Saturday, November 29, 2014

E.B. Moore's "An Unseemly Wife"

E. B. Moore grew up in a Pennsylvania fieldstone house on a Noah’s ark farm. The red barn stabled animals two-by-two, along with a herd of Cheviot sheep. After a career as a metal sculptor, she returned to writing poetry. Her chapbook of poems, New Eden, A Legacy (Finishing Line Press, 2009), was the foundation for her novel, An Unseemly Wife, both based on family stories from her Amish roots in Lancaster. E. B. received full fellowships to The Vermont Studio Center and Yaddo. She is the mother of three, the grandmother of five, and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Here Moore dreamcasts an adaptation of An Unseemly Wife:
An Unseemly Wife tells the story of Ruth and her land-obsessed husband, Aaron. He tore his family from a Pennsylvania farm, and against their Amish faith (they should have stayed separate), headed for Idaho in the mid-1800s where he believed great tracts of free land waited. Ruth, being a week overdue with their fifth child, resisted.

Never the less, Aaron loaded his enormously pregnant wife and four children, ranging in age from eleven down to three-year-old Esther, into a Conestoga wagon for the 2000-mile trek. On the trail, temptation abounded as the family faced prejudice and a myriad of ways to die.

Their survival depended on being part of the dreaded English community. The self-proclaimed moral leader of the group, Hortence, wore grey, not the fancy colors of other women, and as a preacher’s wife she seemed like-minded, if a bit overbearing. Another who crowded Ruth’s boundaries was Sadie a loud young woman dressed in men’s fringed pants and jacket. Dependence brought them both close, and forbidden friendships with English happened. They grew, even flourished, until prejudice and jealousies lead to betrayal, and the separateness Ruth believed would save their souls, proved catastrophic. This left the family abandoned on the trailside fighting for their lives.

In writing these characters, I tried to become each one, but being an actor wasn’t for me. No cameras, not even an author photo on the book’s cover.

Now, encouraged to think of the book as a movie, I find the actors with names and faces I know are too long in the tooth, basically too old or too dead. However, if they were alive and the right age, I’d cast Gregory Peck (seen in To Kill A Mockingbird). He’d make a perfect Aaron, capable of great devotion and steely anger when crossed. Meryl Streep (in Sophie’s Choice) could play Ruth, her children’s lives at stake as she’s torn between obeying her husband and obeying her faith. No matter which way she turns there’s no avoiding catastrophe.

Esther, the feisty child nearing her fourth birthday, wields a sharp intuition for survival. She could be played by Helen Mirren at that tender age. Then there’s Hortence, heavy set, friendly by all appearances, but prone to underhanded acts. Kathy Bates (Misery) has the required wickedness.

As a director, Lisa Cholodenko (Olive Kitteridge) would be great, following a script by Jane Anderson (Olive Kitteridge). They have the unflinching grit I’d like to see attached to An Unseemly Wife.
Visit E.B. Moore's website.

The Page 69 Test: An Unseemly Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ann Purser's "Suspicion at Seven"

Ann Purser's latest Lois Meade mystery is Suspicion at Seven.

Here the author shares some ideas for the above-the-line talent to adapt the series for the big screen:
Benedict Cumberbatch as Inspector Cowgill, or any other character that would suit BC`s chameleon-like talents.

And Steven Spielberg to direct, in the hope that he would not have read anything like Suspicion at Seven and might enjoy making it into a movie.
Learn more about the book and author at Ann Purser's website.

The Page 69 Test: Found Guilty at Five.

Writers Read: Ann Purser.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Todd Moss' "The Golden Hour"

Todd Moss, formerly the top American diplomat in West Africa, draws on his real-world experiences inside the U.S. Government to bring to life the exhilaration—and frustrations—of modern-day foreign policymaking. His new novel, The Golden Hour, was originally inspired by the August 2008 coup d’état in Mauritania when Todd was dispatched by Secretary Condoleezza Rice to negotiate with the junta leader General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

Moss is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and has taught at the London School of Economics (LSE) and at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He holds a PhD from SOAS and a BA from Tufts University. Moss is currently Senior Fellow and Chief Operating Officer at the Center for Global Development, a think-tank in Washington DC.

Here Moss dreamcasts an adaptation of The Golden Hour:
I get this question a lot, which hopefully means readers believe The Golden Hour would make a terrific movie. Judd Ryker is not your typical gun-wielding thriller hero. He’s a 30-something soft-spoken professor on leave from Amherst College who arrives at the State Department armed with data and ideas. Judd’s a nerd who’s much more comfortable with numbers than people, but as a diplomat, this is a problem he needs to quickly overcome. (I know a lot of successful people like this—they are brilliant analysts, but they could work on their people skills!) Jake Gyllenhaal would be perfect.

More interesting is who would play his wife, Jessica? She’s a scientist, a mom, and Judd’s rock. I originally wrote the character with Liya Kebede in mind, so I think she would be ideal.
Visit Todd Moss' website.

Writers Read: Todd Moss.

The Page 69 Test: The Golden Hour.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 24, 2014

Elizabeth Kadetsky's "The Poison that Purifies You"

Elizabeth Kadetsky is the author of the memoir First There Is a Mountain (Little Brown), a novella (On the Island at the Center of the Center of the World), and the story collection The Poison that Purifies You. She lives in New York City’s East Village and in State College, Pennsylvania, and her works in fiction, memoir, personal and lyric essay, and long form narrative journalism have been published widely.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Poison that Purifies You:
The twenty main characters in The Poison that Purifies You abide by the David Mitchell/Wachowski Brothers principle, also known as the Vertigo principle: a core of actors plays multiple roles. Also, time collapses which in this case allows for actors from past and present to co-exist in the same collection and even story. And, of course, race is no object—characters’ hair color and ethnicity easily shift. Since Hitchcock has been evoked, casting begins with Kim Novak, and to match eras loosely, she plays alongside Jon Voight, in his Midnight Cowboy iteration, in the short story “Loup Garou.” Novak, hair curled and dyed black, plays the part-native French Canadian former waitress Cecile. Jon Voight plays across from her as John, who, in the writing was named for, yes, Jon Voight. He wears tight white jeans, a cowboy hat and a Western snap shirt and drinks straight from Cecile’s whiskey glass in a strip club. Need more be said? Any film casting of which I have a part starts with Idris Elba, of the tweet “Idris Elba ain't help you look for your phone for 20 min even tho it was just in your purse like it always is. I. Did. That.” Since The Poison doesn’t actually depict any African American (or Afro British) characters, Idris plays the Italian–American Angelo, now renamed Angel, in “Geography,” the war vet/love interest who is the collection’s one leading man. Let’s just say it’s an inimitable chick flick role. Also important in all casting by me is multiple appearances by Gael García Bernal, of Mexico. The collection goes to Guatemala, but Bernal’s starring leads take place in India, where he plays the male “femme fatale” (“homme fatal”?) Rohit, an Indian Muslim impersonating a Hindu who lures Jack through beauty and gay seduction into a kidnapping trap. He also plays Ganesh, an illiterate sweeper, in “Il Negro”—set in India—alongside Om Puri as Arun and Andy Garcia as the Italian Milo. Judy Davis, with multiple hairstyles and at multiple life stages, plays the collection’s several unreliable-narrator female characters: bicycle messenger Allison; baby-thief Maria; skin-on-fire college professor Naomi. Davis is qualified by her hair, and though this appears died, straightened, French braided and otherwise coiffed, its dominant trait is its Medusa–like wildness. Since the Vertigo/Cloud Atlas principle might also be considered the Dr. Strangelove principle, Peter Sellers appears in cameo, dressed in his War Room aspect. He is the love interest/antagonist Hank in “Dermagraphia,” a college professor who lives in his past and who, like Sellers, morphs from benevolent to menacing to forever undermine the narrator’s grip on reality.
Learn more about the book and author at Elizabeth Kadetsky's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Claire Prentice's "The Lost Tribe of Coney Island"

Claire Prentice was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was working as a journalist in New York when she chanced upon an old black and white photograph of a group of tribespeople wearing g-strings. She knew from the moment that she set eyes on them that she had to uncover the real story of the tribespeople in the picture.

Here Prentice dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century:
On March 29, 1905 Dr Truman K. Hunt boarded the RMS Empress of China at Hong Kong Harbor, bound for Vancouver. Hunt was almost forty, a medical man from Iowa who had served as Lieutenant-Governor of the remote Bontoc region of the Philippines. And he wasnʼt traveling alone. With him were 50 Bontoc Igorrotes, tribesmen, women and children from the far north of the Philippines.

Ahead of them lay 20 days and nights at sea. And when they arrived on dry land they had another vast journey ahead of them, this time by train. It would take them across the United States to their new home, Coney Island. There, among the fairground rides and ʻfreak shows,ʼ the Igorrotes would perform a distorted sideshow version of their tribal life for the public who paid a quarter to gawk at the “dog eating, head hunting savages” [these were their managerʼs words]. Within weeks the Igorrotes were the talk of America.

Hunt would be a dream role for a gifted character actor. In fact he was a gifted actor himself. A brilliant self publicist, he sold stories about the Igorrotes to newspapers across the country. A charmer with an eye for the ladies, and the capacity to impose his will by flattery and force of personality, by the end of the summer he shows a darker side to his nature. He is a hero who turns villain, a chancer who believes his own tall tales. It would be a great role for Matthew McConaughey, with his trademark glint in his eye.

There are a number of other juicy parts in the film.

Julio Balinag, the principled, ambitious and dandyish translator is a role made for the talented Filipino Broadway actor Jose Llana, and Iʼd cast Vanessa Hudgens to play Julioʼs wife, Maria. Aljur Abrenica would be great as the popular outspoken tribesman Feloa, who isnʼt afraid to stand up to Truman Hunt.

Frederick Barker is the high minded, dogged and handsome government agent who proves to be Huntʼs nemesis. Far more than just eye candy, the actor who plays him needs depth and has to be someone who would be a convincing opponent for the wily and unscrupulous Truman Hunt. Iʼm casting James McAvoy (a great actor and a fellow Scot). If James McAvoy wasnʼt available, my next call would be to Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Trumanʼs formidable female lawyer Antoinette Funk would be the perfect part for Kathy Bates to get her teeth into, while Tina Fey would make for a charmingly eccentric Baroness Adele von Groyss, the bohemian Austrian society hostess who invites the Igorrotes to perform head hunting dances at her avant garde parties designed to thrill and shock her friends.

Finally, Iʼd love to see Robert Downey Jr and Leonardo DiCaprio respectively as the “Kings of Coney,” Frederic Thompson and Elmer “Skip” Dundy. Talk about dream casting! The movie takes the tribespeople from the wilds of the Northern Philippines to the wilds of Coney Island in the summer of 1905. At the climax Hunt even takes the Igorrotes on the run across America and into Canada by train, pursued by Barker and Pinkerton detectives.

Weʼre talking about a big film which would need a big budget. Now all thatʼs left is to sell
the film rights and find some suitably deep pockets...
Visit Claire Prentice's website. and follow her on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 20, 2014

John Lawton's "Sweet Sunday"

John Lawton has written seven Inspector Troy thrillers, two standalone novels, and a volume of history, and has edited several English writers (Wells, Conrad, D. H. Lawrence) for Everyman Classics. His thriller Black Out won a WH Smith Fresh Talent Award, A Little White Death was named a New York Times notable book, and his latest Troy novel A Lily of the Field was named one of the best thrillers of the year by the New York Times. His recent novels include Then We Take Berlin, the first book to feature Joe Wilderness, and the newly released Sweet Sunday.

Here Lawton dreamcasts an adaptation of Sweet Sunday:
Sweet Sunday? Oddly, I never cast anyone for Raines in the Cinema-of-the-Mind. Only time I have so lapsed. Troy? Easy … James Mason … and I have argued the case for Robert Downey Jr with producers on several occasions to no avail. (Dear Bob, I do hope you’re reading this ... the part is yours for the asking.) Tosca? … Janeane Garofalo to a T.

The parts I cast in this book were mainly the women … Rose is Alex Kingston (ER, Dr Who, Moll Flanders), Althea is Alfre Woodard (First Contact) and perhaps Lois would be Grace Zabriskie … and, sad to say, as fictions never age and actors do ... all of them as they were ten or twenty years ago.

Turner Raines … well, he’s a Texan and perhaps Texas’s most famous actor is Tommy Lee Jones, but TLJ must be my age at least so maybe Texas’s 2nd star actor gets the part … Matthew McConaughey. His rise to fame passed me by (I know, I should get out more) but two US TV dramas (not requiring me to leave the house) have had me by the b*lls this year – Fargo and True Detective, and after the latter I seek out everything McConaughey has ever done. Sahara? Not as bad as is claimed. Lincoln Lawyer, OK. Will anything measure up to the performance he gives in True Detective? Looking up his track record, I realise he played the lawyer in A Time To Kill. Never even clocked his name at the time. But, an aside, … it occurs to me I have never seen a duff film made from a Grisham novel, or for that matter a Stephen King novel. So how come Gorky Park and Fatherland got slaughtered on the silver screen? Hmm….

I’d love to write for Billy Bob Thornton, but I’d be too scared to meet him. I have just seen The Judge, with the Roberts Duvall and Downey … Billy Bob gets a cameo, and the reveal as the camera finally shows you his face plays upon the sheer scare factor Fargo has built up for Billy Bob.

Directors? I’m not sure I could name you a film director since Hitchcock. The ones I liked are mostly dead … eg. Michael Powell, Francois Truffaut … but then, they were also writers … so what did I like about Truffaut? His scripts or his way with his own scripts when he directed them? Dunno … but it brings me, at last, to a director still among the living … Joel Coen … do I like his writing or his directing? No idea.
Learn more about the book and author at John Lawton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Then We Take Berlin.

Writers Read: John Lawton.

The Page 69 Test: Sweet Sunday.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sean Williams's "Crashland"

Sean Williams is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of several novels for adults as well as the coauthor of the middle grade series Troubletwisters with Garth Nix. As a resident of South Australia—which he reports is a lovely place a long way away from the rest of the world—Williams has often dreamed of stepping into a booth and being somewhere else, instantly. This has led to a fascination with the social, psychological, and moral implications of such technology. When not pondering such weighty matters, he can generally be found eating chocolate (actually, he eats chocolate when pondering these matters, too).

Williams's newest book is Crashland, the sequel to Twinmaker.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Crashland:
My usual response to this question is that my main character, Clair, would be played by Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in the first Hunger Games movie. I didn’t have her in mind, but as soon as I saw her I thought “Yes!” Clair is 17, so they’re almost exactly the same age right now. Hurry up, Hollywood!

But I thought this time I’d consider another character, that of Clair’s boyfriend’s father, Dylan Linwood. This would be a challenging role to play. In Twinmaker, he’s a prickly outsider artist who doesn’t get on with Clair at all. And then, um, something happens to him (trying to avoid spoilers here for those who haven’t read the book) and he seems to become a completely different person. He looks the same, if a bit more beaten up than he was before, but he sounds different, acts different, and has very different reasons to try to catch Clair. He’s trying to murder her, in fact. So he goes from boyfriend’s dad to psycho killer overnight, which is bad for everyone.

In Crashland, that tension is ramped up even higher, when Dylan is copied many times over (people can do that in this world, although they’re not supposed to) and his obsession with Clair becomes even more deadly. Then, in Hollowgirl (book three), he’s back to normal, but not necessarily on her side. In fact, you could say that he’s a terrorist. Hard to say if that’s an improvement or not.

So, anyway, an interesting role to play. Who could possibly pull it off?

I was a watching a completely unrelated movie the other night (Mystery Road) when the answer occurred to me: Hugo Weaving.

He’s had experience in this genre, and in The Matrix his character was copied many times, so he’s no stranger to that either. He can do grouchily sympathetic by eyebrow acting alone. And he can do grizzled outsider as well. In short, he’d be brilliant.

And I say this not just because I’m a fellow Australian. He didn’t get to play Elrond by calling in a favour. He’s the real deal, and from now on I’ll picture the character exactly like him.
Visit Sean Williams' website.

The Page 69 Test: Crashland.

Writers Read: Sean Williams.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kaya McLaren's "The Firelight Girls"

Kaya McLaren is the author of Church of the Dog, On the Divinity of Second Chances, How I Came to Sparkle Again, and most recently, The Firelight Girls.

Here McLaren dreamcasts an adaptation of The Firelight Girls:
The Firelight Girls is a story about friendship, forgiveness, and forging paths forward during those times in life when the paths forward are difficult to find. Not only would it make a heartwarming movie, it would be visually breath-taking, set in a summer camp on the shores of beautiful Lake Wenatchee in the mountains of Washington State especially with the touches of color that autumn offers.

Ethel is the 78 year-old former camp director and the central figure of the five main characters. Judi Dench would make a great Ethel, I think. She has soulful eyes. Ethel is grieving for her life partner and grieving for the summer camp that is slipping through her hands, but at her essence, she is a joyful, generous, loving spirit with a lot of maternal energy.

Shirley MacLaine would be perfect as Ruby. Ruby is a bit of a pistol and ran away from her wedding reception back in the mid-fifties after realizing she had made a mistake, and in the present time, she begins a new romance with Ethel’s neighbor, Walt. Shirley MacLaine has the sass and verve needed to pull this role off.

Jennifer Garner has this powerful essence of purity and goodness about her that would make her a great Laura. Laura is all heart. She is at a fork in the road with her marriage and needs to make a choice about whether it’s time to go separate ways with her husband and begin again or whether she needs to figure out a way to reengage and reconnect.

Shannon used to be excessively driven and hyper-competitive as a child, but along the way she mellowed and eventually burned out as a public school teacher, a profession she likens to being married to someone who tells you that you’re ugly and stupid every day. Christina Applegate or Cameron Diaz… someone like that would be the right person for the job… someone with energy and a strong sense of personal power under normal circumstances, and someone who can be intense but still likeable.

Finally, Amber is a fifteen year-old runaway who more or less had raised herself even before she left home. Avalon Robbins might be too young, but I think she could be tough and edgy and extremely vulnerable all at once.

So there you go. Now you’ve got me dreaming of this all-star cast bringing my story to life. Wouldn’t that be fun? Thanks for the opportunity to dream. Enjoy! Maybe because of this blog, one of these actresses will pick up my book, see herself in it, and make this miracle happen.
Visit Kaya McLaren's website.

Writers Read: Kaya McLaren.

The Page 69 Test: The Firelight Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 14, 2014

Benjamin E. Zeller's "Heaven's Gate: America's UFO Religion"

Benjamin E. Zeller is Assistant Professor of Religion at Lake Forest College.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Heaven's Gate: America's UFO Religion:
Heaven’s Gate is really a story about its founders and how they developed a deep spiritual partnership that led them to eventually form their own monastic religious community. Its founders, Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Nettles, were described as having a sense of innate charisma, a sort of intense otherworldliness.

Members and ex-members alike described Herff (as he was called by his friends) as having a magnetic personality and being able to form immediate connections with people. Some said he possessed hypnotic or telepathic abilities. He was also tall, somewhat lanky, and had a caring and fatherly face. I would cast Ed Harris in the role. Remember Harris’s role in The Truman Show as the director Christof, the mastermind behind the operation? That was Herff in Heaven’s Gate.

His spiritual partner Bonnie was described as maternal and caring, but also as a powerful presence who served as sort of mental and spiritual battery for Herff, and then for the group. Ex-members and members have said that she was the center of Heaven’s Gate during her lifetime (she died in 1985). When she walked into a room, people saw in her a sense of quiet power. My choice to play her? Kathy Bates. She possesses the sort of gravitas needed to play Bonnie.

I weave a few other individuals in and out of my narrative as I describe the rise and fall of Heaven’s Gate. Jmmody (his name inside the group) is one of these individuals. He was smart but a bit of a goofball. I would have wanted the late Harold Ramis to play him. Heaven’s Gate wasn’t just a monastic religious community, it was a family. Ex-members have told me that life inside the group was intense but fun at the same time. They were on a collective spiritual journey. Ramis could have captured that.
Learn more about Heaven's Gate at the New York University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Marcus Wynne's "The Sword of Michael"

Marcus Wynne is a charter member of the Been There, Done That Club. He's got all the T-shirts and knows all the secret handshakes. He enjoys poetry, ballet, knife fighting, and serial monogamy with fierce feminists. He is the author of multiple Amazon ebook bestsellers including contemporary thrillers No Other Option, Warrior in the Shadows, Brother in Arms, as well as With a Vengeance, Johnny Wylde, and Air Marshals.

Here Wynne dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Sword of Michael:
Oh man, do I have fun with this! Part of it is my particular writing process…since I also write screenplays, I think in classic three-act structure and it really, really helps me stay focused on a character if I “pre-cast” the characters before hand.

The Sword of Michael is my first foray into urban fantasy, so I spend time thinking about the implications of shamanism and magic on character development. I always consider how background and training and life experience shape a character in everything from how they dress to how they speak, so this was really fun for me to go in a new direction.

I’d want John Logan of Penny Dreadful to adapt The Sword of Michael. He’s one of the great screenwriters we have and expanding his palette into episodic TV with Penny Dreadful has produced some of the best dark television drama of the 21st century (so far).

Marius Winter — He’s a dark guy with a great sense of humor, serious about his Work but not so serious about himself. I really see Clive Owen, the Clive Owen of Sin City, as Marius. While humorous isn’t the first thing that leaps to mind about Owen, I’ve always felt that hidden behind that somber expression is a seriously funny guy. He’d get a chance to work that out with the character of Marius.

Dillon Tracy — for my half-Irish, half-Iranian special operator who’s the Hawk to Marius’s Spencer, I see the one and only Michael Fassbender. Who else right now can capture that gleeful dangerous gleam of a serious fighter…and carry off witty repartee at the same time?

Jolene LaMoore — for Marius’s elegant Wiccan girlfriend, my first thought was Eva Green…with her hair dyed red. She’d kill it (and she’s John Logan’s muse, so it would be a given). She’d bring that smoky dangerous sexuality and dark-sider competence to life in Jolene.

Sabrina Murphy — one and only one candidate for that kick ass biker-chick/Native American medicine woman…Lena Headley. She’s got the poise and the rawness, and she’d rock the back and forth between the medicine woman and the hard-drinking biker chick.

Alternates: Marius — Gerard Butler, Dillon — Tom Hiddleston, Jolene — Jessica Chastain, Sabrina Murphy — Katee Sackhoff.

Movie scouts, pay attention!
Visit Marcus Wynne's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Sword of Michael.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 10, 2014

Renée Rosen's "What the Lady Wants"

As clichéd as it sounds, Renée Rosen is a former advertising copywriter who always had a novel in her desk drawer. When she saw the chance to make the leap from writing ad copy to fiction, she jumped at it. A confirmed history and book nerd, the author loves all things old, all things Chicago and all things written.

Here Rosen dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age:
What the Lady Wants is a novel about a lover’s quadrangle between the Chicago retail tycoon, Marshall Field, his wife, Nannie, his mistress Delia and her husband Arthur Caton.

Given that the story spans more than 30 years, starting with the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and continuing through the death of the Merchant Prince in 1906, we have to take the aging process into account as well as the fact that Field was 20 years older than Delia. So given all that, this is a smattering of who I could see bring these real characters back to life:

Marshall Field: Donald Sutherland, Clint Eastwood, Sam Waterston or Tom Hanks. Picture them with white hair and bushy mustache.

Delia Spencer Caton: Keira Knightley, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet or Cate Blanchett. With the exception of Anne Hathaway, these actresses would all have to go brunette for the role.

Arthur Caton: Ryan Gosling, Matt Damon or Bradley Cooper. That’s all I will say about that role—no spoilers here.

Nannie Field: Glenn Close, Susan Sarandon or Meryl Streep. Nannie was wicked so I’m thinking any one of these ladies could pull that off.
Visit Renée Rosen's website, blog, and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Renée Rosen.

The Page 69 Test: What the Lady Wants.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Robyn Muncy's "Relentless Reformer"

Robyn Muncy is associate professor of history at the University of Maryland. She is the author of Creating a Female Dominion in American Reform, 1890–1935 and the coauthor of Engendering America: A Documentary History, 1865 to the Present.

Here Muncy dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Relentless Reformer: Josephine Roche and Progressivism in Twentieth-Century America:
The central character in Relentless Reformer is the indomitable Josephine Roche, a progressive reformer who achieved political celebrity in the 1930s as a pro-labor and feminist member of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal government.

To play the adult Josephine Roche, I would cast Meryl Streep. Streep has the range and vitality to play this bronco-busting westerner who castigated anyone with no “guts” and at the same time charmed the Washington press corps with her easy grace.

Roche’s dramatic life would give Streep’s versatility full expression. Roche was in 1912 Denver’s first policewoman; in the 1920s, she took over and ran a coal mining company; in the 1930s, she served as the second-highest-ranking woman in the New Deal government; and, as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, she started the conversation Americans are still having about the federal role in health care. She shaped the Social Security Act in 1935 and eventually pioneered managed care in medicine. She remained an activist into the 1970s, when she was, in her 80s, trying to bring down a murderous regime within the United Mine Workers of America, a labor union she had allied with for over 40 years.

Since Roche was active in public life from her teens into her old age, we might need additional actors for earlier moments of Roche’s life. Jennifer Lawrence would certainly do justice to the young Roche, as she pursued higher education at Vassar College and then graduate work in political science at Columbia University. Lawrence would be brilliant as the idealistic graduate student who joined the picket lines with striking garment workers in 1909 and lived in Greenwich Village during its heyday as America’s Bohemia. She would shine in the scenes of Roche interviewing young prostitutes and visiting tenements as she sussed out the effects of sweatshop labor on the hopes and dreams of immigrant girls.

Colin Firth would be terrific in the role of Edward Costigan, an upright Denver attorney and activist, who mentored Roche and was eventually elected to the U.S. Senate. Benedict Cumberbatch might play Edward Hale Bierstadt, Roche’s dashing writer-husband. Because the marriage lasted only two years (1920-1922), this would be a small but interesting role: Bierstadt married Roche when she was his boss! At the time of their impetuous nuptials, Roche was running the Foreign Language Information Service, an organization that helped immigrants navigate American life, and she had hired Bierstadt as her associate director. For marrying a woman who was his employer (in 1920), Bierstadt deserves a moment in the spotlight even though the marriage did not ultimately take.

The most significant male role will be that of John L. Lewis. President of the United Mine Workers of America, Lewis became in the 1930s Roche’s closest political ally, and the two worked hand in glove until Lewis’s death in 1969. Their most important joint project was the United Mine Workers’ Welfare and Retirement Fund, which supported the post-World War II labor movement and provided state-of-the-art medical care to coal miners all over the United States. Lewis was, of course, a titan of organized labor, renowned for his girth, awning-like eyebrows, and blustery speeches. John Goodman would be perfect in the role.

Susan Sarandon will put in a cameo as Eleanor Roosevelt, a great admirer of Roche.

To direct, we need someone who can represent complicated and powerful women with warmth and admiration. Any applicants?
Learn more about Relentless Reformer at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Jamie Malanowski's "Commander Will Cushing"

Jamie Malanowski has written for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times. His books include And the War Came, about America’s six-month-long descent into war after Lincoln’s election, and the newly released Commander Will Cushing: Daredevil Hero of the Civil War.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Commander Will Cushing:
My book is about a little-remembered hero of the Civil War, a brash, rebellious, instinctual naval officer named Will Cushing. A midshipman at Annapolis, Will managed to so infuriate the administration with his antics and his underachievement that he was expelled on the slenderest of pretexts a mere two months before he was to graduate. Fortunately for Cushing, war broke out, and an almost fully-trained officer was too valuable a commodity to discard. The navy took him in, and soon he began developing a record that showed him to be courageous, inventive, and a prodigy at behind-the-lines warfare. In his greatest exploit, he led what was generally thought to be a suicide mission to sink the Albemarle, a fearsome confederate ironclad, an act that, in true David vs. Goliath fashion, he accomplished while standing in an open boat.

Who could play Cushing? The contentious, combative, resourceful Steve McQueen of The Great Escape, flying his motorcycle over the barbed wire fences, would have been perfect. The young Paul Newman would have been fine, the young Bruce Willis might have sufficed. Of the current crop of actors, it's a bit hard to pinpoint a perfect fit. For one thing, Cushing had a certain rugged look; pretty boys need not apply. For another, he was very young, 19 when the war began, just 21 when he sank the Albemarle. Men in their thirties just won't do. My current candidates are Taylor Kitsch, who was so impressive in the TV series Friday Night Lights, and the young British actor Eddie Redmayne. I suspect, however, that if you tipped Australia on its side and shook it, a half dozen good candidates would fall out.
Learn more about the book and author at Jamie Malanowski's blog.

Writers Read: Jamie Malanowski.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Louisa Treger's "The Lodger"

Born in London, Louisa Treger began her career as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher.

Treger subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a PhD in English at University College London, where she focused on early twentieth century women’s writing.

Married with three children, she lives in London.

Here Treger dreamcasts an adaptation of The Lodger, her first novel:
When I was invited to do this blog, I jumped at the chance. Surely choosing movie stars for your characters is a game every author plays once in a while?

The Lodger is a biographical novel about the writer, Dorothy Richardson. She was a little-known peer of Virginia Woolf, a lover of H.G. Wells, and a pioneer of a new style of fiction that became known as ‘stream of consciousness’. My novel is set in England in 1906: Dorothy is in her early twenties, existing just above the poverty line, working as a dental secretary, and living in a seedy boarding house in Bloomsbury. She is full of contradictions: torn between being bohemian and being respectable, exulting in her independence but frightened by it, attracted to men and women, wanting close relationships but repudiating them. She has a demure, proper exterior, beneath which turbulent feelings rage. I would choose Mia Wasikowska to play Dorothy, because as Jane Eyre, she excelled at being cool and sedate on the outside, yet passionate at the right moment.

The other main female character is Dorothy’s strikingly beautiful friend, Veronica, who comes from a wealthier background than Dorothy, but is just as rebellious. Veronica becomes involved with the militant suffragette movement: she has the courage to go to prison and endure the horrors of forcible feeding for the sake of her beliefs. She is vibrant, capricious and captivating; I think that Rachel Weisz would portray every one of her qualities to perfection.

For the role of H.G. Wells, I am torn – Russell Brand? Johnny Depp? I need a male lead with a working class edge; someone able to portray a man who pulled himself out of poverty through sheer intellect and grit. H.G Wells was a complex character: dynamic, eloquent and fiercely intelligent, yet prone to black moods. He was full of charm and warmth, yet he could let you down in an instant. On reflection, a young Michael Caine would be best suited to the role (it’s is my fantasy, so I can flip backwards and forwards in time, right?) by turns generous and astonishingly selfish, charismatic but a touch vulgar, with a voracious appetite for life, and a growing interest in Dorothy.

I would like Jane Campion to direct because she does period drama to perfection, and she is particularly good at capturing the unspoken tensions and undercurrents that simmer beneath the surface of life.
Visit Louisa Treger's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lodger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Susan McBride's "Very Bad Things"

Susan McBride is the USA Today bestselling author of Blue Blood and four other award-winning Debutante Dropout Mysteries from HarperCollins/Avon, including The Good Girl's Guide To Murder, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, Night Of The Living Deb, and Too Pretty To Die. A sixth title, Say Yes to the Death, will be out in September 2015. McBride has another series with Avon that debuted in May 2014, the River Road Mysteries, starting with To Helen Back and followed by Mad as Helen (July 2014) and Not a Chance in Helen (September 2014).

Here McBride dreamcasts an adaptation of her young adult thriller, Very Bad Things:
Oh, how I would love to see what a director could do with Very Bad Things, considering the story unravels from three different character’s points of view, one of whom may be a killer. I’d vote for Chris Columbus to take it on as I think he did an amazing job with the first two Harry Potter films. Casting the movie would be a challenge as I haven’t really seen much TV or film in the past two or three years because of book deadlines and having a baby (now a full-fledged, tantrum-throwing toddler—yay!). But I did some sleuthing online and spied a few faces that might work.

This guy would make a perfect Mark Summers: Nicholas Hoult, the ex-boyfriend of Jennifer Lawrence. He might have to lighten his hair, but I read that he’s 6’ 3” so I could picture him as the hockey jock that steals Katie’s heart and was the last to see Rose Tatum alive.

As for Katie Barton…hmm, my first instinct is Shailene Woodley. Katie’s pretty, but not a great beauty. She loves poetry and she’s a little shy, but she’s way stronger than people think. Figuring out what happened to Rose and who did it definitely tests her mettle.

The character I’m finding hardest to cast is Tessa Lupinski. She’s Katie’s best friend—and no friend of Mark’s—and she’s small but mighty. She’s suffered a lot so she’s put up a wall around herself. Because of that, other students at Whitney Prep think she’s a bit of a bitch. Maybe Elizabeth Olsen could do the part justice, although she’d have to play down her looks.

Okay, I think that’s it. Now to sell the film rights!
Learn more about the book and author at Susan McBride's website.

The Page 69 Test: Little Black Dress.

Writers Read: Susan McBride.

The Page 69 Test: Very Bad Things.

--Marshal Zeringue