Friday, April 2, 2021

Sarah Langan's "Good Neighbors"

Sarah Langan grew up on Long Island, in a town called Garden City, but not on a crescent bordering a park. She got her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and also received her Master’s in Environmental Health Science/Toxicology from New York University. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughters.

She’s received three Bram-Stoker awards, and her work has often been included in best-of-the year lists and anthologies. She’s a founding board member of the Shirley Jackson Awards, and works in both film and prose.

Here Langan shares some thoughts about above-the-line talent that might do a great job adapting her new novel Good Neighbors for the big screen:
My book's about the fish out of water Wilde family, who scrimp and save for a piece of the American dream-- a house in the suburbs of Long Island. But they're not welcome. They're rough around the edges and represent the declining status of suburbia. It's the near future and times are a little rougher, finances tighter, global warming worse, and there's a dangerous sinkhole in the middle of the park. These problems are too big to overcome, and the Wildes make the perfect scapegoats. The people of Maple Street have been looking for someone to blame for a long time. When Maple Street's favorite daughter Shelly falls down the sinkhole, the whole block decides that she must have been running from someone when she fell. They direct their accusations against the Wilde family, dad Arlo in particular, whom they decide must have been hurting her. The police get involved, child services takes Arlo away, and pretty soon, and ugly mob forms. The Wilde family isn't just in danger of losing their dream, but their lives.

Casting is currently underway for Good Neighbors, so in deference to that, I'm not going to mention anyone who is actually attached, or whom we may eventually approach. I'm not allowed until it's officially announced. So, that's why, if anybody reads this, and is actually considering being a part of Good Neighbors, or is already attached, that your name is not mentioned here.

I don't think about actors, or directors, or translating my work to film as I'm writing. But it's fun to think about afterward. Any translation to film inherently changes the material, and I think it's important to go with that-- to trust and enjoy what others bring to your work.


You and Dead to Me have extraordinarily tricky tones, and their director, Silver Tree, manages to pull them off, so I'd love to see her take on Good Neighbors, which is both funny and dark, horrific and and uplifting, real and surreal.

For similar reasons, I'd love to see David Lynch's take, and Karyn Kusama's (The Invitation).

I've been told my whole career that my work reads like a David Lynch film, and I'm finally starting to see it.

Writers --

I'd love to see what Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott, or Patricia Highsmith had to bring to an adaptation.


Toni Colette, Charlize Theron, Lisa Kudrow, Thandie Newton, Rosie Perez, and Jamie Lee Curtis would all make amazing Rhea Schroeders. They'd have to be mean, smart, a little crazy, and totally sympathetic in the face of extremely unsympathetic behavior. It's not an easy feat.

Evan Rachel Wood, Amanda Seyfried, Kerry Washington, and Rooney Mara would all make great Gertie Wildes-- they need to be vulnerable and tender-- wounded-- but have a hidden strength.

Gary Oldman, Tom Hulce, Tim Meadows, Dennis Haysbert would make a great Fritz Schroeder, I think. They have to be cold, but devoted, and conflict-averse. I feel like all these guys could bring something to that.

Arlo Wilde-- I'm a Tom Hardy fan, so let's start there. Also, Donald Glover, Adam Driver, Rupert Grint, and Freddie Prinze Jr. They have to be very rough around the edges, sexy, bad-tempered and suspicious-seeming, but also incredibly decent people.

I love Anna Paquin as nosy Mrs. Ottomanelli, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Fred Atlas, and Robert Pattinson as Peter Benchley.

The kids-- I dunno! They're 13! I don't know anything about 13-year-old actors!
Visit Sarah Langan's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Keeper.

My Book, The Movie: The Missing.

The Page 69 Test: Good Neighbors.

--Marshal Zeringue