Saturday, September 21, 2019

Lynn Cullen's "The Sisters of Summit Avenue"

Lynn Cullen is the bestselling author of historical novels The Sisters of Summit Avenue, Twain’s End, Mrs. Poe, Reign of Madness, and I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter.

Here the author shares some thoughts on an adaptation of the book:
My dad, Bill Doughty, made a Christmas card every year. Each year he thought of new ways to present his family, proudly celebrating what it was like to be a Doughty (which was just being an ordinary middle-class American, but that did not dim his pride.) His everyday scenes included one of the eleven of us gathered around a birthday cake. Another showed us celebrating the seasons, some of us swinging tennis rackets, others in Halloween costumes, he himself pushing a lawn-mower. He told a story in pictures of his deep appreciation for his riches, which he always measured in family.

It has occurred to me that I'm doing something similar with The Sisters of Summit Avenue. A departure from my previous books because it centers around a fictitious family instead of a historical figure, (although there's plenty of Depression-era history in it,) I call it my It's a Wonderful Life. As in that favorite old film, the sisters in the book stand to lose what they do have because they pine for what they don't have. They have to learn what it means to be truly rich. But Bill Doughty knew this all along.

I didn’t picture actors when I wrote The Sisters of Summit Avenue. I started writing about the real people in my life and then, over the course of the four years that it took me to finish the book, the characters took on lives of their own and began telling their own stories. They were no longer the people I knew, nor were they Hollywood actors that I pictured, but were individuals in their own right. It was as if they were making their own movie. I just had to “film” it for them.
Learn more about the book and author at Lynn Cullen's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Sisters of Summit Avenue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Derek Milman's "Swipe Right For Murder"

Derek Milman has worked as a playwright, screenwriter, film school teacher, DJ, and underground humor magazine publisher. A classically trained actor, he has performed on stages across the country and appeared in numerous TV shows, commercials, and films.

Milman currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, where he writes full time.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Swipe Right for Murder, his second novel for young adults:
Someone recently tweeted that if Timothée Chalamet didn't play Aidan, my main character, in a movie adaptation, they would be enraged. Truthfully, Chalamet might be better suited for the slightly older Shiloh (the Eve Kendall to Aidan's Roger Thornhill, to make a North by Northwest comparison here, a film which heavily influenced the book, except I upended the usual classic Hollywood structure and made the novel super queer). The truth is, I don't know of many teenage actors who would be cast in YA adaptations. I'm guessing the world doesn't either, since Hollywood grooms these actors very young now, usually playing the young imperiled kids to an established movie star in an action film. This gives them a profile, and from there they make their first leap into a leading part, often in a YA adaptation. So they are often unknown to the general public (like Jennifer Lawrence was) when this happens. All that said, Jake Gyllenhaal would make a fantastic Scotty, leader of the Swans, an Erik Killmonger type, and I kept picturing Judith Light as Aidan's mom when I was writing (which I don't usually do), though she is too old most likely, so it would have to me someone with a similar energy, maybe Laura Dern, Amy Ryan, or even Kristen Bell.
Visit Derek Milman's website.

Writers Read: Derek Milman.

The Page 69 Test: Swipe Right for Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tyler Hayes's "The Imaginary Corpse"

Tyler Hayes is a science fiction and fantasy writer from Northern California. He writes stories he hopes will show people that not only are they not alone, but we might just make things better.

Here Hayes dreamcasts an adaptation of his debut novel, The Imaginary Corpse:
Given the mixed-media nature of the world(s) of The Imaginary Corpse, I picture it being, at least in part, an animated film, so I go into any dream-casting thinking about voice more than look. Even if some one of the more photorealistic Friends are played by live actors, prostheses and other special effects wouldn't look out of place in the film.

When I think of Tippy's voice, I think of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A softened, kinder version of the cadences he used in Brick or Looper (well, with way fewer impressions of Bruce Willis) would really capture the spirit of our triceratops detective.

For Spindleman, I hear Matthew Mercer. The children he voices on Critical Role are regularly both heartwarming and heart-rending, and he would lend Spindleman the appropriate pathos.

For Chip Dixon, I'd go with Shameik Moore, Miles Morales himself. He can invest the character with the right feeling of optimism and that little twist of snark.

It'd be hard to convince me Miss Mighty should be anyone but Stephanie Beatriz. Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Rosa Diaz is nearly there already; give her a little of the Brie Larson-acted/Kelly Sue DeConnick-written version of Carol Danvers and you're basically at the finish line.

For Big Business, I hear Clancy Brown, with all that genial Lex Luthor menace.

And finally, for the Man in the Coat, I want Ron Perlman. I hear the Man's few lines dripping with a cocktail of pseudo-nicety and toxic masculinity that I can hear in his portrayals of Slade on Teen Titans or Clay in Sons of Anarchy (okay, maybe Clay isn't all that dignified…).

To direct, if they're willing to make the jump from TV to movies, I'd love to get Kat Morris and Liz Artinian, the directorial pair for most of my favorite episodes of Steven Universe. They know how to write something that's kind with a deep stripe of fear, and they've proven they can handle stories about trauma and mental health with aplomb.
Visit Tyler Hayes's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Gilly Macmillan's "The Nanny"

Gilly Macmillan is the Edgar nominated and New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew, The Perfect Girl, Odd Child Out, I Know You Know, and The Nanny. She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she's worked as a part-time lecturer in photography, and now writes full-time. She resides in Bristol, England.

Here Macmillan dreamcasts an adaptation of The Nanny:
If they make The Nanny into a film, I would love to see Emma Stone play Jo, the young widow who is at the centre of the story. Emma Stone has that girl next door look but can turn on a haughty look. The actress playing Jo needs to be able to pack a punch in every expression on screen and Emma Stone could most definitely deliver that.

For the nanny character, Hannah, I think either Frances McDormand or Olivia Colman. Hannah is a nuanced character. She needs to very watchable.

For Ruby, the youngest character in the book at just 11 years old. I think a new and undiscovered actress should play her. Somebody who can bring a touch of tomboy, a fierce intelligence and a lot of bravery.

My favourite character in the book is the complex and surprising Lady Virginia Holt. She is Jo’s mother and Ruby’s grandmother and the actress playing her would need to have some real presence and skill. Judy Parfitt the English actress who plays Sister Monica Joan in Call the Midwife would be perfection.

The setting of the book was something I thought about a lot while writing it. I had in mind a medium-sized and very historic English country house like Great Chalfield Manor here in the UK, which is often used in film and tv productions, including standing in for Thomas Cromwell’s childhood home in Wolf Hall. The atmosphere of Great Chalfield Manor is what I tried to conjure up in the book, but the story could just as easily be set in the US in a Great Gatsby-type house and I’d be thrilled to see that. I loved the crazy wildness of Jay Gatsby’s house in Baz Luhrman’s film. A faded version of that would be perfect, but I could also see the book set in a very grand English country house like the one used for Downton Abbey. Most of the book is set in Lake Hall and it’s as central to the story as any of the characters so it would be an incredibly important choice for the director and production team. And it has to have a lake…

Director should be Yorgos Lanthimos or the Coen Brothers.
Visit Gilly Macmillan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Melissa Payne's "The Secrets of Lost Stones"

For as long as she can remember, Melissa Payne has been telling stories in one form or another—from high school newspaper articles to a graduate thesis to blogging about marriage and motherhood. But she first learned the real importance of storytelling when she worked for a residential and day treatment center for abused and neglected children. There she wrote speeches and letters to raise funds for the children. The truth in those stories was piercing and painful and written to invoke in the reader a call to action: to give, to help, to make a difference. Payne’s love of writing and sharing stories in all forms has endured.

She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with her husband and three children, a friendly mutt, a very loud cat, and the occasional bear.

Here Payne dreamcasts an adaptation of The Secrets of Lost Stones, her first novel:
As I wrote The Secrets of Lost Stones, the story played like a movie in my head, but when I sat down to answer which actresses would play Jess, Star and Lucy, I drew a blank. Jess is a grief-stricken mother who blames herself for her young son’s death. Star is a fifteen-year-old homeless teen who believes that she is better off alone and living on the streets than with a family. And Lucy is an eccentric elderly woman who has a gift for tying loose ends for people who are hurting. When I wrote these characters I imagined their motives, their deepest fears, a glimpse of their souls, but not necessarily their faces. Until now. So here goes. For spirited and strong Star, I’d choose Rooney Mara from Tanner Hall, but with the hair and edginess she brought to her epic role in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Jess is best portrayed by Hilary Swank as Holly Kennedy in P.S. I Love You because she nailed grief and the emotional hardship of trying to live through the worst kind of loss in that role. And finally, Lucy, spicy and sweet, quirky and insightful, but mostly loveable. Who better to play her than Betty White? Because, you know, Betty White.
Visit Melissa Payne's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Melissa Payne & Max.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Madeline Stevens's "Devotion"

In Madeline Stevens's debut novel, Devotion:
Ella is flat broke: wasting away on bodega coffee, barely making rent, seducing the occasional strange man who might buy her dinner. Unexpectedly, an Upper East Side couple named Lonnie and James rescue her from her empty bank account, offering her a job as a nanny and ushering her into their moneyed world. Ella’s days are now spent tending to the baby in their elegant brownstone or on extravagant excursions with the family. Both women are just 26—but unlike Ella, Lonnie has a doting husband and son, unmistakable artistic talent, and old family money.

Ella is mesmerized by Lonnie’s girlish affection and disregard for the normal boundaries of friendship and marriage. Convinced there must be a secret behind Lonnie’s seemingly effortless life, Ella begins sifting through her belongings, meticulously cataloguing lipstick tubes and baby teeth and scraps of writing. All the while, Ella’s resentment grows, but so does an inexplicable and dizzying attraction. Soon Ella will be immersed so deeply in her cravings—for Lonnie’s lifestyle, her attention, her lovers—that she may never come up for air.
Here Stevens dreamcasts an adaptation of Devotion:
I wasn’t picturing any specific actresses in Ella or Lonnie’s roles as I wrote. Imagining the movie of my book seemed like counting my chickens before they’d hatched—like I might jinx it! Now that the book is published I can fantasize a bit more. I loved Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch and Thoroughbreds. I also think Joey King is an amazing actress. Both of these women are young, and have mostly played teenage roles, but the characters are only twenty-six, they’d need to look quite baby-faced. More than using anyone I know, though, I love the idea of finding a new face, especially for Ella, because she’s an outsider in the story.

And if this were another time (and the book was being made into an Italian film!) Monica Vitti would be Lonnie. If I could do nothing but stare at Monica Vitti’s face for the rest of my life—well, that would be okay.
Visit Madeline Stevens's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Scott Johnston's "Campusland"

Scott Johnston grew up in Manhattan and graduated from college in the 1980s. From there, Wall Street (Salomon Brothers of Liar's Poker fame) and a stint in Hong Kong. On the side, he opened a couple of nightclubs in New York City and wrote popular books on beer drinking and golf betting games. More recently, Johnston shifted gears and co-founded two tech startups. He lives in Westchester with his wife and three children.

Here Johnston dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Campusland:
I know this sounds unlikely, but I really didn't have any actors in mind when I wrote Campusland. There were one or two characters where I had actual, real people in mind, but perhaps it's best to keep that to myself. Also, Campusland is a (biting) satire. I happen to think this is by far the most difficult form of fiction to translate to film. Anyone remember Bonfire of the Vanities, the movie? Maybe the worst movie made from the best book ever. None of the carefully crafted tone of the book was captured by the movie. Tom Wolfe had to distance himself. The fact is, arch humor is tricky to get across. Some of my favorite scenes in Campusland are really difficult for me to imagine on the big screen. One director who I do think could do it would be Whit Stillman (see: Metropolitan).

Okay, casting. My protagonist, Eph Russell, is in his mid-thirties, is boyishly good looking, and a bit naive. I'm thinking Paul Rudd? Maybe Ron Livingston? (He of my second favorite movie ever, Office Space.)

Next up is Lulu Harris. This is a tough one - Lulu is only 19, so I don't think anyone over 25 should play the role. She should be beautiful in a severe, jaded way. She should be able to turn on the charm but have a very hard edge constantly lurking below the surface. Very ambitious and also scheming and cynical. I'm going to nominate Emma Watson. (Guessing, though, given her politics, she would turn down any part that involved leveling a false allegation of sexual assault.)

For Milton Strauss, president of Devon University, I have to go with Paul Giamatti, since he's the son of the great Bart Giamatti, who was president of Yale when I was there.

The other major character is Red Wheeler. He's a stoner cum campus radical. Red dreadlocks. Honestly, I'm at a loss here. I'm imagining Sean Penn circa Fast Times, but I just don't know who the twenty-something actors are right now. Any suggestions?
Learn more about Campusland and follow Scott Johnston on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Campusland.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Kassandra Montag's "After the Flood"

Kassandra Montag is a poet and novelist. Her work has appeared in Mystery Weekly Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and Prairie Schooner, among other literary journals. She has won the Plainsongs Award, New Year's Poet Award, and 1877 Award.

Here Montag dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, After the Flood:
I wasn’t thinking about a film or TV adaptation when I wrote After the Flood, so I didn’t have any actors or actresses in mind. But after it was optioned for a television series (with Chernin Entertainment, partnering with LuckyChap Entertainment, Margot Robbie’s production company), it’s been interesting to consider what actors/actresses could fit with different roles.

I’ve thought about directors and overall aesthetic more than acting. I love the work of Guillermo del Toro and I think he’d do an incredible job with the unique visual landscape of After the Flood.

After the Flood is set in a post-apocalyptic 2130. The Earth has flooded, leaving an archipelago of mountaintops surrounded by water. Myra and her young daughter join a large ship searching for safe haven. Her oldest daughter, Row, was kidnapped during the flood. When Myra convinces the crew to head north in an effort to rescue Row, the decision changes everyone’s fate.

Myra – Margot Robbie
Daniel—Richard Madden
Jacob— Domhnall Gleeson
Abran— Oscar Issac
Pearl – non-actor, regular kid
Row – McKenna Grace
Marjan—Sakina Jaffrey
Behir-- Dev Patel
Visit Kassandra Montag's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 2, 2019

Caroline Lea's "The Glass Woman"

Caroline Lea was born and raised in Jersey in the United Kingdom. She lives in Warwick, England.

Here Lea dreamcasts an adaptation of The Glass Woman, her second novel, and reported the following:
My writing process is strongly visual, and this was particularly true for The Glass Woman, where the majestic brutality of the Icelandic landscape was absolutely key to the novel’s suspense and terror. I kept pictures of icy mountains and desolate lava-fields on my laptop, ‘blocking’ each scene as a director before I wrote it, imagining my character’s movements. I taught high school drama for many years and love the way that a gesture or facial expression can betray a character’s motivation, or their struggle to conceal it. This became hugely important for the world of secrets and lies in The Glass Woman.

Ròsa would be played wonderfully by Heida Reed, who so brilliantly narrated the audiobook. She often portrays characters who are simultaneously strong and vulnerable, and would perfectly convey Rósa’s internal conflict of loyalty, rebellion and fear.

I’d choose Bradley Cooper for Jón and can imagine him encapsulating the character’s rugged menace and desire for control, alongside his moments of tortured fear. I loved Cooper’s later moments in A Star is Born, where he so excellently depicts a formidable man’s struggle with his own demons.

My Katrín would be Olivia Coleman, who is wonderful at providing comic relief, while never compromising the emotional power of the role; she’s capable of making viewers laugh and sob, often during the same scene. I loved the complexity that she brought to the UK version of Broadchurch, where she was both abrasive and, at many points, emotionally raw.

I’d cast Elliot Knight as Pétur: I taught Elliot high school drama and am so proud of his growing success. He imbues roles with a wonderful brooding intensity, which would make him perfect for https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=1697167571269160594#postsportraying Pétur’s combination of quick wit and melancholy.

Páll would be played by Tom Hardy; he is excellent at depicting genuinely ‘good’ characters, who, nevertheless, have a dangerous edge. He also often brings humour and lightness to his roles and would be a perfect foil for Jon’s threatening presence.

I’d love Ralph Fiennes to play Egill: he’s brilliant at showing absolute malevolence, while never truly alienating the audience – even when he’s an out-and-out villain. Complex anti-heroes are wonderful and I need Egill to display moments of helplessness, even when he’s at his most malicious.

As a director, I’d either want the wonderful Jane Campion, who creates stunning visuals and great emotional intensity, in her films, as well as in series such as Top of the Lake, or I’d love the team who have directed The Handmaid’s Tale: I adore the slow-burning terror and beautiful cinematography of that series. The combination of agonising, nail-biting domestic suspense – alongside the gorgeous harshness of the Icelandic landscape – is key to the sense of danger that suffuses The Glass Woman.
Learn more about The Glass Woman, and follow Caroline Lea on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: The Glass Woman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 31, 2019

E.R. Ramzipoor's "The Ventriloquists"

Evan Roxanna Ramzipoor is a writer based in California. She also works as a content marketer, writing about cybercrime and online fraud. She studied political science at UC Berkeley, where she researched underground literature in resistance movements and discovered the forgotten story of Faux Soir. Her writing has been featured in McSweeney's and The Ventriloquists is her first novel. She lives with her partner and a terrier mix named Lada. She is never far from a notebook or a pair of running shoes.

Here Ramzipoor dreamcasts an adaptation of The Ventriloquists:
When I was pitching The Ventriloquists, I described the book as Ocean’s Eleven meets All the Light We Cannot See. It’s the real-life story of ragtag resistance fighters who risk everything to pull an elaborate prank on the Reich. Needless to say, I think it would make an amazing movie!

Casting my stories helps me flesh out the small but crucial traits that bring a character to life: quirks, mannerisms, habits, speech patterns. For The Ventriloquists, this was especially important; like Ocean’s Eleven, the novel features a large ensemble cast. To ensure nobody got short shrift, I tried to make each character distinct and easy to imagine. Here’s who I had in mind.

Marc Aubrion - Sacha Baron Cohen. Aubrion is the mastermind who decides to die for a joke—writing a satirical newspaper that pokes fun at the Nazis. He’s disheveled, brilliant, funny, and a little mad. Cohen has the soul of a jester, but also a penetrating intelligence. That’s Aubrion.

Gamin - Millie Bobby Brown. “Gamin” is Aubrion’s sidekick: a young girl who survives on the streets of Belgium by disguising herself as a boy and selling newspapers. She’s haunted by the death of her parents, and since therapy wasn’t really an option at the time, she sets fires. I mean, who else but Millie Bobby Brown?

Lada Tarcovich - Rachel Brosnahan. Lada is Aubrion’s unwitting accomplice, a practical smuggler and prostitute who just wants to survive the war. I would absolutely love to work with Rachel Brosnahan; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is probably the best thing on TV right now. But more than anything, Brosnahan is just a great fit for the wry, no-nonsense Lada.

Andree Grandjean - Sarah Paulson. Andree is a powerful judge who gets sucked into this mad scheme when she falls for Lada Tarcovich. Paulson is a queer icon and would make an amazing Andree.

David Spiegelman - Adrien Brody. Spiegelman is a literary ventriloquist. He can write in the voice and style of anyone from Winston Churchill to his own mother. When the Nazi head of propaganda hears about his talents, he presses Spiegelman into service. But Spiegelman, a gay Jewish man, is desperate to aid the resistance—even if it comes in the form of Aubrion’s crazy capers. Adrien Brody is brilliant at playing tormented, soulful characters, so he’d be excellent here.

August Wolff - Jason Isaacs. August Wolff is the Nazi who presses Spiegelman into service. Ambitious and loyal to the Nazi ideology, he’s nonetheless conflicted about the atrocities he must commit. Isaacs seems perfect.

Helene - Helen Mirren. The novel is narrated by an older Gamin (Helene is her real name), alive in a world she no longer recognizes. Helen Mirren would bring the necessary gravitas and spark of humor to this role.

Director - Armando Iannucci. When I saw The Death of Stalin last year, I knew I wanted to see Iannucci’s take on The Ventriloquists. He’s really nails the dark, poignant absurdism that makes this story what it is.
Visit E.R. Ramzipoor's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Evan Ramzipoor & Lada.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Brian Naslund's "Blood of an Exile"

Brian Naslund had a brief stint in the New York publishing world but quickly defected to tech in Denver where he does internet marketing.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his debut novel, Blood of an Exile:
Early in the writing process of Blood of an Exile I kept most characters pretty “blank” as to who might portray them. Over time, I did wind up becoming an amateur casting director.

However, for whatever reason, I always had a clear picture of who could play Ashlyn, so I will start with her.

I’ve always pictured her as Rosemarie DeWitt. She has this perfect expression that mixes focus with intellectual doubt and cynicism that I love, and just screams “Ashlyn.”

For Bershad, I have to go with Tom Hardy. This is a bit of a cop out because he’s a chameleon actor in a lot of ways, but the reason I gravitate to him is because of the way he looks in the first four minutes of Mad Max: Fury Road (pre-hair cut). Not only are the nasty dreadlocks perfect, but he’s a broken down man who’s focused on one thing: survival. If you took that version of Tom Hardy and traded the road gear garb for some face tattoos, that’s Bershad.

For Felgor, I’d go with Danny Pudi. I love him in Community—and in that show he’s able to lean into the comic relief, while also effortlessly sinking into these brief but deeply emotional moment of loyalty and kindness. That’s Felgor.

As for a director, my pipe dream is Denis Villeneuve. I love all of his movies, with Sicario and Arrival being my favorites.
Visit Brian Naslund's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Sara Lövestam's "The Truth Behind the Lie"

Sara Lövestam is a Swedish novelist, born in 1980 and living in Stockholm. She writes in many genres — historical novels, Y/A, crime — but her books all deal with deeply human struggles, such as challenging perspectives, dealing with alienation, and being true to oneself. Lövestam worked for many years as a Swedish teacher for immigrants, and says a lot of her inspiration comes from her students. She enjoys music, carpentry, and learning new languages.

In Lövestam's new novel, The Truth Behind the Lie:
When a six-year-old girl disappears and calling the police isn’t an option, her desperate mother Pernilla turns to an unlikely source for help. She finds a cryptic ad online for a private investigator:

“Need help, but can’t contact the police?”

That’s where Kouplan comes in.
Here Lövestam dreamcasts an adaptation of The Truth Behind the Lie:
It is extremely hard to pick an actor to play Kouplan. I don't want to spoil the story, but in the beginning of the book series he looks like a teenager although he is 25. He looks Iranian, speaks fluent Farsi and good Swedish (in an American version I guess he would speak fluent Farsi and good English) - he's just a very special character. I bet the perfect actor to play him is out there, but I don't know where.

It's easier with Pernilla. She is a blonde mom in her 30's who doesn't raise much suspicion with her appearance, but she hides many secrets and has a complicated past. I think someone like Blake Lively would play her perfectly.
Visit Sara Lövestam's website.

My Book, The Movie: Wonderful Feels Like This.

The Page 69 Test: Wonderful Feels Like This.

Writers Read: Sara Lövestam.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Marlowe Benn's "Relative Fortunes"

Born near Boston, Marlowe Benn grew up in an Illinois college town along the Mississippi River. She holds a master’s degree in the book arts from the University of Alabama and a doctorate in the history of books from the University of California, Berkeley. A former editor, college teacher, and letterpress printer, Benn lives with her husband on an island near Seattle.

Here Benn dreamcasts an adaptation of Relative Fortunes, her first novel:
Relative Fortunes, my debut historical mystery, features two estranged half-siblings separated by ten years and a world of grievances. When the novel opens, Julia Kydd knows little about her half brother, Philip, other than that he’s abruptly challenged their father’s will—just as she’s about to turn twenty-five and receive her inheritance.

The pair have every reason to mistrust each other. Julia is the daughter of their father’s second wife, a young Swedish bohemian whom he married shortly after the death of his first wife, Philip’s mother. Before Julia was born, Philip was dispatched to a succession of boarding schools. The two siblings share no family bond and no physical resemblance: Julia has her mother’s fair Scandinavian coloring and Philip bears the dark Mediterranean features of his mother.

Thrown together as adversaries, they spar throughout the novel. Philip’s wry, provocative wit sharpens Julia’s perceptions and judgments, but their spirited repartee—crackling at times—also illustrates the gendered disparity of their positions. Unlike Julia, Philip is secure in his wealth. The “squabble” that is high sport to him is deadly serious for her. Should his challenge prevail and her inheritance be denied, she’ll lose her financial independence, and with it her dream of making a mark in the world.

For Julia I would cast Swedish actress Alicia Vikander. Vikander could beautifully convey Julia’s discerning intelligence and natural elegance. I imagine Vikander reprising Kate Beckinsale’s performance in Cold Comfort Farm, based on Stella Gibbon’s 1932 classic novel. Vikander in the role of confident, resourceful young Flora Poste, who’s dashingly deft in the ways of the modern world, would embody Julia Kydd perfectly.

Casting Philip is easy. In developing his character, I was inspired by Rupert Everett’s performance in Oliver Parker’s 1999 film version of Oscar Wilde’s The Ideal Husband. Everett plays a scandalously charming and droll rake who delights in baiting his morally upright friends, provoking them into high dudgeon and, of course, trouble.
Visit Marlowe Benn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 22, 2019

John Birmingham's "The Cruel Stars"

John Birmingham is the author of Emergence, Resistance, Ascendance, After America, Without Warning, Final Impact, Designated Targets, Weapons of Choice, and other novels, as well as Leviathan, which won the National Award for Nonfiction at Australia’s Adelaide Festival of the Arts, and the novella Stalin’s Hammer: Rome. He has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, Rolling Stone, Penthouse, Playboy, and numerous other magazines.

Here Birmingham dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Cruel Stars:
It’s a brave or stupid writer who willingly gives away the names of the actors they imagine starring in the movie adaptation of their book. But I’m not especially brave, so here goes.

Like most writers I do have a screen adaptation of my latest book running 24/7 between my ears, but not all of the actors are stars. Some characters are based on people I know, or knew once upon a time. Others do indeed have IMDb pages.

The Cruel Stars, the space opera I’ve always wanted to write, is an ensemble piece, with five main characters telling the story. But one stands out. Lucinda Hardy. She is the first of our band of five, and her arc probably reaches the furthest and bends the most under the mass of all she has to carry. I know exactly who would play her, if I had the budget. Cobie Smulders. She has always looked like she could kick your ass three ways from Sunday, but she would also take a moment to feel bad about it.

So too with the foul mouthed and even fouler tempered 700-year-old Scotsman, Fraser McLennan, one-time admiral of the Terran Fleets, now living in self imposed exile, picking over the corpse of an enormous, derelict generation ship. This role can only be played by Dr Who. I mean Malcolm Tucker! I mean Peter Capaldi!

Look at him. He’s terrifying. Whole armadas of invading Space Nazis would quake to contemplate the bollocking he’d give them.

I have some leeway with my third pick, for Booker3, my vat-grown Terran Defence Force special operator turned political prisoner. Because Booker is a piece of software which gets poured into whatever vessel is needed for the fight ahead, anyone can play him. But only Daniel Kaluuya should. The multi-talented brit Brit is well known for his physical presence and fighting chops in Black Panther, but with his role as Chris Washington in Get Out he also has a proven ability to portray characters who’ve got in way over their heads. He’d be great at the fights, but even better at the quietly aggrieved outrage that seethes within this character.

There is no casting Sephina L’Trel, kickass lesbian, legendary space pirate, and Mistress and Commander of the Je Ne Regrette Rein. She’s based on an old friend. But if anyone was to capture this badass on screen, perhaps a young Thandie Newton might have a chance. Her gnarly physicality in West World is a good match for all of the damage Sephina absorbs and deals out when she sets her mind on vengeance in TCS.

Finally, we have Princess Alessia, first of her name, last of her clan, and super-pissed that she even has to go through with all of this princess bullshit anyway. Alessia is not like the other characters. She’s a kid for one thing. And she had no mad fighting skills or even much of a personal history of conflict. But she does have sass and she’s willing to learn. And because that there can be only one Princess Alessia for me...Maisie Williams, AKA Game of Thrones' Arya Stark.
Follow John Birmingham on Facebook and Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 19, 2019

Louisa Treger's "The Dragon Lady"

Louisa Treger has worked as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. Treger subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early 20th century women’s writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship “for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature.” The Lodger was published in 2014, The Dragon Lady in 2019 and she is currently working on her third novel.

Here Treger dreamcasts an adaptation of The Dragon Lady:
When this site's editor invited me to do this blog, I jumped at the chance. Surely choosing movie stars for your characters is a game every author plays once in a while?

The Dragon Lady blends fact with fiction to tell the story of Lady Virginia Courtauld – beautiful and defiant, with a scandalous past and a tattoo of a snake running the length of one leg. After a brief marriage to an Italian aristocrat, she wed Stephen Courtauld, a war hero, mountaineer, orchid collector, and heir to a textile fortune. Ostracized for being a foreign divorcee at the time of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, Virginia moved with Stephen to Rhodesia, where their philanthropic attempts to better the lives of all the colony’s inhabitants, black and white, led to anonymous death threats, misunderstandings and a shooting. Many people had reason to dislike Virginia, but who had reason enough to pull the trigger?

Virginia is vibrant, capricious and captivating. She is also insecure - desperate for social acceptance and a comfortable, comforting place to call home. I think that Rachel Weisz would portray every one of her qualities to perfection.

Stephen would have to be played by Ralph Fiennes because nobody does chilly reserve masking a deeply compassionate core like he does.

Catherine, a thirteen-year-old growing up in desperate isolation who unwittingly gets caught up in the adult tragedy unfolding around her, would be played by Elizabeth Olsen. Those big startled eyes, and that mixture of innocence and being wise beyond her years, are perfect to portray childhood, family dysfunction, and disillusionment.
Visit Louisa Treger's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Lodger.

Coffee with a Canine: Louisa Treger & Monty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 17, 2019

T. Greenwood's "Keeping Lucy"

T. Greenwood is the author of thirteen novels. She has received grants from the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Maryland State Arts Council. She has won three San Diego Book Awards. Five of her novels have been BookSense76/IndieBound picks. Bodies of Water was finalist for a Lambda Foundation award.

In Keeping Lucy, Greenwood's new novel--
Ginny Richardson's heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded." Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on.

But two years later, when Ginny's best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth--its squalid hallways filled with neglected children--she knows she can't leave her daughter there. With Ginny's six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.
Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Keeping Lucy:
I love this game! Here is my dream cast:

Ginny: Brie Larson.

Ab Jr.: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (he's a bit older than Ab, but has a boyish quality to him).

Ab Sr.: Ralph Fiennes.

Marsha: Shailene Woodley or Ellen Page (whoever's calendar is free).

Peyton and Lucy: I'd love to see the children cast be non-actors -- just regular kids
Visit T. Greenwood's website.

Writers Read: T. Greenwood.

The Page 69 Test: Keeping Lucy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Reese Hogan's "Shrouded Loyalties"

Reese Hogan loves nothing more than creating broken relationships in broken worlds. With a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in journalism, Hogan has spent the last twenty years honing her craft by taking classes, listening to podcasts, and attending writing workshops and critique groups. She is passionate about music, especially alternative and punk rock, and believes that art can reach out in a way no other form of communication can. She lives with her family in New Mexico.

Here Hogan dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Shrouded Loyalties:
I never thought about a cast for Shrouded Loyalties until I participated in a Twitter chat prompt for debut authors, and this came up as one of the questions. I ended up getting really into it, and making an aesthetics board to post on that day. I took a lot of time scouring the internet and picking the perfect person for each role. Here were my choices for the top five main characters:

Mila Blackwood: Letitia Wright. I fell in love with Letitia Wright when I watched Black Panther, and I think she could really pull off Blackwood’s military-minded submariner character who struggles with anger issues.

Klara Yana Hollanelea: Erika Linder. Klara Yana is a female spy who disguises herself as a male for the entirety of the book, and I have never seen anyone pull this off as convincingly as Erika Linder. The second I found her, I knew she was perfect for the role.

Andrew Blackwood: Myles Truitt. Andrew is a 17 year-old orphan who struggles with depression and self-loathing, and is drawn into enemy collaboration as he looks for acceptance. I felt Myles Truitt’s look could pull from that uniquely teenage combination of innocence and torment, and I very much saw Andrew when I found him.

Cu Zanthus Ayaterossi: Pier Gabriel Lajoie. Cu Zanthus is the enemy soldier who seduces Andrew. He’s only 19, but he’s already been a spy for five years, so he’s very good at taking on whatever look he needs to. Pier Gabriel Lajoie seems to fit the bill perfectly for someone that Andrew would fall for.

Leuftkernel Lyanirus: David Tennant. This was a no-brainer for me. Tennant is my favorite actor, and he would fit entirely too well into the role of a ruthless commander with a bad habit of killing his own soldiers when his temper snaps.
Visit Reese Hogan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Heather Hepler's "We Were Beautiful"

Heather Hepler is the author of several books for teens and tweens, including Frosted Kisses (2015), Love? Maybe (2012), and The Cupcake Queen (2009).

Here Hepler dreamcasts an adaptation of her newest novel, We Were Beautiful:
Here is a quick synopsis of We Were Beautiful.

It’s been a year since fifteen-year-old Mia Hopkins was in a car crash that killed her older sister, Rachel, and left her own face terribly scarred. The doctors tell her she was lucky to survive. Her therapist says it will take time to heal. The police reports claim there were trace amounts of alcohol in her bloodstream. But no matter how much she tries to reconstruct the events of that fateful night, Mia’s memory is spotty at best. She’s left with accusations, rumors, and guilt so powerful it is quickly consuming her. As the rest of Mia’s family struggles with their own grief, Mia is sent to New York City to spend the summer with a grandmother she’s never met. All Mia wants to do is hide from the world, but instead she’s stuck with a summer job in the bustling kitchens of the café down the street. There she meets Fig—blue-haired, friendly, and vivacious—who takes Mia under her wing. As Mia gets to know Fig and her friends—including Cooper, the artistic boy who’s always on Mia’s mind—she realizes that she’s not the only one with a painful past.

I’ve thought a lot about making this into a movie. The settings between coastal Maine and New York City were what initially drew me into Mia’s story. The cast is pretty straightforward for me. I’d pretty much just ask actors that I love. Here are my suggestions for some of the principals.

Cooper: Noah Centineo – because well he’s in everything recently, but mostly because he was the perfect love interest in Sierra Burgess is a Loser.

Mia: Chloë Grace Moretz – She’s beautiful and funny and smart. She could make the story all those things.

Fig: Masie Williams – because I need to keep Game of Thrones in my life somehow. And because she’s awesome and strong and cool.

I’d have to think more about the other characters, but if I could make space for some 80’s stars like Mollie Ringwold or Winona Ryder I would. I would write in a new part for Keanu Reeves just so I could meet him.

The best part of making We Were Beautiful into a movie would be filming in New York City. The book is set in the summer, but I’m thinking we could film in the spring when it isn’t so darn hot. There is also a lot of food mentioned in the books – cannoli, pie, cotton candy, etc. It might be hard to not leave the theater craving some dessert.

I would be nervous about having one of my books turned into a movie. So often movies just don’t live up to the book’s story. But I think with the right cast and right director, it can often be just perfect.
Visit Heather Hepler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Kira Jane Buxton's "Hollow Kingdom"

Kira Jane Buxton's writing has appeared in The New York Times, NewYorker.com, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Huffington Post, and more. She calls the tropical utopia of Seattle home and spends her time with three cats, a dog, two crows, a charm of hummingbirds, and a husband.

Here Buxton dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Hollow Kingdom:
Given that Hollow Kingdom is told from the perspectives of animals, the production would have to be animated (it is interestingly also illegal to film a migrating domestic bird due to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act). As I wrote, I actually hadn’t imagined a particular actor voicing S.T., the foul-mouthed crow and narrator (crowtagonist!). Robert Petkoff does all the voices for Hollow Kingdom’s audiobook perfectly, so I’d be thrilled if he also did the screen adaptation voice of our vociferous crow. I could imagine that based on his brilliant voicing of Rocket the raccoon from Guardians Of The Galaxy that Bradley Cooper would also do an incredible job. Or Steve Buscemi. Kraai is another crow in the novel, the beautiful and regal head of the U.W. Bothell murder. He is described as having “the voice of God or James Earl Jones” (I obviously wasn’t affected by watching The Lion King as a kid at all). Kristen Schaal would make a wonderful Winnie The Poodle, a very spoiled miniature poodle who lives in Bellevue, Washington (and based on a real very spoiled miniature poodle who lives in Berkeley, California). There is an egocentric domestic short-haired tabby named Genghis Cat, and I think he would be voiced beautifully by Jemaine Clement or Benedict Cumberbatch. The Big Yin, Billy Connelly is my dream voice for Angus the narcissistic Highland Cow. And Steve Buscemi could be any character, but he really should be someone. I love Steve Buscemi. It’s exciting to imagine this menagerie galavanting across our screens (and vaguely ironic given that the book has a message about technological addiction.) The TV rights have in fact been optioned by AMC, so we shall see!
Visit Kira Jane Buxton's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kira Jane Buxton & Ewok.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 9, 2019

Noelle Salazar's "The Flight Girls"

Noelle Salazar was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where she's been a Navy recruit, a medical assistant, an NFL cheerleader and always a storyteller. As a novelist, she has done extensive research into the Women Airforce Service Pilots, interviewing vets and visiting the training facility—now a museum dedicated to the WASP—in Sweetwater, Texas. When she’s not writing, she can be found dodging raindrops and daydreaming of her next book. Salazar lives in Bothell, Washington, with her husband and two children.

Here Salazar dreamcasts an adaptation of The Flight Girls, her first novel:
I love imagining actresses/actors in the roles of my characters. It helps bring them to life in my mind. I can see the expressions on their faces and body movements. From the get-go I always pictured Rachael Taylor in the role of Audrey. She's beautiful, with the classic features I imagine Audrey to have, and gives great "serious expression". And when she smiles, she lights up the screen.

As for James Hart - who could play such a super man but.. Superman? Henry Cavill is who I picture as the serious pilot and dreamy love interest.

As for Carter, Sam Heughan. I mean, if anyone is going to avert Audrey's attention for a moment, he'd be the man to do it.

I imagine Brittany Snow as Carol Ann with her expressive eyes.

Alexandra Daddario would be Catherine.

And Ruby and Nola would be played respectively by Olivia Cooke and Shailene Woodley.
Visit Noelle Salazar's website.

Writers Read: Noelle Salazar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Patrick Coleman's "The Churchgoer"

Patrick Coleman makes things from words, sounds, and occasional pictures. His debut collection of poems, Fire Season, was written after the birth of his first child by speaking aloud into a digital audio recorder on the long commute between the art museum where he worked and his home in a rural neighborhood that burned in the Witch Creek Fire of 2007. It won the 2015 Berkshire Prize and was released by Tupelo Press on December 1, 2018. His short-form prose has appeared in Hobart, ZYZZYVA, Zócalo Public Square, the Writer's Chronicle, the Black Warrior Review, Juked, and the Utne Reader, among others. The Art of Music, an exhibition catalogue on the relationship between visual arts and music that he edited and contributed to, was co-published by Yale University Press and the San Diego Museum of Art. Coleman earned an MFA from Indiana University and a BA from the University of California Irvine. He lives in Ramona, California, with his wife and two daughters, and is the Assistant Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

Here Coleman dreamcasts an adaptation of his first novel, The Churchgoer:
I honestly hadn’t thought about until yesterday, when my wife and I started joking around about it in the car. I don’t “see” characters like that when I write. (Is that a strange thing to admit? I just read the amazing Janet Fitch’s response here and she certainly does, and if she does everyone should, right?) For Mark Haines, the ex-Evangelical pastor who tells the story and is the protagonist, you’d need someone 50-ish who clearly had been able to turn on that youth preacher-y charm at one time, but who’s flipped the switch and seen some rough times. Owen Wilson would be kind of perfect—that Texas-gone-Californian twang has been heard in many a megachurch sanctuary—or his brother Luke. Ethan Hawke—he played a priest once, close enough—or Ed Norton would do a good job with it. Maybe John Corbett taking a dark turn; that’d be fun to see. Or give it to Kirk Cameron—that’d be a turn!—or Jim Caviezel!
Visit Patrick Coleman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 5, 2019

Bernard Schaffer's "An Unsettled Grave"

Bernard Schaffer is an author, full-time police detective, and father of two. As a twenty-year veteran police officer, he’s a court recognized narcotics expert, a graduate of the prestigious Top Gun Undercover Law Enforcement Training Program, child forensic interviewer, and possesses a Class A certification in the use of wiretaps. A child actor, Schaffer appeared in multiple television commercials, performances at the Walnut Street Theater (where his picture still hangs in one of the upper, darker corners), Saturday Night Live, and the Nickelodeon series Don’t Just Sit There. Schaffer is the author of multiple independently-published books and series, including Superbia, Grendel Unit, Guns of Seneca 6, and more. A die-hard supporter of the Philadelphia Union, he is proud to say that he’s never been ejected from a game. Yet.

Here Schaffer dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, An Unsettled Grave:
You know, the movie question comes up a lot and I never really have a good answer for it. I love cinema. Everything from black and white foreign films to the MCU. But for me, books are a different thing.

I like the old school New York method actors best, so give me one of them. Marlon Brando, Mickey Rourke, guys like that.

For Carrie, the female lead of the Santero and Rein Thriller Series, I’d have to say a younger Jessica Chastain. Emma Stone might work. Someone who starts off in the first book as young and idealistic but committed to catching bad guys. She is smiling and hopeful. But then, over time, as she sinks deeper and deeper into the true horror of what human beings do to one another, you see that spark go out of her eyes and it’s replaced by something else. A darkness that never goes away.

As far as directors go, I’m fan of many. The thing is, the directors I like would take the source material and change it to suit their own vision. That’s okay, because the movie is its own thing, a different creature from the books entirely, but you need someone with a bright enough creative vision that if they’re going to monkey around with my story, it had better be monkeyed around with correctly. I’d trust Coppola or Scorsese or Tarantino with that all day. I’ve been a fan of the Russo Brothers since Community. I’ve been a fan of Cary Fukunaga since True Detective.

It can’t just be anyone though. I have friends who’ve sold the movie rights to their books to anyone who came along, just to say they did it. I haven’t had to cross that bridge yet, so who knows how well my morality holds up when they start waving dollar signs in front of me.

As for now, replace my dialogue with forty-five minutes of CGI explosions and we’re going to have a problem. I will come see you.
Visit Bernard Schaffer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Sarah Elaine Smith's "Marilou Is Everywhere"

Sarah Elaine Smith was born and raised in Greene County, Pennsylvania. She has studied at the Michener Center for Writers, UT-Austin (MFA, poetry); the Iowa Writers' Workshop (MFA, fiction); and Carnegie Mellon University (BA, English and Creative Writing). She has worked as a metadata analyst (signed an NDA & shall say no more!), a college teacher, a proofreader/copyeditor, design consultant, waitress, and ghostwriter. Her work has received support from the MacDowell Colony, the Rona Jaffe Wallace Foundation, and the Keene Prize for Literature, among other generous entities.

Here Smith shares her vision for an adaptation of Marilou Is Everywhere, her first novel:
The movie is called Marilou Is Everywhere: This Ain't No Winter's Bone. When people see the trailer, they go, "Isn't this kind of like Winter's Bone? and that gravely voiceover guy from all the movie trailers says NO. Jennifer Lawrence stands outside the theater holding a sign that says "I AM Jennifer Lawrence and I am NOT in this movie." Cindy is played by an unknown but brilliant young actor with a face that seems to move in and out of shadow when she smiles. Jude is played by Storm Reid. Anjelica Huston plays Bernadette. Virgil and Clinton are played by a real-life pair of brothers who were fixing an HVAC system in the studio the day of casting. Everything is shot in Greene County, PA, and West-by-God-Virginia. "Heat Wave" by Snail Mail plays over the opening credits and "Touch 'Em With Love" by Bobbie Gentry plays over the closing. It's one of those movies where there's all these static shots of: a dripping faucet, a huge black snake crossing a two-lane road and disappearing into the grass like a melting shadow, Clinton wiping a smudge of dirt on Cindy's forehead and laughing, the sumac bushes at the edge of the forest shuddering in the wind, as if something huge had just passed through, Cindy tracing words in the dust on the tailgates of trucks parked in front of Pecjack's gas station: LUCK, SNAKE, LOOSIFER. Emotional states are conveyed by how long the characters stare at things like flies bumping against the windows. Everyone who goes to the movie on their first date falls in love.
Visit Sarah Elaine Smith's website.

The Page 69 Test: Marilou Is Everywhere.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fiona Davis's "The Chelsea Girls"

Fiona Davis began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master's degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down as an author of historical fiction. She's a graduate of the College of William & Mary and is based in New York City.

Here Davis dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Chelsea Girls:
The Chelsea Girls is set in the New York City theater world during the McCarthy era, as a playwright and an actress are trying to mount a show on Broadway. Then it jumps to 1967, as the ramifications of that time become clear. Hazel and Maxine live in the Chelsea Hotel, which is full of eccentric characters, many taken from real life. In a perfect world, I’d have the people who make cameos in the book appear in the movie, musicians like Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin, playwrights like Arthur Miller. (Deep sigh).

However, while I was writing the manuscript, I had three photos above my desk of actors who I imagined as the lead characters. In real life, the actors come from a mix of generations, which means we unfortunately can’t bring them all together for the movie shoot.

Hazel Ripley is a reluctant actress and budding playwright who’s trying to mount a play on Broadway during the McCarthy era. I imaged Grace Kelly in the role, as she’s someone who is pretty but in a soft, quiet, smart way.

Her best friend, Maxine Mead, is the exact opposite, a flashy redhead who’s not afraid of attention. I bet Jessica Chastain would eat that role right up.

Finally, there’s an FBI agent who’s sweet and vulnerable, and I pictured Ryan Reynolds as Sam as I was writing the book. He’d be great. And then I’d get to meet him…
Visit Fiona Davis's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Address.

My Book, The Movie: The Masterpiece.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Janet Fitch's "Chimes of a Lost Cathedral"

Janet Fitch is an American author and teacher of fiction writing.

She is the author of the #1 national bestseller White Oleander, a novel translated into 24 languages, an Oprah Book Club book and the basis of a feature film, Paint It Black, also widely translated and made into a 2017 film, and an epic novel of the Russian Revolution, The Revolution of Marina M.

The journey that began with The Revolution of Marina M. concludes in Fitch's new novel, Chimes of a Lost Cathedral, in which passionate young poet, lover, and idealist Marina Makarova emerges as a woman in full during the transformative years of the Russian Revolution. Having undergone unimaginable hardship, she’s now at the height of her creative power and understanding, living the shared life of poetry--when the revolution finally reveals its true direction for the future.

Here Fitch dreamcasts an adaptation of The Revolution of Marina M. and Chimes of a Lost Cathedral:
I definitely use actors as I’m thinking of my characters. They allow me to observe physicality, characterize gestures and voices, that certain flavor of bodily presence. I can use photographs and films to formulate descriptions of facial expressions and physical attitudes, and more than that, the feel of a certain personality—often a meld between the actor and a specific performance of theirs.

The actress I would imagine playing Marina Makarova would be a young Franka Potente as I saw her in The Bourne Identity—pretty sometimes, but also plain if in a bad situation, very physical and passionate and unrestrained, quick to laugh, a fighter, always authentic to her own nature.

Her father I always saw as Bergman’s great star Erland Josephson—bright and a bit arrogant, with a current of sensuality behind his image of control. Her spiritualist, society matron mother I imagined as a prematurely silverhaired Vanessa Redgrave.

Her friends? The avid Marxist Varvara I could imagine as Helena Kallianiotes from Five Easy Pieces—the obsessive hitchhiker--or maybe Geraldine Chaplin in her no-shit mode in Remember My Name. Mina Katzevs I always imagined as Julia Sawalha as Saffy from Ab Fab, the resentful good girl. Zina Ostrovskaya I always saw as Helena Bonham-Carter.

Marina’s lover Kolya, her grand passion, I imagined along the lines of a young Klaus Maria Brandauer--that sly, clever, charming rascally guy. What we call a Charming Bastard. Genya, the revolutionary poet and Marina’s husband, is physically like the very young Gerard Depardieu, but more and more I saw his young Brando-like complexity, the bursts of bravado, heroism or violence, also the extreme tenderness as well as a tendency to sulk.

The crime boss Arkady von Princip I always saw as Bergman’s remarkable star Max von Sydow and the one-armed Stepan Radulovich as the Russian star Nikita Mikhalkov. Ukashin, the mystic, was an intense Ben Kingsley.

What director would I like to film Chimes of a Lost Cathedral? Andrei Tarkovsky, of course. I watched The Mirror over and over in the writing of the book. Tarkovsky’s father was a famous Russian poet, too, so it would complete the circle.
Visit Janet Fitch's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Revolution of Marina M..

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Angie Kim's "Miracle Creek"

Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore. She attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, then practiced as a trial lawyer at Williams & Connolly. Her stories have won the Glamour Essay Contest and the Wabash Prize in Fiction, and appeared in numerous publications including Vogue, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Slate, The Southern Review, Sycamore Review, The Asian American Literary Review, and PANK. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three sons.

Here Kim dreamcasts an adaptation of Miracle Creek, her first novel:
I wrote Miracle Creek between 2012 and 2015, and during that time, I was obsessed with the TV show, The Americans. So it’s probably not surprising that I pictured actors/actresses from that show playing the characters in my novel. Young Yoo, the Korean immigrant mother, for example, I pictured being played by Ruthie Ann Miles, the amazing Tony-award-winning actress who portrayed the Korean immigrant character Young-hee. Elizabeth, the mother on trial for murdering her 8-year old son, I pictured being played by Keri Russell (who played Elizabeth Jennings in The Americans), and I thought Matthew Rhys would make an amazing Matt Thompson, who plays the doctor being treated for infertility in the pressurized oxygen chamber. Finally, even though he wasn’t in The Americans, I pictured Daniel Dae Kim as Pak Yoo, the Korean immigrant father and the paralyzed owner/operator of the oxygen chamber at the center of Miracle Creek.
Visit Angie Kim's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 26, 2019

Christopher Ruocchio's "Howling Dark"

Christopher Ruocchio is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where a penchant for self-destructive decision-making caused him to pursue a bachelor’s in English Rhetoric with a minor in Classics. An avid student of history, philosophy, and religion, Ruocchio has been writing since he was eight years old and sold his first book —Empire of Silence— at twenty-two.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Howling Dark, the second novel of his galaxy-spanning Sun Eater series:
I’ve not wavered in my determination that Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen from Game of Thrones) is still the perfect actor for Hadrian. Not only does he have the look, but I’m consistently impressed with his depth and range in each role I see him in, and have no trouble seeing him as both the romantic, Byronic figure that Hadrian is and the Bonaparte/Darth Vader-esque terror he must become. I have reconsidered Valka. I rewatched Skyfall recently and very much enjoyed Berenice Marlohe’s too-brief turn as Severine. She was pure class with a sharp-edged cruelty in her mannerisms that were pure Valka to me.

I’ll do a couple new ones. The Undying, the Lord of Vorgossos, is in my mind played by the great Ken Watanabe. The Undying is simultaneously a very old man kept alive by machines that feed his mostly replaced-by-machines body and an almost god-like half-machine entity that rules over and controls the resources of an entire planet, and Watanabe could capture both facets I think very well, with that dark timbre, one can easily imagine his voice booming from speakers the size of houses.

It’s no secret that Hadrian is hunting the alien Cielcin, and no spoiler really to say he finds them in the end. The chieftain he meets, Prince Aranata Otiolo, would be played excellently by someone like Zachary Quinto. I’ve been a Quinto fan since his villainous turn on Heroes back in the day, and I hear he’s great in NOS4A2. But putting him in prosthetics and letting him loose to chew scenery with the best of them would be bloody marvelous.
Follow Christopher Ruocchio on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Empire of Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Emily Devenport's "Medusa in the Graveyard"

Emily Devenport has written several novels under various pseudonyms including one which was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick award.

Here Devenport dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Medusa in the Graveyard:
I thought up a cast for Medusa Uploaded while I was still writing it, and I'm still happy with the people I pictured in those roles: Ruth Negga as Oichi, Vanessa Williams as Lady Sheba, Nichelle Nichols as Lady Gloria, Michelle Yeoh as Oichi's mother, Neal McDonough as Gennady Mironenko, Mehcad Brooks as Nuruddin, Sendhil Ramamurthy as Captain Nemo, Chiaki Kuriyama as Medusa. I pictured them all while I was writing the sequel, Medusa in the Graveyard, but a few of the new characters may be more challenging to cast.

For instance, there's Cocteau, an engineer on the Union Ship, Merlin: Her hair was so white, I wondered if she lightened it. The contrast with her dark skin made her look like a magical creature. A fairy godmother? An elf? Yet despite her apparent age, her skin was smooth, and Cocteau’s accented voice possessed the timbre of a fine instrument...

Cicely Tyson is the first actress who comes to my mind, but possibly that's because I'm American. Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge are also easy to picture. I'm not as familiar with African actresses, or French, or British. Someday soon I may see a movie or TV show in which the perfect Cocteau is a player.

Merlin's captain, Epatha Thomas, is much easier to peg. I knew who she was as soon as she appeared on the page: S. Epatha Merkerson, who played Anita van Buren on Law & Order. As far as I'm concerned, they should have called that the S. Epatha Merkerson Show.

Baba Yaga, the world engineer, is another challenge. In stories and movies, she has been depicted as an evil crone, her features sometimes ridiculously distorted. I think it makes more sense for her to be played by an elderly Lidiya Vertinskaya, who played the Phoenix/Siren in Aleksandr Ptushko's film, Sadko. Lidiya has the sort of demeanor you would expect from a woman who could hatch plots for thousands of years.

If you remember the young Keisha Castle-Hughes from the cover of the Whale Rider DVD, you can picture Ahi, and I would be tempted to cast Grace Park as Fire. While we're on the subject of Polynesian actors, I'd like to state, for the record, that any resemblance between Jay Momoa, scion of Momoa movers, and the actor Jason Momoa is purely coincidental. However, should Jason Momoa decide he would like to play a role in Medusa in the Graveyard, that would be so awesome!!

Dr Mirzakhani, another Merlin crew member, might be played by Tala Ashe – and while I'm mining the cast of Legends of Tomorrow, I think Keiynan Lonsdale, who plays Wally West, would make a perfect Ashur. Representative Lee, an expert negotiator, should be played by the peerless B.D. Wong.

Communications Officer Narm could be played by Lee Min-ho. Dress him all in black, and he's there. When I think of Ambassador Argus Fabricus, I can't help picturing Max von Sydow in his heyday, from The Seventh Seal. Cocteau's colleague, Engineer Wilson, is also a Scandinavian type, so maybe Alexander Skarsgård has the right vibe for him.

Last but not least is Bomarigala, survivor of OMSK and muckety-muck of the Weapons Clan. Picture Mark Chao from the Detective Dee movies, and you'll have a good idea what he's like.

The cast of Medusa in the Graveyard is a lot more diverse, so much so that many of the characters will have to be depicted through CGI. At least I wrote in a ready-made soundtrack.

Cue the Default Majesty Music, roll credits...
Visit Emily Devenport's blog.

My Book, The Movie: Medusa Uploaded.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 22, 2019

Jennifer Honeybourn's "Just My Luck"

Jennifer Honeybourn is a fan of British accents, Broadway musicals, and epic, happily-ever-after love stories. If she could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, she’d have high tea with Walt Disney, JK Rowling, and her nana. She lives in Stratford, Ontario with her husband, daughter and cat in a house filled with books.

Here Honeybourn dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Just My Luck:
I think it’s probably every writer’s dream to see one of their books made into a movie. One of the first things I do when I start a new book is cast the characters in my head — and for some reason, I usually pull from Disney Channel stars. For Just My Luck, I imagined:

Marty Taylor: Laura Marano. She starred on the Disney Channel’s Austin and Ally and, more recently, in The Perfect Date on Netflix. I especially loved her character in that movie.

Will Foster: Noah Centineo. He was really great in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the Netflix adaption of Jenny Han’s wonderful book. And, coincidentally, he starred opposite Laura Marano in The Perfect Date. Plus, it wouldn’t take much to style his hair into Will’s trademark pompadour.

Hayes Foster: I think Bradley Steven Perry, who was on Good Luck Charlie, has the perfect look for Hayes, Will’s spoiled and very entitled younger brother.

Ansel Taylor: Ansel is a redhead, so I think KG Apa, the actor who stars as Archie Andrews on Riverdale would fit the part.

Nalani xx: Auli'i Cravalho, the actress who played Moana. She’s also a beautiful singer, so maybe she could sing something for the soundtrack!

Director: I would love for Ali Wong to direct Just My Luck. I loved Always Be My Maybe and I think her sense of humor would elevate the book.
Visit Jennifer Honeybourn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel's "In the Woods"

About In the Woods by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel:
It should have been just another quiet night on the farm when Logan witnessed the attack, but it wasn’t.

Something is in the woods.
Something unexplainable.
Something deadly.

Hundreds of miles away, Chrystal’s plans for summer in Manhattan are abruptly upended when her dad reads tabloid coverage of some kind of grisly incident in Oklahoma. When they arrive to investigate, they find a witness: a surprisingly good-looking farm boy.

As townsfolk start disappearing and the attacks get ever closer, Logan and Chrystal will have to find out the truth about whatever’s hiding in the woods…before they become targets themselves.
Here Jones dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
Chrystal – She’s strong. She’s talented. Her dad is a bit eccentric. So is she. She quote Kierkegaard and has a bass guitar. She’s got the Maya Hawke vibe going on. So Maya Hawke?

Logan – He’s trying to be a poet. He’s kind of failing. He’s got farm boy arm strength and some kind eyes and a ridiculously charming smile. He’s occasionally sexist, but he’s trying. So, maybe Roshon Fegan?

Mr. Lawson-Smith (Chrystal’s dad) – Quirky? Eccentric? Basically Doctor Who as a kindergarten teacher/cryptozoologist? I’m going for Matt Smith. Oh! But if Maya Hawke is Chrystal it would be tremendous for her dad to be her actual dad. I think Ethan Hawke could pull off the vibe here.

The Monster – I can’t tell because it would be such a spoiler. Such a spoiler.
Visit Carrie Jones's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Carrie Jones & Tala.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Chris Tebbetts's "Me Myself & Him"

Chris Tebbetts is the New York Times bestselling coauthor of James Patterson’s Middle School series. Originally from Yellow Springs, Ohio, Tebbetts is a graduate of Northwestern University. He lives and writes in Vermont.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Me Myself & Him:
I love questions like this—in part because I was a film major in college; I’m a freak for movies in general; and when I write, some part of me is always imagining my scenes on the screen. I think about where I’d put the camera (aka, what I want to show the reader), when to use a long shot (description of the setting), when to go in for a close up (get inside the character’s head), etc., etc., etc.

As for my prospective actors, I saw a preview the other day for Spiderman: Far From Home, and I have to say, Tom Holland has that average-guy, accessible-but-funny feel to him that I associate with my character Chris (who is, of course, partially based on myself). And Zendaya has impressed me ever since launching off from the Disney Channel (is that where she came from?). She’d be perfect for Anna. As for the character of Wexler, I’d love to see what Thomas Barbusca (who was so good in the movie version of another of my books, Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life) could do with that role.
Visit Chris Tebbetts's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 15, 2019

Keely Hutton's "Secret Soldiers"

Keely Hutton is a novelist, educational journalist, and former teacher. She is the recipient of the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop scholarship at Chautauqua.

Hutton has worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar to tell his story in her first novel, Soldier Boy.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Secret Soldiers:
If I could cast a movie adaptation of Secret Soldiers, I would pick the following talented actors for the main roles.

Thomas – Noah Jupe, the young British actor who played Marcus Abbott in A Quiet Place could handle the emotional range of the 13-year-old Dover miner desperate to get to the Western Front.

George – Levi Miller, the young Australian actor who played Peter in Pan and Calvin in A Wrinkle in Time could bring the charismatic London street urchin to life.

Charlie – Jacob Tremblay, the young Canadian actor who played Auggie in Wonder and Jack in Room would break hearts as the vulnerable runaway.

Frederick – Finn Wolfhard, the young Canadian actor who plays Mike Wheeler on the show Stranger Things could handle the character arc of the arrogant Eton student.

James – Tom Holland, the British actor who plays my favorite Spider Man ever would be an amazing older brother for Thomas.

Bagger – Jerome Flynn, the British actor who played Bennet Drake in Ripper Street (one of my favorite characters on one of my favorite shows) and Bronn on Game of Thrones would nail the tough, but loveable crew leader.

Mole – Paul Anderson, the British actor who plays Arthur Shelby Jr. in Peaky Blinders, the show that inspired my research into the WW1 tunnellers, would slay as the crew’s kicker.

Boomer – Naveen Andrews, the British actor who played Jafar on the show Once Upon a Time in Wonderland would be amazing as the crew’s explosion expert and Thomas’s mentor.

Bats –Raphael Corkhill, the British actor who narrated the audiobook for Secret Soldiers and plays Kaiser Wilhelm II in the upcoming film The German King would be fantastic in the role of the crew’s listener.

For a composer, I’d love John Williams, Alan Silvestri, or Hans Zimmer. I listened to all three composers’ work while writing Secret Soldiers and love the emotional impact their scores bring to films.
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

My Book, The Movie: Soldier Boy.

The Page 69 Test: Secret Soldiers.

Writers Read: Keely Hutton.

--Marshal Zeringue