Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Molly MacRae's "Knot the Usual Suspects"

Molly MacRae spent twenty years in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Upper East Tennessee, where she managed The Book Place, an independent bookstore; may it rest in peace. Before the lure of books hooked her, she was curator of the history museum in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town.

MacRae lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois, where she connects children with books at the public library.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Knot the Usual Suspects, her latest Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery:
My pie-in-the-sky dream is for Octavia Spencer to make her directorial debut with one of the books in my Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Why? Not only will she do a fantastic job, but she and I have several things in common. Did you know she writes mysteries for kids? The Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective series is terrific. I’m in the children’s department at the public library, and I love turning kids onto her books. They feature a strong, red-headed female protagonist. So do mine. Her books are set in a small town in east Tennessee. So are mine. And if Octavia agrees to direct the movie, and she’d also like to be in it, then she can play any part she wants. But if she’d rather stay behind the cameras, here’s who I’ll cast for the main characters.

For Kath Rutledge – Amy Adams. Kath, thirty-nine, is a textile preservation specialist who inherits her grandmother’s yarn shop in Blue Plum, Tennessee. She also ends up with a depressed ghost on her hands. She’s the only one who sees and hears ghost, though, and that creates problems. The versatile Amy Adams can handle them.

For Geneva, the ghost – Holly Hunter. This is more of a voice role, because Geneva is a damp fog of a ghost. She’s the color of raindrops on a dark window pane and no more vivid. Hunter’s soft accent and comic timing are exactly right for Geneva.

For Ardis Buchanan, longtime manager of the yarn shop – Meryl Streep. Streep isn’t old enough (Ardis is seventy), and she isn’t tall enough (Ardis is six feet), but she became Julia Child, and she’ll be wonderful as Ardis. Besides, Ardis sometimes sings “Dancing Queen,” and we know Meryl Streep can do that.

For Joe Dunbar, Kath’s possible love interest – Jake Gyllenhaal. Joe’s lean, bearded face reminds Kath of a monk in an El Greco painting, and Gyllenhaal can fit the description well enough. He’s a few years too young for the part, but that’s what makeup is for.

For Deputy Cole (Clod) Dunbar, Joe’s older brother – Vince Vaughn. Clod is a starched and mulish sheriff’s deputy. Vaughn can pull that off and also make an audience believe he (Clod) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Joe) are brothers.

For Shirley and Mercy, the Spivey twins – Frances McDormand. The twins are in their early seventies, identical, and intrusive. They’re Kath’s several-times-removed cousins and, as Kath’s grandmother used to say, the further removed the better. McDormand isn’t nearly old enough, but she’s a genius, and with split-screen technology we’ll have it made.

For Mel Gresham – Park Overall. Mel, strong and no nonsense, owns and runs the café in town. Park Overall is from east Tennessee, and although she doesn’t act much these days, she’ll be perfect in this role. One catch: Mel spikes her hair and dyes it to match her aprons – anything from lime green to magenta. Will Park go along with that? I wait with bated breath to find out.

For Thea Green – 1st choice, Octavia Spencer, 2nd choice Queen Latifah, although those choices are reversed if you ask the real Thea Green (with whom I work at the Champaign Public Library). Real life Thea is under the impression that she and Queen Latifah are practically twins. Either actress will bring the character of Thea, director of the town library, to stylish life.
Visit Molly MacRae's website.

--Marshal Zeringue