Monday, July 19, 2021

Joe Clifford's "The Shadow People"

After spending the 1990s as a homeless heroin addict in San Francisco, Joe Clifford got off the streets and turned his life around. He earned his MFA from Florida International University in 2008, before returning to the Bay Area, where he currently lives with his wife and two sons (Holden and Jackson Kerouac). His autobiographical novel, Junkie Love, chronicles his battle with drugs and was published by Battered Suitcase (2010). He is the author of the award-winning Jay Porter series, as well as several standalones including The One That Got Away, The Lakehouse, and the newly released The Shadow People.

Here Clifford dreamcasts an adaptation of The Shadow People:
If they make my book into a movie … they can put anyone they damn well please in whatever role they want as long as I get paid!

Not like I’d get a say anyway. But to play along…

I could see Tom Holland as Brandon. I could see a lot of other actors as well. Brandon is meant to be an everyman, and as such I think any number of reasonably attractive, likable twenty-somethings could pull it off. The role of Francis, however, is more specific. Writing this novel, I kept envisioning Jonathan Banks, who plays the character Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad and its prequel Better Call Saul. If I’m being honest, I sorta wrote the part with him in mind.

Director? It’s funny, but when the deal for this book was first announced, we were contacted by Sam Raimi’s people, who asked for an ARC regarding a possible adaptation. They (obviously) passed in the end, but I think Raimi would’ve been the perfect choice. While ultimately a thriller, this book employs more elements of horror than usual.
Visit Joe Clifford's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Lakehouse.

Q&A with Joe Clifford.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Liv Constantine's "The Stranger in the Mirror"

Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Together, they are the bestselling author of the Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, The Last Mrs. Parrish, The Last Time I Saw You, The Wife Stalker, and the newly released The Stranger in the Mirror. Their critically acclaimed books have been praised by USA Today, The Sunday Times, People Magazine, and Good Morning America, among many others. The Constantine sisters are national and international bestselling authors and their books have been translated into 28 languages, are available in 33 countries, and are in development for both television and film.

Here they dreamcast an adaptation of The Stranger in the Mirror:
Our newest book, The Stranger in the Mirror, features Addison Hope, a young woman with retrograde amnesia. Addison doesn’t know her real identity and can’t recall anything of her life since before she found herself bleeding and bruised on the side of a highway. The jagged scars on her arms, proof of a failed suicide attempt, are the only clue to what may lie in her past. For the last two years she has cobbled together a new life and identity, even finding love, and is preparing to marry, but she is haunted by whom or what she left behind. Terrifying flashbacks of bloodshed and violence plague her, making her wonder if something bad was done to her or by her.

The book has a large cast of characters, and it was fun (and also challenging) to choose just the right actor, giving us much more appreciation for the job of casting director. So, let’s get started…

Because our protagonist, Addison, has no recollection of her past or who she is, her character is one who is sometimes tentative and off balance. She’s smart, doesn’t like conflict and can retreat into an interior world when she feels vulnerable. On the other hand, she can be charming and warm when she feels safe with those around her. Her passion is photography, and her work is exceptional. We’ve chosen Lily James to play lovely, raven-haired Addison, because she has the perfect combination of winsomeness, intelligence and strength. James has appeared in Downton Abbey as Rose, took over the role of Meryl Streep in the sequel to Mamma Mia! and became Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. With such a variety of past lives, she’d make a great Addison.

Julian Hunter is a highly successful Boston physician whose wife has been missing for two years, leaving him as the single parent to 7-year-old Valentina. Julian, at thirty-five, is blond and still boyishly handsome. Trim and fit, his style is controlled but casual. He’s dedicated to his work, a voracious reader and a devoted dad. We’ve chosen Simon Baker, who so brilliantly played the Mentalist, for Julian because, well, who else could fit that bill so perfectly?

Gabriel Oliver is Addison’s twenty-nine-year-old fiancé. Gabriel runs his wealthy family’s Philadelphia art gallery. Athletic and nice looking, he’s outgoing with lots of friends. He was smitten with Addison from the moment they met, and is her biggest cheerleader, proposing to her after just six months. We think Liam Hemsworth would make a good Gabriel.

Blythe Oliver, Gabriel’s mother, is an elegant and refined woman in her late fifties who descends from generations of wealth. She is a sculptor and started a Philadelphia art gallery with her husband, Ted, soon after they married. Close to her son and daughter, she’s warm and supportive of her children and a calm, steady presence in their lives. Despite the fact that Blythe is fond of Addison, she worries that her son is hurrying into this marriage and will be hurt in the end if and when Addison remembers who she is and what life she left behind. The choice here was easy. Michelle Pfeiffer is Blythe.

Darcy should have been the one about to marry Gabriel. At least that’s what both of their families, friends for years, hoped. Darcy, a violinist, is tall and lithe, blond and ethereal looking with an easy grace. She remains kind to both Gabriel and Addison, despite the pain she felt when Gabriel ended his relationship with her. Elizabeth Debicki is our choice to play Darcy. Debicki, blond, beautiful and 6’3”, is an award-winning actress of both the stage and screen, and she will portray Diana in the next season of The Crown.

Ed, a long-haul trucker, picked up injured hitchhiker Addison on a New Jersey highway two years ago. Ed took her home with him to Philadelphia where his wife Gigi, a nurse, saw to her medical needs. In his fifties, over six feet tall, and with a deep voice and a commanding air of protectiveness about him, Addison feels safe with Ed. If Sam Elliott were just a little younger, he would be our pick for Ed. In his place we’ve put Viggo Mortensen. Mortensen as Tony Lip drove Don Shirley (Ali Mahershala) on tour through hostile towns and groups in The Green Book. Who wouldn’t feel safe with him?

Lastly Gigi, Ed’s wife, is a no-nonsense, take charge woman who has a heart of gold and a mile long nurturing streak. She’s spunky, fun, generous and takes Addison into her home, giving the young woman a sense of belonging and love. We think Reba McEntire could put in all the heart and spirit needed to make red-headed Gigi come to life.

It hasn’t slipped our notice that four of our choices are foreign actors with Hemsworth, Baker and Debicki hailing from Australia and Lily James from England. But we more than make up for it with the strength of American actors Pfeiffer, Mortensen and McEntire. And isn’t it always fascinating to hear how spot on Aussies’ and Brits’ American accents are!
Visit Liv Constantine's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Valerie Constantine & Zorba.

Coffee with a Canine: Lynne Constantine & Greyson.

My Book, The Movie: The Wife Stalker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 28, 2021

Heather Levy's "Walking Through Needles"

Heather Levy is a born and bred Oklahoman and graduate of Oklahoma City University's Red Earth MFA program for creative writing. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including NAILED Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, and Dragon Poet Review. She authored a nonfiction series on human sexuality, including “Welcome to the Dungeon: BDSM in the Bible Belt,” for Literati Press.

Here Levy dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Walking Through Needles:
When I was writing Walking Through Needles, I wasn’t thinking of any particular actors but rather a blending of several faces, so it I had a lot of fun coming up my dream cast. First, a little book background:

Walking Through Needles centers around Sam Mayfair and her stepbrother Eric Walker, who become inseparable as teens until Sam, a budding masochist, suffers abuse by someone close to her and a traumatic event causes them to spin-off on different paths. Fifteen years later, both Sam and Eric learn that Sam’s abuser was murdered and Eric is the prime suspect. Both want to keep horrifying secrets of their past hidden from investigators as Sam tries to exonerate Eric.

Sam Mayfair was by far the hardest character to cast since she’s strong yet vulnerable, closed off, stubborn, and unapologetic about her sexuality. After seeing Daisy Edgar-Jones in Normal People, I knew she was my perfect Sam. The actor also easily transitioned from playing a teen to an adult, which is handy since the timeline switches from 1994 to 2009.

With Eric Walker, I knew right away that Nick Robinson of The Teacher would be excellent. Long before Eric meets Sam, he’s experienced traumas he carries with him into adulthood. Although he’s haunted by these horrible experiences, he’s still open and vulnerable with his heart in a way Sam isn’t at the beginning of the novel.

Isaac Walker, Eric’s volatile yet charming father, was trickier to cast. Although I haven’t watched Sons of Anarchy, I’ve seen enough of Charlie Hunnam from clips to know he could easily pull off Isaac’s complicated character.

Grandma Haylin is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written because I didn’t really grow up with a close relationship to my own grandparents, so I wrote the one I would’ve wanted. She’s fiercely protective of her family, a straight talker, and will give you extra homemade cookies in your lunchbox. I’ve always loved Jean Smart, and she killed as the lead’s mother in Mare of Easttown, so I knew she was my Grandma Haylin.

For Sam’s mother and Grandma Haylin’s daughter, Jeri Anne, I needed someone who could pull off a woman who’s been hurt before in love and might rush into a relationship with the first man who shows her attention. She also has to be someone who would prefer to look the other way if it meant getting hurt again, and Laura Linney fit the bill.

Vickie Lang is a mess of a person who places her only daughter in horrific situations, but she’s also manipulative and smart when it comes to getting what she wants. I could see Jamie Pressly doing a great job with the role.

After seeing her in Sex Education, I knew Emma Mackey could play Meredith Lang, daughter of Vickie and someone who was once close to Eric when they were younger and thrown into a bad situation together. Like Sam, Meredith has tried to move past her own traumas the best that she can, but the murder investigation pulls her in against her will.

Lastly, I see Bill Pullman of The Sinner as my quick-eyed Detective Eastman, the lead investigator of the murder and the bane of Eric’s existence.
Follow Heather Levy on Facebook and Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Julia Buckley's "Death on the Night of Lost Lizards"

Julia Buckley has loved reading and writing since childhood. She is still a sucker for a great story, and, like any bibliophile, she loves libraries, Scholastic Book Fairs, the smell of ink, pads and pens, typewriters, and books you can't put down. She lives in a Chicago suburb with her husband Jeff; she has two grown sons and a beautiful daughter-in-law.

Here Buckley dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Death on the Night of Lost Lizards:
Death on the Night of Lost Lizards is the third book in my Hungarian Tea House series; it debuted at the beginning of this month. The series follows the life of Hana Keller, a Hungarian-American woman who helps to run Maggie’s Tea House, named for her mother Magdalena, her colleague along with her grandmother, Juliana. The tea house has become the setting for a great deal of conflict and drama over three books, starting with a murder during a tea party. This dire event brought Detective Erik Wolf into the tea house. Himself the son of an immigrant, Wolf is fascinated from the start by the three tea house ladies and their unusual insight. The series blends Hungarian folklore and culture, art of all kinds, and a touch of the psychic in a traditionally cozy setting.

Casting roles for a movie version of the book would be a daunting task. I see my characters in my head, but only in a rather amorphous way, and to give them detailed features would be like committing to a permanent relationship. However, for the fun of the assignment, I have plucked some faces out of the vast array of talented people who could play my characters (although I’ve traveled in time to hire some of them).

Hana is known for her lovely red-brown hair, an autumnal and striking shade. The absolute perfect casting for her would be a young Mariska Hargitay. A half-Hungarian herself, Mariska in her twenties had the perfect look to be Hana. She has the glamour of Jayne Mansfield (her actual mother) and the traditionally Hungarian look of many of my own relatives. An understory for the role might be the young Joanna Garcia, who came to fame on Reba as a blonde woman, but later appeared in roles with red hair. I always admired her sweetness and sense of humor.

For the role of Detective Erik Wolf, who must blend a sense of integrity, shrewdness, introversion, and a real devotion to both his career and Hana herself, I would cast Joel Kinnaman. His performances in both The Killing and Hanna convinced me of his talent, and as a man from the Nordic region (Sweden, not Norway), he has the proper look for Wolf.

Hana’s best friend Katie, cheerful and ebullient, would be played by Annie Murphy, the delightfully wacky Alexis on Schitt’s Creek. I would darken her hair slightly to match the chocolate tones of Katie’s hair.

Hana’s protective brother Domonkos would look like a young Tony Curtis (another half-Hungarian), and his girlfriend Margie, who is said to look like Grace Kelly, would of course be played by Grace Kelly.

I am drawing a blank for Hana’s mother and grandmother; I think that I would want to draw from a cast of Hungarian actors to get the look right, at least for her mother and grandmother, who are both Hungarian natives.

Maggie’s dad, another quietly devoted man, would be played by a young John Mahoney, whose face always had a gentleness that I admired. He is on the small list of my brushes with fame, as I ran into him once in an Illinois Jewel.
Learn more about the book and author at Julia Buckley's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Big Chili.

My Book, The Movie: A Dark and Twisting Path.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

D.W. Buffa's "The Privilege"

D.W. Buffa was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area. After graduation from Michigan State University, he studied under Leo Strauss, Joseph Cropsey and Hans J. Morgenthau at the University of Chicago where he earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in political science. He received his J.D. degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Buffa was a criminal defense attorney for 10 years and his Joseph Antonelli novels reflect that experience.

The New York Times called The Defense "an accomplished first novel" which "leaves you wanting to go back to the beginning and read it over again." The Judgment was nominated for the Edgar Award for best novel of the year. The latest Joseph Antonelli novel is The Privilege.

D.W. Buffa lives in Northern California.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of The Privilege:
When my first novel, The Defense, was published in l997, the first question almost everyone who knew me asked was, “Is it going to be made into a movie?” The second question, almost always, was, “Who do you think should play the lead?”

I was surprised. I should not have been. What we see on film has become, for many of us, the measure, not just of a novel’s success, but of its importance. It is, for that reason, often assumed that the author must have had a particular actor or actress in mind when he created at least some of the characters who fill the pages of his work. And, let me confess, when I first started writing I would sometimes wonder who might be able to show on the screen what I was trying to describe with my pen. I knew that Leopold Rifkin, the judge in The Defense, could have been played perfectly by Ben Kingsley. I could see him doing it. Horace Woolner, the district attorney, could only have been played by James Earl Jones. The defense lawyer, the same Joseph Antonelli who is the defense lawyer in The Privilege, - well, he was always a problem. John Garfield could have done it, but Garfield had been dead for nearly half a century.

Now, more than twenty years later, trying to cast The Privilege, I wish that instead of 2021, it was 1950. It would have been easy then. Antonelli, the lawyer who never loses, would be played by Glenn Ford, and Tangerine, the woman he lives with, a woman so good looking that even other, beautiful, women are not jealous, by Ava Gardner. Charles Laughton would have been unforgettable as the professor of philosophy who raises questions no one had heard in a courtroom before, and only Orson Welles could have played the enigmatic James Michael Redfield. Now, today, the choices are not as easy, but if choices have to be made, George Clooney would play Antonelli and Sean Penn would play Redfield.

My first choice to direct The Privilege would be Francis Ford Coppola. He has been known to do interesting things with stories about Sicilians, and what better Sicilian to portray than Joseph Antonelli who, like every good Sicilian, has his own understanding of what justice means. A second choice would be a director whose name I do not know, the director of the Italian motion picture, Open Doors, the best courtroom drama ever put on film.
Visit D.W. Buffa's website.

Q&A with D.W. Buffa.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Gilles Legardinier's "The Paris Labyrinth"

Gilles Legardinier writes genre-hopping best sellers in French with more than 2 million copies sold and translations in 20 languages. A novelist, screenwriter, producer, and director, his film industry experience in Los Angeles, London, and Paris ranges from scale model maker and pyrotechnician to marketing/distribution for Warner and Twentieth Century Fox.

Here Legardinier dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Paris Labyrinth:
If I imagine the dream cast for a film version of The Paris Labyrinth, I’d choose Ben Affleck for the role of Vincent, because there’s such a density—real substance—to him.

Casey Affleck would be perfect to play Pierre, his brother.

I see Rachel McAdams in the role of Gabrielle, for her unique mix of fragility and strength.

And I’d pick John Malkovich to play Charles, because of his amazing combination of intelligence and sensibility.

My ideal director would be Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, Lord of War, In Time), because he has a talent for never losing the emotion in the action.
Visit Gilles Legardinier's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Debra Bokur's "The Bone Field"

Debra Bokur is the author of The Fire Thief and The Bone Field (Dark Paradise Mysteries, Kensington). She’s traveled the world as a writer, journalist and staff editor for various national media outlets, with more than 2,000 print pieces carrying her byline to date. Her work has garnered multiple awards, including a 2015 Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism. For more than a decade, she served as the poetry editor at a national literary journal, and her poetry and short fiction have been widely published. Among her favorite writing credits are a series of original literary essays commissioned by the Celestial Seasonings tea company that appeared on the artfully illustrated boxes of ten separate tea flavors. She continues to travel in her capacity as the Global Researcher and Writer for the Association for Safe International Road Travel, and as a monthly columnist for Global Traveler Magazine.

Here Bokur dreamcasts an adaptation of The Bone Field:
When I ran into rough spots while working on The Bone Field—the second book in my Dark Paradise Mysteries series—I played a game with myself that involved a hard deadline built upon a promise to director Ron Howard that he’d have a draft at least one month before my publisher did. I figured he could use the extra time scouting locations and securing the list of actors I planned to provide. This mind-play actually helped me finish the book an exact month before the manuscript was due. Mr. Howard’s name, alas, has yet to show up on my phone screen.

He needs to call so we can discuss whether it’s Chris Hemsworth or Finnish actor Ville Seivo who should be cast in the recurring role of Elvar Ellinsdóttir. I’m on the fence. Hemsworth is a good physical fit and would bring his trademark subtle humor to the part; but Elvar is Icelandic, and Ville Seivo has a Nordic melancholy that would provide a nice level of depth to Elvar’s character.

Actress Keisha Castle-Hughes has long been my dream choice for Detective Kali Māhoe. Castle-Hughes is known for her role in Whale Rider, and for the character of Obara Sand in Game of Thrones (Season 5). Lately, however, I’ve started to picture actress Sara Tomko as Kali. Tomko was unknown to me until I became obsessed with the new Syfy series Resident Alien, on which she plays Asta Twelvetrees. Not only does she look the way I picture and write Kali, she has the same instinct for sarcasm, and looks like she could more than handle Kali’s active lifestyle of yoga, surfing, swimming, running, and chasing criminals.

I remain convinced that veteran New Zealand actor Jay Laga’aia (Captain Typho in two Star Wars films) is a great match for Police Captain Walter Alaka’i, and that John Cho would be ideal as Officer David Hara. In The Bone Field, there’s another officer helping out with the case—Officer Tomas Alva, the only full-time cop on Lanaʻi Island, where several bodies have been discovered in an abandoned pineapple field. For Alva, I’m casting Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa.

The character of actor-turned-podcaster Chad Caesar has been huge fun to contemplate. His role in the series isn’t large, but it’s important, so I’ve finally decided the role should be offered to Justin Timberlake. It begs for an actor who can be funny without being silly, a skill Timberlake definitely possesses.

I enjoyed contemplating who might best convey the book’s more sinister characters. For Bill Bragden, I won’t settle for anyone other than Sam Elliott. And for Abraham Waters, who’s tied to an old cult, I’m torn between Viggo Mortensen—highly adept at complicated roles—and British actor Marc Warren. While both could deliver the elements of charisma and intensity that Abraham embodies, Warren might have a slight edge because of his track record with mysteries. In addition to his lead in the Masterpiece crime drama Van Der Valk, he’s had roles in numerous television dramas including Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Agatha Christie’s Marple, The Vice, Wycliffe, A Touch of Frost, and Prime Suspect: Scent of Darkness. I’m willing to let Ron Howard figure this one out. But he still needs to call me.
Visit Debra Bokur's website.

Q&A with Debra Bokur.

The Page 69 Test: The Fire Thief.

My Book, The Movie: The Fire Thief.

Writers Read: Debra Bokur.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 7, 2021

Connie Berry's "The Art of Betrayal"

Connie Berry is the author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries, set in the UK and featuring an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. Like her protagonist, Berry was raised by antiques dealers who instilled in her a passion for history, fine art, and travel. During college she studied at the University of Freiburg in Germany and St. Clare's College, Oxford, where she fell under the spell of the British Isles. In 2019 Berry won the IPPY Gold Medal for Mystery and was a finalist for the Agatha Award’s Best Debut. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and is on the board of Guppies and her local Sisters in Crime chapter. Besides reading and writing mysteries, Berry loves history, foreign travel, cute animals, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and adorable Shih Tzu, Emmie.

Here Berry dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest Kate Hamilton Mystery series—The Art of Betrayal:
Doesn’t every author dream of seeing her story and her characters, on the big screen? I do.

My writing process might be called cinematic. I visualize the scenes in my head as I write, noticing the background and light source, the physical movements of the characters, and their changing expressions as they interact. I hope my readers can picture the scenes, too.

The Art of Betrayal is a traditional mystery set in Suffolk, England. The main character is Kate Hamilton, an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. She’s helped in her investigations by Detective Inspector Tom Mallory of the Suffolk Constabulary. The book opens with Kate, tending her friend Ivor Tweedy’s antiquities shop while he recovers from hip surgery. She’s thrilled when a reclusive widow consigns an ancient Chinese jar—until the jar is stolen and a body turns up in the middle of the May Fair pageant. With no insurance covering the loss, Tweedy may be ruined. As DI Tom Mallory searches for the victim’s missing daughter, Kate notices puzzling connections with a well-known local legend. This is Kate’s most puzzling case yet, pitting her against spring floods, a creepy mansion in the Suffolk countryside, the misty depths of Anglo-Saxon history, and a clever killer with an old secret.

So which director and which actors would bring my book to life?

My fantasy director is Simon Langton who directed the 1995 BBC miniseries Pride & Prejudice. What I admire about that production is its utter faithfulness, not only to Austen’s text but also to the tone of the novel. Langton, who was recently interviewed about the production, said its phenomenal success was due in part to the fact that the movie was filmed entirely on location rather than in a studio. I was lucky enough to see the house chosen for Longbourn—Luckington Court, a Grade 2 listed house of creamy Cotswold stone in Wiltshire. All the Longbourn scenes were filmed in the house and grounds, including my favorite scene in the book and perhaps in all of literature—the confrontation between Eliza Bennet and Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the “prettyish kind of little wilderness.” Luckington Court actually has one.

Langton also praised the casting, with Jennifer Ehle as an intelligent and smiling Lizzie and a brooding Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. As much as I love these actors, my choices for the leading roles in The Art of Betrayal would be different.

For Kate, my fantasy actress is Carey Mulligan, although I’d have to dye her hair brown and give her blue contact lenses. Carey is a versatile actress, known for costume dramas. I think she’d capture Kate’s energy, wit, and vulnerability. That’s the quality I love most about both Carey and Kate—their vulnerable exteriors paired with inner cores of steel. I loved Carey Mulligan as Edith Pretty in The Dig and as Daisy in The Great Gatsby. She does a brilliant American accent, too.

For DI Tom Mallory, my fantasy choice is a younger Ralph Fiennes (pronounced Raif Fines, by the way). Like Mulligan, Fiennes can play everything from the hilarious concierge in The Grand Hotel Budapest (2014) to Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films to his brilliant portrayal of Amon Goeth, the SS villain in Schindler’s List. Fiennes has the right look for Tom, too—spare, almost ascetic, with a hint of passion beneath the surface. The best part? He was born in Suffolk.

Now, the only thing left now is to convince a film studio to make the movie.
Visit Connie Berry's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Art of Betrayal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Caroline Lea's "The Metal Heart"

Caroline Lea was born and raised in Jersey in the United Kingdom. She lives in Warwick, England.

Here Lea dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Metal Heart, and reported the following:
I love the idea of writers imagining movie versions of their books and the gorgeous real-life inspiration and beautiful landscape behind The Metal Heart mean that it translates really easily into something richly cinematic. Set on the remote Scottish Orkney Islands during World War Two, the novel is inspired by the true story of Italian prisoners of war who were imprisoned on the islands and built the most stunning chapel out of scrap and war debris. A love story, the novel’s central female characters are twins who are outcasts from Orcadian society and find themselves entranced by the beauty and romance of the chapel that the prisoners create. I’d love the team behind The Crown to direct an adaptation – they’re so brilliant at capturing sweeping landscapes and framing beautiful shots, which would give viewers a wonderful insight into the breathtaking Orcadian landscape.

While Dorothy and Constance are physically identical, their characters are very different. I would love to see Eleanor Tomlinson bringing out Con’s impetuousness and vulnerability, while showing the compelling romance between Dot and the Italian prisoner, Cesare. Eleanor is incredibly beautiful and I loved the complexity and vulnerability she brought to the character of Demelza in Poldark.

Although he is a soldier, Cesare is also an artist caught up in the machinery of war and I think the Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy would be a brilliant choice. In Marco Polo, he effortlessly embodies a testosterone-driven hero, but I think he would be excellent at bringing strength and sensitivity to Cesare’s artistic character and romantic love story.

For Major Bates, the prison camp’s commander, who is torn between the brutal requirements of duty and his desire to be merciful, I’d choose Tobias Menzies. I love the way that he brings a sense of tightly controlled repression to so many of his roles: his portrayal of the no-nonsense yet secretly sensitive Prince Philip in The Crown would translate wonderfully into the camp commander, who is slightly uncomfortable with his public position of authority and is able to be authoritarian and also very compassionate.

David Tennant would be a dream choice for John O’Farrell, Mayor of Orkney, who approaches so many of the fraught decisions with humour, while remaining unfailingly kind to Dot and Con. He’s able to be abrasively sarcastic – and very funny – while also always seeming intensely caring.

Lastly for the role of Angus MacLeod, the controlling guard who is infatuated with Con, I’d choose Jamie Dornan. The creepy intensity which he brought to The Fall would make him the ideal candidate to portray the sinister and obsessed MacLeod. This would add the perfect momentum and tension as the stakes grow and so many of the characters risk losing everything.
Follow Caroline Lea on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: The Glass Woman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Patrick Chiles's "Frontier"

Patrick Chiles has been fascinated by aircraft, rockets, and spaceflight ever since he was a child transfixed by the Apollo missions. How he ended up as an English major in college is still a mystery, though he managed to overcome this self-inflicted handicap to pursue a career in aviation operations and safety management.

He is a graduate of The Citadel, a Marine Corps veteran and a private pilot. In addition to his novels, he has written for magazines such as Smithsonian’s Air & Space. He currently resides in Tennessee with his wife and two lethargic dachshunds.

Here Chiles dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Frontier:
Frontier is the story of Marshall Hunter, a newly commissioned Space Force officer, and his adventures aboard the first orbital patrol ship, the U.S.S. Borman. He only wants to fly and is disappointed when what seems like a plum assignment ends up being what he calls “garbage duty.” They spend a lot of time taking care of dead satellites and clearing debris in orbit (which in the real space economy is going to be hugely important). He’s anxious to explore and not just fly in circles around the Earth, and he’ll get his chance when a civilian deep-space mission goes missing and the Borman is sent to find them. In the meantime, they find out that all of these wayward satellites are part of someone else’s plan to create chaos in the new orbital economy, and it may have something to do with the missing civilians they’re after.

Though I didn’t really have anyone in mind when I wrote the book, I think Tom Holland would be good as Marshall. His take on Spider Man in the Marvel movies was really appealing—the nerdy teenager who can hardly believe the awesome stuff he’s gotten involved in. Marshall’s a few years older than that, but he has the same sense of wonder and excitement and is a little scared because he knows just how dangerous all this can be.

Borman’s commander, Simon Poole, is a character from my first two novels (Perigee and Farside). He’s a former submarine commander who became an astronaut and is humorously hard-nosed, which is how I remember the best leaders from my own military service. It’s deadly serious work that cannot be done half-assed, but if you don’t keep your sense of humor then even the most exciting jobs become drudgery. I’ve always seen J. K. Simmons as him, which is another Spider Man connection that I promise is completely unintentional!

Another character, Roberta McCall, is a drone pilot and friend of Marshall’s. She’s a gum-popping tomboy, full of joy for what she’s doing and very confident in herself. She was fun to write. I couldn’t quite place an actress for her until I saw Olivia Cooke in Ready Player One. I remember her from the Bates Motel series and can’t really explain it but I see her in my head when I’m reading Roberta’s dialogue.

Besides just getting a movie deal in the first place, my home-run fantasy would be for someone like John McTiernan to direct it. He’s known for movies which are maybe more pure action than what I write, though he did a terrific job with The Hunt for Red October. I keep going back to that one but it was kind of a benchmark novel for me, a pioneering technothriller and the style I try to adapt to science fiction. Hopefully others see Frontier in that mold as well. As spaceflight becomes more routine, the kinds of stories we think of as sci-fi will just become science-based thrillers.
Visit Patrick Chiles's website.

The Page 69 Test: Frozen Orbit.

Coffee with a Canine: Patrick Chiles & Frankie and Beanie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 24, 2021

Kathryn Erskine's "Lily’s Promise"

Kathryn Erskine is the author of several acclaimed books for young adults and children, including the National Book Award–winning middle grade novel Mockingbird.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Lily's Promise:
Like many writers, I see my stories unfold in my mind like a movie. Sometimes, I even have a particular actor in mind. Lily is a shy 11-year-old who must attend school for the first time after years of being homeschooled by her dad, who recently died. Her “promise” was to her dad—that she would learn to speak up. As it turns out, she also uses her voice to help others.

Here’s the cast of main characters: I would love to throw them together and see what they come up with!

Lily: Isla Johnston could play a shy Lily very well, as well as the Lily who, on occasion, loses her cool and, in the end, learns to speak up, fulfilling her promise to her dad.

Hobart, Lily’s quirky best friend: Iain Armitage has played a different kind of quirky character in Young Sheldon, but I have no doubt he could play the exuberant, naïve Hobart with great skill. I suspect he could even do a Manitoba Tuck, Hobart’s favorite move in his beloved sport, curling.

Dunya, recently immigrated from Iraq: Maryam Kanj (in the film, The Present). Kanj is not a trained actress, but obviously a natural. Dunya is a key character because, in addition to being a role model for Lily, she’s also the reason Lily feels the need to speak up—to support Dunya and her family against the slurs of the bullies, both children and adult.

Skylar, a shy boy whose family is undergoing severe economic hardship: Cameron or Nicholas Crovetti, accomplished actors who could play the depth of emotion and suffering Skylar is going through. Skylar is befriended by Lily, Hobart and Dunya, with Dunya, in particular, recognizing his plight and helping him out.

Zoe, a take charge girl who coordinates the friends’ student council campaign: Saniyya Sidney. Zoe has such spunk, and Sidney springs to mind, always bringing a smile to my face, the way Zoe does.

Ryan, the main bully: Brady Noon. He has a good “tough” look.

Brady, conflicted character who’d like to shed his bully persona: Oakes Fegley. He just screams “Brady” to me.

Mr. Hammer, cafeteria volunteer who bolsters the misfit kids: Anthony Anderson would be the perfect Mr. Hammer, a big personality who commands respect from the bullies and engenders devotion from Lily and the self-proclaimed group of “not popular” friends which, as Mr. Hammer says, makes them like 95 percent of the kids around them.

Mrs. Flippin (Lily’s mom) and immigrant lawyer: Mandy Moore. She’s loving and kind but also firm. She has high expectations for Lily, and everyone, which has the effect of giving others confidence that they can achieve those expectations.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Erskine's website.

Check out Erskine's top 10 first person narratives.

Coffee with a Canine: Kathryn Erskine & Fletcher.

My Book, The Movie: The Badger Knight.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Hannah Mary McKinnon's "You Will Remember Me"

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing. She now lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons.

Here McKinnon dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, You Will Remember Me:
A few years ago, a man from Toronto vanished from a ski hill in Lake Placid while there on vacation and he showed up six days later in Sacramento. He was still wearing his ski gear, had amnesia and couldn’t remember much, including the cross-country trip he’d made as he’d hitchhiked across the US. Everything worked out for the man in the end, and he found his way home, but it made me wonder—what could have gone wrong? That was the genesis for You Will Remember Me.

My fifth novel is amnesia-driven psychological thriller about a man who wakes up on a beach with no recollection of who or where he is, a woman named Lily who’s searching for her boyfriend, Jack, who went missing after a swim, and Maya, who’s looking for her estranged stepbrother, Ash, who disappeared two years prior, leaving everyone and everything behind. But is the man from the beach Jack, Ash, neither…or both?

As part of my plotting process, I cast my characters and build a photo gallery, but unlike other authors I know, I use hairstyle models, not celebrities. If I cast celebrities before I write the novel, I worry I’ll be influenced by the actors and their body of work, borrowing perhaps too much from the artists themselves or the well-known characters they’ve played. Using hairstyle models means I can fully concentrate on the people I’m creating and develop a their backgrounds and history from scratch.

Now the book is done though, of course I’ve thought about who I might love to see as my three protagonists as I’ve often dreamt of the elusive, “Can we option your book for the screen?” question. Specifically, for You Will Remember Me, Joe Dempsie who plays Gendry in Game of Thrones, or Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter would make such interesting choices for “the man from the beach.” I imagine Brie Larson or Elizabeth Olsen as a brilliant Lily, and as for Maya, I see Anya Taylor-Joy playing that role to perfection.

It would be both exhilarating and fascinating to see my book on the screen because—like audiobooks—at that point my work belongs to director, cast, and crew. What a treat to see their interpretation! Wishes can come true, after all, so I’ll keep focusing for this one.
Visit Hannah Mary McKinnon's website.

Q&A with Hannah Mary McKinnon.

The Page 69 Test: Sister Dear.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Erik Hoel's "The Revelations"

Erik Hoel received his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Madison-Wisconsin. He is a research assistant professor at Tufts University and was previously a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University in the NeuroTechnology Lab, and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Hoel is a 2018 Forbes “30 under 30” for his neuroscientific research on consciousness and a Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellow.

Here he shares some thoughts about adapting The Revelations, his debut novel, for the screen:
Whenever thinking about an adaption of a book, it’s worth thinking about how films and novels are different. Novels are the closest medium to consciousness, and the ability to see through someone’s eyes, to root around the cabinet of their thoughts, is impossible to truly mimic with a movie. At the same time, films have their own special abilities. Everything from the beauty of acting to visual effects to establishing atmosphere through cinematography, all are things that novels can’t do. So I’d want an adaptation of my own book that uses the medium of film to emphasize the aspects of the story that a film does better than a novel, since otherwise, what’s the point?

By definition then I wouldn’t want a perfect adaption. The Revelations takes place in New York City, and follows a group of young neuroscientists who are trying to unravel the scientific mystery of consciousness. When one dies under mysterious circumstances, the others form an amateur investigation into the death. Eventually the mystery of the murder begins to entwine with the mystery of consciousness itself.

There are aspects of the book that wouldn’t work on screen. Each chapter is a subsequent day, for instance, and I don’t think it’d be a good idea to blindly mimic that. But other things do translate. In the novel New York City is treated like its own character, almost with its own consciousness. I think one could get this sort of panpsychism across with a camera; it’d be difficult, but not impossible.

Given this ultimate concern, I really only have a choice of director: Alex Garland. He’s actually himself a novelist, writing books like The Beach and The Coma (and The Coma involves neuroscience, so I’m sure he’d geek out about the many details of the world of science in the book). His adaptation of Annihilation is a masterpiece of making appropriate changes—for example, the lighthouse scene doesn’t happen in the book where Natalie Portman is mimicked by a strange silverly dancer, like it is a cuckoo of her personality. But it’s one of the most unnerving scenes in cinema.

Finally, his recent mini-series Devs is one of the most powerful, subtle, and literary shows made since the early Golden Age shows like The Wire and Mad Men. Devs is truly a “show of ideas” and I highly recommend it. So as you can tell, I’m a fan. But that’s because I’d trust him to pick out those parts of the story that are best expressed in images rather than words, somehow renewing the narrative in a way I’d never have thought of but seems right and simple and obvious afterward. Like flipping over your pillow and finding it refreshingly cool.
Visit Erik Hoel's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 10, 2021

Erika Montgomery's "A Summer to Remember"

A card-carrying cinephile and native New Englander, novelist Erika Montgomery lives with her family in the Mid-Atlantic where she teaches creative writing and watches an unspeakable amount of old movies.

Here Montgomery dreamcasts an adaptation of A Summer to Remember, her debut novel:
There’s always something fun—and usually irresistible—in casting our characters as we write them, but since A Summer to Remember features the lasting impact of a Hollywood golden couple who move to Cape Cod and the enduring movie festival that starts there as a result, this challenge takes on a particularly significant meaning for me.

The story begins in present day Hollywood with thirty-year-old Frankie who owns a movie memorabilia shop opened with her late mother, Maeve, and whose world is thrown upside down when she discovers a pair of sealed letters to the husband and son of one of the most famous actresses of the seventies, Glory Cartwright—letters that may also finally lead Frankie to the identity of her father.

Amanda Seyfried would be a wonderful casting choice for eternal optimist Frankie, capturing Frankie’s emotional vulnerability and her determination to find the answers to the mystery she’s come across the country to solve, employing that same infectious energy and optimism that Seyfried did in Mamma Mia.

For Gabe, the estranged boatbuilding son of Hollywood royalty, and Frankie’s love interest, I originally had Josh Hartnett in mind. Besides having the tall, rangy build and scruffy/sexy good looks, Hartnett would bring Gabe’s crucial blend of brooding smolder and quiet warmth.

For Glory, the late actress who begrudgingly left Hollywood at the prime of her career to follow her husband, Mitch, back to his Cape Cod hometown, I think Amy Adams would capture both Glory’s larger-than-life glamour as well as her emotional fragility.

Mitch has classic Hollywood good looks. He’s ruggedly handsome and quick to flash a melting smile, but having grown up as a fisherman’s son on Cape Cod, he has a down-to-earth quality that adds to his every-man appeal. For Mitch, I had cast Kyle Chandler from the start. Like Chandler, Mitch has those classic handsome Hollywood leading man looks and obvious charm, but there’s a rawness to him, an emotional availability, that is always dangerously close to the surface that I think Kyle Chandler could play effortlessly, as he did so perfectly in Bloodlines and, of course, always as Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights.

Russ, the town doctor and Mitch’s childhood best friend is in his seventies in the present storyline and his forties in the back story but both portrayals require someone with quiet strength and calm. In Mitch’s younger years, I’d cast Jude Law or Matt Damon. For an older Russ, David Strathairn would be a perfect choice, since the actor excels at bringing that quiet strength and compassion to his roles, such as he did in Passion Fish and The River Wild.

For Louise, a doctor’s wife who becomes Glory’s dearest friend when the actress moves to small-town Cape Cod, and who we also meet in two time periods, I’d cast real-life mother and daughter Gwyneth Paltrow and Blythe Danner. In comparison to Glory’s larger-than-life personality, Louise possesses a no-nonsense practicality and formality, and a quiet elegance, that I think both actresses would bring to the role.

And finally, for Maeve, Frankie’s late mother, I would cast Elizabeth Olsen to bring Maeve’s earthiness and warmth, as well as her vivacious energy, to the big screen.
Visit Erika Montgomery's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Nick Pirog's "Jungle Up"

Nick Pirog is the bestselling author of the Thomas Prescott series, the 3:00 a.m. series, and The Speed of Souls. A Colorado native, he now lives in South Lake Tahoe with his two pups, Potter and Penny.

Here Pirog dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Jungle Up:
Casting my book as a movie is one of the first steps in my writing process. I do it before I write a single word. Finding the perfect actor for each character in Jungle Up was more laborsome than my previous books simply because with two intersecting storylines, there were an abundance of roles to fill. In one storyline, retired homicide detective Thomas Prescott journeys to the middle of the Bolivian Amazon to rescue Gina Brady, a World Health Organization doctor (and ex-girlfriend) who was abducted from her village. In the other storyline, a documentary expedition (who Thomas hitched a ride down to South America with) is headed into the Bolivian jungle in search of the lost city of the Incas.

This is the fifth book featuring Thomas Prescott and I think Ryan Reynolds is just the guy to play the handsome, sarcastic, and slightly obnoxious detective extraordinaire. Readers have also mentioned they would like to see Paul Rudd, Gerard Butler, Stephen Amell, or Jensen Ackles.

When I first introduced Dr. Gina Brady in The Afrikaans, I cast Jennifer Connelly in the role. But now, a decade later, I see Scarlett Johansson playing the stunning, independent, and strong-willed doctor.

Vern—yes, just Vern—is a guide/fixer who Thomas meets up with in Bolivia. I always envisioned him as Philip Seymour Hoffman, with an unkempt beard, heavyset, and smoking a cigar. I know Seymour is no longer with us (R.I.P.), but I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.

Andy Depree is my favorite new character. He is the lead anthropologist for the documentary expedition and ironically enough, an anxiety-ridden hypochondriac (AKA, a weenie). I always envisioned him as Michael Cera. (I see Cera playing Andy in a similar fashion as he did George Michael in Arrested Development.)

Jonathan Roth is the big-time director of the documentary. He could be played by just about any guy in a Cialis commercial, but I think Andy Garcia could really capture his arrogance and douchebaggery.

Farah Karim is an Egyptian archeologist. I based her on a real Egyptian archeologist named Nora Shawki. Shawki is young, smart, and beautiful and hopefully we can convince her to star as herself.

I think Clive Owen would be a great Mark Holland, the ex-British Special Forces soldier who oversees the expedition’s safety while in the jungle.

The two bad guys, Patrick Sewall and Bill Wyeth, who abduct Dr. Gina Brady, could be played by Shawn Doyle (The Expanse) and Kevin Dunn (Veep) respectively.

And finally, there’s Camila. She is the most beloved character in the book and would be played perfectly by just about any baby sloth.
Visit Nick Pirog's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Martine Bailey’s "The Prophet"

The Prophet, Martine Bailey’s fourth novel, is a historical crime novel in which Tabitha Hart investigates a cold-blooded murder and a utopian sect in an ancient forest.

The novel follows on from events in The Almanack and also reads as a standalone mystery.

Cheshire. May Day, 1753. Tabitha De Vallory's perfect life is shaken when a girl is slaughtered beneath the Mondrem Oak on her family's forest estate. Nearby, enigmatic Baptist Gunn is convinced that a second messiah will be born, amid blood and strife, close to the oak on Midsummer's Day. Could the murder be linked to Gunn's cryptic prophecy?

As Midsummer's Day draws closer, Tabitha soon learns the destiny that threatens her and those she holds most dear...

Bailey lives in a village near Chester, England and her first novel, An Appetite for Violets, was a Booklist Top Ten Crime Debut.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Prophet:
My heroine Tabitha is a former London courtesan who reluctantly returned to her home village. Recently married and expecting her first child, she is a clever risk-taker. To play her I had in mind Crystal Laity’s performance as harlot Margaret Vosper in Poldark, a mix of sharp wits, charm and physical allure.

Tabitha is married to Nat De Vallory, a former hack writer and the unexpected heir to Bold Hall. Hiding his connection to the victim, he struggles with his new position. Fascinated by the local prophet he makes an ill-judged test of Gunn’s powers to foresee the future. No apologies for casting Aidan Turner (Ross Poldark) again.

Baptist Gunn is a travelling preacher – or maybe something less wholesome. Camping out in the forest, he prophecies the birth of a new messiah to take to America. Charismatic and slippery, I picture Sam Riley (Control, Maleficent) in the spellbinding role.

Tabitha’s naïve friend Jennet Saxton leads the younger generation. Only sixteen, her search for romance and fascination with Baptist Gunn lead her into danger. I’d love a young Christina Ricci, circa Sleepy Hollow to play her.

Sukey Adams is Tabitha’s wet nurse, also expecting a child. Straight-laced and brimming with superstitious advice, she offers solace to her mistress. Kerrie Hayes is my choice, after playing another servant in creepy folklore series, The Living and the Dead.

The location is Chester, a 2,000 year old walled city in England with distinctive black and white high-gabled buildings. Tabitha’s home village of Netherlea is a rural idyll around a manor house, where country customs mark the year, from the woodland revels of May-time to the candlelit revelations of All Hallows Eve.

Prophecies were once widely read and discussed – as indeed the appeal of astrologers and psychics has apparently returned in our own tumultuous times. Baptist Gunn is not based on a single person, though the 18th century witnessed many religious groups who practised spirit possession and visions. Most famously the Shakers eventually left their native England to take their ‘ecstatic’ beliefs (and minimalist furniture) to America in 1774,

In my dreamcast I’d love Ang Lee to direct. I’m thinking of the way the changing English landscape was backdrop to the emotional turmoil of Sense and Sensibility. And I’m sure the creator of The Life of Pi would do justice to the firelit sleeping prophecies, the mystical stones and barrows of the forest, and the phantom apparition that appears in Bold Hall’s ancient chapel.
Visit Martine Bailey's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: An Appetite for Violets.

My Book, The Movie: A Taste for Nightshade.

My Book, The Movie: The Almanack.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 2, 2021

James L. Cambias's "The Godel Operation"

James Cambias has been nominated for the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the 2001 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Godel Operation:
The Godel Operation is a tricky book to cast, in part because at least two of the main characters are faceless machines or cyborgs, and thus would rely heavily on voice actors. Still, recent superhero spectaculars have shown that there's almost no limit left to what can be filmed. So here are my thoughts on casting The Godel Operation.

Zee Sadaran is my "leading man" character: young, athletic, very good-natured, and smarter than most people who meet him realize. He's on a journey across the Solar System to find his lost love, which is an almost hopeless quest since there are literally a billion worlds circling the Sun at the end of the Tenth Millennium. If we stick to contemporary actors, Channing Tatum or Adam Beach would be good candidates. If I can pluck anyone from time and space I think I'd cast the late Brandon Lee.

Daslakh, the narrator, is a spider-shaped machine controlled by a smart aleck digital intelligence. It is helping Zee on his quest but has a secret agenda of its own. It constantly describes itself as "old and cunning" so I'd choose a voice actor with a good deadpan comedy delivery. Alan Tudyk is the obvious choice, with Robert Downey Jr. as a good second.

Kusti Sendoa, Zee's "imaginary girlfriend" who draws him into the search for the legendary superweapon called the Godel Trigger, has to be an actress who can convey to the audience that she is a chameleon, always playing a role herself. Florence Pugh would be good for the part, or Charlize Theron a couple of decades ago.

Adya Elso is Kusti's rival for Zee's affection and the Godel Trigger. She's a shy but brilliant young woman from a wealthy family, and is a literal chameleon with skin that changes color to fit her mood. Anya Taylor-Joy with an animated skin seems like the best casting, or perhaps pluck Audrey Hepburn out of 1953 for the role.

Pelagia is a spaceship with the brain of a killer whale uplifted to human-level intelligence. She should have a voice which can be both comic and threatening — possibly Scarlett Johansson or Kathleen Turner.

Summanus is an artificial intelligence thousands of times smarter than a human, who rules a huge space station in the shadow of Jupiter and is more than a little bit paranoid. It's not quite a villain but it's certainly an antagonist for Daslakh. Tom Baker would be a wonderful voice for Summanus, or Christopher Lee in his prime. Or go farther back in time and cast Orson Welles. He's played a planet before, so it should be no stretch.

Muro, one of the villains, is a fat orange cat with human-level intelligence and some illegal high-tech gear. She should probably be voiced by someone like Judi Dench. (I understand she's got some experience in feline roles.) Or go back in time and hire the incomparable June Foray.

Ketto and Chi are a murderous duo also after the Godel Trigger. They need to be both funny and scary. Tom Holland could be Chi, and Tom Hiddleston could be Ketto.

Varas Lupur is the self-proclaimed Greatest Thief in History. I'd cast Gary Oldman and disable all his safety features.
Visit James L. Cambias's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Darkling Sea.

My Book, The Movie: Arkad's World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Linda L. Richards's "Endings"

Linda L. Richards is a journalist, photographer and the author of numerous books, including three series of novels featuring strong female protagonists. She is the former publisher of Self-Counsel Press and the founder and publisher of January Magazine.

Here Richards dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Endings:
I had this moment watching the 2021 Oscars when I saw Halle Berry presenting and I felt a wave of recognition. It was like I could see this cool, elegant woman, again reinvented, embodying the nameless anti-heroine at the heart of my new book, Endings. And why? In part it’s because that character is a cipher. An enigma. She is without weight or substance on her own. Yet she dominates the story remarkably. She is everything. And nothing. Berry delivered that quality at the Oscars this year. That cool demeanor. That jaunty new hair cut. You couldn’t help what was going on behind those wonderful eyes.

So okay Berry. Among other things in her career, she was once a Bond girl (Giacinta "Jinx” Johnson in Die Another Day - 2002). So if we’re thinking former Bond girls (and why not?) what about the always wonderful Eva Green from 2006’s Casino Royale? Green played a memorable Vesper Lynd, but are you sensing a theme here? Both of those mentioned are cool-as-a-cucumber actresses now of a certain age. And that certain age thing is salient. Our narrator in Endings is bereft. Adrift. And physically she is only ever identified as being of “middle years” and other words that imply that. We don’t know anything about her physically. The only hint we have that she may be attractive is the effect she has on some of the men she encounters, but we know that, in real life, that quality can be attributed to many things beyond the trim of an ankle.

It’s probably worth mentioning that, when I wrote Endings, I did not have a physical type in mind. A cipher. An enigma. Maybe even I could not see her entirely clearly: just the way she does not want to be seen. I feel that, in the book at any rate, we see her in ways that are beyond the physical. But the movie, if there were to be one? Well, that would be a different thing.
Visit Linda L. Richards's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Renée Rosen's "The Social Graces"

Renée Rosen is the bestselling author of historical fiction. Her novels include Park Avenue Summer, Windy City Blues, White Collar Girl, What the Lady Wants and Dollface as well as the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot. Her new novel, The Social Graces, is a story about Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Vanderbilt vying for control of New York society during the Gilded Age.

Here Rosen dreamcasts an adaptation of The Social Graces:
The Social Graces tells the real-life story of two powerful women, Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt, who go to war over who will control New York society during the Gilded Age. And why are they both obsessed with something as seemingly frivolous as being the head of society? Because back in the Nineteenth Century, that was all women had. Society was the only arena where they could hope to exercise any influence over her existence. So, the stakes were high, and the antics were outrageous. Trust me when I say, fact is stranger than fiction.

Caroline Astor, or The Mrs. Astor, as she preferred to be called, was the reigning queen of New York society for three decades. She was both haughty and funny. I think Kathy Bates would capture her perfectly.

Her rival was Alva Vanderbilt. She was younger, far less conventional and a real firecracker. I think Julia Garner, the actress who portrays Ruth Langmore on Ozark would be a perfect choice.

I can see the two of them battling over who could throw the most elaborate ball or dinner party, who could build the bigger mansion, who could spend more on their ball gowns and jewels.
Visit Renée Rosen's website, blog, and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Dollface.

My Book, The Movie: What the Lady Wants.

My Book, The Movie: Windy City Bluess.

The Page 69 Test: The Social Graces.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 16, 2021

Trish Doller's "Float Plan"

Trish Doller is the author of novels for teens and adults about love, life, and finding your place in the world. A former journalist and radio personality, Doller has written several YA novels, including the critically acclaimed Something Like Normal, as well as Float Plan, her adult women's fiction debut. When she's not writing, she loves sailing, traveling, and avoiding housework. Doller lives in southwest Florida with an opinionated herding dog and an ex-pirate.

Here Doller dreamcasts an adaptation of Float Plan:
Float Plan is the story of Anna, a young woman grieving the loss of her fiancé, Ben. She takes their sailboat--one they were meant to sail together--and sets out alone for the Caribbean. Anna quickly learns she can't make the trip by herself, so she enlists the help of a former competitive sailor, Keane, who is struggling with a loss of his own.

Anna: If Float Plan, the movie, were cast today, I'd be crossing my fingers that Florence Pugh would play the role. Anna has a softness to her appearance that belies an inner strength, and I think that Florence has the same look.

Keane: So far I have been unable to find a handsome Irish actor who is also an below-the-knee amputee, but not for lack of searching. Until that day I find him, Mark Rowley, an able actor who plays the quippy Irish sidekick in The Last Kingdom, would make the perfect Keane.

Ben: In a film version of Float Plan, I'd love to see a few more flashbacks so that Anna's fiancé would get a bit more screen time. Since the beginning, Dylan O'Brien has always been Ben.

Director: I have very little knowledge of directors, but a woman would be great, especially a woman of color.
Visit Trish Doller's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Trish Doller & Cobi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Jamie Beck's "For All She Knows"

Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than three million copies. She is a two-time Booksellers’ Best Award finalist, a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, and critics at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.

Here Beck dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, For All She Knows:
It’s funny to talk about this because For All She Knows was just featured in the “Rights Available” section of The Hollywood Reporter! It describes the story as thus: “Like Little Fires Everywhere and Big Little Lies, this novel tackles the complicated dynamic between mothers. The story follows Mimi and Grace, whose bond is tested after a party at Mimi’s house has a tragic outcome for Grace’s teenage son.” At its core, however, this is the story of friendship and family. The setup precipitating the injury is such that everyone has had some hand in it, yet no one person is fully to blame. Of course, as you might expect, everyone points the finger at someone nonetheless. Ultimately, the themes in this story are about fate, forgiveness, and redemption.

Because the visceral emotion level remains high throughout the story, it would be critical that the actors be capable of pulling off nuanced performances to keep it from veering toward melodrama. If they made my book into a film, I know exactly who I’d love to cast in the two leading roles.

Mimi is a warm yet spirited single mother and hairdresser who was orphaned at twelve, and whose son is a popular high school football star. Despite her hard-knock life, she’s basically a sunny person, which is why she doesn’t understand why so many women in town keep her at a distance. The fact that Grace welcomed her into a friendship is one reason Mimi is particularly devastated by what happens at her home. For this character, I think Reese Witherspoon would be the perfect fit. Throughout the writing of this story, I could hear her slightly Southern twang, and picture her bright smile as well as her more doleful glances. Reese has proven herself a star in both comedic and dramatic roles, as well as being able to hit all the notes of a layered character.

In contrast, Grace is rather tightly laced. She, too, has a tragic backstory that makes her a particularly wary and worried mother whose number one goal is keeping her kids safe. And yet, despite her need to control her environment, she is a caring, kind, and compassionate woman…until her eldest is in the hospital. That sends her around the bend and into vengeful territory. This character is tricky to pull off without turning off a reader or viewer, but I think an actor like Sandra Bullock would do the job perfectly.

Now that we’ve got my dream cast of Reese and Sandra in the leading roles, I picture Paul Rudd as Grace’s husband, Sam, and possibly someone like Jencarlos Canela as Rodri, Mimi’s love interest. Grace’s son, Carter, might be played by Percy Hynes White, and Mimi’s son, Rowan, could be played by Tanner Buchanan.

Now, who can we get to produce this thing? *winks*
Visit Jamie Beck's website.

Q&A with Jamie Beck.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 12, 2021

Louise Guy's "A Winning Betrayal"

Louise Guy has enjoyed working in marketing, recruitment and film production, all which have helped steer her towards her current, and most loved, role – writer.

Her passion for writing women's fiction is a result of her love of reading, writing and exploring women's emotions and relationships. Women succeeding through hard work, overcoming adversity or just by owning their choices and decisions is something to celebrate, and Guy loves the challenge of incorporating their strengths in these situations into fiction.

Originally from Melbourne, a trip around Australia led Guy and her husband to Queensland's stunning Sunshine Coast where they now live with their two sons, gorgeous fluff ball of a cat and an abundance of visiting wildlife - the kangaroos and wallabies the most welcome, the snakes the least.

Here Guy dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, A Winning Betrayal:
While I love the idea of A Winning Betrayal being turned into a TV series or movie, I never picture actors in my characters' roles when writing a story. The physical details I provide are minimal as I know when I read myself, I will form an image of a character based on their personality and actions rather than how the author might describe them. There’s nothing worse than getting partway through a book where you’ve formed a picture of a character and then have the author remind you that they look like George Clooney (for example) when your vision is entirely different. After finishing a book, it is, however, a lot easier to dream cast.

While my stories are set in Australia, I immediately relocate them to America whenever I think of dream casting my books. The budgets are so much bigger, as is the audience. American films are accepted worldwide, whereas Australian films are often only successful within Australia.

Dream casting A Winning Betrayal would require a cast of contrasting characters.

Our female leads are opposites—quiet, introverted Frankie stars alongside opinionated, extroverted Shauna. Reese Witherspoon would make a great Shauna, and Keira Knightley (minus her British accent!) would be perfectly suited as Frankie. In the story, the two women are as opposite in appearance as they are in personality and lifestyle.

Jesse Plemons would make an excellent Dash, Frankie’s horrific brother-in-law, while Zac Efron would be more suited to her gorgeous yet naive husband, Tom.

I’d love to see Glenn Close star as Shauna’s erratic and troubled mother. And even though I’m relocating the movie to the US, a bit of Aussie flavour in the form of Liam Hemsworth to play the role of Josh, Shauna’s love interest would be the perfect way to top off the lead roles!
Visit Louise Guy's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Life Worth Living.

Q&A with Louise Guy (November 2020).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Elissa Grossell Dickey's "The Speed of Light"

Elissa Grossell Dickey is a mother, writer, and multiple sclerosis warrior who believes in the power of strong coffee and captivating stories.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, The Speed of Light:
The Speed of Light is book club fiction following a tumultuous year in the life of a woman grappling with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, a new love, and a terrifying workplace incident. Now, call me biased, but I think The Speed of Light would make a fantastic movie, with its mix of excitement, emotion, and romance. If I’m ever lucky enough for that to happen, here’s who I imagine playing the lead roles:

Simone Archer: Simone would be played by Shailene Woodley. To be honest, I’ve always had trouble imagining who would play my main character. But when I posed the question to family and friends, multiple people suggested Shailene, who of course is famous for the Divergent films and Big Little Lies. Now, I can’t think of anyone more perfect to play a strong, caring, resilient character like Simone!

Connor Davies: Simone’s love interest would be played by Chris Evans. Yes, Chris, as in Marvel’s Captain America, is who I imagine as Connor. Honestly, who better to play the kind, funny, handsome hero who is always there for Simone than Cap himself?

Nikki Donovan: Simone’s best friend would be played by another Marvel star, Brie Larson. I swear I’m not going for a superhero theme here, and yet I think the Captain Marvel actress would be perfect as the smart, sassy, and loyal best friend who helps Simone through the hardest time of her life.

Director: In terms of a dream director, I would love to see actress Selma Blair take on this project. Like Simone (and like me), Selma lives with MS, so she would be perfect to direct this film with authenticity and compassion. I would also love to see her in the role of Danielle, the kind woman from the support group who offers Simone wise advice about living with MS.

Again, I think The Speed of Light would make an amazing film, be it in theaters, on Lifetime, or as a Netflix original. Now that I’ve spoken it into the universe, here’s hoping this dream will someday come true!
Visit Elissa Grossell Dickey's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Adele Parks's "Just My Luck"

Adele Parks is the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of twenty novels, including Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck, as well as I Invited Her. Just My Luck is currently in development to be made into a movie. Her novels have sold 4 million copies in the UK alone, and her work has also been translated into thirty-one languages.

Here Parks dreamcasts an adaptation of Just My Luck:
Just My Luck is the story of a group of friends who have been extremely close since they met fifteen years ago, around the time they all had their first babies. The families have grown up together and their lives have become intrinsically linked: the kids go to the same schools, they go on holidays together, they meet socially all the time. One of their little rituals is that they do the lottery every week, as a syndicate. Until one evening, they quarrel. Two of the three couples leave the syndicate but the very next week the numbers come up and Lexi and Jake Greenwood have the winning ticket worth 18 million pounds/23 million dollars! This leads to all sorts of betrayals, jealousy and deception as the other couples go to extreme lengths to try to get a share of the money. And when I say extreme, think of pretty much every illegal activity you can and they try it…theft, bribery, kidnapping, extortion… This is a novel that looks at what money can, can’t, should and certainly should not buy!

It’s a novel where you are unsure who to trust and no one is exactly what they seem. I think actors would enjoy the challenge and range. Isla Fisher would be my absolute dream for the role of Lexi Greenwood. The earnest mom who works in the charity sector and firmly believes her friends and family are everything. Until, that is, she wins the lottery. Then she sees her family turn into avaricious, materialistic people, the very sort of person she abhors. Lexi has a heart of gold but is no pushover, I think Isla Fisher would nail the nuance. I’d cast Dominic Cooper as her husband, Jake Greenwood. Dominic Cooper has played the loveable rogue before and brilliantly projects an aloofness and unknowability whilst playing Jack-the-lad parts. That’s very Jake.

I’d cast Carmen Ejogo as Carla Pearson, the impossibly glamourous mother of three. In the novel Carla is drop dead gorgeous, a showstopper but also has a steely ambition that means she is prepared to turn a blind eye to her husband’s faults. Again, a level of complexity that would offer any actor a great opportunity to have fun. At the risk of there being too many Dominics on set, I’d cast Dominic West as Patrick Pearson. He could play the charmer who you really, really want to trust but should you? I’d like to see Rosamund Pike play the English Rose, Jennifer Heathcote. Jennifer is the devoted mother to one son, she is ‘old school English’ and monied. I think Rosamund would be marvellous in the role. She’s so elegant and refined, but again behind that cool, calm exterior there’s a firecracker! Fred Heathcote (Jennifer’s husband in the novel) would be played by Matthew Macfadyen. I think since he played Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, he is everyone’s quintessential English Gentleman. I also think it would be interesting to see him unravel.

You know, it’s really tricky to talk about casting without giving away spoilers! I am delighted to say that Just My Luck is currently optioned and so you never know, one day this wish list cast list might turn into something more than a dream!
Visit Adele Parks's website.

My Book, The Movie: I Invited Her In.

Q&A with Adele Parks.

My Book, The Movie: Lies, Lies, Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue