Sunday, September 30, 2018

Don Zolidis's "The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig"

Don Zolidis is a playwright, novelist, and former middle and high school teacher.

His plays have been produced over 10,500 times in 61 countries.

Here Zoldis dreamcasts an adaptation of The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig (a Love Story), his first novel:
This is so tricky, because I know it takes a few years to get a movie made, so I need to pick somebody younger than my main characters in order to make it remotely realistic. A particular pet peeve of mine is when everyone in a YA movie is clearly in their mid-twenties. Nobody looked like that in high school! So my current choice for the lead is Finn Wolfhard, who is sufficiently dorky and charismatic to pull off the lead in a rom-com about a Dungeons and Dragons playing nerd.

The female lead requires something a little different. I’d be looking for an actress that radiates intelligence, which is sometimes difficult to convey. For the moment I’ll go with Elle Fanning, but it’s a difficult choice!
Visit Don Zolidis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 28, 2018

Edwin Hill's "Little Comfort"

By day, Edwin Hill is the vice president and editorial director of Bedford/St. Martin’s, a division of Macmillan. By night, he writes the Hester Thursby mystery series.

Here he dreamcasts (and travels in time) the first book in the series, Little Comfort. The second book, The Missing Ones, will come out in September of 2019.
When I write, I purposefully don’t imagine characters as Hollywood actors, but when I finish, I do picture who might play a character in a movie using both contemporary and classic actors. Here are some of my thoughts.

Hester Thursby is four-foot-nine-and-three-quarters inches tall and weighs eighty-nine pounds. She grew up with a mentally ill mother and knows how to fend for herself. When I asked other authors to review Little Comfort, many blurbs came back describing Hester as “feisty,” but Hester would hate being called feisty, just as she hates being called “Half Pint” or “Dear” or anything that hints at being dismissed because of her size. In the end, I asked my editor to describe Hester using only adjectives that could be attributed to John Rambo. Hester is tough, she’s smart, she’s resourceful (unlike Rambo, she’s also articulate), but she definitely isn’t feisty. She also couldn’t be played by Sylvester Stallone in a movie, but once I imagined Ellen Page in the role, I couldn’t picture anyone else.

One of the joys of writing is that it allows me to explore the choices I might have made in another lifetime. I love animals and sometimes wonder if I should have gone into veterinary medicine, so I made Morgan Maguire, Hester’s “non-husband” as she likes to call him, a veterinarian, one with a habit of bringing home strays. Morgan is handsome in a way that sneaks up on you, kind, and has red hair. He could be played by a young Ryan O’Neal or Ewan McGregor.

Hester’s niece Kate Maguire is three-years-old and hasn’t learned to use pronouns. She hears everything Hester says, though, and surprises with her recall - especially when Hester swears. Kate has curly, honey-colored hair, and Shirley Temple would easily steal the show playing her. In later books, when she gets older, I’d cast her with a young Tatum O’Neal or Jodie Foster.

Morgan’s fiery twin sister Daphne doesn’t appear physically in Little Comfort, but her presence is strong none-the-less, and there are hints that she’ll likely appear in later books in the series. A few months before the story begins, Daphne abandons Kate, leaving the girl with a Post-It taped to her pajamas promising to be back in an hour. Anyone who played Daphne would need to show unbridled passion and energy, verging on mania, someone like Rooney Mara. Sean Young in her No Way Out days would have been perfect for this role too.

Angela White is a Boston detective who enters the novel about halfway through and befriends Morgan. Angela is tough and no-nonsense, and readers have responded so well to her that she’ll become a main character in future novels. I’d love to see her played by Regina Hall.

Animals play a central role in the entire series, and Waffles, a basset hound mix who’s a sucker for belly rubs, snuggling, and treats, is the main attraction. She could be played by any basset hound who responds to commands (good luck finding one!)

Inspired by the Clark Rockefeller case, Little Comfort began with an idea for a character named Sam Blaine, a handsome, ruthless young man who strives to find a place to belong. Sam is named after a very sweet beagle who lives for chasing rabbits. In drafting, I purposefully used very few descriptors of Sam’s looks because I wanted the reader to imagine him in their own eyes. So I leave the casting on this one to you: who’s your ideal actor?

Of all the characters in Little Comfort, Gabe DiPursio surprised me the most. When I began drafting, he was a minor character in one scene. He eventually became one of the main point-of-view characters, one with a tender, flawed heart that stems from a deep well of loneliness. Gabe would have to be played by an actor who can move deftly from creepy to kind, someone like Adam Driver.
This dream casting is excerpted from the Little Comfort Book Club Kit.

Learn more about the book and author at Edwin Hill’s web site.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Ellen Goodlett's "Rule"

Ellen Goodlett writes science fiction because otherwise she would spend her days plotting to take over the world. She figures that the former would benefit humanity ever so slightly more than the latter (which would be disastrous and involve a lot of cats in government positions). She lives in New York City with two demons masquerading as felines. She is a proud graduate of Bryn Mawr College and a Pittsburgh expat.

Here Goodlett dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Rule:
I am terrible at mentally casting movies, so I’ll just preface this whole post with that. But one of my first friends who read and fangirled over Rule told me in her head she’d cast the three narrators’ father, King Andros, as Idris Elba the whole time, and after that, I couldn’t resist trying to cast my three protagonists, at least for my own sake.

I don’t watch a lot of TV, so to start with I tried googling actors. That never really works out, though. But I caught a lucky break when I went to watch Solo in theaters. At the very end, a girl came on-screen (no spoilers about her role in the movie, I promise), and I actually gasped aloud in the theater, because I was like, that’s Akeylah.

Akeylah is my quiet sister, the one who’s usually in the background. But don’t mistake her quiet for ignorance or acquiescence. In reality, she’s the one who often has the best suggestions. She doesn’t speak often, but when she does, you’d better listen, because she’s figured out what’s actually going on. If I had a say in it, Erin Kellyman would play her in the movie adaptation of Rule (or, you know, more realistically these days, in the Netflix original series…).

As for Ren, she’s always been Zendaya in my mind. She’s tall, graceful, put-together, and the most articulate and made-for-court of any of the sisters. She knows how to dress to impress, how to say just the right thing at the right time to get what she wants, and most of all, she always keeps her eyes on the prize.

Zofi was the most difficult to cast. She’s the outspoken sister, the blunt one who doesn’t abide by court rules (or anyone’s rules, really). But she has a big heart under that tough coating—especially when it comes to anyone she decides to call family. She’ll do anything for them. The closest actor I’ve found who strokes me as Zofi-esque is Ashleigh Murray from Riverdale, but it’s still not exactly the right fit.

And finally, because I can’t resist, for Rozalind, my favorite secondary character, I’d cast Aeriél Miranda (yes, from Pretty Little Liars, which is the show we used as a comp title for Rule. But, confession time: I’ve never actually seen the show. Just a lot of clips of Aeriél since one of my friends mentioned she was picturing her as Roz).
Visit Ellen Goodlett's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 24, 2018

Kathleen J. McInnis's "The Heart of War"

Kathleen J. McInnis is a U.S. national security policy geek by trade, who happens to be moonlighting as a novelist. Or maybe it's the other way around?

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Heart of War: Misadventures in the Pentagon:
It’s funny. While my career in U.S. national security requires me to write a lot, it’s always analytic pieces that I’ve had to put together. So when I started writing The Heart of War: Misadventures in the Pentagon – my first real work of fiction – I didn’t have a clue where to start.

I decided to take a cue from my buddy Mike Flanagan, who’s a writer and director of horror movies, and compiled a book of actor’s headshots to give myself a clear sense of what the characters look like. But, because I’m an analyst by training, my version of was enormously elaborate: each page had an image of an actor that fit the bill, along with notes on their character, bios, and even Myers-Briggs personality types.

Yet as I went through rewrite after rewrite (after rewrite!), the story changed significantly, and so did the characters. And it turns out, they had opinions about what they looked like, and were very insistent that I go back and get that right. As it happens, they also told me to stuff my Myers-Briggs character notes and just listen to them tell their story. So when I sent the final manuscript to the publisher, the characters looked and felt very different to the beginning of the writing process five years ago.

Dr. Heather Reilly, the story’s protagonist, is a strong and intelligent woman but with some profound pain at the center of her being. She is brave, but at times naïve. And she’s in an environment where the work is deadly serious, but she and her colleagues use humor to cope with the Pentagon’s insanity. While I have a very clear idea of what Heather looks like, I think that capturing her spirit would be more essential to pulling off a movie adaptation. Some actors that I think could really capture those kinds of dualities while bringing humor to the role include Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence.

Incidentally, the one character who didn’t change much for me over the course of writing: the main antagonist, Ariane Fletcher. Fletcher is a complicated woman, but Heather mainly sees her as the boss from hell. It always seemed to me that Helena Bonham Carter would be perfect for the role.
Visit Kathleen J. McInnis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Roger Johns's "River of Secrets"

Roger Johns is a former corporate lawyer and retired college professor with law degrees from Louisiana State University and Boston University. During his nearly two decades as a professor, he served on the editorial staffs of several academic publications and he won numerous awards and recognitions for his teaching and his scholarly writing. Johns was born and raised in Louisiana. He and his wife Julie now live in Georgia. Dark River Rising is his first novel.

Here Johns shares some insights into dreamcasting an adaptation of Dark River Rising and River of Secrets:
Warning: I’m about to cheat. I’m not normally a cheater, but today is different, and for good reason. First, though, a confession: I don’t watch television and I very rarely go to the movies. Consequently, as much as I’d like to, I haven’t a chance when it comes to choosing a recognizable current actor to play the part of Wallace Hartman, the female police detective who is the lead character in my two recent mysteries, Dark River Rising and River of Secrets. That said, I remember very well an experience I had after I finished an early draft of the first book. The manuscript contained very little physical description of Wallace. After my wife read it, I asked her who she thought Wallace looked like. Her answer took me completely by surprise: “She looks like me.” At that moment, I made a conscious decision to keep Wallace’s physical appearance rather vague. My thinking was that if, by keeping the description to a minimum, readers could more easily identify with the character, then who was I to get in the way. With the exception of the following, the books are bereft of clues as to Wallace’s appearance: she’s five-seven, in her mid- to late-thirties, white, dark shoulder-length hair, and a bit on the athletic side. Here’s the cheat: I couldn’t possibly name anyone to play the part, but if you’re in the mood to play casting director, please send your suggestions to me at:
Visit Roger Johns's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dark River Rising.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Paula Munier's "A Borrowing of Bones"

Paula Munier is the author of the bestselling Plot Perfect, The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings, Writing with Quiet Hands, and Fixing Freddie: A True Story of a Boy, a Mom, and a Very, Very Bad Beagle. She was inspired to write A Borrowing of Bones by the hero working dogs she met through Mission K9 Rescue, her own Newfoundland retriever mix rescue Bear, and a lifelong passion for crime fiction.

Here Munier dreamcasts an adaptation of A Borrowing of Bones:
Someone once said that it takes six real people to create one well-rounded character. Mine are true composites in that way. But when I think of casting them in the movies, I can usually come up with an actress or an actor I think could inhabit my characters with grace and dignity and power.

Mercy Carr, the heroine of my Mercy and Elvis series, is a former Army MP who was wounded in Afghanistan. She’s attractive, but she's also tough physically, mentally, and emotionally. I think an actor like Jessica Chastain or Mireille Enos could play Mercy, as they are both beautiful redheads who manage to play tough characters credibly. They play strong women well, and that's what Mercy is: a strong woman.

Vermont game warden Troy Warner is character who's good looking in that sort of boy-next-door way. He has an open face and a guarded soul. Someone like Scott Eastwood, son of Clint Eastwood, and a good actor in his own right, could play Troy. Captain Thrasher, Troy 's superior officer, is a former Marine and the handsomest man in Vermont (which he considers a sort of curse). I think of him as a cross between Jesse Williams and Idris Elba: a tough guy with a good heart.

As for the dogs: Elvis, the bomb-sniffing Belgian shepherd, was inspired by the military working dogs I met through Mission K9 Rescue. He’s a fierce and worthy companion for Mercy. Susie Bear, the search-and-rescue dog who accompanies Troy Warner on his patrols in the Vermont wilderness, was inspired by our own rescue dog, a Newfoundland-Retriever mix named Bear. He is the happiest dog in the world, and accordingly, Susie Bear is cheerful and hard-working. I don’t know any actor dogs, but they’d have to be as swell as the dogs who inspired my hero dog characters.
Visit Paula Munier's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Catharine Riggs's "What She Gave Away"

Catharine Riggs is a former banker, educator and nonprofit executive. What She Gave Away, her first work of psychological suspense, features an outsider with a dark past and a bitter grudge who moves to a wealthy beachside community only to find herself enmeshed in the secrets of her boss and his hapless wife.

Here Riggs dreamcasts an adaptation of What She Gave Away:
The movie question is fun…film rights anyone? I am a seat-of-the-pants writer so the characters morph as I go along. I create a storyboard once I commence the second draft and the characters are fixed in my head. Picturing an actress to play Kathi, the weight-obsessed, middle-aged, inebriated housewife with a penchant for denial was not difficult. Early on I settled on Nicole Kidman, a talented actress who has the ability to morph into a variety of roles.

Casting Crystal was not so easy. She’s a plus-size millennial who owns her looks and takes no prisoners in life. I finally settled on Christina Schmidt who is not model thin and seems to have the right ‘in your face’ attitude.

As for the leading men, I envision Brad Pitt playing the part of suave conman Arthur Van Meter and Robert Downey Jr. as Kathi’s cheating husband, Richard Wright.
Visit Catharine Riggs's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Clare Mulley's "The Women Who Flew For Hitler"

Clare Mulley is an award-winning biographer, and contributes to various historical and current affairs journals, TV and radio.

Her latest book, The Women Who Flew for Hitler (2017), is a joint biography of two extraordinary women whose skills put them at the heart of the Third Reich but whose choices meant they ended their lives on opposite sides of history.

Here Mulley dreamcasts an adaptation of The Women Who Flew for Hitler:
What could be more filmic? Hanna Reitsch and Melitta von Stauffenberg both learnt to fly over the same green slopes of north-east Germany in the 1930s. This was the glamorous age of flight, when Amelia Earhart had her own fashion line and En Avion was the perfume of choice. Female pilots anywhere were considered courageous, but nowhere were they considered more extraordinary than in Nazi Germany, which promoted the idea that women’s real place was in church, the kitchen and the nursery. Hanna and Melitta were exceptional, and with the war they became the only women to serve the regime as test pilots, the only two female Flight Captains in Nazi Germany, and both recipients of the Iron Cross.

You might have thought, then, that Hanna and Melitta would have supported one another, but in fact there was no love lost between them. With her bubbly personality, blond hair and blue-eyes, Hanna seemed the perfect example of Aryan maidenhood, and she was soon an ardent supporter of what she considered to be the dynamic new Nazi regime. Melitta, by contrast, was dark, serious and seemingly shy. Her father had been born Jewish and she was officially categorised as ‘Mischling’, or half-blood, by the regime, but her skills were so valuable to them that they gave her ‘Equal to Aryan’ status. In July 1944, Melitta would support the most famous attempt to assassinate Hitler.

There could hardly be more perfect roles for two actresses today; both at the heart of the Third Reich’s war effort, risking their lives daily in the macho world of Nazi aviation. How about Emma Stone or Jennifer Lawrence for the blond Hanna, who once starred in UFA films for the Nazi the regime. Rachel Weiss or perhaps Gal Gadot could excel as her nemesis, whose quiet determination and moral courage drive the story forward.

There are plenty of supporting roles for the men here too. Hitler is hard to cast, although Bruno Ganz was excellent in Downfall. (The terrifying map room scene when Hitler/Ganz screams at his generals is one of the most adapted clips on YouTube.) Tom Cruise has already played Claus von Stauffenberg, Melitta’s brother-in-law, in the film Valkyrie, but perhaps he could be persuaded to reprise the role among the supporting cast?
Visit Clare Mulley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 14, 2018

Jacob Stone's "Cruel"

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 Cruel, the latest Morris Black thriller:
Cruel would have a large cast, and I’m going to limit my casting to the MBI team and several of the more important characters from Cruel.

First off, Morris Brick. My ex-LAPD homicide detective and serial killer hunter, is tough, smart, and relentless, and when I did My Book, My Movie for the first two books in the series, Deranged and Crazed, I cast Jason Isaacs in this role since he showed from the Showtime series Brotherhood that he could play all that brilliantly. Also he physically looks like Morris. But in Malicious, Philip Stonehedge tells Morris about a studio plan to make a movie about the events from Crazed, and since the studio execs were planning to cast Woody Harrelson in that role, I’ll make that change also.

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

Philip Stonehedge, a method actor who became friends with Morris in Deranged has a more limited role in Cruel, but since he’s the easiest role to cast I’ll include him here: 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 MBI cast, we need to find a lovable and clownish bull terrier to play Morris’s dog, Parker.

Now for critical roles unique to Cruel (Note. I won’t be providing descriptions for these characters so as not to give away any spoilers):

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Ed Blount.

Patrick Wilson as Travis Smalley.

Imogen Poots as Rosalyn Krate.

For Samantha Fine I need a star in the making, and who better than Katharine McPhee.

The versatile actor Pat Healy for the Freak. If he can play Junior in Small Crimes, he can play the Freak!
Visit Dave Zeltserman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Deranged.

My Book, The Movie: Crazed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mary Schmidt Campbell's "An American Odyssey"

Mary Schmidt Campbell is President of Spelman College and Dean Emerita of the Tisch School of the Arts. She served as the vice chair of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities under former President Barack Obama.

Here Campbell shares her treatment for a miniseries adaptation of her new book, An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden:
Netlfix would be my platform of choice for An American Odyssey: the Life and Work of Romare Bearden. A six part series would open with a middle aged Bearden hospitalized in Bellevue, having “blown a fuse” and suffered a nervous breakdown. His once moderately successful career as a painter has disintegrated. His efforts at becoming a songwriter and amassing enough money to return to Paris, the city that made him feel liberated, have failed.

The action begins with him sitting a table at the hospital, therapeutically making “arts and crafts” as a flashback returns the action to his coming of age as an artist in Harlem, “when Harlem was in Vogue.” The next two episodes recount his mother’s dazzling dominance among the Black middle class and his rebellion against this “respectability” and rising fame as a radical activist and race man. While his mother hosts salons and writes the social column for the Chicago Defender, Bearden immerses himself in his day job, casework with Harlem’s poor and spends his nights with the “Dawn Patrol” in the definitely anti-uplift scene of Harlem’s often transgressive cabarets.

Then his world falls apart. Episode three opens with the 1943 riot in Harlem, his mother’s unexpected death, and the dissipation of the Harlem community when the government shuts down the federal support for artists that sustained a community in Harlem. One artist after another departs. (The repeal of prohibition set into place the dissipation of Harlem night-life, as well). In episode four, World War II and Bearden’s decision to enlist in the army abruptly cast him into the unfamiliar territory, for him, of segregation. Life has pulled the rug of privilege out from under him. He becomes disenchanted with the idea of being a race man, takes up abstract painting, meets a glamorous and influential patron in the figure of Caresse Crosby and refuses to exhibit in “Negro” art shows.

Crosby gets him a New York Gallery dealer. Bearden is now a member of the New York Art world and for a few years, he enjoys a modest success. But he is on the margins. He is on the margins of other Negro artists, having boycotted black exhibitions. He is on the margins of his new avant-garde, mid-town gallery, the Samuel Kooz gallery where his colleagues are all white and all devoted full time to their art, while he still works full time as a caseworker for a living. When the gallery unceremoniously cuts him, he takes a leave of absence from work to sail to Paris.

Episode five takes us to Paris, where he has a brief but intense liberating experience. He returns to New York and his full time job as caseworker for the Romani community. In the meantime, he takes up songwriting and paints intermittently. He is on a path sliding downward fast into his breakdown. Episode five finds him meeting and marrying Nanette Rohan, a beautiful model, who rescues him. She makes him stop songwriting, disengage with some sketchy characters, and return to painting. He returns to painting as the Civil Rights movement is heating up and in a few years will explode onto the art scene with his groundbreaking Projections and collages.

Daniel Sunjata would play the young Bearden, Courtney Vance would play his father and Niki Noni Rose or Jill Scott, his charismatic mother. Angela Bassett would play Nanette. The big question is who would play the mature Bearden? The series would be a big hit!
Learn more about An American Odyssey at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 10, 2018

Margaret Mizushima’s "Burning Ridge"

Margaret Mizushima is the author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, featuring Deputy Mattie Cobb, her canine partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker. Her books—including Killing Trail, Stalking Ground, Hunting Hour, and new release Burning Ridge—have garnered a Reader’s Favorite gold medal, a TopShelf Indie Book Award nomination, and have been listed as finalists in the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, the Colorado Book Awards, the International Book Awards, and the Silver Falchion Awards. Mizushima serves on the board for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and she lives on a small farm in Colorado where she and her veterinarian husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.

Here Mizushima dreamcasts an adaptation of Burning Ridge:
This is fun! And who doesn’t dream that their book will be made into a movie someday?

Prior to writing the first book in my mystery series, I created a storyboard with pictures literally ripped from the pages of magazines. I included landscapes to help develop the fictional setting of Timber Creek, Colorado; photos of the animals that live in that habitat; and yes, pictures of celebrities whose features and characteristics could inspire creation of my protagonists. I’m happy to share those visions here today.

Deputy Mattie Cobb, the first K-9 handler in the Timber Creek County Sheriff’s Department. Mattie won this honor by beating her male counterparts in a cross-country foot race. She’s fit, beautiful, and of half-Hispanic ancestry. I would cast Jessica Alba in her role. I’ve been in love with Jessica as an actress since I first saw her years ago in the television series, Dark Angel. She’s athletic, gorgeous, and would lend the right ethnicity to Mattie Cobb’s character.

Veterinarian Cole Walker. Cole’s wife left him and his two daughters prior to the beginning of the series, and ever since he’s been on a fast track, learning to be a single parent while he keeps up with his busy vet practice. He’s ruggedly handsome with dark features, gentle and kind with people and animals, and has an air of a modern-day western cowboy about him. I chose Christian Bale for this role, and when Christian later appeared in the movie Hostiles (2017), I couldn’t have been more pleased. My dream of this actor appearing in a western role had come true!

And we must talk about Robo, Mattie’s K-9 partner and the first patrol dog to join the Timber Creek Sheriff’s Department. Robo is a German shepherd trained in patrol and narcotics detection, but Mattie has enhanced his skillset with extra tools such as evidence detection and matching an object to human in a scent lineup (see Hunting Hour, book three in the series). My friend, a retired K-9 trainer and handler, once had a partner named Robo who inspired the development of this character. Robo is black with tan markings, he’s strong and brave, and he and Mattie are a match made in heaven. I haven’t seen a dog like him in a movie role, and my friend’s partner died of old age years ago, so this role is open for auditions. Maybe one of my husband’s veterinary clients could step forward with a dog that could play Robo.
Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Tanya Marquardt's "Stray"

Tanya Marquardt is an award-winning performer and the author of ten plays, which have been produced across Canada and the United States. Transmission was published in the Canadian Theatre Review, and Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep was the subject of an episode of NPR’s Invisibilia. A Hertog Fellow and graduate of the MFA creative writing program at Hunter College, Marquardt splits her time between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Brooklyn, New York.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Stray: Memoir of a Runaway, her first book:
Stray begins the day I ran away from home, and this inciting incident sparked two chaotic years, including life with my father, a traveling vacuum cleaner salesman; my first attraction to a girl and witnessing her self-cutting; being in a BDSM bar as an underage virgin and exploring my burgeoning queerness; a writing teacher’s praise, which saved me from suicide; and, how art sustained me throughout, helping me to begin the journey back to myself. Which would make it an amazing role for a young actress. The sexuality would make it necessary to cast a someone who was older than I was at the time, and right now I am super into Elle Fanning. We don't look totally alike, but after seeing 20th Century Women, I don't think it would matter. I was basically Elle Fanning's character in that movie, playing at being tough, chain smoking cigarettes, sneaking out of the house, but underneath that, terrified and uncertain. That kid is a powerhouse.
Visit Tanya Marquardt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sofka Zinovieff's "Putney"

Sofka Zinovieff studied social anthropology at Cambridge and carried out the research for her PhD in Greece. This marked the beginning of a lifelong involvement with the country.

She has lived in Moscow and Rome and worked as a freelance journalist and reviewer, writing mainly for British publications including The Telegraph Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement, The Financial Times, The Spectator, The Independent Magazine and The London Magazine.

After many years in Athens, she now divides her time between there and England. She is married and has two daughters.

Here Zinovieff dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Putney:
Putney should definitely be directed by a woman. Although one of the three central characters is male, we don’t want too much of the male gaze on Daphne’s young body. She is only 13 when she falls in love with 31-year-old Ralph and he has long been obsessed with her. My choice is the amazing New Zealander director, Jane Campion. Since The Piano (1993), she has shown she can do grand and intimate, imaginative and realistic. She has also done “romantic” in Bright Star (about Keats) and off-beat-beautiful-scary in Top of the Lake.

Campion would be ideal for capturing the contradictions in Putney’s two eras. Firstly, the 1970s, bohemian London household of Daphne as a child, where her father Ed is a writer and her mother Ellie a Greek activist. They live in what looks like seductively beautiful freedom in Putney, and Ralph is an up-and-coming composer who collaborates with Ed. The present day has Ralph and Daphne looking back on their relationship as a “romantic secret”.

Daphne is dark-haired, dark-eyed and half-Greek. In adulthood, she retains some of the grace and wildness of her childhood and is still slim and small-built. Aged 50, she has left behind decades of drug abuse and disastrous relationships to settle down as an artist with a day job. I would choose Penelope Cruz for the role, as I think she can combine the wild and powerful with the vulnerable. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Cruz plays a crazy, sexy artist who is also very emotional and I’d like that energy for Daphne, who doesn’t realise how much she has been hurt by the neglect and abuse in her youth. The child Daphne would have to be picked to resemble Cruz.

Ralph as a celebrated composer approaching 70 would be played by Hugh Grant. He has shown that he can leave behind his slightly saccharine rom-com past (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill etc) and give real depth and darkness to a character. He was excellent in A Very English Scandal, about the British MP Jeremy Thorpe. His suave, arrogant charm was such that he believed he could get away with anything – even trying to get his former gay lover murdered! Grant can bring out the charm of the successful, ageing Ralph Boyd, who is feted around the world for his music compositions. He can also show the self-deception of a man who will not admit that he has done anything wrong in seducing a child.

Jane is tall and blonde, and despite being a fit and slim 50-year-old, still finds it easy to remember her awkward, plump adolescence. Married with two student sons, she is a scientist and ostensibly successful and conventional. But she has secrets beneath the surface that even she finds hard to confront. I’d choose Laura Dern to play her. Dern can go from beautiful to “ordinary” in a blink, and from high-powered to insecure without a problem. I loved her intelligent acting in the series Big Little Lies. It is Jane who tries to persuade Daphne that the “secret love affair” was actually grooming, child abuse and rape and that Ralph should be reported to the police.
Visit Sofka Zinovieff's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

David Sosnowski's "Happy Doomsday"

David Sosnowski has worked as a gag writer, fireworks salesman, telephone pollster, university writing instructor, and environmental-protection specialist while living in places as different as Washington, DC; Detroit, Michigan; and Fairbanks, Alaska. His books include the critically acclaimed novels Rapture and Vamped.

Here Sosnowski dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Happy Doomsday:
Here’s a weird confession; with very few exceptions, I’ve rarely imagined casts for my novels, though I’ve loved it when readers have offered me their suggestions, which are often brilliant and spot-on. Seeing as Happy Doomsday is still pretty new (the official release is September 1, 2018 – which is when I’m writing this) I haven’t gotten any casting suggestions so far. And so, taking a lot of chronological liberties, here’s my would-be casting for the three main characters – Dev, Marcus, and Lucy – all of whom are sixteen years old when they survive an apocalyptic event that finds them in various parts of the country from which they will head out and eventually find each other.

For Dev, who has an Indian-American mother and Jewish father, and who is also near the Asperger’s end of the spectrum, I’d cast either a younger Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), a younger Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) or an older Sunny Pawar (Lion). For Marcus, a.k.a., Mo, an Arab-American Muslim living with his immigrant parents in post-Trump Oklahoma, I’d cast a younger Riz Ahmed (HBO’s The Night Of). And for Lucy, a redheaded Goth girl from Georgia, I’d cast a younger Sarah Snook (the daughter in HBO’s Succession). While all are fine actors and would portray the characters brilliantly, I’m sure – with the possible exception of turning time backwards or forwards – I have to admit that my choices are pretty superficial and based largely upon their resemblance to the characters as I saw them in my head.
Visit David Sosnowski's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Sejal Badani's "The Storyteller’s Secret"

A former attorney, Sejal Badani left the law to pursue writing full time. She was an ABC/Disney Writing Fellowship and CBS Writing Fellowship Finalist. When not writing, she loves reading, biking along the ocean, traveling and trying to teach her teacup Morkie not to hide socks under the bed (so far she has been completely unsuccessful). Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, and Ed Sheeran are always playing in the background.

Here Badani dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, The Storyteller’s Secret:
I started my career by writing two screenplays that won numerous awards. I love the imagery mixed with dialogue that define films. They bring the story to life while allowing you to lose yourself within the dialogue. When I transitioned from screenplays to novels I found that when I wrote I would imagine the story playing out like a reel in my head. I can see the setting, hear the dialogue and feel the air surrounding all of it. Given my love of movies, I have to admit I have often imagined both my novels, Trail of Broken Wings and The Storyteller’s Secret, on the big screen.

The Storyteller’s Secret is set at an intersection of different cultures which creates an exciting opportunity to bring a diverse field of actors/actresses and sites. I have to admit I’m not as familiar with the Bollywood market and wouldn’t be able to specifically identify by name which actress would play the roles of Amisha, Jaya and Lena. However here is what I would hope each one would bring to the set:

Amisha is a character that comes alive on the page. Multiple readers have commented that they feel as if they are experiencing her story as they read it. She is alive with a vibrancy that almost hums. Her eyes twinkle as she weaves her tale and her face lights up with a smile in her every interaction. And when she loves? Whether it be her children, her friend Ravi or her true love (I won’t give away any spoilers) – she does it with her soul. Her character’s inner beauty transcends her outer one.

Lena’s natural beauty – a blend of her English father and Indian mother – is obvious but she holds back, afraid of what it means. She has paid dearly in her life for her heritage. As a result she is quiet, unsure. She watches rather than partaking. She hopes instead of dreaming.

Jaya is a New York journalist. She is broken from her miscarriages and the dissolution of her marriage. On a journey of discovery, she learns that the inner strength of her grandmother and mother courses through her bloodline and that, in following their hearts’ paths, she discovers herself.

If I had just one wish for the movie then reader favorite Ravi would be played by the sublime Ben Kingsley. I don’t think there are any words that I could write to do Mr. Kingsley’s art justice so I will simply say it would be an honor and dream come true to have him be a part of the story.

For the British officer Stephen I can imagine the up and coming actor Joe Alwyn. Stephen’s character is a young man who understands the gravity of his situation as a lieutenant in British-occupied India. Throughout the novel, Stephen finds a delicate balance between his role and his feelings for Amisha as she searches for herself.
Visit Sejal Badani's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Sejal Badani & Skyler.

--Marshal Zeringue