Monday, December 31, 2018

Nancy Kress's "Terran Tomorrow"

Nancy Kress's many books include over two dozen novels, four collections of short stories, and three books on writing. Her work has won six Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Kress’s work has been translated into two dozen languages, including Klingon, none of which she can read.

Here Kress dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Terran Tomorrow: Book 3 of the Yesterday's Kin Trilogy:
What a treat! I get to cast my movie! Since this will never happen in real life, I can have anyone I want, so here goes:

For Marianne Jenner, sixty-ish geneticist, I want Helen Mirren. Helen is older than Marianne and British rather than American, but she can play anything. Hell, to have Helen Mirren, I’d make Marianne younger, British, whatever. For Helen Mirren, who I would watch recite the phone book if phone books still existed, I would rewrite the entire trilogy.

For Colonel Jason Jenner, late thirties, handsome and very earnest, I need someone who can portray strong-silent-type stress from the burden he’s carrying (basically, the survival of civilization). Ryan Gosling, maybe? DiCaprio is too old.

For Jason’s second-in-command, the reserved and frighteningly competent Major Elizabeth Duncan, I want Mary Jackson, who was so terrific in Hidden Figures.

For Dr. Lindy Ross, Jason’s estranged wife and his moral scold, Olivia Coleman.

Jason’s brother, the eco-minded rebel, I’m not sure. Colin Jenner is shorter, not handsome, but with charisma. The person who would be perfect is the young John C. Reilly, now nowhere near young enough—but you did say I could have anyone I wanted, regardless of temporal physics!

A major character in the book is an “alien” who is not really alien. She’s from a group of humans transplanted from Earth to another planet 140,000 years ago. That’s enough time for evolution to make some genetic changes, but not enough time for species to diverge. There is only one choice: Saoirse Ronan, who somehow looks alien even when playing the Irish girl in Brooklyn or the Scots Queen Mary. She has a spooky, beautiful-in-a-strange way face. And talent to burn.

For the young, nerdy and brilliant techie Carter, Lucas Hedges.

Now my movie costs gazillions of dollars because none of these actors come cheap. But…Helen Mirren! Helen Mirren! Maybe she could just do the novel as a one-person show on Broadway and play all the parts. I would be in the front row every single night.
Visit Nancy Kress's website, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

The Page 69 Test: Tomorrow's Kin.

The Page 69 Test: If Tomorrow Comes.

The Page 69 Test: Terran Tomorrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Ann Howard Creel's "The River Widow"

Ann Howard Creel writes historical novels about strong female characters facing seemingly impossible obstacles and having to make life-changing decisions. In her new novel, The River Widow, a former tarot-card reader turned widow and stepmother must escape the clutches of an evil family while also facing the crime she herself has committed.

Here Creel shares some ideas for the above-the-talent who might bring The River Widow to the big screen:
If they make my book into a movie, I’d love to see Reese Witherspoon play Adah. Even though Adah’s hair is brown, I don’t care. Reese can show just the right mix of vulnerability and fighting instincts to make her a perfect Adah.

For Jack I’d choose Mark Wahlberg. Such a talented actor, he would be able to portray Jack’s hard side and his soft side, too. Besides, he’s not hard on the eye.

For a director, I’d choose one of the masters: Stephen Spielberg or Ron Howard.
Visit Ann Howard Creel's website.

The Page 69 Test: The River Widow.

Writers Read: Ann Howard Creel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Mary Stockwell's "Interrupted Odyssey"

Mary Stockwell is the former chair of the history department at Lourdes University in Ohio and the author of Unlikely General: "Mad" Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America, The Other Trail of Tears: The Removal of the Ohio Indians and other books.

Here Stockwell dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians:
His picture is everywhere this holiday season: in stores, especially near toy departments, in online ads that pop up while browsing the web, and most of all, in posters mounted in front of local movie theaters. He is Aquaman, the latest DC comic book hero to come to life in cinemas around the world. Fierce and muscular, his arms and chest are wrapped in the golden scales of a magical sea creature. He wears shining blue-green pants and boots that clearly show he belongs in the depths of the ocean. His gloves are the same color and made of the same glistening material. In his right hand, he grasps a golden trident that brings to mind the ancient legends of Neptune, the ruler of all the waters of the world. Standing high on a ledge with a stream flowing under his boots and still more showers cascading behind him, he scowls at the viewer. He frightens us until we remember that he is a hero who has come to save us from the dangers that swirl about us on the land as well as the sea.

Every time I have looked back at Aquaman staring at me from a poster or a computer screen, I have thought of only one thing. Jason Momoa, the actor who plays Aquaman, would be the perfect Ely Parker if my latest book, Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians, was ever made into a movie. Parker was a Seneca Indian, born on his people’s Tonawanda Reserve near Buffalo, who became Ulysses S. Grant’s military secretary and later, after Grant was elected President of the United States, his first Commissioner of Indian Affairs. When just eighteen, he had been named the Seneca’s official spokesman as they fought against their removal from New York. Sent to Washington to speak to Senators like Henry Clay and Daniel Webster and even to President James K. Polk, he had a hard time finding suits that could fit his tall and muscular frame. In my mind’s eye, I can see Momoa in a tightfitting 19th century suit, a head taller than everyone around him, strolling into the Capitol and the White House. In another scene, First Lady Sarah Polk stops her carriage on a crowded Washington street so she can give the handsome young Seneca a lift to his next destination. Still later, he wears the dark blue uniform of a Union soldier. He is at Grant’s side, carrying a stack of papers in his arms and with an ink bottle tied by a string to a button on his coat. At Appomattox, I hear Momoa’s deep voice reminding a startled General Robert E. Lee, who has recognized Parker at last as a “real American,” meaning an Indian rather than a black man, that “we are all Americans.”

But Jason Momoa is more than an actor who matches Ely Parker’s physical appearance. He is a master of silent acting, where a performer conveys deep emotions with few words, as he proved in his role as Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones. He would bring his acting skills to bear in the tragic tale of Parker’s attempt to craft a policy, with the help of his friend Ulysses Grant, that would save the Indians from certain destruction by making them American citizens. Parker did everything in his power to protect the tribes but ultimately failed. The ending of Interrupted Odyssey will therefore not be the same as the ending of Aquaman. Parker will fail in his efforts to defend the Indians even as Aquaman will surely save the world.
Visit Mary Stockwell's website.

My Book, The Movie: Unlikely General.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 17, 2018

Debra H. Goldstein's "One Taste Too Many"

Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, which debuts with One Taste Too Many on December 18, 2018. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly.

Here Goldstein dreamcasts an adaptation of One Taste Too Many:
What excitement! Not only is One Taste Too Many the debut novel for Kensington’s Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, but now there’s a wish-list casting call if they make the book into a movie. It is a good thing it is a wish list because not every actor who could play the role perfectly is either the right age now or still alive.


Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty-eight, Sarah Blair reluctantly swaps her luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a law firm receptionist job in Wheaton, Alabama. With her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, and some clumsy domestic skills, she’s the polar opposite of her bubbly twin, Emily—an ambitious chef determined to take her culinary ambitions to the top at a local gourmet restaurant.

Sarah knew starting over would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by Emily’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!

Space only allows casting consideration for a limited number of roles here. The rest will be filled by auditions and casting agent recommendations.

Sarah Blair – tall, willowy, clumsy and inept in the kitchen – age 28 –younger Sandra Bullock (think Ms. Congeniality or Ya-Ya Sisterhood) or perhaps Jennifer Garner or Claire Foy

Emily – Sarah’s twin – small, cheerleader type, a pro in the kitchen – age 28 – a very young Kristin Chenoweth or perhaps Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lawrence, or Sweet Home Alabama’s Reese Witherspoon.

Bill – the ex – handsome, debonair, and must make a good corpse – Scott Eastwood

Peter –police chief – intelligent, easy on the eyes – Andrew Garfield or Chris Hemsworth

Harlan – Sarah’s attorney boss, clever, thoughtful, short – Alan Ladd, Matt Damon or James Wolk

Jane – red-headed fireball – Christina Hendricks, Jessica Chastain, Amy Adams, or Bryce Dallas Howard

Marcus – chef who loves clogs and balloon pants - Mario Batali

Grace – chef - elegant one of a kind – Grace Jones

Jacob – chef - real estate developer – Paul Walker or Ryan Reynolds

Richard – chef - Jared Leto or Johnny Depp

RahRah – the most important character – Siamese Cat – chocolate point – must have attitude but is sleeker and sharper looking than Grumpy the Cat --- open casting call – will be well treated – own dressing room/stock of tuna/a trainer will be engaged for support and comfort.
Visit Debra H. Goldstein's website.

The Page 69 Test: One Taste Too Many.

--Marshal Zeringue

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fran Hawthorne's "The Heirs"

Fran Hawthorne spent more than three decades as a reporter and editor (on staff at Fortune and BusinessWeek; as a regular contributor to The New York Times and many other publications), and as the author of award-winning nonfiction books, before finally returning to her childhood dream: writing fiction.

Her debut novel The Heirs was published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press in May 2018 and sold out its first printing within two months. It’s a story of second-generation Holocaust guilt among soccer families in suburban New Jersey in 1999.

Here Hawthorne imagines the dream cast for the movie version of The Heirs:
Four of the six main characters in The Heirs are women over 40; in fact, one is 72 years old. In an industry where women are ignored after age 30, I figure that my casting call would attract some attention.

I mean, how could Barbra Streisand turn down the juicy part of Rose Ritter, a no-nonsense Jewish grandmother who has refused for 50 years to discuss how she survived the Holocaust in Poland? Rose even lived in Streisand’s native Brooklyn for many years.

Angelina Jolie actually looks more like my vision of Natalie, the cousin -– tall, confident, stylish -- rather than the more fumbling protagonist Eleanor But I don’t suppose she’d settle for a Best Supporting Oscar. Okay, Jolie can be Eleanor; I’ll just rewrite Eleanor’s description a little. (A lot.)

Too bad Mark Ruffalo has gone grey. I picture the sexy, divorced soccer coach, also named Mark, as the version of Ruffalo in the 2010 film The Kids Are All Right.

Obviously, Rosanne Korenberg (co-executive producer of I, Tonya) will produce the film. She says my novel is “a compelling read.”

And might there be a bit part for me? Perhaps Rose’s mother in Poland? After all, I did some acting in community theater about 30 years ago. And I know exactly what the author wants in every character.
Visit Fran Hawthorne's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Eric Rauchway's "Winter War"

Eric Rauchway is a distinguished historian and expert on the Progressive and New Deal eras at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of several acclaimed books on the subject, including The Money Makers, The Great Depression and the New Deal, and Blessed Among Nations, and has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, Dissent, and The American Prospect.

Here Rauchway dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal:
Winter War covers the conflict between Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover in the months between the 1932 election and Roosevelt's first inauguration in March 1933. It was an especially fraught period in US and world history: the depression worsened into a crippling bank panic, Hitler took power in Germany, and Japan rejected the League of Nations—all while the defeated Hoover still held the presidency and Roosevelt remained a private citizen.

If I were making it into a movie, I would write it from the point of view of the aides to the two men, as indeed for the book I relied largely on the diaries and correspondence of their aides. Making the staff the story helps us, I think, to understand what kind of people flocked to these leaders' political agendas—much as The West Wing sometimes did. Roosevelt's aides were, many of them, marginalized figures: Jews, Catholics, disabled people (like Roosevelt himself) and politically active women. Hoover, by contrast, tended to attract and employ middle-aged white men with firm views. Over the period of time the book covers, Roosevelt's people had to learn to move out of the margins, and to wield power; Hoover's men learned that while they had to give up power, they did not have to accept defeat.

So now the fun part: casting; just for fun, keeping myself to living actors. I'd like to see Alec Baldwin and Stephen Root as Roosevelt and Hoover, respectively. They both have great range, and about the right look, and I have tremendous respect for actors who have both comic and dramatic chops, as I think they do. But as I say, if I were writing a movie I'd put the two presidents into important, but not point-of-view, roles.

In the Hoover camp, I'd want to see Garret Dillahunt as James MacLafferty, Hoover's informal liaison to Congress and a real political operator; Kurt Fuller as Edgar Rickard, Hoover's business partner (who, while Hoover was not addressing the bank panic, quietly withdrew the president's money for emergency use); Ray McKinnon as Ray Lyman Wilbur, the pious Secretary of the Interior; Michael Stuhlbarg as Hoover's press officer Theodore Joslin, who was deeply afraid for the president's life; and John Goodman as Ernest Walker Sawyer, a political operative who was sure the Republican Party's future in California lay in forgetting about the black vote and going after the Klan, small businessmen, and white evangelicals.

In the Roosevelt camp: John Turturro as Louis Howe, the loyal aide who began working with Roosevelt in the earliest days of his political career (no slight on Turturro, but Howe described himself as "one of the four ugliest men, if what is left of me can be dignified by the name of man, in the State of New York"); Noah Segan as the fixer Bob Jackson (not the later Supreme Court justice; this Bob Jackson partied with Joe Kennedy and arranged to get illegal liquor during Prohibition); and Cherry Jones as Molly Dewson, the head of the women's division and, as another Roosevelt aide said, the best "she-politician" in the business.

And for good measure, for the First Ladies, Margo Martindale as Lou Henry Hoover and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Eleanor Roosevelt.
Learn more about Winter War and follow Eric Rauchway on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Eric Rauchway's Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 26, 2018

Steph Post's "Walk in the Fire"

[editor's note: this entry was first published January 2018]

Steph Post is the author of A Tree Born Crooked (2014) and Lightwood (2017) as well as a short story writer, reader, teacher and dog lover (among many other things...).

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Walk in the Fire:
Walk in the Fire is the sequel to my 2017 novel Lightwood and therefore many of the casting choices are the same as the list I created for that book. I will stand by Margo Martindale playing Sister Tulah until the day I die…

As with any new story, however, there are additions to the line-up and so here are my actor choices for the characters new to the Cannon saga.

Clive Grant- Seth Gilliam

Gilliam might not be the most well-known actor, but you’d recognize him for sure if you’ve ever seen The Wire (Sgt. Carver) or The Walking Dead (Father Gabriel). I actually had Gilliam’s earnest smile in my head as I writing Clive’s character, so I think he’d be perfect for the role.

Everett Weaver- Javier Bardem

This is hard one, because although I can see Weaver so clear in my head, I didn’t have anyone particular in mind when I was writing the character. Javier Bardem could certainly pull off the creepiness of this character, but I’d give a chameleon actor like Gary Oldman a chance in a heartbeat.

George Kingfisher- Lance Reddick

Reddick is the actor that first comes to mind when I think of Kingfisher. This part needs an actor who could completely control a room just with his eyes and I think Reddick could do so. I wouldn’t say no to Idris Elba, though, if he was interested in the role…

Victoria Lopez- Zoe Saldana

In the novel, we only hear Lopez through her phone conversations with Clive, but I’m sure she’d have screen time in the movie. This role requires a tough, no-nonsense type of woman and I think Saldana would be perfect.

Miguel- Oscar Isaac

It’s a small role, but I’d love to see Isaac take it on.

Lesser- Freddie Highmore

Another small role, but an important one, and Highmore could definitely make the most of his limited screen time.
Visit Steph Post's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Steph Post & Juno.

My Book, The Movie: Lightwood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Simon R. Green's "Murder in the Dark"

Simon R. Green was born in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England, where he still lives. He is the author of more than fifty science fiction and fantasy novels.

His new novel is Murder in the Dark.

Here Green shares some thoughts on casting an adaptation of the novel for the screen:
I never create a character with any particular actor in mind. They tend to be based on people I know; a bit from one, another bit from another. When it comes to casting, I honestly don’t know. It would depend more on what the take on my material is, and who they’ve chosen as director. My work has been optioned repeatedly, but as yet no one’s actually made anything. Apart from the one film I wrote myself, Judas Ghost. And I couldn’t be happier with how the casting on that one worked out.
Visit Simon R. Green's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 19, 2018

Elliott J. Gorn's "Mother Jones"

Elliott J. Gorn is Joseph A. Gagliano Chair in American Urban History at Loyola University Chicago. He is author of several books, including Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year that Made America's Public Enemy Number One. His latest book is Let the People See: The Story of Emmett Till.

Here Gorn shares some ideas for the lead in an adaptation about his book, Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America:
I just finished a book about the 1955 murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi. Let the People See tells the story of the racist lynching of the fourteen-year-old who whistled at a white woman, the trial of his killers, and how the memory of those events changed over the years. I won’t ever make a movie about Emmett Till because good documentaries have already appeared, and now Hollywood is producing a feature film.

But I would love to help make a movie about a book I wrote a few years ago, Mother Jones, The Most Dangerous Woman in America.

Who? Mother Jones was one of the most famous Americans back in 1910 or 1920. She was an old woman, an Irish famine immigrant, widowed, poor. Yet she knew presidents and captains of industry. She was the Johnny Appleseed of activists, especially organizing workers, especially coal miners. Her friend the author Upton Sinclair, described her at the podium: “she had force, she had wit, she had the fire of determination; she was the walking wrath of God.”

She regaled her audiences with stories. She’d describe the prisoner who told her that he’d stolen a pair of shoes; you should have stolen a railroad, Mother Jones said, then you’d be a United States Senator. She told how, when asked her address by a Congressional Committee, she replied my address is like my shoes, it follows me wherever I go. She’d admonish women audiences not to be ladylike, because God Almighty made the women, but the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies. And she’d tell them all to pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living. Tough men wept, their wives cheered, and all stood up for the union.

We keep hearing that Hollywood has no good roles for older women. The role of Mother Jones is made to order, not some historical romance or mythical figure, but a real flesh and blood woman, straight out of history, who faced prison, armed guards, and the army in defense of workers’ rights. Some friends of mine have even written a fine script about Mother Jones in the Colorado Coal Wars. Here is a great role about a great woman, just waiting for a great actress. Meryl? Frances? Judy? Helen?
Learn more about Mother Jones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Rosemary Simpson's "Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets"

Rosemary Simpson is the author of two historical novels, The Seven Hills of Paradise and Dreams and Shadows, and the Gilded Age Mysteries, What the Dead Leave Behind, Lies that Comfort and Betray, and Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets.

Here Simpson shares her take on dreamcasting adaptations of her novels:
I have to admit that I rarely picture an actor playing any of the characters I develop in the Gilded Age Mystery series. I think that's because I know them so well and have such a clear picture of them in my head that they don't closely resemble any real individuals. I've also seen enough film adaptations of novels I've enjoyed, and some I haven't, to realize that no matter how good the actor's portrayal, it can never match the scene I imagined as I read the book. That's the beauty of the written word. What the writer writes calls up a slightly different conception of his reality in every reader's imagination.

So I'll back off from trying to suggest who could or should play Prudence MacKenzie or Geoffrey Hunter or even Josiah Gregory. If the Gilded Age Mysteries ever hit the large or small screen I'll happily deposit the check and turn my characters over to someone else. They won't belong to me anymore.
Visit Rosemary Simpson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 16, 2018

Catherine Reef's "Mary Shelley"

Catherine Reef is the author of more than 40 nonfiction books, including Noah Webster: Man of Many Words, Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life, Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse, Victoria: Portrait of a Queen, and other highly acclaimed biographies for young people. She lives in College Park, Maryland.

Here Reef shares a scenario for adapting her latest young adult biography, Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein's Creator, for the big screen:
My Dinner with Frankenstein

On an unspecified date in the eighteenth century, on an Alpine summit overlooking a sea of ice, Victor Frankenstein encountered the intelligent creature he had built and endowed with life. This is a pivotal scene in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as the creature informs his creator (and the reader) about all that has happened to him since he ventured alone into the world.

Imagine a film built around this section of the novel but set more than two hundred years later, in 2018. A luxury resort has been built at that mountain site, complete with a four-star restaurant and vast windows that offer a stunning view of sunset on the glacier. Victor and the creature meet there for dinner.

For Victor, the encounter is a surprise. He has climbed to this mountain retreat to be alone with his feelings after the murder of his young brother William. Having anticipated his arrival, the creature has reserved a table and is waiting for Victor at the bar. Fearful of causing a potentially violent scene, Victor accepts the creature’s invitation to dine.

A host leads them to their table. We observe that Victor is dark-haired and slight and looks to be in his early thirties. The lumbering creature towers over him and everyone else in the room. Diners gaze down at their plates, having been made uncomfortable by his watery yellow eyes and shriveled skin. Once seated, the pair orders wine, and we listen as the creature tells his story.

He explains how he learned to speak and read by observing humans. He admits to bestowing kindness, secretly, on a country family, only to suffer hurt and rejection upon stepping forward to offer friendship. “I was benevolent and good; misery has made me a fiend,” he says. Victor urges hope and insists that love and charity dwell in the human heart, but the creature counters that humans’ eyes have been clouded by prejudice: “Where they ought to see a feeling and kind friend, they behold only a detestable monster.”

A waiter unobtrusively serves dinner. Victor has ordered papet vaudois, a heavy meal of sausages, potatoes, and leeks. The creature, accustomed to foraging for acorns, has chosen a salad. Yet as they eat and the creature continues his story, it is he who displays a hearty appetite. Victor plays with his food, and when the creature declares “everlasting war” against humanity and especially “him who had formed me,” Victor’s face takes on the pallor of indigestion. His companion then confesses that in his rage he strangled William.

Victor sits sick and bewildered as coffee is brought to the table. Filmgoers hear his voiced-over thoughts, how he wishes he were at home with Elizabeth, his intended bride, curling up to read a good book and forgetting every care; how he believes that he bears responsibility for William’s death. The creature then spells out what is to happen next. Victor must return to his laboratory and fashion another being, a female companion for his first creation. Initially Victor refuses, but the creature leans close and taps a thick finger on the table as he whispers a threat, mafia-style: Comply, or “I will work at your destruction, nor finish until I desolate your heart, so that you curse the hour of your birth.”

The meal finished, a benumbed Victor separates from his dining companion, who has promised to be watching him. He wanders the grounds of the lodge, until sitting beside a fountain he gives way to miserable tears.

The movie now cuts to another setting for a final, brief scene, because we must remember that my book is about Mary Shelley, Frankenstein’s author. We see Mary, a twenty-first-century teen, type the words “miserable tears” on her laptop and click “save,” before she answers a call on her iPhone. “Hey, Percy,” she says. “What’s up?”
The Page 99 Test: Mary Shelley.

Writers Read: Catherine Reef.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Norman S. Poser's "The Birth of Modern Theatre"

Norman S. Poser is professor emeritus at Brooklyn Law School.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, The Birth of Modern Theatre: Rivalry, Riots, and Romance in the Age of Garrick:
A film based on The Birth of Modern Theatre? Why not? The book has plenty of action, taking place both on and off the stage, as well as fascinating characters: love affairs and romances; bitter backstage rivalries and close friendships; audiences that consider themselves essential participants in the theatrical experience and riot when they don’t care for a play or a performer; a criminal trial over a claimed sexual assault; a zany restaurant and lecture center run by an eccentric actor; an out-of-control bigamous duchess; and much more.

So who should play the leading roles in the film? I have a few suggestions.

The most important character in the book is David Garrick, actor, playwright, and theatre manager, a man of short stature (only 5 foot 4) but with boundless energy and talent to match. He was as compelling in comedies and farces as in Shakespeare’s tragic roles. His management of the Drury Lane theatre for thirty years made it the envy of Europe. He charmed everyone: dukes and earls sought him out; his circle of friends included artists, politicians, and judges. His marriage to a Viennese dancer was a lifelong romance. My choice to play David Garrick is the versatile Dustin Hoffman.

Peg Woffington was the leading actress of her day. She was slightly taller than average, with a graceful figure, luminous eyes, and soft, full lips. The word “witchcraft” was often used to explain the hold she had on audiences, whom she thrilled as Shakespearean heroines, aristocratic ladies, and even as a young man about town. Before Garrick’s marriage, she had a steamy affair with him, which ended only when he refused to marry her. While she had a reputation for sexual promiscuity, she was devoid of hypocrisy. I would choose Scarlett Johansson to play Peg Woffington.

Samuel Foote was known for his skills as a social critic. In the plays he wrote (and starred in), he mercilessly lampooned corrupt politicians, hypocritical preachers, war profiteers, quack doctors, dishonest lawyers, social climbers, and other questionable or shady members of contemporary society. He was the leading wit and humorist of his day. But when he dared to satirize a member of the nobility, he found himself in deep trouble. Eddie Murphy should play the role of Samuel Foote.

Kitty Clive was the London stage’s queen of comedy. She delighted audiences as a giggling, plotting chambermaid, but also as the quick-witted Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Off the stage, her direct manner and kind heart made her a den mother to her colleagues. She was generous to those who pleased her but ready to unleash her fury on those who crossed her. Melissa McCarthy would be a natural as Kitty Clive.

Charles Macklin was rough and blunt in his speech and manner, irascible and didactic, with a temper that sometimes led to violence; he once killed a man in a backstage brawl and narrowly escaped hanging. But he was an innovative actor, who introduced natural, psychologically based acting to English audiences. His signature role was Shylock in The Merchant of Venice; for over forty years, his appearance in that role would guarantee a full house. He remained devoted to the theatre throughout his life, which spanned nearly a century. I would choose Al Pacino to play Charles Macklin.
Learn more about The Birth of Modern Theatre: Rivalry, Riots, and Romance in the Age of Garrick.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 12, 2018

David S. Heidler & Jeanne T. Heidler's "The Rise of Andrew Jackson"

David S. Heidler is an author and retired professor. Jeanne T. Heidler is professor emerita of history at the United States Air Force Academy. They have collaborated on numerous books, including the critically acclaimed Henry Clay: The Essential American and the award-winning Washington’s Circle: The Creation of the President.

Here the Heidlers dreamcast an adaptation of their latest book, The Rise of Andrew Jackson: Myth, Manipulation, and the Making of Modern Politics:
The Rise of Andrew Jackson is about Jackson’s quest for the presidency after the War of 1812 It features a large cast of characters, many of them major figures in the twelve-year political campaign that ultimately won the White House. Our preferences then are not necessarily contemporary but are guided by the aim of matching the physical characteristics of the original as closely as possible. Consequently, we’ve drawn our cast from people living and dead to include:

Andrew Jackson - Dennis Quaid
Young Rachel Jackson - a young Winona Ryder
Mature Rachel Jackson - a mature Olivia De Havilland
John Overton - Henry Fonda
Sam Houston - a young Howard Duff
John Henry Eaton - a young Jeff Daniels
Margaret O’Neale Timberlake - a young Ava Gardner
John Coffee - Billy Bob Thornton
John Quincy Adams - Paul Giamatti
Henry Clay - F. Murray Abraham
John Randolph - David Wenham
Martin Van Buren - a young David McCallum
John C Calhoun - William Atherton
Learn more about the book and author at David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler's website.

My Book, The Movie: Washington’s Circle.

The Page 99 Test: Washington’s Circle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 9, 2018

P. J. Vernon's "When You Find Me"

P. J. Vernon was born in South Carolina. He holds a PhD in immunology and published science before turning his hand to publishing fiction.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, When You Find Me:
While in grad school at Pitt Med, I was an extra in The Dark Night Rises’ stadium scene. I usually (and inappropriately) lead with this in all social settings… except the one it was almost-nearly-but-not-really-tangentially-relevant: my first call with United Talent Agency when my book-to-film agent was offering rep. Since I bungled pitching myself for All The Roles, here are my ideas for When You Find Me: The Movie.

My lit agent had rightfully prepped me for the UTA call with explicit instructions not to add my own Secret Diary castings for When You Find Me, so I was thrilled when my film agent asked! I obliged as follows…

Gray Godfrey has always been Rose Byrne in my mind (think less Bridesmaids and more Damages). My lit agent loved the idea of Jessica Chastain, which I also agree with. Angela Bassett would knock Detective Nina Palmer outta the park! As for Annie, I never really settled on who would be the best fit, but Charlotte Gainsbourg is a dead ringer for Charlotte Barfield.

And Joanna King? Patricia Clarkson has my vote. Her interpretation of Adora in Sharp Objects was chilling, and Adora and Joanna have quite a bit in common. But oh-my-gawd, I’d die to see Joan Crawford take on Joanna! Ditto Grace Kelly as Gray.

And a huge shout out to the narrators who brought the audio production of When You Find Me to life: Amy McFadden as Gray and Bahni Turpin as Nina. If I’m not mistaken, both do Film/TV. After listening to their amazing voice talent on Audible, I’d love to see them in any screen adaptation!

I believe that’s a When You Find Me casting call wrap!
Visit P. J. Vernon's website.

The Page 69 Test: When You Find Me.

Writers Read: P. J. Vernon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Montgomery McFate's "Military Anthropology"

Montgomery McFate is a cultural anthropologist who works on defense and national security issues. Currently, she is a professor in the Strategic and Operational Research Department at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Here McFate dreamcasts a film (or two) that might be adapted from her latest book, Military Anthropology: Soldiers, Scholars and Subjects at the Margins of Empire:
Military Anthropology has 9 chapters, each of which tells the story of an anthropologist in uniform who did something amazing, from the era of British colonialism in Africa all the way to the Vietnam War.

One of the chapters concerns Tom Harrisson, a British OSS officer who “went native” with a group of headhunting Kelabit tribe in Borneo during WWII. Harrisson was an iconoclastic military genius: he was ordered to build an intelligence network in Borneo, but instead built an army of barefoot warriors, armed with guns, spears, and blowpipes who eventually killed or captured over 1,500 Japanese with only eleven casualties. This was arguably one of the most successful unconventional warfare operations in history, yet it is almost entirely forgotten by both the military and anthropologists.

Harrisson was successful because he adopted the Kelabit mode of jungle stealth for hunting Japanese. He forced his men to go barefoot in Borneo so that their foot prints could not be identified by the Japanese. He forced his unit to eat the same food as the Kelabit, and live in their compounds. Harrisson also took one of the last surrenders of WWII. After the Armistice, a Japanese unit of 350 men was still marching through the Borneo jungle, unaware that the war had ended. Harrisson assembled a makeshift force, and set off into the jungle. After a two day battle, on the last day of October 1945, the Japanese commander handed Harrisson his sword.

Harrisson’s experiences in Borneo were the basis for Farewell to the King (1989), a terrible film. This time around, instead of a bare-chested Nick Nolte, the star should be Matt Damon or Hugh Jackman or Christian Bale. The leading man needs to be arrogant, charismatic and brilliant.

Another chapter from my book would also make a great movie. In 1937, a young British debutante named Ursula Graham Bower travelled to India. Her mother hoped that Ursula would meet a nice husband. But instead she hiked into the hills and encountered the Naga, a group of tribal headhunters. The Naga accepted her into their community and some even worshipped her as a goddess, believing that she was the reincarnation of the prophetess.

In 1942, it was clear that the Japanese were going to plow through Naga territory on their way to India. Ursula Graham Bower recruited, trained and organized the Naga to fight against the Japanese. She was the only woman to have a de facto combat command in the British Army during World War II. Bower’s Naga warriors were so effective that the Japanese – ironically – offered a bounty to the Naga of 100 rupees to bring in Bower’s head. American pilots nicknamed her the Jungle Queen and a comic was devoted to her exploits. Two BBC Radio 4 plays, The Naga Queen by John Horsley Denton and The Butterfly Hunt by Mathew Solon were based on her life, and that of her husband Tim Betts. In recognition of her bravery, although she never had an official military title or rank, she was honored as a Member of the Order of the British Empire and awarded the Lawrence of Arabia medal.

Ursula Graham Bower was fearless, independent, beautiful, brilliant and only 34 when she led the Naga in combat. Actresses with the grit and beauty to play her would be Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, or Kate Winslet.
Visit Montgomery McFate's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 5, 2018

Jennie Liu's "Girls on the Line"

Jennie Liu is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Having been brought up with an ear to two cultures, she has been fascinated by the attitudes, social policies, and changes in China each time she visits. She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and two young sons.

Here Liu dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Girls on the Line:
If you’re Asian, and maybe if you’re not, you’ll know about the release of the movie Crazy Rich Asians and Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I Loved Before (Netflix) in which Han held out for Asian lead.

That being said, I would love to see Katherine Hepburn (The Good Earth) play a part in Girls on the Line.

Just kidding. (Ms. Hepburn passed in 2003).

I’m a fan of the long shot or the little guy, so I like the idea of unknown Chinese or Chinese-American actors taking the leads, the two girls who age out of the orphanage, in Girls on the Line. Pulling in unknowns would help expand the presence of even more Asians in Hollywood, which is much needed. But I’d love to see some established actors in supporting roles, for they could guide the new actors and hopefully give the film some traction and good press. How about Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience) playing Yong, the boyfriend of ill-repute; Ming-Na (Joy Luck Club) in the role of Ma; and Constance Wu as Dali who helps in a birthing scene?
Visit Jennie Liu's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 2, 2018

Fernando Santos-Granero's "Slavery and Utopia"

Fernando Santos-Granero is a senior staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City, Panama, and a specialist on the Yanesha of Peruvian Amazonia. His books include Vital Enemies: Slavery, Predation, and the Amerindian Political Economy of Life.

Here Santos-Granero dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Slavery and Utopia: The Wars and Dreams of an Amazonian World Transformer:
While writing this book, it never occurred to me that it could be turned into a movie. Coming to think about it, I now believe that the story of the charismatic Amazonian shaman-chief Tasorentsi would make a captivating film, full of action, magic and drama. Since the life of its protagonist extended from 1875 to 1958, at least three actors would have to play his character. In the absence of professional Ashaninka actors, I would choose Native American actors Martin Sensmeier (acted in The Magnificent Seven, 2016), Adam Beach (acted in Suicide Squad, 2016), and the extraordinary Wes Studi (acted in Hostiles, 2017) to play the young, middle age, and mature Tasorentsi.

Javier Bardem would undoubtedly be great as Tasorentsi’s archenemy, Peruvian rubber extractor and slaver Francisco Vargas, who ordered the shaman-chief’s imprisonment and torture.

For the roles of the fanatical Franciscan friar Gabriel Sala, I would select Joaquin Phoenix; whereas for Ferdinand Stahl, the stern but compelling German-American Adventist pastor that inspired Tasorentsi to conceive the mixed shamanic-Christian creed that so much appealed to his people, I would go for John Ratzenberger.

Latino actors Richard Cabral and Benjamin Bratt would be perfect in the antagonistic roles of Samuel Figueroa, the scheming Rural Police Constable that relentlessly pursued Tasorentsi for subversive activities, and Carlos Gensollen, the incorruptible Army officer, who regarded with sympathy the plight of Ashaninka people.

Finally, I can see Native American actors Tina Keeper and Althea Sam playing the roles of Santana, Tasorentsi’s bright first wife and fellow preacher, and Lucrecia Pérez, his much younger second wife.

Because of the empathy, sensitivity and respect for indigenous lifeways that he displayed in Dance with Wolves, Kevin Costner would be my first choice for directing this film. If there is someone who could transform a scholarly non-fiction work like Slavery and Utopia into a work of art that would certainly be him.
Learn more about Slavery and Utopia at the University of Texas Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Michael Braddick's "The Common Freedom of the People"

Michael Braddick is Professor of History at the University of Sheffield, and has held academic positions and visiting Fellowships in the USA, France, and Germany. He has published widely on the social, political, and economic history of British and American society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His books include The Oxford Handbook of the English Revolution and God's Fury, England's Fire.

Here Braddick dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of his new book, The Common Freedom of the People: John Lilburne and the English Revolution:
This story is the perfect vehicle for James McAvoy.

Lilburne fought his political battles as a martyr rather than a soldier—his tribulations gave testimony of the righteousness of his cause. His sufferings were very real, including a savage public beating through the streets of London in 1638, sometimes appalling conditions of imprisonment and a lonely exile at the end of his life. In all he spent more than half of his adult life in prison or exile and survived three trials for his life (one under each of the governments under which he lived). He also fought at two of the major battles of the English civil war, was shot through the arm and nearly lost an eye during military drill.

He was not a big man—following the 1500 strokes with knotted cords he received in 1638 he referred to himself as a ‘stripling’—but he withstood all this, providing a standing indictment of the tyranny of all the regimes under which he lived.

His enemies blamed him for his tribulations. Consistently in trouble for what he published rather than any action he took, it was said that if he could just have kept his mouth shut he would have been fine. It is true that one reason he couldn’t keep his mouth shut was because he was almost monstrously self-involved—his treatment of his wife and family now make difficult reading. But he believed in many important things, and although the importance of John Lilburne was prominent among them, he championed freedoms we should all cherish.

The film will have to capture this suffering martyr, but also a trickster hero. Having been sent into exile 1651 on pain of death he nonetheless returned two years later. In order to kill him (which they pretty clearly wanted to do) the government needed merely to prove he was in the country—easy enough since he was in court and had sworn that he was John Lilburne. But he spent a morning challenging them to prove that he was the same man as the Lieutenant Colonel John Lilburne named in the indictment. For the only time in his career he had dropped his hard won and usually proudly-worn military title, publishing instead as plain Mr John Lilburne.

So, James McAvoy: slender, a smile constantly playing at the corner of his mouth, but able to portray the inner strength (or recklessness) necessary to speak truth to power.
Learn more about The Common Freedom of the People at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 26, 2018

Scott J. Holliday's "Machine City"

Scott J. Holliday was born and raised in Detroit. In addition to a lifelong love of books and reading, he has pursued a range of curiosities and interests, including glassblowing, boxing, and much more. He is the author of Punishment, the first book in his series featuring Detective John Barnes; Stonefly; and Normal, which earned him recognition in’s Literary Blockbuster Challenge.

Here Holliday dreamcasts an adaptation of Machine City, his second novel featuring Detective Barnes:
Someone said to me last night, "Tom Hardy should play Barnes." I think they were right. I don't tend to think of a real human being as my protagonist or antagonist, but the image of Hardy as John Barnes just fits perfectly well.

Also, Morgan Freeman should play Barnes's partner, William Franklin.

If I were directing I would take cues from Se7en, not just in casting Mr. Freeman. Machine City has a dark, rainy city vibe that is often associated with Detroit. I would move the viewer through the seedy underground and be relenting about the dreary, painful mood of it all. There's light at the end of the tunnel, after all, and like all the great movies there has to be a lot of hardship and pain before we get to see the light. Machine City has been labeled a technothriller, but it's hardly that. The technology is just a tool used by present day, gritty detectives, and that's where I'd keep it.
Visit Scott J. Holliday's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

James Tucker's "The Holdouts"

James Tucker is the author of the acclaimed Buddy Lock thrillers Next of Kin and The Holdouts. He holds a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and has worked as an attorney at an international law firm.

Currently he manages real estate strategy at a Fortune 50 company, where his work includes frequent travel throughout the United States. Fascinated by crimes of those in power, he draws on these cases for his novels.

One of four fiction writers awarded a position at a past Mentor Series at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Tucker has attended the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop in Portland, where he was mentored by author Walter Kirn. He lives near Minneapolis with his wife, the painter Megan Rye, and their family.

Here Tucker dreamcasts an adaptation of The Holdouts:
Tough choice. Buddy Lock is about 6’1”, with short black hair. He carries an extra 20 pounds. Ben Affleck would be a good fit, but he might still be in rehab. Another choice: Keanu Reeves. Or we could go younger, say one of the Hemsworths. The role requires a tough guy exterior with a heart of gold who can be a new father figure for a ten-year-old boy.

Mei, Buddy’s fiancée who is a beautiful Asian woman who can fight off enemies and care for the boy, could be played by Constance Wu or Christine Ko.

Ward Mills should be Leo all day long.
Visit James Tucker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 22, 2018

D. S. Butler's "Bring Them Home"

Born in Kent, D. S. Butler grew up as an avid reader with a love for crime fiction and mysteries. She has worked as a scientific officer in a hospital pathology laboratory and as a research scientist.

After obtaining a PhD in biochemistry, she worked at the University of Oxford for four years before moving to the Middle East.

About Butler's new novel, Bring Them Home, from the publisher:
A perfect village. A perfect crime.

When two young girls disappear from their primary school, the village of Heighington is put on high alert—and not for the first time. Called in to investigate, Detective Karen Hart is sure that parallels with a previous disappearance are anything but coincidental.

DS Hart is still reeling from a case she tried and failed to solve eighteen months ago, when a young woman vanished without a trace. She’s no nearer to the truth of what happened to Amy Fisher, but with two children missing now too, the stakes have never been higher. As she looks to the past for clues, she must confront her own haunting loss, a nightmare she is determined to spare other families.

Hart soon realises that nothing in this close-knit Lincolnshire community is what it seems. Pursuing the investigation with personal vengeance, she finds herself in conflict with her scrupulous new boss, but playing by the rules will have to wait. Because while there’s no shortage of suspects, the missing girls are running out of time…
Here Butler dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of Bring Them Home:
I don’t usually imagine the characters as actors when I write, so I hadn’t considered this before. It’s a fun question. For the main character, Detective Sergeant Karen Hart, I’d pick Surrane Jones. Surrane is a fantastic British actress who has taken on some really strong roles. I think she’d do a brilliant job portraying the main character. She’d be able to capture Karen’s toughness as well as her vulnerability.
Visit D.S. Butler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Alyssa Palombo's "The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel"

Alyssa Palombo is a writer living and working in Buffalo, NY. She attended Canisius College in Buffalo, where she majored in English and creative writing with a minor in music. She is a classically trained mezzo-soprano who also dabbles in playing piano. When not writing, Palombo can usually be found reading, hanging out and laughing way too hard at nonsensical inside jokes with friends, traveling (or dreaming of her next travel destination), at a concert, or planning for next Halloween. She is a metalhead and a self-proclaimed French fry connoisseur. She also owns way too many hoodies, pairs of sunglasses, and pajamas, but never enough books.

Palombo is the author of three historical novels, The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, and The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel:
I usually have a hard time picturing specific actors playing my characters – I’ll usually have a good pick for one or two of the main ones, but not all of them. However, with my most recent release, The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel, it just so happened that I “cast” the main players very early on. Below are who I would want to play my quartet of main characters should the book become a movie (or a TV series – looking at you, Netflix!).

Katrina Van Tassel – Holliday Grainger

I first saw Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia Borgia on Showtime’s The Borgias, and have seen her in a few things since – I think she’s a great actress. She is exactly how I pictured Katrina Van Tassel in my retelling in terms of physical features, and based on the roles she’s done in the past I know she would be perfect for the character!

Ichabod Crane – Tom Mison

This one miiiiight be cheating a little bit, because of course Tom Mison has already played Ichabod Crane – on FOX’s modern reimagining of the show, entitled simply Sleepy Hollow. I adored the first two seasons of that show, and as I wrote my novel I couldn’t help but picture my Ichabod as looking like Mison’s version – very handsome and gentlemanly!

Brom Van Brunt – Chris Hemsworth

So technically in Washington Irving’s original story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” Brom Van Brunt is described as having dark hair, but for whatever reason I just could not picture him as anything other than a handsome blonde. Chris Hemsworth fits my mental picture exactly, and I bet he would play a good villain!

Charlotte Jansen – Charlotte Wessels

This one is also probably cheating, since Charlotte Wessels isn’t an actress – she’s a singer, the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Delain. However, she is who my character of Charlotte Jansen is named after – as my character is of Dutch descent, I named her after my two favorite singers, who just both happen to be badass Dutch ladies, Charlotte Wessels and Floor Jansen – and so I couldn’t help but picture my Charlotte as looking like the real one.
Visit Alyssa Palombo's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Violinist of Venice.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence.

--Marshal Zeringue