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