Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Kristy Dallas Alley's "The Ballad of Ami Miles"

Kristy Dallas Alley is a high school librarian in Memphis, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband, four kids, three cats, and an indeterminate number of fish. She studied creative writing at Rhodes College in another lifetime and holds a Master of Science in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from the University of Memphis. In an ideal world, she would do nothing but sit on a beach and read every single day of her life, but in reality she's pretty happy reading on her front porch, neglecting the gardens she enthusiastically plants each spring, and cooking huge meals regardless of the number of people around to eat them.

Here Alley dreamcasts an adaptation of The Ballad of Ami Miles, her debut novel:
I have imagined the opening sequence of The Ballad of Ami Miles so often that it plays in my mind like the memory of a movie I've watched again and again. I can see the POV shot of trees and forest floor as Ami tromps confidently toward home, not knowing her world is about to be turned upside down. I see the stiff forms of her grandparents and the strange man standing in the yard where she isn't expecting to find anything out of the ordinary, surrounded by the desolation of Heavenly Shepard, her family's trailer dealership-turned survival compound where they live in isolation after viral infertility has wiped out the world as we know it. She runs away to a communal settlement that is built in a real place, Lake Point state park near Eufaula, Alabama, and I picture it both as its real self and as the older, shabbier version in my mental movie of this book. But the casting keeps changing, as young actors quickly grow up and new talents constantly appear.

For this "dream casting," I wanted to pick actors who could fit the roles right now.

The main characters:

Ami: Sadie Sink who played Max in Stranger Things fits the physical description of Ami pretty perfectly, and I think she's a good fit overall.

Jessie: There's a young independent film actress named Stella Cole who I think would make a perfect Jessie. For a big-name choice, I can see Auli'i Cravalho fitting the part beautifully.

The family:

Elisabeth Miles, Ami's mom: Reese Witherspoon would be perfect in this role, with the huge benefit of having an authentic southern accent.

Marcus: Luke Forbes gives me real Marcus vibes.

Penny: Storm Reid is perfect to play Penny, and the fact that she played Meg in A Wrinkle in Time seals the deal for me.

Ruth Miles, Ami's grandmother: Lisa Emery, the actress who plays Darlene Snell in Ozark, would give Ruth the flint she needs.

Amber, Ami's aunt: Stealing another Ozark actor, I would love to see Julia Garner play Amber. She's absolutely perfect.

The Lake Point teens ensemble:

Will: Logan Shroyer, who plays the teen version of Kevin in This Is Us really looks like Will and is such a talented young actor.

Melissa: Kyla Matthews who played Ruby Gillis in Anne With an E feels just right for this part.

Hannah: I love the idea of Amber Midthunder as Hannah so if she could freeze herself in time, that would be great.

Ben: Booboo Stewart looks and feels perfect to play Ben

Teenie: Danielle Macdonald, who played Willowdean in Dumplin' just became Teenie in my mind at some point.

Random other role:

Evelyn the librarian: She's a minor character in the book, but this was the only one I really always pictured as a specific actor in my mind, and that was Catherine Keener. Out of all the roles I've listed, this is the one that would really make it feel like the book in my head moved straight to the screen.
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--Marshal Zeringue