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

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Clay McLeod Chapman's "Whisper Down the Lane"

Clay McLeod Chapman writes novels, comic books, and children’s books, as well as for film and TV. He is the author of the horror novels The Remaking and Whisper Down the Lane.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of Whisper Down the Lane:
In Whisper Down the Lane, we spend a considerable amount of time within the minds of two characters who -- nonspoiler alert -- turn out to be the same person, just at different points in his life. There's "Sean" at age five and "Richard" in his thirties. I feel like this is sort of an open secret that the book isn't really trying to hide, so I feel comfortable enough talking about it here. For the sake of your question, though, I'm going to focus on adult Richard. To have the same character cleaved from his own past, his childhood buried under a considerable amount of trauma... that could be a powerhouse performance for any actor!

There are certain actors who possess a particular haunted nature that I find myself extremely enamoured by. Just one look at Cillian Murphy or Peter Sarsgaard and you can almost sense the darkness lingering beneath their cheeks, buried behind their eyes. Jake Gyllenhaal would bring a particular charm to the role, where you can still see the little lost boy lingering within the adult. If Nightcrawler is any indication, there's a certain darkness to him that most wouldn't suspect.

Sam Rockwell is another contender. His ragged magnetism is always on display with his characters, equal parts sly and sliced. And hell, if I'm shooting for the moon here... why not cast Ryan Gosling? I wouldn't argue!
Visit Clay McLeod Chapman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Remaking.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 2, 2021

Sarah Langan's "Good Neighbors"

Sarah Langan grew up on Long Island, in a town called Garden City, but not on a crescent bordering a park. She got her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and also received her Master’s in Environmental Health Science/Toxicology from New York University. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughters.

She’s received three Bram-Stoker awards, and her work has often been included in best-of-the year lists and anthologies. She’s a founding board member of the Shirley Jackson Awards, and works in both film and prose.

Here Langan shares some thoughts about above-the-line talent that might do a great job adapting her new novel Good Neighbors for the big screen:
My book's about the fish out of water Wilde family, who scrimp and save for a piece of the American dream-- a house in the suburbs of Long Island. But they're not welcome. They're rough around the edges and represent the declining status of suburbia. It's the near future and times are a little rougher, finances tighter, global warming worse, and there's a dangerous sinkhole in the middle of the park. These problems are too big to overcome, and the Wildes make the perfect scapegoats. The people of Maple Street have been looking for someone to blame for a long time. When Maple Street's favorite daughter Shelly falls down the sinkhole, the whole block decides that she must have been running from someone when she fell. They direct their accusations against the Wilde family, dad Arlo in particular, whom they decide must have been hurting her. The police get involved, child services takes Arlo away, and pretty soon, and ugly mob forms. The Wilde family isn't just in danger of losing their dream, but their lives.

Casting is currently underway for Good Neighbors, so in deference to that, I'm not going to mention anyone who is actually attached, or whom we may eventually approach. I'm not allowed until it's officially announced. So, that's why, if anybody reads this, and is actually considering being a part of Good Neighbors, or is already attached, that your name is not mentioned here.

I don't think about actors, or directors, or translating my work to film as I'm writing. But it's fun to think about afterward. Any translation to film inherently changes the material, and I think it's important to go with that-- to trust and enjoy what others bring to your work.

Directors--

You and Dead to Me have extraordinarily tricky tones, and their director, Silver Tree, manages to pull them off, so I'd love to see her take on Good Neighbors, which is both funny and dark, horrific and and uplifting, real and surreal.

For similar reasons, I'd love to see David Lynch's take, and Karyn Kusama's (The Invitation).

I've been told my whole career that my work reads like a David Lynch film, and I'm finally starting to see it.

Writers --

I'd love to see what Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott, or Patricia Highsmith had to bring to an adaptation.

Actors--

Toni Colette, Charlize Theron, Lisa Kudrow, Thandie Newton, Rosie Perez, and Jamie Lee Curtis would all make amazing Rhea Schroeders. They'd have to be mean, smart, a little crazy, and totally sympathetic in the face of extremely unsympathetic behavior. It's not an easy feat.

Evan Rachel Wood, Amanda Seyfried, Kerry Washington, and Rooney Mara would all make great Gertie Wildes-- they need to be vulnerable and tender-- wounded-- but have a hidden strength.

Gary Oldman, Tom Hulce, Tim Meadows, Dennis Haysbert would make a great Fritz Schroeder, I think. They have to be cold, but devoted, and conflict-averse. I feel like all these guys could bring something to that.

Arlo Wilde-- I'm a Tom Hardy fan, so let's start there. Also, Donald Glover, Adam Driver, Rupert Grint, and Freddie Prinze Jr. They have to be very rough around the edges, sexy, bad-tempered and suspicious-seeming, but also incredibly decent people.

I love Anna Paquin as nosy Mrs. Ottomanelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Fred Atlas, and Robert Pattinson as Peter Benchley.

The kids-- I dunno! They're 13! I don't know anything about 13-year-old actors!
Visit Sarah Langan's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Keeper.

My Book, The Movie: The Missing.

The Page 69 Test: Good Neighbors.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Donis Casey's "Valentino Will Die"

Donis Casey is the author of the Alafair Tucker Mysteries, an award-winning series featuring the sleuthing mother of ten children, set in Oklahoma during the booming 1910s. Her first mystery, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, was named an Oklahoma Centennial Book. Casey is a former teacher, academic librarian, and entrepreneur.

Here Casey dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Valentino Will Die, the sequel to The Wrong Girl:
After writing ten Alafair Tucker Mysteries, I was energized and excited to plunge into an entirely new series that takes place during the roaring 1920s. The Bianca Dangereuse Hollywood series features a headstrong girl who ran away from home in 1920 and by sheer will and a lot of good fortune reinvented herself as silent movie star Bianca LaBelle, the heroine of the wildly popular silent movie serial The Adventures of Bianca Dangereuse. The first episode of the series, The Wrong Girl (2019) details Bianca's rise to stardom. The second episode, Valentino Will Die, opens in 1926 and finds Bianca and megastar Rudolph Valentino, who have been friends for years, finally making their first picture together, a steamy romance called Grand Obsession. One evening after dinner, a troubled Rudy confesses that he has been receiving anonymous death threats. In a matter of weeks Rudy falls deathly ill and Bianca rushes to New York to be by his side as he lies dying. Rudy is convinced someone is trying to kill him, and Bianca promises him she will find out who is responsible. Was it one of his many lovers? A delusional fan? Or perhaps Rudy has run of afoul of a mobster whose name Bianca knows all too well. With time running out, Bianca calls on Private Detective Ted Oliver, the one man she believes can help her find who killed the world's greatest lover.

The character Bianca plays in her movies, Bianca Dangereuse, is a Perils of Pauline type adventuress.While researching 1920s silent movies, I was heavily influenced by a particular 1921 flick called Something New, starring a fabulous actor/writer/producer named Nell Shipman and a Maxwell automobile. If you haven't seen it, you're missing something. The Bianca LaBelle character was heavily influenced by Nell's looks, manner, and independence.

Bianca is very young. We first meet her at 15, but by the time Valentino Will Die opens, she is 21, tall, elegant, and beautiful. The first young actress I thought of to play Bianca is Hailee Steinfeld, who played 14-year-old Mattie Ross in the 2010 version of True Grit. I've followed her career since and she's grown up quite nicely, tall, dark-haired, and slinky. Yes, she'd do very well as Bianca. But who is pretty enough to play Rudolph Valentino, a real person and an honest-to-God heartthrob? If we can pluck actors out of time, Tyrone Power would be good choice. As for actors working today, Poldark himself, Aiden Turner, has just the smoldering good looks to fit the bill. For detective Ted Oliver, a basically decent man who's caught up in something he never intended and can't get out of, I like Ryan Gosling. He has the requisite brains and self-depreciating wit - with just a touch of haplessness. Another true life character in the book is silent star Pola Negri. I'd have to pluck 1970s era Sally Field out of time in order to have someone with the chops to play the five-foot tall Polish actress whose histrionics at Valentino's funeral ruined her career in the United States. For the ruthless Irish godmother K.D. Dix, whose sweet face and dimples belie her murderous heart, who else but Judi Dench?

I'd like John Wells to direct. He directed Autumn, Osage County, that tour-de-force with Meryl Streep. He also wrote for and directed several seasons of West Wing. His work has intelligence and heart, humor, and the right amount of bite for the situation - sometimes a mere nip and sometimes a rip-your-arm-off attack.
Visit Donis Casey's website.

My Book, The Movie: Hell With the Lid Blown Off.

My Book, The Movie: All Men Fear Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 29, 2021

Adam Mitzner's "The Perfect Marriage"

Adam Mitzner is the acclaimed Amazon Charts bestselling author of Dead Certain, Never Goodbye, and The Best Friend in the Broden Legal series as well as the stand-alone thrillers A Matter of Will, A Conflict of Interest, A Case of Redemption, Losing Faith, and The Girl from Home. A practicing attorney in a Manhattan law firm, Mitzner and his family live in New York City.

Here Mitzner dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Perfect Marriage:
I do not think about actors when writing my characters. Mainly that’s because the characters exist for me on the inside, and so I’m less interested in what they look like. Also, I read early a tip about writing that if you say as character looks like George Clooney, the reader now imagines George Clooney, whereas if the description is how you would describe George Clooney – handsome, dark complexioned, strong jaw, dark hair, devilish smile – the reader can make that character his or her own.

Of course, it is my dream, like every novelist’s, that someday my characters will be brought to life by actors. But is only after the book is written that I think about that.

Here’s my dream cast for the lead roles of The Perfect Marriage.

James Sommers: Forties, handsome. Ben Affleck, although I say that in part because he’s Batman. Now that I think of it, maybe Christian Bale for that same reason.

Jessica Sommers: Forties, beautiful. Jennifer Garner, although I realize that she might not want to star opposite her ex-husband, but I think in light of the story that might be fun to see.

Wayne Fiske: Jessica’s first husband. He needs to be less attractive than both Jessica and James, and look like a high school teacher. I see a Zach Galifianakis type in the role.

Hayley Sommers: James’ first wife. Thirty, very beautiful, a banker. I’d cast the most beautiful woman I could find in this role, so long as you get a sense that they’re very capable beyond their looks. Nina Dobrev could hit this part out of the park.

Reid Warwick: James’ business partner. I see him as more handsome than James, which is a tall order. Also more than a little slippery. Rege-Jean Page from Bridgerton.

Gabriel Valesquez: The police detective. He also appears in my Broden Trilogy (Dead Certain, Never Goodbye, The Best Friend), and so I’ve thought about his actor-doppleganger before, and he always looks a bit like Michael Pena to me. Also a big fan of Oscar Isaac for the role.
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mitzner's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Conflict of Interest.

My Book, The Movie: A Case of Redemption.

My Book, The Movie: Losing Faith.

My Book, the Movie: A Matter of Will.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Paula Munier's "The Hiding Place"

Paula Munier is the USA Today bestselling author of the Mercy and Elvis mysteries. A Borrowing of Bones, the first in the series, was nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award and named the Dogwise Book of the Year. Blind Search was inspired by the real-life rescue of a little boy with autism who got lost in the woods.

Munier credits the hero dogs of Mission K9 Rescue, her own rescue dogs Bear, Bliss, and Blondie—a Malinois mix as loyal and smart as Elvis—and a lifelong passion for crime fiction as her series’ major influences.

She’s also written three popular books on writing: Plot Perfect, The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings, and Writing with Quiet Hands, as well as Fixing Freddie and Happier Every Day.

Munier lives in New Hampshire with her family, the dogs, and a torbie tabby named Ursula.

Here she shares some thoughts on casting the canine characters in an adaptation of her new Mercy and Elvis mystery, The Hiding Place:
If you saw the remake of The Call of the Wild with Harrison Ford, you may know that the canine character Buck was played by a CGI version of a rescue named Buckley. Director Chris Sanders had not yet cast the role of Buck when his wife Jessica Steele Sanders found Buckley on Petfinder. Buckley is a St. Bernard and farm collie mix, just like Buck in the book. Jessica packed up their 14-year-old rescue Brody and drove all the way to Kansas to meet Buckley—and the rest is movie history.

If The Hiding Place were a film, I’d want all of the real dogs who inspired the characters to land the starring roles. Susie Bear, the Newfoundland-retriever mix trained in search-and-rescue, would be played by Bear,
our own Newfie mutt. Service dog Robin, the Great Pyrenees and Australian shepherd mix, would be brought to life by our own rescue Bliss. And Sunny, the golden retriever—yes, there’s a golden in this story!—could only be played by one of Vermont poet Jerry Johnson’s goldens. (Jerry’s campaigning for his favorite breed to appear in a Mercy Carr mystery finally paid off in The Hiding Place.)

When I first wrote Elvis—the lead dog in the series, and Mercy’s main Malinois—I created a composite canine based on several working dogs I’d met at a Mission K9 Rescue fundraiser. The make-believe Maligator became so real to me that I wanted my own Elvis—and we had the opportunity to rescue a Malinois mix, we jumped at the chance. (Well, at least I did, and my husband humored me.) As it turns out, our pandemic puppy Blondie is as fierce and fearless as her fictional counterpart. She’d rule the screen as Elvis.

Even in CGI.
Visit Paula Munier's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Paula Munier & Bear.

My Book, The Movie: A Borrowing of Bones.

My Book, The Movie: Blind Search.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Tanya Boteju's "Bruised"

Tanya Boteju is an English teacher and writer living on unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, Canada). She completed her English and Education degrees at the University of British Columbia, then spent time in New York attaining her Master of Arts through Columbia University’s Teachers College. Most recently, Boteju received a Creative Writing Certificate through Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio. Her writing life has mostly consisted of teaching writing for the past eighteen years in Vancouver, where she has continually been inspired by the brilliant young people in her midst.

Her novel, Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens (2019), was named an Indie Top 10 Pick of the Summer by the American Booksellers Association, a starred review on Shelf Awareness, a Barnes & Noble best YA book of May, a Best Teen Book of 2019 by Indigo, and a Rainbow List selection for 2020. Her short story “Floating” appears in the anthology Out Now (2020).

Here Boteju dreamcasts an adaptation of her new YA novel, Bruised:
Bruised is a novel about grief, strength, and community. My protagonist Daya loses her parents in a car accident that she survives and takes to bruising herself as a way to cope (or avoid coping) with her grief. She’s been instilled with a particular view of strength from her father and believes toughness will bring her success, while softness is a form of weakness. When Daya is introduced to roller derby, she sees the brutal sport as a way to collect more bruises, but soon realizes that there’s so much more to be gained through roller derby’s sense of community and teamwork. The book includes both serious themes as well as colourful, action-packed roller derby scenes and some over-the-top characters. Though Daya is a tough nut, many of the people around her challenge that hard shell with humour, kindness, and care.

I could see Bruised as both a movie or a TV series. Daya’s family is from Sri Lanka, and I would love Daya to be played by a South Asian character who is full-bodied. We haven’t seen a lot of South Asian actors in the mainstream, but I’d be happy to see a lesser-known actor play her, kind of like how Maitrey Ramakrishnan in the Netflix series Never Have I Ever was fairly new to the scene (Ramakrishnan is also Sri Lankan and I was so excited to see her very brown name on the screen when I watched the show!).

Two central characters in the book are Kat and Shanti—sisters who connect with Daya in very different ways. Kat is tough as hell while Shanti is much softer and also more of a romantic interest for Daya, but she’s got her own kind of strength. Whoever played these roles would need to learn how to roller skate really well! They’re also both biracial Chinese-Canadian, and I’d want it to stay that way for the movie. Some possibilities might be: Hayley Kiyoko or Janel Parrish for Kat, and Kelsey Chow or Chloe Bennet for Shanti. It’s tricky to find actors who are or can play teen characters believably, I feel.

Bruised also has a whole cast of secondary characters, some of whom are older folks in their 60s and 70s. Two older women, Bee and Yolanda, who used to play roller derby and who are hilarious, tough chicks, would be great roles for amazing actresses like Susan Sarandon, Julie Walters, Dianne West, or Harriet Walter.

I don’t know a lot about directors, but I would like someone for whom story and character is the focus. In Bruised, roller derby is important and adds excitement to the story, but the heart of the novel is its characters and Daya’s internal struggle. I’d want to see that come through thoughtfully on screen.
Visit Tanya Boteju's website.

Q&A with Tanya Boteju.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Nicola DeRobertis-Theye's "The Vietri Project"

Nicola DeRobertis-Theye was an Emerging Writing Fellow at the New York Center for Fiction, and her work has been published in Agni, Electric Literature, and LitHub. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she was the fiction editor of its literary magazine Ecotone. She is a native of Oakland, CA and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Here DeRobertis-Theye dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Vietri Project:
I have to start with a dream director: Greta Gerwig, who is from Sacramento, like my main character. My book is about a young woman’s search, in Rome, to discover the life story of a man she’s never met who ordered hundreds of mystical and esoteric books from her bookstore; it’s also about being twenty-five and learning to make your way in the world. I think her ability to capture intelligent but perhaps a bit wayward young women at a moment when they are searching or striving for something, even if they don’t quite know what that something is, would be the perfect fit. I’ve seen Ladybird twice, and sobbed through most of it both times. There’s a sequence in Ladybird that features a series of clear eyed but lingering, loving shots on some of the nostalgic places in Sacramento for the film’s main character; can you imagine this ability to capture a sense of place turned out on Rome? She also is able to capture character dynamics in a way that would really be able to handle the larger family scenes that come when Gabriele reunites with her large Italian family.

As for my main character, Gabriele, I would cast Florence Pugh, who of course has already worked with Greta Gerwig as Amy in Little Women: her face is so expressive and she has the right self-contained but emotive quality that could really carry a role where there is so much interior character change. She’s also the exact right age—so much of the book is about the difficulties of being twenty-five—and she has the searching quality most important to Gabriele.

For Andrea, her cousin and the first family member she reaches out to, I’d cast Timothée Chalamet. He has the right impish quality for what is at times a difficult relationship between the two cousins, and I could see him capturing the ironic distance and passivity of the young Romans adrift after the financial crisis.

For her two aunts, Giulia and Settimia, they are perfectly different types: I would cast a middle aged Sophia Loren as Settimia and Tracy Ullman as Giulia.
Visit Nicola DeRobertis-Theye's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 12, 2021

Claire Holroyde's "The Effort"

Claire Holroyde is a writer and graphic designer living outside of Philadelphia.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Effort, her first novel:
With its ensemble cast and multiple narrative threads, The Effort would better adapt to an original series. I select Naren Shankar, showrunner for The Expanse, to bring the novel to life. Naren respects science. He holds a PhD in Applied Physics & Electrical Engineering from Cornell University no less. However, he doesn’t let science overshadow meaningful drama. The Expanse is one of the best shows on television, outside of any categorization. It’s a successful adaptation of the book series by James S. A. Corey and features everything I would desire for my own: an epic storyline, a large and diverse ensemble cast, expert screenwriting, and complex production design.

As for casting the international characters of The Effort, let me roll up my sleeves and populate its two main settings: a spaceport at the South American equator and a polar icebreaker on a research expedition in the Arctic.

Spaceport in French Guiana

Dr. Ben Schwartz, a NASA manager turned science lead of the Defense Effort for Comet UD3, would be played by Hugh Dancy of Hannibal and Homeland. Dancy could emanate brilliance, manic intensity, sarcasm, and desperation as the mission’s launch window reduces. Ben’s partner, Amy Kowalski, would be played by Mackenzie Davis of Halt and Catch Fire and The Martian. Davis has proven that she can play an intriguing cyberpunk with pluck and fortitude that is not to be underestimated. Love Mwangi, UN interpreter and renowned linguist, would be played by Lupita Nyong'o of Black Panther and Us. Like Love, Nyong’o was raised primarily in Nairobi. She is worldly and has dual Kenyan and Mexican citizenship. Dr. Zhen Liu would be played by Chinese actress Zhou Xun of Cloud Atlas and The Equation of Love and Death. Zhou has appeared in over 30 films and is the first entertainer to receive the UNEP's Champion of the Earth award.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy in the Arctic

Jack Campbell, a photojournalist on assignment with National Geographic, would be played by Bradley Cooper of A Star is Born and Silver Linings Playbook. He is older than the character, but he’s too perfect as a golden boy with good looks and easy charm. He could flip on a dime between comedy, drama, and the middle ground. Dr. Maya Gutiérrez, an oceanographer, would be played by Gina Rodriguez of Annihilation and Jane the Virgin. Rodriguez can be endearing but dogged like Maya. Lt. Ned Brandt, Healy’s helicopter pilot and crewmember, will be played by the physically strong, funny, and lovable Chris Pratt of Guardians of the Galaxy and Parks & Rec.

Gustavo Wayãpi, a Nobel Laureate and Indigenous activist, was both my most complicated character and biggest casting challenge. The role requires an Indigenous actor with Amazonian heritage who can also speak English. A friend tipped me off to the Indigenous actor Nilbio Torres of Embrace of the Serpent—the first Colombian film ever to receive a nomination for an Academy Award. Torres worked in a jungle plantation when a film crew arrived, offered him a role, and sent him to acting classes in Bogotá. The new actor is more than 20 years too young to play Gustavo and lacks the language capability, but he exemplifies the right kind of casting decision.
Visit Claire Holroyde's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Kate Quinn's "The Rose Code"

Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of southern California, she attended Boston University where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. She has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with The Alice Network, The Huntress, and The Rose Code. All have been translated into multiple languages. Quinn and her husband now live in San Diego with three rescue dogs.

Here Quinn dreamcasts an adaptation of The Rose Code:
Every writer dreams their book will someday be a ten-part HBO miniseries, and I'm no exception! If my novel The Rose Code with its trio of Bletchley Park codebreaker heroines were to get the Hollywood treatment, here's my dream cast:

For my effervescent debutante Osla whose fluent German lands her a job translating decoded German intelligence, Holliday Grainger. In The Borgias and CB Strike, she shows Osla's beauty, sparkle, and sense of fun—she's the girl all men fall in love with, and all women want as their best friend.

For my tough-as-nails London shop-girl Mab, who ends up working Bletchley Park's legendary bombe marchines, Cara Delevingne. She has the height, the imperious eyebrows, the resting b*tch face, and shows like Carnival Row showed she can play a woman with a soft center under a hard outer shell.

For Beth, my shy wallflower turned genius cryptanalyst, Anya Taylor-Joy. ATJ proved in The Queen's Gambit that she can play quirky oddball genius women with huge flair and strength.

That's just the heroines—there are plenty of other characters in The Rose Code. Prince Philip (in the days before he was royal consort) shows up in this novel, and after The Crown, I can't think of anyone playing him but Matt Smith. Alan Leech (Branson from Downton Abbey) for Francis Gray, a war poet who will end up as suitor to one of my heroines. Mena Massoud would be terrific as Harry Zarb, an Egyptian-Maltese-Arabic codebreaker who works alongside Alan Turing on the fiendishly difficult German U-boat ciphers. And Anthony Head, after playing such a superb mentor figure in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is the only one I can think of to play Dilly Knox, an absent-minded classics scholar turned codebreaker who recruits Beth for his team!

And soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, please.
Learn more about the book and author at Kate Quinn's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kate Quinn and Caesar.

My Book, The Movie: Empress of the Seven Hills.

The Page 69 Test: The Rose Code.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Lisa Fipps's "Starfish"

Lisa Fipps is a graduate of Ball State University, award-winning former journalist, current director of marketing for a public library (where she won the Sara Laughlin marketing award), and an author of middle-grade books. Starfish is her debut novel. She’s working on her next novel and several others. She currently lives in Indiana and lived in Texas.

Here dreamcasts an adaptation of Starfish:
Starfish gives readers a true-to-life glimpse into what a fat child’s life is like. The world tries to make Ellie feel small by bullying her relentlessly just because she’s fat. She only has a handful of allies, but they’re accepting, loving, and loyal: her dad; friend Viv (who moves away); her new neighbor, Catalina, who becomes her friend; her pug, Gigi; her therapist, Dr. Wood; the school librarian; and two teachers. Ellie’s resilient and has a great sense of humor as she struggles to keep from drowning in a sea of deep, emotional turmoil caused by fatphobia and anti-fat bias. During her journey, she realizes there’s nothing wrong with her; there’s something wrong with people who are full of hatred and cruelty. Then she realizes a powerful, freeing truth: She has the right to be seen, to be heard, and to take up space in the world.

The answer to who should play Ellie would need to come closer to when the movie came out because kids change so quickly as they age. That said, I would definitely want a fat girl to play Ellie, one who would not need a fat suit or prosthetic makeup. That would be horribly offensive. There are fat children actors. Let them shine as Ellie. Maybe like a young Chrissy Metz from This Is Us. As far as the parents, I’d love to see someone like Matthew McConaughey play Ellie’s dad, someone who could do a true, thick Texas accent. For Ellie’s mom, I’d want an actress who could play the role of being super tough (almost heartless) and make a lot of missteps but only because she has these internal principles she truly thinks are right (even though they’re not) and so she’s trying to do what she thinks is best, like Keri Russell did in The Americans.

I know so little about directing and directors. However, I can tell you about two TV shows and three movies that felt like seamless storytelling to me, which, I think is a sign of good directing: Indian Summers, The Americans, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Shawshank Redemption, and Steel Magnolias. That’s the key to me: seamless storytelling.
Visit Lisa Fipps's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 5, 2021

Mark Edward Langley's "Death Waits in the Dark"

Mark Edward Langley was instilled with a love for the American West by his father at a young age. After visiting it throughout adulthood, his connection to the land became irrevocable. After spending almost thirty years working for someone else, he retired and began to focus on writing.

Here Langley shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of his Arthur Nakai mysteries: Path of the Dead, Death Waits in the Dark, and the forthcoming When Silence Screams:
Normally when I create a certain character--like my lead Arthur Nakai—I try to chose someone, possibly an actor that I admire, to base them on.

In the case of Arthur Nakai and the people that inhabit his world, I looked at many Native American actors in an effort to find the one who most epitomized the character I had created. In Arthur’s case, I chose Zahn McClarnon (in his younger days since Arthur is in his mid-forties.) He embodied what I thought Arthur would look like. He had the rugged look and the muscular frame that fit the character very well.

Next, I looked at someone to base Arthur’s wife off on, and I decided it should be a local news anchor/reporter at the time I was conversing with. I was asking her questions that only she cold answer: what do you have to give up in order to become a news reporter? What do you miss now that you’ve been doing it as long as you have? Is there anything you regret? Her name was Kim Vadis. And, to me, she was Sharon Nakai. From her I learned of the sacrifices that profession asks of you. I learned how much you had to give in order to chase that dream.

For the character of Navajo police captain Jake Bilagody, my main influence was my grandfather on my father’s side. Though not Native American, I chose him for his physique. He was a large, tall barrel-chested man with a booming voice when needed. I didn’t really have any actor in mind when I created him, and I have never really thought about who would play him if a movie or TV show is ever discussed.

I will admit that when I begin to develop characters, I search the internet for ideas. I have in my mind what the person may look like, but until I type those attributes into the search bar, I truly have no idea. They could end up being a photograph that pops up or a conglomeration of a few people. In the case of Sharon’s father, Edward Keonie in Path of the Dead, I searched for an older man and found him. In Death Waits in the Dark, I pulled from my own past when I conjured up Margaret Tabaaha, the mother who lost her husband during Operation Enduring Freedom and now her two sons to an elusive killer. And in the next book in the Arthur Nakai mystery series, When Silence Screams—because it’s a fictional story that tries to enlighten the reader about the true devastating scourge of missing and murdered indigenous women on the reservations of the USA and Canada—I studied every flier that held the young face of a missing Native American girl. Since learning that in 2016 alone 5,712 girls and women went missing, I knew I had to honor them by making the girls in my novel as real as possible.

Some of the other characters that populate my novels tend to be a mixture of people I either worked with or went to school with. I hope that when an old friend of mine reads his nickname in When Silence Screams, he’ll have a big grin on his face. If my books are lucky enough to be picked up for film or TV, I hope I will be consulted when the actors are discussed. But knowing what I do about how Hollywood works, my role may simply be largely symbolic. But I’ll take it!
Visit Mark Edward Langley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 1, 2021

Marj Charlier's "The Rebel Nun"

Marj Charlier began her writing career at daily and mid-size newspapers before joining the Wall Street Journal as a staff reporter. After twenty years in journalism, she pursued her MBA and began a second career in corporate finance. While she has published ten novels, The Rebel Nun is her first historical novel.

Here Charlier dreamcasts an adaptation of The Rebel Nun:
The Rebel Nun offers everything I love in a great movie: a smart, strong and complex heroine; detestable male and female antiheros; a posse of allies that would make Joseph Campbell proud; a captivating (but unobtrusive) setting; and a fast-paced climactic action scene, all befitting a terrific cast. Since I have an unlimited budget for my movie, my cast is as aspirational as the nuns’ rebellion.

Clotild is a complicated heroine—sometimes impetuous, sometimes cautious, always introspective and analytical. She is of northern Germanic descent—Frank and Thuringian, and perhaps more distantly, Scandinavian. Scarlett Johansson is a perfect fit, bringing her Avengers/Black Widow personality and moxie to the role.

Stellan Skarsgård would be well suited to play Maroveus, the evil Bishop of Poitiers, with a bulbous nose and enervating presence. Skarsgård could reprise his puffed-out pose, ego, and lack of self-awareness of Good Will Hunting, and his smart but manipulable Selvig of The Avengers. And Geoffrey Rush would play Maroveus’s aging colleague, the sometimes helpful, sometimes conniving, always misogynist, Bishop Gregory of Tours.

Lebover, the corrupt and licentious abbess who demeans the nuns, especially Clotild, is a tough role to fill because I can’t imagine anyone would want to be identified with her. I would like a Kathy Bates of twenty years ago, but I have no time machine. Perhaps this would give Melissa McCarthy a chance to show her chops playing a severe, unsympathetic character. Meanwhile Jennifer Lawrence would bring to Basina—Clotild’s weak, mercurial, and unreliable cousin—a flighty yet tragic nature. The two other major roles for nuns would be blessed by Gal Gadot and Eva Longoria.

I see Alboin, the only good guy in the book, as charismatic, good looking and tall, if not also big. He must rock a serious beard and have Germanic blue eyes. Of course, Brad Pitt could do this, but he’s only 5’11”. If Bradley Cooper, at 6’1”, brings his most weighty gravitas to the role, he would be perfect. It’s a small role here but will be much larger in the sequel (to come).

With this cast, there’s no need to worry about a director. My husband prefers Martin Scorsese for his ability to create “buzz,” but I think it should be a woman. Niki Caro loves directing strong female characters, and she has done fabulous work on such films as Whale Rider and McFarland U.S.A. And I want Rachel Portman and Antonio Pinto to collaborate on the music and score.
Visit Marj Charlier's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 26, 2021

James Brabazon's "All Fall Down"

James Brabazon is an author, frontline-journalist and documentary filmmaker. Based in the UK, he has travelled to over 70 countries – investigating, filming and directing in the world's most hostile environments. He is the author of the international bestseller My Friend the Mercenary, a memoir recounting his experiences of the Liberian civil war and the Equatorial Guinea coup plot; and the Max McLean series of spy thrillers The Break Line and Arkhangel (UK) / All Fall Down (USA).

Here Brabazon dreamcasts an adaptation of All Fall Down:
There is only one possible actor who could play Max McLean, the Irish spy-assassin protagonist in All Fall Down – and that’s the amazing Jason O’Mara. They’re even from the same part of Ireland! Jason read the audio book for All Fall Down (which is more like a one-man dramatization) and totally brought Max to life. When I hear Max’s voice in my head, it’s Jason’s I can hear. He’s a top chap, too – zero celeb bs – which I think is vital for playing Max, who has the world’s most finely tuned bs detector!

Commander Frank Knight – Max’s enigmatic operator… Gary Oldman, for sure. He has form for playing tricky spies, and Frank Knight is as tricky as they come.

Rachel Levy, the brilliant, beautiful and devastating spectre that rises from Max’s past… that would have to be Rachel Weisz, of course. I fell in love with the idea of Rachel while I was writing All Fall Down – she’d be both as powerful but also as tragic and flawed as Max in her own way – and Rachel Weisz would do her justice.

Doc Levy, Rachel’s father. If only Laurence Olivier was still with us! So Michael Gambon it is. Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friends… but does he?

Talia, the hard-as-nails Shabak agent keeping overwatch on Max and his movements in Israel would be really well cast in Einat Weitzman – no-nonsense authority mixed with an ambiguous, friendly side. But do you trust her?

Finally, and most excitingly, it’s how to cast Baaz – Bhavneet Singh – who saves and infuriates Max by turn. That’s got to be Manjot Singh. It would be amazing to see him break out of Bollywood into Hollywood – and show them how it’s done!
Visit James Brabazon's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Break Line.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Julia Fine's "The Upstairs House"

Julia Fine is the author of What Should Be Wild, which was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Superior First Novel Award and the Chicago Review of Books Award. She teaches writing in Chicago, where she lives with her husband and children.

Here Fine dreamcasts an adaptation of The Upstairs House, her second novel:
The Upstairs House is about a new mother who is either experiencing postpartum psychosis, or being haunted by the ghosts of the author Margaret Wise Brown and her female lover. I’d love to see the film embrace all the messy, claustrophobic, feminist fractals of the novel—I envision a film that jumps between 1940s Manhattan and present-day Chicago, a film that blurs the line between fantasy and reality so that the viewer is just as unsettled as Megan, the protagonist.

Of the three lead characters, two are recent historical figures. I’ve tried to do their real-life counterparts justice in fiction, and in casting them I’d want to stick as close to their general real-life vibes as possible. Margaret Wise Brown was quirky and extravagantly generous and at the same time prickly. I envision an actress like Ruth Wilson or Kate Winslet in the role, someone who looks enough like Margaret in photographs, and could show us the vulnerability hiding underneath her many layers.

Michael Strange, Margaret’s partner of ten years, was a strong personality. She was extremely charismatic, and often very bossy—she definitely requires an actress with star power. I could see her casting going in a number of directions—Olivia Colman, Cate Blanchett, or Sigourney Weaver could each be a fit in their own ways.

Megan, the only fictional character of the three, needs an actress who we’ll root for even as she makes selfish decisions that put her new baby in danger. I’d love to see someone who can get raw, like Zoe Kravitz or Brie Larson—in the role.
Visit Julia Fine's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Marti Leimbach's "Dragonfly Girl"

Marti Leimbach is known for her bestsellers, Dying Young, made into a film starring Julia Roberts, and Daniel Isn’t Talking. She is interested in neurodiversity and has shared the stage with young inventors at the Human Genome Project (Toronto), the National Autistic Society, and the University of Oxford. Her interest in science influenced her YA thriller, Dragonfly Girl.

She teaches on the Masters Programme in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford. Dragonfly Girl is her eighth novel, but her first for young adults.

Here Leimbach dreamcasts an adaptation of Dragonfly Girl:
You never write a book expecting it to be made into a film, but I would love to see Dragonfly Girl on-screen and there’s lots about the story, such as its dynamic female lead and pacey backstory, that would make it easy to adapt.

As for my dream cast, let’s start with the guy who makes everything happen for the heroine. That’s Dr. Munn, Scientific Director of the Mellin Institute, where Kira figures out how to bring a lab rat back to life. He’s a forever-young older man with a wicked intelligence and a commanding presence. I’m thinking Bill Nighy, one of my favourite actors and the only actor whose movies I will watch regardless of content. But I’d also love to see Lucian Msamati, another giant in the world of film and theatre, tackle the role, as he, too, is an actor you can’t take your eyes from.

Kira…my heroine! I would need someone who can be, in turns, tough, mature, insecure, vulnerable, and witty. She has to be genuine in every way and with an incredible, almost other-worldly intellect. After all, she’s the girl who finds a “cure” for death. I’m thinking Kaitlyn Dever…the way she shed her quirky teenage persona from Booksmart to inhabit Marie Adler in Unbelievable confirms it for me.

In my head, Will (Kira's nemesis who later becomes tremendously important to her) is a tall, blond handsome guy who is also infuriatingly smart, smug and occasionally hateful. How about if we pretend that Will is Irish, not English, and give it to Fionn O’Shea?

Rik is the drop-dead sexy assistant to Dr. Munn who Kira has a huge crush on from early in the book. He’s supposed to be twenty so it may not work out for Takayuki Suzuki, but can we ask him anyway?
Visit Marti Leimbach's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Emilya Naymark's "Hide in Place"

Emilya Naymark was born in a country that no longer exists, escaped with her parents, lived in Italy for a bit, and ended up in New York, which promptly became a love and a muse.

She studied art and was lucky enough to illustrate numerous publications before transitioning to the digital world.

She has a particular fascination with psychological thrillers, crime, and suspense. All the dark stuff. So that’s what she writes.

In her other life, she is a web developer and designer, an illustrator, and an artist.

Here Naymark dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Hide in Place:
I set Hide in Place in my (new as of 2013) home of Rockland County, NY. This means I started by picturing real people I know for most of my characters. However, very quickly I began to fantasize about Hide in Place, the Movie, and immediately cast a young Annie Lennox as my lead, Laney Bird. Think Annie Lennox circa Sweet Dreams, sporting short hair and cheekbones you can cut glass with. I especially like her in her man’s suit and tie. Laney would rock that look.

The second POV character in the book is a teenage boy, Alfie, and the closest actor I can think of for him would be (an even younger) Timothée Chalamet, with bleached hair.

And since we’re dreaming here, Ewan McGregor would be perfect for Owen, my confidential informant antagonist.

Last, but not least—and I’ve given this one a great deal of thought—Steven Soderbergh would have to direct. In his career he’s made just the right mix of psychologically deep, unnerving crime and relationship films to be an absolutely ideal director for Hide in Place. Think Traffic crossed with Unsane.
Visit Emilya Naymark's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hide in Place.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 15, 2021

Marshall Ryan Maresca's "The Velocity of Revolution"

Marshall Ryan Maresca is a fantasy and science-fiction writer, author of the Maradaine Saga: Four braided series set amid the bustling streets and crime-ridden districts of the exotic city called Maradaine, which includes The Thorn of Dentonhill, A Murder of Mages, The Holver Alley Crew and The Way of the Shield, and a newly released dieselpunk fantasy, The Velocity of Revolution. He is also the co-host of the podcast Worldbuilding for Masochists, and has been a playwright, an actor, a delivery driver and an amateur chef. He lives in Austin, Texas with his family.

Here Maresca shares some thoughts about adapting The Velocity of Revolution for the big screen:
So, I have definitely thought about how The Velocity of Revolution might be made into a movie or series. My degree was in Film & Video Production, after all, and I like to think I write in a very cinematic style. So I definitely think the The Velocity of Revolution can translate very well to the screen It’s a dieselpunk fantasy filled with motorcycles, psychic magic connections, tacos, pansexual polycules, train heists, tacos, races, revolution, goddesses on the radio, and did I mention tacos? So it’s got a lot going on that has strong visual and cinematic appeal.

But when it comes to casting? I’m honestly not sure. Who should play Wenthi Tungét, the cycle-riding patrol officer who gets sent undercover with in the undercaste districts of the city so he can infiltrate the growing revolutionary movement? Or Nália Enapi, the arrested rebel whose thoughts and memory are implanted in Wenthi’s mind? Or Ajiñe Osceba, the cycle-riding insurrection leader who is trying to help her family and friends live better lives? I would think, perhaps, the best actors for these roles are fresh faces that I wouldn’t know, people who might use these roles to establish themselves in the public consciousness.

As for directors, though? Doesn’t this book seem like it would be a perfect Robert Rodiguez film?

And along those lines, the soundtrack should be done by his sister, Patricia Vonne. I even made a Spotify playlist to that end.
Visit Marshall Ryan Maresca's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 12, 2021

Bryan Reardon's "Let Her Lie"

Bryan Reardon is the author of Finding Jake and The Real Michael Swann. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Reardon worked for the State of Delaware for more than a decade, starting in the Office of the Governor. He holds a degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame and lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with his wife and kids.

Here Reardon dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Let Her Lie:
In Let Her Lie, Theo Snyder once tasted the kind of fame most of us crave. His true crime documentary went viral and he soaked up the attention. Until it all turned, and he found himself embroiled in a lurid scandal. To reclaim his career, to turn his infamy back to fame, he decides to do his next film on the most notorious serial killer in recent history, Jasper Ross-Johnson, known as the Halo Killer. When he uncovers a connection between Jasper and a young woman named Miracle, it is almost as if his story writes itself. But when the Halo Killer escapes from prison and Theo finds himself on the run, discovering the ending of his film becomes a matter of life and death.

As you can imagine, with a plot like that, I certainly had movies on the mind. In fact, the structure of Let Her Lie revolves around Theo's filmmaking process. Often, I let my mind drift, trying to imagine who could play my characters on screen. And here's what I came up with:

Who is Miracle Jones?

Miracle is something of a local celebrity. As a newborn, she was abandoned in a restroom at a coastal State park. She survived four days before an angler found her. Her traumatic beginnings certainly left scars, both inside and out.

Who could play Miracle?

Mila Kunis – I definitely pictured her as I wrote. Miracle has an intensity to her expression, the kind of eyes that can make someone sweat. And her sharp edges hide a vulnerable soul.

Who is Zora Monroe?

Zora is the most respected investigator in the documentary world. All the major filmmakers have used her. And most secretly attribute much of their success to her work. She can find anyone and anything. That kind of expertise brings with it an expected aloofness. That, or maybe she's hiding something.

Who could play Zora?

This one was the easiest. Zora is Zazie Beetz. I mean, others could play her, certainly. But in my mind, she's the only one. She's tough. She can be intimidating. And she can certainly put Theo Snyder in his place, no matter who plays him.

Who is Theo Snyder?

Theo found fame at a young age. And, when his story starts, he can't dream of living without it. When he delves into the dangerous mind of the Halo Killer, his own reality starts to waiver. He pushes both his body and his mind to the brink of madness.

Who could play Theo?

This one could go in a lot of different directions. But in my daydreams, I see Rupert Grint. To get the chance to see the progression of Theo's story through his expressive eyes would be priceless. I can imagine him teetering on the edge of madness, so different from his iconic role, and doing what he has to do to survive in the end.

Who is Jasper Ross-Johnson?

He's a serial killer! He's also a dermatologist. And a master of forensics. He claims to have alopecia. And his thin build hides a dangerous strength.

Who could play Jasper?

Crispin Glover – he'd have to shave his head and lose a little muscle, but is there anyone out there better at creepy?
Follow Bryan Reardon on Facebook.

The Page 69 Test: The Perfect Plan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Allison Epstein's "A Tip for the Hangman"

Allison Epstein earned her M.F.A. in fiction from Northwestern University and a B.A. in creative writing and Renaissance literature from the University of Michigan. A Michigan native, she now lives in Chicago, where she works as a copywriter. When not writing, she enjoys good theater, bad puns, and fancy jackets.

Here Epstein dreamcasts an adaptation of A Tip for the Hangman, her first novel:
A Tip for the Hangman is a historical fiction spy thriller set in 1500s England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The main character, Kit Marlowe, is a grad-student-turned-spy who finds himself undercover in the household of Mary Queen of Scots, trying to uncover a Catholic-led plot to assassinate Elizabeth.

Even though most of my characters are real historical figures, they’re mostly behind-the-scenes players who didn’t get their portraits painted often. There’s only one existing portrait of Marlowe, and scholars aren’t even really sure it’s him! So I had some freedom to play with my actor lookalikes.

In my dream cast, Kit himself is played by Timothée Chalamet. They’re both small, scrappy, poetic types who look like they’ve just wandered in from the local tavern without brushing their hair. And since Chalamet has already played Henry V, I can imagine him wandering back into old-time England for the role.

Sir Francis Walsingham, the intimidating spymaster who oversees Kit’s missions, is definitely Mark Rylance. They have the same expressive eyes and an undercurrent of pervasive sadness, with a layer of kindness hidden underneath it. (Am I projecting a lot of feelings onto Mark Rylance? Absolutely.)

Arthur Gregory, the gruff senior spy with a heart of gold, isn’t exactly a main character in the novel, but I strongly believe he should be played by Tom Hardy. Gregory is essentially a reprise of Hardy’s role as Alfie Solomons in the TV show Peaky Blinders, except with Elizabethan costuming and a less-impenetrable accent.

The character I had the most trouble casting was Nick Skeres, Kit’s frenemy from grad school who returns with a vengeance in the second act. The person I really want to play him is Damian Lewis circa 2000, but the realities of linear time thwart me there.

My dream adaptation is a TV series that follows in the footsteps of Dickinson, Harlots, or Reign. (Well, maybe not quite as wild as Reign.) I yearn for a bright, irreverent series with anachronistic touches and modern songs played on period-appropriate instruments. A lute cover of Florence + The Machine? Yes, please.
Visit Allison Epstein's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Gwen Florio's "Best Laid Plans"

Gwen Florio grew up in a farmhouse filled with books and a ban on television. After studying English at the University of Delaware, she began a thirty-plus year career in journalism that has taken her around the country and to more than a dozen countries, including several conflict zones.

Her first novel in the Lola Wick mystery series, Montana won the Pinckley Prize for Crime Fiction and the High Plains Book Award, and was a finalist for the Shamus Award, an International Thriller Award and a Silver Falchion Award. She has since released four other books in the Lola Wick series and one standalone novel.

Here Florio dreamcasts an adaptation of Best Laid Plans, the first installment of a new mystery series:
She’s a little younger than Nora Best, but Reese Witherspoon repeatedly came to mind when I was writing Best Laid Plans.

Maybe it’s because of her role in Wild, struggling to adapt to life on the trail in much the same way Nora has to fend for herself in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. Witherspoon has a way of personifying determination, and Nora is nothing if not determined, even when faced with the most challenging circumstances.

Witherspoon also has a knack for humor, something I try to write into my work to leaven the inevitable darkness of crime fiction.

Finally, I’d love to see Witherspoon perched behind the wheel of the giant pickup truck I’ve given Nora, driving hell for leather through the Wyoming high country with an Airstream trailer in tow. She’d have that steely glint in her eye that would let all of us know she’s going to make it.
Visit Gwen Florio's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Gwen Florio & Nell.

My Book, the Movie: Silent Hearts.

Writers Read: Gwen Florio (August 2018).

The Page 69 Test: Silent Hearts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Paul Vidich's "The Mercenary"

Paul Vidich’s fourth novel, The Mercenary, is now out from Pegasus Books. His debut novel, An Honorable Man, was selected by Publishers Weekly as a Top 10 Mystery and Thriller in 2016. It was followed the next year by The Good Assassin. His third novel, The Coldest Warrior, was widely praised in England and America, earning strong reviews from The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times.

Here Vidich dreamcasts an adaptation of The Mercenary:
The Mercenary was written with great attention to setting, place, and atmosphere. Of course those are appropriate for a spy novel set in Moscow in 1985 at the end of the Cold War. An American, Alex Garin, formerly of the CIA, is brought back to Moscow Station to help exfiltrate a senior KGB officer who wants to defect. It’s a dreary city, Americans are under constant surveillance, and danger is everywhere. When I wrote the novel, I saw my characters in visual settings and dialogue drives most scenes. In this sense, The Mercenary, feel cinematic. I have chosen to cast the movie with actors from the past or from earlier in their careers.

The Mercenary, the movie, ideally would be directed by Carol Reed, the English film director best known for Odd Man Out (1947), The Fallen Idol (1948), and The Third Man (1949). I am a huge fan of The Third Man and the dark, atmospheric world of Post-War Vienna that Reed created in his classic film. Vienna in 1948 was controlled for the four major powers and it was a city where everyone had a racket, food was rationed, and many people were desperate for a new life. The movie captures the city’s numbing grimness, and my novel tries to capture the same pervasive grimness of Moscow thirty-five years later.

Natalya, the book’s female protagonist, is both a spy and the novel’s romantic interest. I see her being played by Alida Valli, an Italian actress who acted in over 100 films, including The Third Man, but also in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case. The sullen demeanor, vinegary spirit, and mysterious glamor, make her perfect for my spy-heroine. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2006.

Alex Garin, the novel’s protagonist, is an enigmatic figure. He was born in Russia in the 1940s, moved to America when his mother married a US Army captain stationed in Moscow during WWII, and joined the CIA in the 1960s. His mother happened to be an illegal working for Moscow, and Alex, her son, is a sort of Manchurian Candidate in the CIA, where he is a double agent working secretly for the KGB. However, he is turned and becomes a CIA mole within the KGB, while ostensibly working as a KGB mole in the CIA. He is an American Russian mongrel with divided loyalties. The actor who plays Garin needs to be clever, witty, and deceitful, who can effortlessly live his many lives. The actor should be in his mid-40s. The actors who come to mind are all English and older now, or passed away, but these men in their forties, would be perfect for the role: Colin Firth, Richard Burton, Christian Bale, and Gary Oldman.
Visit Paul Vidich's website.

Q&A with Paul Vidich.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 1, 2021

Suzanne Redfearn's "Hadley and Grace"

Suzanne Redfearn is the bestselling author of four novels: Hush Little Baby, No Ordinary Life, In An Instant, and Hadley & Grace.

Born and raised on the east coast, Redfearn moved to California when she was fifteen. She currently lives in Laguna Beach with her husband where they own two restaurants: Lumberyard and Slice Pizza & Beer.

In addition to being an author, Redfearn is an architect specializing in residential and commercial design. When not writing, she enjoys doing anything and everything with her family—skiing, golf, tennis, pickleball, hiking, board games, and reality TV. She is an avid baseball fan. Her team is the Angels.

Here Redfearn dreamcasts an adaptation of Hadley & Grace:
Since Hadley & Grace was inspired by Thelma & Louise, the entire time I was writing it I was seeing it as a movie. Yet, in my head, the characters were very different than Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon.

Hadley is well bred and sexy. I see someone like Salma Hayek playing her.

And the moment I started watching The Queen’s Gambit, I was entirely enthralled with Anya Taylor and certain she would make the perfect brilliant and street-savvy Grace.
Visit Suzanne Redfearn's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Suzanne Redfearn and Cooper.

My Book, The Movie: Hush Little Baby.

The Page 69 Test: Hush Little Baby.

The Page 69 Test: No Ordinary Life.

Writers Read: Suzanne Redfearn (February 2016).

My Book, The Movie: No Ordinary Life.

My Book, The Movie: In an Instant.

The Page 69 Test: In an Instant.

Q&A with Suzanne Redfearn.

--Marshal Zeringue