Thursday, April 30, 2015

Meredith Zeitlin's "Sophomore Year is Greek to Me"

Meredith Zeitlin has written two books for young people (so far) and lots of articles for Ladygunn Magazine. She’s also a voiceover artist who can be heard on commercials, cartoons, and TV shows.

Here Zeitlin dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me:
This is a tricky one, because most of the characters in my book are 15 years old, and I'm not that familiar with young actors and actresses! When I was writing, the person I pictured as Zona (the main character) was Jane Levy, who stars in Suburgatory. She's a cute and sassy redhead who's also very smart, goal-oriented, and a bit neurotic; coincidentally, the character Jane plays has an absent mother and a very close relationship with her dad. I think Jane is too old to play Zona now, but maybe she has a younger sister?

I could see David Straitharn as Zona's Dad, David Lowell. He looks exactly how I pictured him, plus he'd be totally believable as a serious journalist who has a soft spot for his only daughter. Meaghan Rath (Being Human) would be perfect as Zona's cool older cousin, Yiota. Thios Theseus would be very difficult to cast - it would have to be a Gene Wilder type. Robin WIlliams would really have been the best choice. It would be terrific to actually use Greek actors for the extended family - I would die of joy if Olympia Dukakis wanted to play Pro-Yia-Yia (Zona's ancient, stubborn great-grandmother). Nia Vardalos is a little young to play Thia Angela, but with the right makeup she could make it work.

Of course, I would love to hear what readers think - who would you cast??
Visit Meredith Zeitlin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Carol Berkin's "The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties"

Carol Berkin, Presidential Professor of History, Emerita at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, is the author of A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution, First Generations, Jonathan Sewall, and Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties:

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Berkin's reply:
Benedict Cumberbatch as the book's hero James Madison; Robert Downey Jr as the irascible Elbridge Gerry; Mark Harmon as Roger Sherman.
Learn more about The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties.

My Book, The Movie: Wondrous Beauty.

Writers Read: Carol Berkin (February 2014).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ed Kovacs's "The Russian Bride"

Ed Kovacs is the author of the critically-acclaimed Cliff St. James mystery/crime series published by St. Martin’s Press. Kovacs has studied martial arts, holds many weapons-related licenses, certifications and permits, and is a certified medical First Responder. Using various pen names, he has worked professionally around the world as a screenwriter, journalist, and media consultant. He is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, American Legion Post 299, the International Thriller Writers association, and Mystery Writers of America.

Here Kovacs dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Russian Bride:
The hero of The Russian Bride is Kit Bennings, an American military intelligence officer in the army's most secret unit. I envisioned a man who could not only blend in amongst various cultures, but who could alternately appear harmless or extremely menacing.

I settled on Karl Urban, who played a deadly assassin in The Bourne Supremacy—he was the guy who killed Bourne's girlfriend. Urban is handsome, rugged, and can deliver a chilling gaze. Perfect. I printed out his photo and tacked it above my writing desk.

As for my Russian heroine, Yulana Petkova, I couldn't decide on an actress who'd be perfect, so I found a Russian fashion model's headshot that just seemed to nail it.

Having spent a lot of time in Russia myself—including working with intelligence agents (I stayed in the same hotel in Kazakhstan as the notorious Russian deep cover agent Anna Chapman), I wanted a beautiful, exotic female with an undercurrent of melancholy and the suggestion that she had many secrets to hide. Perhaps readers could suggest the perfect actress for Yulana.
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Kovacs's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Russian Bride.

Writers Read: Ed Kovacs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Michael Gregorio's "Cry Wolf"

Michael Gregorio is the pen name of Michael G. Jacob and Daniela De Gregorio. They live in Spoleto, Italy. Michael Gregorio was awarded the Umbria del Cuore prize in 2007.

Here Michael Jacob dreamcasts an adaptation of their latest novel, Cry Wolf:
Cry Wolf is a rogues’ gallery, more or less. There’s only one good guy, Sebastiano Cangio, and he’s a park ranger, so we need a weathered, ornery-lookin’ guy to play the part. He needs to combine old-fashioned charm with a wry sense of humour, so I reckon I could play him perfectly with a lot of help from the make-up girls. Seb’s attractive girlfriend, Loredana, was invented by my co-author and wife, so Daniela would be the best person to take on that role. Once again, the skills of the professional make-up department will be in great demand, as Loredana and Seb are decades younger than us. We’ll need to infuse our relationship with a pinch of playful spice, which may be kinda tough after thirty-six years of marriage, so we will definitely need a director with the wit of Billy Wilder, the grit of Billy Wilder, the sh... Okay, okay. Billy gets to write the screenplay and direct the film.

This rogues’ gallery is going to be a hard nut to crack, though.

I mean to say, where in Hollywood are we going to find a wild enough bunch of miscreants to do all the corrupt and nasty things that all the corrupt and nasty people do in our novel? We’d need to find the most unethical cop the world has ever seen: a sort of scheming Richard III (minus the hump), or loan shark come to collect his debts. Stanley Tucci in a nasty mood, maybe? We’ll also need four ’Ndrangheta (mafia) hoods – one teetering dangerously on the brink of senility, one up-and-coming go-getter, the third, a regular butcher, and finally, Corrado Formisano, a lovable, out-of-work hit man with a pistol he adores. We may have to persuade the Italian authorities to let some of our creative writing students out of the local maximum-security prison on a special permit to play these parts, but can we claim that it will make them better, law-abiding men?

And then there’s the Queen, a dynamic young politico with unlimited ambitions and bolts of raw lightning exploding out of every pore of her curvaceous body: Jennifer Aniston? Salma Hayek? Or maybe a combination of the two with a bit of clever computer manipulation...

Having indulged ourselves for half a page, it might be better if we wait for Hollywood to make the big decision and buy the film rights. No doubt they’ll have the right actors queuing up outside the gates, and a shit-hot director who has been wasting his life away just waiting for the opportunity to direct Cry Wolf by Michael Gregorio.
Visit Michael Gregorio's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Michael Gregorio's Hanno Stiffeniis novels.

The Page 69 Test: Cry Wolf.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Jan-Philipp Sendker's "Whispering Shadows"

Jan-Philipp Sendker, born in Hamburg in 1960, was the American correspondent for Stern from 1990 to 1995, and its Asian correspondent from 1995 to 1999. In 2000 he published Cracks in the Wall, a nonfiction book about China. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, his first novel, was an international bestseller. He lives in Berlin with his family.

Here Sendker dreamcasts the lead in an adaptation of his new novel, Whispering Shadows:
Many readers around the world have asked me if I was Paul Leibovitz, the main character in Whispering Shadows.

Of course I am not but there are some similarities and he would be the role (and it happened to be the lead role) I would play.

He is in his early fifties (like me), he used to be a journalist (like me), lives in Hong Kong (like I used to) and is fascinated by China (like me).

He does not have much of sense of belonging, born in Germany, growing up in New York, having lived in Asia for 30 years.

He had lost his child to leukemia and lives as a recluse on a small island in Hong Kong, trying to find a way back into life after such devastating loss.

He is a man full of grief, passion and longing and deeply hurt. At the same time he is a very gentle soul, always ready to help. A very interesting character, full of contradictions and emotions.

I see the Oscar coming…
Visit Jan-Philipp Sendker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Whispering Shadows.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Martin Goldsmith's "Alex's Wake"

Martin Goldsmith, author of Alex's Wake: The Tragic Voyage of the St. Louis to Flee Nazi Germany--and a Grandson's Journey of Love and Remembrance, is the host and classical music programmer for Symphony Hall on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and previously hosted NPR's daily classical music program, "Performance Today," from 1989 to 1999. He is the author of The Inextinguishable Symphony and lives in Maryland.

Here Goldsmith dreamcasts an adaptation of Alex's Wake:
I cannot imagine an author alive today who has not dreamed, either by day or by night, of his/her words being made flesh and flickering on a screen, either large or small. More than a few of those kind readers who have contacted me after undertaking the journey that is Alex's Wake have declared it to be movie-worthy, to which I often respond with the time-honored, "From your lips to God's ears!" Just in case that Almighty Casting Director is paying attention, here are some hopeful suggestions:

I first encountered Kenneth Branagh in London in the late '80s, where he was appearing nightly in repertory in Shakespeare's As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet. I couldn't take my eyes off him when he was on stage and have loved his work ever since, convinced that he can bring any character to vivid life. Since part of the irrational impetus for my writing Alex's Wake was to save the lives of my relatives who were murdered ten years before I was born, the idea of Mr. Branagh bringing Grandfather Alex back to life is immensely appealing. For the role of Alex's son, my Uncle Helmut, a generous, inquisitive, good-humored young man, I would love to cast the sweet yet whip-smart Eddie Redmayne, who so recently and memorably gave life to Stephen Hawking. Young Mr. Redmayne also shares a birthday with my mother, which I consider a most auspicious sign.

Three smaller yet crucial roles in the story are those of Gustav Schroeder, the dedicated and righteous captain of the SS St. Louis, the infamous refugee ship that Alex and Helmut boarded with such hope in Hamburg in May of 1939; Federico Bru, President of Cuba, who turned the St. Louis away from Havana as part of a power play with his fellow Cuban officials and some American negotiators; and Morris Troper, the representative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee who brokered a deal to allow the St. Louis passengers to avoid going back to Germany. Those roles I would eagerly deliver to three actors of range, intelligence, power, and depth: the Academy Award-winning Christoph Waltz, the Emmy Award-nominated Giancarlo Esposito, and the Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning Paul Giamatti.

Finally, and a bit uncomfortably, I need to cast a couple of actors to play two people I know quite well: my wife and me. Alex's Wake tells the tale of Alex and Helmut's odyssey between 1939 and 1942 through Germany and France to their eventual murder in Auschwitz. But it is also the story of our attempt to follow in their footsteps seven decades later, to breathe the air they breathed before they breathed their last, and to bear witness. My dear wife Amy is loving, supportive, clever, decisive, and very funny, qualities captured so effectively so often by the Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore. How much fun would it be to spend time on the set with the creator of Maude Lebowski and of the only slightly less believable character known as Sarah Palin? To play Martin Goldsmith on screen I would nominate the amazing Bryan Cranston, whose Walter White in Breaking Bad is one of the sublime performances in dramatic history. It strikes me as more than right that for such an uncertain prospect as a movie based on Alex's Wake, one of the leading parts should go to an actor famous for creating a role inspired by the author of the Uncertainty Principle: Werner Heisenberg.
© 2015 Martin Goldsmith
Visit the Alex's Wake website.

The Page 99 Test: Alex's Wake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Joy Fielding's "Someone Is Watching"

Joy Fielding is the New York Times bestselling author of Charley’s Web, Heartstopper, Mad River Road, See Jane Run, Shadow Creek, and other acclaimed novels.

Here Fielding dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest thriller, Someone Is Watching:
If Someone Is Watching were to be made into a movie, I'd love for Emma Stone to play Bailey. I actually didn't have anyone in particular in mind when I was writing the book, but having given the matter considerable thought over the last few days, I've come to think that Emma Stone would be perfect. She's probably a little young - Bailey is 29 and I think Emma Stone is at least a few years younger than that - but I still think she could make it work. She's a great actress with lots of spunk, two things that would be essential in bringing Bailey to life. Jennifer Lawrence would also be terrific, although she, too, is a few years younger than Bailey. But she's used to playing older than she actually is - think Silver Linings Playbook - so I don't think this would be a problem.
Learn more about the book and author at Joy Fielding's website.

Writers Read: Joy Fielding.

The Page 69 Test: Someone Is Watching.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Joyce E. Salisbury's "Rome’s Christian Empress"

Joyce E. Salisbury is professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay. She is the author of Perpetua’s Passion: Death and Memory of a Young Roman Woman and The Beast Within: Animals in the Middle Ages.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Rome's Christian Empress: Galla Placidia Rules at the Twilight of the Empire:
Throughout the time I was writing this book, I pictured Angelina Jolie as playing the empress Placidia. First was the obvious –her looks. Galla Placidia was reputed to be stunningly beautiful with dark hair and dark eyes, and her one portrait (on the cover of my book) shows this. Beyond this, however, I’d need an actress who could express a range of emotions and embrace seemingly conflicting character traits. Placidia was deeply religious, yet she boldly exerted power even when her actions might seem unchristian at best. She approved of the execution of her stepmother; her disagreeable husband died under surprising circumstances; she was accused of inappropriate affection with her brother when she needed his support. Yet, Pope Leo knelt at her feet looking for her support. I love that she was complicated – it made her fun to write about, and I can only imagine someone like Jolie might be able to express these complexities.

There is a role for Brad Pitt –the handsome, competent barbarian who kidnaps Placidia then marries her. Though he does die early in the film leaving Jolie to embrace the role of the woman who lives a long, influential life dominating church, state, the arts and her own difficult children.
Learn more about Rome's Christian Empress at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Rome's Christian Empress.

Writers Read: Joyce E. Salisbury.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Adam Mitzner's "Losing Faith"

Adam Mitzner's books include A Case of Redemption and A Conflict of Interest.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Losing Faith:
I try to stay away from imagining the book on film as I’m writing because I think it can make the descriptions of the characters less rich, using short-hand rather than really delving into their characteristics. That being said, I'd absolutely love to see Losing Faith on the big screen (or the small one), and here’s who I would cast in its leading roles:

Aaron Littman. The protagonist of Losing Faith is fifty years old and the chairman of the most powerful law firm in New York City, and the book’s main story line concerns his efforts to stay atop that lofted perch. I think the obvious choice would be George Clooney, but I could also see Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, or even Pierce Brosnan playing the role – assuming they would do it with a New York accent.

Cynthia Littman. Aaron’s wife has to be a match for her husband, and believable as a doctor. Julianne Moore would be perfect.

Faith Nichols. The title character should mirror Cynthia Littman – an equal to Aaron in every way. I’d give Julianne Moore her pick of whether she’d rather play Faith or Cynthia, and if she then cast the other with one of the following: Julianna Margulies, January Jones, or Halle Berry.

Samuel Rosenthal. The description of Rosenthal on the first page is my favorite one in the book:
Samuel Rosenthal is almost comically the opposite. He’s more than a half foot shorter than Aaron, he doesn’t have a single hair on his head, and his right side droops slightly, the last vestige of the accident that nearly killed him decades ago. Yet Rosenthal is the personification of the expression that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. At seventy-one, he’s still a wartime consigliere of the first order. The type of lawyer who takes no prisoners and leaves no earth unscorched.
I’d cast a Hollywood legend in that role: Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Kingsley. Perhaps not legends in the same category, but Joe Pesci and Danny DeVito would be fun to see as Rosenthal too.

Rachel London. The beautiful and ambitious lawyer in love with Aaron, with secrets of her own. Claire Danes is a favorite. Also Olivia Wilde.

Nicolai Garkov. He is obviously the most difficult to cast – as a 7-foot-tall Russian is likely not found in Central Casting. Whoever plays the role has to tower over everyone else, and have the swagger of a Bond villain. I can see Vince Vaughn (assuming he dons a blonde wig), chewing the scenery quite nicely.
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mitzner's website.

The Page 69 Test: Losing Faith.

Writers Read: Adam Mitzner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bruce DeSilva's "A Scourge of Vipers"

Bruce DeSilva is a former journalist whose Edgar Award-winning hard-boiled crime novels chronicle the adventures of Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter for the dying Providence Dispatch.

Here he shares some thoughts about adapting his new novel,  A Scourge of Vipers, for the big screen:
Mulligan is a 44-year-old journalist who has difficulty with authority and is prone to ill-timed wisecracks. He has a strong but shifting sense of justice, willing to break rules, and even the law, to bring bad guys to justice in Providence, R.I., a city with a long history of organized crime and political corruption. The music of blues musicians such as Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor form the soundtrack of his life. Howard Frank Mosher, author of Waiting for Teddy Williams and one of my favorite writers, sent me an email proclaiming that Mulligan is “the most human, unpredictable, and anti-authoritarian fictional character I’ve met since Ranger Gus McCrae of Lonesome Dove.” I’d like to think he’s right.

In A Scourge of Vipers, the governor proposes legalizing sports betting as a way to ease the state’s budget crisis, and organizations who have a lot to lose if it passes flood the state with millions of dollars to buy the votes of politicians. Soon, a powerful state senator turns up dead, a mobbed-up bagman gets shot down, and his suitcase full of cash goes missing. As Mulligan digs into the story, shadowy forces try to derail his investigation by destroying his reputation, his career, and even his life.

The novel has a colorful cast of characters, many of whom appeared in the three previous novels in the series.

I’d love to see this book turned into a movie, of course, but I think the Mulligan novels may be better suited to a quality television crime drama. Most crime movies are full of gunfights, car chases and explosions but there’s not much of that in my novels. They are more character driven, much like TV shows such as The Sopranos, Justified, and True Detective.

Here’s my dream cast:

--Denis Leary (Rescue Me) as Mulligan. He’s a bit old for the part but can play younger, and he embodies the smart mouth and bad attitude toward authority that is Mulligan.

--Jason Beghe (Chicago PD) and Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) as the homicide twins, two Providence cops who have it in for Mulligan. They both know how to give somebody a hard time.

--Kevin Bacon (The Following) as RI State Police Captain Stephen Parisi. He does the steely-eyed thing really well.

--Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) as Fiona McNerney, aka Attila the Nun, a former religious sister serving as Rhode Island’s take-no-prisoners governor.

--John Francis Daley (Bones) as Mulligan’s young newspaper sidekick, Edward Anthony Mason III, AKA Thanks-Dad. Like Thanks-Dad, he conveys a misleading naivety that makes him easy to underestimate.

--Frankie Valli (The Sopranos) as Domenic “Whoosh” Zerilli, Mulligan’s bookie and close friend. He provides the same sly menace I associate with Whoosh.

--Steve Schirripa (The Sopranos) as Joseph DeLucca, the often unemployed, smarter-than-he-looks friend of Mulligan’s. He’s got the right look and the right working-class manner of speaking.

--Jada Pinkett Smith (Gotham) as Yolanda Mosley-Jones, Mulligan’s on again, off again love interest. She embodies Yolanda’s elegance and intelligence.

--Bruce DeSilva as Ed Lomax, managing editor of The Providence Dispatch and Mulligan’s former boss. Lomax is a man of few words, so I should be able to remember my lines.
Learn more about the book and author at Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Rogue Island.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva and Brady.

The Page 69 Test: Cliff Walk.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Rondo and Brady.

My Book, The Movie: Providence Rag.

The Page 69 Test: Providence Rag.

The Page 69 Test: A Scourge of Vipers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Claire Kells's "Girl Underwater"

Claire Kells was born outside Philadelphia and has lived in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco since graduating from Princeton University in 2005. An English major, she didn’t start writing fiction until her first year of medical school. Now a second-year resident, she spends her free time writing stories about love, loss, and adventure.

Here Kells dreamcasts an adaptation of Girl Underwater, her debut novel:
I’ve always been fascinated by casting directors, who play such a critical, yet unsung role in the filmmaking process. I feel like I finally got to experience their job for a few hours while searching for the perfect cast for Girl Underwater on IMDb—and it wasn’t easy! Fortunately I don’t have to audition any of these people in person (although that would be cool). Anyway, here goes:

Avery: Dakota Fanning. She’s young and talented and played a swimmer in Man on Fire when she was a kid—what more could you ask for? I think she would do an incredible job bringing Avery’s physical and emotional journey to life.

Colin: Ansel Elgort. He’s 6’4,” which is a plus. I loved his portrayal of Gus in The Fault in Our Stars, which he played with sensitivity and humor. He just needs to shave his head, then we’re good to go.

Lee: Does Jason Momoa have a younger brother? If so, he’s hired.

Avery’s Dad: J.K. Simmons. I love this actor. Anybody who can play a tough, no-nonsense, completely irreverent teacher in Whiplash with the brilliance he did could nail the part of Avery’s dad.

Edward: Chris Hemsworth. There will always be a role for Chris Hemsworth in every novel/screenplay/poem I write if he wants it.

Tim, Liam, and Aayu: I’m hoping a talented casting director would have better luck finding the right child actors than I did. That said, it can certainly be done (see Dakota Fanning, above).

Swimmer #19: Me. I’d even be willing to wear a swimcap and goggles for my cameo.

There it is! My dream cast.
Visit Claire Kells's website.

The Page 69 Test: Girl Underwater.

Writers Read: Claire Kells.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kirker Butler's "Pretty Ugly"

Kirker Butler has worked as a lifeguard, a country music DJ, a Tommy Hilfiger Jeans specialist, a medical supply deliveryman, a Christian music DJ, a bartender, a precious jewelry clerk, a prop PA, a telemarketer for a comedy club, a wedding DJ, a brewery waiter, a videotape editor, an entertainment news producer, an actor, a bouncer at a nightclub (one night), a host at a different nightclub, a singing telegram guy, a receptionist at Neiman Marcus, and the set decorator for N’SYNC’s first “I Want You Back” video.

Today, Butler is a two-time Emmy nominated writer and producer who has written for Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, The Neighbors, and Galavant. His graphic novel, Blue Agave and Worm was published in 2010. Additionally, Butler has written for The Academy Awards, E! News Daily, and the WB series What I Like About You.

Here Butler dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Pretty Ugly:
Knowing the current state of Hollywood, I’m assuming that if they make my book into a movie, at least half of the cast will be Australian. That being said, the book is set in Kentucky, so I am going to play this game by casting only actors from Kentucky.

My first choice for Miranda, the former pageant queen and current stage mother to a champion child pageant contestant, would have to be Jennifer Lawrence (Louisville). There is no bigger star from Kentucky than Jennifer Lawrence. She’d be perfect… except that she’s a bit too young. I would then say that maybe she could play Courtney, the teenaged “other woman,” but she’s a few years too old. So, I guess I would have to say Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, of course it has to be Jennifer Lawrence. What am I, an idiot?

Ray, Miranda’s husband, could be played by either George Clooney (Lexington) or Johnny Depp (Owensboro) because it’s a Kentucky state law that you have to bring up these two names any time you’re talking about famous people from Kentucky. Ray is an overworked nurse who’s having an affair with the orphan granddaughter of one of his hospice patients, Courtney (Jennifer Lawrence). I think someone like Rob Riggle (Louisville) could pull this off pretty well. He seems like a regular guy from Kentucky, which he is, so it’s perfect.

Miranda’s mother, Joan should be played by my friend Becky Ann Baker (Fort Knox). You might know her as Lena Dunham’s mother on Girls, but she’s also an established stage actress who is incredibly funny, and would kill this part in a million different ways. She also helped me get my first job, so I owe her one.

I like Ashley Judd (Ashland) as Theresa, Miranda’s primary nemesis. Ashley seems like she could hold her own in a fight while also staying glamorous. She’s also a rabid UK basketball fan, and could probably get me some really good seats.

Harry Dean Stanton (West Irvine) could play Courtney’s grandfather, the terminally ill Marvin Daye. We wouldn’t even have to use a lot of makeup.

Loretta Lynn (Butcher Hollow) and My Morning Jacket (Louisville) could collaborate on the soundtrack. Even if this never happens for this movie, can we try to get these guys to make music together? That would be awesome.

John Carpenter (Bowling Green) has directed some of my favorite movies, but let’s not forget that George Clooney is also an accomplished director. So, Clooney should direct, or if he’s not available maybe Jennifer Lawrence could do it.
Visit Kirker Butler's website.

The Page 69 Test: Pretty Ugly.

Writers Read: Kirker Butler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Robert K. Lewis's "Innocent Damage"

Bay Area resident Robert K. Lewis has been a painter, printmaker, and a produced screenwriter.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Innocent Damage, the third novel featuring ex-cop and recovering junkie Mark Mallen:
I’ve always thought of Mallen being played by Clive Owen, circa Sin City. Owen had the dark, haggard look that I feel dovetails perfectly with Mallen’s life as a junkie ex-cop living in the Tenderloin of San Francisco. Owen’s character, Dwight, had a look to him, along with a toughness, that just screamed Mallen at me.

When I first conceived of Mallen’s best friend, Oberon the homicide detective, I pictured Morgan Freeman, circa Se7en, complete with tweed jacket and suede patches on the elbows. And then when I first began to write Oberon’s lines, I heard them in Morgan Freeman’s voice. I thought at the time, and still do, that to have Freeman in that role would have been greatness.

And for Gato? A young Danny Trejo. The guy is just so damned bad-ass. Not only visually, where he would’ve totally fit as Mallen’s right hand man, but Trejo also has that charisma that I’d always envisioned Gato to possess. I went back and watched a bunch of movies with Trejo in them, and I think he would’ve totally done Gato justice, both inside and out. The power is there, in spades. Plus, he would’ve looked awesome driving around in Gato’s souped-up 1960’s Ford Falcon.
Visit Robert K. Lewis's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Innocent Damage.

Writers Read: Robert K. Lewis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 10, 2015

Margaret Dilloway's "Sisters of Heart and Snow"

Margaret Dilloway is the author of How to Be an American Housewife and The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Sisters of Heart and Snow:
I’d cast Olivia Munn as Rachel and Vanessa Hudgens as Drew.

And for the Japanese cast: Rinko Kikuchi would be a good choice to play Tomoe—she can be tender and tough and utterly complicated. I’d choose Keiko Kitagawa to play Yamabuki. Joe Odagiri would be perfect for Yoshinaka. And the sensitive Ken’ichi Matsuyama for Yoshinori Wada.

Oooh, I really want to see Joe Odagiri play Yoshinaka now!
Learn more about the book and author at Margaret Dilloway's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Dilloway and Gatsby.

Writers Read: Margaret Dilloway.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 9, 2015

S. M. Hulse's "Black River"

S. M. Hulse received her MFA from the University of Oregon and was a fiction fellow at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her stories have appeared in Willow Springs, Witness, and Salamander. A horsewoman and fiddler, she has spent time in Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.

Here Hulse shares some thoughts on a big screen adaptation of her new novel, Black River:
I’ve had quite a few people ask me who I’d cast in a movie version of Black River, and I’ve disappointed most of them by admitting that I simply don’t know which actors I’d choose to play the major characters. I have no doubt there are many actors, both known and unknown, who could do justice to and put their own unique spin on my characters, and I hope someday I’ll have the opportunity to see just that happen, but I’ll be happy to leave the casting decisions to those better qualified to make them. That said, I do have a dream director for Black River: Robert Redford. Even a cursory glance at his body of work as both an actor and director shows that he has an affinity for the American West, and A River Runs Through It, which he directed, is one of my favorite literary adaptations. (And hey, if Redford wants to play Wes or Farmer in the movie version of Black River, he’ll get no argument from me!)
Visit S. M. Hulse's website.

The Page 69 Test: Black River.

Writers Read: S. M. Hulse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Stacy Henrie's "A Hope Remembered"

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 Henrie dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, A Hope Remembered:
As with my other books in my Of Love and War series, I knew who I wanted to cast for my hero, this time for A Hope Remembered, almost from the start. To play Colin Ashby, the former WWI pilot for Britain and son of a baronet, I would choose Lee Pace. He has the same dark, good looks as Colin and the ability to pull off that charming, carefree persona that hides deeper emotion just as Colin does.

For the heroine Nora Lewis, an American who moves to England after the war for a fresh start, I would choose Sarah Drew. She shares the same ginger-colored hair as Nora and has the ability to play Nora’s quiet yet witty and passionate personality.

And of course, the movie would have to be filmed on location in England’s Lake District. I've had the opportunity to visit there twice, and both times, I was in awe of the Lake District’s gorgeous mountains and lakes. There are few books and films set there, but it’s a fascinating place with a culture all its own.
Visit Stacy Henrie's website.

My Book, The Movie: Hope Rising.

The Page 69 Test: Hope Rising.

The Page 69 Test: A Hope Remembered.

Writers Read: Stacy Henrie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Alexis Landau's "The Empire of the Senses"

Alexis Landau studied at Vassar College and received an MFA from Emerson College, and a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California.

Here Landau dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Empire of the Senses:
I envision Jude Law to play the character of Lev Perlmutter because of his changeable nature and appearance—Law can appear refined and sophisticated while at the same time, suddenly transform into a rougher more earthy version of himself, which is in some ways for Lev the tension he struggles with in the novel. In terms of Lev’s wife Josephine, my friend and actress Laura Regan was an inspiration while I was writing. Laura Regan is a classic beauty and her elegance combined with her quickness and grace made me immediately think of Josephine every time I needed to describe her physically. Of course psychologically there’s no resemblance at all, but sometimes the way into a character is through their basic physicality; how they move, walk, and talk—how they exist in the world in a material sense. And when thinking about Vicki’s character, I actually used my own daughter, Lucia, who is only four years old, but she has this clear white skin contrasted with very dark eyes and hair. Lucia’s mischievous and rebellious nature also contributed to how I wrote Vicki—she is a young woman who challenges the status quo and finds the new freedoms of Berlin in the late 20’s exhilarating. Leah’s character, the Russian peasant Lev falls in love with on the Eastern Front, I often thought of Rachel Weisz because she exudes earthiness and sexuality, and a feeling of melancholy. And for Lev’s young closeted homosexual son, who joins the Brown Shirts in the late 1920s, I envision an actor such as Aaron Taylor Johnson because he has these perfect Nordic features and has conveyed in other performances a certain stiltedness and discomfort which I think fits Franz’s character perfectly.
Visit Alexis Landau's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Empire of the Senses.

Writers Read: Alexis Landau.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Michael Signer's "Becoming Madison"

Michael Signer is an author, advocate, political theorist, and attorney. He holds a PhD in political science from U.C., Berkeley, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow; a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law; and a BA in politics, magna cum laude, from Princeton University. He has taught political theory, leadership, and governance at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and the University of California. Signer is the author of Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies (2009).

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father:
If Becoming Madison were made into a movie, the movie would require a lead actor who could be at once exquisitely vulnerable yet full of inner fire, and I think that Eddie Redmayne (who recently won an Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything) could capture that blend well.

One of the reasons I wrote the book is because I think we need a new model for our political heroes. We don’t need transcendent, larger-than-life figures. We need to reconsider the introverts, the intellectuals, the unattractive—anyone who has the force and focus and intelligence and alliances to help us solve our toughest problems should be given a fighting chance.

Madison weighed a hundred pounds, stood about five foot four, and was deeply shy. My book began with a hypothesis: that we have gotten him wrong. We have an impression of Madison as controlled and calculating and dry, and that’s one reason we ignore him today in favor of more dramatic personalities like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton. But my book explores the idea that he was totally different from that cartoon—that he was, in fact, a cauldron of repressed emotion that bubbled over at the worst times, like in the anxiety attacks that many historians (including Lynne Cheney in her book last year) perceive as epilepsy. Madison was deeply, almost pathologically, sensitive, but he was also warm, charismatic, hilarious, and passionate. His effort to master his own tumultuous inner self mirrored the lessons he taught a vulnerable nation about governing our excesses. Whether reacting to Shays’ rebellion, the antics of the anti-Federalists, or John Calhoun’s nullification crisis, he wanted us, basically, to get ahold of ourselves.

There have been many excellent books on James Madison. What I wanted to add with Becoming Madison is to see the world through Madison’s eyes, to stick with him as he confronts and overcomes obstacles, whether his father’s overbearing qualities, his own anxiety (including a particularly humiliating episode when he collapsed during military exercises), his struggle to find a profession and make a living, his frustrations with his narrow-minded and repressive countrymen, his romantic struggles and his shattered relationship to a 15 year old fiancée, and his battle to find a way to make an impact on his young country.

Madison also had a dry sense of humor that could turn into whimsy, particularly with people he trusted. One time when he was campaigning hard in the winter against his friend James Monroe for a Congressional seat—in a vengeful move for losing to Madison in Virginia’s convention to ratify the Constitution, Patrick Henry had gerrymandered the two friends’ hometowns so they had to compete against each other—Madison stood outside for so long that he got frostbite on one of his ears. Years later, he would wryly describe his damaged ear as one of the “honorable scars he had borne from the battle-field.”

The climax of Becoming Madison was the exhausting and intense three-week convention to ratify the Constitution, where James Madison and Patrick Henry battled against each other day in and day out. Henry sought to appeal to the audience’s prejudices, Madison to rise above them. Their duel was punctuated by brutal thunderstorms and painful ad hominem attacks and Madison collapsed at least twice from panic attacks. But in the end he prevailed, because people saw he cared more for the common good.

In these scenes, I think an actor like Redmayne could, at long last, make us empathize with this uniquely driven and compelling young man. Now I just need to get to work on the screenplay.
Visit Michael Signer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Amy Scheibe's "A Fireproof Home for the Bride"

Born in Minnesota and reared in North Dakota, Amy Scheibe currently lives in Manhattan with her husband, Brian Flynn, and their two children.

Here Scheibe dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, A Fireproof Home for the Bride:
I didn’t have any actors in mind when I wrote A Fireproof Home for the Bride, but then I saw this photo about a year ago and I thought yes, Elle Fanning as Emmy Nelson and Glenn Close as Josephine Randall. Elle is more interesting looking than beautiful—though she is that too. The spark that lights up Emmy has to come from inside, and Elle has this in her eyes.

Dream casting continued for the trio of Emmy’s love interests: For Ambrose Brann, the estranged betrothed I’d go for Kellan Lutz. He has those smoky farmboy good looks with just a hint of unpredictable—bonus, he’s from North Dakota! Bobby Doyle could be played winningly by Dane Dehaan. And Jim Klein is a homerun with Jake Gyllenhaal.
Visit Amy Scheibe's website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: A Fireproof Home for the Bride.

Writers Read: Amy Scheibe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 3, 2015

Kit Alloway's "Dreamfire"

Kit Alloway writes primarily for young adults, having always had an affection for teenagers. In addition to writing, she plays various musical instruments, decorates cakes, mixes essential oils, and studies East European languages. She lives in Louisville, KY with her family and four very tiny dogs.

Here Alloway dreamcasts an adaptation of Dreamfire, her debut novel:
My father is a film historian, so I think about movies a lot. In my opinion, Dakota Fanning is the best young actress working today. She’s prettier than I imagined Josh, but she has a real vulnerability about her, I think she would be capable of conveying Josh’s complexity. Other ideas:

Deloise = Caroline Sunshine

Winsor = Victoria Justice as Winsor

Will = Logan Lerman

Whim = Cody Simpson

I personally think that casting great actors in the adult roles in YA adaptations can really bring a movie up a notch (witness Emma Thompson in Beautiful Creatures). Anthony Heald is a phenomenal actor who would make a perfect Peregrine. Gary Oldman as Young Ben (because every movie should have Gary Oldman). Jessica Chastain as Davita. Eddie Redmayne as Feodor. Maggie Smith as Dustine.

As for directors, I think Kenneth Branagh could do a fabulous job. He’s such a great actor that I would expect him to be able to promote and respect the storyline, but he also knows how to direct action, and he has a wonderful visual style. If he’s not available ... Ang Lee?

But the thing that matters most to me: We’ve got to get Hans Zimmer to do the score. His score for The Lion King (not the songs, the score) is one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever played.
Visit Kit Alloway's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dreamfire.

Writers Read: Kit Alloway.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Douglas Nicholas's "Throne of Darkness"

Douglas Nicholas is an award-winning poet, whose work has appeared in numerous poetry journals.

Here Nicholas dreamcasts an adaptation of his new dark fantasy novel Throne of Darkness, which follows Something Red and The Wicked:
The only actor I have a clear preference for would be Charlize Theron for Molly. She would have to play about 13 years older—Molly is 53 years old in Something Red— and she’d have to gain or otherwise fake more bodyweight, but she’s proved fearless in altering her appearance in Monster, and I think she’d be right for the part.

Russell Crowe might be good for Jack—he’s burly without looking steroid-artificial.

Other characters are clear to my mind’s eye, but I can’t match them to actors. Mark Strong would have made a good Sir Tarquin, the villain in the previous book, The Wicked.
Visit Douglas Nicholas's website.

The Page 69 Test: Throne of Darkness.

Writers Read: Douglas Nicholas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

N. K. Traver's "Duplicity," the movie

As a freshman at the University of Colorado, N. K. Traver decided to pursue Information Technology because classmates said "no one could make a living" with an English degree. It wasn't too many years later Traver realized it didn't matter what the job paid--nothing would ever be as fulfilling as writing. Programmer by day, writer by night, it was only a matter of time before the two overlapped.

Here Traver dreamcasts an adaptation of her first novel, Duplicity:
Oh man, here’s where I confess that if the actor’s not on Teen Wolf or already cast in a movie adapted from a book, I probably don’t know his/her name. Luckily I have Google to save me….

For Brandon, I would cast Callan McAuliffe. He would pull off the bad boy look easily with dyed black hair and a scowl. Not only that, but he’d clean up very nicely to play Brandon’s preppy mirror reflection. And he has a nice nose.

For Emma, I’d have to say AnnaSophia Robb, not only because she’s a Colorado native (clearly it was meant to be, as Duplicity is based in Colorado), but she basically exudes every good girl vibe in the world. Look at that face. I would trust her with my bank account.

And for Seb, I’d cast a young James Franco. His smile and energy and curly hair are just perfect for the role, plus he wears a fedora like a boss.
Visit N. K. Traver's website.

The Page 69 Test: Duplicity.

Writers Read: N. K. Traver.

--Marshal Zeringue