Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Richard Fifield's "The Small Crimes Of Tiffany Templeton"

Richard Fifield earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in upstate New York. For the past twenty years he has worked as a social worker for adults with intellectual disabilities, while volunteering as a creative writing teacher in Missoula, Montana. His first novel, The Flood Girls, was published in 2016.

Here Fifield dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Small Crimes of Tiffany Templeton:
The Small Crimes Of Tiffany Templeton is a very different take on a Young Adult novel, and a response to the lack of rural, red state representation amongst the genre. I wanted to write a book that gave a small town the dignity and idiosyncratic characters that I have witnessed in real life. Small towns are rich in drama, and in my book, the main character is a teenage girl who returns from reform school and attempts to find redemption. My favorite book of all time is Harriet The Spy, and my book is my homage, but updated to explore the real interior life of a fifteen year old girl. Tiffany has a hard-boiled exterior, but the soul of an artist. The book is a reminder to all young women that shame and past actions do not have to define the rest of your life—Tiffany finds her redemption in the most unexpected places.

If they make my book into a film, here’s who I’d like to play the lead roles:

Tiffany Templeton—Lili Reinhart (Riverdale)
Vy Templeton—Toni Collette (Hereditary)
Ronnie Templeton, Jr—Taron Egerton (Rocketman)
Bitsy—Nick Robinson (Love, Simon)
David—Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things)
Ronnie Templeton, Sr—Cameron Britton (Mindhunter)
Kelly Plotz—Zoe Kravitz (Big Little Lies)
Waterbed Fred—David Harbour (Stranger Things)
Lou Ann—Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)
Mr. Francine—Kyle Maclachlan (Blue Velvet)
Mrs. Bitzche—Shannen Doherty (Beverly Hills, 90210)
Coach Bitzche—Justin Theroux (The Leftovers)
Lorraine—Bryce Dallas Howard (Black Mirror)
Janelle—Anna Faris (The House Bunny)
Kaitlynn—Madelaine Petsch (Riverdale)
Mrs. Gabrian—Catherine O’Hara (Waiting For Guffman)
Mrs. Whipple—Goldie Hawn (Private Benjamin)
Mrs. McQuilkin—Kathy Bates (Misery)
Mrs. Hickey—Patricia Clarkson (The Station Agent)
Mrs. Vanek—Margo Martindale (The Americans)
Mrs. Smetanka—Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Mrs. Bardsley—Joan Collins (Dynasty)
Mrs. Lambert—Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under)

With a YA book, it’s very hard to place age-appropriate actors in teenage roles, as productions usually take years to get off the ground. But if the movie were to be shot right now, this is my dream cast. Each one of my choices is my visualization of the character in glamorous, human form—in real life, this would be a small independent production with unknown actors, if they wanted to keep the small town universe feeling. You don’t see such gorgeous creatures in rural Montana. A few, yes. But this deck is stacked with beautiful people. Tiffany is the main character, and while I was writing the book, I fell in love with Riverdale, a combination of Twin Peaks and Beverly Hills, 90210, and my absolute favorite performances come from Lili Reinhart and Madelaine Petsch, who portray Betty Cooper and Cheryl Blossom. Either actress could play Tiffany—both give some of the most nuanced and deep performances as teenage girls that I have ever witnessed. They do anguish and comedy equally well, but most importantly, their performances are effortless. The other actors I cast are favorites from movies and television, and have left indelible impressions on me. For the eight older women, I wanted to cast my beloved icons! The Soiled Doves Of Gabardine deserve nothing but the best.

Normally, I would want a woman to direct, but this book is so particular, and so off-kilter, that I would choose Yorgos Lanthimos. The Favourite and The Lobster are two of my favorite movies of all time--he is a master in creating an unnerving, finely detailed universe. And his approach to comedy is a close approximation to what I attempt to do—situational, but heightened by camp and indelible characters.
Visit Richard Fifield's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Richard Fifield & Frank and Oscar.

The Page 69 Test: The Small Crimes of Tiffany Templeton.

--Marshal Zeringue