Friday, July 31, 2020

Rebecca Reid's "The Truth Hurts"

Rebecca Reid is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Perfect Liars.

 Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Truth Hurts:
The Truth Hurts is the story of Poppy - a lost young woman who gets fired while working as a nanny in Ibiza, and Drew - an attractive and wealthy older man who falls for her on the spot. They get married in a whirlwind romance and move back to Drew's English mansion. But of course, if something seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Once they get back to the UK, secrets start to surface.

Excitingly enough, The Truth Hurts has actually been optioned. So when I play the dream casting game (which I have been doing on repeat since I first started writing it!) it's not entirely a fantasy. Of course, if it does make it to the screen in real life, then I'll defer to the wisdom of the producers and just be beyond blown-away that something I wrote in my tiny one-bed flat in London could become something so huge. But in the meantime, I love indulging in a game of fantasy casting.

Usually when I start writing, I 'shop' for my characters on the graduation headshot section of the websites for various drama schools. But when I was writing The Truth Hurts I had a picture of Florence Pugh on my desk. This was before she was so famous. I saw her in a little indie film about a fainting epidemic, and thought she was the most astonishing actor I'd ever seen. So she's still who I picture for Poppy. That said, my husband is absolutely insistent that it should be Sophie Turner. All of my picks so far have been British, but I'm very relaxed about the fact that if it does get made, it will probably be set in the US.

My Drew was always Tom Hiddleston. He's got this incredible charm and kindness to him, which I think you need in order to portray an older man who marries a younger woman that quickly. I would hate for Drew to read as creepy.

Gina, Poppy's best friend, was always written to be Nathalie Emmanuel, who played Missandei in Game of Thrones.

My fantasy casting hasn't ever extended into directing before, but I think in a dream world I would love it to be Jane Campion, because every frame she shoots is a painting, or Paul Feig, because I thought that A Simple Favour was the best (and most underrated movie) I've seen in years. Or if we're in the real realms of fantasy, me!
Follow Rebecca Reid on Twitter.

Q&A with Rebecca Reid.

The Page 69 Test: The Truth Hurts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

L. Annette Binder's "The Vanishing Sky"

L. Annette Binder was born in Germany and immigrated to the U.S. as a small child. She holds degrees in classics and law from Harvard, an MA in comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley, and an MFA from the Program in Writing at the University of California, Irvine. Her short fiction collection Rise received the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. She lives in New Hampshire.

Here Binder dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Vanishing Sky:
The Vanishing Sky tells the story of a German mother named Etta Huber who is trying to hold her family together during the closing months of WW2. Etta’s older son Max has come home from the Eastern front suffering from a mental breakdown, and Etta struggles to hide his condition from the authorities because she knows they’ll take him from her if they find out how sick he really is. She can’t rely on her husband Josef for help, since he’s become increasingly forgetful and nationalistic. At the same time, her younger son Georg, who is fifteen years old, runs away from his post in the Hitler Youth and tries to make his way back home to her.

One dream director for the book would have to be Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The Lives of Others is one of my favorite films. In it, Donnersmarck brilliantly shows how ordinary people struggled with doing the right thing when faced with the demands of the brutal East German regime. The regime and ideology are both different in my book, but the themes are largely the same — How do you navigate the expectations of an evil regime when the price of even minor resistance could be your freedom or your life?

Casting is trickier. It took eight years to write a first draft of The Vanishing Sky, and it would have felt odd to imagine the characters with somebody else’s face as I wrote their story. Now that the book is done, I still can’t really imagine actors portraying them, but I can think about them in terms of other performances that I’ve really admired.

Etta is in her early fifties, a devoted wife and mother who is willing to risk her life — and her marriage — to help her son. Her portrayal would require a performance utterly lacking in vanity. Like Reese Witherspoon (who was brilliant in Walk the Line) or Chela Horsdall (who beautifully portrayed Smith’s wife in The Man in the High Castle).

Josef, Etta’s husband, is tormented by his failure to distinguish himself during WW1, and he tries to find relevance now by helping Germany’s last-ditch efforts to push back the incoming Allies. He doesn’t express his anguish, but you can see it in his eyes. I think of Tommy Lee Jones’ performance in No Country for Old Men, Rufus Sewell, who brought great depth to his character in The Man in the High Castle, or the late Ulrich Mühe, who was deeply moving in The Lives of Others.

Georg is tricky to cast because he’s only fifteen and looks even younger. He’s conflicted about his sexuality and knows in his heart that he can’t conform to the expectations of the Reich. I’m reminded of William Jøhnk Nielsen’s vulnerable performance in In a Better World. And Max is a talented and charismatic young man who’s suffered a breakdown on his return from the Eastern front. Asa Butterfield has the depth and the feel of Max as a young man.

It’s strange and wonderful to think all these characters are out in the world now, no longer limited to my own imagination, but (hopefully) alive in the imaginations of those who read the book.
Visit L. Annette Binder's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Vanishing Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 27, 2020

Jay Stringer's "Marah Chase and the Fountain of Youth"

Jay Stringer was born in 1980, and he’s not dead yet. He’s the author of crime fiction, action thrillers, and dark comedies. Stringer’s work has been shortlisted for two Anthonys, the McIlvanney Prize, and a Derringer award. He is dyslexic and learned the sound of storytelling long before he could read the words.

Here Stringer dreamacasts an adaptation of his latest book, Marah Chase and the Fountain of Youth:
Note: This article is soundtracked by It’s a Good Day to Save the World by Danger Twins.

In Marah Chase and the Fountain of Youth, rogue archaeologist Marah Chase is in a race to find the mythical Fountain before a group of modern Nazis, who want the water to further their eugenics plan.

Talking about my book as a movie is an interesting challenge. Both easy and difficult. Easy because the book -and character- grew out of movies. But at the same time, as a writer I don’t like to give the reader too much description of the main character.

I can tell you Chase is somewhere around 36 or 37 in this book. She grew up on a farm in Washington state, with an American father and Scottish mother. She’s Jewish and gay, and I think that should be reflected in the casting.

For some reason I have less problems talking about supporting cast. On the previous book I played a game with myself as I wrote it, casting supporting spots for all of the actors who’ve played the Doctor in the modern era of Doctor Who. For the new book, I had certain actors in mind as I was figuring some of the characters out. (As a fun little side game, I also wrote one minor character as if he were being played by Beetlejuice, from the Tim Burton movie. I wonder if readers can spot him.)

August Nash, a former CIA agent-turned relic runner (the name for the Indiana Jones-like profession in my fictional universe) used to be Marah Chase’s mentor, but now they’re competitors. The two very best in the field. Legends. He becomes one of the main antagonists in the book, and as I was writing I could picture his dialogue delivered by either Timothy Olyphant or Chris Evans.

The other antagonist is Lauren Stanford, the billionaire heir to a global soda corporation. Her family have always been Nazis. Like, even before there were Nazis. Their brand of hatred dates back to London in the 1800’s, and they’ve been hiding in plain sight ever since, in business suits and political donations. She needs to be played by someone who can control the screen, but be both interesting and scary at the same time. I could see Madelaine Petsch or Samara Weaving in the role.

Chase’s main ally in the book is a trans man, named Hass. He’s from Somalia originally, but spent so long living in America that his accent has changed. He’s described loosely in the book as looking like both Doc Savage and Dwayne Johnson, but those comparisons are really based on his size. He’s a big strong action hero. Just as I think it would be important for Chase to be played by someone of the right ethnicity and sexuality, I think in my dream movie Hass would be played by a trans man, preferably of Somali descent.

As for director, the recent Harley Quinn movie wasn’t a hit, but I thought Cathy Yan was bold and creative with her handling of action. She’d be a great choice to helm the film.
Visit Jay Stringer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 24, 2020

Jennifer Honeybourn's "The Do-Over"

Jennifer Honeybourn is a fan of British accents, Broadway musicals, and epic, happily-ever-after love stories. If she could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, she’d have high tea with Walt Disney, JK Rowling, and her nana. She lives in Stratford, Ontario with her husband, daughter and cat in a house filled with books.

Here Honeybourn dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Do-Over:
When I was writing The Do-Over, I imagined the main character, Emelia, as Madelaine Petsch, the wonderful actress who plays Cheryl Blossom on Riverdale. I even gave Emelia Madelaine’s gorgeous red hair. Emelia is a bit misguided, she’s starry-eyed about popularity and what it would be like to be part of that crowd. She’s been a little bit in love with Ben for years, so when he finally notices her, she is so flattered that she can’t see him for who he really is. This feels like her chance and she’s going to take it, even if it means putting aside her burgeoning (and confusing) feelings for her best friend Alistair.

For Alistair, Emelia’s love interest, I saw him as a Timothée Chalamet-type, a bit of Bender from The Breakfast Club. The outsider who is comfortable with not fitting in and has no interest in being part of the popular crowd — in fact, he’s quite disdainful of the popular kids and what he believes they stand for. He sets himself apart through his clothing — fingerless gloves, movie t-shirts, a beanie — and his refusal to play nice with Ben and the other popular kids. He just can’t understand why Emelia would even want to be friends with these people and he certainly doesn’t understand when she chooses Ben over him.

For directors, I love Nahnatchka Kahn. She directed Always Be My Maybe, one of my favorite movies last year. It’s such a great romantic comedy, full of humor and heart, and I think that would make her the perfect choice to direct The Do-Over if it was ever made into a movie.
Visit Jennifer Honeybourn's website.

My Book, The Movie: Just My Luck.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sung J. Woo's "Skin Deep"

Sung J. Woo’s short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, PEN/Guernica, and Vox. He has written three novels, Skin Deep (2020), Love Love (2015) and Everything Asian (2009), which won the 2010 Asian Pacific American Librarians Association Literature Award (Youth category). In 2014, Everything Asian was chosen for Coming Together in Skokie and Niles Township. A graduate of Cornell University with an MFA from New York University, he lives in Washington, New Jersey.

Here Woo dreamcasts an adaptation of Skin Deep:
Skin Deep is a traditional mystery novel, starring a private eye in search of a missing girl. Except unlike most mysteries, my detective is a Korean-American transracial adoptee. Siobhan O’Brien’s dad is Irish and her mom Norwegian, so she had quite the interesting childhood.

The book takes place in two distinct locations, Llewellyn College and the Krishna Center for Yoga, both located in upstate New York. As Siobhan works through her case, she encounters a Korean billionaire, his impossibly beautiful wife Cleopatra, plus the president of the college who used to be a runway fashion model. When the book moves to the Krishna Center, Siobhan meets Krishvananda, a guru with stadium-level magnetism and Dharma, a yogic expert. On Siobhan’s side are her bookkeeper Stacy and love-interest/lawyer Craig.

Siobhan should be played by Nora Lum, better known as Awkwafina. She’s eight years younger than Siobhan’s 40, but I have no doubt she can play a tad older. She was excellent in The Farewell, really showing her dramatic chops, and for my book, her comedic side would come into play as well.

Im Jin Ah, better known as Nana, would make an excellent Cleopatra. She’s entirely too young to play this part, but that would be the point, because in the book, Cleo is a woman in her fifties who looks like she’s thirty.

Irrfan Khan would’ve made a fabulous Krishvananda. God rest his soul.

Dharma’s real name is Benjamin Roth. He’s a sinewy, athletic older dude with mystical inclinations. Of course it has to be Matthew McConaughey. He was born to play this role!

Stacy has huge frizzy strawberry blonde hair. It’s got Natasha Lyonne written all over it. I can just hear her lovely, gravelly voice speaking her lines.

Craig used to be overweight, but no longer. Seth Rogan, you are him.

And there’s only one actress to play the ex-fashion-model president of Llewellyn – Cate Blanchett. There’s a very thin line between great acting and ham acting, and Blanchett knows when to cross this line better than anyone.

As far as directors go, how about M. Night Shyamalan? As long as he doesn’t write it! He’s such a technically astute filmmaker and I wish he would lend his directorial talent to more projects. Also, Lulu Wang, the director of The Farewell, would be fantastic; a female heading this film actually makes very good sense.
Learn more about the book and author at Sung J. Woo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 20, 2020

Paul Acampora's "Danny Constantino's First (and Maybe Last?) Date"

Paul Acampora writes novels and short stories for teens, middle grade and elementary school readers. He was born and raised in Bristol, Connecticut and now lives in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. He is a full-time development officer during the day and writes fiction early in the morning and late at night. Acampora is a former kindergarten teacher, a member of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature, and enjoys leading writing workshops with students of all ages. He is also a writing instructor for local colleges, high schools and middle schools.

Here Acampora dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Danny Constantino's First (and Maybe Last?) Date:
When 7th grader, Danny Constantino, unwittingly invites his childhood friend-turned-Hollywood-superstar, Natalie Flores Griffin, to the school dance and Halloween parade, she surprises him… by saying yes! Now everyone wants in on Danny’s upcoming date with the hometown hero, and Danny’s wondering if his first date ever might also be his last.

Danny Constantino’s First (and maybe last) Date is very much inspired by romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally, Splash, As Good As it Gets, Moonstruck, Shrek, Corpse Bride, and of course, Notting Hill (I’m a huge Richard Curtis fan). In my dreams, it will be produced by either Reese Witherspoon or Amy Poehler and directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, who has directed Mandalorian episodes as well as the documentary, Dads. When you listen to Bryce Dallas Howard talk, you hear somebody who believes in families.

A few key roles:

Danny Constantino – to be played by Oakes Fegley (from The Goldfinch). In addition to being perfect for the role, Oakes Fegley is from Allentown, PA where I live so that would be pretty cool.

Natalie Flores Griffin – I based Natalie Flores Griffin on a young Selena Gomez (loved her in the 2010 movie Ramona & Beezus). Selena is now too old for this role so I’d go with Paulina Chávez (from the Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia) because Paulina Chávez is simply amazing. I also really love Tess Romero (from Diary of a Future President).

Missy Constantino (Danny’s Mom) – to be played by either Reese Witherspoon or Amy Poehler, whichever one is not producing. Either way, they both have to be involved because I love their comedy. Perhaps more important is the way that they really and truly love the characters that they play.

Mrs. C. (Danny’s Grandmother) – to be played by Holly Hunter, who is probably too young, but I don’t care because Holly Hunter can do anything. Danny’s Grandmother is a manic voice of reason who also drives an awesome 1969 Camaro.

Ajay Kalli (Danny’s best friend) – I loved Viveik Kalra in Blinded by the Light, but he’s too old to play Ajay so I’ll go with a Bollywood “newcomer” to be named later.

Asha Kalli (Ajay’s sister) – to be played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (from Never Have I Ever). She’s perfect in every way.

Mrs. Kalli (Ajay & Asha’s Mom) – to be played by Mindy Kaling because I really want to see Mindy Kaling play somebody’s Mom.

Mr. Beamon (School bus driver and possible love interest for Danny’s mom) – to be played by John Corbett. It was always John Corbett. I’ve loved him starting way back in Northern Exposure and loved him again recently in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Zoey Roy – Tess Romero (from Diary of a Future President) unless she’s playing Natalie Flores Griffin in which case we’ll go with a newcomer recruited from the cast of a local school theater program.

Mr. Maggio (School principal) – Adam Sandler. I’ve got an unlimited budget here so why not? Plus, thinking of Adam Sandler as a school principal makes me happy.

Natalie’s Mom – to be played by Jennifer Aniston, Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore, or Cameron Diaz because having one of these ladies will give the movie an official stamp of rom-com approval!
Visit Paul Acampora's website.

The Page 69 Test: Danny Constantino's First (and Maybe Last?) Date.

Q&A with Paul Acampora.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Larry Tye's "Demagogue"

Larry Tye is the best-selling author of Bobby Kennedy and Satchel, as well as Superman, The Father of Spin, Home Lands, and Rising from the Rails, and co-author, with Kitty Dukakis, of Shock. Previously an award-winning reporter and national writer at the Boston Globe and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, he now runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship.

Here Tye dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of his new book, Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy:
Tough-guy Emanuel Goldenberg is the Red-baiting Senator Joe McCarthy. Or at least he could and should have been, were he still alive and still using his screen name of Edward G. (for Goldenberg) Robinson.

It’s partly that Robinson looks the role of the sinister McCarthy, from his easily-acquired five o’clock shadow to his receding hairline, expanding waistline, and general burliness. He also could be at least as snarling and bullying as McCarthy, traits Joe displayed to the world during the legendary Army-McCarthy hearings and that Eddie did when he played Rico Bandello in Little Caesar and Johnny Rocco in Key Largo. More to the point, Robinson had lived through the Red Scare that Joe McCarthy came to embody. He had experienced first-hand the anti-Semitism McCarthy was accused of, which is why the Goldenbergs fled Bucharest when Manny, as he was known then, was 10. He attended City College of New York, which McCarthy disparaged as a training ground for Reds and pinkos. He knew what it was like to be singled out by the FBI as a Communist and to be called to testify before the McCarthy-like House Un-American Activities Committee. And he’d learned on the streets of New York’s Lower East Side how to fight back, declaring, “These rantings, ravings, accusations, smearing and character assassinations can only emanate from sick, diseased minds of people who rush to the press with indictments of good American citizens. I have played many parts in my life, but no part have I played better or been more proud of than that of being an American citizen.”

Robinson also knew better than anyone that it wasn’t that simple. Afraid of landing on a career-stopping blacklist, he named names of men he thought were Communist sympathizers and repudiated some of the leftist organizations he’d belonged to. “I was duped and used,” he testified. “I have never knowingly aided Communists or any Communist cause.”

Whatever ethical lapses he showed by such backtracking and finger-pointing, Robinson could have used those emotions to bring nuance to his portrayal of Senator McCarthy. He had more than 100 movies to teach him how, and he performed well enough over his 50-year career to win an Oscar for lifetime achievement. What Jack Nicholson did to bring alive on the big screen Teamsters strongman Jimmy Hoffa, and Leonardo DiCaprio did in reminding us about FBI boss Hoover, Edward G. Robinson could have with done with “Low Blow” Joe McCarthy.
Visit Larry Tye's website.

The Page 99 Test: Demagogue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Alina Adams's "The Nesting Dolls"

Alina Adams was born in Odessa, Ukraine, and emigrated from the USSR with her family in 1977. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

Here Adams dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Nesting Dolls:
From the time The Nesting Dolls was accepted for publication, I have had one goal where movie rights were concerned: I needed to get this book into the hands of Mila Kunis.

The Nesting Dolls takes place during three time periods, Odessa, USSR during the 1930s and Stalin's Great Terror, Odessa, USSR during the 1970s and the fight to free Soviet Jewry, and present day Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, among it's huge Soviet immigrant community.

Mila Kunis was born in the Ukraine and immigrated in the 1970s, the same time as the middle section takes place, and the same time as when my family, along with thousands of others immigrated to America.

I just have a gut feeling that she would really relate to the material, not to mention appreciate the three strong female roles available, all of whom kind of look like her! (It's not that I had Mila Kunis in mind when I wrote the book - I didn't - it's just that I described the three women the way Jewish women from the Ukraine tend to look. And Mila looks the way Jewish women from the Ukraine tend to look!)

I also hope Mila interests her husband, Ashton Kutcher, in the material. He's got tech money! And doesn't he want to produce a movie to teach his children, Wyatt and Dimitri, about their family's cultural heritage - starring their mom!
Visit Alina Adams's website.

Q&A with Alina Adams.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Julian Stockwin's "To the Eastern Seas"

Julian Stockwin was sent at the age of fourteen to Indefatigable, a tough sea-training school. He joined the Royal Navy at fifteen before transferring to the Royal Australian Navy, where he served for eight years in the Far East, Antarctic waters and the South Seas. In Vietnam he saw active service in a carrier task force. After leaving the Navy (rated Petty Officer), Stockwin practiced as an educational psychologist. He lived for some time in Hong Kong, where he was commissioned into the Royal Naval Reserve. He was awarded the MBE and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Stockwin's latest Thomas Kydd novel is To the Eastern Seas.

Here the author shares some thoughts about adapting the Kydd novels for the screen:
I didn't have any specific actors or directors in mind when I began writing my Kydd tales. I was focused on a piece of advice my wife Kathy gave me: ´write the book you yourself want to read.´ Although there had been some fine Age of Sail books written I wanted to take a different approach - I decided to start with a man forced to join the Royal Navy against his will who comes to love the life - and thrives in Neptune´s Realm. I knew there had been a handful of seamen before the mast who against incredible odds had eventually become officers, some even captaining their own ship, a tiny few achieving their flag. What kind of men were they? How did they achieve this in a time when you knew your place and you stayed there? I also wanted to cast the sea in a more forward role. I wanted the reader as I did to experience both its majesty and its brutal power. To my mind any movie or TV series would have to be sensitive to these aspects.

Although I´m sure an action-packed movie could be made of my latest title To the Eastern Seas I´d love to see a movie or TV series based on a selection of the Kydd titles (22 to date), focusing on Kydd´s journey from pressed man to officer and ultimately admiral. There is a natural division - Thomas Kydd as a seaman on the lower deck and then his great achievement of crossing the divide to the quarterdeck - where he becomes an officer and a gentleman. So the silver screen could see two movies - and a TV series of multiple episodes.

Who would I like to play the lead roles (Thomas Kydd and his great friend Nicholas Renzi) - I´m open to suggestions but I strongly feel it should be a British actor. Quite drawn to Alex Pettifer as a candidate. Good looking, about the right age. As for the enigmatic Renzi, Kit Harrington appeals.

And perhaps Andrew Grieve as director?
Visit Julian Stockwin's website.

Writers Read: Julian Stockwin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Chris Nickson's "Molten City"

Chris Nickson is the author of The Molten City and seven previous Tom Harper mysteries, seven highly acclaimed novels in the Richard Nottingham series, and two Simon Westow mysteries. He is also a well-known music journalist. He lives in his beloved Leeds.

Here Nickson dreamcasts an adaptation of The Molten City:
I don’t really watch movies or TV, so I’m not up on actors. But there’s one man I could imagine playing Tom Harper, and that’s Christopher Eccleston. I first came across him in the television series Cracker, then the movie Shallow Grave. When they rebooted Dr Who, he played the doctor for one season. He’s Northern, and possesses that quiet strength and inner determination I see in Tom. Given that I don’t have a definitive physical idea of Harper, he could slide into that quite easily.

Tom’s wife, Annabelle, is the emotional linchpin of the series; she’s more than just a secondary character. Someone I’ve envisioned playing her from the first moment Annabelle appeared is Maxine Peake. She’s not well-known in the US (I doubt Eccleston is either, for that matter), but she’s another Northerner, a superb who covers a wide range of roles on TV and stage in particular. She’s also very political and working-class. I could readily imagine her utterly inhabiting Annabelle.

Of course, they do both come with a handicap for playing Yorkshire folk: they were born in Lancashire, on the wrong side of the Pennines (Yorkshire and Lancashire are ancient rivals – think of the War of the Roses). But at least they’re from the North, so they’d understand what makes Tom and Annabelle tick. Curiously, though, I’d be quite reluctant to have a film/TV show made of the series, however wonderful it would be. Why? Because once that happens, the characters take on the face and traits of those people on the screen, rather than the more physically amorphous vision in my mind. I’m worried I’d begin writing to the actors rather than the characters, if that makes sense.

A director? I know so few, really. Ken Loach is one of the British directors who can find the essence of the English character, and he did a stirring job with Peterloo. I don’t think he’s ever done a crime drama, but the social aspects of the book are equally important, especially in The Molten City with both the Suffragettes and unemployed men rioting.
Learn more about the book and author at Chris Nickson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Constant Lovers.

Q&A with Chris Nickson.

The Page 69 Test: The Molten City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 10, 2020

C. T. Rwizi's "Scarlet Odyssey"

Debut author C. T. Rwizi was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Swaziland, finished high school in Costa Rica, and got a BA in government at Dartmouth College in the United States. He currently lives in South Africa with his family, and enjoys playing video games, taking long runs, and spending way too much time lurking on Reddit. He is a self-professed lover of synthwave.

Here Rwizi dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Scarlet Odyssey:
If someone decided to make my book into a film, they would probably need to cast a lot of completely or relatively new actors for the job. Why? Because I’m not sure there are many well-known options on the table to fill even a fictional cast. Let’s take a look.

The main character, Salo, would need to be a young black man in his late teens. He would need to be surrounded by several other young black men of a similar age, from his brothers to his friends. Five black women, also of a similar age, would need to play the roles of Ilapara, Isa, Kelafelo, Alinata and Nimara.

If they were white, this list would be very easy to fill, as there are many well-known white actors in this demographic to choose from. As it is, I’m struggling to find suitable dreamcasts without resorting to “that black girl I saw on that one tv show.”

I’d probably just end up borrowing the entire cast of Dear White People and every other young black actor who has ever appeared on tv to be honest. That said, the closest to what I envision Salo looking like is a young Alfred Enoch, who plays Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films.

The older characters are somewhat easier. Lupita Nyong'o would be a good fit for the Maidservant. Salo’s father is a lean giant of a warrior with a stoic temperament, so I’d go for Idris Elba or Will Smith for his character. The queen of Salo’s tribe is a statuesque woman with a breathtaking presence so I’d nominate Beyoncé or Kerry Washington for the role. The high mystic who appears in the book would be someone with a striking and yet severe countenance, akin to Lance Reddick.

For the part of the Enchantress I’d go for Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt, while the mysterious wanderer Tuk could be played by Timothée Chalamet, who will be starring as Paul Atreides in the upcoming movie Dune.

As for the director of this hypothetical movie, it should come as no surprise that I’d go for Ryan Coogler, who directed the hugely successful Black Panther. It’s the only movie I can think of even remotely comparable to what a film adaptation of the Scarlet Odyssey might look like, and I believe he would do a fantastic job of it.
Learn more about Scarlet Odyssey, and follow C. T. Rwizi on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Tracy Clark's "What You Don’t See"

Tracy Clark is a native Chicagoan who writes mysteries set in her hometown while working as an editor in the newspaper industry. She is a graduate of Mundelein College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she earned her MA.

Since reading her first Nancy Drew mystery, Clark has dreamed of crafting mysteries of her own, mysteries that feature strong, intelligent, independent female characters, and those who share their world. Cass Raines, ex-cop turned intrepid PI, is such a character.

Here Clark shares some thoughts on the cast of an adaptation of her latest novel, What You Don’t See:
What You Don’t See is book three in the Cass Raines Chicago Mystery series. In this story, the protagonist, Cassandra Raines, an ex-homicide cop with the Chicago Police Department turned hard-driving PI, is tasked with protecting an arrogant, high-handed magazine publisher named Vonda Allen, who is being terrorized by someone who wants her dead. Cass’s simple personal protection detail, however, quickly turns deadly when Vonda’s staffers begin turning up dead, Cass is confronted with personal tragedy, and the killer shows no signs of letting up. Cass must then figure out what Vonda is hiding from her past, avenge an attack on someone she holds dear, and chase down a vengeful killer before another innocent person dies.

I wasn’t thinking about movie adaptations or casting while I was writing this book and didn’t while writing any of the others. Crime fiction is my bubble, my sweet spot. I pretty much stick to the words on the page, the characters and their individual arcs, that sort of thing. I have no idea how Cass would play on the big or small screen.

Cass has a strong, distinctive voice and worldview and very much conforms to the conventional PI archetype, with updated exceptions. She’s independent almost to a fault, brash, extroverted, snarky, brave, intrepid, often foolhardy. She’s extremely loyal to the makeshift family she’s cobbled together for herself, but intensely private and self-contained. She is part champion of the underdog, part flawed reluctant hero, part mess. She’s described in one of the books as rough and spiney on the outside, but sweet and vulnerable inside, like a pineapple.

I’ve no idea who could play her, right off the top of my head, I’m thinking of actresses like Paula Patton or Naomie Harris, but if it ever comes to the adaptation stage, I wish whoever might one day get the task of casting all the luck in the world.

As for directors, I can just go with one I like a lot, Kathryn Bigelow. My favorite film of hers is 1990’s Blue Steel, starring Jamie Lee Curtis. It wasn’t a hit, but the gritty realism the film highlighted really stuck with me. I wouldn’t mind it one bit if one of my books got the Blue Steel treatment.
Visit Tracy Clark's website.

Q&A with Tracy Clark.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 6, 2020

Nicola Maye Goldberg's "Nothing Can Hurt You"

Nicola Maye Goldberg is the author of Other Women and The Doll Factory. She lives in New York City.

Here Goldberg dreamcasts an adaptation of her new literary thriller, Nothing Can Hurt You:
My dream director for an adaptation of Nothing Can Hurt You would be Park Chan-wook, whose film Stoker is my all-time favorite. His unexpected ways of depicting violence and its aftereffects are so extraordinary, and a constant source of inspiration to me as a writer. I’m also very into French New Extremity, so it would be very cool to see how one of those directors, like Coralie Fargeat or Julia Ducourneau, would interpret the material.

The two main characters of the book are Sara Morgan, an art student, and Blake Campbell, her boyfriend, who murders her. Probably any young, good-looking actors could fill those roles, though I think Timothée Chalamet would be particularly good as Blake. A character that might be harder to cast would be Sara’s mother, who becomes a professional psychic after her daughter’s death. I think Julianne Moore would be really good. Another trickier character would be Katherine, who falls in love with Blake while they are in rehab together. Maybe Florence Pugh, or Jodie Comer.
Visit Nicola Maye Goldberg's website.

Q&A with Nicola Maye Goldberg.

The Page 69 Test: Nothing Can Hurt You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Robyn Harding's "The Swap"

Robyn Harding is the internationally bestselling author of The Arrangement, Her Pretty Face. and The Party which was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel. She has also written four novels of contemporary women’s fiction, a young adult novel, and a comedic memoir with an environmental focus.

Here Harding dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, The Swap:
The Swap is the story of two attractive couples who, after a night of magic mushrooms, decide to swap partners. They think it will be harmless fun, an act that they’ll put behind them and move on with their friendship. But thanks to an obsessive teen who knows far too much about what the adults are up to, the swap upends their lives.

A few years ago, I wrote the script for an independent film called The Steps. It starred James Brolin, Jason Ritter, Christine Lahti and Emmanuel Chriqui. The casting was perfect, and I was lucky to be included in the process. But I know enough about the film world to know that the writer doesn’t make casting decisions. Particularly the writer of the novel that will eventually be adapted into a script and then, hopefully, filmed. But a writer can always dream!

If I could choose the perfect cast for The Swap, I’d have Margot Robbie play the cruel and beautiful social media influencer, Freya. She’s got the perfect look for the role and she was so incredible in I, Tonya. A relatable but strong actress like Emily Blunt would be great as Freya’s friend Jamie. As for the teenager Low, I think producers would need to find a really amazing newcomer, a tall gangly teen just waiting for her big break. Max, the hot hockey player could be played by Martin Sensmeier, and John Krasinski would be great as the novelist Brian.

Fingers crossed!
Visit Robyn Harding's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Robyn Harding & Ozzie.

The Page 69 Test: The Arrangement.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Elle Cosimano's "Seasons of the Storm"

Elle Cosimano's debut thriller, Nearly Gone, was an Edgar Award finalist, won the International Thriller Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and was awarded the Mathical Book Award recognizing mathematics in children’s literature. Her novel Holding Smoke was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award and the International Thriller Award. Her books for young adults have appeared on several statewide school and library reading lists.

Here Cosimano dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Seasons of the Storm:
Seasons of the Storm is a young adult urban fantasy/adventure about a group of teens who, upon their untimely deaths, have each been turned into the immortal embodiment of a season on earth. Gifted with elemental magic, they’re forced into a vicious cycle in which each Season must hunt and kill the one who comes before them in order to lay claim to their limited time on earth. I started drafting the story years ago, so many of the actors I envisioned while creating the characters are now too old for the roles. But there are plenty of amazing and talented young actors today who could easily play their parts.

Jack Sommers became the living embodiment of Winter in 1988 after a skiing accident took his life. With a skater’s build and garage-band style, he’s the story’s cool and brooding rebel. Cocky and willful, Jack’s known for his ambitious and often dangerous plans, and I can picture Colin Ford pulling off this role with aplomb.

After dying from cancer in the early 1990s, Fleur Atwell was revived to become one of the most powerful Springs in the world. Her long pink hair, emotional warmth, and sunny disposition contrast her badass grip on some deadly earth magic, and she can be ruthless when it counts to protect the people she loves. Emilia Jones would make a fantastic Fleur.

Julio Verano took the mantle of Summer after drowning while surfing off the coast of southern California in 1985. Carefree and often reckless, he’s known among the Guards as being a troublemaker with a stormy temper, and among the Seasons as being a hot beach boy and a flirt. Diego Tinoco, with his radiant smile and impressive physique, would be perfect for the part.

Amber Chase, a rebellious runaway, became an Autumn when she froze to death in 1969. A studious and highly skilled fighter with fiery red hair and sharp, catlike eyes, she’s become aloof and stoic, resigned to her violent life as a Season after so many years. I could see Abigail Cowen or Bella Thorne being a fantastic fit for this role.
Visit Elle Cosimano's website.

Q&A with Elle Cosimano.

--Marshal Zeringue