Friday, January 29, 2021

Keisha Bush's "No Heaven for Good Boys"

Keisha Bush was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her MFA in creative writing from The New School, where she was a Riggio Honors Teaching Fellow and recipient of an NSPE Dean’s Scholarship. After a career in corporate finance and international development that brought her to live in Dakar, Senegal, she decided to focus full-time on her writing. She lives in East Harlem.

Here Bush dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, No Heaven For Good Boys:
No Heaven For Good Boys is an Oliver Twist like tale, but with a grittier City of God mixed with a bit of Beasts of No Nation.

Ten years ago, I wanted Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, the directors of City of God to direct the film adaptation of No Heaven For Good Boys. I watched their film at the Angelica Film Center in SoHo and was entranced, it was so visceral and raw.

Now, in 2021, there are so many great American directors, not to mention great Senegalese directors, but to narrow it down, I’d be interested in either a Gina Prince-Bythwood film, or Cary Joji Fukunaga, or even perhaps a collaboration bringing their two styles together, like City of God.

I think in terms of actors, there are roles in the book for a diverse cast that includes Senegalese, Americans, French, and British actors. I think of Paula Patton or Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the young American mother who is married to a Senegalese ambassador, and they have a young son who befriends the main characters in the novel.

The main protagonists are children and I would actually like to see some of the talibé roles in the book cast with actual runaway and former talibé in the country, if possible. It would give the local talibé a way to earn income and experience a world outside of what they know. The child actors from Beasts of No Nation (and most definitely City of God) would be too old for the roles in No Heaven For Good Boys, as the main protagonist is 6 years old and his cousin is 11 years old, with none of the boys older than 13 years old, and because they are undernourished and abused they look younger and smaller than their actual ages.

Lupita would slam dunk the role of the main characters mother, and for the father perhaps Peter Mensah, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, or even Idris Elba - any of three have the skills to pull off the antagonist role of the religious teacher of the boys.
Visit Keisha Bush's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Doug Engstrom's "Corporate Gunslinger"

Doug Engstrom has been a farmer's son, a US Air Force officer, a technical writer, a computer support specialist, and a business analyst, as well as being a writer of speculative fiction. He lives near Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Catherine Engstrom.

Here Engstrom dreamcasts an adaptation of his 2020 novel, Corporate Gunslinger:
Corporate Gunslinger is set in a near-future United States where duels have become the last stop in the legal system. Companies are allowed to hire professionals to represent them; ordinary citizens must fight for themselves.

The duels are highly formal. A judge presides with the assistance of wards, who help prepare the combatants and enforce the rules. Combatants use identical single-shot pistols, and wear pants and tunics with no metal parts that might deflect a bullet. They start back-to-back, separated by an opaque hologram called the Wall. The Wall makes it impossible to get a clear shot until both combatants enter their respective “kill boxes,” a space about ten yards from the center. At that point, the Wall disappears, and the combatants are free to turn around and fire at each other. The last person to fall wins.

The story is told from the perspective of Kira Clark, a young woman who’s incurred huge debts for her education and secured them with a “lifetime services contract” that will make her property of her creditors if she fails to pay. She wards off foreclosure by training as a gunfighter for TKC insurance. We see her career from her first day as a trainee through a climactic match against another professional.

I’d like to see Emma Stone as Kira. Like Abigail, the character Ms. Stone plays in The Favourite, Kira has fallen from a relatively high social status, and is simultaneously an abused waif trying to make her way in a world she isn’t well-prepared to navigate and a relentless predator who’s determined to do whatever it takes to make herself safe. I think Ms. Stone could bring Kira’s dual nature to life on screen.

The key physical features of Diana Reynolds, Kira’s trainer, are that she’s tall, muscular, and intimidating. She’s also smart, cynical, and expert at manipulating the world around her to protect the people she cares about. Charlize Theron put those qualities on screen in a great way as the leader of a mercenary band in The Old Guard, and I’d love to see her do the same for Diana.

Kira rooms with another gunfighter, Chloe Rossi, who is also her best friend. Chloe is a short, red-haired Italian-American from a working class background. Her soft appearance and lack of self-confidence make her easy to underestimate. While Chloe isn’t anywhere near as cold as Arya Stark, I think Maisie Williams would be great in the role.

I’d love to see Lexi Alexander in the director’s chair. Although she’s probably best known for the big-canvas action movie Punisher: War Zone, I believe she could do some really interesting things with the smaller scale and more intimate violence of the corporate dueling field. Her background as a World Kickboxing Champion and Marine Close Combat instructor would also bring an important perspective to the story.
Visit Doug Engstrom's website.

The Page 69 Test: Corporate Gunslinger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Jeannie Mobley's "The Jewel Thief"

Jeannie Mobley has spent much of her life daydreaming herself into other centuries. This tendency has led her to multiple degrees in history and anthropology, and a passion for writing fiction. She is the author of three historical middle grade novels: Katerina’s Wish (2012), Searching for Silverheels (2014,), and Bobby Lee Claremont and the Criminal Element (201), which have received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Library Media Connection. Other honors include the Willa Award, Colorado Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and inclusion on a number of notable lists, including the Amelia Bloomer List for Feminist Literature, Library of Congress 52 Great Reads List, the New York Public Library Notables, the Jefferson Cup List for Historical Fiction, as well as a variety of state lists. Her favorite stories are those of ordinary people who achieve the extraordinary. She is currently a professor of anthropology and department chair at a college in northern Colorado.

Here Mobley dreamcasts an adaptation of her 2020 novel, The Jewel Thief:
While I typically do see the scenes playing out in my head as I write them, I think the advantage to books over movies is their ability to dig deep inside the characters in their portrayal, so I don’t tend to focus on the outward appearances of characters as much. Of course, I would love to see my books made into movies, and I think The Jewel Thief would be an excellent choice right now, with the popularity of historic costume dramas, so it’s always worth thinking about.

When I hear Louis XIV speaking in my head, it is in that cool, smooth voice of Alan Rickman, so in my anything-is-possible dreamcast, I would bring back a young Alan Rickman and cast him as the king just for the luxurious voice.

Casting it with people who are actual possibilities, though, I think Aiden Turner would be a fascinating Louis XIV—he has the charisma for the role, and can project both the power and the arrogance necessary.

An excellent choice for René, the main love interest, would be Timothée Chalamet, who has René’s youth and sweetness, and is also quite nice to look at. He also has really interesting hands, so since Juliette fixates on his hands now and then, I think that’s a plus.

Strange as it sounds, Juliette would be the hardest for me to cast. Because I see the main character from the inside out when I write, as if I’m looking through her eyes at the world, I often don’t have a clear mental picture of what that person looks like so much as how they think. But I think Holliday Grainger might be a good choice—she has the right mix of innocence and determination in her face for Juliette.
Learn more about The Jewel Thief.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Megan Chance's "A Splendid Ruin"

Megan Chance is the bestselling, critically acclaimed author of several novels. Her books have been picks for Amazon Book of the Month, IndieNext, and the Historical Novel Society Editors’ Choice. Booklist calls her writing “provocative and haunting.”

Chance lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, A Splendid Ruin:
I always cast actors or models as my characters before I start to write. I find it really helpful because when I’m writing I see the scenes unfolding in my head like a movie. It’s all very cinematic, so the wrong actor can mess up everything. It becomes rather obsessive on my part, trying to find the perfect person to represent the character I see in my head.

This also means that I have pictures of actors taped up all over my office, so it looks like the bedroom of a 14-year old girl, which can be embarrassing when the cable guy comes to fix the modem.

In A Splendid Ruin, I cast Rebecca Hall as May Kimble. I wanted someone attractive, but who wasn’t classically beautiful, and the look she had in The Prestige was exactly what I wanted for May. Capable and smart and vulnerable.

Margot Robbie was Goldie Sullivan. Gorgeous but with this edge that could make her either vulnerable or mean—that very Tonya Harding quality.

Domhnall Gleason was Jonathan Sullivan. I’m not sure why; he just popped into my head full bodied as Uncle Jonny. Pale and self-assured. Gleason always looks like he could be really kind but also could be hiding sinister secrets.

Ellis Farge was Gaspard Ulliel. I wanted someone who looked like he could have been arrogant once but then lost his way. Someone confused but also opportunistic. Also … handsome.

Dante LaRosa for me was Luke Pasqualino. Italian, charismatic, self-assured and confident. A little brash but also smart. I loved him in The Musketeers and Skins, and he’s great at being both charismatic and vulnerable.
Visit Megan Chance's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Claire Booth's "Fatal Divisions"

Formerly a crime reporter for daily newspapers such as the Miami Herald and Philadelphia Inquirer, Claire Booth is the author of the Sheriff Hank Worth Mysteries: The Branson Beauty, Another Man's Ground, A Deadly Turn, and the newly released Fatal Divisions.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Fatal Divisions:
Fatal Divisions is the fourth in my series featuring Sheriff Hank Worth of Branson, Missouri. He’s a guy in his late thirties who has a dry sense of humor and is pretty laid back. He also speaks fluent Spanish, courtesy of his Latinx mother. So, since this is dream casting, I’d love Oscar Isaac to play him.

In this book, I really dive into Hank’s family life. That means there’s a lot more of his father-in-law. Duncan McCleary moved in with the Worths after the death of his wife. Duncan is a blunt, cantankerous old man who frequently tries Hank’s patience. I think someone like Kurtwood Smith, the dad in That ’70s Show would be perfect for the role.

In this book, Duncan’s sister, Finella, is a prominent character. She’s a lot like her brother, but with flashes of maternal caring. I would love to see her played by Angela Lansbury, who I think has just that right combination.

Finella’s husband also plays a key role in Fatal Divisions. He’s a smooth talker and a consummate salesman. Hal Linden, with his suave style, would be perfect. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see him and Angela together?
Visit Claire Booth's website.

My Book, The Movie: Another Man's Ground.

The Page 69 Test: Another Man's Ground.

My Book, The Movie: A Deadly Turn.

The Page 69 Test: A Deadly Turn.

--Marshal Zeringue