Monday, November 1, 2021

Steph Mullin & Nicole Mabry's "The Family Tree"

Steph Mullin is a creative director and Nicole Mabry works in the photography department for a television network. They met as co-workers in New York City in 2012, discovering a shared passion for writing and true crime. After Mullin relocated to Charlotte, NC in 2018, they continued to collaborate. Separated by five states, they spend hours scheming via FaceTime and editing in real time on Google Docs. The Family Tree is the duo’s first crime novel.

Here the authors dreamcast an adaptation of the new novel:
The Family Tree centers around Liz Catalano who finds out from a 23andMe kit that she’s adopted. But during her journey to find her biological family, the FBI get a familial hit on her DNA to the notorious Tri-State Killer, who’s been abducting and murdering pairs of women for over 40 years. When the FBI show up on Liz’s doorstep and inform her she’s related to a serial killer, she must now decide if it’s safe to continue getting to know the few biological relatives she’s already tracked down or if she’s walking into the den of a killer. Nicole works in television and both Steph and Nicole come from visual backgrounds, so when we were writing The Family Tree, we both saw it as a movie in our heads. The idea of casting our novel was exciting for us. Because of how complex the story is, we have several lead characters beyond Liz. Andie, who is Liz’s cousin and roommate, Cris and Rosie, who are Liz’s biological great Aunt and Uncle who she was able to track down, and Mickey, the bartender at the bar next to Liz and Andie’s apartment in Greenpoint Brooklyn, who becomes Liz’s sounding board during her struggles in re-discovering her self-identity. For these characters, here is who we’d see playing the roles.

Liz Catalano: Selena Gomez. Liz finds out from her test that she’s not Italian, like the rest of her adoptive family, but is actually mostly Mexican. Selena would play a fantastic Liz, hunting down the serial killer lurking in her family tree and trying to find out who she really is.

Andie Catalano: Leighton Meister. For some reason, Nicole had Leighton playing Andie in her head the entire time she wrote. Andie is quick-witted, full of energy with a sarcastic, fun personality which plays off nicely with Liz’s more reserved demeanor. And Leighton would be excellent at providing the much-needed levity she gives in the book.

Cristian Domino: Joe Mantegna. Nicole was bingeing Criminal Minds while writing The Family Tree, so David Rossi really inspired parts of Cris’ personality and looks. Cris is a very quiet man, deliberate with his words, but also has an awkwardness about him. Joe Mantegna could give some great depth to Cris on the screen.

Rosie Dominio: Rita Moreno. Rosie is such a nurturing, comforting mother figure in the novel. She shows her love through making delicious meals for her husband and Liz. Rita would not only give an authentic Latina performance but would also undoubtedly capture Rosie’s personality perfectly.

Mickey: Nico Tortorella. While writing we could not put our finger on who would play Mickey. He’s a sexy, tattooed bartender who bonds with Liz over devastating family secrets they both had to endure. But after bingeing the last season of Younger, it was clear that Nico was a great choice. Not only do his looks perfectly capture Mickey, but we feel confident he could really bring out the sensitive and understanding nature Mickey offers to Liz.
Visit the authors' website.

The Page 69 Test: The Family Tree.

--Marshal Zeringue