Monday, June 28, 2021

Heather Levy's "Walking Through Needles"

Heather Levy is a born and bred Oklahoman and graduate of Oklahoma City University's Red Earth MFA program for creative writing. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including NAILED Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, and Dragon Poet Review. She authored a nonfiction series on human sexuality, including “Welcome to the Dungeon: BDSM in the Bible Belt,” for Literati Press.

Here Levy dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Walking Through Needles:
When I was writing Walking Through Needles, I wasn’t thinking of any particular actors but rather a blending of several faces, so it I had a lot of fun coming up my dream cast. First, a little book background:

Walking Through Needles centers around Sam Mayfair and her stepbrother Eric Walker, who become inseparable as teens until Sam, a budding masochist, suffers abuse by someone close to her and a traumatic event causes them to spin-off on different paths. Fifteen years later, both Sam and Eric learn that Sam’s abuser was murdered and Eric is the prime suspect. Both want to keep horrifying secrets of their past hidden from investigators as Sam tries to exonerate Eric.

Sam Mayfair was by far the hardest character to cast since she’s strong yet vulnerable, closed off, stubborn, and unapologetic about her sexuality. After seeing Daisy Edgar-Jones in Normal People, I knew she was my perfect Sam. The actor also easily transitioned from playing a teen to an adult, which is handy since the timeline switches from 1994 to 2009.

With Eric Walker, I knew right away that Nick Robinson of The Teacher would be excellent. Long before Eric meets Sam, he’s experienced traumas he carries with him into adulthood. Although he’s haunted by these horrible experiences, he’s still open and vulnerable with his heart in a way Sam isn’t at the beginning of the novel.

Isaac Walker, Eric’s volatile yet charming father, was trickier to cast. Although I haven’t watched Sons of Anarchy, I’ve seen enough of Charlie Hunnam from clips to know he could easily pull off Isaac’s complicated character.

Grandma Haylin is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written because I didn’t really grow up with a close relationship to my own grandparents, so I wrote the one I would’ve wanted. She’s fiercely protective of her family, a straight talker, and will give you extra homemade cookies in your lunchbox. I’ve always loved Jean Smart, and she killed as the lead’s mother in Mare of Easttown, so I knew she was my Grandma Haylin.

For Sam’s mother and Grandma Haylin’s daughter, Jeri Anne, I needed someone who could pull off a woman who’s been hurt before in love and might rush into a relationship with the first man who shows her attention. She also has to be someone who would prefer to look the other way if it meant getting hurt again, and Laura Linney fit the bill.

Vickie Lang is a mess of a person who places her only daughter in horrific situations, but she’s also manipulative and smart when it comes to getting what she wants. I could see Jamie Pressly doing a great job with the role.

After seeing her in Sex Education, I knew Emma Mackey could play Meredith Lang, daughter of Vickie and someone who was once close to Eric when they were younger and thrown into a bad situation together. Like Sam, Meredith has tried to move past her own traumas the best that she can, but the murder investigation pulls her in against her will.

Lastly, I see Bill Pullman of The Sinner as my quick-eyed Detective Eastman, the lead investigator of the murder and the bane of Eric’s existence.
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--Marshal Zeringue