Monday, December 30, 2019

Lee Goldberg's "Lost Hills"

Lee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar Award and two-time Shamus Award nominee and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including the Ian Ludlow thrillers Killer Thriller and True Fiction, King City, The Walk, fifteen Monk mysteries, and the internationally bestselling Fox & O’Hare books (The Heist, The Chase, The Job, The Scam, and The Pursuit) cowritten with Janet Evanovich. He has also written and/or produced many TV shows, including Diagnosis Murder, SeaQuest, and Monk, and is the co-creator of the Hallmark movie series Mystery 101. As an international television consultant, he has advised networks and studios in Canada, France, Germany, Spain, China, Sweden, and the Netherlands on the creation, writing, and production of episodic television series.

Here Goldberg dreamcasts the lead in an adaptation of his new novel, Lost Hills:
I wrote Lost Hills first as a screenplay, just to get the story down and satisfying myself that it worked. I then used the screenplay as a detailed outline for my novel. Initially, I had actress Erin Cahill in mind as my heroine, Eve Ronin, the youngest female homicide detective on the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. You may not recognize Erin by name, but millions of viewers know her face from the 875 Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies she's starred in over the years. Erin is actually too old to play the part now, but she was in her mid-to-late 20s, the same age as Eve, when she starred in my film Fast Track: No Limits. It was Erin's voice and face that were in my mind when I wrote Lost Hills...and even now, as I finish up the sequel, Bone Canyon, where the talk of a movie version of Eve's adventures, and who should play her in them, is a subplot in the storyline.
Visit Lee Goldberg's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 27, 2019

Darcie Wilde's “And Dangerous to Know”

Darcie Wilde is the award-winning author of the Rosalind Thorne Mysteries, a Regency-set historical mystery series inspired by the novels of Jane Austen. The new book in the series is And Dangerous to Know.

Here Wilde dreamcasts a big screen adaptation of the novel:
I’m not one of those authors who pictures a particular actor or person when they’re writing. The characters evolve too quickly into being their own people in my mind for me to hold onto a “real life” image for them. That said, the casting game is always a fun one, especially for a series. So, here we go…

And Dangerous to Know is a period mystery, set in Regency era London (think Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes), so we need somebody who can handle the language, and look good in the clothes. My two lead male characters are Adam Harkness, who is a member of the London’s proto-police force the Bow Street Runners, and Lord Casselmaine, an English aristocrat. They should be played by Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman, respectively. John Barrowman would of course be acceptable for Adam Harkness (Dr. Who fans will get the joke), but he’d have to dye his hair blond for the role.

For our second “runner,” the careful, thoughtful, Sampson Gautier, the only available choice is Idris Elba, because I think Mr. Elba should be in everything.

Likewise, for Lady Melbourne, our hostess and mistress of the haut ton who is threatened by blackmail and scandal, the only possible choice is the great Dame Maggie Smith.

That leaves my two female leads. We’ve got the best friend,“tiny, dark, quick” Alice Littlefield, who is a journalist and social gossip writer. She should be played by Keira Knightley, or maybe Minnie Driver, from about the time she was in An Ideal Husband (hey, it’s all a fantasy, we can do time travel if we want, right?).

Which brings us to my lead character, Rosalind Thorne. Rosalind is an aristocratic woman who finds herself in what got called “reduced circumstances,” after her father deserts the family. What that actually meant was she’s been left without any money and had to fend for herself. Rosalind manages by helping other women with particular problems. Like blackmail, scandal, and murder.

The problem with casting Rosalind is she’s a tall woman with an hourglass figure, which, as we know, is not a popular look with Hollywood casting directors. Come to that, it wasn’t a popular look in Rosalind’s own time. It turns out this thing we do where we judge women by how well they fit the current clothing fashions, or compare to popular celebrities, is not new. But anyway. I think here I’d have to time-travel again and say who I’d really like in the part would be either Kate Winslet, from about the time she was doing Sense & Sensibility, or her co-star, Emma Thompson, from about the time she was playing Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.

Lights, camera, action!
Visit Darcie Wilde's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

L.C. Shaw's "The Network"

L.C. Shaw is the pen name of internationally bestselling author Lynne Constantine who also writes psychological thrillers with her sister as Liv Constantine. Her family wonder if she is actually a spy, and never knows what to call her. She has explored coral reefs all over the world, sunken wrecks in the South Pacific, and fallen in love with angelfish in the Caribbean. Constantine is a former marketing executive and has a Master’s in Business from Johns Hopkins University. When editing her work, she loves to procrastinate by spending time on social media, and when stuck on a plot twist has been known to run ideas by her Silver Labrador and Golden Retriever who wish she would stop working and play ball with them. Her work has been translated into 27 languages and is available in over 31 countries.

Here Shaw dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Network:
If The Network is made into a movie, I’d love to see Charlie Hunnam cast as Jack. The first time I watched Sons of Anarchy, I thought, that’s Jack Logan. He looks like what I imagine Jack to look like and I think he would capture Jack’s personality.

Natalie Portman would be the perfect Taylor Phillips. I admire her versatility and talent and think she would make Taylor really come alive on the screen.

Damon Crosse is the most enigmatic character in the book, and requires an actor with a strong presence. Al Pacino is my dream Damon. He has the range and the charisma to make Damon Crosse a villain viewers would love to hate.
Visit L. C. Shaw's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Lynne Constantine & Greyson.

Writers Read: L.C. Shaw.

The Page 69 Test: The Network.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 20, 2019

Lisa Preston's "Dead Blow"

Lisa Preston turned to writing after careers as a fire department paramedic and a city police officer. She is the author of the highly acclaimed, best-selling novels, Orchids and Stone and Measure of the Moon and the Horseshoer Mystery Series. She is also the author of several non-fiction books and articles on the care and training of dogs and horses.

Here she shares some thoughts on casting an adaptation of her new novel Dead Blow, the second Horseshoer Mystery:
In struggling to answer the question of which actors I’d like to star in a film based on Dead Blow, I realized my first fail on this came about fifteen years ago. I was running down a trail a few miles into an impromptu ride-and-tie (R&T). Don’t ask. Wait, you asked? Okay, R&T is an obscure sport in which every team is composed of two runner-riders and one horse. The saddle is tricked out to accommodate riders dressed only in running togs, and the bridle includes a lightweight rope to allow the runner-riders to tie the horse to a handy tree. At the start, the rider is faster, thus gets ahead of the running teammate. Maybe a mile out, the rider ties the horse and runs solo down the course. When the back runner gets to the horse, she unties, hops on and rides ahead then ties the horse up where it waits for the partner runner-rider. All the way to the finish line, we leapfrog each other with the horse.

Yes, R&T is a real thing, and the fastest way to move two people with one horse.

During a race, you spend more time with competitors than your teammate. So, there I was running alongside a sixteen-year-old who was part of another team, gabbing about the sport, explaining that in the early days, Robert Redford had entered a R&T.

“Who?” she asked.

“Robert Redford.”

Blank look.

At the time, I was around forty and suddenly felt old in the face of the pop culture gap between me and the girl. Now I’m fifty-five and couldn’t identify by name any two actors in their twenties, couldn’t pick ’em out of a line-up.

When writing The Clincher, (the first novel in the series), I had in mind the young Reese Witherspoon’s rendition of the pre-teen country girl in The Man in the Moon as I imagined Rainy ten years younger, struggling through some tough childhood times. But I never had a twenty-something in mind for the barely adult Rainy as she faces a day-to-day life of shoeing horses, finding her place in the world, and solving a murder or two along the way.

Rainy affects a cowboy twang, which her partner and readers come to see stems not a little from reaction to her uprooted childhood. She admires, adopts, and revels in being country. Who can impersonate that different way rural folk talk, and more than that, what actors can carry themselves like cowboys?

Actually, any good actor. Watch the movie Loving and appreciate the Australian actor Joel Edgerton’s portrayal of the wonderful redneck Richard Loving. Edgerton doesn’t carry himself that way, speak that way, or even eye another cast member in that manner except when he portrayed the role of Richard Loving. Watch Ledger and Gyllenhaal in the adaptation of Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain, but watch the supporting roles too, watch the country wives—Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway. I’ll write books and trust the pros to accomplish good casting, directing, and acting.

When my publisher (Skyhorse) released The Clincher as an audiobook, the actress Megan Tusing voiced the entire novel. She adopted an accent, did a great job, and is young enough to play Rainy Dale, the 23-year-old series heroine. Can Tusing ride or beat a horseshoe on an anvil? I don’t know, but Rami Malek couldn’t sing or dance before he trained to play Freddie Mercury, and Malek knocked it out of the park. Megan Tusing could certainly train enough as a shoer and rider to do a wonderful job in acting the role of Rainy Dale.
Visit Lisa Preston's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Kylie Brant's "Down the Darkest Road"

Kylie Brant is the author of more than forty novels, including Cold Dark Places in the Cady Maddix series, the Circle of Evil Trilogy, and the stand-alone novels Pretty Girls Dancing and Deep as the Dead. A three-time RITA Award nominee, five-time RT Award finalist, and two-time Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Brant is a member of the Romance Writers of America, including its Kiss of Death mystery and suspense chapter; Novelists, Inc.; and the International Thriller Writers. Her books have been published in thirty-four countries and have been translated into eighteen languages.

Here Brant dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Down the Darkest Road:
I recently attended a screen-writing workshop in Vancouver where I learned the difference between concepts suited to movies vs TV. Strong female leads flourish in television and series, I was told, so the small screen is where Down the Darkest Road would fit. While I usually have difficulty visualizing actors to play the parts in my books, I looked up actresses with strawberry-blonde hair and there was Cady Maddix. Well, sure, she goes by the name of Rachel McAdams, but she’d be perfect for my formidable, commitment-phobe US Deputy Marshal. Cady has a dark and damaged past, in some ways reminiscent of McAdams’s tough cop, Ani Bezzerides, on True Detective Season 2. Both are survivors, and their personal journey is fascinating.

Fifteen-year-old Dylan Castle is also a main character in the book. He brings to mind Ethan Andrew Casto. The actor always manages to look tragic in his roles, and that’s how I picture Dylan. Haunted by a past he can’t quite remember and hunted by a killer he can’t forget, Dylan epitomizes tragedy.

Tom Hardy is arguably Hollywood’s best bad guy and his performances as Alfie Solomon in Peaky Blinders and John Fitzgerald in The Revenant are both chilling in their casual brutality. That trait characterizes Bruce Forrester in the story. Without a moral code, he seeks to satisfy his own needs first, with a careless disregard for whoever gets in his way.
Visit Kylie Brant's website.

The Page 69 Test: Down the Darkest Road.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 16, 2019

Miles Cameron's "Bright Steel"

Miles Cameron is a full time writer who lives in Canada with his family. He also writes historical fiction under the name Christian Cameron.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of the newly released Bright Steel and the other books of the Masters and Mages series:
Perhaps I’m an outlier, but I don’t usually imagine movie actors in the roles of my books; I usually picture people I know. For the Masters and Mages series, however, I’m delighted to start casting, the more so as I tried to write the books to be movies in terms of plot movement and action…

The first character I cast (because I saw him in my head as soon as I started writing) is a minor character known only as Harlequin in the first novel. Later, this mercurial, imposing mage turns out to be one of the pivotal characters in the whole over plot. As the character is one of the most powerful mages in my world and hales from my Africa-analog, I always imagined that Lira-Qna as Idris Elba.

Dahlia Tarkos is one of the protagonists; she’s an aristocrat, a swordsperson of exceptional skill, and a potent magos, a woman with natural authority and charisma. My choice for the role is Jade Eshete; if she had blonde hair and a sword she’d be the very image (Byzas aristocrats often have dark complexions and light hair.)

Myr Alicia Benvenutu is the Master of Arts, the most powerful mage and the head of an Academia of magick in a city that combines ancient Constantinople with Venice and Istanbul. My choice to play her is Shohreh Aghdashloo who I encountered in the brilliant TV adventure, The Expanse.

Aranthur Timos is the main character, the farmboy turned hero in a time of immense change. My choice to play him (a 19 year old) is Andrew Rotilio, another actor from the Sci-Fi hit The Expanse.

Aranthur’s eventual partner, who is a thousand-year-old alien entity trapped in a dead woman’s body by the supposedly good necromancers who are Aranthur’s allies, should be played by Frankie Adams.

Prince Ansu is an ally from distant Zhou, another expert swordsman and magos. To play Prince Ansu, I’d really like the Canadian actor Simu Liu.

General Tremaine is the Emperor’s cousin; another potent swordswoman, she is a middle-aged military commander trying to deal with insurmountable odds. For that role I’d like to see Lena Headey (Circe Lannister from Game of Thrones).

And finally, the master spy of my very complex plot is Tiy Drako, a swashbuckling rogue who is also a patient hunter, and for that role, I’d like to have Timothy Olyphant from Deadwood and Justified.

Hope you enjoyed my visualizations; someone please sell it to Hollywood, or at least Netflix. Oh, by the way, all the actors need some serious fight coaching. Can I be my own fight master?
Visit Miles Cameron's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Jacqueline Firkins's "Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things"

Jacqueline Firkins is a writer, costume designer, and lover of beautiful things. She's on the fulltime faculty in the Department of Theatre & Film at the University of British Columbia. When not obsessing about where to put the buttons or the commas, she can be found running by the ocean, eating excessive amounts of gluten, listening to earnest love songs, and pretending her dog understands every word she says.

Here Firkins dreamcasts an adaptation of her new YA rom-com, Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things, a modern retelling of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park:
I work in film and theatre as a prof and designer. I loosely based the appearances of my teenage characters on some of the acting students I was working with while I wrote the first draft. However, if a movie was made, I know star power would hold weight. So for my central trio, I’d propose the following:

-Edie Price: Millie Bobby Brown. As seen in Stranger Things, she’s brilliant at conveying a lot with silence, which works well for a character who likes to observe others. She can be angry but vulnerable at the same time. Strong but self-doubting. She does complicated well.

-Sebastian Summers: Asa Butterfield. He nails adorably awkward, sensitive, earnest, and self-deprecating. He’s the guy you can’t help but root for, no matter what role he plays. And he has amazing blue eyes that can fill a frame.

-Henry Crawford: Jacob Artist. He’s good at playing sensitive guys, but I think he can pull off a bad boy, too. He’s drop-dead gorgeous and he does a great job emitting rock-solid confidence. He’d give Henry emotional complexity.

While it may be type casting, I have two dream directors. One is Amy Heckerling, who adapted Austen’s Emma into the incomparable Clueless. She gets the sweetness of love without shying away from sexuality or the embarrassments we undergo when we're figuring ourselves out. The other director would be Patricia Rozema, who did such an amazing job adapting Mansfield Park for the screen within its period setting. Both directors know how to merge Austen’s wit and social scrutiny with big mushy feelings and a contemporary sensibility.

And of course, I’d want to design the costumes.
Visit Jacqueline Firkins's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jacqueline Firkins & Ffiona.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ronni Davis's "When the Stars Lead to You"

Ronni Davis grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where she tried her best to fit in—and failed miserably. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a BA in Psychology, she worked in insurance, taught yoga, and became a cat mom.

Now she lives in Chicago with her husband Adam and her son Aidan. By day she copy edits everything from TV commercials to billboards, and by night she writes contemporary teen novels about brown girls falling in love. When she’s not writing, you can catch her playing the Sims, eating too much candy, or planning her next trip to Disney World.

Here Davis dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, When the Stars Lead to You:
If they When the Stars Lead to You into a film, here’s who I'd like to play the lead role(s).

Of course, this depends on timing. It takes so long for these things to come to fruition, if at all, and because my book stars teenagers who grow up really fast, I know that true casting would be super tricky, simply because teens change so much.

But I’d want Chloe Coleman to play Devon. Chloe just turned ten years old, so again, timing, but she has the exact skin color and precociousness I see in Devon. Also, her hair is magnificent and exactly what I pictured when I was writing the book.

The actual person I pictured when I was writing the book is a model named Rose Bertram. I’ve been following Rose’s career for many years now and she’s one of my favorite models ever. Of course, Devon had to be based on her.

As for Ashton… well, he was based quite a lot on the actor Theo James, who is obviously way too old to play an 18-year old. So, I’d likely want to do a casting call and get an unknown for that role, but one who is similar to Theo. (For reference, here is the Theo James I had in mind when I was writing the story.)

Both of my fan casts are the wrong ages and way too far apart in age, but maybe the stars will align and I will be able to find lead actors who will fit the bill! I can dream about it, anyway.
Visit Ronni Davis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 8, 2019

A. R. Moxon's "The Revisionaries"

A. R. Moxon is a writer who runs the popular twitter handle @JuliusGoat. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Here the author shares his vision for an adaptation of his new novel, The Revisionaries:
When I think of movie I tend to think of directors, not actors—in fact, a movie by a director I admire with unknown or little-known actors can frequently provide an experience a more familiar face, due solely to familiarity, can’t deliver. So, I’m going to make some perhaps unorthodox choices by focusing on “casting” not only on director, but a filmic style. The movie of my dreams based on The Revisionaries would be directed by Richard Linklater, made in the mode of his movies Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly—both of which (see them if you haven’t) utilize an advanced rotoscoping method to create a dreamlike sense of highly naturalistic performance other animation styles can't capture, coupled with a constant dreamlike sense of shift and flow well-suited to my book’s shifting viewpoints, perspectives, and realities, utilizing an artistic style that match the book’s own themes and motifs like none other I can imagine. Linklater’s own style, which I’d describe as laconically cerebral, also seems a nice fit for the strangeness to come—in which a man might believably turn to a pile of salt, or to sandals, in which a circus might hide a cult, or vice versa, in which a scratch-off lottery ticket might be more than it seems…

Once I have Richard Linklater and the rotoscoping, the rest will fall nicely into place. Perhaps Linklater could attach a big name as our hero, the anti-orthodox street priest Father Julius, who could draw studio dollars and audience interest (I think Jeff Bridges would make a good pick), and then fill the ranks of the other characters—Bailey, Donk, Boyd, Jane Sim, her daughter Finch, Morris Love and his wicked ancestor Isaac, the stammering loon Tennessee, the mysterious Landrude Marskson, and of course Gordon Shirker, the elusive flickering man of Loony Island—with a diverse cast of talented unknowns. I’d buy popcorn for that movie.
Visit A. R. Moxon's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Kimberly Gabriel's "Every Stolen Breath"

Kimberly Gabriel started writing in fourth grade when she wrote, bound, and gave away books of terrible poetry to family and teachers as holiday gifts. Today she is an English teacher, who still squanders all free minutes to write and uses it as the best scapegoat for her laundry avoidance issues. When she is not teaching or writing, Gabriel is enjoying life with her husband and her three beautiful children in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

Every Stolen Breath is her debut novel and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

Here Gabriel dreamcasts an adaptation of the novel:
When I wrote Every Stolen Breath, the scenes played out in my head in a very cinematic fashion and I pictured actors playing each of these roles. However, because I don’t watch a lot of television, almost all of the actors I had cast would be too old to play my teen characters. Many of my answers include the younger teen version of the actors I listed below.

Lia, my main character: For Lia, I pictured a teen version of Jessica Chastain with whitish blonde hair. While writing, I would often think of Chastain’s portrayal of Maya in Zero Dark Thirty as a smart, serious woman with an unstoppable drive, which is very similar to Lia’s character in Every Stolen Breath. Chloë Grace Moretz might be perfect for Lia.

Ryan, the mysterious boy who may or may not have been responsible for her father’s death: I pictured a younger (more vulnerable) version of Channing Tatum like the Dear John version of Channing Tatum. Because there is so much mystery surrounding Ryan, the actor would need to have both the vulnerable side but also someone who is physically capable of fighting off attackers similar to Theo James’s portrayal of Four in the Divergent series.

Adam, Lia’s unapologetic best friend: Adam looks like Adam Lambert in my mind. Daniel Doheny might be a good fit for him, or the teenage version of Max Greenfield.

Emi Vega, the perhaps unethical reporter: I picture Eva Mendez for Emi.

Lia’s mom: Gwyneth Paltrow would be a perfect fit for Lia’s mom.

Katie, her introverted friend with a flair for art and protesting: Katie was very much based off of a student I had in my classroom. Liu Yifei would play Katie well.

Mayor Henking, Chicago’s smarmy politician: George Clooney.

Richard, the mayor’s right-hand man: Jeremy Piven.
Visit Kimberly Gabriel's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Steve Robinson's "The Penmaker's Wife"

Steve Robinson is a London-based crime writer. He was sixteen when his first magazine article was published and he’s been writing ever since. A love for genealogy inspired his first bestselling series, the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mysteries, and he is now expanding his writing to historical crime, another area he is passionate about.

Here Robinson dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Penmaker's Wife:
I’ve had several social media discussions about this over the years with my earlier books, about who might play the characters if a TV or film adaptation was made. It’s always fun to imagine such things. The main character in The Penmaker’s Wife is a femme fatale called Angelica Chastain. I chose the surname for its French origins because Angelica was born in France, although she moved to England when she was quite young. The person I would choose to play her in the movie, shares the same surname, and perhaps this also helped to guide my choice. The actress is Jessica Chastain. She always seems to exude such confidence in her roles on screen, and is often portrayed as a strong woman who knows exactly what she wants. That’s the kind of character I was looking for when I imagined Angelica.

Another key character in the book is called Effie Wilmington-Reed, whom I see as Angelica’s opposite in many ways — a young and naive ‘English rose’ type of character that I can see someone like Emilia Fox (as she was in Pride and Prejudice) playing. There’s also a rather officious character in The Penmaker’s Wife called Violet Cosgrove, and my inspiration for her was drawn from the 1940 adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I just couldn’t get the the movie’s opening scenes in Monte Carlo out of my head as I was writing Violet. The character from Rebecca is called Edythe Van Hopper, played by Florence Bates.

For Stanley Hampton, the lead man of the story and the pen maker himself, who quickly becomes besotted with Angelica, I can see Benedict Cumberbatch fitting right in. Minus the pipe and deerstalker from his role in Sherlock of course.

It’s an all-star cast! Anyone got the budget?
Visit Steve Robinson's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Steve Robinson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Declan Burke's "The Lammisters"

Declan Burke is the author of Eightball Boogie (2003), The Big O (2007), Absolute Zero Cool (2011), Slaughter’s Hound (2012), Crime Always Pays (2014), The Lost and the Blind (2014), and The Lammisters (2019). Absolute Zero Cool was shortlisted in the crime fiction section for the Irish Book Awards, and received the Goldsboro Award for Best Humorous Crime Novel in 2012. Eightball Boogie and Slaughter’s Hound were also shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. Burke is also the editor of Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century (2011) and Trouble is Our Business (2016), and the co-editor, with John Connolly, of Books to Die For (2013), which won the Anthony Award for Best Non-Fiction Crime. Burke was a UNESCO / Dublin City Council writer-in-residence for 2017-18. He blogs at Crime Always Pays.

Here Burke dreamcasts an adaptation of The Lammisters:
It’s been my experience that when readers like a book, they tend to say, ‘That would make a great movie.’ For some reason, with The Lammisters, people have tended to say that it would make a good play. Maybe that’s because The Lammisters is effectively a behind-the-scenes comedy of what happens when a group of characters, abandoned by their author, are cut loose from their expected story and left to fend for themselves.

The book is set in Prohibition-era Hollywood, and features bootleggers and movie stars from the period; in my mind, Vanessa Hopgood, aka the most shimmering star in Hollywood, bears a strong resemblance to what I imagine the young Norma Desmond – played as a fading star by Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard – would have looked like in the early 1920s. Vanessa’s beau, the Irish-American bootlegger Rusty McGrew, is possessed of a piratical mien and a big bushy head of curly red hair – a craggy, carrot-topped version of Douglas Fairbanks Snr would fit the bill nicely. The movie mogul Samuel L. Silverstein is physically modelled on a more rotund version of the young Louis B. Mayer, while the Anglo-Irish aristocrat Sir Archibald ‘Archie’ l’Estrange-B’stard is described as ‘an exquisitely coopered barrel’ – if you can imagine Wallace Reid with plummy vowels and a pumpkin-shaped head, that’s Archie.

I love caper comedies, and especially those about lammisters, or characters who are on the lam. If the Coen Brothers could be persuaded to reprise the arch style and surreally anarchic tone of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, they’d be perfect to direct The Lammisters.
Learn more about the book and author at Burke's Crime Always Pays blog.

Writers Read: Declan Burke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 29, 2019

Christopher Hinz's "Starship Alchemon"

Christopher Hinz is the author of seven novels. Liege-Killer won the Compton Crook award for best first novel and was nominated for the John W. Campbell award for best new writer. He has written screenplay adaptations, short stories and a graphic novel, as well as scripting comics for DC and Marvel. His latest publications are the novel Starship Alchemon and the co-written novelette Duchamp Versus Einstein.

Here Hinz dreamcasts an adaptation of Starship Alchemon:
It’s always fun to engage in “who should play the role” scenarios even though Hollywood realities dictate that it’s nearly impossible to get an original science fiction novel made into a medium-to-big-budget science fiction film unless: 1) the book sells about a million copies; 2) a major actor wants to play the lead; or 3) Steven Spielberg’s your uncle.

A further impediment to movie adaptation in the case of Starship Alchemon is that it’s a standalone story, with a clear beginning, middle and end. Unfortunately, that violates a principal Hollywood commandment: "Thine book shall be the first in a series in order that a franchise may be launched."

All that said, Starship Alchemon remains wonderfully cinematic in the Alien-esque tradition, featuring a small group of space explorers aboard an AI vessel struggling to survive a bizarre foe that can attack them on physical, emotional and intellectual planes.

Despite the daunting odds of such a film ever being greenlit, I present the following dream-casting: George Clooney as “Ericho Solorzano,” the ship’s besieged captain; Jennifer Lawrence as psychically tormented “LeaMarsa de Host”; Halle Berry as perceptive crewdoc “June Courthouse”; Javier Bardem as the increasingly deranged “Tomer Donner”; and Constance Wu as pheromonally enhanced scientist “Faye Kuriyama.”

Let thine cameras roll!
Visit Christopher Hinz's website.

The Page 69 Test: Starship Alchemon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Ann Howard Creel's "Mercy Road"

Ann Howard Creel writes historical novels about strong female characters facing seemingly impossible obstacles and having to make life-changing decisions. In her 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. In The Whiskey Sea, a fierce young woman becomes one of the only female rumrunners on the Atlantic Coast during Prohibition. And in While You Were Mine, a New York City nurse must give up the child she has raised as her own during World War II.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Mercy Road:
This is such a fun exercise but is a little difficult for me. As I’m writing I don’t imagine actors—I see my characters as completely new faces. But by making myself imagine the film version of Mercy Road, I came up with a few actors that would work for me.

I choose Carey Mulligan as Arlene Favier, a young horsewoman turned World War I ambulance driver. Mulligan’s portrayal of Bathsheba in the recent remake of Far from the Madding Crowd demonstrated her ability to be both strong and vulnerable. And that’s how I see Arlene.

For Jimmy Tucker, the hometown boy that Arlene runs into in France and ultimately falls for, I choose Sam Worthington for many of the same reasons I chose Mulligan. I think he can do it all. Worthington really stood out in the film, The Debt, and also gave a fine performance in Avatar. He looks the part, too.

Choosing someone to play Felix Brohammer, the so-called bad guy in my book, is the toughest pick. I’m going against typecast here and choosing Daniel Radcliffe, famous for playing Harry Potter. Of course in the Harry Potter series, he’s a likeable young person, but I think he can play a bad guy just as well.

Now all I need is a film rights contract!
Visit Ann Howard Creel's website.

The Page 69 Test: The River Widow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Chad Zunker's "An Equal Justice"

Chad Zunker studied journalism at the University of Texas, where he was also on the football team. He’s worked for some of the most powerful law firms in the country and invented baby products that are now sold all over the world. He has wanted to write full time since he took his first practice hit as a skinny freshman walk-on from a 6’5, 240 pound senior All-American safety — which crushed both him and his feeble NFL dreams.

Zunker is the author of the David Adams legal thriller, An Equal Justice, as well as The Tracker, Shadow Shepherd, and Hunt the Lion in his Sam Callahan series. He lives in Austin with his wife, Katie, and their three daughters.

Here Zunker shares some thoughts about the actor to play the lead in an adaptation of An Equal Justice:
This is always a tough one for me. As a father of three young kids, I haven’t had too much time to watch movies outside of the Disney film zone. So I have no idea who the hot young actors are who could play David Adams well. David is Texas born and raised. Even though he went to law school at Stanford, he still has some of that Texas twang to him. I would want whoever is considered the "next Matthew McConaughey" to play the role.
Visit Chad Zunker's website.

My Book, The Movie: Hunt The Lion.

The Page 69 Test: Hunt the Lion.

Writers Read: Chad Zunker.

The Page 69 Test: An Equal Justice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 22, 2019

Georgie Blalock's "The Other Windsor Girl"

Georgie Blalock is an amateur historian and movie buff who loves combining her different passions through historical fiction, and a healthy dose of period piece films. When not writing, she can be found prowling the non-fiction history section of the library or the British film listings on Netflix. Blalock writes historical romance under the name Georgie Lee.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Other Windsor Girl:
I love classic films and, if I could make it happen, I’d have classic film stars take the leads in a movie adaptation of The Other Windsor Girl.

Vivien Leigh, who played Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, would have made a great Princess Margaret. She had the sass and the attitude and the British class to have pulled it off. She was petite like the Princess but with the same will of steel hidden by a charming smile.

Paulette Goddard would have been perfect as Vera. Her role in The Women demonstrated her razor sharp wit combined with youth but she wasn’t naïve. She knew when to hold back and keep secrets but she also knew when to stand out and make her presence felt.

A young Ronald Coleman from A Tale of Two Cities would have been an excellent Rupert, Vera’s cousin who helps Vera become a member of the Princess Margaret Set, a group of young aristocrats and socialites who are intimates of the princess. Ronald Coleman’s worldliness and charm were exactly like Rupert’s.

Gary Cooper from High Noon would play Dr. Dominic Reynolds, Vera’s American love interest. Dominic has a sense of humor about life but he is very serious about being a doctor and about Vera living up to her potential. He is suave but with that touch of American west toughness and Gary Cooper could have easily brought him to life.
Visit Georgie Blalock's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Jennifer Roberson's "Life and Limb"

Jennifer Roberson has a BS in journalism with extended majors in British history and anthropology. She spent her final semester in London on an American studies program as an adult student in 1982, and while there, two days after her 28th birthday, received a telegram (pre-email!) from her agent informing her DAW Books had bought what became Shapechangers, the first in her Chronicles of the Cheysuli fantasy series. Her collaboration with Melanie Rawn and Kate Elliott, The Golden Key, was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. In addition to the new Blood & Bone series, she has published eight Cheysuli novels, the Sword-Dancer Saga (#8 to come) and three of four volumes in the Karavans universe. The second volume in Blood & Bone is Sinners and Saints, scheduled for publication in March of 2021. Hobbies include showing dogs, and creating mosaic artwork and jewelry. She lives in Arizona with a collection of cats and Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

Here Roberson dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Life and Limb:
Life and Limb is the first volume in an ongoing urban fantasy series about the End of Days, and two perfectly ordinary young men who are strangers to one another have been conscripted to join the heavenly host in a battle against Lucifer’s spec ops troops: demons who now inhabit characters and creatures from fiction, history, myths, legends, and folklore. But the angels have agendas, and Gabe and Remi—an ex-con biker and Texas cowboy—must also come to grips with the unwelcome discovery that they themselves are not after all entirely human, even as they climb the steepest of learning curves in an attempt to save the world.

Gabe and Remi are not related on a biological level, but because of their true heritage they do bear a resemblance to one another. Gabe is a long-haired biker in boots and black leather, while Remi is a Texas cowboy in boots and blue denim. Both have very dark hair and tanned skin, and I would love to see Jason Momoa, Adrian Paul in his Highlander days for coloring and eye-candy, and Timothy Olyphant (all that wit and dry delivery) tossed into a blender. The end result would be Gabe and Remi—and quite delicious.

And as for the man they call Grandaddy, well, he most definitely is Sam Elliott!

Director? Joss Whedon. He created, directed, and wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and on the big screen The Avengers, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. He has a sense of drama but also imbues his works with whimsy and humor; sly, dry banter; and whip-smart characters. That sums up my goal with Life and Limb.
Visit Jennifer Roberson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Life and Limb.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 18, 2019

JP Gritton’s "Wyoming"

JP Gritton’s awards include a Cynthia Woods Mitchell fellowship, a DisQuiet fellowship and the Donald Barthelme prize in fiction. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Greensboro Review, New Ohio Review, Southwest Review, Tin House and elsewhere. His translations of the fiction of Brazilian writer Cidinha da Silva are forthcoming in InTranslation.

Wyoming is his first novel.

Here Gritton reflects on adapting the novel for the big screen:
In high school I gravitated toward nerdy, artistically inclined types, and together we completed a slow orbit of the theater and film programs. Some of us were in set design, and some of us did lighting and sound, and some of us fretted and strutted (in minor roles, of course) upon the stage. Not so long ago, a film I co-wrote and starred in back in high school appeared on the local-access television channel.

It was baffling. Where had they found it, this thing I only half-remembered creating? Why were they running it now? Who had given them the say-so? Even when I made it, I’d had only a vague sense of the film's plot. I can say only that it featured a younger, huskier version of myself with a zip-lock bag of powdered sugar in his hand (its title, I should mention, was Colombian Blizzard). My best friend had recruited a beautiful crush to star opposite me. In one of the only scenes I remember, I wave Jenna into my mom’s house and explain: “Feel free to take your clothes off.” In the next scene I remember with any real clarity, my car gets stalled on some train tracks and then (get this) a train comes! That’s how the movie ends.

I think about this story often: it tells me something of how random, how chaotic artistic expression can truly be. I guess we made that movie in 1997 or ‘98—it was only a few years ago I saw it on local access. You never know who is going to pick up your TV script, or your demo tape, or your chapbook—what are the chances, after all, that I’d turn on local access and see my own pimply face on the screen?

Maybe as a consequence of this optimism, I’ve played the casting game at every stage of the writing process. The main character of my novel is a surly, misanthropic, drug-slinging construction worker named Shelley. My buddy Jon, who read the first complete draft, thought Josh Brolin would make a good leading man. My editor and girlfriend both suggested Joaquin Phoenix for Shelley’s role. I was never any good at the game—without fail, I’d suggest an actor, and my girlfriend would say, “But he’s dead now.” And I’d go, “Oh, yeah.”

Claiming some vague connection to VICE TV, a “Hollywood producer” contacted me a while back. He'd read an early review and thought my book had “narrative promise”—did I mind sending him a galley? So I put one in the mail the very next day. That was three months ago.

For the leading role, I’ve never been able to get the impossible options out of my head. The other Phoenix brother to play Shelley--or, if not him, Heath Ledger, or Lee Van Cleef ca. 1954. Probably I’ve known all along that nobody will be making a movie out of my book—or that, if they do, this film will only run on Channel 8.
Visit JP Gritton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Sarah Deming's "Gravity"

Sarah Deming began boxing after graduating from Brown University and was the 2001 New York City Golden Gloves and Empire State Games featherweight champion. She has covered hundreds of amateur and professional fights from ringside, including the Rio Olympics and the 2012 Women’s World Championships in China. She covered the London Olympics as part of the Emmy-winning NBC team and, as an HBO Boxing Insider, covered the first women’s bout broadcast on HBO Championship Boxing. She coaches and tutors youth boxers at NYC Cops and Kids, a free community gym in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Here Deming dreamcasts an adaptation of her YA novel Gravity, which tells the story of a female boxer’s battles on the road to the Rio Games:
I wrote Gravity like it was a movie. It moves around a lot: Brooklyn to Spokane to China to Rio. It has a large cast of diverse characters that I hoped would offer juicy opportunities for actors of color.

My husband, who is a crime fiction buff, tells me that Dashiell Hammett tried to see his novel The Maltese Falcon like it was a movie and write that way. That was inspiring to me.

I've always found screenwriting classes/manuals -- stuff like Story and Save the Cat -- to be far more helpful and practical than fiction writing guides. I think about things like act breaks, subtext, the picture I'm painting on stage. I want every important character to be charismatic and to undergo some kind of change or development throughout the arc of the story.

My book is YA, so the main characters are young and offer the opportunity for fresh new faces. I can see some of the real boxers I know playing the roles they inspired. Chris Colbert, who inspired the male lead D-Minus, is already the star of a Netflix documentary called Counterpunch. Two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields inspired the character of Sacred Jones, and she would light up the screen. Olympic hopeful and runway model Alexis Chiaparro would be great for Lefty.

The only character I strongly identify with an actor is Carmen Cruz, the beautiful Colombian sportswriter, whom I picture as Rosie Perez. I've met Rosie because she's a fight fan and a wonderful supporter of the New York boxing scene. I feel like she'd connect with Carmen's toughness and vulnerability and with her deep emotional connection to the sport.

There's a character called Fatso who is described as looking like Biggie Smalls "only fatter and more athletic." Fatso was also inspired by Forest Whitaker's character in Ghost Dog, but Whitaker would have to gain a lot of weight to play him!
Visit Sarah Deming's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 11, 2019

Hank Early's "Echoes of the Fall"

Hank Early lives in central Alabama with his wife and two kids. He writes crime, watches too much basketball, and rarely sleeps. His new book, Echoes of the Fall, is his third Earl Marcus novel.

In a previous life, he published horror as John Mantooth.

Here Early dreamcasts an adaptation of Echoes of the Fall:
Confession: I’ve had the Earl Marcus Netflix series cast for some time. I’m just waiting on some Hollywood type to wake up and see what a goldmine these books are and get to work on the adaptation. Kidding, of course. Kind of. Okay, well, maybe I’m not. Hear me out.

Earl Marcus would be played by David Harbour of Stranger Things fame. My wife gave me the idea when we watched Stranger Things together and she said, “That sheriff is exactly how I pictured Earl Marcus when I read your first book.” Full disclosure: it wasn’t exactly how I pictured him (in my mind, Earl is skinnier and grayer), but close enough.

Earl’s two sidekicks is where it really gets fun. Ronnie is without question Walton Goggins. Goggins has the ability to project the chaos and instability of Ronnie while still displaying his considerable vulnerability and innate goodness. And let’s face it, Goggins would look great tatted up with a guitar slung around his neck while he and the boys kicked out the jams down at the local honky tonk.

Clint Eastwood would make a perfect Rufus. Gritty and resourceful, Rufus has a kind of fallen preacher vibe that Eastwood would own. I can just imagine him wearing the oversized shades and black overalls while standing off in the shadows of the old church where he makes his home.

Finally, I’d cast Erica Tazel as Mary Hawkins. Tazel nailed a similar role in the series Justified and brings just enough toughness and wisdom to work as Earl’s law enforcement contact, and on again off again romantic partner.
Visit Hank Early's website.

The Page 69 Test: Echoes of the Fall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 8, 2019

James Lovegrove's "Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon"

James Lovegrove is the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Odin. He was short-listed for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1998 and for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2004, and also reviews fiction for the Financial Times. He is the author of Firefly: Big Damn Hero with Nancy Holder and Firefly: The Magnificent Nine. He lives in south-east England.

Here Lovegrove dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest Sherlock Holmes novel, Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon:
The best screen Holmes is undoubtedly Jeremy Brett, who played the role in the 1980s Granada series and nailed the character completely. Most of the time he was accompanied by Edward Hardwicke, who was likewise excellent as Watson – tolerant and reliable. If these two were still alive and in their prime, I would gladly have them star in a movie of any of my Holmes books. In fact, when writing Holmes’s dialogue, I tend to hear Brett’s voice.

I also think that Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, back when they were a comedy duo, would have made a fine Holmes and Watson. Each could have played either role.

Specifically for The Christmas Demon, the other main parts would offer present-day British thespians plenty to get their teeth into. Most of the action takes place at Fellscar Keep, a Yorkshire castle in the depths of a freezing winter, and the large family who live there form the bulk of the supporting cast. Roger Allam would make a convincing Thaddeus Allerthope, the crusty patriarch, and Anton Lesser would be good as his somewhat weaker-willed, more sensitive younger brother Shadrach. Both actors play major roles in the 1960s-set detective series Endeavour.

Our leading lady, Eve Allerthorpe, would be well portrayed by someone like Daisy Ridley, Felicity Jones or Maisie Williams, and her tearaway brother by Taron Egerton from Rocketman and the Kingsman movies. Husband and wife Fitzhugh and Kitty Danningbury Boyd – the one louche and lecherous, the other somewhat highly-strung – could be played by Eddie Redmayne (or Andrew Garfield) and perhaps Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

A stylish director such as Sam Mendes or Christopher Nolan would be great – although the latter would probably not be interested in the job, given that the story’s narrative is purely linear, with no time jumps or flashbacks or other tricksy malarkey.
Visit James Lovegrove's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Olivia Hawker's "One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow"

Through unexpected characters and vivid prose, Olivia Hawker explores the varied landscape of the human spirit. Hawker’s interest in genealogy often informs her writing. Her first two novels from Lake Union Publishing, The Ragged Edge of Night and One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow (2019), are based on true stories found within the author’s family tree.

She lives in the San Juan Islands of Washington State with her husband Paul and several naughty cats.

Here Hawker shares her dream director and screenwriter to adapt One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow for the big screen:
I don’t follow the film world closely enough to have a clear idea of which actors I’d like to see portray the characters from One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow. But I can tell you that if it were ever made into a film, I’d love to see Adrian Lyne direct it with Stephen Schiff screenwriting. I absolutely loved their adaptation of Lolita (1997). It’s one of my favorite movies, and I think I love it so much because it was so faithful to the book. It captured the atmosphere of the book and all the subtle nuances of the characters’ emotions brilliantly, in a way Kubrick’s version can’t even touch. I think it’s a crime that Kubrick’s Lolita is so iconic when Lyne and Schiff made a much better work of art with the same source material. I’d welcome such a team tackling Blackbird!
Visit Olivia Hawker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Paula Munier's "Blind Search"

Paula Munier is the author of the bestselling Plot Perfect, The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings, Writing with Quiet Hands, and Fixing Freddie: A True Story of a Boy, a Mom, and a Very, Very Bad Beagle. She was inspired to write A Borrowing of Bones, the first Mercy and Elvis mystery, by the hero working dogs she met through MissionK9Rescue, her own Newfoundland retriever mix rescue Bear, and a lifelong passion for crime fiction.

Munier lives in New England with her family, Bear, and a torbie tabby named Ursula.

Here Munier dreamcasts an adaptation of her new Mercy and Elvis mystery, Blind Search:

If I had a dollar for every time a writer told me their book would make a great movie/TV show/Netflix series/Broadway musical, I’d be writing this from the Hotel George V in Paris. But I’m not, and even if I were, I would have to confess that when it comes to this particular writer’s fantasy, I’m just as delusional as everyone else.

Maybe more so, because in my Emmy-winning crime series, Rose Leslie would play Mercy Carr and one of the Chrises would play Vermont Game Warden Troy Warner, but the real stars of the show would be the dogs.

And we’d use rescue dogs. Maybe even our own rescue dogs: Bear, the Newfoundland-retriever mix who’s the inspiration for Susie Bear, and Bliss, the Great Pyrenees-Australian cattle dog mix who was the inspiration for one of the service dogs who appears in Blind Search.
Visit Paula Munier's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Paula Munier & Bear.

Writers Read: Paula Munier.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Liska Jacobs's "The Worst Kind of Want"

Liska Jacobs holds an MFA from the University of California, Riverside. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and The Hairpin, among other publications.

In her new novel, The Worst Kind of Want:
To cool-headed, fastidious Pricilla Messing, Italy will be an escape, a brief glimpse of freedom from a life that's starting to feel like one long decline.

Rescued from the bedside of her difficult mother, forty-something Cilla finds herself called away to Rome to keep an eye on her wayward teenage niece, Hannah. But after years of caregiving, babysitting is the last thing Cilla wants to do. Instead she throws herself into Hannah's youthful, heedless world—drinking, dancing, smoking—relishing the heady atmosphere of the Italian summer. After years of feeling used up and overlooked, Cilla feels like she's coming back to life. But being so close to Hannah brings up complicated memories, making Cilla restless and increasingly reckless, and a dangerous flirtation with a teenage boy soon threatens to send her into a tailspin.
Here Jacobs dreamcasts an adaptation of The Worst Kind of Want:
When I start a book, I make a mood board and cast all the characters—but I never use actors because I’m so easily influenced by what roles they’ve played. I use models, usually from old Vogues or those cheap hairstyle magazines you can buy at Walgreens. It’s only later that I start to think who could pull off the role.

For Cilla, I think Chloë Sevigny or Maggie Gyllenhaal would be phenomenal.

And Donato, well, it would have to be Timothée Chalamet. He’s just so uncomfortably attractive, which is what you’d want for the part. But really any young actor who has good hair and a full, boyish smile.

As for Hannah, Cilla’s fifteen-year-old niece, maybe Chloe Moretz or Elle Fanning.

And it would have to be filmed on location. That would be an absolute must!
Visit Liska Jacobs's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Kelly Simmons's "Where She Went"

Kelly Simmons is a former journalist and creative advertising director who started writing fiction over fifteen years ago, while studying creative writing and screenwriting at Temple University and University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her critically acclaimed novels (Standing Still, The Bird House, One More Day, The Fifth of July and Where She Went) she has stuff on a few back burners: developing a TV series, writing a memoir, perfecting her dessert game.

She's a visiting teacher for Drexel University's Storylab and is a member of The Liars Club writing mentorship collective, The Tall Poppy Writers, Womens Fiction Writers Association, and Binders Full of Women Writers.

Here Simmons dreamcasts an adaptation of Where She Went:
With so many great actresses creating great TV and films these days – not to mention producing and directing – well, casting the movie version of my book is like being in a candy store. But I’m not gonna let that sway me. No. Okay, maybe I am. No, I’m not. I’m going to choose the right people, not the most famous ones. Okay, maybe the right people are the most famous ones? Don’t judge me.

Where She Went is written from the twin perspectives of a missing college student and her helicopter mother, who is trying to find her. We get to follow each woman’s path, a few days apart, as the daughter’s decisions go from bad to worse and the mother’s go from unhinged to intelligent. So the question becomes . . . who do I want to see unhinge?

For the daughter, Emma, I can’t help but long for Kaitlyn Dever, who is so amazing in the movie Booksmart. Her emotions radiate across her entire face, and her physical ability to play subtle or broad is admirable, too.

For the mom, Maggie, I’d like to see Leslie Mann stretch herself into a dramatic role. There are just enough funny/tender moments in the story to let her comedic chops shine through, but I’ve always wondered what else she could do. She’s the right age, and totally the right vibe to play a hardscrabble hairdresser from Philadelphia.

So, see? I didn’t go straight up the middle. I didn’t say “Julia Roberts as the mom and her niece Emma Roberts playing her daughter.” Oh wait. That would be cool stunt casting .... hmmmmm....
Visit Kelly Simmons's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Erica Wright's "Famous in Cedarville"

Erica Wright's new crime novel Famous in Cedarville received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. She is the author of three previous novels including The Red Chameleon, which was one of O, The Oprah Magazine's Best Books of Summer 2014. Her poetry collections are Instructions for Killing the Jackal and All the Bayou Stories End with Drowned.

Here Wright dreamcasts an adaptation of Famous in Cedarville:
Famous in Cedarville opens with the death of retired silver screen actress Barbara Lace, so cinema plays a big role (pun 100% intended) in this book. Each chapter begins with a glimpse of Barbara’s life, so I imagine the movie would have some flashbacks or film clips. And I just really want to cast this character! I imagine the older version played by someone like Glenn Close. I like how Close chooses unexpected, challenging parts. In real life, she seems tough and glamorous. A little fierce. For the younger version, maybe Rachel Brosnahan? I could watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel every night. Brosnahan is so delightful in the role and also has that element of ferocity.

For my slightly awkward lead Samson Delaware, I’d go with David Tennant. Samson has been transformed by his wife’s death from someone effortlessly charming—in love with life—to someone struggling to get out of bed in the morning. But there are glimpses of his former lightness, and Tennant is so good at nuance.

My favorite type of character is the underestimated, so I have two in my book. The first is a woman trying to help Samson. She’s pitied at the beginning of the story, but quickly shows everyone that she can handle herself in a variety of situations, including a fight. Michelle Rodriguez would be great. Then there’s the small-town sheriff, and I know it’s because of True Detective, but I can’t get Woody Harrelson out of my head.
Visit Erica Wright's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Andrew Skinner's "Steel Frame"

Andrew Skinner grew up in South Africa’s coal-mining heartland, amidst orange dust and giant machinery. He now works as an archaeologist and anthropologist, interested in folklore, rain-making arts, and resistance; but the machines aren’t done with him yet.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of Steel Frame, his first novel:
Rook is the character through whom you see the events of Steel Frame, and despite the fact that she’d be the lead in a movie adaptation, someone else will have to cast her! I made a conscious decision to leave her anonymous – there are no glances of herself in reflective surfaces, no one else commenting on her appearance – and I’d like to preserve that here. You could probably infer a lot of what she looks like from the parts of her history you encounter in the story, but given how damaging her past is, she’s probably really difficult to look at. Foremost, though, I wanted her capabilities to be separate from her appearance, and to let her actions define who and what she was.

The other major characters are much easier! Hail and Salt are Rook’s squadmates. They’re other jockeys in the story – other frontier operators, piloting these giant machines.

For Hail, I’d cast somewhere between Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron; Blunt for her hard edges as the Angel of Verdun in Edge of Tomorrow (and maybe also because I enjoyed watching Tom Cruise be shot in the head over and over, who knows?), and Theron for that desert-dry harshness as Imperator Furiosa in Fury Road; Hail’s character is worn and calloused, but she’s survived things you can barely imagine. I want someone who’ll dig in heels, grind teeth, stand straight under the weight of monstrous things.

For Salt, I’m pretty set on Djimon Hounsou. The guy’s got immense gravity on screen, and a depth to his voice that’s almost a perfect match for Salt speaking in my head. The character’s quite important to me (and to Rook) so I’d like an actor who can make a show of strength to match, a sense of endless durability.

Director-wise, Ridley Scott pretty much directed the motion picture in my head. There’s a greasy bleakness to that extended Alien/Blade Runner universe that I was trying pretty hard to replicate, and a constant sense of Big Bad just out of sight that I can’t really get enough of. Runner up is Denis Villeneuve, for the grit in Sicario that you can nearly feel between your teeth, the sense of scale and time-depth in Arrival; I’d want Steel Frame, the Movie to leave you feeling covered in machine-oil, lost at sea.
Read more about Steel Frame; follow Andrew Skinner on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne's "Holding On To Nothing"

Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne grew up reading, writing, and shooting in East Tennessee. After graduating from Amherst College, she worked at The Atlantic Monthly. Her nonfiction work has been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Boston Globe, and Globalpost, among others and her short fiction has appeared in The Broad River Review and Barren Magazine. Her essay on how killing a deer made her a feminist was published in Click! When We Knew We Were Feminists, edited by Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan. She is a graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator. She lives outside Boston with her husband and four children.

Shelburne applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Holding On To Nothing, and reported the following:
I have never written with a cast in my head as I work. My characters exist only in my mind. In fact, I often don’t describe their physical traits at all for the first two or three drafts until one of my readers says, “So, um, I have no idea what they look like?” And I realize that I have once again created characters with invisible bodies. So imagining real people who might play those characters has a little of that dissonant effect of seeing a movie made from a book, and thinking “I didn’t imagine them like that!”

Judy: Cherry Jones. It feels wrong to make a Tennessee actress play the one New Englander in this whole book, but Judy, the bartender, has seen it all and doesn’t mind telling people what she thinks. Cherry Jones has the same thin-lipped smile I always imagined on Judy. There is love there, but maybe not so much warmth.

LouEllen: Kathy Bates. LouEllen is a fierce woman: she loves fiercely and fights fiercely too. Lucy often feels like she’s been “waterboarded by love” around her. Bates is such a rock star: I could just see her sitting in the gardening center at Walmart treating it like her own porch.

Jeptha: Although he’s not Southern, I thought Wilson Bethel did a pretty great job as Wade Kinsella on Hart of Dixie, especially the last two seasons when he got to pull back on the clichés and have some more heart. (I’m a little embarrassed to tell y’all I watched this show, but I did and it made me laugh. Judge me how you will.) Or a young, scruffy Paul Newman. Also, Garrett Hedlund would be great. He grew up on a farm and has a face that can be both boyishly cute and full of heartbreaking regret.

Lucy: I know it’s cliché, but damn, Jennifer Lawrence was amazing in Winter’s Bone, and I think she’d pull of Lucy with aplomb. Lucy is both delicate and strong as nails, and her face carries a ton of the action in a scene. Actors are amazing at what they do, so I’m not saying it has to be a Southerner, but I’d love it to be. There’s an emotional connection there, plus a better chance of getting the accent right!

Cody: Danny McBride. One hundred percent. He is hilarious, looks just like I imagine Cody looks, and would carry off the funny lines and being stranded by Jeptha on the side of the road perfectly, while also able to pull off Cody’s real concern and love for Jeptha.
Visit Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne's website.

The Page 69 Test: Holding On To Nothing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tracey S. Phillips's "Best Kept Secrets"

Tracey S. Phillips is the debut author of Best Kept Secrets, a novel. Playing music and creating art were a way of life while growing up in Indiana. She entered college as a fashion model and musician. But somewhere along the road to fame and fortune, she married her best friend and became the mother of two children, now grown. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two dogs. Before publication, the manuscript for Best Kept Secrets won a Hugh Holton Award. Psychological Thriller is her love and female characters drive her stories.

Here Phillips dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel:
Envisioning Best Kept Secrets as a movie wasn’t difficult at all. In fact, throughout my writing process, I see each scene as it could be on TV or the big screen. I have a very visual imagination. And this might seem strange, but I see my story ideas as a picture first. The feelings—as in how it leaves the reader hanging—come second. Lastly, I write and flesh out the visual characters and scenes and they play out in my mind just like a movie.

Best Kept Secrets is first about Detective Morgan Jewell seeking justice and resolution for the murder of her best friend almost twenty years ago. As she finally begins to remember what happened, we go back in the past with her. Acting as the present-day Morgan, Jennifer Lawrence would be my first choice. She was fabulous as the tormented Katniss Everdeen. Morgan Jewell would come to life with Jennifer playing her role. I’m not in touch with the younger actresses these days. A likely candidate for the younger Morgan Jewell might be Chloe Grace Moretz.

Morgan’s partner and mentor is Donnie James. I see him played by someone like Idris Elba—handsome and middle aged.

Caryn Klein is the other main female character in Best Kept Secrets. Her story weaves around Morgan’s because they are both seeking the same man. Caryn is desperate to find her estranged brother Ekhard, who is also Morgan’s main murder suspect. Dakota Fanning would make a fantastic Caryn because of her work on the Twilight movies—and no Caryn isn’t a vampire—but I loved Dakota’s intensity in those movies. The younger Caryn could easily be played by Dakota’s sister Elle.

Her brother Ekhard is s wiry guy like Jake Gyllenhaal. I wonder what he’d look like with his hair died blond!
Visit Tracey S. Phillips's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Clay McLeod Chapman's "The Remaking"

Clay McLeod Chapman is the creator of the storytelling session “The Pumpkin Pie Show” and the author of rest area, nothing untoward, and the Tribe trilogy.

He is co-author of the middle grade novel Wendell and Wild, with Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick.

In the world of comics, Chapman’s work includes Lazaretto, Iron Fist: Phantom Limb, and Edge of Spiderverse, among others.

He also writes for the screen, including The Boy (SXSW 2015), Henley (Sundance 2012), and Late Bloomer (Sundance 2005).

Here Chapman dreamcasts one of the leads for an adaptation of his new novel, The Remaking:
What’s funny about The Remaking is… well, it’s a book about movies. Among other things, for sure. Lots of things. But film plays a major part of the story. Particularly horror movies.

Which is all to say, when I was writing the novel, I had a lot of different actresses running around the wilderness of my imagination. I kept thinking of Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby. Jamie Lee Curtis in both Halloween (1978) and Halloween (2018). Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Their on-set experiences and everything that happened to them afterward, positive, negative, or otherwise, is baked into the very genetic fabric of the novel itself…

I had the good fortune to meet Milly Shapiro, who starred in Hereditary, while I started writing the book… so I feel like her presence was a part of the book as well.

One of the main protagonists of the novel is this character named Amber Pendleton. We come upon her when she’s nine, thirty-something, and fifty-something… So I’m cheating a bit, but I’d have to cast Dakota Fanning (circa 2003), Dakota Fanning (circa now), and Jamie Lee Curtis (circa now) to play Amber at the various stages of her life.
Visit Clay McLeod Chapman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Marco Rafalà's "How Fires End"

Marco Rafalà is a first-generation Sicilian American novelist, musician, and writer for award-winning tabletop role-playing games. He earned his MFA in Fiction from The New School and is a cocurator of the Guerrilla Lit Reading Series in New York City. Born in Middletown, Connecticut, he now lives in Brooklyn, New York.

About How Fires End, Rafalà's debut novel:
After soldiers vacate the Sicilian hillside town of Melilli in the summer of 1943, the locals celebrate, giving thanks to their patron saint, Sebastian. Amid the revelry, all it takes is one fateful moment for the destiny of nine-year-old Salvatore Vassallo to change forever. When his twin brothers are killed playing with an unexploded mortar shell, Salvatore’s faith is destroyed. As the family unravels, and fear ignites among their neighbors that the Vassallo name is cursed, one tragedy begets another.

Desperate to escape this haunting legacy, Salvatore accepts the help of an Italian soldier with fascist ties who ushers him and his sister, Nella, into a new beginning in America. In Middletown, Connecticut, in the immigrant neighborhood known as Little Melilli, these three struggle to build new lives for themselves. But a dangerous choice to keep their secrets hidden erupts in violence decades later. When Salvatore loses his inquisitive American-born son, David, they all learn too late the price sons pay for their fathers’ wars.
Here Rafalà dreamcasts an adaptation of How Fires End:
In my dreams for a movie adaptation of How Fires End, I often ask myself what would a modern Italian neorealist film look like? Especially one that encompasses a sweeping narrative from Sicily during the tragedy of the Second World War to the despair of the post-war era all the way to the United States and the Italian American immigrant experience in the 1980s. Who could make such a film?

I can think of only one person: Italian film director and screenwriter Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso, Baarìa). Tornatore is a master who can hold in his mind both a romantic notion of Sicily—the beauty of the landscape, its complicated people, and ancient culture—and the harsh realities of what life was like there during and after the Second World War. He can balance the modern while bringing the perfect Italian neorealist feel to the material that I tried to capture in the novel.

In terms of casting, I never thought about that beyond believing that the late James Gandolfini would have been a perfect older Rocco for the scenes set in Middletown, Connecticut, during the 1980s, with his son portraying the younger version of that character. And, in a slight nod to Italian neorealist cinema, the roles for the children and secondary older characters, like Raphael and Pasqualino, should be cast with unknowns.
Visit Marco Rafalà's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Nancy Richardson Fischer's "The Speed of Falling Objects"

Nancy Richardson Fischer is a graduate of Cornell University, a published author with children’s, teen and adult titles to her credit, including Star Wars titles for Lucas Film and numerous autobiographies for athletes such as Julie Krone, Bela Karolyi and Monica Seles. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Here Fischer dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Speed of Falling Objects:
Ahhhh, what author doesn’t imagine their book as a movie? For me, that comes before I write the first chapter! I see every novel I write unfold first as a movie and can even hear the underlying score.

The Speed of Falling Objects is a very cinematic story—A famous TV survivalist named Cougar, his timid 17-year-old daughter, Danny, and Gus, a teen movie idol, fly to the Amazon to film an episode of Cougar’s show. Their plane crashes in the rainforest leaving some dead, others injured. Who lives, lies, loves… dies? It’s a movie, right??? Please say yes!

So who would play the main characters...

Danger Danielle “Danny” Warren: I imagine Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone - one of my favorite movies of all time. Since JL is now too old to play 17 (sigh), my dream Danny would be an unknown actress with JL’s incredible acting ability. She’d have to be unafraid of bugs, deadly spiders, venomous snakes and scorpions as this book is set in the Amazon rainforest!

Cougar Warren: My dream Cougar is Bradley Cooper. His phenomenal acting would create a deeply nuanced man who is driven by ego but still somehow redeemable (at least to me). And his blue eyes match Cougar’s.

Gus Price: Ansel Elgort, Theo James, or a talented unknown who doesn’t mind lots of bugs!

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee, Sofia Coppola, Nancy Meyers or Bradley Cooper.
Visit Nancy Richardson Fischer's website.

Writers Read: Nancy Richardson Fischer.

--Marshal Zeringue