Friday, March 31, 2017

Anne D. LeClaire's "The Halo Effect"

Anne LeClaire's novels include Entering Normal, The Lavender Hour, and Leaving Eden, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir, Listening Below the Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence.

Her new novel is The Halo Effect.

Here LeClaire dreamcasts an adaptation of The Halo Effect:
The question inevitably comes up in the Q&A portion of author events. “Who would you cast in the movie of your book?” an audience member asks, and then, also inevitably, there follows an awkward silence while I flip through a mental file of actors trying to come up with matches for my characters.

By now you might think I’d prepare by doing this exercise before the event, but the problem is I don’t imagine my characters as actors, not while I am creating them and not when the book is finished. For me they’re unique to themselves, not only in physical appearance (I suppose that’s the easiest aspect when trying to cast) but in the complexity of character.

But, for the moment, putting on my casting director cap, here is the ideal cast and director for The Halo Effect:

Will Light: Rufus Sewell. Currently playing Lord Melbourne in the BBC production of Victoria, he’s the dream choice. He can project a brooding melancholy that can switch in a second to a warmth and vulnerability. One senses that there are stories beneath stories, histories behind histories in his face in repose. And that smile could seduce a stone.

Rain: Rowan Blanchard. Rowan, fifteen, is the right age for Rain (personal pet peeve is age-inappropriate casting ie a twenty-five year old playing a sixteen year old) and there is a haunting quality to her combined with the righteous passion teenagers can feel about social issues.

Lucy: Sabrina Carpenter. Like Blanchard, Carpenter is a Girl Meets World veteran. She is perfect for the role of Rain since there is an almost other worldly quality of innocence about her.

Sophie: Debra Messing. What I like about Messing is that her characters always seem so full of life and joy, as I imagine Sophie was before Lucy was killed, but then, when her glorious smile fades, we get a glimpse of sorrow and of a valiant woman who has the strength of a warrior.

Father Gervase: Chris Carter. Okay he’s taller than the little priest but he’s such a great actor I swear he could take on the role of a shoe and I’d believe it. There is something in his eyes, whatever role he has taken on, that suggest sorrow and compassion for humanity.

The Director: Lasse Hallström. We can dream can’t we?
Visit Anne D. LeClaire's website.

Writers Read: Anne D. LeClaire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Taylor Brown's "The River of Kings"

Taylor Brown grew up on the Georgia coast. He has lived in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of western North Carolina. His books include the story collection In the Season of Blood and Gold and the novel Fallen Land.

Here Brown dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The River of Kings:
As a film, I think The River of Kings would be something of a marriage between Jeff Nichols’s Mud and Terrence Malick’s The New World. Or perhaps John Boorman’s Deliverance and Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God.

The novel is composed of both contemporary and historical time lines. In the present-day story, two brothers are delivering their father’s ashes down the legendary Altamaha River—Georgia’s “Little Amazon.” Their father, a shrimper, died under mysterious circumstances, and they are unraveling the mystery of his death and their own conflicted emotions about the man and his legacy. At the same time, there is the story of Jacques Le Moyne, the first European artist in the New World, who was part of a 1564 expedition to found the French colony of Fort Caroline at the river’s mouth. The story lines are tied together by the river itself, as well as the legendary sea monster long-storied to live in its depths.

I would love to see what Werner Herzog could do with the film version. Herzog never shies from a challenge, and he is no stranger to river stories, whether he is pulling a 300-ton steamship over a hill in the middle of the Amazon for Fitzcarraldo, or building rafts for the ill-fated, Eldorado-seeking conquistadors of Aguirre: The Wrath of God.

As for actors, I have a few in mind. Lawton is the aggressive, physically powerful older brother in the book. He lost his appointment to the Naval Academy after an altercation in high school, protecting younger brother Hunter, but still managed to become a Navy SEAL. I think one of my very favorite actors, Tom Hardy, would make a great Lawton. He has the physical presence, exuding that air of barely-contained violence—even madness—and yet he can be extremely sweet and gentle—much like Lawton.

Then there is Uncle King, the mysterious tattooed ex-priest who wonders the river with a harpoon, hunting the sea monster of legend. I think Kris Kristofferson would be perfect for this role. He has the grizzled look, the lean power, and the sagelike air. I can see him long-haired and bare-chested, with the Virgin Mary’s foot tattooed over his heart, crushing a serpent.

I would love to see French actor Louis Garrel (The Dreamers, Mon Roi) as Jacques Le Moyne. Louis has both the innocence of the conflicted ingénue and the searing intensity of the veteran believer—both of which are needed for this role. Le Moyne is perhaps one of the most interesting figures in French colonial history—hell, in all of French history—and Garrel would do him justice.
Visit Taylor Brown's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 27, 2017

Susan Meissner's "A Bridge Across the Ocean"

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008.

Her Meissner dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, A Bridge Across the Ocean:
A Bridge Across the Ocean is a story about two European women who meet aboard the RMS Queen Mary in 1946. They are bound for America on a ship full of other war brides to be reunited with their servicemen husbands. Both women survived the hell of World War 2, but only one of them, a Parisian named Simone, is an actual war bride; the other, Annaliese, is a German ballerina pretending to be a Belgian war bride to escape a terrible situation. Annaliese’s secret is laid bare on the voyage however, and the last day of the voyage is anything but peaceful. Meanwhile in the current day, thirty-something Brette just wants to live a normal, uncomplicated life but the family gift of being able to see ghosts is making that impossible. When Brette visits the famed and notoriously haunted RMS Queen Mary, now a floating hotel in a California harbor, she comes face to face with the ghostly echoes of that 1946 crossing and is soon on a quest to uncover the truth, right an old wrong, and maybe figure out how to live in peace with the way she is.

The ideal cast:

For Simone, who is a daughter of a murdered French Resistance spy, I pick the talented Melanie Laurent, the French actress who played the courageous and devastated Shoshanna in Quentin Tarentino’s Inglorious Basterds. For Annaliese, the German ballerina married to a Nazi monster, Brie Larson, who stole the show as the abducted teen in Room, and who I think has the skill to pull off a German accent. For their cabinmate Phoebe, Daisy Ridley of the Stars Wars movie, The Force Awakens. For Annaliese’s brute of a husband, Jack Gleeson, who played evil Joffrey in Game of Thrones so well, and for Simone’s American pilot husband, Josh Hutcherson, who won our hearts as Peeta in The Hunger Games trilogy. Lastly, for Keith, who is Brette’s even-keeled gem of a husband, Aaron Staton, better known as Ken Cosgrove on AMC’s Mad Men.
Visit Susan Meissner's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Susan Meissner & Bella.

My Book, The Movie: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Becky Masterman's "A Twist of the Knife"

Becky Masterman grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and received her MA in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University.

When she dreamcasted Fear the Darkness, the second book in the Brigid Quinn Series, she imagined Jamie Lee Curtis in the Quinn role.

Here Masterman takes a different approach for casting the lead for an adaptation of A Twist of the Knife, the third book in the series:
When I first conceived Brigid Quinn, I had been reading a Jack Reacher novel. So I thought, what if Jack Reacher were a woman? Then I thought, what if Jack Reacher were a woman approaching 60? She'd be smart, and sexy, and physically fit, and could kill a man with her bare hands. So I guess Tom Cruise has to play her. She's a little shorter but I think he could manage it, and he'd look good in a white pony tail.
Visit Becky Masterman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rage Against the Dying.

My Book, The Movie: Fear the Darkness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Christina Kovac's "The Cutaway"

Prior to writing fiction, Christina Kovac worked in television news. Her career began with a college internship at Fox 5’s Ten O’Clock News in Washington, DC that turned into a field-producing job—making minimum wage while chasing news stories, gossiping with press officers, and cultivating sources—while somehow making rent on a closet-sized apartment on Capitol Hill. After a stint as weekend editor at WRC TV and senior editor at the ABC affiliate, she went on to work at the Washington Bureau of NBC Network News, as a desk editor and news producer in such stories as that of missing DC intern, Chandra Levy.

After being late to pick up her kids at daycare one too many times, Kovac left television to start a writing career. Now she writes psychological thrillers set in Washington, DC. The Cutaway is her debut novel.

Here Kovac's dreamcasts the lead for a big-screen adaptation of The Cutaway:
The Cutaway sold its TV rights, so it will never be a feature film. But I always imagined Virginia Knightly with that same physicality as the British actress, Keira Knightley. Above average height, willowy, fragile looking—until you notice her chin. She’s got a strong, determined chin, and big intelligent eyes that refuse to look away. I love the complexity of strong female characters: they may be physically unintimidating, but they have wit and they have determination, and they know their brain is their greatest weapon. Virginia Knightly also carries a heavy flashlight, and is not afraid to bash someone over the head with it.
Visit Christina Kovac's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sara Lövestam's "Wonderful Feels Like This"

Sara Lövestam, a writer as well as a huge jazz music fan, lives in Sweden.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her novel, Wonderful Feels Like This, newly released in English:
Anytime anyone asks me: Which one of your books would you like to see as a movie? I answer Wonderful Feels Like This (Hjärta av jazz in Swedish). It already has an awesome soundtrack, as so much of the story is based on jazz tunes from the 40s, and I would just love to see the scenes where Alvar as a young man bikes through Stockholm and gets into the legendary swing jazz clubs.

This story is about Steffi and Alvar. Steffi is a 15 year old girl who loves music and hates school. She gets bullied every day, partly because her father is Cuban, so she looks different than the other people in this small village, Björke. When I think of her in a movie setting, the first actress who comes to mind is a young America Ferrera. I do see Steffi a little bit like (an even younger) Ugly Betty, except more introverted and less clumsy.

Alvar is a 89-year-old man, who throughout the book remembers his youth and tells his stories to Steffi. In 1942, he traveled from Björke to the big city of Stockholm as a 17-year-old boy, trying to make it as a jazz musician. As the old Alvar, I picture someone like a very old James Rebhorn. (Unfortunately, James Rebhorn passed away in 2014, may he rest in peace - but then again, America Ferrera is now in her 30s so my cast wouldn't work anyway.) It's something about his facial features that resonate with the way I picture Alvar. As the young Alvar, maybe someone like Eddie Redmayne?
Visit Sara Lövestam's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chevy Stevens's "Never Let You Go"

Chevy Stevens's novels include Still Missing, Never Knowing, and That Night.

Here Stevens shares some ideas about casting an adaptation of her new novel, Never Let You Go:
When I first started writing Still Missing ten years ago, I had a couple of actors in mind. Angelina Jolie and George Clooney were two of them--for Annie and Gary. But by the time I was finished, their ages no longer worked! Since then, I have sometimes modeled certain characters after celebrities (Eric Church inspired Ryan’s clothing style in That Night) but I don’t tend to cast anyone in my dream movie version. Thinking about Never Let You Go, I wouldn’t have a clue because I don’t know any of the up-and-coming teen actresses who would be good for Sophie, and I also can’t think of anyone in particular for Lindsey, Andrew, or Marcus. Ideally, they would be played by someone who could make the characters come to life with their own vision and personalities. I love when a movie becomes a vehicle for an incredible actor to shine. I think it would be magical if a movie based on my book was a breakout role for someone special and became the launching point for their career.
Visit the official Chevy Stevens website.

The Page 69 Test: Never Let You Go.

Writers Read: Chevy Stevens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 17, 2017

Alex Bledsoe's "Gather Her Round"

Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes from Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner). He has been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls.

Here Bledsoe dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Gather Her Round:
Since Gather Her Round is the fifth book in my Tufa series, the recurring characters have become so vivid to me, I see them as “themselves,” not actors. Still, there are possibilities. Bronwyn Chess, Iraq war veteran and minister’s wife, would be perfect for Riley Keough. Gina Carano would make a terrific Bliss Overbay if she could learn a southern accent. And although she’s too old to play the character as written, Melissa Benoist has the perfect presence for Mandalay, the hereditary leader of the Tufa.

For the new characters, Jack Cates, the game warden, would be perfectly suited to Eureka-era Colin Ferguson. For Duncan Gowan, the young man who precipitates so much of the story, Nicholas Hoult has the right demeanor of someone who tries to do the right thing and always gets it wrong. For Janet, the musical prodigy who gets pulled into the story, Ariel Winter, with her comedic chops, would be great (and, for stunt casting, Ariana Grande would be a hoot as Janet’s perpetually-stoned best friend Ginny).
Learn more about the book and author at Alex Bledsoe's website.

The Page 69 Test: Wisp of a Thing (Tufa #2).

The Page 69 Test: Long Black Curl (Tufa #3).

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bren McClain's "One Good Mama Bone"

Bren McClain was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, on a beef cattle and grain farm. She has a degree in English from Furman University; is an experienced media relations, radio, and television news professional; and currently works as a communications confidence coach. She is a two-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project and the recipient of the 2005 Fiction Fellowship by the South Carolina Arts Commission. McClain won the 2016 William Faulkner–William Wisdom Novel-in-Progress for “Took” and was a finalist in the 2012 Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Award for Novel-in-Progress for One Good Mama Bone, her first novel.

Here McClain dreamcasts an adaptation of One Good Mama Bone:
I had no one in mind to play the roles as I wrote the book. But, now that I think about it, Reese Witherspoon would play an awesome Sarah Creamer, my main character, a woman in her late 20s, from the deep rural South and with a fierce determination soaked in tenderness. Reese is Southern, a mom, and one smart actress, who loves to play strong women. The cool thing is, when we meet Sarah, she doesn’t know she is strong, but the reader does. Part of the joy of writing the book was to see that light bulb come on for Sarah.

My antagonist is Luther Dobbins, a hard, crusty, bigshot wannabee cattle farmer, in his 40s. I’d love to see Russell Crowe play him. Why? Because Russell can carry the macho swagger component but also, like Luther, he can access his inner life of deep, deep insecurity. I think of Luther as having a false bravado, and I think Russell Crowe can embody that on the screen.

Ike Thrasher is another main character, a man in his 40s, who yearns to be considered a real man -- this, in order to earn his father’s love, even though his father has been dead for 25 years. It’s that deep in Ike. To play him, I see Toby McGuire, who has Ike’s boyishness, yet is capable of showing depth of real feelings.

Luther’s wife is Mildred, a woman in her 40s, a refined, suppressed woman, who eventually breaks out of her shell and confronts Luther. I see Nicole Kidman playing her. A woman who wakes.

Sarah’s husband, Harold, is a man in his early 30s when he dies. What he has done, his affair with his wife’s best friend and the subsequent baby born, has aged him. I would like to think that Jake Gyllenhaal would play him. Jake’s eyes carry a well of depth, and this would serve his playing Harold, a man who did the right thing and married a woman he did not love but was carrying his child.

As for Sarah’s mother, Teeniebelle, I want to play her. I want to sit in that wheelchair in the climactic scene and play her, run my finger over my lips and be dialed into Sarah but try to stay aloof. I want to walk that balancing line between desperately wanting Sarah there and not one iota showing it so.

Finally, Mama Red, the mother cow. She can play herself. She is 25 years old and still alive. Thank God!
Visit Bren McClain's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 13, 2017

Jacob Stone's "Deranged"

Jacob Stone is the byline chosen by award-winning author Dave Zeltserman for his new Morris Brick series of serial-killer thrillers. His crime, mystery and horror fiction has won top praise and has been translated into six languages. His novels Small Crimes and Pariah were both named by the Washington Post as best books of the year. Small Crimes topped National Public Radio's list of best crime and mystery novels of 2008 and is being made into a feature film.

Here Zeltserman dreamcasts an adaptation of Deranged, the first Morris Black thriller:
Deranged is the first book of my Morris Brick crime thriller series. Morris is a former LAPD homicide detective who achieved minor celebrity status by solving several difficult serial killer cases. Now retired he runs Morris Brick Investigations. While he’s had his fill of serial killers, in each book he’ll find himself dragged back into an investigation.

Morris Brick is tough, smart, and relentless and Jason Isaacs showed in the Showtime series Brotherhood that he could play all that brilliantly.

Evangeline Lilly would be a good choice to play Natalie Brick, Morris’s beautiful and charming wife.

Dean Norris doesn’t physically resemble my killer, Henry Pollard (I don’t know if any actor does), but Norris demonstrated with his role as Hank in Breaking Bad that he can be physically intimidating and has the humor and pathos to play Henry.

Sheila Proops, Henry’s wife, is a tough role to cast because there are really two versions of her—pre and post-accident. Pre-accident version (shown in flashbacks) is stunningly beautiful, and Elizabeth Banks would be a good choice. Post-accident, Sheila has been left partially paralyzed and physically twisted, and Banks would need a lot of makeup and prosthetics to play Sheila.

Philip Stonehedge, a method actor who forces himself into the investigation, and for most of the book acts as Morris’s sidekick, is the easiest role to cast—Ryan Gosling. In the third Morris Brick thriller, Malicious, there’s a running joke where the killer is described by witnesses as either the actor Philip Stonehedge or Ryan Gosling.

Scarlett Johansson would be a good fit for Annie Walsh, the tough, no-nonsense, and very attractive LAPD Detective who works with Morris and his team.

Morris’s team is made up of three former LAPD homicide detectives: Dennis Polk, a wiseass, Fred Lemmon, who takes it as part of his job to keep Polk in line, and Charlie Bogle, Morris’ right-hand man. Michael Rapaport would be perfect as Polk, Matthew Rhys as Lemmon, and Jon Hamm (who has a bigger role in future books, as well as showing some inner demons) as Bogle.

Finally, to complete the cast, we need to find a lovable and clownish bull terrier to play Morris’s dog, Parker.
Visit Dave Zeltserman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Yoojin Grace Wuertz's "Everything Belongs to Us"

Yoojin Grace Wuertz was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States at age six. She holds a BA in English from Yale University and an MFA in fiction from New York University. She lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and son.

Here Wuertz dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Everything Belongs to Us:
It might be every writer’s dream to have her book made into a movie, and I’m no exception. I would particularly love to see this happen because it’s rare, almost unheard of, for an American film to have a predominantly Asian cast, with Asian leads—and of course this movie would have to have both. And a period and foreign setting on top of it all! Expensive! But what a strong affirmation of diverse storytelling it would be. Trendsetting, or rather trend-bucking, like the brilliant #starringJohnCho meme that projects what major movies would look like if they had cast an Asian-American lead.

For Jisun, I like Karen Fukuhara, who recently played Katana in Suicide Squad: another strong female character with a complicated history and a family vendetta. For Namin, I would love to cast Greta Lee. Greta Lee, though not 19, is eternally youthful with a spiky and slightly off-center intensity that I find fascinating. My main casting problem is that the chemistry between Jisun and Namin has to be perfect and I have no idea how to know this until I know this by seeing it. Would Katana and Soojin from Girls have that perfect zero-to-65 volatility that people who truly love and hate each other have? I would love to find out. (… Or should it be the other way around? Katana as Namin and Soojin as Jisun? Dream problem.)

For Sunam, I would cast Ki Hong Lee, who I first saw in his recurring role in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I didn’t love that they gave him the typical “Asian who doesn’t speak English” role but the writers seem to have realized how underused he was and quickly smoothed out his accent and faltering speech in the second season to allow him more range. I like that he has this determined but fuzzy quality, which is how I see Sunam. Still trying to figure himself out, still trying to become something. Or someone. Of the three actors I mentioned, Ki Hong Lee has the most overt vulnerability in his facial expressions. Sunam is that way: physically solid but unable to hide what is ultimately insecure in his character.
Visit Yoojin Grace Wuertz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Michiel Heyns's "The Typewriter's Tale"

Michiel Heyns is Professor Emeritus in English at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Author of numerous academic works and radio adaptations of Henry James's and Elizabeth Gaskell's novels, Heyns wrote the chapter on Henry James for the Cambridge Companion to English Novelists. He is winner of the Thomas Pringle Award for journalism 2007, and the Sol Plaatje Award for translation, 2008 and was winner of the Sunday Times Fiction Award 2012 for Lost Ground. The French translation of his novel The Typewriter's Tale was shortlisted for the Prix Femina Etranger, and won the Prix de l'Union Interalliee.

Here Heyns dreamcasts an adaptation of The Typewriter's Tale:
My central character, Frieda Wroth, is an intelligent if inexperienced young Englishwoman acting as typist (“typewriter”) to the great author Henry James, who falls under the charm of Morton Fullerton, a young friend of James’s (and, unbeknownst to Frieda, lover to the American novelist Edith Wharton). The ensuing drama is one of social decorum, constrained passion and ruthless intrigue.

Carey Mulligan seems perfect for the role of Frieda with her combination of English-Rose innocence and strong sexuality (I’m thinking in the first place of Mulligan’s transformation from demure schoolgirl to practised paramour in An Education). Against her, I would cast Viggo Mortensen as Morton Fullerton, the dashing cosmopolitan Parisian-American journalist and serial seducer of man, woman and dog. Mortensen’s barely-contained violence (think G.I Jane, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises), and smouldering sexuality would serve admirably to bring out the repressed sexuality in Frieda, and also to act as foil (and as unacknowledged love object) to the urbane Henry James.

James himself would be played by Anthony Hopkins – perhaps an odd choice, given that his best-known role is as Hannibal Lecter -- but of course Hopkins was also the dignified butler in Remains of the Day. Besides, Henry James, civilised as he was, was also capable of a quiet ferocity – not quite cannibalistic, and verbal rather than physical, but devastating enough.

And James’s great friend and Fullerton’s lover, Edith Wharton, could be vividly rendered by Anjelica Huston: again an actor better known for quite scary roles (The Addams Family, The Witches, The Dead), but very much suited to playing the sardonic, predatory (in my rendering of her) Mrs Wharton.

All in all, my cast has been chosen because they are all capable of playing to perfection both the civilised surface of Edwardian England, and the ferocity underlying the social comedy. These are social animals, their domestication only skin-deep.

Oh, and Ang Lee would be the perfect director, with his wide range of styles and periods, from the contained ‘period’ romanticism of Sense and Sensibility to the aching sexuality of Brokeback Mountain. And, of course, both these films were adaptations of literary works.
Learn more about the author and his work at Michiel Heyns' website.

The Page 69 Test: The Children’s Day.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 6, 2017

Paul Doherty's "A Pilgrimage to Murder"

About A Pilgrimage of Murder by Paul Doherty:
Summer, 1381. The Great Revolt has been crushed; the king’s peace ruthlessly enforced. Brother Athelstan meanwhile is preparing for a pilgrimage to St Thomas a Becket’s shrine in Canterbury to give thanks for the wellbeing of his congregation after the violent rebellion.

But preparations are disrupted when Athelstan is summoned to a modest house in Cheapside, scene of a brutal triple murder. One of the victims was the chief clerk of the Secret Chancery of John of Gaunt. Could this be an act of revenge by the Upright Men, those rebels who survived the Great Revolt?

At the same time Athelstan is receiving menacing messages from an assassin who calls himself Azrael, the Angel of Death? Who is he – and why is he targeting a harmless friar? Could Athelstan’s pilgrimage be leading him into a deadly trap?
Here Doherty dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
If I had to choose actors for my main characters I would have Ian McShane as Athelstan, Tom Wilkinson as Cranston and Rufus Sewell as John of Gaunt.
Visit Paul Doherty's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 3, 2017

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's "Making Bombs for Hitler"

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is the acclaimed author of over sixteen picture books and novels. Her earlier picture books include Enough, Silver Threads, Daughter of War, Aram's Choice and The Best Gifts. She won the Silver Birch Fiction Award for Making Bombs for Hitler and the Red Cedar Award for Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue from War.

Here Skrypuch dreamcasts an adaptation of Making Bombs for Hitler:
Making Bombs for Hitler is the story of Lida, a young girl who is captured by the Nazis and forced into slave labor -- an Ostarbeiter. Shortly after her capture, she meets Luka, a fellow slave laborer, and they form a special friendship. Lida is horrified to be assigned to bomb-making for the Germans. Then she has an idea. What if she sabotaged the bombs... and the Nazis?

* * *

I had a Skype visit with a grade 4 class and one student asked if Making Bombs for Hitler would be made into a movie. We all agreed that it would be awesome, and since we were on the subject, I asked them who they thought should play Lida. I got no names of child actors. Instead, the students volunteered themselves.

I totally get that -- I’m Lida too!

They also liked the casting of the girl who played Lida in the Scholastic book trailer.

But if I had to choose, my Lida would be Willow Shields if she could turn back time and become eleven years old again. Her role as Prim Everdeen in The Hunger Games showed that she’s able to brilliantly convey the kind of inner strength, generosity and positive outlook that’s so much a part of who Lida is.

My Luka would be a thirteen year old Josh Hutcherson, who played Peeta from The Hunger Games. I like the solid inner strength that seems to seep from his pores.

It was tough trying to think of who would do justice to Lida’s vulnerable little sister Larissa. Dakota Fanning when she was in I Am Sam has the right look.

The two adults who play the biggest roles in Lida’s life at the slave camp are Officer Schmidt and Inge, the laundress. Ralph Fiennes is great at oozing banal evil – so he’d be an awesome Schmidt. Phyllis Smith, who played the teacher in The OA, would be great for the complexity of Inge.
Visit Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Charlie Lovett's "The Lost Book of the Grail"

Charlie Lovett is a writer, teacher, and playwright, whose plays for children have been seen in more than 3,000 productions. He is a former antiquarian bookseller and an avid book collector. He and his wife split their time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Kingham, Oxfordshire, in England.

Lovett's novels include The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession, First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen, and the newly released The Lost Book of the Grail.

Here Lovett dreamcasts an adaptation of The Lost Book of the Grail:
I’m going to be honest here—my wife Janice is the real source of this blog. She has an amazing knack for remembering performers and performances and, having spent many years as a director, she is great at casting. I’m better at remembering places. We’ll be watching a movie and I will say, “We stayed around the corner from that building one time.” We joke that if we worked in Hollywood, she would be the casting director and I would be the location scout.

So, before we get to her cast, let’s chat about my locations. The book is set in a fictional cathedral city called Barchester, but many of the elements of the city, the cathedral, and the surrounding countryside, are inspired (or one might say stolen) from real places. I envisioned Barchester as having the cathedral of Winchester, the close (that is the walled in area around the cathedral) of Norwich, and the surrounding city and countryside of Wells. But almost any modest sized English cathedral city would do.

In the role of Arthur, a forty-year-old Brit who likes old books a lot better than he likes most people, Janice votes for Tom Mison of Sleepy Hollow fame. She said she heard his voice as Arthur’s as soon as she started reading (though we both admit, Tom Hiddleston would be fairly amazing, too—and we had tea with his mom once, so he’s practically family). Arthur’s foil is Bethany Davis, a young American from the digital world with a rapid-fire delivery. Janice liked my idea of Emma Stone in this part (we have loved her in everything she has done). But we’d be equally pleased with Anna Kendrick or Jennifer Lawrence.

Arthur has two very different close friends. David is a bit of a hound dog, constantly seducing women. Oscar is an introvert with speech hesitation and is probably gay, though very quiet about it. Janice’s first thoughts were Justin Timberlake (if he can do a British accent) as David and Eddie Redmayne as Oscar. I think those are both brilliant choices.

In the role of the overworked dean of the cathedral, Gwyn, a widow with two small children, Janice gravitated towards one of our favorite British comediennes, who has also done dramatic work on Call the Midwife, Miranda Hart. Miranda is tall and imposing and can give that sense of steady leadership, yet she can also play quite vulnerable and I think that’s the trick with Gwyn.

The other ecclesiastical role is the precentor (the priest who plans all the services at the cathedral). He is not named, but is often present, always getting in Arthur’s way and reminding Arthur of a salmon. He is officious and has a streak of arrogance (at least Arthur sees him that way). I at first thought Eddie Izzard (perhaps because we had just cast another comic), but then Janice came up with the superb idea of Alan Cumming. Think about the role he played in Circle of Friends, add forty years, and you’ve got the precentor. Plus Alan can sing, and the precentor leads the sung services at the cathedral.

So, if Julian Fellowes writes and directs with that cast, I’ll be happy to show up on the red carpet!
Learn more about the book and author at Charlie Lovett's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Bookman's Tale.

My Book, The Movie: First Impressions.

--Marshal Zeringue