Friday, March 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue