Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kate Racculia's "Bellweather Rhapsody"

Kate Racculia grew up in Syracuse, New York, where she played bassoon in her high school band. She received her MFA from Emerson and is the author of This Must Be the Place and the new novel, Bellweather Rhapsody.

Here Racculia dreamcasts an adaptation of Bellweather Rhapsody:
I love movies. They’re a part of how I learned to see the world and to tell stories. I gravitate toward vivid visual and auditory elements in my writing, and I always thought of Bellweather Rhapsody in cinematic terms. It’s a murder mystery-musical in novel form, about music and musicians, and there are orchestral performances, dance numbers and solos.

And characters that I think actors—male and female, old and young—would have a blast bringing to life, starting with the crumbling, possibly haunted Hotel Bellweather itself, which is The Shining’s Overlook by way of the Catskills (think of the set design!). Teenage twins Alice and Bert “Rabbit” Hatmaker come to the Bellweather for Statewide, a weekend conference for student musicians. Alice, a singer, is a diva in her own mind, and Rabbit, who plays bassoon, is painfully shy. I’d cast unknowns with genuine musical talent, like the kids in School of Rock. Their chaperone is their small town band director, Natalie Wink Wilson: a woman with a past, a self-destructive streak, and a .38 in her luggage. She’s a redhead with a dark wit—think Winona Ryder in Heathers with a dash of Dana Scully—and I imagined someone playing against type in the role, an Alyson Hannigan or Emma Stone (in about ten years), or heck, Gillian Anderson herself. The Clyde to Natalie’s Bonnie is Fisher Brodie, a wiry Scot and former piano prodigy turned conductor who can be a right bastard. I wrote the character with David Tennant in mind, though I would, of course, be happy to cast any number of intense British actors in the role (see: Cumberbatch, Benedict; Evans, Shaun). Viola Fabian—acting head of Statewide, who has a tangled past with both Natalie and Fisher—is the main antagonist of the novel: she’s ice-cold and arresting, the kind of woman Rhoda Penmark would grow up to become. I’d love to see what Julianne Moore, hair bleached white, could do with Viola; she’d tear the part to bits, be absolutely terrifying and then turn on a dime and find a tiny hint of confused humanity in her. Harold Hastings is the Bellweather’s steadfast concierge. He’s dignified to the point of stuffiness, proudly attached to his decaying hotel; he fancies himself a Michael Caine-type (and has the glasses to prove it), but I see him as Kevin Kline. For the last two main characters—Minnie Graves, who witnessed the murder-suicide that starts the novel and returns, fifteen years later, to face her fears; and Jill Faccelli, the Statewide prodigy whose disappearance kicks off the weekend—I’d also cast unknowns, or little-knowns. Jill should be another talented young musician. Minnie is a big girl, tall and heavy; she starts out timid and afraid, but never because of her size—her size is always her strength. She’s not the typical female body you see in the movies, and I know there are actresses out there who could play her to the hilt. Imagine if you crossed a younger Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth with Melissa McCarthy as Sookie St. James. She would be unstoppable.
Visit Kate Racculia's website.

Writers Read: Kate Racculia.

The Page 69 Test: Bellweather Rhapsody.

--Marshal Zeringue