Thursday, June 24, 2021

Julia Buckley's "Death on the Night of Lost Lizards"

Julia Buckley has loved reading and writing since childhood. She is still a sucker for a great story, and, like any bibliophile, she loves libraries, Scholastic Book Fairs, the smell of ink, pads and pens, typewriters, and books you can't put down. She lives in a Chicago suburb with her husband Jeff; she has two grown sons and a beautiful daughter-in-law.

Here Buckley dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Death on the Night of Lost Lizards:
Death on the Night of Lost Lizards is the third book in my Hungarian Tea House series; it debuted at the beginning of this month. The series follows the life of Hana Keller, a Hungarian-American woman who helps to run Maggie’s Tea House, named for her mother Magdalena, her colleague along with her grandmother, Juliana. The tea house has become the setting for a great deal of conflict and drama over three books, starting with a murder during a tea party. This dire event brought Detective Erik Wolf into the tea house. Himself the son of an immigrant, Wolf is fascinated from the start by the three tea house ladies and their unusual insight. The series blends Hungarian folklore and culture, art of all kinds, and a touch of the psychic in a traditionally cozy setting.

Casting roles for a movie version of the book would be a daunting task. I see my characters in my head, but only in a rather amorphous way, and to give them detailed features would be like committing to a permanent relationship. However, for the fun of the assignment, I have plucked some faces out of the vast array of talented people who could play my characters (although I’ve traveled in time to hire some of them).

Hana is known for her lovely red-brown hair, an autumnal and striking shade. The absolute perfect casting for her would be a young Mariska Hargitay. A half-Hungarian herself, Mariska in her twenties had the perfect look to be Hana. She has the glamour of Jayne Mansfield (her actual mother) and the traditionally Hungarian look of many of my own relatives. An understory for the role might be the young Joanna Garcia, who came to fame on Reba as a blonde woman, but later appeared in roles with red hair. I always admired her sweetness and sense of humor.

For the role of Detective Erik Wolf, who must blend a sense of integrity, shrewdness, introversion, and a real devotion to both his career and Hana herself, I would cast Joel Kinnaman. His performances in both The Killing and Hanna convinced me of his talent, and as a man from the Nordic region (Sweden, not Norway), he has the proper look for Wolf.

Hana’s best friend Katie, cheerful and ebullient, would be played by Annie Murphy, the delightfully wacky Alexis on Schitt’s Creek. I would darken her hair slightly to match the chocolate tones of Katie’s hair.

Hana’s protective brother Domonkos would look like a young Tony Curtis (another half-Hungarian), and his girlfriend Margie, who is said to look like Grace Kelly, would of course be played by Grace Kelly.

I am drawing a blank for Hana’s mother and grandmother; I think that I would want to draw from a cast of Hungarian actors to get the look right, at least for her mother and grandmother, who are both Hungarian natives.

Maggie’s dad, another quietly devoted man, would be played by a young John Mahoney, whose face always had a gentleness that I admired. He is on the small list of my brushes with fame, as I ran into him once in an Illinois Jewel.
Learn more about the book and author at Julia Buckley's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Big Chili.

My Book, The Movie: A Dark and Twisting Path.

--Marshal Zeringue