Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Peter Colt's "Back Bay Blues"

Peter Colt was born in Boston, MA in 1973 and moved to Nantucket Island shortly thereafter. He is a 1996 graduate of the University of Rhode Island and a 24-year veteran of the Army Reserve with deployments to Kosovo and Iraq. He is a police officer in a New England City and the married father of two boys.

Here Colt dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Back Bay Blues:
Back Bay Blues is the second Andy Roark book. Roark is a Vietnam veteran and Private Investigator in Boston, Massachusetts circa 1985. Roark is taking boring cases and having trouble letting the war go. He befriends a Vietnamese restaurant owner and hired by a Vietnamese woman to investigate the murder of her uncle. Roark’s investigation brings him into conflict with a group of former South Vietnamese army officers who want to topple the current government in Vietnam. It seems Roark can’t escape Vietnam.

If Back Bay Blues were made into a film who would I like to play the lead roles? In my mind I picture Adam Driver as Andy Roark, because Driver was in the Marine Corps and his service would lend authenticity to the role that other actors might not. Driver is both a dramatic heavy weight and quite capable of comedy, which would be well suited to playing a character who suffers from PTSD and who views life through an ironic lens.

I would love to see Chris Pine play the character of Chris, an old Army buddy of the protagonists. The character is a physically imposing man, a Green Beret, Vietnam Combat Vet. For as tough and scary as Chris is, he runs with a biker gang in the San Francisco Bay area, the character is someone who on film should convey quiet menace, toughness and genuine tenderness for the protagonist Andy Roark. I was a fan of Chris Pine’s having seen him in the Star Trek movies and A Wrinkle in Time…but his performance in Hell or High Water was truly outstanding. After seeing that, I knew he would be perfect for the part of Chris…or even Andy Roark.

One of the central characters in the book is a Vietnamese refugee and restaurant owner named Nguyen. Nguyen fought in the war and escaped Vietnam with his family to make a new life in America. In my mind the actor who plays Nguyen has to be able to convey the war and the following hardships but also be able to convey being a good family man. In my mind, former child actor Jonathan Ke Quan would be perfect being able to drawn on his own experiences both as child actor and a refugee as well his maturity to portray a father trying to provide for his family.

There are several Vietnamese characters in Back Bay Blues, my dream cast would ideally feature Vietnamese actors to portray them. I strive for authenticity in my books and hope that would carry over into movies. Casting people who have experienced or have had family who have experienced some of the themes in the book would only make a better film.

I have a dream director in mind and that is Ben Affleck. While he is a blockbuster actor, an accomplished screenwriter, he shines as a director. Nowhere was this more evident than in Gone Baby Gone. He is intimately familiar with Boston and the nuances of the area but also with Gone Baby Gone he showed an ability to faithfully and deftly turn a mystery into a really good movie.
Visit Peter Colt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Joe Clifford's "The Lakehouse"

Joe Clifford is the author of several books, including The One That Got Away, Junkie Love, and the Jay Porter Thriller Series, as well as editor of the anthologies Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen; Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash, and Hard Sentences, which he co-edited.

Here Clifford dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Lakehouse:
I love this question. I don’t know any author who doesn’t fantasize about their book being optioned for a film. While the truth is, most authors would be happy with any director or actor (Michael Bay, I’m listening!), we also have a wish list!

The Lakehouse is no exception. The story centers around a man (Todd Norman) accused—and acquitted—of murdering his wife, who returns to her small hometown to finish construction on their dream house by the lake. When a body washes up on the shore… So that’s the basic plot, told via three POVs: Tracy Somerset (30-something divorced mom); grizzled Sheriff Dwayne Sobczak; and Dr. Meshulum Bakshir, the town psychiatrist.

And, yes, I’ve thought a lot about who I’d cast! For Tracy, Amy Adams would be perfect. A little older than Tracy, Adams could pull it off. A rather obvious choice, I know. Sheriff Dwayne Sobczak is more of a stretch. The town cop is in his mid-50s. I like Adrien Brody, who is a little younger. And skinnier. Sobczak needs a sturdier, potbelly. So Adrien might have to do some De Niro or Bale weight gaining for the role. Dr. Baskhir? Kal Penn. Though known for mostly comedic roles (before his foray into politics), Penn would have to stretch his acting chops. But I think he’d be perfect. And as the mysterious Todd Norman—Jon Hamm!

Now for director, that’s easy! David Fincher!

Here's hoping we see The Lakehouse on the silver screen soon!
Visit Joe Clifford's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lakehouse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 21, 2020

Annie Lampman's "Sins of the Bees"

Annie Lampman is the author of the novel Sins of the Bees and the limited-edition letterpress poetry chapbook Burning Time. Her short stories, poetry, and narrative essays have been published in sixty-some literary journals and anthologies such as The Normal School, Orion Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, and Women Writing the West. She has been awarded the 2020 American Fiction Award in Thriller: Crime, the Dogwood Literary Award in Fiction, the Everybody Writes Award in Poetry, a Best American Essays “Notable,” a Pushcart Prize special mention, a Literature Fellowship special mention by the Idaho Commission on the Arts, and a wilderness artist’s residency in the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness through the Bureau of Land Management. Lampman is an Associate Professor of Honors Creative Writing at the Washington State University Honors College. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a bevy of pets (including a tabby named Bonsai and a husky named Tundra) in Moscow, Idaho on the rolling hills of the Palouse Prairie in another 1800s farmhouse. She has a pollinator garden full of native flowers, herbs, berries, song birds, squirrels, butterflies, bumble bees, solitary bees, and honeybees.

Lampman applied the Page 69 Test to Sins of the Bees and reported the following:
Sins of the Bees begins with main character Isabelle who is an artist who has disappeared into a religious doomsday cult to complete commissioned paintings of child brides called the Twelve Maidens, and also “to make sense of my past, to understand myself, to make amends for the wreckage of my own life.” Main character Silva is Isabelle’s granddaughter who is trying to find and track Isabelle down in order to remake a family for herself. But both women are asking the same questions of themselves on the path of their separate journeys—trying to understand who they are after suffering trauma and loss. And unbeknownst to them, they are both mourning two specific things: the loss of the same man—Isabelle’s husband and bonsai artist Eamon, who after Isabelle abandoned him, raised Silva by himself; and the trauma of suffering sexual assault that resulted in pregnancy. And tied into both Isabelle and Silva is character Nick Larkins—an outfitter and beekeeper and Silva’s eventual love interest.

My dreamcasting for Sins of the Bees would therefore include four main actors: Nicole Kidman for Isabelle, Scarlett Johansson for Silva, Daniel Day Lewis for Eamon, and Ryan Gosling for Nick.

Since Isabelle and Silva—grandmother and granddaughter—are twin representations of one another, yet also worlds apart, it is a little tricky picking two actresses who both resemble each other’s “wild, red-headed, artist look” as well as act in roles representational to Sins of the Bees. Both Kidman and Johansson have acted in traumatic dramas with power and emotion—particularly Kidman’s role in Rabbit Hole and Johansson’s role in Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Daniel Day Lewis’s role in The Last of the Mohicans demonstrates the heartbreak and devotion needed for Eamon, and Ryan Gosling in his more serious roles like Drive would fit well with Nick Larkins’ persona of power and suffering coupled with a sort of fatal romanticism.

Further, Daniel Day Lewis and Nicole Kidman would make for the great fated-love-story chemistry needed to represent Eamon and Isabelle, and likewise, Ryan Gosling and Scarlett Johansson would also have the kind of complicated chemistry needed to reflect Nick and Silva’s love story.
Visit Annie Lampman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sins of the Bees.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 18, 2020

Nathan Makaryk's "Lionhearts"

Nathan Makaryk is the author of Nottingham, and a theater owner, playwright, director and actor, living in southern California. None of these pay very well, so he also has a real job teaching audio systems networking software to people who have no idea he's also a novelist and theater guy. He likes dogs and scotch because of course he does.

Here Makaryk dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Lionhearts (the second installment in the Nottingham series):
I’m in something of a unique position, because most of the characters in my books have already been performed! Lionhearts is a sequel to Nottingham, which I novelized from my stage play, The Legend of Robin Hood. So I was writing with very specific actors in mind, who first brought this story to life in the original theatrical production.

However, I think it would be fun to look at famous Robin Hood movie actors and see who they would be best suited to play in Lionhearts. I’ve jokingly given Lionhearts the nickname of Into the Robin-verse, as there are multiple characters who each take on the mantle of Robin Hood in their own way, which lets me tackle Robin Hood tropes from many different incarnations of the story. These aren’t all perfect comparisons, but a reader wouldn’t be far off if they made the following mental casting choices while reading the book:

Errol Flynn as Lord Robert of Huntingdon: A dashing and charming earl, who some historians argue might have been the source of the actual Robin Hood legend. Flynn’s swordsmanship is perfect for this nobleman who moonlights as a swashbuckling gentleman thief.

Cary Elwes as Alfred Fawkes: Another charismatic showman … although this suave gang leader is something closer to the Dread Pirate Roberts than the leader of the Men in Tights.

Taron Egerton as Will Scarlet: The youngest and brashest of the novel’s Robin Hoods (and not unlike the anarchist Robin we saw in the most recent movie), Egerton also has the acting chops for the manic grief that haunts Scarlet throughout the novel.

Russell Crowe as Sir Robert FitzOdo: We’d need a past-his-prime, bald Russell Crowe, but Crowe’s real-life reputation as short-tempered brawler is pretty accurate for this fallen-from-grace knight who is still trying to prove himself.

(Sorry Kevin Costner, I’m not sure there’s a role that’s right for you.)

There are also a handful of other important characters to cast who weren’t in the previous book or the original play:

Gwendoline Christie as Jacelyn de Lacy: Admittedly, Brienne of Tarth was a natural reference for this stony-faced fighter, who has forced herself into the male-dominated Guard regiment to find her uncle’s murderer.

Iain Glenn as Beneger de Wendenal: Another Game of Thrones recruit, Iain Glenn has the believability of a stern, aged fighter but also an incredible capacity for tenderness. Beneger is a broken man in the novel, who has lost all three of his sons and seeks revenge. But he should not be seen as a wicked antagonist, which is why I’d want an actor who can approach that grief from a place of love, rather than cruelty.

Millie Bobby Brown as Zinn: Stranger Things circa Season One Millie would be perfect for this cocky gang runt who gets in over her head.

And, at the risk of stealing the entire cast and crew of Game of Thrones, I’d want Miguel Sapochnik to direct, who took some of the most challenging episodes I’ve ever seen and turned them into masterpieces.
Visit Nathan Makaryk's website.

The Page 69 Test: Lionhearts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Margaret Mizushima's "Hanging Falls"

Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. She serves as president for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, was elected the 2019 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and is also a member of Northern Colorado Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Women Writing the West. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.

Here Mizushima dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Hanging Falls:
Hanging Falls, the sixth episode in the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, would be great fun to cast. The series is set in a small fictional town surrounded by the Colorado Rocky Mountain wilderness, so the landscapes in the movie would be gorgeous. The opening scene in the book was inspired by an actual setting in Colorado called Hanging Lake, and it would make a beautiful backdrop for the action that occurs in the first few chapters when Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo discover a body snagged within a fallen tree floating at the edge of the lake. The action and the investigation move from there down into Timber Creek where another protagonist, veterinarian Cole Walker, becomes involved.

With an eye toward casting, we’ll take a look at Mattie first. Mattie is an attractive (okay…beautiful) woman of about thirty-one years of age, and she’s employed as a deputy in the local sheriff’s department. She’s athletic, was once a cross-country champion on the local high school track team, and when her department acquired Robo, she beat her male colleagues in a cross-country footrace to win the chance to become his handler. She’s also of biracial descent, Caucasian and Latinx. I would cast Monica Raymund to play Mattie. At age twenty-nine, Ms. Raymund is close enough to the right age, and her role as Gabriella Dawson in Chicago Fire has shown her capable of handling the athleticism required of Mattie in an action-oriented film.

Cole Walker is a strong-minded man who works as the sole veterinarian in the Timber Creek region. Though he’s a bit of a workaholic, he’s also a family man learning how to be a single parent to his two daughters after his ex-wife left him. He’s approaching forty, has dark hair, is physically fit, and at this point in the series, he has fallen in love with Mattie. I would choose Chris Pratt to play his role. Pratt’s features match the description of Cole in the books, and he’s able to play cowboy-type roles that require strength and sensitivity. I hope he loves dogs!

And that brings us to Robo, a German shepherd who is primarily black with tan markings. (Color patterns could be adjusted if we can find the right talent.) The real-life police dog that inspired Robo’s character has sadly passed away from old age, so we’d have to audition for the perfect star to play this third protagonist. Any suggestions?
Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah.

My Book, The Movie: Burning Ridge.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 11, 2020

Brandi Reeds's "The Day I Disappeared"

Brandi Reeds is the Amazon Charts bestselling author of Trespassing and Third Party. Under the pseudonym Sasha Dawn, she writes critically acclaimed young adult novels of psychological suspense, including Panic; Blink, an Edgar Award nominee; and Oblivion, which was chosen as one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens, recommended by the School Library Journal, endorsed by the American Library Association, and selected by the 2016 Illinois Reading Council as a featured book.

Here Reeds dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Day I Disappeared:
Sometimes, I have actors in mind when I'm drafting a novel. In the case of The Day I Disappeared, I definitely envisioned certain artists as particular characters. Others came to me as hybrids of actors. If The Day I Disappeared were to be adapted to film, here's how I'd cast it:

Holly Adryenne Gebhardt is an early-20s carpenter, very capable, independent, but somewhat of a romantic mess and sometimes wandering instead of ambitious. As she started to come to life on the page, I began to see Emma Roberts in this role. She can portray a badass, but has a certain softness to her that will help flesh out Holly. I could also see America Ferrara here.

Kitten Hershey is Holly's best friend. She's been engaged to be married, somewhat spoiled, but she has good intentions. I envisioned Kathryn Newton in this role, probably because I'd just seen Blockers when I started outlining the book. Kitten must be glamorous, but she's also casual, the kind of girl who can easily scarf down a hotdog in jeans and T-shirt.

Matt Hershey is a golden child, a U.S. Soldier, Kitten's older brother, and the boy Holly had a crush on as a child. I'm thinking Armie Hammer would work wonders with this role. He's all-American and hunky.

Cecily Gebhardt is Holly's mother. She was a chief suspect in Holly's kidnapping, and has been in a coma for several weeks. She's a genius with antique restoration, but motherhood does not come naturally to her. I like Eva Longoria Baston meets Scarlett Johansson.

Trevor Gebhardt is Holly's father and boss. He's a tad overprotective, but he always has Holly's best interests at heart. This one is easy: Matt Damon. My friends know that I feel a connection to Mr. Damon, and although we've never met, he often makes appearances in my dreams--but not for the reasons you might think. Sometimes, we meet on mountaintops to philosophize, sometimes he brings plans for a house he wants me to remodel. It's this last scenario that caused me to cast him as Trevor--the owner of TrevCon Homes.

Susan Hershey is Holly's mom away from mom. She's an excellent cook, homemaker, and party planner. Here, I'd cast Jennifer Aniston.

Alan Kohlbrook was convicted of kidnapping Holly 20 years ago. Whomever steps into this role has to have a creepy, but charming air about him. I'm thinking an aged up Shia LaBeouf.

Psychic Yanneth: I'd love to see Salma Hayek in this role, as Yanneth takes us on a roller coaster of emotion--from frantic to zen.

Craig Vellerman is Holly's foreman, who's something of a jerk. I'd like to see Ben Affleck or Paul Rudd in this role.

Eliot is Kitten's fiance: Jude Law all the way.

Derrion Sterling is Holly's on-again/off-again boyfriend. He's consumed with his career: James Franco.
Visit Brandi Reeds's website.

My Book, The Movie: Third Party.

The Page 99 Test: The Day I Disappeared.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Jenny Milchman's "The Second Mother"

Jenny Milchman is the USA Today bestselling Mary Higgins Clark award winning author of five psychological thrillers, including Wicked River and The Second Mother.

Here Milchman shares her choice for the director of an adaptation of The Second Mother:
I’m going to try to set aside the experience I’m having now with my third novel, which is currently in development as a film—all the real world constraints of an industry as nuts as Hollywood—to focus on my fifth novel, which by the time you’re reading this will have just come out. If we’re not weighed down by reality, we can bring someone out of retirement.

If The Second Mother were being made into a movie, I would want Rob Reiner to direct it.

Rob (if I may call him that, and I think I can, because I worship the guy as a creative) has directed two of my all-time favorite movies, both based on works by Stephen King.

The Second Mother needs Rob’s ability to set an ominous scene with slowly mounting tension, an ooze of suspense. It’s about a woman who moves to a tiny island off the coast of Maine to get a fresh start. She accepts a post as teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. The island is quaint, idyllic, washed with sun and salt.

But once Julie gets there, things start to go very, very bad. One of her students is a boy named Peter, who likes to defy adults, climb unstable structures, and lord his rarefied place on the island over all the other children. At the same time, Peter loves to sing and dance, spend time with animals, and show Julie the secrets of island life. He’s a study in contradictions. And—he’s in desperate need of a mother.

Who is this child really, and is there something wrong with him? Or with the people who surround him?

That tension and question last until the final page of The Second Mother. Translating it to film will take a deft eye and hand.

Rob Reiner knows how to take a situation that appears innocent at first—a nurse with a savior complex and an intense love of reading, a group of tween boys out for an adventure on the railroad tracks—and dig beneath its unblemished skin for the creepy, crawly all too human horrors beneath.

In The Second Mother, the horror concerns the bitter legacy of privilege and wealth, and a doyenne, a grandmother. It’s not easy to expose a sweet old lady for the danger she wields.

But Rob Reiner is the director who could do it.
Learn more about the book and author at Jenny Milchman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Cover of Snow.

My Book, The Movie: Ruin Falls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 4, 2020

Sarah Warburton's "Once Two Sisters"

Sarah Warburton is the oldest of four sisters, raised in Virginia, and an avid reader and knitter. She has a B.A. in Latin from the College of William and Mary, an M.A. in classics from the University of Georgia and another from Brown. Warburton has worked at independent bookstores--Page One Books in Albuquerque and Books on the Square in Providence--and spent ten years as a writer, which led her to become lead editor for UpClose Magazine. Her short story "Margaret's Magnolia" appeared in Southern Arts Journal, and her Pushcart prize nominated story "Survival English" appeared in Oyster River Page. Now she lives with her family--husband, son, daughter, and hound dog--in the mountains of Southwestern Virginia.

Here Warburton dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Once Two Sisters:
I wrote Once Two Sisters with a very clear sense of setting in mind, but the two main characters, older sister Ava and younger sister Zoe, were always standing right behind me, directing my gaze. Because the novel is alternating first person, it’s almost like they are the camera and we experience the story through them. Stepping back to include Ava and Zoe in the frame was a lot of fun.

Ava is cerebral, successful and driven. Although she’s very much in control, once she’s in physical danger, she discovers she can be just as much of a fighter as her younger sister. I think Shailene Woodley would be great in this role. She’s got a great way of playing a character with secrets. She can be reserved, and yet hint at the passion underneath. And Ava is the character who’s literally in a life or death situation, and Shailene Woodley has also nailed action roles. She combines controlled strength with the capacity for great emotion.

Zoe is the rebel, the younger sister who burns her old identity and starts a new life under an assumed name. She’s angry, resentful, impulsive, and yet longs for a loving family. I would love to see Chloë Grace Moretz in this role, delivering a strong, sarcastic performance. Especially interesting would be the moment when Zoe realizes that this isn’t some kind of publicity stunt. I think Moretz could do a great job transitioning from defensive anger to guilt-driven fear for her sister’s life.

For their brilliant, yet cold parents, maybe Laura Linney and John Slattery. I think they would play the “worst family dinner ever” scene brilliantly, yet somehow we’d root for this terrible dysfunctional family to come together.

And thinking about a director who could interweave two different narratives, keep the focus on character and family front and center, while still making what is, after all, a thriller, I kept coming back to Susanne Bier, director of In a Better World and Bird Box. Once Two Sisters would be a film where the family dynamics make the audience squirm just as much as the scenes in the missile silo.
Visit Sarah Warburton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue