Sunday, August 15, 2021

Joanna Schaffhausen's "Gone for Good"

Joanna Schaffhausen wields a mean scalpel, skills she developed in her years studying neuroscience. She has a doctorate in psychology, which reflects her long-standing interest in the brain―how it develops and the many ways it can go wrong. Previously, she worked as a scientific editor in the field of drug development. Prior to that, she was an editorial producer for ABC News, writing for programs such as World News Tonight, Good Morning America, and 20/20. She lives in the Boston area with her husband, daughter, and an obstreperous basset hound named Winston.

Schaffhausen's new novel is Gone for Good.

Here the author, with a little help from her friends, dreamcasts an adaptation of the new novel:
Okay, confession time: I am terrible at remembering names of actors so I do not cast my books while I’m writing them. I put this casting question for Gone for Good to my beta group, which is full of people way hipper than I am. The first suggestion came from my husband, who said, “Steve Buscemi should play every role.” I confess I would 100% watch this. It doesn’t seem realistic, though, so here are some other ideas from our group brainstorming session.

We like Daniela Ruah from NCIS: Los Angeles to play the lead role of Detective Annalisa Vega. Ruah would bring immediate crime-fighting gravitas. Also, she’s the right age and shares Vega’s Portuguese background. Vega’s required to do a wide range of emotions in the book, juggling a tough case, a complicated family life, and two potential romantic interests. Ruah has the nuance to handle them all.

For Vega’s ex-husband and current police partner, Nick Carelli, we like Joe Mangeniello. Nick is a charming, good-looking Italian guy who would prefer to talk his way out of trouble than fire his gun, and Mangeniello has the magnetism to pull off the role.

The other major voice in the book is Grace Harper, whom we learn about from her journal entries as she tracks the mysterious Lovelorn Killer. A grocery store manager by day, in her off-hours Grace is a member of the “Grave Diggers” amateur sleuthing group. Grace decided to take on the Lovelorn case, about a serial killer who went dormant twenty years earlier. She ends up dead in the same fashion as his victims, leading Vega and Carelli to wonder if she had indeed found the killer. We like Allison Tolman for Grace, as she as the wit and smarts, as well as the “everywoman” vibe, needed to carry off wise-cracking, shrewd Grace.

Annalisa and Nick are backed up on the case by Lynn Zimmer, a female Black captain who is near retirement. Zimmer’s nickname is “The Hammer” and she has to bring it down on Annalisa a couple of times during the investigation. We like Aisha Tyler for the role of Zimmer, who is tough-minded but fair. Tyler has the presence to command authority.

Rounding out the group are Grace Harper’s fellow amateur sleuths in the “Grave Diggers” group. For Grace’s female BFF, Molly Lipinski, we like Elle King for her spunk. For Chris Colburn, the hipster IT guy, we pick Liam Hemsworth. For Jared Barnes, the former military policeman who is now in a wheelchair, we nominate Jason Segel. Finally, for the retired school teacher and history expert, Oliver Benton, we would love to see Laurence Fishburne, who has an air of both intelligence and kindness.
Visit Joanna Schaffhausen's website.

Q&A with Joanna Schaffhausen.

--Marshal Zeringue