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,, 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