Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sarah Bailey's "Into The Night"

Sarah Bailey lives in Melbourne, Australia and has two young sons and one very old cat. She has fifteen years experience in the advertising industry and is currently a director at creative projects company Mr Smith.

Here Bailey dreamcasts an adaptation of Into The Night, her second novel:
Seeing as Into The Night is the second book in the Detective Gemma Woodstock series, some of my casting inspiration was already set when I wrote the first book, The Dark Lake.

In saying that, the balance between evolving the characters and maintaining a sense of consistency is really important when writing any kind of series and seeing that Gemma is a little grittier in this instalment, and perhaps a little wilder and sassier, I thought that someone like Rose Byrne would do an amazing job of depicting the light and shade that the storyline provokes and is a great build on my original muse, Ellen Page.

This book introduces a new main character in Nick Fleet, the senior detective that Gemma is paired with in her new city squad in Melbourne. Nick is a really abrasive character, obnoxious and challenging. I felt Mark Ruffalo has the acting chops to bring Nick’s complex personality to life and I definitely pictured him when creating Nick’s character.

In stark contrast, Gemma’s new boyfriend Josh is very clean cut and conservative. Justin Timberlake could pull this off as could someone like Chace Crawford.

Sterling Wade is the doomed movie star and any actor that plays him would absolutely need to look the part while conveying a sense of innocence and naivety. A young Leonardo Di Caprio would have been perfect but in terms of current actors, Chris Hemsworth and Zac Efron were two people I had in mind.

Similarly, Ava James needs to be embodied by a true Hollywood starlet. Someone with a bit more aggression than her famous male co-star. I saw both Blake Lively or Emma Roberts being able to deliver the appropriate level of charisma required.

Macy, Gemma’s homeless friend is her rock in many ways and even though it’s a massive stretch it would be pretty crazy if Oprah played her!

Lizzie Short is a little bit prissier than glamourous Ava, and less confident. Anna Kendrick would be perfect, as would Leighton Meester from Gossip Girl. Her Brother Kit is a little more boy next door and I think someone like Andrew Garfield would work well.

Brodie Kent needs to be played by someone who has the ability to go from gentle to fiery very quickly. I think Robert Pattinson or Elijah Wood would be able to pull this off.

I still feel that Joshua Jackson would work well in the role of Gemma’s ex partner Scott Harper and that J.K.Simmons would do justice to the role of Gemma’s old boss Jonesy.

Gemma’s new boss is a reserved character and quite hard to figure out. I think that John Slattery would work well here, though he would need to be a bit more sedate than when he played Roger Sterling in Mad Men! To round out her other new workmates, I think that Dame Judi Dench would make a splendid Nan and I think that Ed Helms (of The Hangover fame) would be a great Calvin.

Now that I am in the final stages of drafting the third Gemma Woodstock book, I am once again in the process of perusing Hollywood for my next round of casting!
Visit Sarah Bailey's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Dark Lake.

My Book, The Movie: The Dark Lake.

The Page 69 Test: Into the Night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Constantine J. Singer's "Strange Days"

Constantine Singer grew up in Seattle and earned his BA from Earlham College and his Masters from Seattle University. He currently lives in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles with his family and teaches history at a high school in South LA.

Here Singer dreamcasts an adaptation of Strange Days, his debut novel:
I live in Los Angeles and I’m married to a screenwriter, so I think about these things a lot. With adult-oriented manuscripts it’s pretty easy to come up with the faces that’ll go well with your names, but YA means finding kids and that means either watching a lot of children’s television or scouring IMDB by birth year.

Fortunately, I have a teenage daughter and I happen to love YA television so I didn’t have much trouble doing this.

My main character was a bit of a puzzle for me when it came to casting because there just weren’t that many Latinx actors in Hollywood yet while I was writing Strange Days. Outside of Jane the Virgin and East Los, there wasn’t much to pick from, but then came On My Block, which is a fantastic Netflix series you should watch. Alex Mata would be played perfectly by Jason Genao. He has the right combination of vulnerability, arrogance, and people-pleasing fear that Alex needs to have.

I would cast Alex’s best friend, Julio Santos, from the same show. Diego Tinoco would be ideal for the role.

Corina Hollifield was a little harder for me, but I finally settled on Skai Jackson. She’s mainly known for being the adorable scamp on Disney’s Jessie, but I think there’s a lot more available in her range and she has the right look and general feel for Corina.

Paul Dunn and Damon Johnson were a lot harder and I ended up just searching IMDB until I found Ty Simpkins and Toby Nichols respectively. By look at least, they fit the bill. Jordan Castle was also difficult but I finally settled on Morgan Lilly for the job.

Cassandra Mitas-Barnes was in many ways the easiest and also the only one for whom a Major Hollywood Star comes to mind. She should be played by Chloe Grace Moretz.

I’ve had Aiden Quinn in mind for Jeffrey Sabazios from the beginning, and I wrote John Bishop for Phillip Seymour Hoffman because he had just died and he was on my mind. I don’t know who would take his place now. Maybe David Morse would be good.

For Richard Beeman, I wanted someone believably smart and who could also be a believable camp counselor. I think Grant Gustin would be perfect.

And obviously President Vincent Castle will be played by Mike Pence.
Visit Constantine J. Singer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Strange Days.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Alan Cumyn's "North to Benjamin"

Alan Cumyn is the award-winning author of several wide-ranging and often wildly different novels. His historical novels The Sojourn and The Famished Lover chronicle the First World War and Great Depression experiences of artist Ramsay Crome. His human rights novels, Man of Bone and Burridge Unbound, follow a torture victim through survival and post-trauma. Losing It is a darkly funny and truly twisted novel about madness, while his Owen Skye books for kids–The Secret Life of Owen Skye, After Sylvia and Dear Sylvia— hilariously trace the calamitous trials of childhood and the pangs of early love. Cumyn’s young adult novel Tilt is a funny, sexy exploration of a teenaged boy’s obsessions as he lives through an impossibly absurd time of life. All Night, a literacy project, follows a young artsy couple through a stormy night of hard truths and romantic dreams. And Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend brings a touch of Kafka to the previously ordered love life of a high school senior who has no idea what might fly out of the primordial past. His latest novel, North to Benjamin, is a psychological thriller that sees a young boy, Edgar, dragged north by his unstable mother, testing his formidable survival skills.

Here Cumyn shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of North to Benjamin:
I see North to Benjamin as a distant cousin to My Life As a Dog. Whoever plays Edgar, however, would not be quite like Anton Glanzelius in that earlier, and marvellous, film. Even though they both end up literally barking for a time, the Edgar who is dragged north by his unstable mother in my story would be a quieter, less rambunctious boy. His survival instincts are honed toward having him disappear, remain unnoticed, staying still and quiet while observing everything.

Who would that actor be? A challenge for the casting director to find! I imagine someone with large eyes that can express everything including mounting panic even within a deep and natural sense of calm.

Another real star of the movie would have to be the landscape of Dawson City, Yukon – the wild rivers coming together, the steep hills, the eccentric town clinging to the edge of the wilderness. So many photographers, filmmakers and visual artists flock there because of the clear northern light and the extraordinary natural beauty. It's a beauty that Edgar picks up on, too, as he experiments with the camera he has been given by his mother's ex-boyfriend. Almost anything is manageable, it seems, if you can look at it through a lens.
Visit Alan Cumyn's website.

Writers Read: Alan Cumyn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 7, 2018

Kitty Zeldis's "Not Our Kind"

Kitty Zeldis is the pseudonym for a novelist and non-fiction writer of books for adults and children. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Not Our Kind:
Almost every writer hopes her or his book will be chosen to leap from page to screen and since I’m no different, I’ve been entertaining myself with such fantasies as soon as the book was completed.

To play Patricia Bellamy I would chose Cate Blanchett; I think she has the looks, the demeanor and haughty composure that masks a turbulent soul.

I imagine Eleanor as played by Rachel Brosnahan because I found her performance in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel delightful. I can also see Anne Hathaway in this role.

To play Margaux, I’d want someone young and unknown—a newcomer seems right for the role of a thirteen year old who has recovered from—but is still scarred by—her grim bout with polio.
Follow Kitty Zeldis on Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Thelma Adams's "Bittersweet Brooklyn"

Thelma Adams is the author of the historical novel Bittersweet Brooklyn, the bestseller The Last Woman Standing and Playdate, which Oprah magazine described as “a witty debut novel.” In addition to her fiction work, Adams is a prominent American film critic and an outspoken voice in the Hollywood community. She has been the in-house film critic for Us Weekly and The New York Post, and has written essays, celebrity profiles and reviews for Yahoo! Movies, The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine,, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Parade, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. Adams studied history at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was valedictorian, and received her MFA from Columbia University. She lives in upstate New York with her family.
In honor of Rachel Brosnahan's return in Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon this week, I'm casting her in my novel Bittersweet Brooklyn:

Brosnahan is my ideal actress to play my leading lady Thelma Lorber, the big-hearted younger sister of the Brooklyn Jewish mobster, Abie "Little Yiddle" Lorber. During the 1920s, she's a vivacious neighborhood girl who loves to go dancing and to the movies. She falls in love, has a son and then tumbles straight into the narrow straits of the 1930s – and the dead body of Pretty Amberg that her favorite brother is chopping up in his kitchen.

The pride of Peaky Blinders, my favorite historical crime drama, Cillian Murphy would be my dream pick for Abie "Little Yiddle" Lorber. He's Thelma's older brother and protector-in-chief. All of five feet two inches, he makes up for his height in chutzpah. Tossed into an orphanage along with his younger brother, Louis, when he was just getting his first whiskers, he's makes the papers for the first time in 1915 under the headline: "'Toughest Kid' Proves It: Newsboy Stabs Lad, Who Doubted Title Given Him."

After binging on Bodyguard with Richard Madden, I'm all in for the Game of Thrones' King of the North Robb Stark to play the quieter middle brother, Louis. Tossed into the orphanage as a boy alongside Abie, he emerges with a love of guns to match his brother's fondness for knives. Although he supports his brother in crime, on his 21st birthday he enlists in the U.S. Army and becomes a hero, a Rock of the Marne, in the famed 38th Infantry that turned the tide of WW1. Strong, silent, faithful, cares for his sisters, looks good in a uniform: I cast the dimpled, buff Madden.

Put Timothee Chalamet, now 24, into a full-grown man's role as Thelma's beloved husband Philip Schwartz. Phil shows Thelma great times – dancing madly to the house band at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, strolling through Coney Island on a Sunday, snuggling at the local movie palace with Valentino on the screen. The romantic, handsome and empathetic boyfriend-turned-husband has a cavern in his heart. His wife believes she can fill it, and then tries to anchor the family with the birth of a son, but can she?

Saoirse Ronan would crack the code playing Thelma's older sister and nemesis Annie. Annie's the hero of her own story, trying to create a stable future for her mother and children safe from her brother's life of crime. And if his ill-gotten gains pay the mortgage, it's a sacrifice made in the present to protect the family's future. Annie's a powerful character and to make her a stock villain would be a mistake; Ronan would find her humanity and still be true to the character's cruelty.

And, if Brosnahan is busy, Ronan could dance-step in as the lead.
Visit Thelma Adams' website.

The Page 69 Test: Playdate.

My Book, The Movie: Playdate.

The Page 69 Test: Bittersweet Brooklyn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 3, 2018

Nathanael Andrade's "Zenobia: Shooting Star of Palmyra"

Nathanael Andrade received his PhD in Greek and Roman history and has published extensively on the Roman and later Roman Near East along with other topics. His books include Syrian Identity in the Greco-Roman World (2013) and The Journey of Christianity to India in Late Antiquity: Networks and the Movement of Culture (2018).

Here Andrade dreamcast an adaptation of his new book, Zenobia: Shooting Star of Palmyra:
What sort of movie could my book on Zenobia be? A key challenge to portraying Zenobia is that documentation for her is very poor and specific to her reign over the Roman East (268-272 CE). My book confronts this challenge by using material culture to reconstruct experiences that women had at various stages of their lives at Palmyra (Tadmor in Aramaic). From this, we can learn about Zenobia’s family dynamic, upbringing, clothes, religious world, gestures, hygiene, marriage to the dynast Odainath, and life as a mother. A movie would capture these aspects of Zenobia’s world while vividly depicting the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra that framed so much of her existence.

The movie’s echoes of contemporary identity politics will resonate with a contemporary audience. A key point of tension will be the many ways of being Roman expressed by the protagonists locked in civil conflict. Representing the central regime are the emperors Claudius II (Gabriel Byrne) and then Aurelian (Russell Crowe), both native speakers of Latin from the Balkans who are supported by the Senate at Rome. In Syria is Zenobia (Aiysha Hart), more commonly known in Palmyra as Bathzabbai (her Aramaic name). She is a native speaker of Aramaic who has an acquired knowledge of Greek and to a lesser extent Latin. Enmeshed in a cultural and religious life inherited from Arabian and Syrian forebears, Zenobia sees herself and her manner of living to be just as Roman any other. While her rivals try to isolate her as a foreign, barbarian usurper, she defines herself as a figure of Roman authority who protects the Roman East from the Persians, just like her elder husband Odainath (Ghassan Massoud).

The film also emphasizes Zenobia’s identity as a mother. Along with the dangers of childbirth, Zenobia confronts a harrowing situation when Odainath dies. The circumstances of Odainath’s murder are hard to reconstruct and may not have been clear to Zenobia. But in the movie, a local Palmyrene conspiracy, coordinating with the imperial court, has Odainath and his oldest son Herodian Hairan killed in 267-268. Zenobia and Wahballath, her young son by Odainath, are still alive, but the conspiracy is targeting them too. When Zenobia seizes power in Wahballath’s name, she does not only rule as a woman. She protects her vulnerable child.

The dramatic tensions reach their peak with the civil war that Zenobia wages with the imperial court. Responding to its provocations, she occupies many of its Middle Eastern territories, including Egypt. Despite her just rule and efforts to negotiate over the following year, Aurelian invades her realm in early 272. In the first major battle, his cavalry lures Zenobia’s heavy horsemen into a debilitating charge and counterattacks when they are exhausted. In the second, infantrymen brandishing maces batter Zenobia’s charging cavalry and drive it into her army’s own lines. Aurelian’s army invests Palmyra soon after, and Zenobia flees eastward across the desert. She is apprehended while boarding a boat on the Euphrates river. When brought before Aurelian, she feigns having been manipulated by the men of her court. She and her son are spared while they die.

The file scenes of the movie show Zenobia on display in Aurelian’s triumph in Rome in 274. Her hands and feet are bound with gold chains that make her strain to walk. Rumors of her death circulate, but Zenobia lives in peace on a villa at Tivoli, Italy. Aurelian is assassinated in 275. Though defeated and deprived of power, Zenobia has survived the civil war with her children, and she can claim a serious moral victory indeed.
Learn more about Zenobia: Shooting Star of Palmyra at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 1, 2018

G.A. McKevett's "Murder in Her Stocking"

Since publication of her first novel in 1986, Sonja Massie has authored more than 60 published works, including the highly popular and critically acclaimed Savannah Reid Mysteries under the pseudonym G.A. McKevett.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Murder in Her Stocking:
When I began The Savannah Reid Mysteries, 25 years ago, I imagined Savannah looking much the way Delta Burke did on Designing Women. Over the years, that image has slipped away and Savannah has simply become…well…Savannah.

As for Granny Reid, there’s the octogenarian Gran in the Savannah books and Granny Stella, who is in her fifties in the new “prequel” series. I’d love to have Mil Nicholson play the older Granny. She’s a British actress who did a marvelous job of narrating the audio version of Murder in Her Stocking, nailing the Southern accents and down-in-Dixie sensitivities! She has a real “feel” for both the fun and pathos of the story. I’d love to see her perform Granny on screen. For the younger Gran, maybe Diane Lane. She has a wholesome, girl-next-door look about her—if your neighbor happens to be strikingly beautiful.

As far as directors, I’d love to have Ron Howard. Hey, a gal can dream, right?
Visit G.A. McKevett's website.

--Marshal Zeringue