Friday, July 31, 2015

Frankie Y. Bailey's "What the Fly Saw"

Frankie Y. Bailey, a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY), is the author of mysteries as well as non-fiction titles that explore the intersections of crime, history, and popular culture. She is a Macavity Award-winner and has been nominated for Edgar, Anthony, and Agatha awards.

Here Bailey shares some insights about an adaptation of What the Fly Saw, her second Detective Hannah McCabe mystery:
I have no one in mind for the role of my protagonist, Hannah McCabe. Even though we have been together for two books (The Red Queen Dies and What the Fly Saw), I have only a general idea of what she looks like. She is tall (around 5’8”), pale brown (biracial, black mother, white father) with brown eyes, curly, somewhat unruly, dark hair with a hint of red (her father had red hair in his youth). She is in excellent physical condition because she’s a cop and works out. But I tend to see her from the inside out. She doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about how she looks and that means I don’t either – unless I am seeing her through the eyes of another character and watching that character respond to her. But then it tends to be more about that other character than about Hannah.

I do know who I would cast as McCabe’s father. Angus McCabe is a retired journalist and newspaper editor. I imagined him before I imagined Hannah. I saw him as the late actor Darren McGavin, who I’ve always enjoyed watching.

As to who I might like to direct the movie, I think that would depend on the script. For example, if the emphasis were on suspense, I would have to go with my favorite director, Alfred Hitchcock. But I can imagine Kathryn Bigelow, who directed Strange Days, doing really interesting things with the near-future, urban setting. And since Hitchcock is dead....
Visit Frankie Y. Bailey's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: What the Fly Saw.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jane Lindskold's "Artemis Invaded"

Jane Lindskold is the bestselling author of the Firekeeper series, which began with Through Wolf’s Eyes and concluded with Wolf’s Blood, as well as many other fantasy novels. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Here Lindskold shares some ideas for an adaptation of her new novel, Artemis Invaded, the second book in the Artemis Awakening series:
Several times in the past, I’ve cheerfully participated in the The Page 69 Test and discussed what I’m reading for Writers Read. However, I’ve always dodged the My Book, The Movie.

There’s a reason for this... I don’t know the names of very many actors. If I’ve liked an actor in a role, I fall for the role, not the actor…

So when people say “Who would you like to play…” I can never think of anyone. My characters look like themselves, not like Humphrey Bogart or Audrey Hepburn.

There’s an added complication to playing the casting game. Artemis Invaded, like many of my works, has animal characters. The two primary ones are Sand Shadow the puma and Honeychild the bear. Even with the increased use of CGI, the most effective non-human characters have been those who are more or less human-shaped and, therefore, are, in essence, still being played by a human.

Let me stress, these are animal characters not sidekicks, pets, or fashion accessories. So, after meditating if I were going to cast Artemis Invaded as a movie, I think I’d want it animated. That way animals and humans alike could be done in the same format and there wouldn’t be that jar-jar, uh… I mean jarring failure when a CGI character interacts (or fails to interact) with a character played by a live human actor.

I’m a fan of animation, especially Japanese anime. Despite the common misconception, anime encompasses a lot more than characters with big eyes, tiny mouths, brightly colored hair, and outrageous outfits. Those elements are certainly present but, as works like Hayao Miyazaki’s Whispers of the Heart demonstrate, more realistic portrayals exist, too.

(Don’t know Whispers of the Heart? It should be required viewing for anyone who wants to follow their heart into an impossible career choice – like being a writer or musician. I highly recommend.)

After mulling and musing, if I think that I’d choose either Miyazaki or Rumiko Takahashi (Inuyasha, Ranma ½) to be in charge of an anime Artemis movie, Both of them have shown sensitive handling of non-human characters. In Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki not only had giant wolves, but also a kudu-like elk as major secondary characters. Overall, he handled four-legged characters with a lot of grace.

Much as I like Miyazaki’s work, though, for Artemis Invaded I have a slight preference for Rumiko Takahashi. Her work almost always includes animals, so I suspect she likes them as much as I do. Inuyasha had a large cat character, Kirara. Kirara’s moods and “conversation” were handled almost entirely through body language. This would help with showing Adara and Sand Shadow’s non-verbal communication. As I’ve tried to get across in the books, even when they “talk” telepathically, it’s image-based, not chatting with words.

Takahashi is also very good with rendering oddball characters. I could see her doing a great job with the precognate Ring, or with some of Griffin’s odder brothers… And anime would be a great format to get across how Adara’s lithe grace is little more than human.

And Artemis herself, with her manifestations in various forms of fungi… I imagine that would animate with eerie beauty.

So, yeah… I can’t help with casting Artemis Invaded the movie in a conventional sense, but I think I’d have a lovely time working with character design for an animated version.

Any takers?
Visit Jane Lindskold's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Artemis Awakening.

Writers Read: Jane Lindskold.

The Page 69 Test: Artemis Invaded.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lee Robinson's "Lawyer for the Dog"

Lee Robinson practiced law for over 20 years in Charleston, South Carolina, and was the first female president of the Charleston County Bar. She teaches at the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

Here Robinson dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Lawyer for the Dog:
There was a movie playing in my head while I wrote this book. (I go to movies all the time. I’m a movie nut. I’ll watch almost anything. If the movie’s really good, I learn something about dialogue, pacing, scene-setting. If it’s really bad, I learn something about what not to do.) Sally Baynard, the main character and narrator of Lawyer for the Dog, is almost-fifty, single, a smart and spunky lawyer. Sandra Bullock has the right combination of emotional depth, tenderness and toughness for this role. And if not Sandra, Julianne Moore. Sally’s mother, Margaret, is near eighty, a southern-belle-wannabe who’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, but she’s still got plenty to teach her daughter. What about Ellen Burstyn, or Sissy Spacek? Margaret’s caregiver, Delores, is “a cross between a saint and a drill sergeant.” Please, could we lure Viola Davis? Sally’s ex-husband Joe, a family court judge who’s disappointed with his life, has a crush on Sally despite having been divorced for 18 years. For this role, Robert Downey, Jr., has the perfect kind of maddening charm. Joe appoints Sally to represent a dog in the middle of a bitter divorce case. Bill Murray would be great as the defendant, Rusty Hart (he even lives in Charleston!) and Sissy Spacek for his wife, Marianne. The dog’s vet, Tony, does his best not to take sides, but he can’t help falling for Sally. No doubt in my mind that George Clooney could be a perfect Tony. But what about the real star of the show, the miniature schnauzer, Sherman? I’m at a loss. This one might require some canine auditions.
Visit Lee Robinson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bridget Foley's "Hugo & Rose"

Bridget Foley has always loved storytelling. She's the author of several screenplays and is often featured on annual industry best-of lists.

Here she shares some insights about a big screen adaptation of Hugo & Rose, her first novel:
I lived in Hollywood for 13 years.

That means I know first hand that the correct answer to the question, “Who do you want to star in the movie of your book?” is “Whoever the hell gets it made.”

That sounds jaded.

And I guess it is… a little.

But here’s what’s likely to happen if you ask anyone who has had a front row seat to the making of a film if they still believe in the “magic” of movies.

They will tell you that the magic died the day they realized that all filmmaking is a series of devastating compromises, budget considerations and jurassic egos.

Watch enough movies get made and you stop believing in the magic of movies and you start believing in the miracle of movies.

Movies are gargantuan efforts put forth by hundreds of people. Even the tight ships are a mess.

And good movies? Movies like The Godfather or Alien? Movies where God kissed the director on the head and said, “Go forth and film, my child, for I have blessed you with the perfect cast, editor and composer.” These films are something more than miracles. We need a new word for what they are. Benefilms. Or Miraculcinema.

The Germans probably already have a word for it, though I doubt I can pronounce it.

Work (or try to work) in Hollywood long enough and you’ll notice all your main characters have a way of evolving into the AMORPHOUS 30 to 50 YEAR OLD MALE that encompasses anyone who can get financing. Chris Pratt and Liam Neeson aren’t anything alike, but I guarantee you both Darkman and Starlord are on dozens of lists as potential leads for the same role.

In fact, I’m working on a script starring Amorphous Male right now.

(This isn’t a joke.)

But I couldn’t do that to Hugo & Rose.

In fact, the reason my book is a book is because it’s a woman’s story. There were many reasons I didn’t write it as a screenplay, but way down on the list (#64) is the fact that I didn’t want to have to explain to executives who loved the idea of two people who dream of each other every night and then finally meet in real life that the story belonged to the person who had the most at stake.

Namely the happily married mother of three.

Oh, and did I mention that even though she looks like a super model in the fantastical portions of the book that most of the time Rose is thirty to fifty pounds overweight? And that even though the book features actions scenes with giant monsters, that the edge-of-your-seat stuff comes from scenes in our Rogaine scented reality?

I know there’s only one woman who can green light a movie.

And while I would love to see her gain thirty (okay, eighty) pounds to play Rose, she’s a little busy at the moment fighting hunger, directing movies and being married to Brad Pitt.

But a girl can dream… I mean, I haven’t completely died inside.

Sometimes I think I’d rather like to see Kate and Leo reunited to play Hugo & Rose… not just because they’re spectacular actors, but because there’s this adolescent part of me that just wants that old magic back.

But if I’m honest, the Hollywood survivor in me has a potential cast list that runs from Amy Adams to Melissa McCarthy to Beyonce. None of them is necessarily perfect… but they would be the instant they said yes.

Because that would be more than magic, that would be a miracle.
Visit Bridget Foley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Taylor Stevens's "The Mask"

Taylor Stevens is the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of The Informationist, The Innocent, The Doll, The Catch, and the novella The Vessel. The series featuring Vanessa Michael Munroe has received critical acclaim and the books are published in twenty languages.

Here Stevens dreamcasts an adaptation of The Mask, the latest Vanessa Michael Munroe novel:
Vanessa Michael Munroe is a quasi-psychotic, knife-wielding, butt-kicking, mercenary information hunter cut from the same cloth as characters like Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher. She’s tall, lithe, and androgynous and, because she spends most of her time working in developing and despot run countries, she sometimes spends more time under the guise of a male than she does as a female. This makes her a difficult character to cast.

Also at issue is the way Hollywood typically presents female action heroes—not so much as characters or people who own their choices or bodies, but as fantasy objects sewn up in tight, pleasing and teasing outfits, put there for eye candy. A phrase I once heard that accurately summed up this type of character was “Fighting F_ck Toy.” And Vanessa Michael Munroe is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an FFT—unless, of course, you’re her mark and a fighting f_ck toy would get her into your head faster than any other guise. In that case she’ll be that FFT until she’s gotten everything she wants from you, and then she’ll vanish.

Readers do love to play the “who should be Munroe in the movies” game and often send me suggestions, all of them fun, all of them fantastic actresses. The closest representation to Munroe that I’ve ever personally seen on screen is Carrie-Anne Moss in her role as Trinity in The Matrix. If I had my druthers (to clarify: I have absolutely no say-so in casting decisions), I’d want an unknown actress to claim this role so that she could own the character completely in a way that a “star” just couldn’t.

James Cameron and Jon Landau, through their production company Lightstorm Entertainment, currently hold film option rights to Vanessa Michael Munroe. James Cameron has a long history of bringing strong women to film, and he’s never made a bad movie. If Vanessa Michael Munroe does hit the big screen, it will be as much of a surprise to me to watch her come to life as it will be to the many readers who love her, but the one thing I know for sure is that there’s no one else’s hands in which I’d prefer she be.
Visit Taylor Stevens's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ted Kosmatka's "The Flicker Men"

Ted Kosmatka was born and raised in Chesterton, Indiana, and spent more than a decade working in various laboratories where he sometimes used electron microscopes. He is the author of Prophet of Bones and The Games, a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel and one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2012. His short fiction has been nominated for both the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards and has appeared in numerous Year's Best anthologies. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest and works as a writer in the video-game industry.

Here Kosmatka dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Flicker Men:
I grew up going to the movies all the time, so for me, now that I’m a writer, picking out actors to play the movie in my head is always a lot of fun. The main character of The Flicker Men is Eric Argus, a troubled scientist who soon finds himself out of his depth. I’m a huge fan of what James McAvoy did in The Last King of Scottland, so I’d love to see what McAvoy could do as Eric. For Satvik, one actor leapt to mind—Irrfan Khan, most recently the park boss on Jurassic World. He'd bring exactly the solemn thoughtfulness that the role needs. For the part of Joy, I think Margot Robbie could be a great fit. For Point Machine, I can totally see Steven Yeun, from The Walking Dead. For Mercy, Sienna Miller would fit the bill nicely. For Vickers, I can see somebody with the quiet, understated authority of Robin Wright Penn. For Stuart, we could use the manic intelligence of Jesse Eisenberg. For Gillian, I’d love to see someone like Marcia Gay Harden, who you can't help but like on screen. On the flip side of things, I can see Neal McDonough’s piercing eyes glaring at you as the confident and powerful Brighton. For Boaz, the menace of Mads Mikkelsen would work well. There are a few other more characters, but I think this list covers most of the main speaking parts.
Writers Read: Ted Kosmatka.

The Page 69 Test: The Flicker Men.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Siobhan Roberts's "Genius At Play"

Siobhan Roberts is a Toronto journalist and author whose work focuses on mathematics and science. Her new book is Genius at Play, The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway (Bloomsbury, 2015). While writing the Conway biography, she was a Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, and a Fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography, at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

Her previous books are Wind Wizard: Alan G. Davenport and the Art of Wind Engineering (Princeton University Press, 2012), and King of Infinite Space: Donald Coxeter, The Man Who Saved Geometry (Bloomsbury, 2006). King of Infinite Space won the Mathematical Association of America’s 2009 Euler Prize for expanding the public’s view of mathematics.

Roberts also wrote and produced a documentary film about Coxeter, The Man Who Saved Geometry, for TVOntario’s The View From Here (September 2009).

Here Roberts dreamcasts an adaptation of Genius at Play:
The movie script for Genius At Play, which is in fact quickly writing itself in my head, bears the working title Let It All Hang Out, since that is Conway’s policy toward life in general, and in a sense toward mathematics as well. For the lead role, for young John, we’d need someone who can play the rogue, as well as smart and funny and deep, and with Mick Jagger’s performative charisma and sex appeal. Tom Hardy would do the trick (most recently in Mad Max: Fury Road). I also consulted Conway’s wife Diana on this, and for the older Conway she said there was no question: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) — though I’m not sure Bridges can play a Brit (Hardy with makeup could play both). Ron Howard would be a natural for director (A Beautiful Mind). Or maybe Darren Aronofsky (π), who is known for his surreal films.
Learn more about the book and author at Siobhan Roberts' website.

Writers Read: Siobhan Roberts.

The Page 99 Test: Genius At Play.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Catherine Linka's "A Girl Undone"

Catherine Linka explores what would really happen to society in the US if synthetic hormones in beef eliminated four generations of women in the YA duology, A Girl Called Fearless and A Girl Undone. The impact of the economical and social upheaval include the rise of a new political party, the Paternalists, and high ticket marriage Contracts for the most rare and valuable commodity in the country: teenage girls.

Here Linka deamcasts a big screen adaptation of the duology:
I’m violating the blog premise immediately, because A Girl Called Fearless and the sequel, A Girl Undone have been optioned for television by Universal Cable Productions.

That said, like a lot of writers, I work with concept boards, and grab pictures of actors and models as I develop the novel. Sometimes I begin with a feeling, possibly an attitude or facial expression that seems to capture the character. Then I often discover photo that captures that feeling/attitude/expression.

It can be very unexpected and weird when that happens. I was walking past an Abercrombie store when bam! There was a huge portrait of Yates. Canadian model Matt Aymar was the living incarnation of my protagonist’s sexy, wounded, social activist friend, and my breath was taken away. Literally.

Main character Avie Reveare? Avie’s will to survive was embodied in Hailee Steinfeld’s performance in True Grit. Like Avie, Hailee Steinfeld doesn’t try to look older or more sophisticated than she is...which makes her feel honest and real--both qualities of my protagonist.

And the handsome, enigmatic, woodsman that Avie goes on the run with, Luke Stanton? Chris Hemsworth, obviously. If a writer is going to fantasize about a character for months, why not indulge?
Learn more about the book and author at Catherine Linka’s website.

The Page 99 Test: A Girl Undone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mary Anna King's "Bastards"

Mary King was born in southern New Jersey and grew up in Oklahoma City, OK, where she was adopted at the age of ten. After studying English Literature at Colgate University she moved to Los Angeles where she lives and writes.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut memoir, Bastards:
Bastards is the story of how my six siblings and I were separated by adoption, grew up apart, and later reunited. The question of who would play whom in the hypothetical movie has been a favorite topic of sibling conversations over the past few years.

I have always loved Mary-Louise Parker's work and would love to see what she would bring to the role of my complicated, hopeful, birthmother Peggy.

Alongside her I would choose Greg Kinnear to play my hapless, spiritually searching disc-jockey/construction-worker birthfather.

Jake Gyllenhaal is ideal for my older brother Jacob; a gentle soul who spent his childhood being shuttled back and forth between homes until he enlisted in the Army. Mae Whitman would play my sister Becca—she has such a knack for articulating messy internal struggles. My next sister Lisa would be played by Emma Stone; they are doppelgangers for one another. Little Rebekah, the delicately boned pocket-sized sister would be played by Ellen Paige. The next in line, Meghan, is a gregarious nerd, a perfect role for Zooey Deschanel. And Miley Cyrus simply is my gender-fluid, fashion-forward, youngest sister Lesley.

As for my character in the book—the quiet cipher taking note every story and secret that passes her way—I'd choose Ruth Wilson.
Visit Mary Anna King's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 17, 2015

Margaret Verble's "Maud's Line"

Margaret Verble is an enrolled and voting citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a member of a large Cherokee family that has, through generations, made many contributions to the tribe’s history and survival.

Here Verble dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Maud's Line:
I feel lucky to have a book rolling toward publication, so thinking about who’d play the movie parts is like putting the cart before the horse. But who’s not guilty of that? For some of us, it’s a long established habit. And, anyway, people who think strictly sequentially often find themselves looking at buttocks, a dock, and a tail.

I confess I did daydream while writing Maud’s Line, particularly when I was stuck because the characters wouldn’t speak to me. You have to do something during those spats; so I imagined them on the big screen just to massage their egos -- and mine.

I came up with a hair-darkened Matt Czuchry playing Booker. I admire Czuchry’s work as Cary Agos on The Good Wife, and think he can do handsome, vulnerable, and angry, all three.

I can see Oprah Winfrey playing Lizzie. But I can also see any number of other wonderful, mature, female African American actresses doing the same, and I suspect Ms. Winfrey is a very busy woman.

As for Ryde Foxworth, definitely Taylor Kitsch. He was wonderful as Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights, and has mastered the hard edge of Ryde.

The rest of my characters are Indians, and that presents a problem. Hollywood has been even worse for Native Americans than it has for African Americans. When I was younger, Indians were most often played by Italians, even though the U.S. Census repeatedly showed more Indians living in California than in any other state, even Oklahoma. Call me a racist, but I’d like my American Indian characters played by Native Americans. Fortunately, as far as I’m concerned, that category can include many Hispanics. Indians with roots in Central and South America are still Indians. And from the Native American point of view, these borders are rather newly invented.

I haven’t ever turned my imagination to who could play Maud. As a writer, I can’t risk letting anything between my main character and me. But I have imagined Viola as played by – you’re not going to buy this – Cher. There are two good reasons for that. One, Cher is a fine actress. Go back and watch Silkwood. And secondly, Cher is also an Indian. A Cherokee. Viola’s a Creek, but she married into the Cherokees and her grandfather was Cherokee. I don’t think she’d mind a bit.

The other Indian character I cast in my imagination was Mustard played by Adam Beech, a Saulteaux First Nations Indian. I did that simply because I like to imagine Adam Beech as often as possible. Check out Smoke Signals to see why.

As for the rest of them, well, frankly, I’d just like to have them played by Indians – First Nations People from Canada, Native Americans, Hispanic Indians. I don’t care which. And I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Or it shouldn’t be.
Visit Margaret Verble's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Annie Liontas's "Let Me Explain You"

Annie Liontas' debut novel, Let Me Explain You, was selected by the ABA as an Indies Introduce Debut and Indies Next. She is the co-editor of the anthology A Manner of Being: Writers on their Mentors and the recipient of a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.

Here Liontas dreamcasts an adaptation of Let Me Explain You:
It’s scandalous to imagine your debut as a film—but the truth is that that is how Let Me Explain You has always played out in my head. When I’m writing, I feel my eye as the gliding lens of a camera, and all I have to do—all I can do—is record the intimate gestures and conversations of my characters. I’m just as surprised as you are when Marina rebukes Litza for acting like an animal: the slap hangs in the air, and Litza stomps off-screen.

If Let Me Explain You were a movie, here’s whom I’d cast:

Haluk Bilginer as Stavros Stavros Mavrakis
When I encountered Haluk Bilginer as Baba Akbar in Rosewater, I got this funny feeling that I had seen him before. In fact, he may be the closest shape to the domineering patriarch that rules my novel. My only requirement? He grows a mustache the size of a ferret. Perhaps Arshad Warsi could play Stavros as a young man?

Joan Allen as Carol
Loved her since The Contender and that she is, by self- admission, a bit “quirkier than the ingénue leading lady.”

Kate Mulgrew as Marina
No one else could carry the weight and dignity of Marina. Or the irreverence. I fell in love with Kate Mulgrew as Red on OITNB, but she also, of course, has the distinction of being the first female captain on Star Trek. Before her, a woman hadn’t been cast in the leading role. Mulgrew says of her contribution, “It’s good. I used myself well”—which makes her that much more Marina.

Gaby Hoffmann As Stavroula
I’ve admired Gaby Hoffmann’s brooding intensity since Now and Then. I can’t resist her fearlessness—crushed and tactile—in the groundbreaking series Transparent. Serious enough to be Stavroula, perfectly unsure of who she is in the world.

Jenny Slate As Litza
She can pull off badass, vulnerable, and resilient, all at once. Litza is admittedly a little messy, very complicated. She suffers with dignity, has no time for your pity. I’ve never forgotten Jenny Slate’s character in Obvious Child, who lives life on her own terms. A little lost, but not forsaken, and all the better for it.

Dianna Agron as Ruby
Dead on.

A Swedish Actor As Hero
I literally call Hero out as not being more Swede than Greek. “His face was not strong like a Greek face, it was more flat, and gentle like bread. His skin was pink, like a ghost or a flower. On top of all this, he adored his wife like an American or Northern European would.” Whoever plays Hero just has to have one of those big Greek noses.

Edie Falco as Dina
Tough, devastating; altogether sharp and wounded.
Visit Annie Liontas's website.

The Page 69 Test: Let Me Explain You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 13, 2015

Lauren Saft's "Those Girls"

Lauren Saft holds an MFA from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelor's degree from Tufts University. She's worked in publishing, TV, education, child care, retail, journalism, and food service, all the while closely studying the habits and compulsions of teenage girls. She currently works as a TV producer in Philadelphia where she lives with her cat and creative inspiration, Desi.

Here Saft dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Those Girls:
Why yes, I think Those Girls would make a great movie! And funny you ask, all I think about is who would play who in the movie! Despite my constant mulling, the only 100% heart-set actress wish is for Ashley Benson to play Mollie. Hands down, she is Mollie. She’s beautiful, but her eyes are sharp as tacks, and I love it. I love her. I see Alex as maybe a Shailene Woodley or Abigail Breslin, someone with depth and confidence and a subtle beauty. Veronica could go so many different ways, maybe Victoria Justice or Zoey Deutch? I sometimes see her as Sarah Hyland from Modern Family too.

For the boys? Drew is Miles Heizer, dreamy, sweet, handsome and soulful. Sam is Dave Franco—he may be too short, but I think he could really bring the comedy that Sam would require (I would also love Zac Efron, but he might be too old now?) or Liam Hemsworth maybe! Fernando is Tyler Posey. And Josh? Josh Hutcherson or Nick Jonas.

And director.... for an edgy and dark teen movie? Is there any other choice? Amy Heckerling.
Visit Lauren Saft's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Harry MacLean's "The Joy of Killing"

Harry MacLean is a lawyer and writer based in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of In Broad Daylight, which won an Edgar Award for Best True Crime and was a New York Times bestseller for twelve weeks; his second book, Once Upon A Time: A True Story of Memory, Murder, and the Law was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and his third book, The Past Is Never Dead: The Trial of James Ford Seale and Mississippi's Search for Redemption was shortlisted for the William Saroyan Award, given by Stanford University.

Here MacLean dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Joy of Killing:
While writing The Joy of Killing, my first work of fiction, I couldn’t help but watch some scenes play out on a screen. The fifty-five year-old narrator drives the story of reconstructing his life of trauma and violence, and I thought first of Sam Elliot, but I think he’s done a few too many pick-up ads. William Hurt would be perfect; he’s a little over 55, but he could well manage, both visually and vocally, the narrator’s uncertainty about the truth of his life along with his determination to sort it out. Ed Norton comes in second.

For the female lead, Amy Adams comes to mind, but I think it might be more intriguing if it was a woman the viewer had never seen before.

Only two living directors could handle this movie: David Lynch and Tim Burton. Of these, Lynch would be the best.
Visit Harry MacLean's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 10, 2015

Carla Norton's "What Doesn't Kill Her"

Carla Norton is a novelist, journalist, and true crime writer. Her debut fiction, The Edge of Normal, was a Thriller Award finalist and a Royal Palm Literary Award winner. The sequel, What Doesn't Kill Her, has just been released to rave reviews. Norton has also written two books of true crime, including Perfect Victim, which was put on the reading list for the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit and became a #1 New York Times bestseller. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2009. Besides writing books, she writes articles, essays, and really bad poetry.

Here Norton dreamcasts an adaptation of What Doesn't Kill Her:
Oh, isn’t this a sweet fantasy? I rub my palms together and let images run through my mind.

I confess that I drew inspiration from The Silence of the Lambs and sometimes pictured Jodie Foster while Reeve LeClaire took shape on the page. In fact, my heroine is a survivor of kidnapping and captivity who swallows her fear and squares off against evil, so I often describe her as “Clarice Starling meets Elizabeth Smart.”

But Jodie Foster is now too old to play the part of Reeve, who was twenty-two in The Edge of Normal and is a year older in What Doesn’t Kill Her. So who could be the next Jodie Foster?

Reeve is small in stature, so Dakota Fanning or Kristen Stewart would be fantastic in the part. Lithe and willowy Blake Lively would also be great. Or, if fickle Hollywood wanted to cast someone a bit older, I’d love to see Reeve played by Claire Danes, who is so unnervingly good in Homeland.

In What Doesn’t Kill Her, Reeve pairs up with a retired FBI agent named Milo Bender, who is tall and Nordic and smart. He’s the sort of character that Bruce Willis has played recently: a tough guy who is slowing down, forced into early retirement by triple by-pass surgery. I can’t help but picture Daniel Craig in this role. But Daniel Craig isn’t yet fifty, and he has a British accent, and he’s busy playing some guy named Bond.

So, my next choice would be the Liam Neeson or perhaps Hugh Laurie, two more brilliant Brits who have major chops and spot-on American accents. Another idea might be the lesser-known actor Noah Emmerich, who plays FBI agent Stan Beeman in The Americans. (The truth is, I’m a sucker for any drama produced by Graham Yost. Great characters, great writing.)

And who should play the love interest, Milo Bender’s son? Well, JD Bender is also tall and Nordic, so Chris Hemsworth would do quite nicely, thank you.

The final question is: Who would direct? Naturally, Jonathan Demme, who directed The Silence of the Lambs, leaps to mind. But if he’s unavailable, I pray that Hollywood will call Jodie Foster.
Visit Carla Norton's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: What Doesn't Kill Her.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lori Lansens's "The Mountain Story"

Lori Lansens burst onto the literary scene in 2002 with her first novel Rush Home Road. Published in eleven countries, Rush Home Road received rave reviews around the world. Her follow-up novel The Girls was an international success as well. Rights were sold in 13 territories and it featured as a book club pick by Richard & Judy in the UK, selling 300,000 copies. Her third novel The Wife’s Tale is currently in development as a feature film. Born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, Lori Lansens now makes her home in the Santa Monica Mountains with her husband and two children.

Her she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Mountain Story:
I had a short career as a screenwriter and what I remember most is that producers would say that my screenplays read like novels. (I knew they didn’t mean it in a good way!) Now, when readers tell me that my novels leave them with the sense that they’ve just watched a movie, I’m chuffed. The Mountain Story is an adventure story about four people lost together in the mountain wilderness for five days without food, water or shelter. The protagonist is an eighteen-year-old boy so when I think of the novel as a movie I look at the stars of the Divergent and Hunger Games series as the right type, only younger. The three women lost with Wolf Truly in the mountain wilderness that overlooks Palm Springs are from three different generations – there’s a girl still in her teens – I picture the teenaged Kali Hawk, a young Lisa Bonet, Rihanna. There is an attractive hiker in her late thirties, a blonde triathlete, and I did imagine Gwyneth Paltrow as Bridget when I wrote the novel. For the older woman, I thought of Meryl Streep, but readers tell me they imagined Kathy Bates. Go figure.
Visit Lori Lansens's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Brendan DuBois's "Blood Foam"

Brendan DuBois is the award-winning author of numerous novels and more than 120 short stories. His short stories have twice won him the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, and have also earned him three Edgar Allan Poe Award nominations.

Here DuBois dreamcasts an adaptation of Blood Foam, his latest Lewis Cole mystery:
Ever since my first Lewis Cole novel (Dead Sand) was published back in 1994 (!), I've had numerous requests to cast the character of Lewis in a Hollywood film or television show. Lewis is a former Department of Defense research analyst who was pensioned off from his job after surviving a disastrous and top secret training accident. His current 'day job' is a columnist for a regional magazine called Shoreline. He's not particularly athletic and quick with his fists --- like Robert Parker's Spenser --- but he does have a presence. When my first novels came out, I thought that a younger Sam Shepard would make a good Lewis Cole. Now, years later, I think Ron Livingston -- of Band of Brothers fame --- would do me and Lewis proud. Of course, he doesn't know this yet, but if he reads this, Ron, please feel free to reach out to me.
Visit Brendan DuBois's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 6, 2015

Tom Harper's "Zodiac Station"

Tom Harper has written a dozen thrillers, including The Orpheus Descent, Lost Temple, and Secrets of the Dead. He grew up in Germany, Belgium, and America, and studied history at Oxford University. His first novel was a runner-up for the CWA Debut Dagger Award.

Here Harper dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Zodiac Station:
Strangely enough, I rarely have a clear idea of what my protagonists look like. If I’m writing in the first person, I see the world through their eyes but I never see their face. I noticed, when I started my career, that most first-person books have the hero check themselves in a mirror or a shop window early in chapter one, so the author can shoehorn in a description. I decided that was artificial, and avoided it – but the downside is that no-one (including me) really knows what my protagonists look like.

The main narrator of Zodiac Station is Tom Anderson, a down-on-his-luck researcher with a stalled career and a young son to look after. Out of the blue, he gets the opportunity of a lifetime, to go and work for a big-name scientist at Zodiac Station, a research base locked in the polar ice on the arctic island of Utgard. Inevitably, things don’t go according to plan.
Anderson undergoes a strong physical transformation in the course of the book, so you’d want someone who can play an average joe and then muscle up. Tom Hardy might be good: if you compare him as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and then as a civil engineer in Locke, you’d hardly recognise him.

Another key character is Eastman, a thrusting young American scientist on the base. For Eastman, I actually had Tom Cruise in mind as I wrote: specifically, the creepy Tom Cruise of Magnolia. Someone with an all-American smile and frat-boy bonhomie, but with something cruel and amoral lurking just underneath.

Zodiac Station is a testosterone heavy place, which is apparently true of a lot of real-life polar research bases. There aren’t many women, but the female lead in the book is Greta, a tough, laconic woman who serves as the base’s mechanic. For her, I’m thinking Noomi Rapace (ignoring the fact that if I also get Tom Hardy, I’ve just recreated the casting from Child 44). She’s got the strength of character, the looks, and the Scandinavian accent. Also, as the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’d be a nice nod to another Nordic book that involved a murder on a cut-off island.

The final one of the main characters is Kennedy, an Irishman who’s the base’s doctor. I’d never thought of it until just now, but he’s obviously Brendan Gleeson.
Visit Tom Harper's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Nina George's "The Little Paris Bookshop"

Nina George works as a journalist, writer, and storytelling teacher. She is the award winning author of 26 books, and also writes feature articles, short stories, and columns. Her novel The Little Paris Bookshop spent over a year on bestseller lists in Germany, and was a bestseller in Italy, Poland, and the Netherlands.

Here George shares some ideas about adapting The Little Paris Bookshop for the big screen:

Hi, dear, yes, come in …

He sits down and makes himself look like an homme du femme that wants to show off as a bookseller.


Okay, Mr.…


Call me George, please.


Ehm, d’accord. George. Okay. What do you think makes you best for this job?


I can look very serious and sexy at the same time.


May I have a demonstration?

George looks serious and sexy at the same time.


Yes. Okay. Nice work. And how much are you into books?


Yes! Absolutely! I mean: I love them! All these different … ehm… colours, and … smells, yes, the perfume of a book is wonderful, it is a real aphrodisiac for the mind!


Hm. Guess so.


And you can do a lot of things with them. Really. A lot.


For example?


Arrange them on a table, with some flowers and French biscuits, tien? Or put one under a wobbly table. Or handicrafting, building some interesting chairs or…


How about reading?


Reading? Oh. Yes. Reading! Pause. I read a book. Once. Pause. When I was a child. I think it was … yellow.


Good point! And what else?


Someone was dying in there.

Silence. Then:


Mr. Clooney, I think you will be wonderful as my literary apothecary Jean Perdu.

Scene end.
You see: I am not so much into casting. I am also not so much into movies or celebs, so I am not sure, which living or dead actor could go for M. Perdu or all the stuff and personage. I never saw Jean Perdu from outside, I saw him from inside. If his eyes are blue, green or warm, if his hair is brown or gone – this was never the point.

And: I still believe that making movies is an art of its own. A regisseur, an actress, a cutter – they are artists in their manner, and experts to develop a new piece of art out of any book! So when I now say: Ehm, maybe George Clooney would fit?, this may not be the perfect choice for the cinematique piece of art waiting inside the inner soul of The Little Paris Bookshop. I would prefer not to decide and be surprised by the way a Regisseur or producer feels my story and develops it into moving pictures.

But Clooney and books, that might be a sexy combination anyway…
Visit Nina George's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Laura Levine's "Death by Tiara"

Laura Levine is a former sitcom writer whose credits include The Bob Newhart Show, Laverne & Shirley, The Jeffersons, The Love Boat, Three’s Company, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. As an advertising copywriter, she created Count Chocula and Frankenberry cereals for General Mills. Her work has been published in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

In her latest (and favorite) incarnation as a mystery novelist, she has been an IMBA paperback bestseller and winner of the RT Book Reviews award for Most Humorous Mystery.

Here Levine dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Death by Tiara:
Because my mysteries are comedic and my heroine, Jaine Austen, has been known to sling a one-liner or two—and because she’s not your typical Hollywood Skinny Girl—I thought comedienne Carolyn Rea would make a terrific Jaine. Of course, that was fourteen years ago when I first started writing the series. Now I’d love to get Melissa McCarthy. (Who wouldn’t?)

If I could go way back in history and cast my movie from the Golden Age, I’d choose Ann Sothern or Joan Blondell.

If I had to choose a modern Skinny Girl, I’d go with Tina Fey. (I sure can dream big, can’t I?)
Visit Laura Levine's website.

The Page 69 Test: Killing Cupid.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 3, 2015

Victoria Shorr's "Backlands"

Victoria Shorr is a writer and political activist who lived in Brazil for ten years. Currently she lives in Los Angeles, where she cofounded the Archer School for Girls, and is now working to found a college-prep school for girls on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Shorr's new novel is Backlands.

Here the author shares some ideas for adapting her novel for the big screen:
The characters in Backlands were real people, Brazilian outlaws, brave and tough and smart, and having traveled in the region and talked to so many people like them, people who knew them, it's harder for me to make that leap into casting than it would be for someone who only knew their story. The dream would be to cast the movie the way they cast Tom Jones, which absolutely caught the book by the tail. But who could do that? Maybe a Brazilian, like Walter Salles or Fernando Mireilles. Maybe a great dreamer, like Jane Campion.
Visit Victoria Shorr's website.

The Page 69 Test: Backlands.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Andrew Roe's "The Miracle Girl"

Andrew Roe is the author of The Miracle Girl (Algonquin Books). His fiction has been published in Tin House, One Story, The Sun, Glimmer Train, Slice, The Cincinnati Review, and other publications, as well as the anthologies 24 Bar Blues (Press 53) and Where Love Is Found (Washington Square Press). His nonfiction has been published in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle,, and elsewhere.

Here Roe dreamcasts an adaptation of The Miracle Girl:
My wife is my first reader, and when she read The Miracle Girl for the first time, one of the first things she told me was that it would make a good movie. I hadn’t thought of that while writing it, plus it always seemed like turning the book into a movie would be a challenge due to the large cast of characters and multiple points of view, as well as the significant amount of time/pages spent on interior stuff. All that said, however, I’d love it if my novel was adapted into a film. Who wouldn’t?

Jennifer Connelly was my wife’s choice to play the title character’s mother, Karen, who’s overwhelmed by caring for her daughter (eight-year-old Anabelle is in a coma-like state after a car accident) and also must deal with the growing number of visitors to her house who believe the girl can perform miracles. And I liked that choice, too, but over time (I worked on the book for several years) we both agreed that, since the character in the book is in her late 20s, Jennifer Connelly had probably aged out of the appropriate demographic. So another Jennifer might work better: Jennifer Lawrence.

A second key casting choice would be for John, Karen’s estranged husband. Jason Segel comes to mind. I’m thinking he can pull off a sort of schleppy, squirrely quality to the character (someone who, at 29, still hasn’t fully transitioned into adult life). And, based on what I’ve seen and heard about his portrayal of David Foster Wallace in the upcoming movie The End of the Tour, it seems like he can handle the heavier dramatic scenes, too.

As I said, dozens of characters populate the book, so casting all of them would take a while. But here’s one more thought/wish/recommendation: I can clearly picture Richard Jenkins as Donald, an elderly man who’s drawn to the title character because of his dying wife. I was just thinking about Jenkins’ amazing performance in The Visitor the other day. He’d make a great Donald.
Learn more about the book and author at Andrew Roe's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Catherine A. Winn's "Beyond Suspicion"

Catherine A. Winn, a former art and elementary school teacher, lives and writes in Texas. An avid reader of all types of mysteries from cozies to thrillers, she’s found writing them to be equally thrilling.

Here Winn dreamcasts an adaptation of her new YA mystery/thriller, Beyond Suspicion:
Beyond Suspicion made into a movie, “Woo-hoo!” Where do I sign?

If I could pick the lead? Willow Shields from The Hunger Games would be the only actress on my list.

Shelby Palmer, my main character, changes from a sweet, naïve, aggravated-by-parents fifteen-year-old sophomore from suburbia to a courageous young woman who draws on inner strength in a life and death struggle to save her little brother and herself from murderous kidnappers.

As I watched the talented actress, Willow Shields, portray Primrose Everdeen, I became totally convinced she could bring Shelby Palmer to life on the big screen and make her a household word. Not only does she resemble her physically, but she could evoke so much of Shelby’s emotions and thoughts just from facial expressions alone.

If I could pick the director? John McTiernan, famous for the Die Hard movies. The crucial action scenes would be unbelievably unforgettable under his direction. I can already hear the screams and gasps he would wrench from a knuckle-biting audience.

As to the rest of the cast? I would insist on signing the amazing casting director, Laray Mayfield, (Gone Girl, 2014) and leave the roster to her. What a blockbuster list that would be!

Now, the only thing left to do is wait for the phone to ring and choose the designer for my Oscar gown.
Visit Catherine A. Winn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue