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