Monday, April 27, 2020

Nicole C. Kear's "Foreverland"

Nicole C. Kear is the author of the memoir Now I See You, chosen as a Must-Read by People, Amazon, Martha Stewart Living, Parade, Redbook, and Marie Claire UK among others. Her books for children include the new middle grade novel Foreverland, the chapter series The Fix-It Friends, and the middle grade series The Startup Squad, co-written with Brian Weisfeld. Her essays appear in the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, New York, Psychology Today, Parents, as well as Salon, the Huffington Post and xoJane. She teaches non-fiction writing at Columbia University and the NYU School of Professional Studies.

A native of New York, Kear received a BA from Yale, a MA from Columbia, and a red nose from the San Francisco School of Circus Arts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, three children and two teddy bear hamsters.

Here Kear dreamcasts an adaptation of Foreverland:
I used to be an actor, and consequently, dreamcasting is something of a habit of mine. This exercise was the most fun I’ve had in ages.

I’ve chosen the inimitable Greta Gerwig as the director of the film. She’s the master of funny, heartbreaking coming-of-age stories, which leave you feeling uplifted in the most earned way. It’s exactly what I was hoping to achieve when I wrote Foreverland.

Foreverland’s leading lady is Margaret, a shy, eccentric girl with trouble at home who runs away to live away in her favorite amusement park. Natalie Portman, at 12 years old, would be perfect. She’d express Margaret’s intelligence and intensity, and poignantly portray her emotional journey as she learns, through the course of her adventures, to make her voice heard. There’s a really fun scene about halfway through the book in which Margaret goes “all witness protection program,” giving herself a DIY makeover to avoid being caught by security. She explains that she’s never liked looking in mirrors because the plain, cookie-cutter girl she sees reflected doesn’t feel like her. By going incognito, she ends up transforming her outer self to match her inner self – lopping off her ponytail, cutting short bangs. I can visualize Natalie Portman, the age she was in The Professional, staring at her reflection in the bathroom mirror as she slides her hair in between the scissor blades.

Margaret’s transformation would not be possible without Jaime, a 12-year-old boy who has also run away to live at the park for mysterious reasons of his own. Jaime is Margaret’s polar opposite – he’s fast-thinking, thrill-seeking, irrepressible. He never looks before he leaps or thinks before he speaks. When he smiles, it’s an infectious, whole-face, 1000 watt grin. For Jaime, I see a 12-year-old Benicio Del Toro. Del Toro is such a versatile actor, and can handle comedy (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) as masterfully as drama (Sicario), which would be important in the portrayal of Jaime. More than anything, though Del Toro possesses that vulnerability which is the key to Jaime’s character – while he acts tough, at his core, he’s defenseless. His humor and charisma may be what draws Margaret (and the reader) in, but what steals their heart is this vulnerability, and I know Del Toro would nail that.

Belle’s a supporting character but one of my favorites – she’s a teenage girl who works at the park and is Jaime’s protector (and food court connection). When Margaret first meets her, she observes: “She doesn’t look like a Belle. She looks more like a Mephistopheles.” Belle wears safety pins as earrings, and steel-toed Doc Martens in the middle of summer. The spikes on her belt, Margaret notices, do not look ornamental. I’d cast a teenage Rooney Mara as Belle. Her tour de force in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo still haunts me. She’d bring Belle to life in all her dangerous complexities.

The Captain of Security is Foreverland’s villain – he’s in hot pursuit of Margaret and, especially, Jaime, who's the Moby Dick to his Ahab. He’s the kind of man who intentionally wears too-tight T-shirts, to show off his chiseled muscles. I almost cast Dwayne Johnson, because who doesn’t want to cast Dwayne Johnson in everything and also, he’s got the muscles in spades. But the Rock is just too darn likeable, so I opted instead for Matthew McConaughey. There is no drawl anywhere like McConaughey’s, and though it’s often appealing, it can be downright chilling.
Visit Nicole C. Kear's website.

Q&A with Nicole C. Kear.

--Marshal Zeringue