Sunday, November 22, 2020

Catriona McPherson's "The Turning Tide"

Catriona McPherson was born in Scotland and lived there until immigrating to the US in 2010. She writes the multi-award-winning Dandy Gilver series, set in the old country in the 1930s, as well as a strand of multi-award-winning psychological thrillers. Very different awards. After eight years in the new country, she kicked off the humorous Last Ditch Motel series, which takes a wry look at California life. These are not multi-award-winning, but the first two won the same award in consecutive years, which still isn’t too shabby.

McPherson is a proud lifetime member and former national president of Sisters in Crime.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest Dandy Gilver mystery, The Turning Tide:
Except I don’t think of it as a movie; I think of it as what people in America call a mini-series (and what Brits call a series. All our series are mini, since we don’t have the budgets to make them any bigger.)

Anyway, think Sunday night on Masterpiece Theater, just after the river cruise advert...

My series would slot in there nicely. It’s the 1930s, it’s Scotland, there’s a lady detective, a Dalmatian, a snooty butler, a bossy maid, a devoted cook . . . and a murder every week. You’d watch that, wouldn’t you? My dream Dandy Gilver – dark hair, cut glass vowels, kind heart – is Anna Chancellor. You might know her from playing Caroline Bingley in the BBC Pride and Prejudice, or from her role as “Duckface” in Four Weddings and a Funeral. She is absolutely Dandy to me and always has been.

Here’s why.

About fifteen years ago I was at a literary festival and someone asked this question about casting a performance based on the book. I said “Anna Chancellor”. Then, at the signing, a woman came up and said she was Anna’s cousin and she’d like to buy a book to send to her. Which she did.

Then it turned out that my agent lived near Anna in London and knew her. Long story short, we had lunch a couple of times, got on famously – same taste in books, exactly the same age – and schemed quite hard to make it happen. So far, despite being optioned at the BBC and at STV, it hasn’t. Telly makes publishing look easy!

As for Alec, Dandy’s sidekick, I don’t have an actor in mind for him. He is still too much the real person I based his looks on. It was a waiter in a restaurant in Brussels, whom I watched for a good two hours, for reasons I couldn’t explain at the time. Thankfully my husband knew it was book-related and not affair-related. He was quite happy people-watching too, but he watched multiple people, which is a lot more normal. When it comes to scriptwriters, I’ve got a much sturdier view. Heidi Thomas is most famous for Call The Midwife but she also adapted two of my most beloved books – Ballet Shoes and I Capture The Castle and pulled off the well-nigh impossible feat of making films that newcomers warmed to and old fans approved of and adored.

I’d love to see what she would do with my books. And I’d love to see what the rest of the army of experts – casting directors, location scouts, wardrobe mistresses, prop managers – not to mention actors might come up with too. It would be nerve-wracking to sit down on that first Sunday night and watch the titles roll, mind you.
Visit Catriona McPherson's website.

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