Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Robert H. Patton's "Cajun Waltz"

Robert H. Patton holds degrees in literature and journalism from Brown University and Northwestern University. He worked as a Capitol Hill reporter, a commercial fisherman, and a real estate developer before publishing his family memoir, The Pattons, to wide acclaim in 1994. He lived in Louisiana before settling in Darien, CT, with his wife.

Here Patton dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Cajun Waltz:
It goes without saying that on aesthetic principle I’m indifferent and indeed hostile to the notion that my book might get snatched up by Hollywood.

Like hell.

So yeah, is there an actor out there I’ve imagined playing a character in Cajun Waltz? Only one—and though she’s not an easy get these days, I’m sure if my people call her people and arrange a lunch date, she and I will totally hit if off and work out a deal in no time. The part would be Angela “Angel” Bainard, and the actor would be Beyoncé.

Born in Hancock Bayou, Louisiana, in 1915, Angel Bainard is mixed-race Creole and African-American. We first meet her at age thirteen, but the heart of her role occurs in her early thirties. Smart but intemperate, Angel is described in the book this way: “She was selfish and blithe but people adored her, a mystery that made sense once you took her looks into account. Beauty didn’t capture it. Knockout was more the effect.” Of Angel’s part in the tale, the foolishness she inspires in otherwise sensible men has mortal consequences. It’s all her doing, but never her fault.

Now about Beyoncé, I can tell you I’ve seen her Super Bowl shows, her National Anthem at Obama’s Second Inaugural, and assorted bits of things on various TV awards shows over the years—but whatever hits she sang to those rapturous millions, my brain somehow didn’t retain them. On the other hand, I remember like yesterday her performance as Etta James in the movie, Cadillac Records, and her stunning rendition of James’s signature heartbreaker, "I’d Rather Go Blind."

She wouldn’t need to sing in the movie of Cajun Waltz—which is kind of strange, since the book is steeped in country blues and Cajun dance tunes of the 1920s and ‘30s—because Angel’s passions run to people rather than music. We see her in a musical setting only once, doing a one-night gig with a corrugated washboard behind an old-time accordion band. “The silver board hung from a cord around her neck, clasped to her front like makeshift armor. Her eyes were shut as she played and her body moved in waves. She wore a thimble on each thumb, pointer, and middle finger. Her hands flew across the board’s rippled surface, giving smacks on the downbeat and a syncopation of zips and runs that made the music jump.”

It’s all instinct with Angel; she has no training or experience. “The girl lays a spell,” someone says of her. Beyoncé has been known to do likewise.
Visit Robert H. Patton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 27, 2016

Jessica Anya Blau's "The Trouble with Lexie"

Jessica Anya Blau's books include The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, Drinking Closer to Home, and The Wonder Bread Summer. Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Trouble with Lexie:
I’m a big daydreamer. Maybe most writers are. Often when I’m in the car, I’ll turn off the radio and just tune in to a daydream. In this way, hours can pass unnoticed. My daydreams run like movies in my head. It’s not surprising since the simplest way to describe my writing process would be to say that I watch a movie I’m creating in my head and then write it down as I see it.

When I was writing The Trouble with Lexie, I was also binge-watching Friday Night Lights. So, of course, I was thinking of Kyle Chandler for Daniel. Daniel doesn’t have Coach Taylor’s wholesome goodness. But he has his looks, his charisma, his confidence.

Lexie is a version of me—younger, prettier, taller, blonder, a much smaller nose! But she’s neurotic and a worrier like me. She’s 33, and I have no idea how old any Hollywood star is but I like Kristen Stewart and think she would be the perfect Lexie. She has a certain mysteriousness to her that makes her appealing. And you don’t read about her everywhere—I have no idea what she is like, I only know what her characters are like.

Dot, the 80-year-old tap-dancing English teacher who curses like a truck driver could be played by Betty White. Or by my mother, who isn’t a star except in her own home with her human-sized sheep dog and her cross-eyed, obese cat to whom she sings.

Peter needs to be played by someone who can do that sort of boneless, hipster, low-slung jeans thing. Maybe Armie Hammer, but scruffed out, unbathed, sans underwear.

Amy could be played by Anna Chlumsky. I love her in Veep. And she has the perfect look for Amy: together, pretty, but not overly-groomed and not-overly thin. Amy/Anna looks like someone who eats carbs without thinking Oh mah gawd, I’m eating carbs!

Dream directors . . . oh, you know, Steven Soderbergh would be the ideal. I like his sensibility: he sees the humor in life, in reality. And he has a good sense of women and how real and strong they are. Also, he understands the importance of plot and tension. High-stakes things happen in his movies; something changes by the end.
Learn more about the book and author at Jessica Anya Blau's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Jessica Anya Blau and Pippa.

The Page 69 Test: The Wonder Bread Summer.

My Book, The Movie: The Wonder Bread Summer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Joy Callaway's "The Fifth Avenue Artists Society"

Joy Callaway’s love of storytelling is a direct result of her parents’ insistence that she read books or write stories instead of watching TV. Her interest in family history was fostered by her relatives’ habit of recounting tales of ancestors’ lives. Callaway is a full-time mom and writer. She formerly served as a marketing director for a wealth management company. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Public Relations from Marshall University and an M.M.C. in Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina.

Here Callaway dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Fifth Avenue Artists Society:
I don’t often think of actors when I’m writing, but there are many times when I’ll see someone in a particular role and think, wow, if there’s ever a movie, I’ll need them in mine. So, here we go!

For the role of Ginny, I’d cast Michelle Dockery. She plays a strong, driven female lead so well and I think she would be just perfect.

I’d choose Rachel McAdams as Ginny’s older sister, Bess. She’s a milliner with a prickly personality, and McAdams is so versatile and compelling.

You can’t have a proper period drama without including Keira Knightley, and I think she’d be phenomenal as Ginny’s level headed sister, Mae.

Zac Efron is an incredibly talented actor and strangely looks like my vision of Ginny’s twin brother, Franklin. I have no doubt Zac would do the role justice.

Caitriona Balfe would play the perfect Alevia, Ginny’s youngest sister. Alevia is an elegant, soft-spoken woman with unwavering determination to become a celebrated pianist.

I’d swipe another Downton actress, Lily James, for the role of Franklin’s spirited violinist beau, Lydia.

I’ve always been a huge Tom Welling fan, so I think I’d cast him as Ginny’s first love, next door neighbor, and fellow artist. But, if I could choose any actor from any era, I’d choose Jimmy Stewart.

John Hopper is a classy, wealthy, talented Society man who has a sort of magnetism about him, and I don’t think anyone plays that type of man better than Leonardo DiCaprio.
Visit Joy Callaway's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Walter Shapiro's "Hustling Hitler"

Walter Shapiro has covered every presidential campaign since 1980. A columnist at Roll Call, he is also a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU and a lecturer in political science at Yale. He is the winner of the Sigma Delta Chi Award, given by the Society of Professional Journalists, as the best 2010 online columnist for his work for Politics Daily. In recent years, Shapiro was the Washington bureau chief for Salon, twice weekly political columnist for USA Today and monthly columnist for Esquire. In prior incarnations, he was on the staffs of Time, Newsweek and the Washington Post. He was also a White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter.

For a decade, Shapiro performed standup comedy at clubs in New York and claims that his on-stage career is merely on hiatus. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, writer Meryl Gordon.

Here Shapiro shares some thoughts on adapting his new book, Hustling Hitler: The Jewish Vaudevillian Who Fooled the Führer, for the big screen:
Since I know the status of a book writer in Hollywood (somewhere between a pool boy and a valet parking attendant), I have no illusions that anyone would ever listen to my casting suggestions for Hustling Hitler. Though, in idle moments, I do imagine movie posters and TV commercials proclaiming, "George Clooney Is Freeman Bernstein."

While writing my book, I did indulge in a wild fantasy about casting. In a perfect universe, I could bring back Zero Mostel to impersonate Freeman Bernstein. For Hustling Hitler was written to be a real-life counterpart to The Producers.
Visit the Hustling Hitler website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bill Schutt and J. R. Finch's "Hell’s Gate"

Bill Schutt is a vertebrate zoologist and author. He is a research associate in residence at the American Museum of Natural History and a professor of biology at LIU Post. Schutt’s first book, Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures, was critically acclaimed by E. O. Wilson and the New York Times. His forthcoming books include Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History. J. R. Finch is a painter, history buff, and cave explorer.

Here Schutt dreamcasts an adaptation of their new thriller, Hell's Gate:
I’ve been a huge movie buff for as long as I can remember so I guess it’s no surprise that when I wrote my first novel it would be highly cinematic. There are certainly scenes and dialogue in Hell’s Gate that were inspired by Apocalypse Now, Mimic and especially, The Thing (1951). I’ve always been impressed by the wonderful overlapping dialogue in the latter film and we both worked many long hours to get the dialogue in Hell’s Gate to sound natural. These are witty, intelligent people (good and bad) who are thrown into some extremely strange situations and where they face some ‘things’ that no character has ever faced in a novel before. As such, we had a ball imagining how they’d react. Our book also has a very dark tone and I listened to a great deal of Bernard Herrmann while writing Hell’s Gate (especially soundtracks to films like Psycho and Vertigo). Happily, both Mr. Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock show up as characters in the Hell’s Gate sequel we’re currently finishing. It’s an honor to pay homage to these giants.

As for who would play our characters if Hell’s Gate were made into a film, well, that’s a dream question for a film lover like me. I can certainly see Ryan Reynolds playing our smart talking hero R. J. MacCready and I think Zach Galifianakis would be perfect for Mac’s long-lost, and slightly warped best friend, Bob Thorne. The part of Yanni Thorne (Bob’s indigenous Brazilian wife) is a bit tougher for me to pin down. I think Eva Green would bring a perfect combination of kick-ass and mystery to a very important and multi-layered role. As for the villains, I can easily picture Christoph Waltz and Michael Fassbender in the respective roles of Sänger (our German rocket expert) and Colonel Wolff (the German officer leading his men on an extremely unique mission).

Finally, our dream director, without a doubt, would be Guillermo del Toro. As we wrote many of the big scenes in Hell’s Gate, both my co-author and I did so with daydreams of what theses scenes (with their WWII rockets and lethal non-human characters) would look like if they had been composed and filmed by Mr. del Toro.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Karin Salvalaggio's "Walleye Junction"

Born in West Virginia and raised in an Air Force family, Karin Salvalaggio grew up on a number of military bases around the United States. Her novels include Bone Dust White, Burnt River, and Walleye Junction. She now lives in London with her two children.

Here Salvalaggio dreamcasts an adaptation of Walleye Junction:
Walleye Junction, the third novel in the Macy Greeley mystery series, is set in a rural community in northern Montana. Tucked beneath the majestic peaks of the Whitefish Range, the Flathead Valley is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Given this richly visual material it’s hardly surprising that my readers often ask if my novels will ever be made into films. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting for Hollywood to call, but in the meantime it’s fun to fantasize. I recently sat down with a friend who works in the film industry to discuss who would be ideal to play the various roles in Walleye Junction. It was only after drinking an entire bottle of wine and some serious soul-searching that we agree on a cast list. Hard work but someone has to do it!

Macy Greeley, the special investigator central to the series, isn't ever described as attractive yet people are drawn to her. I like to think it boils down to a healthy mix of intelligence, charisma and tenacity. Though I'd originally chosen Jessica Chastain for the role, my girlfriend convinced me that Ruth Wilson (The Affair, Luther) would be the better choice.

Emma Long has returned to her hometown Walleye Junction following her father's murder. She is a woman who I'd describe as elegantly detached - even when devastated her actions are carefully contained. We agreed that Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager, The Great Gatsby) has the perfect balance of beauty and intelligence to play this role.

Gina Cunningham is a long serving patrol officer who struggles to balance career and family life. I see her as someone who uses humor to smooth the way. Maya Rudolph (SNL, Bridesmaids) would definitely bring this character to life.

Ryan Marshall is the top crime scene investigator in the state and one of Macy's closest friends. Every scene she has with Ryan jumps off the page. Their conversations are laced with dark banter and innuendo. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, The Walk) would be ideal.

Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust & Bone, The Bigger Splash) is the only actor who can play Aiden Marsh, a police chief who also happens to be Macy's boyfriend. Be still my beating heart.

Nathan Winfrey is Emma's frustrated former boyfriend who longs for the 'glory days' of high school when he was the star quarterback and facing a future full of promise. Now in his early 30s and running his uncle's cherry farm, he's unable to hide his disappointment. Tom Hardy (Mad Max, The Revenant) would bring the right mix of physicality and intensity.

The rest of the cast in no particular order:

Philip Long - Hugh Laurie (House, The Night Manager)
Emma Greeley - Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, The Calling)
Police Chief Lou Turner - Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
Ray Davidson - Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, Sicario)
Caleb Winfrey - Malcolm McDowell (Clockwork Orange)
Kyle Miller - Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis, The Rover)
Sean Spencer - Tye Sheridan (Mud, The Tree of Life)
Francine Long - Lindsay Duncan (Le Week-End)
Dr. Whitaker - Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom, The Martian)
Dot Whitaker - Mary Steenburgen (The Help, Parenthood)
Visit Karin Salvalaggio's website.

The Page 69 Test: Burnt River.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 17, 2016

Doreen Mattingly's "A Feminist in the White House"

Doreen Mattingly is Associate Professor of Women's Studies at San Diego State University.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, A Feminist in the White House: Midge Costanza, the Carter Years, and America's Culture Wars:
A Feminist in the White House details the political life of a real person, Margaret “Midge” Costanza, the first female assistant to a president. For the first 20 months of the Carter Administration (1977-81) she was Carter’s “window on America.” Midge was a feisty, funny, big-hearted, short (5’) Sicilian-American politician from upstate New York. Casting her is more an issue of capturing her likeness than of interpreting her character, so she would have to be played by an Italian-American actor who shares her fighting spirit and diminutive height. Janeane Garofalo is my first choice, given her progressive politics and acerbic wit (also she is just 5’1”). If we leave aside the height requirement, Marisa Tomei shares the Sicilian roots and is famously capable of talking tough and Edie Falco is a strong Democrat and a great actor. My friends assure me that the perfect person is Lady Gaga, for whom this could be a breakout role. Gaga shares Costanza’s commitment to LGBTQ rights (and she is only 5’1”) but would she be filmed wearing short black hair and sensible shoes?

Casting President Jimmy Carter is even trickier, since his face is so well known. The book shows Carter in a mixed light; he and Costanza were close friends, and in the end they let each other down. Except for the hilarious impressions by Dan Aykroyd and Joe Piscopo on Saturday Night Live, Carter has rarely been featured in movies or television, so it could really be a defining role. Of course my first choice is Michael Keaton, just so that I might be able to meet him at the opening. Personal fantasies aside, the man for the role is James Spader (who also goes by Jimmy in his personal life). He has the piercing blue eyes and could capture the nuance and complexity of Carter as a leader and a friend.
Learn more about A Feminist in the White House at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: A Feminist in the White House.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Steven Rowley's "Lily and the Octopus"

Steven Rowley has worked as a freelance writer, newspaper columnist and screenwriter. Originally from Portland, Maine, he is a graduate of Emerson College. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

Here Rowley dreamcasts an adaptation of Lily and the Octopus, his first novel:
Before I wrote Lily and the Octopus, I had been working on and off as a screenwriter for years. When I decided that Lily would be a novel, I removed my screenwriter’s cap and threw myself into the medium entirely; it was incredibly freeing. Not once did I have to think about a set being too expensive to build, a role being too hard to cast, or an action sequence being too impossible to film. My only limits were those imposed by my own imagination. Talking dog as a main character? Sure. Octopus stuck to dog’s head? Why not! Expansive battle at sea? Yes, please. I’ve always enjoyed writing dialogue, which lends itself to screenwriting. In the course of writing this book, I became really taken with crafting prose and the pace and depth at which you can really explore what’s going on inside a character’s head. Screenwriters have to externalize the internal, show what’s going on through action and dialogue, and that can be difficult. But none of this is to say that I wouldn’t welcome seeing a stirring film adaptation!

I can see several different films being made from my book, depending on the director. I can see everything from a quirky Woody Allen/Wes Anderson-ish version with delightful flights of fancy and character studies, to a full scale big-screen adaptation with jaw-dropping sequences, like what Ang Lee did with Life of Pi.

There are particular actors I imagine in the role of our narrator Ted, actors who have an inherent sadness to them and can convey a lot by doing very little. A certain stillness is important. Ewan McGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal are two actors who I think are wildly underappreciated. Paul Rudd, I think, has untapped dramatic range. Jude Law. I keep naming incredibly handsome actors. Hmm. The voice of the octopus as I was writing was always Eddie Izzard’s—and I mean that as the highest compliment. I am a huge fan and cannot imagine a more polished, brilliant, or formidable foe. I don’t picture a film version where Lily actually speaks, as so many of her conversations with Ted are imagined. But I can’t imagine a happier process than sitting with a casting director in a room full of dachshunds of all ages. I hope to see that happen.
Visit Steven Rowley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 13, 2016

Peter Newman's "The Vagrant"

Peter Newman lives in Somerset with his wife and son. Growing up in and around London, Peter studied Drama and Education at the Central School of Speech and Drama, going on to work as a secondary school drama teacher. He now works as a trainer and Firewalking Instructor. He sometimes pretends to be a butler for the Tea and Jeopardy podcast, which he co-writes, and which has been shortlisted for a Hugo Award.

Here Newman dreamcasts an adaptation of his novel, The Vagrant:
This is far too much fun!

Firstly, the film version of The Vagrant would need a director that could handle epic battle but also moments of silence, slowness, with the ability to tell the story through small gestures. Ideally, I’d have Akira Kurosawa.

The Vagrant himself is a tough one to get right. The actor needs to have physical presence and be able to give a powerful non-verbal performance. They also need to be paternal, warm, and do a good line in frowns, as well as being able to handle action scenes. I’d love to see a young Idris Elba or Robert Downey Junior in the role (mainly because of what he did in that Elton John video). In terms of younger actors, then either John Boyega or Jack O’Connell would be interesting.

Someone suggested Meryl Streep for the goat, which might be a little cruel. Casting the right goat would be critical though and I’d insist on a real one. No CGI goats for me!

I’d like Gina Torres to play Lil, the surgeon and one of the only decent people in Kendall’s Folly, as she has the requisite strength of personality mixed with likability.

I’d have Mark Hamill voicing the strongest of the infernals, the Usurper. I’m not sure what voice he’d do but I know it’d be wonderful!

Michael Ironside for the Knight Commander/commander because Michael Ironside.

Not sure who I’d cast as the Verdigris’ troubled rebel, Harm, but someone suggested DJ Qualls, and he certainly looks right for it.

I’d want Gwendoline Christie for the Hammer that Walks (a giant green mutant armoured in tank plating) and Lena Headey for Tough Call (Verdigris’ rebel leader). And, at the risk of being predictable, Tilda Swinton as Gamma of The Seven (a winged silver skinned immortal - she could do it in her sleep).

I’d happily do this all day but I’m going to be good and stop there. Please feel free to continue the conversation online with your own suggestions!
Visit Peter Newman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 12, 2016

John Farrow's "Seven Days Dead"

John Farrow is the pen name of Trevor Ferguson, who has written numerous novels and plays, all to extraordinary acclaim. His Émile Cinq-Mars crime series has been published around the world and cited by Booklist as "one the best series in crime fiction today", while Die Zeit in Germany suggested that it might be the best series ever.

Here he shares some thoughts on adapting his work, including Seven Days Dead, the newest novel in the Émile Cinq-Mars series, for the big screen:
Actually, I’ve had a “literary” novel made into a film. The Timekeeper, written under my real name, Trevor Ferguson, taught me that, when it comes to casting, be careful what, and who, you wish for. We ended up having a pair of actors switch roles, which was a godsend, but going into the process, despite all our preparation, who knew? Director and producer were also tickled pink with an actress, and the fact that she was so unbelievably attractive was a bonus. Trouble is, once we got her out to the far northern woods, she was too pretty to be believed in the harsh reality of that environment. Her role had to be deleted, I had to rewrite scenes to make it so, and her image was digitally removed from scenes we’d already shot. Again, be careful what you wish for.

We had a German shepherd who was wonderful: in fact, we needed two dogs to play the role. One for the aggressive King, and another for when he was friendly. And our bear was super. The actors needed time to adjust playing alongside a bear, but give the beast a marshmallow and he became, well, a marshmallow. Troublesome, however, were the wolves. They were described as “half-wild”. I’m not sure that any “half-tame” side ever came out, and we lost days in the shoot because they wouldn’t play their parts on cue. Eventually, they came around. At least no one watching the movie will think of them as anything but wild.

Oh, and the bugs were incredible. The ones you see on screen were not digital.

If there’s ever a movie based on my crime novels—and options have been taken out; scripts written—I opt for no animals. And no great beauties. I want actors who, like last time, know how to seize a role, even when they weren’t cast for it. And this: we employed extras from the area who were First Nations people, and they had a look and a made a contribution that helped the film immensely. I’d like that in any future movie: real people, even in the lesser speaking roles, who look and speak as though they descend from generations of folk married to the soil. That level of authenticity can do so much for a film.
Visit Trevor Ferguson's Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Seven Days Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 10, 2016

Gina Wohlsdorf's "Security"

Gina Wohlsdorf was born and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota. She triple majored at Tulane University. Following graduation, she lived in northern Florida, southern France, and Minnesota. She held a variety of jobs that afforded her time to write, including bookseller and massage therapist. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. She currently lives in Colorado.

Here Wohlsdorf dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Security:
The Head of Security is trickiest. Without him, the movie doesn’t work. I need an actor who can convey an entire performance of widely varying contrasts without the use of his voice or his body. Pretty much all he has is his eyes, so I’m asking the impossible. Luckily, I can think of two actors who could do it.

1) Bradley Cooper had scenes in American Soldier where he got a feeling across in perfect stillness. He excels at seemingly minor shifts in emotional tone — they view as human and organic rather than actorly and forced — and they add up incrementally, so you don’t even realize how good he was until the movie’s over. He’d see the Head of Security as an interesting exercise in craft, I think. He’d for sure make it fascinating to watch.

2) Nestor Carbonell of Bates Motel. In Season 4’s penultimate episode, his character had a moment that was his absolute apex of emotional experience. We’d never seen Sheriff Alex Romero behave in this particular way, though we’d watched 38 episodes that made the behavior inevitable. Calibrating a years-in-the-making reaction like that correctly (not overdoing, not under-doing) is practically asking an actor to jump off a cliff and fly. And Carbonell soared.

Tessa needs a strong, intelligent actress with a marked, acerbic practicality about her. I’ve got a two-way tie here, too.

1) Megan Fox did a stint on New Girl recently, and her comic timing is incredible. She comes at really tricky material with a preternatural self-assurance, a fierce self-respect. You cannot shake her. I saw it when she starred in Jennifer’s Body as well— she’s got this dry, wry, droll (but never dull) delivery that bespeaks almost spooky competence. That’s Tessa: spooky competent.

2) Anna Kendrick has this wonderful ability to communicate her work ethic without making the performance appear effortful. She’s sly, wily, and tough with her readings — she doesn’t have a B-game. You get the feeling that anybody who got in a fight with her, even if they won, they’d lose a vital body part in the process. That’s Tessa, too.

Brian’s a good guy, but it’s unwise to push him. The danger with casting this role is getting the good-guy part but missing that edge underneath. Two ideas:

1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt could play basically anybody, but what makes him great for Brian is, he can take a line and get it to do any of a thousand different things. This character is a lot of talking. He’s got a long expositional speech. Those can get boring very, very easily — but it must not; it’s a pivot point for all three principles. Gordon-Levitt wouldn’t shrink from the challenge.

2) Grant Gustin plays The Flash with a lot of heart, a deeply resonating likability. But he also played a sociopath on Glee. And in the few episodes of The Flash where he’s gotten to skew the superhero evil, he sells it so eerily well it gets your head tilting at the screen: who is this guy? That’s a savvy choice for Brian — wild card, mysterious stranger.
Visit Gina Wohlsdorf's website.

The Page 69 Test: Security.

Writers Read: Gina Wohlsdorf.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Jo Perry's "Dead Is Best"

Jo Perry earned a Ph.D. in English, taught college literature and writing, produced and wrote episodic television, and has published articles, book reviews, and poetry. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist Thomas Perry. They have two adult children. Their three cats and two dogs are rescues.

Here Perry shares some ideas about the above the line talent for an adaptation of her latest novel, Dead is Best:
My book is a challenge to any director because my two protagonists are dead. When they travel from the afterlife into the world of the living, they are invisible, ineffectual and mute.

But that's it--no ghouls, no zombies in this flick! Just a dead man who was sort of a putz in life, and a dog whose life was very sad.

But I'd cast Jonah Hill as Charles. I think he'd be perfect. As for the dog, that would be up to the director. But the canine actress would have to be a very clever, soulful dog. Rose is a complex role.

The book takes place in L.A. I'd like a director who can deliver the feeling of L.A.'s dehydrated sprawl--I love what David Ayer did in End of Watch. He'd be perfect--I admire the documentary style of that film.
Visit Jo Perry's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Better.

Writers Read: Jo Perry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 6, 2016

Gary Corby's "The Singer from Memphis"

Gary Corby is the author of the Athenian Mystery series, starring Nicolaos, his girlfriend Diotima, and his irritating twelve year old brother Socrates.

Corby lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife, two daughters, two ducks, two budgerigars, and a brush turkey that is almost as irritating as Socrates.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of the latest book in the series, The Singer from Memphis:
I've written one of these fun pieces for every book I've ever released, so my plan is not to repeat the series characters who appear in every book. Instead I'll look at the guest stars of The Singer from Memphis.

Let me start with Herodotus. On the very first line, the Father of History knocks on Nico's door. Herodotus needs some help with research for a book he's writing. Nico can't work out why anyone would be interested in reading about history, but circumstances conspire to make him agree, and so Nico, Diotima, and Herodotus are off to Egypt. To play the part of Herodotus we must have Herodotus himself. That's so I can go all fanboy and visit the studio while they're filming and get his autograph.

Next we have the singer from Memphis herself, a lady named Djanet. For Djanet we must have my literary agent Janet Reid, because Djanet is named for Janet. Also, after fawning over Herodotus I would totally stay to watch Janet act. Especially the part where she punches out my hero Nico.

One of the more unusual characters is a fellow named Maxyates. Max grows the hair on one side of his head down to his waist, and on the other side shaves it to the scalp. Also he dyes his skin a bright red. Believe it or not, there was a tribe back then in which all the men did exactly this. To play Max I would cast David Bowie, for the simple reason that he's one of the few people who could carry it off.

Next up there's the Head of the Public Service of Egypt. For him we must have Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Both gentlemen are fond of white cats. Also, I suspect the two of them would get along very well.

Finally, I must find a role for Elvis Presley. The role of singer from Memphis is taken, so to him I give the role of Inaros, a Prince of Libya who claims to be The King.
Visit Gary Corby's blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Pericles Commission.

My Book, The Movie: The Ionia Sanction.

My Book, The Movie: Sacred Games.

My Book, The Movie: The Marathon Conspiracy.

My Book, The Movie: Death Ex Machina.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Teresa Toten's "Beware That Girl"

Teresa Toten is the author of the acclaimed Blondes series, as well as The Game, The Onlyhouse, among other books. Toten has twice been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Born in Zagreb, Croatia, she arrived in Canada 13 days later, and now lives in Toronto.

Here Toten shares some ideas about the cast of an adaptation of her new novel, Beware That Girl:
In my fantasy, Beware That Girl would have elements of two high school classics: the 1988 cult classic Heathers and in 2012, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

They’re both smart, dark movies that play with the psyche but have a ridiculous playfulness as well. Sadly, the fabulous cast from both films have aged out of playing high school seniors.

My film will have to rely on young up and coming actors who will make their mark with this film!
Visit Teresa Toten's website.

The Page 69 Test: Beware That Girl.

Writers Read: Teresa Toten.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 3, 2016

Mike Brooks's "Dark Run"

Mike Brooks was born in Ipswich, Suffolk and moved to Nottingham when he was 18 to go to university. He’s stayed there ever since, and now lives with his wife, two cats, two snakes and a collection of tropical fish. He is the author of the Keiko novels, sci-fi adventures that follow the escapades of those crewing the spaceship of the same name; Dark Run, the first book in the series, is now available in the US.

When not writing, Brooks works for a homelessness charity, plays guitar and sings in a punk band, watches football (soccer), MMA and nature/science documentaries, goes walking in the Peak District or other areas of splendid scenery, and DJs wherever anyone will tolerate him.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Dark Run:
If someone ever makes a movie of Dark Run my main wish would be that they keep the ethnicity of the actors the same. The point of the core crew is that it's a diverse group to reflect the multicultural nature of a futuristic galactic civilisation. Unfortunately I don't watch a great deal of TV or movies, so my reference points for actors are rather limited. However, there are a few characters whom I have ideas for:

Ichabod Drift: He's tall, good-looking, charming, and of Mexican heritage despite the name. I've wondered about this for a while, but the perfect candidate would seem to be José Alberto Rodríguez, better known as Alberto Del Rio from the WWE.

Tamara Rourke: Drift's business partner is small and wiry, but ruthlessly efficient. From what other people have said, Jada Pinkett-Smith's portrayal of Fish Mooney in Gotham would carry over well here (although they might need to age her up – Rourke's in her fifties, although she looks younger).

Jenna McIlroy: The ship's youngest crew member and general hacker genius, Jenna is quite tall and I think would be well-played by Sophie Turner (assuming she could do a convincing American accent).

Jia Chang: The crew's foul-mouthed pilot. Grace Huang is older than the character but is capable of pulling off the no-nonsense aura and Jia's death stare.
Nicolas Kelsier: While writing the novel I always imagined Kelsier as looking like Bill Nighy and sounding like Jon Hurt. A good compromise would be Charles Dance.

Apirana Wahawaha: I'm only mentioning him because everyone I've spoken to suggests The Rock/Dwayne Johnson, and I have to point out that a) The Rock isn't tall enough (Apirana's meant to be about 6'8), b) he's not fat enough (Apirana's solid muscle with a gut) and c) although The Rock has Pacific Islander heritage he's Samoan, not Maori. However, I acknowledge that I don't actually know of any 6'8 Maori actors...
Visit the official Mike Brooks website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Jeffrey Salane's "Mayhem"

Jeffrey Salane grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, but moved north to study in Massachusetts and New York City. After spending many years playing in many bands, he now works as an editor and writer, and lives with his family in Brooklyn.

Here Salane dreamcasts an adaptation of his Lawless trilogy: Lawless, Justice, and the newly released Mayhem:
My running joke about Lawless was that it was created with Suri Cruise in mind. That eventually she’d read the book or her parents would read the book and they’d all realize that this is the perfect first vehicle for her action movie career. She would play M Freeman, the main character in Lawless. She’s at the center of all the action and adventure, but her character is morally challenged in a way that kids aren’t used to reading. She’s a bad guy who has to choose whether she’s going to be good. The other roles, I have no idea who would fit them because these characters are so young. If I’m pulling from actors from my cinematic history, I’d say that Henry Thomas from ET could play Calvin Watts. He’s a bit of the foil to M’s character and hey, I love Henry in ET. Merlyn Eaves, who’s the loud and proud geek of the group, I’d call on Third Rock from the Sun era Joseph Gordon-Levitt without the long hair. Then rounding out the main roles, I’d love to see Marsai Martin or Amandla Stenberg as Juliandra Byrd.

Now, the characters I couldn’t find actors for are Ms. Watts and Zara Smith. They are two of my favorites in the trilogy, but I could never put an actor into either role. Finally, let’s have Justin Lin, Kathryn Bigelow, and Sarah Polley direct the film together because that is a movie I’d watch.
Visit Jeffrey Salane's website.

--Marshal Zeringue