Monday, August 18, 2014

Stephan Eirik Clark's "Sweetness #9"

Stephan Eirik Clark was born in West Germany and raised between England and the United States. He is the author of the short story collection Vladimir's Mustache. A former Fulbright Fellow to Ukraine, he teaches English at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

Here Clark dreamcasts an adaptation of his newly released debut novel, Sweetness #9:
The character of David Leveraux came to me fully-formed. Even before I knew that he would fail to blow the whistle on a potentially dangerous new artificial sweetener, I could hear his washed-out English accent and see his neatly parted hair. Even before I knew he'd have a family that would inherit the same side-effects he first observed while testing that artificial sweetener on rats and monkeys, I could see him flashing a polite smile and feel his eagerness to please.

What I didn't ever picture when imagining David was a movie star, not in the beginning at least. David was always just David, and thankfully so. If I had started out picturing an actor in his place, that actor's personality and style of speech would have taken control. That actor would have become my character.

Instead, the reverse happened. I only started to cast Sweetness #9 in my mind when the novel was all but finished. By then, David was safely on the page, so I could entertain thoughts about who might best play him.

David works as a flavor chemist and lives in New Jersey, but he grew up in England and still has an accent that suggests as much. His personality is also more English than American, or at least what we used to think of as English. You know, a stiff upper lip, his emotions in check, his greatest efforts at control and restraint.

I'd trust an American like Steve Carell with the part, but I'd prefer to see a Brit take it on: Michael Sheen would be good, but because the story is a comic one, I think Steve Coogan -- with a proper haircut -- might be best.
Visit Stephan Eirik Clark's website.

--Marshal Zeringue