Monday, January 30, 2017

Lisa Black's "Unpunished"

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Black is the author of seven novels in the Theresa MacLean mystery series and two novels written as Elizabeth Becka. As a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office, she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she is a latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida, working mostly with fingerprints and crime scenes.

Last year Black introduced a new series featuring Maggie Gardiner, a forensic expert who studies the dead, and Jack Renner, a homicide cop who stalks the living. Her new novel is Unpunished, the second book in the series.

Here Black dreamcasts an adaptation of Unpunished:
In Unpunished, Cleveland forensic specialist Maggie Gardiner investigates a series of murders at the city’s newspaper, uncomfortably functioning beside erstwhile serial killer Jack Renner. Jack kills to make the world a safer place, and Maggie can’t expose him without exposing herself. Provided they both focus on the same goal of protecting Herald employees from further homicides, they can continue their awkward truce without bloodshed. Their own blood, that is. Herald employees have not been so lucky.

Having become addicted to the BBC show Orphan Black, I have always pictured Maggie as something like Tatiana Maslawny. Scary smart but not genius, stubborn but not unrealistic, tough but empathetic, youngish but not arrogant. Unwilling to slack off when something needs to be done. An unspoken but fierce commitment to sticking up for the little guy, or gal, or dog, or principle.

Casting Jack Renner is much more difficult. Jack is a complex character and the actor would have to portray someone who can be terrifyingly relentless, violent, and the teensiest bit unbalanced. But Jack at times is also hapless and unsure and when we do see a flash of humor, it is quirky and unexpected. He is fiftyish, tall, strong without being buff and not at all pretty. Stephen Lang is, bless his heart, a touch too old. Titus Welliver would be a good choice, but he looks like he’d have a hard time staying as silent as Jack tends to and besides, he’s tied up playing Bosch. Perhaps Ray Stevenson, who easily hits all those marks. He’s Irish, but can drop the accent to play an American.

As for Maggie’s boss, Denny, I need someone solid, comforting, intelligent and almost fatherlike. David Oyelowo is both too young and too cute, Terrance Howard is entirely too attractive. I think Lance Reddick—striking, with the gravitas that keeps Maggie’s crime scene unit on an even keel no matter the bloodbaths into which they have to wade, armed with only a camera and a fingerprint kit.

I think it would make a great movie.
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

The Page 69 Test: That Darkness.

Writers Read: Lisa Black.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Elliot Ackerman's "Dark at the Crossing"

Elliot Ackerman is the critically acclaimed author of the novels Dark at the Crossing and Green on Blue. He is based out of Istanbul, where he has covered the Syrian Civil War since 2013. His writings have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Repub­lic and The New York Times Magazine, among other pub­lications, and his stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories. He is both a former White House Fellow and a Marine, and has served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart.

Here Ackerman explains why he'll leave the casting to others if Dark at the Crossing is adapted for the big screen:
If Dark at the Crossing were turned into a movie, I think the only way that I could remain sane throughout the production would be by ceding all notions that I had any input into how the film would turn out. Publishing a book is, obviously, a joyous process. But what is less obvious is that it can also be a melancholy one. When you hold the first copy of your book in your hand, it can feel like a tiny death. This world you had once occupied with your characters is no more, or at least no longer one you can manipulate as its creator. If any of my works were turned into a film, I believe that my role would be to allow the filmmaker to make what he or she wanted out of that world which I had once inhabited.
Visit Elliot Ackerman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Green on Blue.

My Book, The Movie: Green on Blue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 27, 2017

Steven Parfitt's "Knights Across the Atlantic"

Steven Parfitt teaches history at the Universities of Nottingham, Loughborough and Derby, and is an active University and College Union member. Here he shares some thoughts on an adaptation of his first book, Knights Across the Atlantic: The Knights of Labor in Britain and Ireland:
It pains me to say it, but the British and Irish Knights of Labor are not likely to get their own movie anytime soon. The problem is not finding interesting characters. Hadyn Sanders, for instance, became the first socialist town councillor in Britain, was often removed from his own meetings by the police, and referred to his fellow councillors as “bald-headed and pot-bellied… more fond of guzzling than justice.” The problem is that the British and Irish Knights were the offshoot of a much larger American organisation, and only lasted for ten years. They never led strikes and political campaigns on anything like the scale of their American brothers and sisters. Without those kinds of dramatic events our movie would have to take a lot of liberties with the historical record.

But the British and Irish Knights were also associated with one of the great upheavals in British labour and political history, the “New Unionism.” Hundreds of thousands of British workers joined unions and went on strike between 1886 and 1891. A large proportion of them were previously unorganised and worked in some of the worst paid jobs in the country. Women entered the unions in unprecedented numbers. The wave of strikes and union organising subsided after 1891, but within ten years Britain had a Labour Party, and the whole politics of the country began to change for the better.

This is a movement that has not yet found its movie.

With everything that has happened recently, from the financial crisis and austerity to Brexit and Trump, we could do with a movie on a subject like that – and a reminder that ordinary people can shape history too. For this reason I would entrust our movie about the New Unionism to Ken Loach, the acclaimed British director.

His last movie, I, Daniel Blake, took an older, unemployed man and a young single mother through the British benefit system, with its sanctions, its contradictions, and the misery that flows from it. Having presented poor Britons here as the victims of an uncaring state, Loach might now want to direct a movie that presents them as subjects, who have the power to defend themselves and build something better.

Loach has already made movies about the Labour Party’s achievements between 1945 and 1951, and about the heroism of ordinary people in Britain and other countries over the years. Why not go sixty years earlier than The Spirit of ‘45? He could even draw on the same cast of actors that he used for I, Daniel Blake. Their faces would then represent ordinary people as subjects of history rather than its victims. People might be encouraged into action, rather than harrowed into apathy. Loach, at least, might be relieved to know that the casualization of British university teaching leaves this author with time to spare, if a historical consultant should be needed.
Learn more about Knights Across the Atlantic at the Liverpool University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Teresa Messineo's "The Fire by Night"

Teresa Messineo spent seven years researching the history behind The Fire by Night, her first novel. She is a graduate of DeSales University, and her varied interests include homeschooling her four children, volunteering with the underprivileged, medicine, swing dancing, and competitive athletics. She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Here Messineo dreamcasts an adaptation of The Fire by Night:
What a fun question! And there are so many great choices out there. Well, for the female leads, they would require versatile actresses who could take on the characters of Jo and Kay, showing their many facets - there are just so many layers to both of these incredible women. So, I would love to see Emily Blunt - I think she would be perfect, so beautiful and thoughtful and deep - and Honeysuckle Weeks, who can do happy-go-lucky like no one else and then turn serious at the drop of a hat. They are two of my favorites.

For Aaron, I would pick Matt Damon - he has that raw attraction that draws Kay (and the reader) into his world. Ewen McGregor or James McAvoy (who was so expertly cast in Atonement) would be perfect as David - I actually thought of them both before I even knew they were Scottish actors, which is, of course, an added plus for that role!

Finally, from day one, Captain Clark has always been Daniel Craig to me - just look at the physical description on the written page, it is him right down to those cool, blue eyes and adorable ears.

For choice in director, Christopher Nolan (who is, blatantly, amazing) or Robert Zemeckis (who recently did such a lavish, gorgeous job with the World War II film, Allied) have the experience and scope to pull off a project this ambitious - the first film to feature frontline military nurses of the Second World War.

And, finally, my son Johnny, who is graduating this semester with a degree in film - having him involved in the process and learning under such great mentors, while bringing fresh new insights to the film himself - well, that would be any mom’s dream.
Follow Teresa Messineo on Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 23, 2017

Laurie Frankel's "This Is How It Always Is"

Laurie Frankel writes novels (reads novels, teaches other people to write novels, raises a small person who reads and would like someday to write novels) in Seattle, Washington where she lives on a nearly vertical hill from which she can watch three different bridges while she's staring out her windows between words.

Here Frankel dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, This Is How It Always Is:
Listen, obviously Meryl Streep could play anyone — she’s the premier talent of her generation and all that — but after her comments at the Golden Globes this month and her plea that we use art for action and reaction, I’d give anything just to get This Is How It Always Is into her hands, never mind the fantasy I’m having that she cameo as the wry, smart, full-of-perspective, moral-heart-of-the-piece grandma. Please?

Otherwise, this is a book about a family with five kids so a great vehicle to introduce a bunch of talented newbies. The youngest child begins the story as a boy, transitions to being a girl, and lives as both for a while. It would be great to get a young transgender actor to play that part or maybe a couple of them as the child ranges from birth to age ten over the course of the story. The movement to have transgender actors play transgender characters is a good one, and this would be a great opportunity to introduce an up-and-comer.
Learn more about the book and author at Laurie Frankel's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Laurie Frankel and Calli.

The Page 69 Test: The Atlas of Love.

My Book, The Movie: Goodbye for Now.

The Page 69 Test: Goodbye for Now.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 20, 2017

Susan Sherman's "If You Are There"

Susan Sherman is a former Chair of the Art Department of Whittier College, a small liberal arts university. She is also the co-creator of one of the most successful television shows for children in the history of the Disney Channel. Her first novel, The Little Russian, was picked by Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of 2014.

Here Sherman dreamcasts an adaptation of her second novel, If You Are There:
I can see it now, the red carpet, cameras, cheering crowds, and Meryl Streep, twenty years younger, waving to the bleachers on her way into the Academy Awards. I’m not an ageist, but my novel depicts Madame Curie in her mid-thirties, hence the time cheat. It takes place at the end of the Belle Époque: Paris, science and spiritualism, radium and séances.

The protagonist, Lucia Rutkowska, played by Mia Wasikowska, comes to Paris to work as a cook in the Curie household at a time when the Curies were investigating spiritualism.

Through the famous couple Lucia meets and falls under the spell of Eusapia Palladino, Judi Dench, the most famous medium of her day.
Learn more about the book and author at Susan Sherman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Little Russian.

Coffee with a Canine: Susan Sherman & Henry and Bessie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Emily Robbins's "A Word for Love"

Emily Robbins has lived and worked across the Middle East and North Africa. From 2007 to 2008, she was a Fulbright Fellow in Syria, where she studied religion and language with a women’s mosque movement and lived with the family of a leading intellectual. Robbins holds a BA from Swarthmore College and an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, and and in 2016 she received a second Fulbright, to study in Jordan.

Here Robbins shares her choice for the director of an adaptation of her new novel, A Word for Love:
I have no idea whom I would want to play the main roles in A Word for Love, but I do know that my dream director is Sofia Coppola.

I remember seeing Lost in Translation when I was just beginning to study Arabic – it sums up the sense of being in a new place and new language, the overwhelming sense of this, so well. Her camera follows her main actresses with a lot of love. This is a movie full of understated female leads. I can imagine them really shining under Sofia Coppola’s camera.
Learn more about A Word for Love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 16, 2017

Lawrence Millman's "At the End of the World"

Lawrence Millman has written sixteen books, including Last Places, A Kayak Full of Ghosts, An Evening Among Headhunters, Lost in the Arctic, and — most recently — At the End of the World: A True Story of Murder in the Arctic.

Here Millman shares his take on not thinking about adapting At the End of the World for the big screen:
At the End of the World documents a series of murders in the name of religion not in San Bernardino, California, or Orlando, Florida, but in the Belcher Islands, a remote archipelago in Canada’s Hudson Bay. Likewise, those murders took place not yesterday but in the winter of 1941. At the time, the local Inuit in these islands had virtually no contact with the outside world.

So there I was, describing the following scene to a friend: An Inuit woman named Mina had decided Jesus would soon be kayaking down from the sky, and that (in her words) “We must go out onto the ice to meet our Savior.” Whereupon she dog whipped a number of people onto the ice in -20’F temperatures, all the while shouting, “Come, Jesus, come!” Suddenly she announced: “Naked we must greet our Savior!” And then she began tearing off the clothes of the other Inuit, including her own elderly mother. In the end, six people froze to death.

My friend exclaimed: “Wow! This would make a great movie!” I hadn’t thought of my book as a movie. I thought of it as, well, a book. So my response was, “Why a movie? Why not a book or even a lecture?” I answered my own query as follows: “Because it requires less thought to watch a movie than to read a book or listen to a lecture, and facility has become the ultimate goal of our species. To quote French philosopher Michel de Montagne, ‘Virtue rejects facility to be her companion. She requires a craggy, rough, and thorny way…’”

By the way, Jesus did not come kayaking down from the sky on that cold March day in 1941, and I still think books are better than movies.
Visit Lawrence Millman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 13, 2017

Sibel Hodge's "Untouchable"

Sibel Hodge's books include the #1 bestselling Look Behind You.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her 2016 novel, Untouchable:
When I'm writing a novel I always see the scenes playing out in my head like a movie so I visualise my characters easily, and I often picture actors/actresses. Untouchable is told by three different narrators: Jamie, Maya, and Mitchell, each with their own demons to deal with.

For Jamie, I'd choose Jamie Dornan. Ideally, he'd look as he did in The Fall, just without the serial killer bits! My Jamie has had a heartbreaking past to deal with, which slowly comes to light as the story unfolds. But I think Jamie Dornan would be bring a vulnerability and intensity to the part.

When Jamie is suddenly found hanged, his girlfriend Maya is certain he'd never take his own life and investigates the weeks leading up to his death, while still dealing with her raw grief. I picture Emilia Clarke because she is just so full of expression that would add a real depth and empathy to Maya and her plight for the truth.

Mitchell is the vigilante who helps Maya find the answers she's looking for. He's ex special forces. Broody, intense, wracked with guilt over past experiences, with a clear idea of right and wrong. I definitely see Tom Hardy in this role. He's an amazingly talented actor and would perfectly portray the hidden layers to Mitchell's darker side, and how his own inner damage affects his life. And he'd do all that while looking absolutely gorgeous!

I have two directors in mind. One is Oliver Stone. He's produced some amazing films, and I think he'd like to tackle some of the controversial issues in Untouchable. The other would be Ridley Scott, who also has some fantastic films under his belt and I know would do an amazing job!
Visit Sibel Hodge's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Tony Healey's "Hope's Peak"

Tony Healey is the bestselling author of the Far From Home series. He has written alongside such award-winning authors as Alan Dean Foster and Harlan Ellison.

Healey is currently working on book two of his Harper & Lane series, of which Hope’s Peak is the first installment. He lives with his wife and four daughters in Sussex, England.

Here Healey dreamcasts an adaptation of Hope's Peak:
When I was writing Hope's Peak, I only had one actress in mind for the main character of Jane Harper. Anna Torv really wowed me in Fringe, playing Olivia Dunham. She has swagger, and confidence, but is really able to portray true emotion, and is a joy to watch.

For the serial killer, Lester Simmons, I always pictured Tom Noonan. Mr. Noonan is frightening enough anyway. He has such presence as an actor. With a little prosthetic trickery, he'd make a perfect Lester.

I pictured Samira Wiley as the broken, gifted Ida. She was so fantastic in Orange Is The New Black. Watching her, you can see so much going on beneath the surface. So many layers to her performance. I think she would find a lot to work with in the role of Ida.
Visit Tony Healey's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 9, 2017

Kathleen Rooney's "Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk"

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, and a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She teaches English and Creative Writing at DePaul University and is the author of eight books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including the novel O, Democracy! (Fifth Star Press, 2014) and the novel in poems Robinson Alone (Gold Wake Press, 2012). With Eric Plattner, she is the co-editor of René Magritte: Selected Writings (University of Minnesota Press, 2016 and Alma Books, 2016). A winner of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from Poetry magazine, her reviews and criticism have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times Magazine, The Rumpus, The Nation, the Poetry Foundation website and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay.

Here Rooney dreamcasts an adaptation of her second novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk:
Two words for my ideal actor to play the lead: Ellen Burstyn. Lillian, my protagonist, is an 85-year-old woman who was once the highest paid female advertising copywriter in America in the 1920s and 1930s. Burstyn is a stunning performer who is now 83 years old and who is sadly on the record as saying that she can’t make a living in Hollywood any longer because the industry is so focused on young male audiences who they think want to see action films. “'Young boy jumps out of a window, goes through an explosion and is saved by a dragon, or something,” as she put it in an interview.

The movie version of Lillian would have parts for all different sorts of people, young and old, but would need a gifted and powerful older female actor to play the main character in the 1984 sections and Burstyn could carry it off beautifully.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathleen Rooney's website.

The Page 99 Test: Live Nude Girl.

The Page 99 Test: For You, for You I Am Trilling These Songs.

My Book, The Movie: For You, for You I Am Trilling These Songs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 6, 2017

Elizabeth Heiter's "Stalked"

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Elizabeth Heiter likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages; they've also been shortlisted for the Daphne Du Maurier award, the National Readers' Choice award and the Booksellers' Best award and won the RT Reviewers' Choice award.

When high school student Haley Cooke goes missing from inside her high school, leaving behind a note foretelling her own death, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine is called in to unravel the case, in Stalked, the fourth book in The Profiler series. Everyone in the girl’s life seems to be hiding secrets, from her step-father to her boyfriend to her best friend. The deeper Evelyn digs, the more she realizes that uncovering Haley’s fate could be the death of Evelyn herself.

If Stalked were made into a movie, Heiter's dream cast would be:
FBI profiler Evelyn Baine: All her life, Evelyn has relied almost entirely on herself. But when she was twelve, she made the bold choice not to keep a secret – and that choice saved her life. Now, she’s desperately trying to figure out which secret in missing teenager Haley Cooke’s life caused her to go missing without a trace. The perfect actress to play my strong, determined heroine is Thandie Newton (and she happens to look very similar to the way I imagine Evelyn!).

FBI agent Kyle “Mac” McKenzie: Once part of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, a bullet wound took him out of the tactical world and put him back into life as a regular Special Agent. He’s still trying to adjust to the change and give his all to his very first case – a possible human trafficking ring at the college where Haley Cooke’s older boyfriend also attends. I picture a younger High Jackman playing Mac. As a former HRT agent, he’s like Wolverine from X-Men (but instead of metal claws, he’s used to carrying an FBI-issued sub-machine gun).

Police detective Sophia Lopez: Working for a small police department, this case is one of Sophia’s biggest, and she’s gotten close to all of the players, especially Haley’s mom, who visits the station every day for an update. Sophia is desperate to be able to give Haley’s mom good news, so she calls in a profiler to help with the case, but that doesn’t mean she’s about to sit on the sidelines. I imagine her to look a bit like Eva Mendez, with some of the same spunk and attitude of the characters she often plays on film.

Worried mother Linda Varner: The mother of missing teenager Haley Cooke, Linda Varner will do anything to bring her daughter home, even quit her job so she can spend more hours each day getting attention for her daughter’s case. Not even her ex-husband’s statements to police and the media – that Haley ran away to escape abuse – will stop Linda from exhausting every option to find Haley, no matter the cost. I picture a slightly younger Rita Wilson as Haley’s mom, with that quiet determination.
Visit Elizabeth Heiter's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Jeremy K. Brown & Christopher Mari's "Ocean of Storms"

Jeremy K. Brown has authored several biographies for young readers, including books on Stevie Wonder and Ursula K. Le Guin. He has also contributed articles to numerous magazines and newspapers, including special issues for TV Guide and the Discovery Channel, and recently edited a collector’s issue on Pink Floyd for Newsweek. Brown published his first novel, Calling Off Christmas, in 2011 and is currently at work on another novel. He lives in New York with his wife and sons.

Brown's new book, with Christopher Mari, is Ocean of Storms. Here Brown dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
When writing Ocean of Storms, Chris and I couldn’t help but think cinematically. From the worldwide devastation that opens the book to the incredible discoveries on (and beneath) the Moon’s surface, we were always imagining the visual impact each scene would have. So, naturally, we also imagined certain actors bringing our characters to life. Here’s what we came up with. So, if Christopher Nolan, Roland Emmerich or Duncan Jones, if you’re reading this, we’ve done the work for you!

Alan Donovan
Played By: Chris Pratt

Donovan needs to be played by the kind of actor who can blend scientific know-how with charisma and attitude. From training Raptors to cruising the galaxy with his fellow Guardians, Pratt has proved that, even in the most fantastical environs, he can keep his feet on the ground.

Elias Zell
Played By: Sean Connery

When we were writing the book, the only person we had in mind was Sean Connery. Specifically the Connery of the 80s and early 90s when he was playing either the wise mentor (The Untouchables) or eccentric adventurers (Medicine Man). Sadly, Connery is retired and unable to be lured back to acting. Gerard Butler or Daniel Craig could do wonders with the role, but in our minds, it will always be Connery’s to lose.

Anthony Benevisto
Played By: Frank Sinatra

We’ve racked our brains trying to think of who could embody Benny’s wit, sarcasm and hotheadedness as perfectly as Frank did in From Here to Eternity and The Manchurian Candidate. If you want to know whose voice we heard when writing Benny’s dialogue, Pvt. Angelo Maggio was it!

Played By: Channing Tatum

Moose is a noble, honorable character who’s not afraid to make the sacrifice play for his teammates if the mission calls for it. Plus, he’s able to trade barbs with Benny, giving as good as he gets. Who else but C Tates could bring all that to life onscreen and make it look easy?

Played By: Michael C. Jordan

Jordan has had an incredible and diverse career, from Friday Night Lights to Fruitvale Station to sparring with Stallone in Creed. We have no doubt he could bring everything he’s poured into those roles and a whole lot more in bringing Wilson to life.

Played By: Zhang Ziyi

Zhang is one of China’s most bankable actresses and has proven that she can hold her own in dramatic fare (Memoirs of a Geisha) and hard-hitting action (Hero, House of Flying Daggers). Soong is a strong, fearless scientist who remains unintimidated by her brash teammates and unfazed by the events that unfold around her. Zhang undoubtedly would take those qualities and make them shine.

Cal Walker
Played By: Arnold Schwarzenegger

As kids growing up in the 80s, we believed Arnold could do no wrong. We waited for every one of his films with the kind of anticipation usually reserved for Christmas morning. So, with that in mind, having Arnold in the movie adaptation of Ocean of Storms would feel something like kismet. Besides, he could easily convey Walker’s sense of menace and gravitas, bringing all the heft and weight he carried as the Governator to the role. And, with Walker’s interest in genetic perfection, who better than Mr. Olympia to make it all that much more believable?
Learn more about Ocean of Storms at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue