Monday, November 30, 2015

Bridget Asher's "All of Us and Everything"

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Page 69 Test: All of Us and Everything.

Writers Read: Bridget Asher.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 27, 2015

Elizabeth Lee's "Nuts and Buried"

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Page 69 Test: Nuts and Buried.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Lee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tony Peak's "Inherit the Stars"

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

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

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

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

Writers Read: Tony Peak.

The Page 69 Test: Inherit the Stars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 23, 2015

Michael Livingston's "The Shards of Heaven"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 20, 2015

Donis Casey's "All Men Fear Me"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Page 69 Test: All Men Fear Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tony Park's "Ivory"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 13, 2015

J. S. Law's "Tenacity"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lionel Laborie's "Enlightening Enthusiasm"

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

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

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

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

Elie Marion, the eerily charismatic Camisard prophet: Matthieu Amalric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sally Andrew's "Recipes for Love and Murder"

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 6, 2015

Douglas Waller's "Disciples"

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Scott Shane's "Objective Troy"

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

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

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

The Page 99 Test: Objective Troy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 2, 2015

Charlie Price's "Dead Investigation"

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue