Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Phillip Margolin's "Woman with a Gun"

Former trial attorney Phillip Margolin has been writing full-time since 1966. All of his many novels have been New York Times bestsellers.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Woman with a Gun:
Woman with a Gun takes place in three time periods. In the present (2015) Stacey Kim, a young woman who has just gotten her MFA, goes to New York City to write the great American novel and develops writer’s block. While on a lunch break from her job as a receptionist she goes to the Museum of Modern Art and sees Kathy Moran’s Pulitzer Prize winning photograph, “Woman with a Gun.” She is mesmerized by the photograph and researches its origin with the idea of writing a novel inspired by the photo. Stacey discovers that the woman standing on the beach in her wedding dress staring out to sea while holding an antique, western six shooter is Megan Cahill. In 2005, Moran found her in shock on the beach in the early morning in the seaside town of Palisades Heights. Moran took the famous photo before leading Megan up to the million dollar beach front home she shared with multi-millionaire Raymond Cahill to whom she was wed only hours earlier. Moran finds Raymond in his den where he has been shot to death. Ten years later the crime has still not been solved.

The novel moves back to 2005 and we meet Jack Booth, a heavy drinking, womanizing Special Prosecutor who has been sent by the Justice Department to help the local DA who is way over his head with this headline making case. It turns out that Jack and Kathy Moran have a history and a good part of the book deals with the rekindling of their steamy relationship while Jack is trying to figure out who killed Raymond Cahill.

As I wrote the scenes with Jack and Kathy I found myself thinking about the old, black and white noir crime movies like The Big Sleep and my favorite, The Maltese Falcon, or their modern equivalents like Body Heat. If Woman with a Gun is ever made into a movie I’d cast Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall as Jack and Kathy. Are they still available or have they retired?
Visit Phillip Margolin's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 28, 2014

John Oller's "American Queen"

John Oller, a lawyer, is the author of four books, including, most recently, American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague—Civil War “Belle of the North” and Gilded Age Woman of Scandal (Da Capo Press, 2014). It has been praised by Pulitzer prize-winning author Debby Applegate as “a terrific work of historical research and reconstruction” which tells “the story of the Civil War and its scandalous aftermath—its assassinations, impeachments and sexual hijinks—from an entirely fresh perspective.”

Here Oller dreamcasts an adaptation of American Queen:
Kate Chase, the beautiful, charismatic daughter of Abraham Lincoln’s treasury secretary, Salmon P. Chase, was the undisputed “Belle of Washington” during the Civil War. A brilliant conversationalist, shrewd political strategist, and “People Magazine” personality a century before People was first published, her goal was to make her widowed father president of the United States and herself his first lady. To that end she set up a rival salon “court” against Mary Lincoln and married one of the richest men in America, the “boy governor” of Rhode Island, in the social event of the Civil War. A fashion plate eagerly followed by readers of the society pages, she adorned herself in the most regal Parisian gowns. But when William Sprague turned out to be less of a prince as a husband, and an economic depression ended his fortune, she found comfort in the arms of a powerful married senator, New York’s Roscoe Conkling. The ensuing sex scandal ended her virtual royalty; she became a social outcast and died in poverty, yet in her final years found both greater authenticity and an inner peace that had always eluded her.

My biography, American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague—Civil War ‘Belle of the North’ and Gilded Age Woman of Scandal, may be riper for a television mini-series (shades of Downton Abbey) than a feature length film. Either way, here are my casting choices for the four main, real-life characters, and some other ideas:

Kate Chase -- The most obvious candidates here would be Anne Hathaway, Kate Beckinsale or Keira Knightley. And I would be thrilled with any of them. But for the “Scarlett O’Hara of the North,” I would do what David O. Selznick did in casting the lead in Gone with the Wind:--go for someone relatively unknown. And so my vote here goes to Joanna Vanderham, a 23-year-old Scottish actress who played the lead in the eight-part BBC costume drama series The Paradise. She’s almost a spitting image of Kate Chase.

William Sprague -- Sprague was a drunk and womanizer and, perhaps, suffered from a mental impairment akin to bipolarism. The project would require someone who can veer from low to high energy. My choice: James Franco.

Salmon Chase -- Kate Chase’s father (a governor, senator, and Supreme Court chief justice in addition to his stint as treasury secretary), was reserved, dignified, and a bit of a cold fish (“Salmon,” get it?). I don’t normally think of Ed Harris in that vein, but then again, Harris can play anyone. And he looks the part.

Roscoe Conkling -- Probably the toughest main character to cast. Conkling was vain, arrogant, a flamboyant dresser—a “peacock” in the words of many. Women loved him for his raw masculinity, well-maintained physique, and low, booming voice. Spaniard Javier Bardem usually plays foreign types, but I’d give him a chance to Americanize himself for a change. He’s certainly got the sex appeal that would give the character credence.

Others -- Someone would have to play Abe and Mary Lincoln, but I don’t think Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field would jump at this one. Liam Neeson, who was originally cast for the Spielberg movie? Holly Hunter for Mary Todd ? As for the likes of Grant, Sherman, Garfield—stick a beard on just about any good actor and you’ve got yourself a supporting character.

Director -- David E. Kelley (The Practice; Boston Legal; Ally McBeal) hasn’t had a good gig in a while. He’s shown he can do wonders with television soap operas that have “procedural” elements (which this could well be). He’d be my choice.
Visit John Oller's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 26, 2014

Craig Nelson's "The Age of Radiance"

Craig Nelson is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Rocket Men, as well as Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations (winner of the Henry Adams Prize), The First Heroes, Let’s Get Lost (shortlisted for W.H. Smith’s Book of the Year), and The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era.

Here Nelson dreamcasts an adaptation of The Age of Radiance:
If The Age of Radiance, a history of the Atomic Age from the birth of X-rays to the meltdown of Fukushima, were made into a movie, a great through line would be to focus on the women. Greer Garson did the American version of Marie Curie, relentlessly saintly and revered, but the reality is a Polish immigrant who arrived in Paris with 2 cents and turned herself into Madame Curie. No one does drive, ambition, and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps like Joan Crawford.

Marie's daughter Irene was no slouch in the drive department - her mom was the first woman to win a Nobel, and she was the second - so Reese Witherspoon.

The completely forgotten woman who discovered fission, Lise Meitner, deserves a big star who can glow while motionless - Angelina Jolie.

Enrico Fermi co-invented the nuclear reactor; his wife Laura resembles Audrey Tatou.

Edward Teller co-invented the hydrogen bomb; his wife Mici could be related to Jane Wyman, and wouldn’t Jane vs. Audrey be great to see onscreen?

Robert Oppenheimer’s wife Kitty was not at all like her rendition in the opera Doctor Atomic, but instead something of a schemer — perfect for goody-two-shoes Norma Shearer. All these women more or less knew each other, if not directly then serially, and most were married to men who were alternately competing and collegial. So there was quite a bit of drama beyond chalk on a blackboard….
Learn more about The Age of Radiance at the Scribner website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nicholas Wapshott's "The Sphinx"

Nicholas Wapshott's books include Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics and Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: A Political Marriage. A former senior editor at the London Times and the New York Sun, he is now international editor at Newsweek.

Here Wapshott dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, The Sphinx: Franklin Roosevelt, the Isolationists, and the Road to World War II:
If they make The Sphinx into a film, here's who I'd like to play the lead role(s):

Franklin Roosevelt: John Lithgow
Winston Churchill: Charles Laughton
Eleanor Roosevelt: Katharine Hepburn
Adolf Hitler: Charles Chaplin (playing it ultra-straight, not as in The Great Dictator, as a buffoon)
King George VI: Ronald Reagan
Joseph Kennedy: Benedict Cumberbatch
Charles Lindbergh: Leonardo di Caprio
Father Charles Coughlin: Claude Rains
William Randolph Hearst: Orson Welles
Henry Ford: Daniel Day Lewis
Walt Disney: Ronald Coleman

The characters in my book were so strong I did not need to imagine who would play them. The trick for a film maker (I would ask Michael “Red Shoes” Powell, or Carol “Third Man” Reed) is to find actors who would be forceful enough to play such powerful characters.

Plainly the person playing FDR is key and while I greatly admired the recent portrayal of him by Bill Murray in Hyde Park on the Hudson to be credible and rich, I feel that Lithgow could add the level of stage theatricality that FDR always seemed to enjoy. FDR was a consummate actor, charming and persuading everyone he was on their side – hence The Sphinx -- and he always played himself to perfection.

The same is true of Churchill and if Laughton were not available (btw he was a fine director; if you only make one movie, The Night of the Hunter would be the one), Anthony Hopkins would do the cigar-chomping, champagne and whiskey swilling prime minister to perfection. Katie Hepburn has the right level of faux Englishness and down-to-earth aristo-confidence to play the greatest American woman who ever lived. Di Caprio has already played the flier Howard Hughes for Marty Scorsese, and his boyish looks would bring Lindbergh to frightening, plausible life. Welles has played Hearst before, but this time we would probably face a thumping great lawsuit for going head on with The Chief. Dan Day Lewis is not only a fine actor, he actually looks like the wretched Ford.

The great thing about this story – and any film that might ensue – is that these are no mere cameo roles: they were big characters playing for the big prize, the future of western civilization no less, and each used the last ounce of their fame, celebrity and personality to stamp themselves on history. Happily the right characters won in the end, but it was a close run thing.

For instance, if The Sphinx were to be a comedy, I might try: FDR – Groucho Marx, Winston Churchill – W.C. Fields, Eleanor – Margaret Dumont, Joe Kennedy – Spike Jones (without his City Slickers), King George VI – Ronald Reagan, Henry Ford -- Edward Everett Horton, Hitler – Charles Chaplin, Charles Lindbergh – Justin Bieber, William Randolph Hearst – Orson Welles, Rose Kennedy – Phyllis Diller... Directed by Billy Wilder.

Thanks for asking me to do this. Enormous fun and a brilliant dinner party game. We used to play it at the London Observer, so that whenever there was a news story with big characters we would cast it, often with hilarious results.
Learn more about The Sphinx at the publisher's website and follow Nicholas Wapshott on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Andrew Hadfield's "Edmund Spenser: A Life"

Andrew Hadfield is Professor of English at the University of Sussex. He is author of a number of works on early modern literature.

Here Hadfield dreamcasts an adaptation of his book, Edmund Spenser: A Life:
I have always wanted to make a film or have a film made of Edmund Spenser’s life, preferably an experimental film that linked his life and works. I think Benedict Cumerbatch should play Edmund Spenser as a tormented, slightly quizzical and disaffected intellectual aware of his own brilliance. Colin Farrell will play Gabriel Harvey, Spenser’s irascible mentor who cannot resist a quarrel but who also has much to offer. Jude Law would be Sir Walter Raleigh, brutal, histrionic and self-regarding, but not without flamboyant abilities even as he slightly patronises Spenser. Elizabeth Olsen will play Machabyas Childe, Spenser’s first wife; Abbie Cornish or Chloe Sevigny, Elizabeth Boyle, the second wife about whom Spenser writes so much and who he clearly valued highly as a woman of substance and a partner. Gillian Anderson will play Elizabeth I, haughty and aloof and aware that time is running out for her. Guy Pearce will play Arthur, Lord Grey de Wilton, the Lord Deputy of Ireland for whom Spenser worked as a secretary, and who was responsible for the notorious Massacre at Smerwick in 1580.

The action will take place principally in London, Dublin and south-west Ireland, and will concentrate on the beautiful but very alien Irish landscape that haunted the poet’s imagination. Some distinguished actors will be required to play significant courtiers and patrons of Spenser – the earls of Essex, Leicester and Worcester; William Cecil, Lord Burghley – as well as other literary figures – Sir Philip Sidney, Thomas Nashe, William Shakespeare – but these will be relatively minor roles in the film. There will need to be a cast of Irish figures as well as the military personnel that Spenser would have known in Ireland, but most of these will be relatively small roles too. The main substance of the film should be limited to the interactions between a relatively small number of characters which would more accurately – and interestingly – represent Spenser’s intense and often quite isolated life. The film should not be a grand costume drama.

I will direct it, even though I have no relevant experience. My Oscar speech is already written.
Learn more about Edmund Spenser: A Life at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 19, 2014

Nina Darnton's "The Perfect Mother"

A journalist for thirty years, Nina Darnton wrote her first novel, An African Affair three years ago.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her recently released second novel, The Perfect Mother:
This is always fun. It is not completely pie-in-the-sky, though perhaps it mostly is, because Susan Tarr, a screenwriter who lives in LA, and I have written a screenplay based on the book. It is currently making the rounds and who knows, maybe we will be lucky enough to actually be doing this exercise for real one day.

For now though, let’s dream. The most important characters to cast are, of course, Jennifer, the mother, Emma, the daughter, Roberto, the Spanish detective, and Mark, the husband. Let’s look at each of them.

Jennifer: Cate Blanchett, because she is wonderful and can do anything, or Claire Danes because she has an edge that Jennifer should have, or maybe Charlize Theron.

Emma: Chloë Grace Moretz, Dakota Fanning or Emma Watson.

Roberto: This one is easy: Javier Bardem (I thought of him when I wrote the book) or Gael Garcia Bernal (another person I thought of as I was writing.)

Mark: Bradley Cooper, Clive Owen or Ethan Hawke.

Okay, now all I can say is from my keypad to God’s ear…
Visit Nina Darnton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lee A. Farrow's "Alexis in America"

Lee A. Farrow is professor of history and distinguished teaching professor at Auburn University–Montgomery.

About her new book, Alexis in America: A Russian Grand Duke's Tour, 1871-1872:
In the autumn of 1871, Alexis Romanov, the fourth son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, set sail from his homeland for an extended journey through the United States and Canada.... Alexis in America recounts the duke’s progress through the major American cities, detailing his meetings with celebrated figures such as Samuel Morse and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and describing the national self-reflection that his presence spurred in the American people.

The first Russian royal ever to visit the United States, Alexis received a tour through post–Civil War America that emphasized the nation’s cultural unity. While the enthusiastic American media breathlessly reported every detail of his itinerary and entourage, Alexis visited Niagara Falls, participated in a bison hunt with Buffalo Bill Cody, and attended the Krewe of Rex’s first Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. As word of the royal visitor spread, the public flocked to train depots and events across the nation to catch a glimpse of the grand duke. Some speculated that Russia and America were considering a formal alliance, while others surmised that he had come to the United States to find a bride.

The tour was not without incident...
Here Farrow dreamcasts an adaptation of Alexis in America:
What a dream come true that would be! Obviously, since my book is nonfiction, I am choosing actors I like who I think look the parts. If my book became a movie, I would want Aaron Taylor-Johnson to play Grand Duke Alexis; Matthew McConaughey to play Custer; Jude Law to play General Sheridan; Matt Bomer to play Buffalo Bill; and, Diane Kruger as Alexandra Zhukovskaya. There would have to be dozens of others, but these would be the main characters.
Learn more about Alexis in America at the LSU Press website.

Writers Read: Lee A. Farrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 15, 2014

Stacy Henrie's "Hope Rising"

Stacy Henrie has always had an avid appetite for history, fiction and chocolate. She earned her B.A. in public relations from Brigham Young University and worked in communications before turning her attentions to raising a family and writing inspirational historical romances.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Hope Rising:
Nearly from the first, I had Rupert Penry-Jones in mind when I wrote Corporal Joel Campbell’s character in my WWI romance Hope Rising. His light hair and aptitude for both seriousness and clever wit fit Joel so well.

For a heroine, I would choose Hayley Atwell to play American Nurse Evelyn Gray. They both have those lovely dark eyes and hair. Like Atwell, Evelyn is naturally beautiful but she’s also strong, especially when it comes to those she cares about.
Visit Stacy Henrie's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Joyce and Jim Lavene's "Spell Booked"

Joyce and Jim Lavene write mystery and urban fantasy because they like it and because they have to do something to pay the bills. They live in North Carolina with their family.

Here Joyce dreamcasts an adaptation their new novel, Spell Booked:
I would love to see Spell Booked made into a movie! I know every author says that, but I've given it some serious thought.

First of all, the movie could be filmed in Wilmington, where the book is set, as it has a thriving movie and TV-making community. The Witches of East End was filmed here, and so is Sleepy Hollow and Vampire Diaries. So we can use all the landmarks – the Cape Fear River, the Atlantic Ocean, the Cotton exchange, Oak Island, and the old waterfront. Those places would look great on the screen.

I'd like to see Nicole Kidman play Molly. She'd have to be a little older, but it would be a few years, right? And they can use some extra make up on her. Something about her attitude reminds me of Molly Addison Renard, the voice of our witches in Spell Booked.

I'd like to see Jane Fonda play Olivia. She'd be just right for the part, but they’d have to make her wear a wig or dye her hair blond. No one says sexy and slightly above it all like Jane Fonda!

Elsa Lanchester as Elsie would be awesome! She was in The Bride of Frankenstein and Mary Poppins. What? She's dead? Oh well. I’ll have to think about that a little more.

Anne Hathaway from Les Mis would be a great Dorothy. She's a little tall, but it could still work. I could picture her as our would-be witch librarian. She might be a little expensive, but well worth the money!

As for Brian, I'd like to see Ian Somerhalder from the Vampire Diaries play Brian, mostly so I can meet him. He'd be a cute Brian too, and haughty to begin with. Plus Ian should be looking for a new part since he’s not playing Mr. Grey in the movie, and the Vampire Diaries is on its last legs.

And playing the Bone Man would be Vin Diesel, in costume of course. Great voice! He could carry out our seven-foot quasi-bad-guy who may be dead or may be an Irish sea god who lives on Oak Island. He’d be perfect messing with the witches when they come to trade favors.

Jon Tenney would be good as Molly’s cop husband, Joe, who gets mixed up in the magic all the time. Once again – a good actor looking for a part. He’s very talented at playing police detectives too!

And that’s the biggest part of our movie cast! I’ll just run over and start a new Facebook page now where I can ask for money to make this happen. Spare change anyone?
Learn more about the authors and their work at Joyce and Jim Lavene's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Joyce and Jim Lavene & Rudi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mingmei Yip's "Secret of a Thousand Beauties"

Mingmei Yip is the author of six novels (the 7th coming out in 2015), including her new release Secret of a Thousand Beauties (the story of a former imperial embroiderer and her orphaned, supposedly celibate followers), The Nine fold Heaven (an ex-spy looking for her lost love and supposedly still born baby), Skeleton Women (story of three femmes fatales), Song of the Silk road (adventure on China’s ancient route with a three million dollar award), Petals from the Sky (inter-racial love story), and Peach Blossom Pavilion (story of the last Chinese geisha).

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Secret of a Thousand Beauties:
Secret of a Thousand Beauties is a novel set in China when it was just beginning to become modernized. While most characters are Chinese, there are two Americans – the missionaries Father Edwin and his young assistant Ryan McFarland.

First choice for the fiercely resourceful and independent protagonist Spring Swallow is Zhang Ziyi. She has played in Hollywood movies and is famous for her role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Zhang is perfect to play a young woman who is soft outside but tough inside.

Spring Swallow’s embroidery teacher Aunty Peony is a brilliant mentor but personally is cold-hearted and distant, due to the many tragedies she had to bear in her life. Joan Chen, who soared to fame in the West for her role in The Last Emperor would be perfect to play this seasoned, older woman.

In Secret of a Thousand Beauties, Father Edwin is the middle-aged missionary who takes the orphaned Spring Swallow under his wing and teaches her English, poetry and philosophy. An older actor best to play this character would be Tom Hanks -- mature, honest, and most important, compassionate looking.

I think Ryan Gosling would be perfect for the younger, naive, and enthusiastic missionary Ryan McFarland -- they even share the same first name!
Visit Mingmei Yip's website, and view the book trailer for Secret of a Thousand Beauties.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Molly Cochran's "Seduction"

Molly Cochran has written and ghostwritten over 25 novels and nonfiction books, including the Edgar-winning bestseller Grandmaster and The Forever King, recipient of the New York Public Library award for Books of the Teen Age, both co-written with Warren Murphy, and the nonfiction bestseller Dressing Thin.

Here Cochran dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest YA novel, Seduction:
Who is Gaspard Ulliel?

He's the French hottie who played young Hannibal Lechter in Hannibal Rising, and more recently, the nameless but gorgeous Male Face of Chanel. Temptation personified!

My latest YA novel, Seduction, is all about temptation--or, rather, Temptation, with a capital T. The hapless characters in Seduction--Katy Ainsworth, played in this mental movie by Zooey Deschanel (whom I've always, from the beginning of the series, pictured as Katy), and her erstwhile boyfriend, Peter Shaw (Liam Hemsworth, using his superb, if studied, American accent)--are tempted at every turn by riches, beauty, ambition, knowledge, and even immortality.

From the moment Peter learns that he can make gold from base metal, his life takes a sharp upturn. Living in Paris with a house full of beautiful, if shallow, women who adore him, he is surprised to encounter his old flame Katy, who has come to Paris to study cooking. Katy, meanwhile, faces some temptations of her own, mainly in the form of a sexy French millionaire named Belmondo (Ulliel) who plays lead guitar in a rock band as a hobby, and is an expert in, well, seduction.

Then there's Katy's grandfatherly friend Azreal, whom Katy discovers living beneath the famous Paris sewers. Although it would ruin the surprise if I mentioned why, this character would require an actor of extraordinary range, so I'm putting my money on Benedict Cumberbatch, who I think could carry age well. Azreal possesses an extremely rare book, a handwritten history of Paris that begins in the twelfth century, told from the point of view of an immortal alchemist. When charming-but-klutzy Katy inadvertently breaks the binding of this book, her first course of action, being Katy, is to steal it, hoping that she'll be able to repair the damage and return it before Azreal finds out.

While she's sewing the binding (and reading the pages as she works) Katy discovers the dark and ancient secret kept by Peter's sophisticated housemates that leads her back to her old nemesis, the Darkness, an entity whose evil consciousness threatens to destroy Katy's sorely tested innocence as well as her life.

The Darkness has no body, but It does have a voice. Let's call James Earl Jones.
Learn more about the book and author at Molly Cochran's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Legacy.

The Page 69 Test: Poison.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Stephen Policoff's "Come Away"

Stephen Policoff has taught writing at Wesleyan and Yale and is currently Master Teacher of Writing in Global Liberal Studies at NYU. His books include the novel Beautiful Somewhere Else, the memoir Sixteen Scenes from a Film I Never Wanted to See, two YA books, The Dreamer’s Companion and Real Toads in Imaginary Gardens (co-authored with Jeffrey Skinner), and the children’s book Cesar’s Amazing Journey.

Here Policoff dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Come Away:
I do think Come Away would make a great movie, though it would probably take a Bold and Fearless director/producer to try to get it done. A dark domestic comedy with a mild buzz of the supernatural? A film featuring a small green girl who may or may not be a hallucination of the main character, the loosely-wrapped Paul Brickner? Sure! Bring it on.

I have always thought Edward Norton would be a great Paul (who is the main character also of my first novel, Beautiful Somewhere Else). He has the right blend of intensity, goofiness, and vaguely endearing inhibition which I see in Paul, not unlike the character he played in Moonrise Kingdom. Paul’s wife Nadia is harder; maybe Olivia Wilde, who is both beautiful and still somehow real-looking, and seems to like appearing in indie films (which, come on, this would probably have to be); the character she plays in the under-rated Drinking Buddies suggests to me she could pull-off the down-to-earth-yet-quirky Nadia.

My college friend John Rothman would be a fine Dr. Maire. John often plays slightly foolish but somehow charming character roles; I think he would be able to present Dr. Maire’s pomposity and his not-entirely-convincing heroic gestures, and make them believable. And I think that Robert De Niro would make a wonderfully unlikely Dr. Grunwald, who has to be seen both as slightly menacing (hello! paging half of the roles De Niro has ever played!) and slightly clownish as well (ditto).

As for a director…well, I think Michel Gondry would be really interesting; I don’t love all his stuff but Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is quite brilliant in its melding of the plausible and the fantastical, which is Come Away’s milieu. Wes Anderson, with his stylized painterly vision might be appropriate too.

My fear is that the ambiguity of the novel—Is the green girl a hallucination? A changeling child? Is Paul losing his mind or is he onto something about the nature of what we call reality?—might be turned into an M. Night Shyamalan kind of farrago, which I would hate (though I guess I would cry all the way to the bank).
Visit Stephen Policoff's faculty webpage and Facebook page, and learn more about Come Away.

Writers Read: Stephen Policoff.

The Page 69 Test: Come Away.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 5, 2014

Beth Bernobich's "The Time Roads"

Beth Bernobich is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov's, Interzone, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com, among other places. Her novels include the fantasy trilogy River of Souls and the YA fantasy Fox & Phoenix. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, son, and two idiosyncratic cats.

Here Bernobich dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Time Roads:
The Time Roads is probably the first novel where I matched real-world actors to the characters in my head. It's also a novel that consists of four separate stories, written over the course of twelve years, so my choices reflect not only how I pictured my characters, but when I first wrote the story where each first appeared.

Áine Devereaux, the Queen of Éire, is easy. My choice is Cate Blanchett as she appeared in Elizabeth. She has the height, the regal attitude, the ability to play both sides of Áine's character, by turns cool and dispassionate, fierce and quick-tempered.

Continuing along the list of actors from Elizabeth, Joseph Fiennes is the man to play Breandan Ó Cuilinn, the scientist who becomes the Queen's first favorite, and whose studies of time travel launch the book's events.

For Aidrean Ó Deághaidh, the Queen's spymaster and a high-ranking member of the Queen's Constabulary, my top choice would be Cíaran Hinds. Look at pictures of Hinds over the past twenty years. (I certainly can. *fans self vigorous*) He's got the brooding look of the younger Ó Deághaidh, and careworn face of the older and somewhat disillusioned man.

Choosing a director is much harder for me, because I don't always remember the names behind a film. However, there is one name that stuck with me long after I saw his take on the themes of time and time travel. That would be Alfonso Cuarón for his work on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Learn more about the book and author at Beth Bernobich's website.

The Page 69 Test: Passion Play.

The Page 69 Test: The Time Roads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tawni Waters's "Beauty of the Broken"

Tawni Waters is an award winning writer and poet, and her work has been featured in The Best Travel Writing of 2010. She teaches creative writing in Phoenix, Arizona.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Beauty of the Broken, her first novel:
Beauty of the Broken would make a kick-ass movie. My agent says so, which is sort of like your mom saying you’re special, but still.

The book’s protagonist Mara Stonebrook is a quirky, tortured girl growing up in an abusive family in the small, bigoted town of Barnaby, New Mexico. In a fit of drunken rage, her daddy beats her beloved brother Iggy so badly, he gives him brain damage. Mara’s depressed, alcoholic mother does nothing to protect Iggy, leaving Mara responsible for his welfare.

To make matters worse, Mara finds herself falling in love with Xylia Brown, a beautiful, hip transplant from San Francisco who worships goddesses rather than a male version of God. Mara’s lesbian ardor is so not cool in her hyper-religious community. Let’s just say the townsfolk frown on homosexuality. Emphatically frown. Sometimes, with weapons.

Enter Henry Begay, who moves to Barnaby from his home on the nearby reservation, spouting “blasphemous” religion and sporting braids, thick glasses, and white-freckled clothing because his father is obsessed with squirting things with bleach.

Mara, Henry, Iggy, and Xylia form an alliance of soulful rejects. The fiery, hateful Reverend Winchell is not amused by the influx of heathens, and his son, the pimply, self-righteous Elijah Winchell takes it on himself to torture them. Hijinx ensue. And by hinjinx, I mean mayhem and death, with a generous side-helping of forbidden love.

On the chance that Hollywood agrees with my agent, my dream cast for Beauty of the Broken:

Jennifer Lawrence as Mara: She reminds me of Mara in so many ways. Down-to-earth, sassy, irreverent, and beautiful.

Emma Stone as Xylia: She’s funny, doesn’t give a shit what people think, and could totally pull off looking like a rock star in a small town where most people dress up like the cast from Leave it to Beaver.

Jesse Eisenberg as Iggy: He has that intense, powerful, other-worldly aura Iggy has. Also, Iggy is described as having “see-clear-through-you” eyes.” Check.

Matthew McConaughey as Daddy: He’s one of the best actors alive, as demonstrated by his breathtaking performances in Mud, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and True Detective. He has also frequently showcased his ability to play hillbillies, which would serve him well were he to play drunken, nasty, downright backwoods Daddy.

Cate Blanchett as Momma: I love her, and this is probably the only way I’ll ever get to tell her. Also, she’s freaking brilliant and was made to play a drunken, tortured ex-beauty-queen. I’m misty thinking about the moment when she placidly gets up from the table to get Iggy ice for his bruises after Daddy beats him. I bet her hand would tremble just so as she wrapped the ice cubes in a washcloth.

Taylor Lautner as Henry: The only young, uber-famous Native American actor I could think of was the kid from Twilight. I thought I was just being dense, but when I Googled “young Native American” actors, he was the only one I recognized. That absolutely has to change, America. Get with the program. He’s a great actor, but he’d have to ditch the super model muscles to play Henry. Taylor, it’s you and Medifast for a few months. Sorry.

Jeff Bridges as Reverend Winchell: He’s awesome, and I’m pretty sure he could go real dark, real scary, and real fat real fast if he had to.

Tom Felton as Elijah: Throw a few pimples and some greasy hair on him, and Draco Malfoy is Elijah.

Bonus: Johnny Depp as the weird schoolteacher, Mr. Farley, who shows creepy slideshows featuring toe fungus and cadavers.
Visit Tawni Waters's Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 1, 2014

Donald Stoker's "Clausewitz: His Life and Work"

Donald Stoker is Professor of Strategy and Policy for the U.S. Naval War College's program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is the author of The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Clausewitz: His Life and Work:
I think a movie about Carl von Clausewitz, the nineteenth-century Prussian officer best known for penning On War, would be quite interesting, though for reasons many might not know. When I ask my students “Who was Carl von Clausewitz?” they invariably reply “a theorist” or “a German general.” He certainly was these things, but he was much more besides.

It is this “much more” that would make a movie about Clausewitz a fascinating period piece. Our backdrop is the tumult of the French Revolution and the sweep of the Napoleonic Wars (1789-1815). Clausewitz grew up in and fought his way through this chaotic maelstrom. Born in 1780, he went into the Prussian army as a boy (probably shortly before his twelfth birthday), and saw combat for the first time before he was 13. He participated in the shelling and siege of Mainz (1793), and then fought in the back and forth campaign in the rugged Vosges. He served as a young officer in the 1806 war with France, fought in the rearguard at Auerstedt, then survived a 14-day fighting retreat and nearly a year of imprisonment in France. Meanwhile, he carried on a long, romantic courtship of Marie von Brühl, a beautiful and exceedingly intelligent woman of superior social station. They married at the end of 1810; Marie’s widowed mother—after seven years—had finally given her blessing.

Clausewitz joined the Russian army in 1812 and served from beginning to end in one of the most famous campaigns in history: Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. He fought in the rearguard, participated in the battle of Borodino, saw the burning of Moscow, and the carnage of Napoleon’s famous retreat across the Berezina River. Clausewitz went on to fight in the 1813 campaign (where he was wounded), and also fought in the 1814 campaign and 1815’s Waterloo campaign. With Napoleon safely dispatched to St. Helena, Clausewitz then wrote On War and many other works.

The ideal actor to play Clausewitz is Ioan Gruffudd. The Welsh actor is currently the star of the television series Forever. But he is probably best known to American audiences for playing Horatio Hornblower in the wonderful A&E series based upon the C.S. Forester novels. Gruffudd not only looks a little like Clausewitz, but through his depiction of Hornblower has in many ways already played the part. Brave, intelligent, resourceful, but also awkward, uncomfortable around his men, and annoying to less capable and pedantic superiors: this was Clausewitz.
Learn more about Clausewitz: His Life and Work at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue