Tuesday, October 12, 2021

David R. Slayton's "Trailer Park Trickster"

David R. Slayton grew up in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where finding fantasy novels was pretty challenging and finding fantasy novels with diverse characters was downright impossible. Now he lives in Denver, Colorado and writes the books he always wanted to read. His debut, White Trash Warlock, was published in October 2020 by Blackstone Publishing.

Here Slayton dreamcasts an adaptation of Trailer Park Trickster, the sequel to White Trash Warlock:
In White Trash Warlock we meet Adam Binder, a working class witch living in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The complex and shifting relationships between the characters is the core of the book in my opinion, so it would take talented actors to coax that onto the screen.

Setting-wise, the books shift back and forth between the normal world and the Spirit Realm, so it would need a director or a showrunner like Noah Hawley, who made Legion to capture that sometimes subtle, sometimes jarring, differences.

The main character, Adam, has a lot of innocence and a dash of cockiness that hides his insecurities, which mostly come from his rural background. He knows he doesn’t have a lot of magic and that makes him cautious when dealing with the beings and threats he sometimes has to. I’d love to see somebody play him who could show those sides, someone like Ross Lynch (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) or Sean Grandillio (Youth or Consequences, MTV’s Scream series).

Vic Martinez is a rookie cop whose whole world gets turned upside down when Adam saves him from a Grim Reaper, an intervention with major consequences for both men. Vic is a fan favorite. He’s a genuine person who knows who he is and does his best to roll with the changes. I think Danny Ramirez (Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Top Gun: Maverick) would be awesome as Vic.

Silver is Adam’s ex. The elven Knight of Swords, he’s all grace and classic looks with a bit of a mobster vibe. I knew Ludi Lin (Mortal Kombat, Power Rangers) would be perfect once I saw a pic of him in a pinstripe suit. Like most of the elves he has a lot of faces and events force him to assume a new mantle and appearance in Trailer Park Trickster. Lewis Tan (Mortal Kombat, Into the Badlands) would make a great choice for the role Silver plays by the end of Trickster.

Argent, the Queen of Swords, is Silver’s Twin. She’s infinitely powerful with a penchant for stealing cars. She first shows up in a dress that makes Adam think of classic Hollywood, so when I saw Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars, Raya and the Last Dragon) in a dress for the Rise of Skywalker premiere, I’m like yep, that’s Argent. She’s also a playful character and I think Tran would rock those contrasts.

Sara is bubbly and gregarious but don’t mess with her. She’s the easiest dreamcast for me. I knew right away that Nicole Byer (Nailed It, Wipe Out) had just the right energy for the enigmatic information broker who knows way more than she’s letting on.

Brian J. Smith (Sense8, Treadstone) would make a great Robert Binder. Give him a bit of a beard and he’d look the part of Adam’s older brother, the doctor who got away from Oklahoma only to have the supernatural side of his backwoods past catch up to him in Denver.

Finally, Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager, Orange is the New Black) is my dreamcast for Adam’s Great Aunt Sue. She’s been Adam’s caretaker since he became estranged from his mother and brother. Her Sight is powerful and she’s the one who sets Adam on his path to Denver. She loves Adam, but has her own secrets, all of which spill out in Trailer Park Trickster.
Visit David R. Slayton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 1, 2021

Jane Casey's "The Killing Kind"

Jane Casey has written eleven crime novels for adults and three for teenagers. A former editor, she is married to a criminal barrister who ensures her writing is realistic and as accurate as possible. This authenticity has made her novels international bestsellers and critical successes. The Maeve Kerrigan series has been nominated for many awards: in 2015 Casey won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for The Stranger You Know and Irish Crime Novel of the Year for After the Fire. In 2019, Cruel Acts was chosen as Irish Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. It was a Sunday Times bestseller.

Born in Dublin, Casey now lives in southwest London with her husband and two children.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Killing Kind:
In my standalone thriller The Killing Kind, Ingrid Lewis is a young lawyer who becomes convinced someone is trying to kill her. There’s an obvious suspect: John Webster, the man who stalked her after she represented him on a harassment charge. Because of him she lost her fiancé, her home and very nearly her life. But he denies any involvement. In fact, he offers to help her find out who is targeting her – at a price.

The Killing Kind is set in the London legal world, which is at the heart of London. It begins at the main criminal court, the Old Bailey, with St Paul’s Cathedral overlooking a gruesome murder – if you know anything at all about London, you will be able to imagine the scene! It’s a glamorous yet gritty world, very historical, and completely unique.

Ingrid is half-Danish and appears to be something of an ice queen. She keeps up a confident façade but she’s actually very vulnerable and sweet-natured. I think my ideal Ingrid would be Saoirse Ronan. She could be a believable lawyer, standing up to argue a case with devastating, incisive intelligence, but she would also let you see the impact that Ingrid’s fear has on her. As the plot progresses Ingrid allows herself to show her true feelings more and more. I think Saoirse would do a brilliant job of letting us see this process. I’m a huge fan of hers since her first appearances in Atonement and Hanna, and as an Irish writer I’d love to see an Irish actor take centre stage!

I’m also turning to Ireland for the part of John Webster, a charming man full of soft, terrifying menace. He operates outside the law and he’s capable of anything. Ingrid doesn’t trust him but she does have to decide whether or not to put her faith in him. Any actor who played him would have to make you like him in spite of yourself – I want you to root for the bad guy! – and for me the obvious choice is Andrew Scott. He can charm the birds from the trees but he has a genuinely chilling quality when he’s being scary. When I was writing the book I heard his voice in my head whenever Webster was speaking.

Webster’s main opposition in the book is Adam Nash, a police officer who tried to get him convicted once and failed. He’s driven and determined and Ingrid finds herself drawn to him. I’d love to see Regé-Jean Page from Bridgerton in this part (I love to see Regé-Jean Page in any part – he lights up the screen).

Ingrid’s best friend Adele is really a key role – she has a significant part in the plot and she’s one of my favourite characters. She’s funny, strong-willed and assertive and a very good friend to Ingrid. I think Maisie Williams would do such a great job of playing her. Since her breakthrough in Game of Thrones she has excelled in everything she’s done, and I think she has the most fascinating face – I never get tired of looking at her.

Finally, there’s Ingrid’s ex-fiancé Mark who is really significant in the plot, since what happened before the threat to Ingrid’s life is just as important as what comes after. He’s sort of an ideal man – wealthy, talented and thoughtful – but is he too good to be true? John Webster thinks so, but is that just jealousy or does he see something in Mark that Ingrid refuses to acknowledge? Mark has a bad temper and Ingrid’s life was far from perfect before the relationship ended. Tom Hiddleston would be superb as Mark. I’ve always loved him as Loki but I’ve also seen him on stage playing a difficult husband in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal and he was electrifying. He brings out the dark side of a character so brilliantly.

The Killing Kind has been optioned for TV and is in development at the moment, which is so exciting for me. They haven’t got as far as casting any of these award-winning A-list actors yet – but an author can dream!
Follow Jane Casey on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Georgie Blalock's "The Last Debutantes"

Georgie Blalock is a history and movie buff who loves combining her different passions through historical fiction, and a healthy dose of period piece films. When not writing, she can be found prowling the non-fiction history section of the library or the British film listings on Netflix or in the dojo training for her next karate black belt rank. Blalock also writes historical romance under the name Georgie Lee.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, The Last Debutantes:
If they made a movie of The Last Debutantes, a heavily British cast would be brilliant for bringing the characters and story to life. I would first cast Lily James as Valerie de Vere Cole. I believe she has the range to play a young woman who must overcome her impoverished upbringing to survive the rigors of the 1939 debutante Season while navigating the politics of No. 10 Downing St. Lillie James, through her various roles in Downton Abbey, Darkest Hour and the current The Pursuit of Love miniseries, has shown that she can simultaneously portray strength and vulnerability, a very necessary trait for anyone playing Valerie.

I think Emily Blunt would make an excellent Vivien Mosley, Valerie’s foil and nemesis during the 1939 season. Emily Blunt can be wonderfully elegant and wicked as seen in The Devil Wears Prada. That mix is something that Vivien has in spades.

For the rest of the debutantes, I would choose Saoirse Ronan as Dinah Bridge, Lady Astor’s niece and Valerie’s best friend who helps welcome Valerie into society. Her role in Mary Queen of Scots showed that she has the refinement to play a young woman raised in society but who is vulnerable and a touch naïve at the same time. I would cast Emma Watson as Christian Grant because she has that sense of innocence and grit that the real life Christian possessed. I would cast Gemma Arteron as Eunice Kennedy because she has a slight physical resemblance to Eunice.

As for Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain, I think James Cromwell would make a great Neville Chamberlain. He is an excellent actor who has the tall, thin look and regal bearing of Neville Chamberlain. Helen Mirren would make an excellent Anne Chamberlain. She has the refinement mixed with a no-nonsense seriousness to portray Valerie’s caring aunt who understands the social world and politics and helps Valerie to navigate both.
Visit Georgie Blalock's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Other Windsor Girl.

The Page 69 Test: The Other Windsor Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 30, 2021

Andrew Welsh-Huggins's "An Empty Grave"

A son of the Finger Lakes in western New York State, Andrew Welsh-Huggins now calls himself a “proud native adopted Ohioan.” By day, he is a reporter for the Associated Press in Columbus. By earlier in the day, he is the author of seven books in the Andy Hayes private eye series, featuring a former Ohio State and Cleveland Browns quarterback turned investigator.

Here Welsh-Huggins dreamcasts an adaptation of the latest novel in the series, An Empty Grave:
I get this question a lot, and the answer is easy: the best person to play Andy Hayes, my disgraced former Ohio State University quarterback, is actor Keanu Reeves. Why? He’s done it twice on screen already.

The first time, in 1991’s Point Break, he teamed with Patrick Swayze in a crime fiction tale involving the FBI’s investigation of a violent California bank robbery gang whose members investigators believe are surfers. Reeves plays Johnny Utah, a former Ohio State quarterback who quit the sport after blowing out his knee, and later becomes an FBI agent. The second time, in the 2000 sports comedy The Replacements, Reeves plays Shane Falco, a former Ohio State quarterback who saw his star dim after a blow-out loss in the Sugar Bowl. In the movie, he’s hired during an NFL players strike to join the fictional Washington Sentinels, coached by Gene Hackman. To my mind, Reeves' brooding skepticism, moodiness, and perpetual sense of hauling around baggage fit Andy perfectly. At fifty-six, Reeves is probably a little older than I imagine Andy at the moment—Andy’s in or around his early forties—but Reeves is still my sentimental favorite.
Visit Andrew Welsh-Huggins's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Jo Perry's "Pure"

Jo Perry earned a Ph.D. in English, taught college literature and writing, produced and wrote episodic television, and has published articles, book reviews, and poetry.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist Thomas Perry.

They have two adult children. Their three cats and two dogs are rescues.

About Perry's new novel, Pure:
Caught in a pincer movement between the sudden death of Evelyn (her favourite aunt) and the Corona virus, Ascher Lieb finds herself unexpectedly locked down in her aunt's retirement community with only Evelyn's grief-stricken dog Freddie for company.

As the world tumbles down into a pandemic shaped rabbit-hole Ascher is wracked with guilt that her aunt was buried without the Jewish burial rights of purification.
Here the author dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of Pure:
Ascher requires a character-actor, not a movie star––someone really funny and real to bring her to life. A young Sarah Silverman would be perfect. I wish Ascher and Silverman were the same age, but Ascher is much younger. I’m pretty sure Silverman could play a character younger than she is now, but if she couldn’t, the comedian Ester Steinberg (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) would be perfect, too.
Visit Jo Perry's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Best.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Is Good.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Beautiful.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Amy Mason Doan's "Lady Sunshine"

Amy Mason Doan is the bestselling author of Lady Sunshine, The Summer List, and Summer Hours.

Doan grew up in Danville, California and now lives in Portland, Oregon with her family. Before turning to fiction, she worked as a reporter & editor for The Oregonian, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, Forbes, and other publications. Doan has an M.A. in Journalism from Stanford University and a B.A. in English from U.C. Berkeley.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Lady Sunshine.
Jackie – Florence Pugh
Willa – Elle Fanning
Shane – Luke Kirby
Bree – Queen Latifah
Graham – Jeff Tweedy

Lady Sunshine is a surprise inheritance story that, in my totally unbiased opinion, would make a fantastic movie. We follow main character Jackie Pierce in two time periods – 1979 and 1999. In ’79, Jackie is a restless, fiery, unhappy teen sent to live with her musical, bohemian relatives for the summer at The Sandcastle. It’s a gorgeous place cut off from the rest of the world -- a wild, sprawling estate in far northern coastal California. She forms an intense bond with her hippie cousin Willa, although the two couldn’t be more different, and she has the best summer of her life with the many free spirited visitors who flock there.

But at the end of the summer, Jackie flees for mysterious reasons. Twenty years later, Jackie, now a staid music teacher in Boston, inherits The Sandcastle and returns “just to pack up and sell it.”

Of course it’s not that simple…

Jackie in ’99 is keeping a lot of secrets, and she’s buried her teenage boldness for reasons we don’t understand until the end of the book, but we can still see a flicker of that fire. The musicians who come to The Sandcastle to record a tribute album to Jackie’s uncle in the present thread of the story help her rediscover that old self – and the passions she’s been stuffing deep down for many years.

Florence Pugh would capture both Jackie’s fierce and tender sides, and would make us feel her joy and vulnerability as she opens up to love with album producer Shane. (Plus, I’ve seen Pugh’s incredible performance in The Little Drummer Girl so I know she can rock 70s fashion…)

Willa, Jackie’s cousin, is ethereal and dreamy. She loves the outdoors, surfing, Joni Mitchell and Joan Armatrading. She spends weeks by herself alone in nature, but she sees a lot in those woods. Elle Fanning, who was brilliant in the 70s-set family drama 20th Century Women, would be amazing.

Shane, the love interest and general pot- (and plot-) stirrer in 1999, is obsessed with the music Jackie’s late uncle made, and he convinces her to let him and his entourage stay at The Sandcastle to record a tribute album. Jackie’s immediately drawn to him, though she doubts his motives.

Luke Kirby would embody Shane’s mysterious and playful sides. I love him as Lenny Bruce in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I’m obsessed with his performance in Sarah Polley’s haunting film Take this Waltz.

Bree Lang is a famous singer who takes part in the 1999 tribute-album project for personal reasons. She and Jackie become unlikely friends. She’s one of the few characters in the book who manages to handle her fame with grace, and she can slip seamlessly between private and public worlds. Bree is authentic one-on-one and on-stage.

I’ve always visualized Queen Latifah in this role. Her performance as a mesmerizing singer and Holly Hunter’s friend in Living Out Loud is one of my favorites among her many roles. She’d be a dream.

Graham Kingston is Jackie’s uncle & Willa’s father. In 1979, he’s a faded folk singer who presides over The Sandcastle like a king. He relishes that role since his star has dimmed...we learn that record producers “see only his numbers, not his words.” Jackie idolizes him and his songwriting talent, but she realizes that he’s a deeply flawed human. I think I based Graham on David Crosby with dashes of Jackson Browne and James Taylor. Graham is leonine in appearance-- hulking and heavyset, with a mane of blond hair. I’d love to see Jeff Tweedy of Wilco explore a darker side of his artistic personality for this role.

Since I got the idea for Lady Sunshine’s central plot (the tribute album) from the Wilco/Billy Bragg album Mermaid Avenue, it’d be fitting.
Visit Amy Mason Doan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Summer Hours.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 20, 2021

Kira Jane Buxton's "Feral Creatures"

Kira Jane Buxton's writing has appeared in The New York Times, NewYorker.com, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Huffington Post, and more. Her debut novel Hollow Kingdom was an Indie Next pick, a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor, the Audie Awards, and the Washington State Book Awards, and was named a best book of 2019 by Good Housekeeping, NPR, and Book Riot. She calls the tropical utopia of Seattle home and spends her time with three cats, a dog, two crows, a charm of hummingbirds, five Steller's jays, two dark-eyed juncos, two squirrels, and a husband.

Here Buxton dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Feral Creatures:
It’s tremendous fun to imagine the dream cast for Feral Creatures. The novel, a sequel to Hollow Kingdom that can also be read as a standalone, is narrated by a foul-mouthed crow named S.T. There are interstitial chapters narrated by other animals to give a glimpse into what is happening around the world in this post-apocalyptic funny fable. As a result, there are a great many characters, many of whom are lively and humorous. Someone recently wrote to me to ask when Patton Oswalt would be voicing S.T. on the big screen, and I think Patton would perfectly actualize a snarky American crow with a huge heart and a penchant for puns, poetry and Cheetos!

I am a very big fan of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, and could imagine them voicing the roles of Ghubari the intellectual African Grey and Tom Hanks, a theatrical cockatoo whose erstwhile owner was in the performing arts.

The character of Oomingmak, the lovable but gassy musk ox who would lay down his life for his beloved Dee, requires an actor with a deep voice. I imagine Vin Diesel or Sam Elliott would be spectacular.

There are three capricious tiger characters and I suspect they would be beautifully voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Since I get to muse and choose for this fantasy dream casting, I would love to see a young, up-and-coming actress in the role of Dee, the last child on earth. Dee has been predominantly raised by a crow and a parliament of owls, has a deep and abiding connection to nature, and is one of the titular “feral creatures” of the novel. I’m an eternal optimist who loves to see a dream fulfilled, so I would be thrilled to see the role of Dee go to someone relatively unknown in the industry and be the first break of their acting career.
Visit Kira Jane Buxton's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kira Jane Buxton & Ewok.

My Book, The Movie: Hollow Kingdom.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Nev March's "Murder in Old Bombay"

Nev March is the recent winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Award for Best First Crime Fiction.

After a long career in business analysis, in 2015 she returned to her passion, writing fiction and now teaches creative writing at Rutgers-Osher Institute. A Parsee Zoroastrian herself, she lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons. Murder in Old Bombay is her debut novel.

Here March dreamcasts an adaptation of Murder in Old Bombay:
With five nominations for national book awards, Murder in Old Bombay has attracted interest for its screen rights.

Murder in Old Bombay is a cinematographer’s delight, because it’s set amid the vast vistas of Colonial India, from posh Bombay mansions and royal durbar halls to old fortresses and mountain villages on Himalayan slopes by way of army cantonments, boxing gymkhanas and seedy dockyards. In the vein of a Merchant-Ivory production, I’d love to see it produced by Deepa Mehta (Bride and Prejudice) or Gurinder Chadha (Beecham House) or Michael Engler (Downton Abbey)!

In 1892, Captain James Agnihotri, a recuperating officer in British ruled India reads a despairing letter from a widower, Adi Framji and is intrigued. Seeking redemption for his own missteps, he decides to help Adi solve the mystery behind the puzzling deaths of his wife and sister, who plunged to their deaths from a university clocktower in broad daylight. Captain Jim’s investigations lead him through dangerous adventures to reach the ultimate prize—a sense of belonging.

Captain Jim is of mixed race. While this poses a significant social impediment in his personal life, it allows him to investigate both upper class society folk as well as the dark underbelly of Indian society. Through his investigation, he will encounter young Diana Framji’s “diamond sparkle,” a team of lost urchins, as well as the man accused of the crime, who’d “stood trial, suffered censure and public vitriol, all to protect the memory of two friends.” And he will fall in love with his client’s family, including Mrs. Framji who feeds him sumptuous meals at every opportunity and Burjor, the broad-chested open-hearted patriarch. Diana is his client’s sister, educated in England, polished at a finishing school, dynamic and assertive, she chafes against her Victorian limitations and restricted lifestyle. And she has secrets.

Among his allies he will find Editor Tom Byram:
Smooth. The man was so composed I disliked and admired him at the same time,
Police Superintendent McIntyre:
“Evening,” he said Abruptly. Not disposed to think well of me, then.
And unexpected, heroic aid from one fragile, sweet child.
Chutki had the sort of pluck no one expects, the courage to endure the unspeakable in Jalandhar, to walk on bloodied feet, to protect a babe and save little scraps to feed it when she had nothing for herself…
Above all he will encounter India.
“When I rose, dusk was creeping up the mountain. Birds trilled and crickets called to each other, friendly sounds, yet they reminded me of my solitary state.”
The male lead, Captain Jim, could be played well by British actor Blake Ritson, or Indian actor Hrithik Roshan because they both have a certain angularity to their features, good physique and are great character actors. The actor would need to don a number of disguises and completely disappear into them, the way Captain Jim does in imitating Sherlock Holmes!

The female lead could be Bangladeshi actress Bidya Sinha or Annet Mahendru, born in Afghanistan to a Russian mother and an Indian father, from the FX show The Americans.

With a panoply of memorable characters and Bombay, queen of imperial cities as backdrop, I can just see this emotional story filling the big screen and the hearts of movie-goers. See more locations, characters, and casting choices.
Visit Nev March's website.

Q&A with Nev March.

The Page 69 Test: Murder in Old Bombay.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Joanna Schaffhausen's "Gone for Good"

Joanna Schaffhausen wields a mean scalpel, skills she developed in her years studying neuroscience. She has a doctorate in psychology, which reflects her long-standing interest in the brain―how it develops and the many ways it can go wrong. Previously, she worked as a scientific editor in the field of drug development. Prior to that, she was an editorial producer for ABC News, writing for programs such as World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and 20/20. She lives in the Boston area with her husband, daughter, and an obstreperous basset hound named Winston.

Schaffhausen's new novel is Gone for Good.

Here the author, with a little help from her friends, dreamcasts an adaptation of the new novel:
Okay, confession time: I am terrible at remembering names of actors so I do not cast my books while I’m writing them. I put this casting question for Gone for Good to my beta group, which is full of people way hipper than I am. The first suggestion came from my husband, who said, “Steve Buscemi should play every role.” I confess I would 100% watch this. It doesn’t seem realistic, though, so here are some other ideas from our group brainstorming session.

We like Daniela Ruah from NCIS: Los Angeles to play the lead role of Detective Annalisa Vega. Ruah would bring immediate crime-fighting gravitas. Also, she’s the right age and shares Vega’s Portuguese background. Vega’s required to do a wide range of emotions in the book, juggling a tough case, a complicated family life, and two potential romantic interests. Ruah has the nuance to handle them all.

For Vega’s ex-husband and current police partner, Nick Carelli, we like Joe Mangeniello. Nick is a charming, good-looking Italian guy who would prefer to talk his way out of trouble than fire his gun, and Mangeniello has the magnetism to pull off the role.

The other major voice in the book is Grace Harper, whom we learn about from her journal entries as she tracks the mysterious Lovelorn Killer. A grocery store manager by day, in her off-hours Grace is a member of the “Grave Diggers” amateur sleuthing group. Grace decided to take on the Lovelorn case, about a serial killer who went dormant twenty years earlier. She ends up dead in the same fashion as his victims, leading Vega and Carelli to wonder if she had indeed found the killer. We like Allison Tolman for Grace, as she as the wit and smarts, as well as the “everywoman” vibe, needed to carry off wise-cracking, shrewd Grace.

Annalisa and Nick are backed up on the case by Lynn Zimmer, a female Black captain who is near retirement. Zimmer’s nickname is “The Hammer” and she has to bring it down on Annalisa a couple of times during the investigation. We like Aisha Tyler for the role of Zimmer, who is tough-minded but fair. Tyler has the presence to command authority.

Rounding out the group are Grace Harper’s fellow amateur sleuths in the “Grave Diggers” group. For Grace’s female BFF, Molly Lipinski, we like Elle King for her spunk. For Chris Colburn, the hipster IT guy, we pick Liam Hemsworth. For Jared Barnes, the former military policeman who is now in a wheelchair, we nominate Jason Segel. Finally, for the retired school teacher and history expert, Oliver Benton, we would love to see Laurence Fishburne, who has an air of both intelligence and kindness.
Visit Joanna Schaffhausen's website.

Q&A with Joanna Schaffhausen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Sarah Warburton's "You Can Never Tell"

Sarah D. Warburton lives in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. For ten years she was the lead writer for the monthly magazine UpClose. She has studied writing with Pam Houston at the Taos Writers Workshop and with Justin Cronin in Houston. Her work has appeared in the Southern Arts Journal, Women on Writing, Embark Literary Magazine, and Oyster River Pages.

Warburton's first novel, Once Two Sisters, was a Publishers Weekly pick of the week, a Crimereads recommended debut, and a PopSugar featured title.

[My Book, The Movie: Once Two SistersQ&A with Sarah WarburtonThe Page 69 Test: Once Two Sisters]

Here Warburton dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, You Can Never Tell:
In You Can Never Tell, Kacy Tremaine moves to a charming Texas suburb to escape her past, framed for embezzlement by her former best friend. As she navigates the unexpectedly cutthroat social scene of her new town, Kacy quickly makes new friends—preppy, inscrutable Elizabeth, chatty yet evasive Rahmia, and red-headed, unapologetic Lena. But good friends aren't always what they seem. Episodes of a fictional podcast alert us that Kacy’s living through a true crime story, before she even realizes it. This really is a suburban serial-killer story about friendship.

Kacy, my protagonist, comes to Texas doubting her own judgement. She longs for connection, but is still suffering from the betrayal of the last friend she trusted. But she’s compassionate, artistic, and fierce when she feels that someone she loves is threatened. I first saw Saoirse Ronan in Atonement and was blown away by the tension and power she brought to each scene. Through Lady Bird, Brooklyn, and Little Women (as the creative and heroic Jo March!), Saoirse Ronan combines inner strength with a subtlety that’s perfect for Kacy.

Elizabeth is a tightly-wound Canadian expat. The perfect hostess, super-organized and definitely hiding something. Kacy’s always second-guessing whether Elizabeth really likes her or is just being polite. I was absolutely picturing Blake Lively as Elizabeth.

Rahmia is funny and chatty, except when she absolutely shuts down. Kacy instinctively likes her and trusts her. In fact, defending Rahmia earns Kacy some new enemies in her new home. Comedian Sabrina Jalees would be a lot of fun in this role, offering support and humor as the story gets darker and darker.

Lena is Kacy’s next-door-neighbor. She’s brash, exuberant, and always up for an adventure. Lena makes Kacy feel fearless. Hanging out by the pool with margaritas, they promise each other that they’ll never become “Stepford Wives.” From drama to comedy, Emma Stone has the charismatic range and larger-than-life presence that makes Lena such a blast. And for her good ol’ boy husband Brady, I’d cast Josh Duhamel. He’s handsome, but with an edge.

Alondra Reyes is supremely self-assured and at the top of her profession. She drops into social events just long enough to interrogate Kacy about her past. Kacy’s terrified that Alondra will uncover all her secrets, but before long she’ll be grateful that Alondra’s a criminal defense attorney. I know Stephanie Beatriz is another actress best known for her role on a comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but her hard-edged, yet nuanced portrayal of Detective Rosa Diaz is perfect for Alondra.

And since this is a story about friendship, the fictional true-crime podcast that runs throughout the novel features two hosts in the style of My Favorite Murder or True Crime Garage. I’d love to hear Kristen Bell and Anna Kendrick for the sometimes snarky, sometimes sensitive banter of Julia and Helen, hosts of Crime to Chat.
Visit Sarah Warburton's website.

Writers Read: Sarah Warburton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Ellen Byron's "Cajun Kiss of Death"

Ellen Byron is the Agatha Award-winning author of the Cajun Country Mysteries. The USA Today bestselling series has also won multiple Best Humorous Mystery Lefty awards from the Left Coast Crime conference. She also writes The Catering Hall Mysteries (under the pen name Maria DiRico), and will launch the Vintage Cookbook Mysteries (as Ellen) in June 2022.

Byron’s TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly OddParents. She’s written over 200 national magazine articles, and her published plays include the award-winning Graceland. She also worked as a cater-waiter for the legendary Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing.

A native New Yorker who attended Tulane University, Byron lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and rescue chi mix, Pogo. She still misses her hometown - and still drives like a New York cabbie.

Here Byron dreamcasts an adaptation of her new Cajun Country Mystery, Cajun Kiss of Death:
It’s so much fun to cast a movie in your mind! Here are my choices for five characters from Cajun Kiss of Death.

Maggie Crozat – I’ve always seen Anne Hathaway in the role of Maggie. She has this wonderful way of combining moxie with a hint of insecurity, plus she knows how to play comedy. Not every actress can. In the 1990s, casting calls often went out for “pretty funny.” This was a call for male and female performers who were hot but also funny. It sounds incredibly sexist these days, doesn’t it? But finding this combination wasn’t easy. I’ll leave it to readers to analyze why.

Detective Bo Durand – I struggled with dream casting Bo for a long time. Someone once suggested Josh Harnett, and he was a possibility. Then my husband and I began watching Schitt’s Creek – we were early fans – and an actor popped into my personal zeitgeist as the perfect casting. His name is Tim Rozon. He played Alexis’s boyfriend Mutt during the show’s first seasons, and he’s got the perfect look and demeanor for Bo. And here’s another advantage to Mr. Rozon. You know all those Hallmark mystery movies? A lot of them are shot in Canada using the country’s tax credits. But to take advantage of the credits, you need to follow “Can Con” – Canadian Content – rules, meaning a large percentage of cast and crew must be Canadian. So, if my dream movie version of Cajun Kiss of Death was shot in Canada, Mr. Rozon would be a boon from both an artistic and business perspective.

Grand-mere, Maggie’s grandmother – This is the one casting choice that’s been a no-brainer since I wrote the series: Blythe Danner. In her youth, Ms. Danner starred in several Tennessee Williams plays, so she’s got the Southern thing down. Plus, not only does she exude an elegance and grace that’s perfect for Gran, there’s a twinkle in her eye and a talent for comedy. I absolutely envision her when I write this character. And you know what? That daughter of hers – What’s her name? Gwyneth something? – would also make a great Maggie!

Police chief Rufus Durand – Sam Rockwell is one of the most versatile actors working today. There’s nothing he can’t do and be charming while doing it, even if playing a villain. He’s got a bit of the imp to him, which would work for Ru, who goes from being an enemy to frenemy through the course of the Cajun Country Mystery series. Ru is unapologetic about his sometimes-sketchy choices, so you need an actor who’s innately likeable to play him. When it comes to casting Rufus Durand, Sam’s the man.

Vanessa Fleer-MacIlhoney – this casting choice might blow you away, but you know who would be great in this role? Stormy Daniels. Yup, you read that right. Stormy’s got Vanessa’s look down, plus the woman has a great sense of humor. And she’s one smart cookie, which Vanessa is as well. Some actresses might lean toward playing Vanessa as a bimbo. She’s not. She’s self-involved and clueless a lot of the time, but often offers a surprisingly canny take on a situation. You want to cast a performer who can hit all those notes, and I think Ms. Daniels can.

As to a director, no one specific comes to mind. All I know is I want her to be a woman!
Visit Ellen Byron's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Ellen Byron & Wiley and Pogo.

Q&A with Ellen Byron.

Writers Read: Ellen Byron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Edward M. Lerner's "Déjà Doomed"

A physicist and computer scientist, Edward M. Lerner toiled in the vineyards of high tech for thirty years, as everything from engineer to senior vice president. Then he began writing full time.

His novels run the gamut from near-future technothrillers, like Small Miracles and Energized, to traditional SF, like the InterstellarNet series and Dark Secret. Collaborating with New York Times bestselling author Larry Niven, Lerner also wrote the Fleet of Worlds series of Ringworld companion novels. Much of Lerner's short fiction has been collected in Creative Destruction and Countdown to Armageddon / A Stranger in Paradise. His nonfiction articles on science and technology centerpiece Frontiers of Space, Time, and Thought: Essays and Stories on The Big Questions.

Lerner's 2015 novel, InterstellarNet: Enigma, won the inaugural Canopus Award for interstellar-themed fiction. His writing has also been nominated for Hugo, Locus, and Prometheus awards.

Here Lerner dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Déjà Doomed:
If they make my book into a film, here’s who I'd like to play the lead role(s).

Let’s start with the book: a near-future adventure set mostly on the Moon. Our intrepid explorers find artifacts left behind by ancient alien visitors – and you just know nothing good can come of their poking around. Even if the novel’s title weren’t Déjà Doomed.

But I don’t mean to imply this is a horror story – setting aside the almost certain likelihood of an existentially horrible outcome. Déjà Doomed is most definitely science fiction, with the majority of the action – of which there’s plenty – happening on, and in, the Moon. As for any clarification of the doom part of the title, readers here will thank me for not being too specific today.

In the interest of cinematic interest, I might mention there are also – coming into the story in ways you might never anticipate – aliens, and space battles, and even a cameo by … dinosaurs.

Before getting to the cast, I’d best introduce a few lead characters. First is Marcus Judson, a NASA engineer. He’s leading the construction of a radio observatory on the lunar far side, sheltered from Earth’s radio cacophony – until the CIA drafts him to investigate possible alien artifacts half the Moon away. Second is Yevgeny Rudin, “bush” pilot supporting all manner of Russian activities on the Moon. His real job is undercover FSB agent. Yevgeny, of course, comes to suspect that the CIA, in the person of Marcus, is up to something – and goes looking. Finally, there’s Marcus’s earthbound astronomer wife, Valerie Clayburn. Val, like Yevgeny, doesn’t take the cover story of Marcus’s sudden expedition at face value and, if only remotely, finds ways to insert herself.

For Marcus, our clean-cut, American engineering hero in space, there can be only one choice. That’s Matt Damon, aka the unstoppable Mark Watney, star of The Martian. For Yevgeny, Marcus’s suspicious Russian foil, I see Sergey Puskepalis, aka the engineer Zaytsev in the submarine/caper movie Black Sea. And for Valerie, I’d propose Amy Adams, brilliant exo-linguist in the SF movie Arrival.

I’d certainly pay good money to see that cast do this story.
Learn more about the author and his work at his website.

My Book, The Movie: InterstellarNet: Origins.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Gwen Florio's "The Truth of It All"

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.

Recent novels include the standalone Silent Hearts, and Best Laid Plans, the first installment of a new mystery series.

Here Florio dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Truth of It All:
The Truth of It All, about a young public defender trying her first big case, has a wealth of strong female characters – not just the protagonist, Julia Geary, but her partner in the public defender’s office, Claudette Greene, and her mother-in-law, Beverly Sullivan. In addition, the high school girl who’s the target of the sexual assault case around which the book revolves goes from being a cardboard character in many people’s minds -- i.e, The Victim – to finding her own strength in a very notable way.

For that reason, I’d love to see a female director. Chloe Zhao immediately comes to mind, not only for her Oscar-winning work on Nomadland, but for an earlier film, The Rider, that deftly the nuances of ethnicity and class in the West – two issues central to this book. I also liked Kelly Reichardt’s film, Certain Women, that examined similar issues and that was shot in Montana. And, given the case involved in the book, Emerald Fennell immediately comes to mind because of Promising Young Woman. Such a wealth of directors!

As for actors, Kristen Stewart (of Reichardt’s Certain Women in addition to the Twilight movies) has a wonderfully wary quality that’s perfect for Julia, who’s negotiating the difficult terrain of being a new widow and suddenly single mother as a result, with a challenging case that brings the wrath of the community upon her.

All hail Regina King as Claudette, Julia’s take-no-shit partner in the public defender’s office. As a black woman in a largely white community, the unwelcome responsibility of explaining racial realities to privileged white people is thrust upon Claudette – who embraces the fact that sometimes her very presence makes people uncomfortable. King shines in every role and she’d kick ass as Claudette.

Julia’s exceedingly difficult mother-in-law, Beverly, became one of my favorite characters as I was writing the book. Jean Smart is so engagingly sly; I’d love to see the smiling undertone she’d bring to Beverly’s strait-laced demeanor.

Marlo Kelly’s performance in the television adaptation of Megan Abbott’s Dare Me blew me away – she'd be perfect as Ana.

For Julia’s client Sami Mohammed, Mena Massoud (Aladdin) has the wide-eyed quality that I think would let him believably play a high school student (somewhat older because of his refugee status) that also would play into the uncertainty that comes with trying to navigate a new culture and language.

Finally, Karl Schmidt as a local white supremacist plays a small but key part in the book. Ed Harris would bring just the right blend of menace and surprising humanity to that role.
Visit Gwen Florio's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Gwen Florio & Nell.

My Book, the Movie: Silent Hearts.

My Book, The Movie: Best Laid Plans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 2, 2021

Catriona McPherson's "A Gingerbread House"

National-bestselling and multi-award-winning author Catriona McPherson was born in Scotland and lived there until immigrating to the US in 2010, where she lives on Patwin ancestral lands.

She writes historical detective stories set in the old country in the 1930s, featuring gently-born lady sleuth, Dandy Gilver. After eight years in the new country, McPherson kicked off the comic Last Ditch Motel series, which takes a wry but affectionate look at California life from the POV of a displaced Scot. She also writes a strand of contemporary psychological thrillers. The latest of these is A Gingerbread House, which Kirkus called “a disturbing tale of madness and fortitude.”

Here McPherson dreamcasts an adaptation of A Gingerbread House:
I don’t want a movie. I want a telly series a la Broadchurch. Okay?

A Gingerbread House is the story of three women chasing a dream, who all walk into a nightmare. The best friend Ivy never had, the parent Martine never knew, the happy-ever-after Laura pines for ... these are the breadcrumbs strewn on the path.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, Tash Dodd is on a quest of her own to right a wrong.

So far, so Disney. But the setting is a grey town in the post-industrial central belt of modern Scotland and there are no princesses here. Ivy is a book-keeper, Martine is a grant-writer, Laura has a phone-accessory retail business too close to Etsy for her liking, and Tash drives a delivery van.

With all that in mind, here in order of appearance is my dream casting of the main four, plus some supporting characters that I did actually cast while I wrote the story.

Tash: Fern Brady. She’s perfect. She’s the right age. She’s got the right accent. (She’d have to coach the others.) The only glitch is she’s a stand-up comedian, not an actor.

Ivy: Brenda Blethyn. Looking like Vera Stanhope, but with a completely different personality. Ivy is shy and self-effacing, silently judging most of the time. There would be a lot of face-acting and Brenda Blethyn is the mistress of that.

Martine: Nina Sosanya. You might remember her from Last Tango in Halifax. She’s fifty-two and Martine is thirty-ish. But you’d never know she was fifty-two so I’m sticking with it. Martine is brisk on the surface, a bit broken underneath. I think she’d be a treat to play.

Laura: Jodie Whittaker. She’s stepping down from playing the Doctor in Dr Who; she’ll have the time. And she’s mostly played absolute poppets, hasn’t she? So this will give her a shot of being thoroughly unlikable, at first anyway.

Adim the newsagent across the road: Nick Mohammed. I love him! He is hysterical as his stand-up character Mr Swallow and adorable paired with David Schwimmer in Intelligence. He’s the only reason I care that I haven’t got AppleTV and can’t see Ted Lasso.

The Hollywood sisters at the nail salon: Scarlett and Ava Moffatt. They are break-out stars from a reality programme called GoggleBox. It sounds daft – we watch people watching the highlights of the week’s telly – but it is hilarious and joyful stuff, as well as an excellent way to out pseuds and snobs, in my (correct) opinion.

So, we’ve got A Gingerbread House starring – I’m doing the credits in the order I think their agents could get – Fern Brady, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Mohammed, Nina Sosanya, with the Moffat Sisters, and Brenda Blethyn.

You’d watch that, wouldn’t you?
Visit Catriona McPherson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Turning Tide.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Adam Simcox's "The Dying Squad"

Adam Simcox is a London-based filmmaker who’s shot commercials for brands such as McLaren, Primark and Vice, and music videos for Britpop veterans as well as fresh on the scene alt-country stars. He began his film career by writing and directing three features: the first sold to Netflix; the second and third won awards and critical acclaim at festivals worldwide. He is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course.

Here Simcox dreamcasts an adaptation of his debut novel, The Dying Squad:
My background is in film – it’s how I’ve earned my misbegotten living, up until now — so when it came to writing The Dying Squad, casting choices were always lurking, flicking my ears and tweaking my nose. I’ve written and directed three films before, and when working in those micro-budget terms, casting was always a challenge. Now I’m here, with my fantasy film selection, it’s time to splash that cash.

Our hero, Joe Lazarus, is a no-nonsense copper with a big problem: he’s dead. That state of being has left him with a swiss-cheese memory, so we need an actor that can portray this sense of confusion, but also get across his intelligence and silent steel too. Let’s go for Paul Bettany. Half tempted to have him in his vision costume just for kicks, but cooler producing heads will probably prevail.

Daisy-May, Joe’s also-dead 16-year-old partner, is the real star of the show. She’s sarky, she’s gobby, and she’s not afraid to call you on your bullshit. She’s also the moral compass and beating heart of the book, and we’ll need an actor of substance to play the role. Let’s go for Anya Taylor-Joy – she’s got just the right measure of insolence and face-down-the-odds nerve.

The Duchess is the governor of The Dying Squad, the spectral police force Joe’s recruited to, all cut-glass cheek bones, steely reserve, and kick ass presence. Let’s not mess around here; let’s get Helen Mirren and Emma Thompson in a knife fight, and the winner stays on as Warden, ruler of the Pen. A controversial means of auditioning, perhaps, but we’re shooting for greatness here, damn it.

Mabel is the Duchess’s sister, and sort of the Q of purgatory. Seen it, done it, killed it. We’ll need someone uncompromising, but also someone capable of getting across heart and sensitivity. We’ll give Judi Dench’s agent a call, but under the strict proviso she doesn’t wear her Cats costume.

Pete was Joe’s flesh and blood partner before Joe was murdered. In the book he’s described as a rugby player gone slightly to seed, but I’m going to go a different way with casting for the film – Stephen Graham’s our man. I want that no-nonsense, ultra-violence bubbling slightly under the surface Graham brings. Plus, the man’s an absolute magician of an actor.

That just leaves one major role to fill – that of director. Am I allowed to nominate myself? Is that too egotistical? Well tough. It’s my fantasy list, and I’ll self-indulge if I want to. If I’m locked out of the director's chair, I might see if Ben Wheatley fancies it. I’m a big fan, and I’d love to see what he does with it.
Follow Adam Simcox on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

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