Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Brenda Chapman's "Butterfly Kills"

Brenda Chapman began her writing career in children’s fiction. Her YA novel Hiding in Hawk's Creek was shortlisted for the CLA Book of the Year for Children. Her first adult mystery, In Winter's Grip, was published in 2010. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Here Chapman dreamcasts an adaptation of Butterfly Kills, the latest novel in her Stonechild and Rouleau mystery series, and reported the following:
I was intrigued but somewhat stymied by the idea of casting the lead characters in Butterfly Kills for a movie. I've had little time the past few years to watch movies, and besides that, I'm terrible at remembering names of friends let alone actors on a screen. To add to the challenge, I'd not written the novel with specific actors in mind. Luckily, I had a big ace up my sleeve.

One December afternoon, I enlisted the help of my good friend and movie aficionado Susan Rothery to help as my casting agent. Sue attends the Toronto International Film Festival every year and waits in line to take photos of up-and-coming and established stars. Movies are her passion and she has a memory for movie trivia for which I can only marvel. She'd also read my first Stonechild and Rouleau novel Cold Mourning and had a feel for my characters. She jumped at the task and over the course of the afternoon, narrowed down lists with several strong suggestions for each actor. My job was to check them out on Google and YouTube and weed down the list until I arrived at an award-winning cast of characters.

Selecting the director was easy. Sue and I immediately agreed on David Fincher, who created three spooky and suspenseful movies that I'd actually seen: Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (American version) and Zodiac. Movies, like books, are all about the setting and feel, so he was the natural choice to bring the dark suspense to life in Butterfly Kills.

We then set about choosing actors to play the three lead cops.

Jacques Rouleau is the staff sergeant and described as a man in his early fifties, bald, lean and green-eyed with the trace of a French accent. Vincent Cassel who played in Black Swan wins the role of Rouleau and hopefully won't balk at shaving his head. Cassel has the interesting, craggy face that I envisioned and the French heritage intrinsic to the character.

Kala Stonechild is in her early thirties, of Aboriginal descent, high cheekbones, five foot seven, attractive but not beautiful. After finding a trailer of Annie Galipeau playing the lead opposite Pierce Brosnan in Grey Owl, Annie brings the same quiet intensity and intangible mesmerizing quality as Stonechild.

Stonechild's partner Paul Gundersund is described in the book as a six foot two cop of Swedish descent who wears his blond hair too long and has a scar on his cheek. He's in his mid-thirties and slightly out of shape, but has the look of a Viking warrior. Alexander Skarsgard gets the nod for this role, currently playing a Viking vampire on the television series True Blood. He'll need to roughen up his handsome looks a bit and add that scar to his face and maybe put on a few pounds, but judging from his acting credits, this shouldn't be a problem.

So now, the hard work has been done. The winning team has been assembled. The champagne corks are popping.

Over to you, Hollywood.
Visit Brenda Chapman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Butterfly Kills.

--Marshal Zeringue