promise"

Ann Weisgarber is the author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. She lives in Sugar Land, Texas, close to Renée Zellweger’s hometown.

Here Weisgarber dreamcasts an adaptation of The Promise:
True confessions. I’m not up on the latest when it comes to movie stars. But when I was writing The Promise, a novel set in Galveston, Texas, in 1900 at the time of a historic hurricane, I visualized Renée Zellweger as my Nan Ogden character. Nan is rough around the edges, prides herself on being self-sufficient, and can’t bear fussy manners. Renée Zellweger played a similar no-nonsense woman in Cold Mountain. Whenever I was stuck, I’d picture Renée Z. waging her finger at me for moaning about writer’s block. “You think you have it hard,” I could hear her saying. “My daddy run off when I wasn’t nothing but a little thing and I’ve just wrung the neck of a chicken for supper. Try that for hard.”

My Nan character has a very different life story but she’s not above a little finger wagging. Renée Zellweger could slip into the role just fine. It also helps that she’s from Katy, Texas, a two-hour drive from Galveston.

Nicole Kidman was my image for the other narrator, Catherine Wainwright. Catherine is a college-educated pianist who guards her feelings. You might call her buttoned up. She’s also a well-mannered beauty whose smile charms men. Nicole Kidman has played several period piece roles where she’s a gracious but cool woman who struggles to keep up appearances. When writing The Promise, I visualized Nicole Kidman sitting on the edge of a parlor chair with her back straight and her chin up while holding a tea cup with her little finger out. This is my Catherine. Miss Kidman, the role is yours.

The other main character in The Promise is Oscar Williams, a dairy farmer who marries Catherine. I didn’t have an image of an actor in mind for him since he sprang from my imagination. But that’s not a problem. We’ll have a casting call. Somewhere, there’s an aspiring actor waiting for a break. The Promise might be it.

All we need is a producer and a director, and we’re ready to go to production!
Visit Ann Weisgarber's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Janie Chodosh's "Death Spiral"

Janie Chodosh is a scientist wannabe and a naturalist. She has spent the last decade teaching high school English and middle school science. When not writing or obsessing about writing, Chodosh can be found with her family in various outdoor pursuits including bird watching, rock climbing, or trying to grow a garden in the arid southwest. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her daughter, stepson, and husband.

Here Chodosh dreamcasts an adaptation of Death Spiral, her first novel:
If they make my book into a film here’s who I’d like to play the leads:

Faith, the protagonist of Death Spiral, is the sixteen-year-old daughter of a dead heroin addict who describes herself as “too brown to be white and too white to be brown.” Faith is resourceful and grounded despite the rough life she’s led. She dreams of going to college and of studying to become a scientist. She is independent and does what it takes to get by. After seeing the movie Winter’s Bone I thought Jennifer Lawrence, as tough and self-sufficient Ree Dolly, would make a perfect Faith, except for one fact: Jennifer Lawrence is white.

Faith Flores, having never met her father, likes to imagine that she has Indian blood, that her father was Mayan or Cherokee. Iroquois maybe. In book two she discovers her father was Mexican, and she starts on a quest to learn more about her roots. I envision the leading role of Faith Flores being played by someone with Spanish/Mexican heritage. The indie actress, (whose paternal roots are from Spain) Paz de la Huerta, comes to mind. At this point Ms. de la Huerta is too old to play a sixteen-year-old, but if I envision a younger Ms. de la Huerta in the role of Faith. Ms. de la Huerta, who had roles in such films as A Walk to Remember, Riding in Cars with Boys, and Cider House Rules as Tobey Maguire’s girlfriend, has an offstage persona of a combat-boot-wearing, rebellious, urban, and independent young woman, characteristics that embody the tenacious, young Faith Flores.

For Faith’s love interest, the honest, energetic, new boy at school, Jesse Scheneider, it’s all about the chemistry between the actors. Faith, having experienced a life of broken promises, has major trust issues. She and Jesse move between bickering, sharing deep secrets, running around downtown Philly, solving a mystery, and ultimately caring deeply about each other. Yet Jesse, despite his fearless exterior, has a hidden side that can’t quite break free from Doc, his overbearing MD/PhD father, and his expectations. I would cast Ansel Elgort, who plays the leading role of Augustus Waters in the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars (summer 2014), as Jesse. Like Jesse, Augustus is energetic, bold, and not afraid to speak his mind, yet on another level he is very afraid. From the trailers and interviews I’ve seen, Mr. Elgort gives a nuanced performance that conveys his love for a dying girl for and the depth of his inner battles.

While Faith and Jesse take center stage, Anj, Faith’s one friend at school, (and maybe, as Faith muses, her one friend anywhere), plays an important secondary role. Though throughout much of the story, Anj is more interested in her Scottish exchange student boyfriend and in her various social campaigns (end factory farming! Stop world hunger! Indigenous rights now!) she shows up in a critical way at the end of the book and helps to solve the mystery and bring down the villain. I give the role of Anj to Abigail Breslin, a versatile actress who can play bubbly and carefree (Little Miss Sunshine) and intense, pissed off, and focused (August, Osage County).

Toni Collette would make a fantastic Aunt T, Faith’s beloved aunt who takes in Faith after her mother’s death. As for the scientists and professors who populate the mystery, I see the versatile Chris Cooper as Dr. Glass, Steve Buscemi as Dr. Wydner, a younger Laura Dern as Dr. Monroe, and a younger Viggo Mortensen as the Rat Catcher. And there we have it. There’s just one question: When can we start filming?
Visit Janie Chodosh's website.

Writers Read: Janie Chodosh.

The Page 69 Test: Death Spiral.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Daniel Levine's "Hyde"

Daniel Levine studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Brown University and received his MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Florida. He has taught composition and creative writing at high schools and universities, including the University of Florida, Montclair State University, and Metropolitan State College of Denver. Originally from New Jersey, he now lives in Colorado.

Here Levine dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Hyde:
Hyde is my retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, from the supposedly villainous Hyde’s point of view. There have been many film versions of the story, but most productions I’ve seen portray Hyde as an ape-like beast, with heavy make-up and snaggled teeth. I would love to see a movie handle the Jekyll/Hyde distinction as the original 1887 theatrical production did: the actor, Richard Mansfield, simply changed his manner, his voice, his posture, his entire physical characterization.

I wrote Hyde rather cinematically, trying to imagine how each scene might be framed on the screen, how an actor would display a particular emotional state or reaction. For the title role, it’s hard to imagine anyone better than the brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis. In real life he seems to be a quietly spoken, gentle, thoughtful, intelligent man, and we have seen him play the mannered gentleman in Age of Innocence, The Crucible, Lincoln, even The Last of the Mohicans. Yet DDL can conjure a terrifying ferocity, as witnessed in perhaps his most memorable roles, Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York and Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood. There are a few other actors who I think could capture the proper restraint of Jekyll and the cringing animality of Hyde: Ralph Fiennes, (a younger) Jeremy Irons, Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, ( a slightly older) Michael Fassbender.

As for John Utterson, Jekyll’s friend and solicitor and the steely investigator of the whole mystery, I can see Tom Wilkinson, with his fleshy hangdog face and stern, shrewd gaze. Kenneth Branagh might beautifully take on Hastie Lanyon, Jekyll’s vulnerable, grieving, alcoholic doctor friend. Ian McKellan would make a wonderful Sir Danvers Carew, the clever, cunning, white-haired MP who discovers Jekyll’s terrible secret. Stanley Tucci might play, somewhat unexpectedly, an excellent Poole, Jekyll’s sleek, subdued, endlessly loyal butler who knows far more than he lets on.

Georgiana and Jeannie, Jekyll’s and Hyde’s doomed “romantic” interests, make for interesting casting; they should indirectly resemble each other yet be separated by about 20-30 years in age. Emily Mortimer, with her sweet, shy, slightly awkward grace, could play a tender Georgiana. And I think Emma Watson—arch, pert, sexy, yet still trailing the innocence of Hermione Granger—could put a titillating spin on Hyde’s young prostitute, Jeannie.

Who to direct this dream cast? David Fincher, with his slick grasp of the dark and grisly would give the film a gorgeously gritty edge. But I would love to see David Cronenberg’s interpretation. He seems to have an interest in metamorphosis and twinship, as evidenced by his masterfully horrifying The Fly and Dead Ringers, and he knows the grand, sooty look of London, as we saw in Eastern Promises.
Visit Daniel Levine's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Hyde.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 7, 2014

Max Watman's "Harvest"

Max Watman is the author of Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventures in Moonshine and Race Day: A Spot on the Rail with Max Watman. Raised in the mountains of Virginia and the kitchens of Washington DC, he currently lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife and son.

Here Watman shares some ideas on an adaptation of his new book:
Harvest: Field Notes from a Far-Flung Pursuit of Real Food, the movie, would go something like this:

INT. Office. Overflowing bookshelves, a farm table desk, notes and scraps of paper pinned to the walls next to paintings and bull horns. MAX WATMAN sits at a desk piled with books and notebooks. He’s typing. We see the screen and it says, “Can I raise a steer in my yard?” He rocks back in his desk chair and laughs, pours himself a drink and walks out the door.

EXT. Backyard of a small house in a quaint village. Max squints across his tenth of an acre as if it were a ranch. He proceeds to pace off the yard, making notes.

Then the credits roll. Max is sticking wire flags in the ground. I would like the music to be loud. It’s probably quite costly and not an easy thing to buy songs from the Rolling Stones, but since this is imaginary, let’s just go ahead and blast “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”

The credits would be in a simple font, in a bright color that leaps off the grass background of the yard, shot from above.

As Max Watman: Donald Sutherland. He’d play me in the style of his brilliant Hawkeye Pierce. Remember? Sipping a martini and explaining that he has no olives because: “We do have to make some concessions to the war, we’re three miles from the front line.” Sharp humor in the face of adversity, bemused. Shambolic, vaguely professorial, surprisingly competent.

So it’s Donald Sutherland who is pacing off his yard while “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” is blasting at something like 100db.

Barbra Stanwyck plays Rachael, my wife, as she played Jean Harrington in The Lady Eve. She’s withering, sharp, rapid fire, beautiful, and smarter than anyone in the room. It seems that she’s hard, but she’s got a soft spot a mile wide. “Alright, Hopsy,” she says, teasingly, to Henry Fonda after he tells her that he hated the nickname. She wasn’t really afraid of the snake in his room, after all, that was just an act.

C. Russell Muth, the Dean Moriarty to my Sal Paradise, is man of manic enthusiasm. He’d have to be played by an American Icon, comfortable in his skin, ready to dive into the water. Smoothly good with a gun and a fishing rod. He’s Brad Pitt. Asked a ridiculous question (see Oceans 11) he doesn’t miss a beat. He’ll be drawing on his role as a Filson billboard in A River Runs Through It, and his aggressive wiry competence in Snatch.

The credits end by billing my son, whose role in the book is irreplaceable: “and introducing West Watman as himself.”

INT. People crowded around a table, glasses of whiskey and wine. They are eating enthusiastically, grabbing more from the platters arrayed on the table. “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” is still playing, now on the stereo in the house, the band starts the bossa nova Santana solo that Mick Taylor improvised. The dinner guests are all talking at once, laughing loudly over one another, interrupting their stories. The camera is rolling on real life. Directed by Robert Altman.
Visit Max Watman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Helen Wan's "The Partner Track"

Helen Wan is an author and lawyer. Her debut novel The Partner Track, recently published by Macmillan, is the subject of a recent Washington Post Magazine cover story.

Wan practiced law in New York City for fifteen years before becoming a novelist. A graduate of Amherst College and Virginia Law, she is a frequent guest speaker on advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and is now at work on a second book. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her family.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel The Partner Track:
The Partner Track is the story of an ambitious young Asian American woman competing for partnership at a high-stakes international law firm. It’s about how sex, race, class, and outsider status impact people’s lives as they climb the American corporate ladder.
Since my novel’s publication, I’ve been invited to speak at a great many Fortune 100 corporations, law firms, universities, and other places around the country, and always, during the audience Q&A, someone asks, “So when’s the movie coming out?” This leads to a fun, sometimes heated, Audience Participation Casting Game for the book, which I’m happy to summarize below (along with my own Wish List):

First, in my ideal fantasy world, the TV or film adaptation of The Partner Track would be written and produced by the amazing Shonda Rhimes. No one is better at telling authentic workplace stories with ensemble casts who actually look and talk like real people in the modern world. I love everything she touches. I’d believe anything she told me.

Ingrid: It’s hard to talk about who’d play Ingrid without discussing the casting conundrum presented by any story with an Asian American protagonist. “Lucy Liu!” someone always calls out from the audience (a little smugly, as if they are the first person ever to have thought of this). Now I’m a Lucy Liu fan -- and think it’s brilliant there’s an Asian American Dr. Watson -- but it’s pretty hard to think of someone else at this point, isn’t it? Sadly, there are still precious few Hollywood roles for Asian Americans, at least substantive ones that don’t require feigning a foreign accent or playing a prostitute, chess geek, martial arts expert, etc. Young Asian American actors who have read my book are reaching out to me over Facebook to pitch themselves for a role. “Dear Ms. Wan: There are NO roles for strong, kick-ass Asian Americans in a realistic and contemporary urban American story! PLEASE MAKE YOUR BOOK INTO A MOVIE!” From your lips to God’s ears, guys. You’ll be the first to know.

So I see the role of Ingrid herself as a major breakthrough opportunity. I’d love to see a brilliant young newcomer in this starring role.

Murph: Murph is, in many ways, the male version of Ingrid: someone who appears to have life by the balls, but under the veneer teems with self-doubt that he disguises very, very well. So the actor who portrays Murph can’t just be any old Regular Medium-Sized Hawt Guy. He’s got to possess a nervy kind of cutthroat edge that only surfaces once in a great while, but when it does, watch out. A Sex Lies and Videotape-era James Spader would have been perfect. These days, there are two equally viable ways to cast Murph: He can be either Obvious Hot (Bradley Cooper or Ryan “Hey girl, sorry my shirt fell off” Gosling) or Thoughtful Hot (Ed Norton or, again, Ryan “Hey girl, let’s snuggle and reread some Betty Friedan” Gosling). Either could be done to brilliant effect. (By the way, I recently witnessed two young women at a book event arguing the relative merits of who would be the more perfect Murph – Bradley or Ryan. Ha!)

Marty Adler: Someone in the audience always yells out Michael Douglas for Marty Adler. I can definitely see that, but I’d also love to see what the role could be in the hands of someone less familiar to audiences in a corporate shark role, like Peter Riegert.

Tyler: I’d love to see Mekhi Phifer in this role; he’d bring the right intensity to Tyler. And I realize Donald Glover is known for comedy, but he’s crazy talented and I’d be curious to see what he could do with this character, something totally different.

Hunter: Seann William Scott for the perfect brand of comic relief.

Cameron Alexander: Megan Fox. Someone who’s not just beautiful but acutely aware of who they are and how they got there.

While I’m at it, I’d love a really savvy, trend-setting soundtrack for this movie. Something with the sensibility of Girls; it’s so smart the way Lena Dunham uses music on her brilliant show. This soundtrack should shine a big spotlight on female musical artists with edge – when I allow myself to daydream about Ingrid’s story unfolding onscreen, I always hear the music of M.I.A., Santigold, Mala Rodriguez, etc. This is very much a Thinking Woman’s GRRRL Power movie, dedicated to working women everywhere, but especially to women of color, whose work stories you don’t often see dramatized. Think a modern update to the movie Working Girl, with a cast that finally reflects the changing dynamics of how we live and work now.
Learn more about the book and author at Helen Wan's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hazel Gaynor's "The Girl Who Came Home"

Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer in Ireland and the U.K. and was the recipient of the Cecil Day Lewis Award for Emerging Writers in 2012. Originally from North Yorkshire, England, she now lives in Ireland with her husband, two young children, and an accident-prone cat.

Here Gaynor dreamcasts an adaptation of The Girl Who Came Home, her first novel:
It’s almost impossible to imagine The Girl Who Came Home as a movie, because that pesky James Cameron got there first (and Roy Ward Baker before him)! Is there room in this world for another Titanic movie we ask? Quite possibly – yes, but it would be a very brave director who took that one on!

That said, I have, of course, (as I imagine most writers do at one stage or another) imagined my scenes being played out on the big screen, accompanied by a sweeping John Williams’ score. And yes, I also see Oscar nominations. What to wear? What to wear? In actual fact, while I was writing my novel (and unbeknown to me at the time), a TV documentary was being made about the people who inspired the novel. Waking the Titanic was aired on Irish TV channel TG4 to coincide with the Titanic centenary in April 2012 and tells the story of the Addergoole Fourteen. Watching that documentary was like seeing my words come to life and was a very special moment.

While some of The Girl Who Came Home would clearly have to filmed on Titanic (I wonder if Cameron still has that replica he built in New Mexico?), much of the action takes place away from the ship, so yes, there is scope for a movie version after all. Fox, Warner Brothers – I am available for discussions!

Oddly, I have never imagined a modern cast list for the movie version of The Girl Who Came Home (sorry Leo and Kate). I actually think the only way to ever do another Titanic movie, would be to shoot it as a classic 1950’s, hopelessly romantic, black and white epic. Think of the look and feel of The Artist, crossed with the brilliance of It’s A Wonderful Life. Now that’s a movie I would love to see!

For the cast, my leading ladies would have to be a young Maureen O’Hara as Maggie in 1912 and an older Katherine Hepburn as Maggie in 1982. Séamus would be played by a young Spencer Tracy and Jimmy and Grace would be played by James Stewart and Donna Reed. For the rest of the characters, I would pretty much take the cast of It’s A Wonderful Life and re-cast them in my movie. Gloria Grahame (who played the role of Violet in It’s a Wonderful Life would make an excellent Peggy).

In terms of a director, I’d be happy to talk to Michel Hazanavicius, who directed The Artist or, if he wasn’t available, maybe Ang Lee. It would also be interesting to see what Baz Luhrmann would do with it!

Of course, the scenes in Ireland would have to be filmed on location in Mayo and Cork and I am quite sure my children would insist on it being made in 3D – with a few minions thrown in for good measure.

Ah, pipe dreams. Fun to imagine, all the same.
Visit Hazel Gaynor's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl Who Came Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

David Oppegaard's "And the Hills Opened Up"

David Oppegaard is the author of the Bram Stoker-nominated The Suicide Collectors, Wormwood, Nevada, The Ragged Mountains and And the Hills Opened Up. Oppegaard’s work is a blend of science fiction, literary fiction, horror, and fantasy. He lives in St. Paul, MN.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of And the Hills Opened Up:
I think And the Hills Opened Up would make a great movie. A horror-western crossover, I sometimes pitch the novel as HBO’s Deadwood meets a classic Stephen King town under siege novel. A large cast of characters do battle with an unearthed demon in an 1890’s mining town.

That said, I’d love to see what Deadwood’s creator/producer David Milch would do with it. Music would be produced by T-Bone Burnett, who recently did such a great job with True Detective. Bryan Cranston would make a kickass Hank Chambers, the mining company foreman. The outlaw Elwood Hayes could be played by an unknown hero in the making. Jake Gyllenhaal would be a good Milo Atkins, the inexperienced town sheriff. Charlize Theron would make a fantastic Ingrid Blomvik, the widowed whore hailing from Minnesota. Her blue eyes cut right through you. Christoph Waltz (the evil Nazi in Inglourious Basterds) would be a glorious Revis Cooke, the murderous weirdo who represents the interests of the Dennison Mining Company. Finally I’d love to sneak Bill Murray into a minor role, simply because I love him so much. Let’s give him Leg Jameson, who owns the camp store.

Damn. This would be great! Somebody make some calls already.
Visit David Oppegaard's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Suicide Collectors.

The Page 69 Test: Wormwood, Nevada.

The Page 69 Test: And the Hills Opened Up.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Elisa Ludwig's "Pretty Sly"

Elisa Ludwig enjoys writing about teen outlaws, even though she herself has never been one. Pretty Sly is her second novel and the sequel to Pretty Crooked. She lives in Philadelphia, where she is hard at work on the third installment of Willa Fox's adventures.

Here Ludwig dreamcasts an adaptation of Pretty Sly:
I'd love to see an actress with a bit of an edge take on the role of Willa Fox, who is after all, a teen outlaw living on her wits as she crosses the country to look for her mother. One of my top choices would be Kiernan Shipka. On Mad Men she does such a great job of playing a teen caught up in her parents' drama. I think she'd capture Willa's bubbliness and naivete but also bring intelligence and resourcefulness to the part.

As for Aidan, Willa's bad boy love interest, I think someone like Nick Robinson would be great. He's a smooth character with the kind of charming smile that could convince a girl to bring him on a road trip. At the same time, I think he could handle the mysterious aspects of Aidan—all the secrets lurking under the surface.
Visit Elisa Ludwig's website and view the trailer for Pretty Sly.

The Page 69 Test: Pretty Sly.

--Marshal Zeringue