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