Sunday, December 26, 2021

William Boyle's "Shoot the Moonlight Out"

William Boyle is from Brooklyn, New York. He’s the author of five novels: Gravesend, which was nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in France and shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in the UK; The Lonely Witness, which was nominated for the Hammett Prize and the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière; A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself, an Amazon Best Book in 2019 and winner of the Prix Transfuge du meilleur polar étranger in France; City of Margins, a Washington Post Best Thriller and Mystery Book of 2020; and, most recently, Shoot the Moonlight Out. All are available from Pegasus Crime. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

Here Boyle dreamcasts an adaptation of Shoot the Moonlight Out:
My new novel, Shoot the Moonlight Out, is an ensemble crime drama set in southern Brooklyn in the summer of 2001 (with a prologue set five years before that). The book revolves around five main characters: Jack Cornacchia, a widower doling out vigilante justice in the neighborhood, who becomes a shell of a man after losing his daughter in a tragic accident; Lily Murphy, who returns to the neighborhood after four years at college, a writer who feels lost and out of place and is searching for connection, which she finds teaching a community writing class in the basement of her childhood church; Francesca Clarke, who just graduated high school and dreams of being a filmmaker, and whose life changes when she meets Bobby Santovasco, an aimless, self-sabotaging neighborhood slacker with ghosts in his closet; and Charlie French, a low-level mob wannabe who crosses paths with all of these characters in unexpected ways. If they make the book into a film, here's who I'd like to play the lead roles:

Jack Cornacchia: Joe Manganiello

Lily Murphy: Sophia Lillis

Francesca Clarke: Amandla Stenberg

Bobby Santovasco: Michael Gandolfini

Charlie French: Jon Bernthal

Directors I have in mind: Alan Rudolph's one of my heroes, and I think this book is indebted to his influence; his underseen, underrated film Ray Meets Helen had an impact on the hopeful and romantic heart of the book. Lorene Scafaria is a director I really admire, and I'd love to see what she would do with something like this. Abel Ferrara is another one of my artistic heroes, and his influence is stamped all over the book--he hasn't made a New York movie in a while, but it'd be pretty damn cool. The coolest long shot of all would be Hong Sang-soo, whose work inspires me so much.
Visit William Boyle's website.

Q&A with William Boyle.

The Page 69 Test: Shoot the Moonlight Out.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 17, 2021

Eliza Nellums's "The Bone Cay"

Raised in the Detroit suburbs, Eliza Nellums now lives with her cat in Washington DC.

Her debut novel is All That's Bright and Gone.

Here Nellums dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Bone Cay:
It's funny, I don't always imagine my characters as actors but for some reason I did have a lot of thoughts about the cast of The Bone Cay. There actually was a movie set in a hurricane a few years back, Crawl, that I actually watched as I was working on revisions to make sure I didn't re-use any important plot points. Crawl is about killer alligators so we managed to avoid much duplication, as it turns out.

There are four main characters in my book: Magda Trudell is our main character, who chooses not to evacuate from a deadly hurricane. She's the 40-year-old caretaker of a historic estate in Key West. For Magda I picture someone like Andie MacDowell or Sela Ward, although they are both older than Magda (on film I assume a middle aged woman would have to be played by someone 50-60 to get the effect!); I think they could both display a resolute character with a lot of passion. The next character is Magda's ex-fiance Bryce Delgado, a Keys native who tries to discourage her from staying. For Bryce, I'd pick Daniel Gonzalo Pino, who I first saw on Cold Case - he frequently plays a detective on cop shows, but maybe he'd like a more romantic part? I don't know, let's ask him. Finally, Hank McGrath and his daughter Emily, both show up later in the storm and become important characters in the second half. For Hank maybe I'd pick Leonardo DiCaprio the way he looks today - not shining young Leo, but older Leo who has seen a few things. Hank is a handyman and charter boat operator and often clashes with Magda on the best way to proceed in the storm. For Emily, who is 15-16, I'd pick Kathryn Love Newton, who I first saw in Supernatural and then in the horror film Freaky. She's great with nuance and it's an important character to get right. C'mon Hollywood, call me babe - I've got lots of ideas!
Visit Eliza Nellums's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Bone Cay.

Q&A with Eliza Nellums.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 13, 2021

Meghan Holloway's "Hiding Place"

Meghan Holloway found her first Nancy Drew mystery in a sun-dappled attic at the age of eight and subsequently fell in love with the grip and tautness of a well-told mystery. She flew an airplane before she learned how to drive a car, did her undergrad work in Creative Writing in the sweltering south, and finished a Masters of Library and Information Science in the blustery north. She spent a summer and fall in Maine picking peaches and apples, traveled the world for a few years, and did a stint fighting crime in the records section of a police department.

Here Holloway dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest thriller, Hiding Place:
I never have a model or actor in mind for a character as I am writing. The characters reveal themselves to me as fully evolved, entirely unique individuals, not based on any specific person. It is not simply a matter of looks that captures a character. The strength of the actor, the range of emotions they are able to portray, the actors’ presence on the screen balancing the parallel of the character on the page… I gave the subject of starring roles for Hiding Place some consideration before I came up with my answer.

I wrote Hector more in the vein of an antihero than a hero. He lived a hard life from the time he was a boy, and he is a cold, driven man. The only gentling influences in his life are Frank, his dog, and Maggie, his wife’s closest friend. He is obsessed with uncovering the truth of what happened to his wife and daughter fifteen years ago. The man he believed responsible for their disappearance is dead, and the trail has once again grown cold. Until he finds a long-hidden message from the past. Although he is a bit younger than the character, I think Josh Brolin could pull off the stern, weathered, distant character of Hector.

Faye is such a damaged character. She comes from a background of privilege and extreme wealth, but she has never quite fit in anywhere. She is an observer by nature, someone who stands back and watches and cannot quite grasp the art of human interaction. Whenever I am watching Léa Seydoux in a film, the word that comes to mind most often when I study her expression is “lost.” She has such a haunting quality to her. That amalgamation of vulnerability, melancholy, and hidden ferocity would make her a perfect Faye.

Sam, much like Faye, comes into the story with these terrible internal wounds you discover as their story unfolds. Although he is a nonverbal character, he plays a pivotal role. The child actor Bentley Storteboom would portray Sam well.

Grant is a layered antagonist who does not quite fit into the labels “good” or “bad.” His ranch sprawls over four hundred fifty thousand acres, and he is known the world over for his horses, both the ones he breeds and trains and the wild herds that roam his back-country after he rescues them from the Bureau of Land Management’s slaughter pens. He’s a man of great wealth, influence, and secrets. And he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep those secrets buried. I would love to see Brad Pitt play this morally gray character.

If you’ve read Hiding Place, tell me what you think of my choices for these leading roles. Who would you cast to portray Hector, Faye, Sam, and Grant?
Visit Meghan Holloway's website, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Page 69 Test: Hiding Place.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Lucy Burdette's "Unsafe Haven"

Lucy Burdette is the author of the popular Key West Food Critic mystery series. Her alter-ego, clinical psychologist Roberta Isleib, has also published eight mysteries including the golf lover’s mystery series and the advice column mysteries.

Here Burdette dreamcasts an adaptation of her first novel of suspense, Unsafe Haven:
I am super excited about the launch of Unsafe Haven, my first thriller after 19 cozy-ish mysteries. This was a bonus book that I had about given up on when my agent sold it to Severn House. The publisher designed a wonderful cover, and the book tells a great story (she said modestly.) Here’s what accomplished thriller writer Hank Phillippi Ryan (USA Today bestselling author of Her Perfect Life) had to say about it:
Devastating, heartbreaking and completely immersive. This riveting story of fear and redemption, motherhood and second chances, and our responsibility to strangers is a powerful thriller proving one split-second decision can change our lives forever. Unsafe Haven has Hollywood written all over it!
And that started me thinking: What if it really was made into a TV show or a movie? Of all the books I've written, Unsafe Haven is probably the story most suited for that. I know that producers are looking for either the next squid games or something suitable for the Hallmark Channel. On the other hand, the popular and well-reviewed Mare of Eastown was a fabulous short series with troubled characters in a blue-collar setting who are full of heart. Ditto for the recent mini-series Maid. That’s the lane I can imagine Unsafe Haven traveling in as well.

Here’s a logline for the book: After giving birth in a subway bathroom and thrusting her newborn into a newly jilted bride’s arms, a teenage runaway teams up with that stranger to save herself and her baby from the ruthless sex trafficker in pursuit.

Addy is a teenager, small and fragile-looking and dark-haired. Elizabeth is a bit more solid, in her twenties, with blonde curls and blue eyes. Detective Jack Meigs (originally from the advice column mysteries) is in his fifties, with reddish curls tinged with gray. He’s gruff and intimidating on the outside, but tender underneath, reeling from his own kind of pain as a recent widower trying to handle his bereaved stepdaughter. Here’s who I might cast:

Angourie Rice from Mare as Addy. She turned in an amazing performance as Mare’s daughter and I know she’d be brilliant in Unsafe Haven.

Nicole Kidman must appear as Georgia—she’d be the perfect combination of welcoming on the outside and evil within.

Michael Kitchen from Foyle's War—he’s a bit older than Detective Meigs in the books, but is otherwise perfect—all those amazing facial grimaces. And he knows how to play a character dealing with loss.

Maybe Lily Collins of Emily in Paris fame for Elizabeth?

Molly Smith Metzler, Brad Inglesby, Stacy Sher—this mini-series is waiting for you to develop and direct!
Visit Lucy Burdette's website, Twitter perch, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 3, 2021

Melissa Payne's "The Night of Many Endings"

Melissa Payne is the bestselling, award-winning author of The Secrets of Lost Stones and Memories in the Drift. For as long as she can remember, Payne has been telling stories in one form or another—from high school newspaper articles to a graduate thesis to blogging about marriage and motherhood. But she first learned the real importance of storytelling when she worked for a residential and day treatment center for abused and neglected children. There she wrote speeches and letters to raise funds for the children. The truth in those stories was piercing and painful and written to invoke a call to action in the reader: to give, to help, to make a difference. Payne’s love of writing and sharing stories in all forms has endured. She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with her husband and three children, a friendly mutt, a very loud cat, and the occasional bear.

Here Payne dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Night of Many Endings:
The Night of Many Endings is told from the perspectives of three characters. There’s Nora, the librarian, who is consumed by her brother’s addiction. Her life revolves around his ups and downs, his successes and failures. Marlene, an elderly woman who makes assumptions about people she doesn’t know and uses her sharp words to push people away. And Lewis, a man experiencing homelessness and addiction, who believes that everyone he loves is better off without him. I loved the challenge of writing all three of these characters, even if at times I struggled to relate to a decision they made or how they treated one another. But it reminded me of what their journeys were all about. We can’t truly understand another person until we learn their story first. The storm, the dark, and being stranded forces each of them to listen and learn from each other. But when the storm ends, will their lives have changed?

Sometimes when I write, I automatically have a picture in my head of who would play a character. After all, while I’m writing, my characters are as real to me as my family and friends. This book was no different and it was fun to pair a famous face with the characters. So here goes. For Nora, I’d cast America Ferrera. I adored her in Ugly Betty and think she would bring the right balance of fierce devotion, internal grief, and loving care for others. For Marlene, I think Jean Smart would be perfect. She’s got just the right sardonic wit and underlying kindness that makes Marlene both unlikeable and loveable. Finally, I’d cast Jeff Bridges as Lewis because he has the perfect grit and the kind of gruff exterior that I envisioned when I wrote him.
Visit Melissa Payne's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Melissa Payne & Max.

Q&A with Melissa Payne.

The Page 69 Test: The Night of Many Endings.

--Marshal Zeringue