Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tom Bullough's "Addlands"

Tom Bullough grew up on a hill farm in Wales, where he still lives. He has worked as a sawmiller, a music promotor in Zimbabwe, a tractor driver, and a contributor to various titles in the Rough Guides series. At present he is a Visiting Fellow at the University of South Wales.

Here Bullough shares some insights about casting an adaptation of Addlands, his fourth novel, and the first to be published in the United States:
One of the things I love about fiction is that the physical appearance of characters does not have to be completely settled – or characters can appear differently, depending on who's seeing them. I find myself thinking about Russian folk tales, and the terrible witch Baba Yaga:
It was Baba Yaga with the iron legs, and her chin touched the ceiling...
There are loads of descriptions of Baba Yaga which are clearly not meant to be taken literally. And yet you know exactly what is meant: she is twisted and appalling, more corrupt than anything you've ever encountered. You feel her more acutely than you could if the image made physical sense.

I was asked this same question – who would play Oliver in a film? – at a festival last weekend, and I prevaricated then too. 'Well, how tall is Oliver?' I was asked. 'Six foot two, six foot four?' Well, the answer is that Oliver is taller than everyone else. He is up there. He's as big as you, the reader, picture him to be. The thing about Oliver is that he is both a regular human being and someone who belongs to (local) legend. He has performed acts of strength and violence that no-one else locally can approach. He is darker-skinned too than others in his village and, since no-one but his mother knows who his father was, there is speculation that he was a gypsy, or a Jew, or Mediterranean, or some kind of Celtic throwback, or African-American. For many of the seventy years that Addlands charts he is seen as Other to his community, and the nature of that Otherness changes over time.

So, my evasive answer is this. If Addlands were to be filmed, I would prefer it to be a television series, to retain the structure, and in any case I would like contrasting-looking actors to play Oliver at different stages of his life. Physically, in middle age, Anthony Quayle or Marlon Brando would have been pretty close. Tom Hardy would nail his mix of insecurity and physical threat.

As for Naomi: Emily Blunt from My Summer of Love. No question.
Visit Tom Bullough's website.

Writers Read: Tom Bullough.

--Marshal Zeringue