Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mario Erasmo's "Strolling Through Rome"

Mario Erasmo is Professor of Classics at the University of Georgia specializing in the Legacy of Classical Antiquity. He is the author of several books, including Death: Antiquity and Its Legacy and Reading Death in Ancient Rome and the volume editor of A Cultural History of Death in Antiquity. His forthcoming Strolling Through Florence: The Definitive Walking Guide to the Renaissance City (IBTauris) offers step-by-step strolls through historic sites and streets in the shadow of Brunelleschi's iconic dome.

Here Erasmo dreamcasts an adaptation of his 2015 book, Strolling Through Rome: The Definitive Walking Guide to the Eternal City:
Guide/Narrator: Colin Firth

Event: Sack of Rome in 1527 but there are many pivotal events and history makers in Rome's storied past worthy of more plays by Shakespeare or Racine or operas by Monteverdi or Purcell, including the martyrdom of St. Lawrence (258); the execution of Constantine's second wife Fausta and his son Crispus from his first marriage instigated by Constantine's mother Helena potentially for adultery (326); the meeting between St. Francis and St. Dominic in the church of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill in 1215; and the political fortunes of the populist leader Cola di Rienzo (1313-1354) that pitted him against the papacy and the powerful Colonna and Orsini families until his short-lived return to papal favour for assistance in returning power to Rome from Avignon.

Scene: Vatican Corridor to Castel Sant' Angelo

Pope Clement VII de' Medici (Privileged; Detached; Wavering): Daniel Day-Lewis

Goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini (Fiery; Swashbuckler; Seducer): Rufus Sewell (he faces down danger with aplomb playing the role of detective Aurelio Zen in Rome). In his Biography he claims to have singlehandedly saved the life of the Pope who famously fled the Vatican by the Vatican Corridor to Castel Sant' Angelo from the attacking mercenary forces of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

Epilogue: The same pope refused to grant Henry the VIII of England an annulment from Catherine of Aragon, the aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (Charles I of Spain). The Sack essentially halted the course of the Renaissance in Rome that was revived by Michelangelo who designed the Campidoglio for the triumphal entry of the Holy Roman Emperor into Rome (1536) through the Roman Forum in the style of triumphing generals of ancient Rome. The emperor then entered Florence in triumph then ruled by Cosimo I de' Medici under his protection.
The Page 99 Test: Strolling Through Rome.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 28, 2015

David A. Bell's "Napoleon: A Concise Biography"

David A. Bell is the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the Department of History at Princeton. Born in New York and educated at Harvard, Princeton and the École Normale Supérieure, he previously taught at Yale and Johns Hopkins, where he also served as Dean of Faculty in the School of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of three prize-winning books, most recently The First Total War (2007).

Here Bell shares his assessment of the prospects for adapting his new book, Napoleon: A Concise Biography, for the screen, large or small:
My subject, Napoleon Bonaparte, has been acted hundreds of times in films. Among just the English-speaking actors to play him have been Marlon Brando (Désirée), Ian Holm (The Emperor’s New Clothes), Rod Steiger (Waterloo) and Eli Wallach (The Adventures of Gerard). My favorite Napoleon film, though, is probably the kitschy but delicious French biopic done by Sacha Guitry in the 1950’s, which features both Daniel Gélin and Raymond Pellegrin as Napoleon, and Guitry himself as Talleyrand.

The Weinstein Company has optioned Andrew Roberts’s recent biography for a television series, so I doubt anyone is going to want to film my own Napoleon any time soon.
Learn more about Napoleon: A Concise Biography at the Oxford University Press website.

Writers Read: David A. Bell.

The Page 99 Test: Napoleon: A Concise Biography.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Julia Knight's "Warlords and Wastrels"

Julia Knight is married with two children, and lives with the world’s daftest dog that is shamelessly ruled by the writer’s obligatory three cats. She lives in Sussex, UK and when not writing she likes motorbikes, watching wrestling or rugby, killing pixels in MMOs. She is incapable of being serious for more than five minutes in a row.

Here Knight dreamcasts an adaptation of Warlords and Wastrels, the concluding volume of the Duelists trilogy:
I think the most important way to decide this would be – would they look right in the right sort of clothing (think Musketeers) and can they pull off the swagger? I didn’t really have any actors in mind when I was writing, but one or two did spring to mind later, especially when I saw the covers. Kacha there has a hint of Ronda Rousey about her, and she would fit perfectly with how I imagined her. Aaron Taylor-Johnson could pull off Vocho’s ego and panache I’m sure (and he wears a little Musketeer beard very well!) For their long-suffering servant, Cospel, Nick Frost would be excellent.

Santiago Cabrera would do very well for the rather intense Petri, and for the mysterious Dom? Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. At least I know they can act fencing!
Visit Julia Knight's website.

The Page 69 Test: Warlords and Wastrels.

Coffee with a Canine: Julia Knight & Frek.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Laura DiSilverio's "The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle"

Laura DiSilverio is the national bestselling author of more than a dozen mystery novels, including the Book Club Mystery series featuring The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco and The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle, the Mall Cop Mysteries, and The Reckoning Stones. She is a former Air Force intelligence officer and past president of Sisters in Crime.

Here DiSilverio dreamcasts an adaptation of The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle:
I am so excited to blog here today because for once I know exactly who I want to cast as my main characters. I actually cut out these actors' photos before I wrote any of the books, and tacked them up in my office. The Readaholics have always been clear to me, and I hope none of you will gasp and say, "Oh, no, that actor couldn't play Amy-Faye (or Lola or Brooke)."

For those of you who don't know, the Readaholics are the five women who participate in a mystery book club in fictional Heaven, Colorado. In each book, they are reading a classic mystery that somehow figures into solving the murders they end up investigating. In The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco, they were reading The Maltese Falcon. In the latest book, The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle, they're reading Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.

They are Amy-Faye Johnson, the main protagonist, who is a 32-year-old event organizer; Brooke Widefield, Amy-Faye's best friend who is a former Miss Colorado and who married into the richest family in town; Lola Paget, a couple years ahead of Amy-Faye and Brooke in school, who turned the family farm into a plant nursery and supports her grandmother and younger sister; Maud Bell, a sixty-something fishing guide and conspiracy theory blogger; and Kerry Sanderson, a Realtor and Heaven's part-time mayor, who is a late forties divorcee with a grown daughter and a teenage son.

Here's my cast list:

Amy-Faye — Amy Adams

Brooke — Jaimie Alexander

Lola — Lupita Nyong'o

Maud — Helen Mirren

Kerry — Frances Fisher

Yes, it's a very expensive cast. Leave a comment on my Facebook page and let me know what you think.
Learn more about the book and author at Laura DiSilverio's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Swift Run.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Paullina Simons's "The Bronze Horseman"

Paullina Simons is the international best-selling author of novels such as Tully, Red Leaves, Eleven Hours, The Bronze Horseman, and Tatiana and Alexander.

Her latest novel is Lone Star.

Here Simons dreamcasts an adaptation of her novel The Bronze Horseman:
In The Bronze Horseman, Alexander the dashing Red Army officer, patrolling the streets of a large city the day Hitler invades the Soviet Union, meets and falls in love with Tatiana, a comet of innocence and desire. I had visualized them in their entirety, him tall, her tiny, him dark-haired her blonde, the fire between them burning on all the pages of my story.

For the last fifteen years my readers and I have engaged in heated discussions about who can possibly live up to the images we have built up in our minds of these two unforgettable characters. This is an instance where the image on the screen, even the Imax version, cannot compare to the vividness of our imaginations.

But if we were to try, if we were to agree that somebody must play them on the screen, then Henry Cavill would be a fine choice indeed as a stand-in for the real thing. He is tall and has a strong face. He has grace in his gait and humor in his gaze. He looks great with stubble and in uniform. He can be a fighter and also carry roses. He’s got the big shouldered full lipped approach to life that is essential in our Alexander.

And Tatiana? Well, there is Lea Seydoux. She plays quite the minx in some of her films, and we’d have to tone down her ostentatious appeal, but she’s got a good look for a Russian girl caught in the crossfire of history and forced to grow up real fast.

The question is, can those two, Henry Cavill and Lea Seydoux, ignite the screen the way the fictional Alexander and Tatiana ignited the pages of my novel? Would there chemistry between them, a spark, a delight? Would there be fire? Because if there is, everything else in the film will be built on that. If they work, everything works. If they don’t work, nothing else will, no matter how full and well realized.

I think they can work. They’d be amazing. If wishes were horses.
Visit Paullina Simons's website.

The Page 69 Test: Lone Star.

Writers Read: Paullina Simons.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Kim MacQuarrie's "The Last Days of the Incas"

Kim MacQuarrie is a writer and is perhaps the only American to have been chased up a tree by a female grizzly bear, to have lived with a recently-contacted Amazonian tribe, and to have won four national Emmys for his documentary films. He is the author of The Last Days of the Incas and, most recently, of Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries.

Here MacQuarrie shares some ideas about casting the adaptation of The Last Days of the Incas:
I’m perhaps fortunate in that the FX Channel is currently in the process of developing one of my books—The Last Days of the Incas—into a 13-part dramatic series. It’s the (non-fiction) story of how 168 conquistadors, led by a band of four brothers, managed to conquer an Inca Empire of ten million. The truth is, I hadn’t really considered the casting, but now that there is this opportunity, here goes:

Francisco Pizarro: (the eldest brother, shrewd, uneducated, a great leader of men): Jeremy Irons

Hernando Pizarro (arrogant, power hungry): Javier Bardem

Gonzalo Pizarro: (the handsomest of the brothers): Colin Farrell

Juan Pizarro: (the youngest—brash and impetuous): Gael García Bernal (played Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries)

Atahualpa: Inca emperor whom Pizarro captured: Wes Studi

Manco Inca: (young Inca emperor who ultimately leads massive rebellion against the Spaniards) Martin Sensmeier

Manco’s wife: Julia Jones (who played Leah Clearwater in the Twilight Saga films; the younger Pizarro brothers lusted after her, even though she was both the emperor’s sister and wife (!?))
Visit Kim MacQuarrie's website.

The Page 99 Test: Life and Death in the Andes.

My Book, The Movie: Life and Death in the Andes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 18, 2015

Emily Ross's "Half in Love with Death"

Emily Ross received a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist award in fiction for her novel Half in Love with Death. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Boston Magazine, Menda City Review, and The Smoking Poet. She is an editor and contributor at Dead Darlings, a website dedicated to discussing the craft of novel writing. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Massachusetts Boston, and is a 2012 graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program.

Here Ross dreamcasts an adaptation of Half in Love with Death:
I’ve often fantasized about a movie of Half in Love with Death, my YA novel about a teen’s search for her missing sister. The Arizona desert setting provides a cinematic backdrop for my psychological thriller, set in Tucson in 1965. I’d love to see suburban neighborhoods encroaching on the desert and disaffected teens looking for anything to alleviate their boredom coming to life on the big screen.

I’d choose Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper from Mad Men) as Caroline, my 15-year-old protagonist. Like Sally, Caroline comes of age in the ‘60s. As Shipka literally grew from a child into a teenager on screen, I often thought of my young protagonist. Like Caroline, Shipka has a quiet loveliness and changes from child to sophisticate in an instant. Both Sally and Caroline are able to strike the rocky balance between innocence, intelligence, and reckless daring.

Zac Efron would be my choice for Tony, the charismatic boyfriend of Caroline’s missing sister Jess. With his pale blue eyes and pretty-boy good looks, Efron is Tony! As they search for Jess together, he weaves an irresistible spell. But as they grow closer, Caroline sees Tony’s sweet face as a mask for a tortured, otherworldly being. She is drawn to the mystery of him even as it frightens her. Efron, I believe, hides some serious darkness behind his handsome façade.

I’d also hire Terrence Malick, director of the haunting, poetic movie Badlands. Featuring a teen girl who runs off with the young man who murdered her father, Badlands was an early inspiration for my novel.
Visit the official Emily Ross website.

The Page 69 Test: Half In Love With Death.

Writers Read: Emily Ross.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Adam Christopher's "Made to Kill"

Adam Christopher is a novelist and comic writer, and award-winning editor.

The author of Made to Kill, volume 1 in The LA Trilogy, Christopher is co-writer of The Shield for Dark Circle Comics and author of the official tie-in novels novels based on the hit CBS television show Elementary.

Born in New Zealand, Christopher has lived in Great Britain since 2006.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of Made to Kill:
The characters in Made to Kill can be divided into two groups – the speaking parts, and the extras. Set in Hollywood, 1965, the book drops the names of a lot of stars, but most of them appear silently at the periphery of scenes, looking moody and evil and possessed by… well, that’s a spoiler.

The two main characters pose an interesting problem. Raymond Electromatic is a robot, six feet ten of bronzed steel with a face that looks human, but is immobile. While he is a Philip Marlowe-type, I’d actually like to see—or perhaps, hear—Andre Braugher behind the metal mask.

Ada is even harder to cast, as she’s just a voice—a little older, smoky, husky. Kathleen Turner or Christine Baranski would do nicely. She’s actually based, rather loosely, on Anne Francis, who starred as private eye Honey West in the ABC TV show of the same name in the mid-1960s. Although only thirty-five at the time—perhaps a little younger than Ada should really sound—she is perfect in my mind.

Emma Stone as Eva McLuckie, elfin movie starlet in trouble. With a 60s bob haircut and enough black eyeliner to make her look like a princess from ancient Egypt, she’s perfect.

Tom Hardy (with a big beard) as Charles David. I’m serious. Hardy can do moody very well, and he actually grew some impressively scary facial hair a few years ago.

Brad Pitt as Fresco Peterman. I’m a fan of Pitt, and I love his slightly vague, slightly addled performance as Tyler Durden in Fight Club. This is exactly what Fresco Peterman needs to be—he’s the biggest and handsomest movie star in town, prone to smiling a lot. People think he’s a little dim, when he is anything but.

Chip Rockwell is another oddity—as a movie producer, we see him briefly in Brisk Money, the prequel novelette to Made to Kill. But in the main book, he’s reduced to something far less than human. If we assume that the movie of Made to Kill will roll some of Brisk Money into the plot, then I’d like Alan Alda to have a cameo as the ill-fated Rockwell.

Peter Capaldi as the desperate Soviet scientist, Dr Vitaly Bobrov. It’s all in the eyebrows.

David Duchovny as Special Agent Touch Daley. Now, this might be a bit of a cliché, but Touch Daley is a mix of Fox Mulder, Dale Cooper, and the younger Rust Colhe. Pour Duchovny into a sharp black suit and give him a natty hat, and he’s the man on Ray’s trail.

The other characters in Made to Kill are cameos—of them all, I think only Rico Spillane actually has any dialogue (let’s cast John Stamos in that role). So here’s my wishlist for the rest:

Elizabeth Michell as Alaska Gray, Emma Watson as Millicent Olivier, Vinnie Jones as Bob Thatcher, Taraji P. Henson as Shiera Shane, and Henry Czerny as Parker Silverwood.
Visit Adam Christopher's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Made to Kill.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 14, 2015

Kim MacQuarrie's "Life and Death in the Andes"

Kim MacQuarrie is a writer and is perhaps the only American to have been chased up a tree by a female grizzly bear, to have lived with a recently-contacted Amazonian tribe, and to have won four national Emmys for his documentary films. He is the author of The Last Days of the Incas, a non-fiction work that is currently being made by FX into a 13-part dramatic series and, most recently, of Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries.

Here MacQuarrie dreamcasts an adaptation of Life and Death in the Andes:
For Life and Death in the Andes, which is about a 4,300-mile journey along the Andes, looking into characters such as Pablo Escobar, Che Guevara, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, I would expand one of the chapters into a film. One of the lesser-known stories I looked into is a young Charles Darwin in Patagonia on the square-rigger ship, the H.M.S. Beagle. Darwin was only 25, yet was gathering the evidence that would lead to both his theory of evolution and make him question his religion. The ship’s captain, Robert Fitzroy, was extremely religious. He’d been conducting an experiment of “civilizing” three naked Patagonian natives (whom he’d captured on an earlier voyage and had taken to London, where they met the King and Queen, learned English, and were now being returned to Patagonia). Darwin and Fitzroy would later clash, with dire consequences for one of them; the “civilization experiment” would also have unintended consequences. So, a quick casting for a story that takes place at the southern, tempestuous end of the world:

Charles Darwin: Paul Bettany (has played him well before)

Captain Robert Fitzroy: Christian Bale

Jemmy Button: (native Patagonian): Rick Mora

Fuegia Basket (native Patagonian): Kristin Kreuk (from Smallville)

York Minster (native Patagonian): David Mythunder
Visit Kim MacQuarrie's website.

The Page 99 Test: Life and Death in the Andes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Jack McDevitt's "Thunderbird"

Jack McDevitt is a former English teacher, naval officer, Philadelphia taxi driver, customs officer, and motivational trainer.

In his new novel Thunderbird, a stargate more than ten thousand years old has been discovered on a Sioux reservation in North Dakota. The race to explore and claim the stargate quickly escalates, dividing those involved into opposing camps who view the teleportation technology either as an unprecedented opportunity for scientific research or a disastrous threat to security. In the middle of the maelstrom stands Sioux chairman James Walker.

Here McDevitt shares some ideas about the above-the-line talent for an adaptation of Thunderbird:
Johnny Depp as Brad Hollister.

Angela Bassett as April Cannon.

Chaske Spencer as James Walker.

Directed by Steven Spielberg.

To be honest, I never thought of an actor while I was doing the writing. All three characters are based on real people whom I have known. (Or are fusions of several.)
Learn more about the book and author at Jack McDevitt's website.

The Page 69 Test: Firebird.

The Page 69 Test: Thunderbird.

Writers Read: Jack McDevitt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 11, 2015

Holly Messinger's "The Curse of Jacob Tracy"

Holly Messinger enjoys books, silk dresses, molten chocolate cake and well-balanced edged weapons. She lives on a Liberal reservation in Kansas with her Sparring Partner and a cat who knows more than he's telling.

Here Messinger dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Curse of Jacob Tracy:
The titular hero of The Curse of Jacob Tracy was partly inspired by and named after country singer Trace Adkins. Years ago when I was constructing the character, a friend showed me Adkin’s music video for “I’m Tryin’,” which is an anthem about the difficulties of blue-collar life. Adkins was about 38 at the time and the poster-boy for roughneck masculinity: tall, lean, craggy, solemn. In the video he looms around the edges of the sets like one of the angels from Wings of Desire—outside of the characters’ lives, but listening and sympathetic. And that was how I saw my character Trace—a big man who cared deeply about the troubles of the world around him but felt constrained from action. And of course his overcoming those constraints is the arc of the book.

Adkins is a little long in the tooth these days to play Jacob Tracy, and I just haven’t seen an actor in the current thirty-something set who has the same combination of manliness, world-weariness, and country-boy charm. Chris Hemsworth is probably the closest option. Chris Evans and Jensen Ackles are also contenders, though they are both prettier than I would like. I figure somewhere in Texas or Oklahoma is a frustrated actor, working oil rigs and playing Curly McLain in community theater, who would be perfect to play my cowboy.

For Trace’s partner Boz, I like Mahershala Ali. I’d seen him on the SyFy series Alphas and in Predators, but neither of those roles allowed him to shine and so it took me a while to realize they were the same actor. I love Ali’s gunfighter-cool gaze and expressive mouth, and his graceful self-possessed carriage. All too often in period movies the black man is the servant or the runaway slave or some exemplar of Black Success, but Boz is just a working guy, and I find a certain heroism in that. Like so many men of his time, Boz went to war, lost a wife, and now focuses on the day-to-day grind. He doesn’t expect the world to give him anything, but he’ll fight for what’s his.

The actor who plays Boz has to carry the heart of the movie. He has to convey toughness and pragmatism and a growing sense of dread, because he’s also the everyman who’s bewildered by all this bizarre supernatural shit Trace has dragged him into. I think Boz realizes more than Trace that their friendship has been a sort of cocoon, which they both cling to in lieu of growing and living full lives. But he stays out of loyalty and does what needs to be done while Trace is still brooding over the morality of his actions.

Miss Fairweather was the last character I fully developed in the book, because I didn’t know at first if she would be an out-and-out villain or a more ambiguous anti-heroine. But from the moment I set eyes on MyAnna Buring in Ripper Street, I said, “That’s my Sabine.” It was eerie to see a living face so perfectly lifted from my brain, as if by Silly Putty: her catlike face, her wide blue eyes, her cynical little mouth. Buring can go from a warm smile to withering scorn to cool calculation to big-eyed horror on the turn of a dime. And of course she’s a marvelous actress; my only fear would be that she’d be reluctant to take on another role so similar to that of Long Susan. But I sure would like to see it.
Visit Holly Messinger's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Curse of Jacob Tracy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stephanie Thornton's "The Conqueror's Wife"

Stephanie Thornton is a writer and high school history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. Her first two novels, The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora and Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, focus on two of history's forgotten women: Theodora of the Byzantine Empire and Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Her third novel, The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan, is the story of Genghis' wife and daughters.

Here Thornton dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Conqueror's Wife:
I'm not much of a movie-goer, but I can tell you that Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair of Hunger Games fame) would make a perfect Alexander the Great if The Conqueror's Wife was ever made into a movie.

I also imagined Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth of Game of Thrones fame) as Alexander's kid sister Thessalonike as I was writing the novel. (Only Christie would need a long blond braid to complete the ensemble.)

Penelope Cruz would make a lovely Roxana, but she'd have to perfect an evil scowl and accompanying diabolical laugh.

A Gladiator-era Russell Crowe would round off the cast as Alexander's boyhood companion, Hephaestion.
Visit Stephanie Thornton's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Conqueror's Wife.

Writers Read: Stephanie Thornton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 7, 2015

Triss Stein's "Brooklyn Secrets"

Triss Stein is a small-town girl who has spent most of her adult life living and working in New York City. This gives her the useful double vision of a stranger and a resident which she uses to write mysteries about Brooklyn, her ever-fascinating, ever-changing, ever-challenging adopted home. Brooklyn Graves is the second Erica Donato mystery, following Brooklyn Bones.

Here Stein dreamcasts an adaptation of Brooklyn Secrets, the third Erica Donato Mystery:
Cast a fantasy movie of Brooklyn Secrets? That’s much more my speed than fantasy sports. And it’s all mine, so I can play with actor’s ages, ignore their unlikely interest and summon up the best of the best. This has not been part of my writing process but I may just have to keep these names/faces/personalities in mind for the work-in-progress.

Erica, my protagonist, is a Brooklyn girl through and through, but whose life has brought her a long way from the old neighborhood. She is a single mother of a teen-age daughter, a grad student in urban history (Brooklyn!) endlessly writing her dissertation, always pressed for money and time. She is gutsy, determined, a little too impulsive, and a bit of a smart aleck. (Brooklyn!)

So. Amy Brenneman fifteen years ago. She is easily convincing as smart, conscientious, perhaps impulsive, perhaps overwhelmed. She can be humorous. She is attractive but real, not excessively glam, and could be less attractive- Erica having a hard day! - as needed. I think she would be (would have been) perfect.

Chris, Erica’s daughter is fifteen. Need I say more? She is a wise, maturing young lady one minute, trying to take care of her mother. And the next she is a kid who still sometimes sleeps with her stuffed animals. She is intellectually curious and stubborn just like her mother. In her first romance. Done right, it’s a role with a lot of shading. Of course Kiernan Shipka, Shailene Woodley and Abigail Brennan could all have both the acting chops and the personality. Sarah Hyland of Modern Family plays a cute ditz in a comic role but they are giving her more to do lately. I suspect there is a deep vein of untapped talent there.

Joe is Erica’s long-time friend, contractor and biking buddy. He is a little older and steadier, has his own life of bachelor fun but is a rock for both her and Chris. In fact, Chris is actively promoting him as a romance for her mother. He’s both a working guy and smart enough and smooth enough to deal with his high-end clients. And he is ahead of Erica on the idea that there is more than friendship here.

Let’s go for my ultimate dream casting: Liev Schreiber. I have seen him play a cross-dressing ex-Marine, a violent fixer for criminals, a good-hearted young husband. I am convinced he can do anything and make it real, make it subtle, make it memorable. Plus, he has the believable physical appearance for the part.

Leary, Erica’s elderly, grumpy friend and information source? The one and only John Goodman. No one, but no one, could do it better. Though if Mr. Goodman was unwilling, we could go another way, and cast Steve Buscemi. I think he’d be hilarious. And he is a real Brooklyn guy himself; I’ve seen him in the neighborhood.

Erica’s dad is tough. He needs to be someone who can establish a real presence, but not so much star power he would over shadow the character. Alan Arkin would bring a surprising twist or two. Martin Sheen would fully inhabit the role, checking his star persona at the door. Hector Elizondo has the fatherly air and the urban background and is never less than believable.

Now, how can I find a part for me in this fantasy film? I’m not missing out on all this fun. Perhaps we need a scene with an advisor for Erica, or a school principal for Chris. An older woman with glasses and a bookish air. I know I’d be perfect for that.
Visit Triss Stein's website.

The Page 69 Test: Brooklyn Secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 4, 2015

Gini Koch's "Alien in Chief"

Gini Koch writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine "Kitty" Katt series for DAW Books, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series. Touched by an Alien, Book 1 in the Alien series, was named by Booklist as one of the Top Ten Adult SF/F novels of 2010. Alien in the House, Book 7 in the Alien series, won the RT Book Reviews Reviewer's Choice Award as the Best Futuristic Romance of 2013. The latest novel in the series, Alien in Chief, has been nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award as Best Urban Fantasy of 2015.

As G.J. Koch she writes the Alexander Outland series and she's made the most of multiple personality disorder by writing under a variety of other pen names as well, including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch.

Here Koch dreamcasts an adaptation of Alien in Chief:
The question of “who would you cast” has been coming up since the first book in my Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series, Touched by an Alien, came out. In part because the aliens in my series, at least the ones living on Earth, are all drop-dead gorgeous.

The female A-Cs, who Kitty nicknames the Dazzlers, are all sapiosexual and feel that brains and brain capacity are the greatest attribute. Therefore, they feel that Stephen Hawking is flat out the hottest person on the planet. The male A-Cs like our smart, gutsy women. The A-Cs in general have no skin color or sexuality hang-ups, though they do have some religious ones.

So, I get to pick really great looking actors for my list, but it does shift as the years go by, for a variety of reasons.

The main reason is that there’s almost no one out there who looks exactly like the characters as I see them in my mind – with some notable exceptions. The other reasons are that there are those actors who I think are perfect (check out my Pinterest page for my current examples), there are actors who look right but I don’t think could actually do the roles right and vice versa, and then there are those actors who I think could open a movie or launch a TV show and ensure that it has legs.

Funnily enough, a fan nominated Touched by an Alien over at the If List so you can see who my fans are suggesting. Some of their suggestions make me wonder if I’m at all good with description, but, hey, you see who you see, am I right?

But, since this is about who I envision, here we go with my top choices.

Katherine “Kitty” Katt, my accidental badass heroine who saves the day with her knowledge of comics and pop culture, hairspray, and rock ‘n’ roll: Emma Stone

Jeff Martini, my alien hero who’s also the most powerful empath on the planet, the Head of Field for Centaurion Division, and a carefree, cocky flirt (or is he?): Chris Hemsworth

Christopher White, Martini’s brooding cousin, the Head of Imageering for Centaurion Division, and Martini’s rival for Kitty’s affections: Chris Pine

James Reader, the former top international fashion model who’s never met a skill he can’t master quickly and who becomes Kitty’s BFF in the new world she’s flung into: Matt Bomer – in this case, Bomer was literally born to play Reader – he looks exactly like I envisioned Reader.

Tim Crawford, the “bench player” who proves his worth: Joseph Gordon-Levitt – this is another case of an actor being extremely close to how I see the character; only I think Tim has curly hair, not that I think I’ve ever mentioned it in the books.

Richard White, the Supreme Pontifex, Christopher’s father, Martini and Gower’s uncle: My original choice, and who I use in the books is Timothy Dalton. However, I had the opportunity to meet Ted Danson a couple years ago and he’s a stone cold silver fox, so he’s who I’d pick now.

Lorraine, one of the two Dazzlers that becomes one of Kitty’s BFFs: Scarlett Johansson – this one is also how I see the character

Claudia, the other Dazzler who becomes Kitty’s BFF: Jessica Alba – again a match for how I see the character

Paul Gower, Martini and Christopher’s cousin, Richard’s nephew, another member of Alpha Team, and Reader’s husband: D.B. Woodside

Charles “Chuckie” Reynolds: Joel McHale. He really doesn’t come in until Book 2, but he’s integral to the series and another very real rival for Kitty’s affections.
Learn more about the book and author at Gini Koch's website.

The Page 69 Test: Touched by an Alien.

The Page 69 Test: Alien in Chief.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ginger Strand's "The Brothers Vonnegut"

Ginger Strand grew up in Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, but mostly on a farm in Michigan. She is the author of one novel and three books of narrative nonfiction, including Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate. She has published essays and fiction in many places, including Harper's, The Believer, Tin House, The Iowa Review, The New England Review and the New York Times, as well as This Land and Orion, where she is a contributing editor. In addition to writing frequently about collisions between nature, culture, science and the arts, Strand frequently works with photographers, and has contributed essays to photography books by Lisa Kereszi, Kyler Zeleny, and the Magnum Agency project Postcards from America.

Here Strand dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic:
The Library Journal review of my nonfiction book The Brothers Vonnegut said it was ripe for adaptation into a film. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’ve spent hours Googling “hot young actors.” Not for prurient reasons, really. I was trying to identify actors who might want to produce it. After all, what hot young actor wouldn’t want to play Kurt Vonnegut?

The events of the book unfold in the late 1940s, when Kurt Vonnegut, as yet unpublished, is working in PR at General Electric. His older Bernard, a hotshot scientist at GE, got him the job. Bernard has invented something fantastic: cloud seeding to make rain. But the military has gotten involved and Bernard is having doubts about letting his invention be weaponized. Watching him struggle, Kurt, after years of bombing out with editors, starts writing a new kind of story, about scientists and the military and inventions getting weaponized. That lands him his first magazine acceptance, and the rest is history.

The young Kurt—GE company man by day, would-be writer by night—is not the Kurt Vonnegut you see in your head. Before the Mark Twain suit and Einstein hair, Kurt Vonnegut was a tall, thin, dapper young man. In his twenties, he looked a bit like a lighter-haired Zac Efron. Think Zac Efron in a gray flannel suit, toting a manual typewriter and smoking like a house afire. Kind of High School Musical meets Mad Men.

Then again, Zac Efron is a brunette so perhaps he should play Bernard, who looked like Kurt but with a mad-scientist pouf of curly brown hair. Maybe the lighter haired Kurt could be played by Jesse Spencer—aka Robert Chase on House MD—as long as he could lose the Aussie accent. But Jesse is older than Zac...

In my obsession with the perfect pairing, I went to, the ideal tool for someone with delusions of casting. You upload a photograph and the site uses facial recognition software to generate celebrity matches. I loaded up Kurt Vonnegut’s Army photo, some wheels spun around, and the winner was: Jimmy Kimmel!

As far as I know, Jimmy Kimmel, is not an actor but a comic. Pictriev’s second pick was Cameron Bright, who played the vampire Alec in the Twilight movies. Bright might look like Kurt Vonnegut if he dyed his hair lighter, but he has a sultry brooding quality that isn’t quite right.

I continued juggling faces in my head. And then I found the perfect actor—on the radio. Adam Driver, who plays Adam Sackler on Girls, was being interviewed on Fresh Air. Somehow he just seemed right. He grew up in Indianapolis, like Kurt. He volunteered for the military, like Kurt. He seems smart and thoughtful and morally engaged, like Kurt. Does he look like Kurt? Who cares? That’s for the stylists and makeup artists to sort out. Adam Driver, email me and I’ll send you my book. You’re my perfect Kurt Vonnegut!
Learn more about the book and author at Ginger Strand's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Brothers Vonnegut.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 30, 2015

Bridget Asher's "All of Us and Everything"

Bridget Asher's novels include The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, The Pretend Wife, and My Husband’s Sweethearts.

Her new novel, All of Us and Everything, is "about reconciliation between fathers and daughters, between spouses; the deep ties between sisters; and the kind of forgiveness that can change a person’s life in unexpected and extraordinary ways."

(Asher is in real life the critically acclaimed, bestselling author Julianna Baggott.)

Here Asher dreamcasts an adaptation of All of Us and Everything:
I see Susan Sarandon and J.K. Simmons are starring in The Meddler and I'm very much looking forward to their chemistry. They'd be wonderful as the eccentric Augusta Rockwell and the sentimental spy she fell in love with.

I'd love to see Uma Thurman or Nicole Kidman or Naomi Watts as the oldest sister, trying to stay in control as her life veers off course; Kate Hudson could play a really messy middle sister, Liv Rockwell -- a shout to her performance in Almost Famous; and Natalie Portman as the youngest sister, Ru, who's forced to grow up.

Teddy Whistler? I'd love to see Jason Bateman in that role. I'm very much looking forward to The Family Fang, which he directs and stars in. (In fact the author of The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson, gave All of Us and Everything a wonderful blurb.)
Learn more about the book and author at Bridget Asher's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: All of Us and Everything.

Writers Read: Bridget Asher.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 27, 2015

Elizabeth Lee's "Nuts and Buried"

Elizabeth Lee (AKA Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli) is the author of the Nut House mysteries, including Snoop to Nuts and A Tough Nut to Kill.

In the latest Nut House mystery, Nuts and Buried, Lindy Blanchard has enough on her hands at her family’s Texas nut farm with her new strain of pecan trees dying. Trouble is, people are dying too.

Here Lee dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
Let me see . . . Amy Schumer as Lindy Blanchard—because she’d know how to capture Lindy’s sassiness and getting-even techniques.

As Meemaw, Lindy’s grandmother, I’d cast me because it would be so much fun to work with Amy Schumer.

Love interest? What the heck, let’s give Amy the most gorgeous guy in Hollywood, whoever that is at the moment.

The rest? I’ll think about it.
Learn more about the author and her work at Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Nuts and Buried.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Lee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tony Peak's "Inherit the Stars"

Tony Peak is an Active Member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, and an Associate Member of the Horror Writers Association. His interests include progressive thinking, music, wine, history, Transhumanism, and planetary exploration. Happily married, he resides in rural southwest Virginia with a wonderful view of New River.

Here Peak dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Inherit the Stars:
If my book were made into a film? My first choice for director would be Ridley Scott, since he puts so much detail into his movies. His visual style from Alien and Blade Runner still inspire me. But now that I really think about it, Joss Whedon would probably be a better choice, since this a space opera, and he has an excellent handle on action, characterization, and dialogue.

For composer, I’d want Hans Zimmer to create a soaring orchestral score accompanied by electronic elements; his soundtrack for Interstellar would be a good fit.

As far as actors, I could see Scarlett Johansson in the title role as Kivita Vondir; red hair suits her, and she could pull off Kivita’s spunk and determination. The male lead could be played by Michael B. Jordan, who could manage Sar Redryll’s brooding, physical role. Seul Jaah, an albino soldier, could be played by Evangeline Lily—she has the acing chops and the physicality. The villain, Dunaar Thev, would be a suitable role for Conleth Hill, who plays Varys on Game of Thrones. He’d make an interesting antagonist.
Visit Tony Peak's website.

Writers Read: Tony Peak.

The Page 69 Test: Inherit the Stars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 23, 2015

Michael Livingston's "The Shards of Heaven"

An award-winning writer and professor, Michael Livingston holds degrees in History, Medieval Studies, and English. In his academic life, he teaches at The Citadel, specializing in the Middle Ages.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, The Shards of Heaven, the first in a trilogy of historical fantasy novels:
First things first, I have to say that the Powers That Be in Hollywood shouldn't take my suggestions here as a reason not to buy the film rights to The Shards of Heaven. Because I'd really like for you to buy them. Just for the record.

That said, I really want to go ahead and cast two of the roles for you: the Roman legionnaires Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus.

These two men are real historical characters, who feature in Julius Caesar's account (in his Commentaries on the Gallic War) of a battle against the Nervii in Gaul in 54 BCE. They have been featured in a number of fictional accounts, so when I needed a pair of legionnaires to help tell my tale, I, too, chose to use them.

Later, after I'd written much of Shards, I learned that HBO's series Rome incorporated the same two characters, with Kevin McKidd playing Lucius Vorenus and Ray Stevenson playing Titus Pullo. A student of mine loaned me his DVDs of the series, and I was pleased to find that despite some similarities we had gone in substantially different directions with these two characters.

Except … I really did love HBO’s Pullo and Vorenus. Their storyline wasn’t at all like that of my Pullo and Vorenus, but increasingly their faces were. The actors were simply wonderful. I adored them. And pretty soon, fight it though I tried, I couldn’t think of my Pullo without picturing the actor Ray Stevenson, and I couldn’t think of my Vorenus without picturing the actor Kevin McKidd.

By the gods, I thought at one point, I think The Shards of Heaven would be a damn good movie. And if anyone ever films it and I have anything to say about it … those guys are my Pullo and Vorenus.

And at that point, well, I tried to rig the game for them. I went back and changed a few little details in their physical descriptions to match Stevenson and McKidd.

So the ball is in your court now, Hollywood. I’ve got the story, and I’ve already even cast two parts.

Let’s get this thing rolling. Let Pullo and Vorenus ride again!
Visit Michael Livingston's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 20, 2015

Donis Casey's "All Men Fear Me"

Donis Casey is the author of eight Alafair Tucker Mysteries. While researching her own genealogy, she discovered so many ripping tales of settlers, soldiers, cowboys and Indians, murder, dastardly deeds, and general mayhem that she said to herself, “Donis, you have enough material here for ten books.” The award-winning series that resulted, featuring the sleuthing mother of ten children, is set in Oklahoma and Arizona during the booming 1910s. The latest installment, All Men Fear Me, is now available from Poisoned Pen Press. Read the first chapter of each Alafair Tucker Mystery on Casey's website.

Casey is a former teacher, academic librarian, and entrepreneur. She was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and now lives in Tempe, AZ, with her husband.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of All Men Fear Me:
Last year I dreamcast an adaptation of my seventh Alafair Tucker mystery, Hell with the Lid Blown Off. For that Oscar-winning movie, the part of my sleuth Alafair, a medium-sized, middle-aged woman with ten children, was played by Kathy Bates/Joan Allen/Sandra Bulloch/Meryl Streep, as suggested to me by readers of the series. I’m sure you can picture her now. Alafair’s husband Shaw, a tall, dark man with a floppy mustache was played by a forty-five year old Tom Selleck. Or in some minds’ eyes, he was Matthew McConaughey/George Clooney.

In this year’s adaptation of the eighth Alafair novel, All Men Fear Me, which is set at the beginning of America’s involvement in World War I, Shaw and Alafair are back, as are all ten of their lively children, their sons-in-law, and their grandchildren. Their two sons, Gee Dub and Charlie, are ready to do their duty; twenty-year-old Gee Dub, because he has to, and Charlie because he is sixteen and too full of patriotic ardor for his own good.

The problem with casting the boys is that I’m not up on today’s crop of young actors. I’m sure the perfect tall, lanky young man with a mop of dark curls is out there to tackle the role of Gee Dub, but I don’t know who he is. I like the head of hair on Graham Phillips, the young guy who plays Alicia’s son on The Good Wife. Could he be a laconic, Western type? As far as a choosing a great actor, I couldn’t go wrong with Freddie Highmore, even if he is English. I mean, he is a great actor, so surely he could handle an Oklahoma drawl. And he has grown up very well since he was Charlie in Charlie and Chocolate Factory.

Speaking of Charlie, Alafair’s son Charlie is one of the engines that drives All Men Fear Me, so I hope that a big-for-his age, blond, sixteen-year old shows up for casting call. Remember the little kid in the movie Big Daddy? He was played by a set of twins, Cole and Dylan Sprouse, and when last I checked, the boys are now fair-haired six-footers. How is your horsemanship, boys?

The other catalyst for this tale of fear and unrest is Alafair's brother, Rob Gunn, the union organizer and antiwar activist who drops by for a visit at the worst possible moment. Rob is a slight man of forty with a full beard and a reddish complexion. They’re not so slight nor are they so red, but both Matt Damon and Bradley Cooper have both the intensity and the rakish style that would serve the part well. Besides, if either man played the part, that would give me a great excuse to visit the set every day.

As for old Nick, the mysterious stranger in the bowler, how about another Nick? Nick Nolte would look perfect in that hat.

And as always, I’ll play the part of Grandma Sally myself.
Visit Donis Casey's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hell with the Lid Blown Off.

My Book, The Movie: Hell With the Lid Blown Off.

The Page 69 Test: All Men Fear Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Terry Williams and Trevor B. Milton's "The Con Men"

Terry Williams is a professor of sociology at the New School for Social Research. He specializes in teenage life and culture, drug abuse, crews and gangs, and violence and urban social policy. He is the author of The Cocaine Kids: The Inside Story of a Teenage Drug Ring; The Uptown Kids: Hope and Struggle in the Projects; and Crackhouse: Notes from the End of the Line, and is the founder and director of the Harlem Writers Crew Project, a multimedia approach to urban education for center city and rural youths.

Trevor B. Milton is assistant professor in social sciences at Queensborough Community College, CUNY, and author of Overcoming the Magnetism of Street Life: Crime-Engaged Youth and the Programs That Transform Them. His areas of research include prison reform and alternative-to-incarceration programs and the intersectionality of class and racial identity.

Here they dreamcast an adaptation of their new book, The Con Men: Hustling in New York City:
Whether it's selling bootleg goods, playing the numbers, squatting rent-free, scamming tourists with bogus stories, selling knockoffs on Canal Street, or crafting Ponzi schemes, con artists use verbal persuasion, physical misdirection, and sheer charm to convince others to do what they want. The Con Men examines this act of performance art and find meaning in its methods to exact bounty from unsuspecting tourists and ordinary New Yorkers alike. Through sophisticated exploration of the personal experiences and influences that create a successful hustler, this book offers a new take on structure and opportunity, showing how the city's unique urban and social architecture lends itself to the perfect con.

If there were a Hollywood adaptation of The Con Men, our ideal cast would include:

“Alibi”- The slick talking, rough-around-the-edges, master of the con game, and the philosophical front man for the book: Starring Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson would just need to grow out the hair and lean on his southern roots.

“Otis”- The well-known local hustler, public character, and pseudo-mayor of Fulton Street: Starring Lennie James. He could pretty much take the same look he has in Walking Dead, put on a baseball cap and work on his Bed-Stuy accent.

“Lee”- The handsome, twenty-three-year old selling water along Atlantic Ave. Starring Michael B. Jordan. If he were up for playing twenty-three, he would nail this.

“Daniel”- The charismatic, master salesman and “slam” artist from Canal Street. Starring Vince Vaughn. Same height, same personality.

“Maria”- Mother, gambler and numbers runner. Starring Catalina Sandino Moreno. Might have to add some years to her with make-up, but this is who I see in my head when I read this chapter.

“Lorena”- The rent-cheating, landlord defrauding, tenant nightmare. Starring Rita Moreno. Only because my respondent said she looks like her. This would be an interesting role.

“Ramon”- The ex-drug dealing, ex-user, exalted Puerto Rican man. Starring Jeffrey Wright. Mr. Wright would have to shave his head and get his Puertoricaño on, but he could do it.

“Frank”- Retired police officer and sage of street and NYPD cons, alike. Starring John Turturro. He would pretty much only need to tweak his Brooklyn accent to a Bronx accent.

“J.T. Gartner”- Former stock trader and maven of Wall Street cons. Starring Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman can do anything, right?
Learn about The Con Men at the Columbia University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tony Park's "Ivory"

Tony Park has worked as a newspaper reporter, a government press secretary, a PR consultant and a freelance writer. He is also a Major in the Australian Army Reserve and served in Afghanistan in 2002. Park and his wife divide their time between Sydney and southern Africa where they own a home on the border of the Kruger National Park.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of his novel Ivory:
Ivory is a tale of modern day piracy off the coast of Africa, but unlike the horrors of real life maritime crime my band of pirates hark back to the golden age of Hollywood.

My pirate king, Alex Tremain, is a half British, half Portuguese ex Special Forces soldier and veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Born in Mozambique, he’s taken over a run-down hotel his parents once ran on an island off that country’s coast and is in the process of renovating it. To finance his fixer-upperer he’s turned to piracy, as one does.

He’s handsome, but he’s also physically and perhaps emotionally scarred by his time in Afghanistan so we can’t have a pretty boy play him in the movie.

Clive Owen springs to mind. I’ve most recently seen him in the TV series, The Knick where, like Alex, he plays a very flawed doctor and ladies’ man. I think he’d be perfect for the role.

Our leading Lady, Jane Humphries, is the corporate legal counsel for a big shipping company. She’s scared of flying so is hitching a lift on one of the company cargo ships, to Africa, where she will encounter Alex and his band of (mostly) likeable rogues.

Jane’s blonde, a good-looking good girl who’s been seduced into being a bad girl by her wealthy married boss. Like Alex, she wants to do the right thing in life, but sometimes the vanilla option just doesn’t cut it.

I’m thinking English actress Keira Knightley for Jane, mostly because I want a walk-on part in the movie, and Keira also has experience as a pirate wench in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Another possibility would be South Africa’s Charlize Theron, who has the right attitude to be Jane (who is very tough and feisty in her own right) and can carry off just about any accent and look.

In days gone by Alex would have been played by Errol Flynn or Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Jane would have been a Vivien Leigh.

Johnny Depp has dominated the screen in recent years as the buccaneer of choice, but my Alex says no to eye makeup.
Visit Tony Park's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 13, 2015

J. S. Law's "Tenacity"

J.S. Law joined the Royal Navy in 1993 as an apprentice and went on to serve for twenty years, the latter half of this career spent in the Submarine Service. He rose through the ranks, taking a commission as an engineering officer in 2001, and serving as a Senior Engineer and Nuclear Reactor Plant Supervisor, where his responsibilities ranged from the safety and operation of the submarine’s nuclear power plant to hydraulic plants, fridges and toilets; it was the latter of these tasks that brought the majority of any pressure.

His final years in service were spent training submariners in the role of Senior Lecturer in Nuclear Reactor Engineering, where he lectured and mentored future submarine operators of all ranks and rates.

Having written short stories and novels throughout his naval career, Law completed an MA in Creative Writing at Portsmouth University shortly before leaving the navy in 2013, completing his debut thriller, Tenacity, shortly afterwards.

Tenacity centers on the investigation of a Royal Navy sailor's apparent suicide on board HMS Tenacity, a nuclear submarine, only days after his wife’s brutal murder.

Lieutenant Danielle "Dan" Lewis returns to the Navy’s Special Investigation Branch after a self-imposed exile to face the tight-knit, all-male crew of Tenacity commanded by The Old Man. Her investigation intersects with the wife's murder investigation headed by Felicity Green. Dan is reunited with John Granger, an investigator with whom she has a complicated history.

Here Law dreamcasts an adaptation of the thriller:
Who would play Dan? Honestly, if it were a movie, I’d say Jennifer Lawrence would absolutely nail the part; she’s far and away one of the most talented actors/actresses in the world and her performance in American Hustle, particularly, was just outstanding. I think she’d bring exactly the right blend of power and confidence to the role, but still show the vulnerabilities in Dan’s character.

I think Jack Nicholson as The Old Man would bounce off of Jennifer perfectly and it would be a real war between these two powerful characters. The way he played his part in A Few Good Men would really resonate with the way The Old Man runs Tenacity and I think he’d do that role justice.

For Felicity, what about someone like Halle Berry? She would really suit that role. Or maybe Nicole Kidman. Again, I think either would work well with Lawrence, supporting her as she progresses through the dangers in the plot. Felicity is slightly older than Dan and the two become fast friends, but Felicity brings a little ice to Dan’s fire and so the actress would need to do that too – sort of a mentor, but in a way that Dan doesn’t necessarily have to admit she’s being mentored.

The one I really can’t peg down is who would play John Granger? I’m open to suggestions though…
Visit J. S. Law's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lionel Laborie's "Enlightening Enthusiasm"

Lionel Laborie is a Visiting Researcher at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Enlightening Enthusiasm: Prophecy and religious experience in early eighteenth-century England:
The wars of religion are a powerful, yet rarely exploited source of inspiration by the film industry. In France, Les Camisards (1972) and La Reine Margot (1994) are two multi award-winning examples of both critical and popular interest in this sort of historical fiction. The former is based on the War of the Cévennes (1702-1704), a religious revolt in early Enlightenment France that has inspired novels, plays and operas in French, German and English since the nineteenth century.

While its opening chapter concentrates on this last French war of religion, my book tells the story of its aftermath abroad, when three of these peasant-warriors found refuge in London in 1706 and gave birth to a notorious religious movement: the 'French Prophets'. Largely forgotten today, these religious ancestors of the Shakers remained widely known across Europe and North America throughout the eighteenth century. They claimed to be possessed by the Holy Spirit, prophesied in ecstatic trances, foamed at the mouth, groaned, spoke in tongues, ‘levitated', performed miraculous cures and Biblical allegories –the fall of the Whore of Babylon– and even attempted to raise the dead. Their assemblies in London taverns attracted all levels of society, from illiterate children and maids to wealthy gentlemen and even Fellows of the Royal Society. The Prophets’ spiritual performances proved so dramatic and outrageous that they caused riots, press scandals and a condemnation to the scaffold for blasphemy. The group also launched missions to European courts and eventually turned into a underground religious movement.

As a structurally loose religious movement, the French Prophets relied on a number of charismatic figures and powerful supporters. My ideal cast for a film would be:

Elie Marion, the eerily charismatic Camisard prophet: Matthieu Amalric

Nicolas Fatio, the emotional mathematician, Isaac Newton’s intimate friend and the Prophets’ spokesman: Pierre Niney

John Lacy, the melancholic justice of the peace-turned-charismatic prophet and miracle worker: Gary Oldman

Betty Gray, the teenage prophetess predicted to give birth to a second messiah: Mia Wasikowska

Maximilien Misson, the internationally renowned writer and spokesman for the Prophets: Fabrice Luchini

Thomas Emes, the dissenting chemist predicted to rise from the dead: Johnny Depp

Abraham Whitrow, the revolutionary Prophet who sought to redistribute wealth: Daniel Day Lewis

Dorothy Harling, the sadistic widow who whipped her brethren after hearing their confession: Susan Sarandon or Helena Bonham Carter

The film should focus on the early years of the French Prophets’ movement, roughly between 1706 and 1710, when they announced the Christ’s imminent Second Coming and defied religious authorities to establish a utopian Church. Lacy’s adulterous relationship with Betty Gray would add a great supernatural love story to the plot. Its director should have experience of both the occult and historical fiction. A master of the genre would be Roman Polanski.

More generally, the early modern period remains a virtually untapped source of inspiration for the film industry. Yet it is replete with incredible true stories of conspiracies, betrayals, imposture, heretics, mystics, prophets, sex and violence that offer all the ingredients for a Hollywood blockbuster. Filmmakers should look deeper into our past to engage fiction with real history.
Learn more about Enlightening Enthusiasm at the Manchester University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sally Andrew's "Recipes for Love and Murder"

Sally Andrew lives on a nature reserve in South Africa's Klein Karoo with her partner, Bowen Boshier, and other wildlife, including a secretive leopard. Her background is in adult and environmental education, and she has published a number of nonfiction books.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery, her first novel:
My main character, Tannie Maria, requires a cute, mature actress (over fifty) with a sense of humour, and her feet firmly on the ground.

Acclaimed South African actress, Sandra Prinsloo, did a phenomenal job narrating the audio version of Recipes for Love and Murder. I reckon she could play all the parts in the movie, not just the part of Tannie Maria!

If she's not available, then perhaps the incredible Meryl Streep might take the part? Both she and Sandra have remarkable skills and versatility. (They do not play type-cast roles.)

Although neither of these woman are as short and plump as the role of Tannie Maria requires, they are such good actresses they would lead us to believe they were.
Visit Sally Andrew's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 6, 2015

Douglas Waller's "Disciples"

Douglas Waller is a former Newsweek and Time correspondent. Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Disciples: The World War II Missions of the CIA Directors Who Fought for Wild Bill Donovan:
Disciples tells the story of four men who fought for the Office of Strategic Services spy agency in World War II and who later were among the most controversial directors the CIA has ever had: Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, William Colby and William Casey. During the war, Dulles ran the OSS’s most successful spy operations against the Axis. Casey organized top-secret missions to penetrate Nazi Germany. Colby led daring OSS commando raids behind the lines in occupied France and Norway. Richard Helms mounted risky intelligence programs against the Russians in the ruin of Berlin.

Here are the actors ideally suited to play these four men:

For Allen Dulles – Michael Keaton. Maddeningly secretive, Dulles looked like the headmaster of an upper-class English boarding school, dressed usually in bow tie and tweed sport coat, his wiry grey hair slightly mussed, his moustache carefully trimmed, a pipe almost always clenched between his teeth. With his sparkling grey-blue eyes and soft voice that invited people to pour their hearts out, Dulles had a talent for convincing operatives to risk their lives for him. With the right makeup, Keaton, who was superb in Birdman, would be an ideal Allen Dulles.

For Richard Helms – Jake Gyllenhaal. Helms was a tall, handsome Naval officer in World War II, with a Mona Lisa-like smile, his hair neatly slicked back, and a cold, aloof personality. The consummate intelligence operative, Helms detested drawing attention to himself. He viewed his OSS service with clinical dispassion, never with nostalgia. Gyllenhaal, who has ranged widely in the characters he’s taken on, could pull off the subtleness needed to play Richard Helms.

For William Colby – Bradley Cooper: Colby looked like a man who could be overlooked. He was slightly built, he had pale dull eyes behind horn-rimmed glasses, and his hair was always parted neatly at the side. But he had an inner drive and courage that others found intimidating. Classical Greek and Roman heroes intrigued him. Cooper would have to bulk down, get a 1940’s haircut, and put on glasses, but he demonstrated in American Sniper that he can be a low-key warrior, as Bill Colby was.

Bill Casey – Paul Giamatti. Casey was an in-your-face kind of guy. A fellow OSS officer, who served with him in the agency’s London station, said “you could not not pay attention to him.” A voracious reader with a photographic memory, Casey could retain passages almost verbatim from articles he seemed to be just flipping through. He made a bad first impression with his slovenly appearance, but his mind and body were constantly on the go. Giamatti is perfect for the part.
Visit Douglas Waller's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Scott Shane's "Objective Troy"

Scott Shane is a reporter in the Washington bureau of the New York Times, where he has covered national security since 2004.

Here Shane dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone:
Objective Troy strikes me as a natural for a documentary, in part because Anwar al-Awlaki lived so much of his professional life in front of video cameras. But the book might also be translated into a terrific feature film, though as a journalist I would be nervous about what liberties a screenwriter or director might take with the facts. So many moments in the book contain human drama: young Awlaki hurling his Colorado State roommate's TV to the floor in the first flush of his discovery of puritanical religion; his visit to wintry Afghanistan to see the heroes of the anti-Soviet jihad; his tensions with his father, who wanted him to be a technocrat, not a preacher; his time in a national media spotlight after 9/11; his stardom as a lecturer with an increasingly radical message in the U.K.; his imprisonment in Yemen without charges, with American encouragement; his decision to join Al Qaeda and emergence as its most potent English-language recruiter, including his coaching of the so-called underwear bomber. And then there is, of course, President Obama's decision to order the intelligence agencies to find him and kill him in a drone strike, and his final, fiery death. A coda might show how he has survived on YouTube, in tens of thousands of videos that are still radicalizing young Muslims.

So: who might star as Anwar al-Awlaki? I'll offer a surprising choice: the brilliant comedian Aziz Ansari, of Parks and Recreation fame. If he grew his beard and put on wire-rimmed glasses, he'd look the part, and I think he could master the many shifting roles of Awlaki's life. Now an atheist, Ansari grew up in a Muslim American family, which might make some of the pressures of Awlaki's early life especially understandable to him. (If you want to see why Twitter was invented, Google Aziz Ansari and Rupert Murdoch and see how Ansari reacted to Murdoch's proposal that all Muslims should be "held responsible" for terrorism committed by Muslims.) Even after joining Al Qaeda, Awlaki sometimes showed an exuberance, a sharp wit and a sarcastic streak that Ansari could surely nail. Perhaps the great comic would find it an enticing challenge to play a historic figure in a tragic tale. (Aziz, are you listening?)
Visit Scott Shane's website.

The Page 99 Test: Objective Troy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 2, 2015

Charlie Price's "Dead Investigation"

Charlie Price lives in northern California. He is an executive coach for business leaders and has also worked with at-risk teens in schools, hospitals, and communities. His novels include Desert Angel and The Interrogation of Gabriel James, winner of the Edgar Award.

Here Price dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Dead Investigation:
Years ago I had a chance work with a parapsychologist in NYC who entertained and educated me with marvelous and incredible stories: a ghost that walks knee-deep in a Scottish castle, a clairvoyant woman able to help a family find a missing father, teenage girls who were so energetically upset that objects would fly off the warehouse shelves where they worked. (Poltergeist phenomena.) Later, a teenaged girl my daughter’s age was kidnapped in my community and I lay awake at night wanting to find her and bring her home. In the end, I needed a clairvoyant character like Murray to help me.

Making my book into a film I’d like Murray (the alienated boy who takes refuge in a cemetery and talks to the dead) to be played by Robert Sheehan. He knocked my spats off as the young lead with Tourette’s syndrome in The Road Within. In that particularly demanding role, Sheehan demonstrated an affinity for soulfully portraying “special” people. And I think I’d like to team him up with Chloë Grace Moritz, the tough, scrappy, never-give-up girl in Kick Ass. Ms. Moritz has the good comic timing and an impish quality that matches Pearl, the cemetery caretaker’s daughter. Her strong-willed intelligence makes for interesting but conflictual flirting! Either Destin Cretton of Short Term 12 or Glen Wells from The Road Within have demonstrated the nuanced capacity to accurately portray troubled teenagers and I think either would keep the movie real and not bend it into some hokey ghost mystery.
Visit Charlie Price's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 30, 2015

Margaret Randall's "Haydée Santamaría, Cuban Revolutionary"

Margaret Randall is the author of dozens of books of poetry and prose, including Che on My Mind, and the translator of When Rains Became Floods: A Child Soldier's Story.

Here Randall dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Haydée Santamaría, Cuban Revolutionary: She Led by Transgression:
As Haydée Santamaría, Cuban Revolutionary is about a real person, and I knew her in life, I had only her--powerfully her--in mind when I wrote it. My aim was to bring her to life in its pages. Because Haydée's life was spectacularly imaginative and daring, though, I think it would make a terrific film. For several reasons, I think of Nicole Kidman in the lead role: she could play the young and aging Haydée equally convincingly, her emotional range is broad and deep, and I think her brilliance would find some interesting challenges.

To direct the film? I'm not so sure. My favorite directors have long since passed into film history. Perhaps it would be most appropriate for a Cuban filmmaker, particularly a woman (of whom there are very few). Several names comes to mind: Rebeca Chávez, Belkis Vega... Since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States in December, 2014, it might be interesting for this to be among the first US/Cuban co-productions (well, Cuban/International, since Kidman is Australian).
Visit Margaret Randall's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Jamie Blaine's "Midnight Jesus"

Jamie Blaine is a licensed psychotherapist and crisis interventionist who has worked in mental hospitals, megachurches, rehabs, radio stations, and roller rinks. His writing has been featured in such outlets as Salon, OnFaith, Bass Guitar, Drummer UK, The Weeklings, The Nervous Breakdown, and Ultimate Classic Rock.

Here Blaine dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Midnight Jesus: Where Struggle, Faith, and Grace Collide...:
My influences are not that common for Christian writers. I didn’t read Buechner or C.S. Lewis or Merton. Not much, at least. I read screenplays and scripts like Raising Arizona and Escape from New York and Mean Girls and Freaks and Geeks and The Gilmore Girls. If you want to learn how to write great dialogue, read The Gilmore Girls. If you want insight into poignant without sentimentality, get both volumes of Freaks and Geeks, The Complete Scripts.

Midnight Jesus was written with adaptation in mind. It’s a screenplay turned into memoir. That hopefully will get turned back into script again. But my vision would be more Orange is the New Black than feature film. I like television. You can take your time telling the story and mine are episodic anyway.

Inspirational writers would do well to study scripts. Show, don’t tell. Cut needless words. Everything must move the action forward. Dialogue is king.

As for directors – I love the Freaks and Geeks / Undeclared era of Apatow and Feig. Love some of the Coen Brothers work. I mean, we’re just dreaming, right? Anton Corbijn’s ability to capture dark elegance. Certainly, David Lynch. Mike Judge’s clever touch with parable. Amy Heckerling, of course, the mastermind behind Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless. Do I have to pick one? Can’t they all work together? How about a team of Amy, Mike, Feig and Anton? Let’s throw Amy Sherman-Palladino in as well. Ah, wait. We gotta have Cameron Crowe.

How do you pick someone to play yourself? Hard to be objective. Heath Ledger that’s about 88 percent 10 Things I Hate about You and 12 percent Joker. Keanu Reeves split between Speed, Bill & Ted and Point Break. Kurt Russell equal parts Snake Plissken, Overboard and Tango and Cash.

In reality? I’ll likely get Dustin “Screech” Diamond or that kid who played Napoleon directed by whoever lands the Hallmark movie of the week gig. But that would still be fortuitous. Everyone dreams of getting their book translated to the screen.

Long as I get a cameo as a psych ward patient or late night crisis call. I want to see what the other end is like for a change.
Visit the Midnight Jesus website.

The Page 99 Test: Midnight Jesus.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 26, 2015

Shane White's "Prince of Darkness"

Shane White is the Challis Professor of History and an Australian Professorial Fellow in the History Department at the University of Sydney specializing in African-American history. He has authored or co-authored several books, including Playing the Numbers, and collaborated in the construction of the website Digital Harlem.

Here White dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street's First Black Millionaire:
I would hardly be the first historian to think that my just published book, to which I have devoted several years’ work, should have a larger audience and be made into a Broadway musical or a film. Or both.

Although Prince of Darkness is about a Wall Street broker named Jeremiah Hamilton, his was a life of cinematic vividness. There were feats of derring-do, including a foiled foray running counterfeit coin into Port-au-Prince harbor, vigorous disputes about business ethics (or Hamilton’s lack of them) including one spectacular incident in which a slanging match in a New York courtroom broke out into a brawl on the steps of the Tombs building, and the violent eruption into the New York Draft Riots, arguably the worst week in the city’s history, where an Irish mob stormed into Hamilton’s house with the intention of lynching him on the lamppost outside. What is most appealing about him, though, is his large style. He may have been a pioneer but he was anything but polite and deferential. Hamilton never turned away or turned the other cheek.

Making a film about African Americans always seems to depend on signing up a big well-known bankable star. And depending on what part of the story the film concentrates, and thus how old he is (from say 20 to 67 when he dies), any of the usual suspects would surely do a great job—Denzel Washington, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Will Smith etc. Hamilton’s white wife, Eliza, was 14 to his 28 or 29 when he married her—so for once Hollywood’s insistence on casting the female lead decades younger than the male lead would be accurate enough. Very little is known of Eliza Jane Hamilton, but she must have been a formidable person to cope with all that New York threw at her throughout her life.

As to director. Scorsese always manages to convey a New York feel to his pictures—you may (and I would) argue with some of the history of Gangs of New York but some of his shots of New York were heartbreakingly beautiful. Spielberg has a feel for history and an interest in the African American past in say Amistad or Lincoln. To be honest, though, one of my favorite directors is Ridley Scott. The color and look of many of his films is achingly beautiful as well.

I have no doubt that Prince of Darkness could be made into a great film. It is a wonderful and surprising story that runs against the grain of the history Americans have been taught for so long.
Learn more about Prince of Darkness at the St. Martin's Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue