Friday, December 29, 2017

Karen L. Cox's "Goat Castle"

Karen L. Cox's books include Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture and Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture.

Here Cox dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest book, Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South:
There really haven’t been any dramatic interpretations of this story, but it begs for one. From the time I learned about Goat Castle and the real-life characters that inhabited it, I could see it as a film. Every person I’ve ever talked to about this book has said, without fail, “This needs to be a movie.” The principals make for very rich characters and the setting—Goat Castle—is both shocking and surreal. There’s also the terribly sad saga of Emily Burns, caught in an unfortunate situation, who is dealt a terrible injustice because of her race and sent to one of the South’s most notorious prisons—Parchman.

So who would I want to play the principals? Most of them are in their 60s, so it’s a great opportunity for older actors, although Emily Burns was just 37 when she was convicted. The sheriff is also just 41. So, here is my dream cast:

I’d choose Sally Field to play Jennie Merrill, the woman who was murdered. Jennie was petite, but feisty. Tommy Lee Jones would be good in the role of Duncan Minor, Jennie’s cousin who finds her and has loved her his whole life.

Octavia Dockery, the “Goat Woman,” was a cunning individual and I’d love to see her played by Jessica Lange. Lange’s role in Grey Gardens, not to mention American Horror Story, suggests she’s got a knack for Southern Gothic.

Dick Dana, the “Wild Man,” was tall and lanky and not in his right mind. And while I know we haven’t heard from John Malkovich in awhile, I think he’d be perfect.

George Pearls a.k.a. Lawrence “Pink” Williams, the likely trigger man who killed Merrill in a botched robbery could be played by either Don Cheadle or Denzel Washington. Williams took off for Chicago as a young man, so by the time he returned to Natchez he was a street savvy guy.

I’ve always seen Octavia Spencer as the person to play Emily Burns, the woman sent to prison for this crime. They are about the same height and build, and I think she could really bring Emily to life and draw us into the story of racial injustice.

Sheriff Clarence “Book” Roberts is also an important figure in this case, though I’m not sure who should portray him. Tom Hanks might be a good fit.

There are lots of bit parts here, so it would really depend on which characters the filmmakers want to highlight.

Fingers crossed that Goat Castle will one-day come with the tagline “coming to a theater near you!”
Visit Karen L. Cox's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Helen Dickson's "Carrying the Gentleman's Secret"

Helen Dickson lives in South Yorkshire with her retired farm manager husband. On leaving school she entered the nursing profession, which she left to bring up a young family. Having moved out of the chaotic farmhouse, she has more time to indulge in her favorite pastimes. She enjoys being outdoors, traveling, reading and music. An incurable romantic, she writes for pleasure. It was a love of history that drove her to writing historical romantic fiction.

Here Dickson dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Carrying the Gentleman's Secret:
Carrying the Gentleman’s Secret is about a working woman in early Victorian London, who takes control of her own life before the emancipation of women – although calls for change were gathering pace in the last decade of the nineteenth century.

Whenever anyone asks me if I would like any of my books made into a movie, I always say what a wonderful idea. And of course it is, but one has to carry on writing and see what happens. I have a terrible memory for names and found it difficult casting the perfect actors for my characters.

The characters I have created out of my imagination have faces that I am familiar with, so who on earth could take on those roles? Who would I cast to play my heroes and heroines – if it happened and I had any say in the matter, which I doubt for I imagine that would be left to the casting directors and I would have to hope they would get it right. Actors have the ability to take on the characters, but to take on a physical resemblance is not so easy because I cannot say I’ve seen any actors who look like them. But I will have a go.

For Alex Golding I would choose Rufus Sewell or Colin Firth for the role – unfortunately they are now too old for the part. I can see Richard Madden of Game of Thrones – Robb Stark - and Lady Chatterley’s Lover – Oliver Mellors -fame playing Alex. His physique is lean and athletic. He’s not quite as tall as Alex but it’s often difficult to judge the height of actors on screen – take Daniel Craig and Sean Bean for instance. They both come across as being of reasonable height but they’re quite short. James Norton would be perfect. He has the height and the looks and he’s a wonderful actor – he was brilliant as Andrei Bolkonsky in the television adaptation of War and Peace playing opposite Lily James as Natasha Rostova.

For Lydia Brook, who is an ambitious, hardworking, practical type, which is no surprise given that she’s poor, I think Lily James, who played Lady Rose Clare in Downton Abbey and Natasha in War and Peace would do nicely. I can also see Holliday Grainger – of Lady Chatterley fame, as Lydia. In fact what a pairing that would be if she were to play Lydia and Richard Madden as Alex. On second thoughts, perhaps not.
Visit Helen Dickson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 22, 2017

Casey Doran's "The Art of Murder"

Casey Doran's second Jericho Sands book is The Art of Murder. Here the author shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of the novel:
When I first conceptualized the character of Jericho Sands, I didn’t begin with any set image in mind as a model. I knew some of his basic traits and background but he mostly developed through dialogue. I quickly realized that Jericho’s defining characteristic is that he’s an unapologetic smartass who tends to let his mouth get him in trouble. This meant removing a lot of filters that I usually set up for myself while I write. Which was a lot of fun. I was on my latest round of trying to quit smoking at the time, so naturally I made Jericho a dedicated chain smoker. Having my antagonist constantly lighting up turned out to be a great way to vicariously enjoy the habit I was trying to kick. When I write, I still don’t see any one particular person. Since it would have to be someone capable of delivering a sarcastic quip every thirty seconds, the obvious choice would be someone like Ryan Reynolds. But I think it would be really cool to see someone less prolific and well known take the role.

Morena Baccarin would be a great Alyssa Jagger and Jon Huertas from Castle would be perfect for Eddie Torrez.

As for Katrina Masters, I’d love to see Lzzy Hale from Halestorm.
Learn more about The Art of Murder.

Follow Casey Doran on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

David Moody's "One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning" Moody first self-published Hater in 2006, and without an agent, succeeded in selling the film rights for the novel to Mark Johnson (producer, Breaking Bad) and Guillermo Del Toro (director, The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth). His seminal zombie novel Autumn was made into an (admittedly terrible) movie starring Dexter Fletcher and David Carradine. Moody has a unhealthy fascination with the end of the world and likes to write books about ordinary folks going through absolute hell.

Here Moody shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of his new novel, One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning:
It’s interesting - this is the first novel I’ve written where I wasn't thinking about a potential movie adaptation as I was writing. I think there are two reasons for this. First, this is an offshoot of my Hater series, and a film adaptation of the original novel should soon be entering production (it’s been on/ off for the last decade, frustratingly), so I’m still focused on a screen adaptation of book one. Second, the cast of characters in this book are people I work with. Or, at least, are inspired by people I work with. For that reason, it’s hard to visualise actors playing their roles. However, a reviewer got in touch yesterday and suggested that One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning would make a great stage play. Now that would be something else! Similar to Hater, it’s a fundamental part of the plot of One of Us… that the lead characters are very ordinary folks, like the people you might work with or your neighbours, or the folks with whom you share your daily commute. I would fight tooth and nail not to have recognisable stars in the main roles. So while I could reel off a load of currently popular British screen actors who might excel - Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, James Nesbitt etc. - I’d rather have people you might not have seen on the big screen before. If the movie was getting a worldwide release, I’d be inclined to hire actors better known for their small screen roles here in the UK. Maybe Matt Smith, Hayley Attwell… folks like that. There’s such a fine line between comedy and horror, though, that if I was given free reign, I’d actually cast comedians in the main roles. Reece Shearsmith, Alice Lowe, Jim Moir, Johnny Vegas, Steve Pemberton. They’d be perfect!
Visit David Moody's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hater.

The Page 69 Test: Dog Blood.

My Book, The Movie: Dog Blood.

The Page 69 Test: Autumn: Disintegration.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 18, 2017

C. Courtney Joyner's "Nemo Rising"

C. Courtney Joyner is an award-winning writer of fiction, comics, and screenplays. He has more than 25 movies to his credit, including the cult films Prison, starring Viggo Mortensen; From a Whisper to a Scream, starring Vincent Price; and Class of 1999, directed by Mark Lester. A graduate of USC, Joyner's first produced screenplay was The Offspring, which also starred Vincent Price. Joyner's other scripts have included TV movies for CBS, USA, and Showtime.

He is the author of The Shotgun western series and a new novel, Nemo Rising.

Here Joyner dreamcasts the lead in an adaptation of Nemo Rising:
Nemo Rising actually started as a screenplay, and has a long history as a script behind it. At one point, Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey was to play Nemo, with Hailey Atwill as the female lead, but the film didn’t come together, and I ultimately used my script as the outline for the book. There’s actually a chapter in the book that details a bit of this saga, along with some pages of the screenplay. It’s on the development trail yet again, and I’m hoping the novel will push a TV version – always my focus – into production. My Nemo now? Sean Bean.
Learn more about Nemo Rising.

Visit C. Courtney Joyner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mandy Mikulencak's "The Last Suppers"

Mandy Mikulencak is the author of The Last Suppers, which recently received a starred review from Library Journal and was named to Barnes & Nobles’ list of Best New Fiction of December 2017. Set in 1950s Louisiana, the novel follows a young, female prison cook who feels compelled to prepare meaningful last meals for death row inmates. When she uncovers troubling truths about her father’s murder and the man executed for the crime, her ideas on what constitutes truth, justice and mercy are irrevocably changed. Mikulencak also authored the young adult novel, Burn Girl, which received a 2016 Westchester Fiction Award.

Here Mikulencak dreamcasts an adaptation of The Last Suppers:
When I start to envision the characters in my books, it can feel like a subconscious rather than conscious exercise. Our brains house so much information on popular culture – TV, movies, books, magazines. I think authors instinctively draw from that virtual storehouse of attributes to form a picture in their minds of what their own characters look or talk like, and what mannerisms they possess. Sometimes it’s a perfect fit. For my current novel, The Last Suppers, I believe that Josh Brolin would be ideal for the role of Roscoe Simms, the warden. A secondary character – Dot, who works in the kitchen with the main character, Ginny – is absolutely Octavia Spencer (although my husband insists that Oprah Winfrey would make a perfect Dot). Ginny’s father, Joe – whose character is only told in flashback – is tougher to describe. Actors Ben Mendelsohn or Chris Cooper come very close, but they’d have to be 22 years old and much taller.

I have had an extremely difficult time casting the main female characters in both The Last Suppers and Burn Girl. It’s a peculiar phenomenon. I visualize certain attributes very clearly. In The Last Suppers, Ginny describes herself as having the body of a 13-year-old boy. The warden, her lover, describes her this way: Roscoe couldn’t get over how much she looked like her father had at twenty-one. Hair like a squirrel’s nest, a strong chin, eyes a little too large for her face. She didn’t get Joe’s height, though, or Miriam’s curves for that matter.

I’ve wasted far too much time searching IMDB trying to find the perfect young actress (about 29 or 30 years old). Yet, I can’t form a full picture of Ginny. It’s almost like she’s in soft focus and I’m struggling to make out her facial features. I’m very curious how readers envision her.

As for the director of The Last Suppers? Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men), Taylor Sheridan (Wind River) or David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water).
Visit Mandy Mikulencak's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 11, 2017

Steven Cooper's "Desert Remains"

Steven Cooper is a former investigative reporter. His work has earned him multiple Emmy Awards and nominations, as well as a national Edward R. Murrow award, and numerous honors from the Associated Press. He taught for five years in the English department at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Cooper has lived a bit like a nomad, working TV gigs in New England, Arizona and Florida, and following stories around the globe.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of Desert Remains, his fourth novel:
I never cast my characters while writing a book. They come to me organically, appearing as strangers I’ve never seen before. They’re not unlike the new, unfamiliar faces that pop up in dreams. After a while, once the book is out, once I’m not so close to these people, I might then see an actor or actress who appears very close to the characters I imagined. Recently I watched a series on Hulu called Casual and it occurred to me that the male lead, Tommy Dewey, would make a convincing Gus Parker. The role must be authentic surfer dude, not a spoof or a caricature. When Gus makes me laugh, I laugh with him not at him. I think Dewey could bring just the right nuance to the role. I might send him the book.

As for Alex Mills, I can see Colin Farrell, Liev Schreiber, Aaron Eckhart, or Terry Crews (though Crews and Schreiber might be too tall) playing that character. Those actors represent quite a range, but I think I would leave it up to the expertise of a casting director to make the right call.

Megan Mullally, Kathy Bates or Carol Kane would make a lovely Beatrice Vossenheimer.
Visit Steven Cooper's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 8, 2017

Catherine Reef's "Victoria: Portrait of a Queen"

Catherine Reef is the author of more than 40 nonfiction books, including Noah Webster: Man of Many Words, Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life, Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse, and other highly acclaimed biographies for young people. She lives in College Park, Maryland.

Here Reef dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest young adult biography, Victoria: Portrait of a Queen:
It is autumn 1861, and Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, is a student at Cambridge. Away from his parents and palace life, the future king, then called Bertie, is happy. He has been enjoying love—or at least sex—with an actress named Nellie Clifden. Suddenly he is confronted by his father, Prince Albert. It seems word of Bertie’s romance has reached Buckingham Palace, and the prince consort has come to admonish. The two take a long walk in the rain, and Albert informs Bertie that the affair must end, and that he must marry a suitable woman. This is Albert’s decision as well as the queen’s. So the film begins.

Bertie resists, and Prince Albert—well, Albert gets sick. As happened often in nineteenth-century literature and lore, exposure to wet weather has given him a cold. Albert, however, was already ill with an unknown ailment, and on December 13, Bertie is summoned to his father’s bedside. Prince Albert, father of nine and beloved of the queen, dies the next day.

Now viewers encounter Queen Victoria in her imposing, unreasonable majesty. Needing someone to blame for Albert’s untimely death at forty-two, she singles out the heir to the throne. She rejects Bertie’s offers of comfort, asserting that if he had not caused his father distress by pursuing a loose woman, Prince Albert would still be alive. Such cruel, unfair blame is a heavy burden for a grieving youth to bear.

Unlike my book, which tells Queen Victoria’s life story from beginning to end, my movie is in the tradition of Mrs. Brown and Victoria & Abdul, and focuses on the queen’s relationship with one person, in this instance her oldest son. From his childhood she had resented Bertie’s averageness and tried to mold him into the brilliant, morally stellar young man she wished he could be. There are flashbacks to his early years, when Bertie is forced to study six days a week and forbidden to see other children. Subsequent scenes delve into the difficult relationship of mother and son after Albert’s death: the audience sees, for example, Victoria sending Bertie on an extended trip to the Middle East so she can avoid sight of him; her insistence, upon his engagement, that his future mother-in-law be told about Nellie Clifden; her clear preference for Arthur, her seventh child.

Then comes the dramatic climax of the film, the revealing scene in which viewers see a different side of Queen Victoria. In November 1871, Bertie falls ill with typhoid fever. As the Prince of Wales lies near death, blame and faultfinding are forgotten as the queen rushes to his side. She becomes a loving mother wanting only for her son to get well (which he does). Realizing she has been wrong but unwilling to admit it, Victoria will say only that Bertie has changed, that illness has left him gentler and kinder—and she stumbles toward acceptance.

Who have I cast in the leading roles? Kate Winslet plays Queen Victoria. She lacks the real queen’s short stature, but she brings a forceful personality to the part. Paul Dano, who did such a fine job portraying the young Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy, is my choice for the youthful Bertie, whom he resembles. For the older Bertie, who else but Leonardo DiCaprio?  With a beard he could look the part, and he and Winslet have acted well and famously together.

DiCaprio gets the final scene—and perhaps the final word. The film ends in 1901, with the new king, Edward VII, purging Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace of his late mother’s personal effects. He savors a cigar, because she had forbidden him to smoke in her presence. He is asserting his power in a small way, just as Victoria did in 1837, when as the new queen she dined alone, without her own mother, the Duchess of Kent.

There were those who said Victoria resented her son because she saw too much of herself in him, and possibly they were right. People are complicated, and so are their emotions.
Visit Catherine Reef's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Catherine Reef & Nandi.

The Page 69 Test: Frida & Diego.

My Book, The Movie: Noah Webster.

The Page 99 Test: Florence Nightingale.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

David Clary's "Gangsters to Governors"

David Clary is a news editor at The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Gangsters to Governors: The New Bosses of Gambling in America:
My nonfiction book, Gangsters to Governors: The New Bosses of Gambling in America, explores how and why states have encouraged and promoted the expansion of legalized gambling in America. The book, published by Rutgers University Press, touches on the evolution and expansion of lotteries, tribal gaming, commercial casinos, sports gambling, daily fantasy, racetrack betting, and much more.

My six years of research and writing led me to a rogue’s gallery of colorful characters, from John “Old Smoke” Morrissey, the Irish-born gangster who built Saratoga into a gambling haven in the nineteenth century, to Bugsy Siegel, the gangster who completed the Flamingo hotel-casino in Las Vegas only to be assassinated months later. Daniel Day-Lewis would be outstanding as Morrissey because he portrayed his arch-rival Bill the Butcher Poole in the film Gangs of New York. For Siegel, Tom Hiddleston would be able pull off the lean athleticism and charm leavened with the necessary streak of menace.

Other key roles and the actors who would fill them:

Howard Hughes: Leonardo DiCaprio, who captured his paranoia in The Aviator

Benny Binion: Woody Harrelson, who would convey the Texan's good-ole-boy roughness

Steve Wynn: Michael Douglas, who has that appealing bad-boy charisma

Donald Trump: Well, who else but Alec Baldwin?
Visit David Clary's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 4, 2017

Dennis Glover's "The Last Man in Europe"

Dennis Glover is an Australian writer and novelist. The son of factory workers, Glover grew up in the working class Melbourne suburb of Doveton before studying at Monash University and King’s College Cambridge where he was awarded a PhD in history. He has worked for two decades as an academic, newspaper columnist, policy adviser and speechwriter to Australia’s most senior political, business and community leaders. An often outspoken political commentator, his books include An Economy is not a Society, The Art of Great Speeches and Orwell’s Australia.

Here Glover dreamcasts an adaptation of his debut novel, The Last Man in Europe, which tells the dramatic story of how George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four:
While writing The Last Man in Europe, I knew exactly who I wanted to play George Orwell as he struggled to give the world Nineteen Eighty-Four: Benedict Cumberbatch. In The Imitation Game, which is about Alan Turing, inventor of the modern computer, Cumberbatch showed his ability to play socially awkward and intellectually complex characters from the period. Turing and Orwell were near contemporaries, and Cumberbatch and Orwell even look alike: tall, gaunt, dark featured.

For the role of Eileen O’Shaughnessy – Orwell’s brave, witty and tragic wife – who else but Claire Foy, Britain’s greatest living period actress? To me, Claire Foy is the 1940s – the most stylish as well as dramatic decade of them all.
Visit Dennis Glover's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 1, 2017

Jessica Brockmole's "Woman Enters Left"

Jessica Brockmole is the author of At the Edge of Summer, the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, and Something Worth Landing For, a novella featured in Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War.

Here Brockmole dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Woman Enters Left:
Woman Enters Left takes place in the 1920s and the 1950s over two cross-country road trips—one with an aspiring screenwriter driving a Model T towards hopeful fame in Hollywood, the other with a jaded actress driving across Route 66 to escape that same Hollywood. In each storyline, I tried to evoke films from that era—1950s Louise narrates a story in widescreen Technicolor and, in the 1920s, Ethel and Florrie tell theirs like a silent movie, through written words (in their case, diaries instead of intertitles) and close-ups of expressive faces. As I wrote the book, I watched a lot of movies from both eras and called it “research,” so when asked to mentally cast the film version of Woman Enters Left, I can’t help but do it with actors from those eras. So if you will indulge me….

Florrie, the screenwriter with the Model T and a big secret, is all quiet emotion. On the screen, she’d be the one with big, expressive eyes, emoting for all she’s worth to the close-up shots. With delicate features and what her best friend Ethel describes as hair “like Botticelli’s Venus,” I see her as played by an actress like Maud Fealy or Bessie Love.

I picture Ethel, petite and dark-haired, as played by someone like Clara Bow or Madge Bellamy, someone expressive, lively, and who, as, Florrie put it, “lights up the street like a Roman candle.” My character doesn’t quite match the reputed wildness of those actresses, but Ethel reclaims this vitality on the drive across the United States.

Louise, on a solitary road trip in 1952, is also looking to reclaim the fierceness she brought to Hollywood fifteen years ago. She narrates her journey wryly, showing flashes of stubbornness and humor during her adventure. It’s perhaps too easy to give this role to a heavyweight like Lauren Bacall, but I really can’t picture anyone else poised with such silky grace behind the wheel of her convertible or speaking her lines with such exquisite dryness. As you read Woman Enters Left, I dare you to not picture Bacall on the pages.
Learn more about the book and author at Jessica Brockmole's website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Letters from Skye.

My Book, The Movie: Letters from Skye.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Jacqueline Jones's "Goddess of Anarchy"

Jacqueline Jones holds the Ellen C. Temple Chair in Women’s History and the Mastin Gentry White Professorship in Southern History at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of several books, including A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America (2013). That book and Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work and the Family from Slavery to the Present (25th Anniversary Edition, 2010) were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize; Labor of Love won the Bancroft Prize for 1986.

Here Jones dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical:
If I were the casting director for Goddess of Anarchy: The Movie, my first priority would be to find an especially resilient, resourceful actress to play the leading role.  Lucy Parsons lived a long, turbulent life (1851 to 1942) spanning the end of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, World War I and the Red Scare, the 1920s, and the Great Depression. So the lead would have to age convincingly, Miss-Jane-Pittman style, over the course of the story.  During her career as an anarchist—as a public speaker, writer, and editor— Parsons became a celebrity; covered obsessively by radical and mainstream newspapers, she inspired fear in her critics and adoration in her supporters.  The lead would have to project Parsons’s haughty contempt for capitalists, her thrill at speechifying in front of large crowds, her love of fine clothes, and her vanity about her own good looks.

Lucy Parsons was born to an enslaved woman and a white man (possibly her owner or an overseer) on a Virginia plantation in 1851.  Nevertheless, she claimed that she was the daughter of Native American and Hispanic parents—presumably because she feared that her ideas would not receive a fair hearing if it were known that she was of African descent.  So I am thinking along the lines of Ruth Negga, Halle Berry, or Zoe Soldana to play Lucy.

When Lucy was growing up in Waco, Texas, as a teenager she became involved with an older black man, Oliver Benton, who bought her nice clothes and paid her tuition at the local school.  He claimed that a baby Lucy gave birth to (around 1868) was his, and that Lucy was his wife. (The exact nature of their relationship is unknown.)  He felt humiliated when a white man named Albert Parsons began an affair with Lucy. Jamie Foxx perhaps?

Lucy’s mother endured a great deal.  She was probably raped by Lucy’s father.  She watched over her daughter Lucy and her two young sons as the family was forcibly relocated from Virginia to Texas during the Civil War.  Immediately after the war, fearful for their safety on the violent Texas countryside, she moved her family to the town of Waco.  Oprah Winfrey or Octavia Spencer would be good in this role.

Albert and Lucy married in 1872.  He was a veteran of the Confederate army. Small, wiry and dapper, he had tremendous staying power as an orator promoting anarchism.  Eventually he paid the ultimate price for his provocative rhetoric and writings.  At a workers’ rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square in 1886, someone tossed a bomb into the ranks of a group of police officers, killing seven of them.  Although the identity of the bomb-thrower remains unknown to this day, Albert was convicted of murder and conspiracy and hanged in 1887.  The male lead should be charming, intense—perhaps Colin Farrell.

Other characters in Lucy’s life include the famous socialist Eugene Debs (a fierce John Lithgow?) and anarchist Emma Goldman (Meryl Streep could handle the Russian accent!). Particularly intriguing are August Spies, a German immigrant also hanged for his supposed role in the Haymarket bombing, and Nina Van Zandt, the wealthy young college-educated woman who fell in love with him after his arrest.  The dashing blond-haired Spies had a reputation as a “ladies man”; I’m channeling Matthew McConaughey here.  Van Zandt was a traitor to her class, intelligent if somewhat naïve.  After a proxy wedding with a stand-in for Spies, she believed the two were actually married, though observers at the time suggested that he considered the “marriage” a farce and a sham. Julia Stiles might be able to pull this off.
Learn more about Goddess of Anarchy at the Basic Books website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 27, 2017

Irene Radford's "A Spoonful of Magic"

Irene Radford, author of the Dragon Nimbus (The Glass Dragon, The Perfect Princess, The Loneliest Magician, The Wizard's Treasure) and the Dragon Nimbus History (The Dragon's Touchstone, The Last Battlemage, The Renegade Dragon) series, often appears at conventions in the Oregon-California area. She is the author of the Stargods and Merlin's Descendants series as well, and is also one of the founders of the Book View Cafe.

Here Radford shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of her new novel, A Spoonful of Magic:
How would I cast A Spoonful of Magic? Hands down Danica McKellar from Boy Meets World and lately a lot of Hallmark movies has that quirky little smile that will charm the socks off her audience fits the part of Daffy, Daphne Rose Wallace Deschants. In the book Daffy is a blonde, so my first thought went to Sarah Michelle Geller or Kristen Bell, but they don’t have that special smile that shouts innocence while hiding a cool cunning.

The part of G, Gabrielle Sebastian Deschants, was modeled on a younger Pierce Brosnan, but I’m not up on a lot of the current Hollywood gorgeous males. He’s tall, 6’2”, and broad shouldered with dark hair starting to gray, and vivid blue eyes that can strip your senses away while he hypnotizes you. He’s not a nice guy, but is redeemable.

Ted Tyler, the other male protagonist, is a younger Mark Harmon, handsome enough but neutral. Your eyes can slide past him, or be riveted by him, depending on what he’s doing.

Villains are hard to cast. I think Sarah Michelle Gellar would excel in the part of blind D’Accore. But John Mooney is elusive. He needs to be both a charming hippie shaman in tie-dye caftans and a hard-edged real estate mogul in $1000 suits. Who would you suggest?
Visit Irene Radford's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Broken Dragon.

The Page 69 Test: The Broken Dragon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 24, 2017

Tara Goedjen's "The Breathless"

Tara Goedjen adores fairytales, mysteries, and ghost stories.

She wrote her first story at age eleven about children who disappeared at midnight, and she’s been writing ever since. Mostly raised in Alabama, she played college tennis in Iowa and then moved to Alaska and Australia before heading back to the continental US.

While completing grad school, Goedjen worked as a tennis coach, a yoga instructor, a university writing teacher, and as an editor for a publishing house. These days, when she’s not making up stories, she's probably going for a hike, staring at a to-do list, reading a novel, or eating all of California’s seasonal fruit.

Here Goedjen dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Breathless:
The two leads would be easy. If I could have my dream cast, I’d want sixteen-year-old Mae Cole to be played by Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things. Besides being a fan of the show, I love how Millie plays Eleven, who starts off the series as a quiet, mysterious, gifted, and troubled girl: all qualities that embody Mae in The Breathless.

I’d also want Cage Shaw, my other main character, to be played by Nick Robinson, who I adored in the movie adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s Everything Everything (he also appeared in The Kings of Summer and Jurassic World, a movie I had to see out of nostalgia for Jurassic Park). In Everything Everything, Nick plays a character who’s in love with the girl next door, and completely devoted to her, but who’s also trying to protect his family, in the same way that Cage Shaw is in love with Mae’s sister, Roxanne Cole, and trying to do the best he can by both her and his family—especially after things go terribly wrong.
Visit Tara Goedjen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A. J. Cross's "Something Evil Comes"

A.J. Cross, like her heroine Kate Hanson, is a Forensic Psychologist with over twenty years' experience in the field. She lives in Birmingham with her jazz-musician husband.

Here Cross dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Something Evil Comes:
If only.

I’ll get straight to it: I would choose a younger Jeff Bridges for the role of the American police officer, Lieutenant Joseph Corrigan, a man of few but always relevant words, a recurrent character in my books and a member of the Unsolved Crime Unit. Why? You’ve seen Jeff Bridges and you needs to ask? As I bash my keyboard I’m looking at one of my husband’s guitar catalogues, this one for Eastman. Here is Jeff on the cover, gazing direct to camera in black boots, denim and leather coat, a hand resting on an Eastman guitar, his hair long and worn back from his face. A good, strong head. Not a man to waste words. Oh, yes.

Another recurrent character is DI Bernard Watts, Birmingham UK born and bred, now at an age and stage of career when he feels outflanked by the much younger, mostly graduate intake of officers. Inside my head as I developed the Watts character around seven years ago was the sadly now deceased British actor Warren Clarke, who early in his career played the character Dim in the film, A Clockwork Orange. However, the role which made him my choice for Watts was one for television. He played an engineering firm’s manager in the fictional town of Rummidge opposite a feminist university teacher in David Lodge’s novel Nice Work. I’ve only just realised how influential both those roles were in shaping Watts and his professional relationship with the forensic psychologist who assists the Unsolved Crime Unit and is my main character. Let’s get to her, shall we?

Dr Kate Hanson, more recently a professor at the University of Birmingham, arrived inside my head fully formed at the start of my writing career.  She was partly inspired by a young colleague of mine at the time who had the unnerving ability to recall on demand the titles, authors and dates of forensic psychology research papers. I just know how to track them down.  I’ve never had anyone in mind to play Hanson but I can tell you exactly what she’s like: four books in, she’s thirty-six, divorced, a mother of one. Five feet three inches tall with thick, dark red hair. Somebody to be reckoned with. I haven’t given her mental health problems. You know: drink, communication disorder and so forth. She’s smart and she’s also everywoman. Which doesn’t mean that she’s uncomplicated. Far from it. She has a history of key failed relationships, commonplace enough but which underpins her refusal to commit to one man. So far.
Learn more about Something Evil Comes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 20, 2017

Marcella Pixley's "Ready to Fall"

Marcella Pixley teaches eighth grade Language Arts at the Carlisle Public Schools. She has written three acclaimed young adult novels: Freak, Without Tess, and most recently, Ready To Fall.

Here she shares her casting call for the leads in an adaptation of Ready To Fall:
Max Friedman: Seeking a male actor between ages 16 and 20. Tall. Gangly. All arms and legs. Slump-shouldered. Dark hair that slants into eyes. Questionable posture and awkward stride a plus. Must be able to ride a skateboard. Must look good in a pair of red converse all-star sneakers and black skinny jeans. Must possess an acerbic wit and the ability to show tumultuous expression even in silence. Other qualifications include being able to speed-sketch disturbing images of the Zombie Apocalypse. Lovers of football and Varsity lettermen need not apply.

Felicia Santacroce (Fish): Seeking a female actor between ages 16-20. This character is short and slim, but must possess such an enormous voice and personality that actress can easily fill any room with energy despite diminutive stature.  Must enjoy wearing strange hats. Must be willing to dye hair pink. Not just any pink but the kind of pink that it aggressive in its pinkness that it makes you want to sneeze. Nose ring a plus. Must be capable of reciting Shakespeare at full volume and must be comfortable performing the role of Ophelia in Hamlet. Must possess a raucous laugh and the ability to swear like a sailor.

Dr. Cage: Seeking scruffy middle-aged male actor, 45-65. Must be overweight. Penchant for suspenders and yellowed undershirt a plus. Must love Chinese food more than coronary health. Must have a familiarity with classic literature especially the poetry of Allen Ginsberg. Must love the poem “Howl.” Must enjoy fruity Polynesian cocktails and look oddly handsome with an unkempt beard. Strong body odor a plus. We are looking for a versatile actor who can portray a mixture of self-effacing wisdom, crankiness, supreme annoyance, and inability to tolerate B.S.  from anybody, especially teenagers. Teetotalers and health food gurus need not apply.
Visit Marcella Pixley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 17, 2017

Rachel Neumeier's "Winter of Ice and Iron"

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.

Here Neumeier dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Winter of Ice and Iron:
Kehera Elin Raëhema – Caitlin Stasey. Kehera would need to be portrayed as a responsible, kind, somewhat serious, girl-next-door young woman; definitely not as a glamorous beauty queen. Caitlin Stasey did a great job as Ellie in Tomorrow, When the War Began – I’m sure she could play an excellent Kehera.

Eilisè – Ingvild Deila. Kehera’s friend as well as her servant, Eilisè takes her duty to her mistress very seriously. The affection between them draws Eilisè into exile with Kehera when duty alone couldn’t have compelled her to go. I think Ingvild Deila would be wonderful for this role.

Tirovay Elin Raëhema – Colin Ford. Tiro, Kehera’s younger brother, shares the Elin character. Like his sister, he’s serious, responsible, and kind. He also has to grow up very fast in this story. He would need to be played by someone who could show the rapid shift of a boy into a man. At 21, Colin Ford is probably young enough to pull this off – and he did a good job playing the right kind of character in Under the Dome.

The Mad King of Emmer – Anthony Hopkins. I doubt Hopkins would agree to play such a small role, but dream cast, right? It’s hard to imagine anybody better for the creepy Mad King.

General Enmon Corvallis – Sean Connery. Can I have my real dream cast? Because the Sean Connery of The Hunt for Red October – which was made nearly thirty years ago – would be exactly right to play an experienced, capable, politically ambitious military general. Corvallis is just the guy who might be able to put the pieces of Emmer back together after the Mad King smashes the country to bits. He certainly wants to be the one to try. Connery in his prime would have been wonderful in this role.

Innisth Maèr Eänetaì – Christian Bale. Who else could bring such dark-edged intensity to the role? The Wolf Duke is all about dark-edged intensity. And chilly pride. And iron self-control. And, most of all, honor. Though he’d probably laugh in your face if someone pointed this last part out to him. Not that anyone would have the nerve, except Kehera.

Gereth Murrel – Ed Harris. The Wolf Duke’s seneschal, but also the closest thing to a surrogate father that Innisth Maèr Eänetai ever had, Gereth modeled kindness and responsibility for Innisth while the boy was growing up and continued to do so later after the young man became duke. Without Gereth’s influence, Innisth might well have followed in the steps of his biological father, with dire consequences for everyone. Gereth continues to play an important role in Innisth’s household all the way through the story.

Tageiny – Mark Wahlberg. Tag’s been around. Bodyguard, thug, maybe a soldier at some time in the past, he’s the kind of guy you want in your corner when it comes down to a dirty fight in a tight corner. It’s a role that would suit Wahlberg perfectly.

Quòn – Jay Ryan. The mysterious Quòn might be difficult to portray. I suspect Ryan could pull it off.
Visit Rachel Neumeier's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gary Blackwood's "Bucket's List" Blackwood is the award-winning author of more than thirty novels and non-fiction titles for children and young adults, including the bestselling Shakespeare Stealer series. Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, he now lives in Canada.

Here Blackwood dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Bucket's List:
To be honest, I cringe a bit at the thought of any of my books being filmed.  I’ve seen far too many failed attempts to adapt novels to the big screen (nonfiction usually fares a bit better).  With a few exceptions—Dances With Wolves comes to mind, and Blade Runner—the movie doesn’t do justice to its source, and perhaps can’t.  The two are just such different animals.

For one thing, novels are open to interpretation.  They invite—require, in fact—the participation of the reader; when we read one, we picture the characters and the settings for ourselves (with a little help from the author).  But movies are so literal; you’re stuck with actors (and their interpretations) and locations that are chosen for you.

So, assuming I got an offer I couldn’t refuse, who would I choose to stick an audience with in the role of Inspector Field?  Well, if I’d written the book a decade or two ago, my hands down choice would have been Bob Hoskins; he has that essential ability to play both menacing and funny.  And if I could resurrect an actor from the past, Sir Ralph Richardson would do nicely.  Picking someone from the current crop of box-office draws (and it would surely be hard to get a movie made without a Name) is a bit trickier.  Liam Neeson would likely be your best bet (though I don’t believe he’s known for his comic timing), but Russell Crowe might be able to pull it off; he did play a detective at least.  And a boxer.

Unless I get to write the screenplay, though, the deal’s off.
Learn more about Bucket's List.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 13, 2017

Michael Stanley's "Dying to Live"

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Their mysteries are set in Botswana, each against a backdrop of a current issue in southern Africa. Their protagonist is David “Kubu” Bengu, assistant superintendent in the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The third novel in the series, Death of the Mantis, was short listed for an Edgar and an Anthony, and won the Barry Award for best paperback original mystery of 2011.

Here the authors dreamcast an adaptation of Dying to Live, the sixth Detective Kubu mystery:
David “Kubu” Bengu is a large man, which gave rise to his nickname.  “Kubu” means hippo in his native language of Setswana.  Our first choice for an American-made film would be Forest Whitaker, who has all the right credentials, including an Academy Award for his role as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.  If we could turn the clock back a bit, James Earl Jones would fit the part perfectly.  Both of these actors have bulk, presence, and can be subtly funny.

Kubu’s boss, the irascible but soft-hearted Jacob Mabaku, would be a great role for Morgan Freeman.  Kerry Washington would be wonderful as Kubu’s wife, Joy.

For a British-made film, Nonso Anozie, from Game of Thrones, would be terrific as Kubu.  Thandie Newton would be his lovely wife, Joy, and Director Mabaku’s role could be filled by Paterson Joseph.
Learn more about the book and authors at Michael Stanley's website.

Read: Michael Stanley's top ten African crime novels.

The Page 69 Test: Deadly Harvest.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dave Connis's "The Temptation of Adam" Connis writes words you can sing and words you can read. He lives in Chattanooga, TN with his wife, Clara and a dog that barks at non-existent threats.

About his new novel, The Temptation of Adam, from the publisher:
Adam Hawthorne is fine. Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists. But Adam is fine. When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel. Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.
His dream cast for an adaptation of the novel:
Adam Hawthorne: Finn Wolfhard, Mike from Stranger Things, but give him a few more years.

Addy Hawthorne: Maia Mitchell (with shorter hair).

Dez Coulter: Alani Simone. She's been in a bunch of commercials. Hasn't been in any movies yet.

Trey: Tyler Posey.

Eliot: Noah Munck.

Mr. Cratcher: Man...I don't know. Maybe Jeff Goldblum.
Visit Dave Connis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 10, 2017

Todd Merer's "The Extraditionist"

In his thirty years as a criminal attorney, Todd Merer specialized in the defense of high-ranking cartel chiefs extradited to the United States. He gained acquittals in more than 150 trials, and his high-profile cases have been featured in the New York Times and Time magazine and on 60 Minutes. A “proud son of Brooklyn,” Merer divides his time between New York City and ports of call along the old Spanish Main.

Here Merer shares his dreamcast for an adaptation of The Extraditionist, his first novel:
In my mind’s eye, when creating characters I view him or her as someone I’ve seen before. Even if I’ve only seen that someone via films. If I were to dream cast The Extraditionist, here are the actors I would love to see in the movie (note that some of my favorite movies are quite old, so my casting spans the decades of Hollywood history).

BENN BLUESTONE.   Bryan Cranston/Robert Mitchum/Robert Ryan
LAURA ASTORQUIZA.   Monica Bellucci
RIGO.   Peter Lorre
JILLY.   Veronica Lake
FOTO.   Cesar Romero
FERCHO.   Leo Gorcey
TRAUM.   Brian Dennehy
VAL.   Klaus Kinski
GENERAL UVALDE.   Robert Duvall with a brush mustache
JOAQUIN BOLIVAR.   Richard Conte
NATTY GRABLE.   Akim Tamiroff
RAFAEL BORG.   Dennis Hopper
NELSON CANO.   John Leguizmo
EVGENY KURSK.   Vladimir Putin’s twin brother
Learn more about The Extraditionist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Stephen R. Bown's "Island of the Blue Foxes" R. Bown is a critically acclaimed author of several literary non-fiction books on the history of science, exploration and ideas.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation his latest book, Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on the World's Greatest Scientific Expedition:
Island of the Blue Foxes has many different aspects but there are certain parts of it that would make it an ideal base for an adventure-survival epic. It would start with scenes of the shipwreck and the men crawling ashore and setting up camp on a deserted beach with snow falling. Then it would flashback to the palace of Peter the Great in St. Petersburg, and a discussion between aristocrats of the general plan and of Peter’s burning desire to show Europe the grandeur and sophistication of Russia, which had only recently been transformed, in the estimation of Europe, from a barbarous backwater into a somewhat civilized state. Peter the Great wanted to do away with the perceived insults to Russian pride by contributing to global science and geography by financing a grand expedition – across Siberia to the east Pacific coast, and then by sail across the Pacific Ocean to America – and claim it for the Russian Empire. This scene would also show his choice of Bering as commander. The next scene would return to the island and the attacks of the feral blue foxes, with further flashbacks of the story up until the point of the shipwreck – struggling across Siberia, building the ships before the sea voyage across the Pacific to Alaska and in particular the mighty storms and shipwreck on an uninhabited uncharted island in November. The story of how they survived on the island (making shelter, the hunting of seals and sea lions, etc.), the near mutiny, the interpersonal quarrels, the endless attacks by feral blue foxes, and the dawning realization that they were on an island with no way off – is interspersed with the details of the voyage up until the survivors build a small ship from the wreck and sail home. The commander, the legendary but aging Danish captain Vitus Bering, would be ideal for Russell Crowe while the second lead, of the caustic, abrasive, heavy drinking but perceptive and oddly wise naturalist and physician, would be ideally suited to Benedict Cumberbatch.
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen R. Bown's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Viking.

The Page 99 Test: White Eskimo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 6, 2017

Kelley Fanto Deetz's "Bound to the Fire"

Historical archaeologist and historian Kelley Fanto Deetz is a research associate at the James River Institute for Archaeology, and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Randolph College, in Lynchburg, Virginia. Deetz, who was a professional chef for several years, is a contributor to The Routledge History of Food and Birth of a Nation: Nat Turner and the Making of a Movement. Her work has appeared in National Geographic History.

Here Deetz shares her vision for an adaptation of her latest book, How Virginia's Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine:
Bound to the Fire highlights several enslaved cooks, many of whom have little record of their lives aside from mentions in a will or probate. If this book could translate to a film it would be one of short cameos, small clips that highlight and intertwine with one another. Commonalities of resistance, poisoning, social positioning, and pure talent would make these historical figures fascinating on the big screen. The kitchen as the stage and the food as the evidence of their labor and lives.

I’d imagine silence before each cameo’s scene. The sound of the large open-hearth fire burning in the background, the distant noise of butchering, chopping wood, and foot traffic surrounding the kitchen cabin. The individual scenes would start with the chopping of the first ingredient, or in one case, the ringing of a bell to wake the cook from slumber, and the silent walk into the kitchen to cook food for a guest in the dead of night. Each cameo would focus around a dish; okra stew, peanut soup, pepper pot, fried catfish, ham biscuits, and through each dish the stories of the individuals would come through in the time it took to cook each meal.

In this hypothetical film, the majority of the cooks would be played by unknown actors and actresses, however, Hercules would be played by Gary Carr and James Hemmings would be played by Michael Ealy, and the film would be directed by Amma Asante. Between each scene would be a narration of a recipe, a story, or historical context related to the plantation or kitchen landscape.  Shots of standing plantation kitchens would remind people that these buildings still exist, and are direct reminders of the history and legacy of enslaved cooks. The film would start, as my book does, with Sookey, and end with Hercules’ escape and his portrait in Spain.
Learn more about Bound to the Fire at Kelley Fanto Deetz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 3, 2017

Craig Schaefer's "Cold Spectrum"

Craig Schaefer's books have taken readers to the seamy edge of a criminal underworld drenched in shadow (the Daniel Faust series), to a world torn by war, poison and witchcraft (the Revanche Cycle), and across a modern America mired in occult mysteries and a conspiracy of lies (the Harmony Black series).

Despite this, people say he's strangely normal. Suspiciously normal, in fact. He practices sleight of hand in his spare time, though he's not very good at it.

Here Schaefer dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Cold Spectrum:
Casting my own books is a trickier question than it sounds. I rarely envision my characters in terms of specific actors – I see them in a fuzzier, more mutable space – but it’s a fun challenge to try. Of course, when it comes to the Harmony Black series, one character casts herself; specifically, Nadine, one of Harmony’s most dangerous foes. Given that she canonically remodeled her human form to resemble Taylor Swift, that’s one role taken care of (and with it, half the movie’s casting budget, but this is all hypothetical so let’s go big or go home.)

As for Harmony’s other nemesis, the lime-sneaker-clad technophile billionaire Bobby Diehl, one perfect prospect jumps to mind: Tom Hanks. He hasn’t played a ton of villainous parts, but he absolutely has the acting chops to pull it off. And given that Diehl is a closet neo-Nazi and multiple murderer, seeing the nicest guy in Hollywood in the role would be deliciously jarring.

For Harmony’s partner Jessie Temple – gifted with sharp instincts and an acid wit (as well as occasional bouts of feral rage, thanks to the backwoods entity her serial-killer father handed her to as a child) – I can picture one perfect choice. Aisha Tyler does comedy and drama with a deft hand, and her ongoing role on television’s Archer proves she could hit Jessie’s mix of dry humor and general exasperation note-perfectly.

Harmony herself, that’s the tough one for me. I’m so close to her – deeper than the marrow, writing her adventures in first-person – that it’s hard for me to find the perfect actor to match the impression in my mind’s eye. It would have to be a performer who not only fits the physical look but (much more importantly), can hit that perfect blend of ferociously dedicated, driven to the point of self-destruction, and decidedly neurotic.

I polled my friends and got multiple suggestions for Rachael Taylor, and I could definitely see her in the part. That said, I think I’d actually go closer to home and cast someone from my own production team: Susannah Jones, stage actress and the narrator of the audiobook adaptation of my Revanche Cycle series. Susannah is more than a good friend, she’s a tremendous actress and ridiculously talented. I think she could nail the part, and since this is my head-casting, she gets the job.
Visit Craig Schaefer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Cold Spectrum.

Writers Read: Craig Schaefer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Eryk Pruitt's "What We Reckon"

Eryk Pruitt is a screenwriter, author and filmmaker living in Durham, NC with his wife Lana and cat Busey. His short films have won several awards at film festivals across the US.

Here Pruitt shares his choice of filmmakers he'd like to handle the adaptation of his new novel, What We Reckon:
Enter Jack Jordan. He’s snuck into Lufkin, Texas, in the dead of night with little more than a beat-up Honda, a hollowed-out King James Bible full of cocaine, and enough emotional baggage to sink a steam ship. He’s charming, dedicated, and extremely paranoid.

Summer Ashton, his partner-in-crime. She’s stuck by him through thick and thin, but lately her mind has begun to slip. They’ve told their fair share of lies and she’s having a devil of a time remembering what’s the truth. And recently, she’s been hearing voices. Unfortunately for both of them, she’s the brains of the operation.

Furthermore, they have begun to tire of one another.

For these two career grifters, the sleepy East Texas countryside is but another pit stop on their rampage across the American South.

Will it be their last?
* * *
I've wanted to write television for a long while. However, I'm unwilling to live in Los Angeles. This means that dream may never come true. What We Reckon is my compromise. It's how I scratched that itch.

The novel is structured exactly like a network would structure two seasons of a television show. It's complete with A, B, C, and D story arcs which rise and fall throughout the first part of the book, then again in the second.

I doubt I'd have any input on the actors, but if I were showrunner, I would insist on getting the directing talents of indie filmmakers Meredith Sause and Michael Howard to helm the show's vision. Those two award-winning filmmakers would bring great instinct to the project and all we'd have to do is tune in.
Visit Eryk Pruitt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 30, 2017

Carrie Jones's "Enhanced"

Carrie Jones is the New York Times bestseller author of the Need series, Time Stoppers series, Flying series, Girl, Hero, Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, and Love (and other uses for duct tape).

Here Jones dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Enhanced: Flying Series (Volume 2):
I almost always see scenes unfold in my head like movies or dreams when I write, but often I experience it from the main character’s point of view, more like I’m inhabiting that character especially when writing in the first person.

For Flying and Enhanced, I envision the character of Mana as mixed race and looking a bit like Maja Salvador or Kim Chiu. The film itself I see as a quirky mash-up between Captain America in terms of action and that buddy-flick feel combined with the ensemble teen aspects of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with some bizarre Men in Black send-ups thrown in.

In a way, Enhanced is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek homage to all of those movies, but mostly it’s a celebration of friendship and loyalty.
Visit Carrie Jones's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Carrie Jones & Tala.

Writers Read: Carrie Jones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 27, 2017

John Keyse-Walker's "Beach, Breeze, Bloodshed"

John Keyse-Walker practiced law for 30 years, representing business and individual clients, educational institutions and government entities. He is an avid salt- and freshwater angler, a tennis player, kayaker and an accomplished cook. He and his wife divide their time between homes in Ohio and Flordia.

Here Keyse-Walker dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Beach, Breeze, Bloodshed:
Beach, Breeze, Bloodshed is the second book in the Teddy Creque mystery series. Like the first, it takes place in the British Virgin Islands, specifically on the islands of Anegada and Virgin Gorda. And, as with Sun, Sand, Murder, the location is almost a character in and of itself, so when I think of the books being turned into movies, the principle requirement in my mind is that the film be shot on location in those islands. Who knows, it might be easier to cast the film with quality actors when they know they will be working in a tropical paradise.

Denzel Washington would play main character Teddy Creque, a now older-but-wiser part-time cop, part-time fishing guide. He is the person I think of when I write the character.

Vanessa Williams seems fitting for the role of Jeanne Trengrouse, mother of child-witness Jemmy Trengrouse and Teddy’s love interest in the book. As Jeanne is of mixed African and Cornish ancestry, with striking blue eyes, Williams has the physical attributes in addition to the acting capabilities for the role.

Anthony Wedderburn, aka De White Rasta, would be played by Johnny Depp. Depp is a natural for the part of the ganja-smoking, ex-pat British aristocrat who is Teddy’s sidekick in both books.

The late, great Adolph Caesar would be perfect for the role of Sergeant Isaac Chalwell. Caesar’s talent was unappreciated when he was alive and he died too young at age fifty-six. His bantamweight bluster, gravelly voice, and pencil-thin mustache are Chalwell personified.

Constable Tybee (Bullfoot) George needs a big, amiable actor to play him. Forest Whitaker, he of soft voice and large stature, fits the bill, and could bring a special depth to the supporting but important role.

The right child actor for the role of eight-year-old autistic witness Jemmy Trengrouse is problematic for me. Child actors grow out of roles so quickly. This difficult part may be one for a talented unknown to fill.

The easiest character to cast is that of Deputy Commissioner Howard T. Lane. James Earl Jones’ stentorian voice and skeptical demeanor make him the only possibility to play Teddy’s spit-and-polish boss.
Visit John Keyse-Walker's website.

My Book, The Movie: Sun, Sand, Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Margaret Duffy's ""

Margaret Duffy is the author of numerous bestselling books and has also worked for both the UK's Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Defence.

Here Duffy dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest Patrick Gillard and Ingrid Langley mystery, is the latest in a series featuring Patrick Gillard and Ingrid Langley. Each title has been a complete story but also part of the on-going tale of a couple right from when they meet again after divorce to the present when they have re-married and have children. Patrick first joined the police when he left school but it wasn’t exciting enough for him so he enlisted in the Devon and Dorset Regiment, now subsumed into The Rifles. After serious injury he was offered a job with MI5 on the recommendation of a senior officer, now working with that organisation. But, as he was still recovering, his duties would initially involve socialising (spy-hunting at aristocratic social events). He was told to find a female working partner because  a lone man, a somewhat saturnine and dangerous individual at that, was too conspicuous. Having lost all confidence with women as a result of his injuries he approached his ex-wife, Ingrid, for help on the grounds that they had always got on famously in public. In a word, he was desperate. After hesitation, she agreed and that was where it all began. Eventually they work for the National Crime Agency.

An on-going series like this doesn’t lend itself to one movie, a TV series would be better. If this ever happens I would definitely want Paul McGann to play the lead role, he’s absolutely perfect for it.
Visit Margaret Duffy's website.

The Page 69 Test:

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 23, 2017

S. Shankar's "Ghost in the Tamarind"

S. Shankar is a novelist, cultural critic and translator. Most recently, he was honored by a Fulbright-Nehru Award (2017-2018) and was appointed the 2016 Scholar-in-Residence at the Center for Critical Race Studies at the University of Houston-Downtown. Among other honors, he is the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at the University of Hawai‘i, where he is Professor of English.

Here Shankar dreamcasts an adaptation of his newest novel, Ghost in the Tamarind:
Ghost in the Tamarind is a novel about India—its world is Indian and so are (mostly) the characters, including the two main ones, Ramu and Ponni.

Might, then, a Bombay actor with an international reputation be best as Ramu? The young Amitabh Bachchan (how far the great have fallen) is one of my all time favorites. He was a stupendous actor, with tremendous screen presence, and though in his younger days was known mostly for dark and brooding roles, he was capable of great nuance. Surely, he would have been able to express that combination of anger, guilt and naivety (or is it innocence?) that is Ramu. However, I digress—that Amitabh Bachchan is thirty years in the past.

How about a contemporary American actor of Indian descent? Perhaps Aziz Ansari, who coincidentally is Tamil and even has parents from that part of India (Thirunelveli) that Ramu is from and in which so much of the novel is set! Ansari has perfected a fidgety and annoying comic public persona very different from Ramu; but Ramu’s earnestness might be an opportunity for him to stretch himself in new directions. A more obvious choice is British actor Dev Patel, who has taken on roles like Ramu. He would be very fine in that role.

For Ponni, an even more intense—more conflicted, more angry, more restless—character than Ramu, British-Indian actor Ayesha Dharker would be perfect. She played a similar role to great effect in Santosh Sivan’s little gem of a movie Terrorist (I highly recommend it). Another actor who could do Ponni to great effect: Seema Biswas, amazing in Shekar Kapur’s Bandit Queen as well as Deepa Mehta’s Water. Dharker and Biswas both are capable of a brooding and uncommon beauty that would work well in giving Ponni flesh on the screen.

Of course, the recommendations above for Ramu and Ponni would be best for when they are older. Ghost in the Tamarind takes its main characters from childhood to when they are around forty years of age. Different actors might be needed for the different parts of the story.

Director? Someone with an Indie spirit might work best. There’s (to my mind at least) a contrariness to Ghost in the Tamarind that any film version would have to preserve in casting as well as directorial vision. Santosh Sivan, who has deep experience in the Tamil film industry, would know how to plumb the Indian, and more specifically Tamil, world of the novel. Indo-Canadian Deepa Mehta too would be great, because of her novelistic imagination. And then there are a few others I can think of, including a couple not well known yet.
Visit S. Shankar's website.

The Page 69 Test: Ghost in the Tamarind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 20, 2017

S.F. Henson's "Devils Within"

S.F. Henson was born and raised in the deep south. She graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Animal Science, which she put to great use by attending law school. Her law degree has gotten some mileage, though, giving her the experience to write about criminals and other dark, nefarious subjects. She lives beside a missile test range in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband, dog, two oddly named cats, and, of course, the missiles that frequently shake her house.

Here Henson dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Devils Within:
My writing brain works in a strange way. Sometimes the characters appear fully formed. I can see their faces and hear their voices and know exactly who would play them in a move version of the book. And sometimes it takes a little work for me to learn the characters and figure out who they are. The writing process for Devils Within ended up being a mix of these two methods. It took a while to see some of the characters while others popped into my head complete.

The main character, Nate Fuller, is one I had to work to uncover, which pretty much sums him up as a character. Throughout the book, he's figuring out who he is and learning things about himself. If I were able to cast someone to play movie Nate, I would be pretty open to finding the right actor for the role, but I do think that Tyler Young would be a good Nate.

Then there's Nate's friend, Brandon Kingsley. He pushes Nate, but he has his own problems too. I've always pictured Michael B. Jordan as Brandon. In reality, he's a little too old to play sixteen-year-old Brandon, but this is my dream cast so I'm keeping him! (Although, I could also see him as Brandon's older brother, Henry).

Brandon's mother, Iria Kingsley, has been Debbie Allen from day one. From the moment the character popped in my head, it was Debbie Allen's voice, movements, and facial expressions. She's also older than Brandon's mother would actually be, but again, my dream cast!

Nate's uncle and guardian, Dell Clemons, was also fully formed upon creation. He has always been Norman Reedus. Norman has the ability to pull off the balance of withdrawn but resentfully caring that sums up Dell.

For Brandon's father, Dr. James Kingsley, I would cast Taye Diggs. I've always heard Dr. Kingsley's voice very clearly. He's firm but patient, quiet but commanding. Like Nate, I could see a number of actors playing Dr. Kingsley, but I would love to see Taye in the role.

Dell's girlfriend, Bev Liu, was always clear as to her mannerisms, but I couldn't picture her face. Not until I saw a Vogue cover with Liu Wen on it. I knew the instant I saw her that she was Bev. Liu Wen is a model, not an actress, but maybe she could be convinced to cross over.

Finally, there's Kelsey Sawyer, Nate's best friend growing up. His "what if?" girl. I would cast Katherine Langford play her. Kelsey is tough and determined. Like Nate, she's had a hard life and has had to do things that haunt her. I think Katherine could show those layers really well.

For director, absolutely David Fincher, His aesthetic would be perfect for the dark feel of the book. Add in Trent Reznor for the score and I would be over the moon!
Visit S.F. Henson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue