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