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