Friday, December 30, 2022

Julie E. Czerneda's "To Each This World"

Having written twenty-three novels (and counting) published by her beloved DAW Books and Hugo-winning editor Sheila E. Gilbert, as well as numerous short stories, and editing several anthologies over the past 25 years, Julie E. Czerneda was inducted in the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2022. Czerneda’s works combine her training and love of biology with a boundless curiosity and optimism. The recently released Imaginings is her first short story collection.

Here Czerneda dreamcasts an adaptation of her new standalone science fiction novel, To Each This World:
To Each This World is a story I approached from the start with film in mind. Not in the sense of “here’s my book, it’d make a great movie” (Though that would be lovely and if you think so please contact my agent.), but by paying attention to what I enjoyed on film and television. The grit and reality of in The Expanse. The pacing and heart of Free Guy. The intensity of I am Mother.

Of course, thinking that way got me in trouble because I decided to start writing in the midst of a giant action scene with a crash landing in a dangerous alien jungle, and—it wasn’t me. I like to set up the world and characters before things get big and boom. Show where they came from before they go places. That beginning is now a chapter near the end, to show you how skewed blockbuster thinking got me. Phew! (Though if a movie maker likes that beginning I’d understand.)

Each is a big concept, far future, what if we reconnected with long-lost settlements on other worlds story, with a race against time to save everyone from a mysterious alien threat—or close neighbour, misunderstanding being another theme. Because the canvas is huge and sweeping, in time and space, I chose to tell it through three intimate viewpoints: Killian, the Human pilot of the alien Portal; Beth, a Human explorer on one of those lost settled worlds; and Henry, New Earth’s Arbiter and person in charge, who travels with the aliens and Killian to save everyone—if he can.

Casting those three? I came up with suggestions for Paul Semel’s interview earlier this year and can’t say I’ve changed my mind. For Killian: Gina Torres, who played Zoë in Firefly. Bold, capable, complex. Her physicality. For Henry: Robert Aramayo. His Elrond (Rings of Power) is a negotiator and I’m enjoying his deft little touches in every scene. Jodie Foster as Beth: She clearly can do anything, but I especially love the roles where she’s incredibly tough, and smart, while showing wonder and curiosity—and that’s Beth.

But…I do have a confession to make and it’s the first time I’ve told anyone but my partner Roger this, although Henry wearing a suit and sandals is me giving a deliberate clue.

Before writing Each, I rewatched The Mentalist. Simon Baker played Patrick Jane, a character I realized had a great deal in common with Henry. Not the tragic past—Henry didn’t go through anything worse than arguing with politicians on occasion—but Jane’s cleverness and creativity. His ability to manipulate situations based on his understanding of people. The anguish Baker portrayed powerfully when he had no good choices. Those helped me refine Henry.

Would I cast Simon Baker in my movie? It may surprise you, but no. I’m afraid that would blur Henry into Jane and they aren’t the same character. It does make me happy to finally reveal one of my sources of inspiration. My thanks to the actor and the show’s writers for seasons of enjoyment. You just never know who’s watching, do you?
Visit Julie E. Czerneda's website.

Q&A with Julie E. Czerneda.

The Page 69 Test: To Each This World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Shirley Russak Wachtel's "A Castle in Brooklyn"

Shirley Russak Wachtel is the author of the short story collection Three For A Dollar, the book of poetry, In The Mellow Light, and several books for children. Her short stories and poems have appeared in various literary journals. A daughter of Holocaust survivors, Wachtel was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She holds a doctor of letters degree from Drew University and for the past thirty years has taught English literature at Middlesex College in Edison, New Jersey. The mother of three grown sons and grandmother to two precocious granddaughters, she currently resides in East Brunswick, New Jersey, with her husband, Arthur.

Wachtel applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, A Castle in Brooklyn, and reported the following:
A Castle in Brooklyn is a story about family and friendship. It is also a story which conveys the importance of home, taking us through the dream of establishing a home in a new land, and how the home remains a symbol of all of its inhabitants’ aspirations. Jacob survives a heart-wrenching trauma at the hands of the Nazis, and ultimately escapes from Europe to begin a new life in America. His lifelong dream is to build a home, a dream which he accomplishes with the help of his friend, Zalman, someone who was by his side during his daring escape. Esther, a young immigrant from Poland, gives up her own dreams of a career in real estate when she becomes his wife and, along with Zalman, the three live together in their “castle” in Brooklyn. But when an unexpected tragedy occurs, Jacob’s friendship with Zalman is put at risk, and so is his marriage.

While I do not write a novel with casting in mind, it is fun to consider which actors might be best suited to play the central characters in my book. I believe Benedict Cumberbatch might be well-suited to play Jacob. Cumberbatch’s roles which include The Power of the Dog and The Imitation Game, reveal his ability to play characters who are determined to fulfill a goal, yet haunted by a mysterious past. Jacob is a reticent, but determined, character who is haunted by memories of family, so I think this actor would ably fit the role.

Natalie Portman is someone who has shined in her roles in Black Swan, Jackie, and as a super-hero in Thor. She would make a worthy Esther because, like other characters Portman has portrayed, Esther is someone who seems to play a subservient role at first, but later becomes a strong, independent woman who overcomes the worst of tragedies.

Zalman is Jacob’s faithful, hard-working companion who abandons a former life to be at Jacob’s side. Secretly, he is tormented by feelings he cannot understand, and is forced to make a difficult decision. Mark Ruffalo is a good choice for this role as in I Know This Much is True and The Kids are All Right, he portrays loyal individuals who must come to terms with their emotions. Physically, his stature resembles the way I imagine Zalman.

Florrie is a character I have much affection for. She is a good-humored next-door-neighbor who becomes a lifelong friend to Esther, seeing her through the hopeful and dire times. Minnie Driver has shown her capacity in a wide range of roles including Good Will Hunting and Circle of Friends. She would bring joy and compassion to the role of Florrie.

Finally, if I could choose a director for the movie version of my book, it would be Charlie Wachtel. Charlie Wachtel is currently working on his first project as a director, and in 2019 won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlackKklansman. Charlie would make the perfect director for my novel since he has a deep understanding of my characters and would make a film that will resonate with viewers. Also, Charlie is my son!
Visit Shirley Wachtel's website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: A Castle in Brooklyn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 26, 2022

Elle Grawl's "One of Those Faces"

Elle Grawl is a lawyer by day and writer by night. After obtaining her B.A. in English Literature, she took a detour into law before returning to her love of writing.

Her lifelong interest in true crime and experiences as an attorney have provided her with plenty of writing material. Grawl enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and their two dogs.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, One of Those Faces:
One of Those Faces is a psychological thriller that follows a young freelance artist in Chicago who discovers that a recent murder victim bears a striking resemblance to her.

While I was writing, I visualized the story playing out like a movie but I didn’t really think about which actors lined up with my mental images until after I finished the manuscript.

Harper: Harper is the troubled freelance artist at the heart of my novel.

Shortly after finishing my manuscript, I stumbled upon the movie Earthquake Bird. In this film, Alicia Vikander struck me as a great candidate to play Harper, the lead in my novel. Vikander really portrays a complex, insecure character that’s navigating interpersonal conflict while also dealing with her past traumas. I also think Nell Free from The Servant would be a great fit for the same reason. Both actresses portray their characters with this quiet intensity that comes across as very vulnerable due to their warped sense of identity and background. Visually, they also have similar features to Harper.

Iann: Iann is the attractive stranger that enters Harper’s life in the beginning of the novel. He’s a grad student and bartends part-time to make ends meet in downtown Chicago.

My first choice was Steven Yeun from Burning. I’ve been a fan of Yeun’s other roles, but in Burning he showed that he’s right at home in suspense/thrillers. However, I recently saw some clips from White Lotus Season 2 and Will Sharpe (who plays Ethan) would be a perfect Iann as well.

Erin: Erin is Harper’s best friend/rival. She’s beautiful, volatile, and superficially charming. Sydney Sweeney does a great job of playing gorgeous, alluring women who are at least mildly unhinged.

Detective Wilder: Michael Fassbender is not only insanely talented in any role, but he has the rugged, world-weary scowl that I always pictured on Wilder’s face.

Danny: Danny is a man from Harper’s past. He knows things about her that other characters aren’t privy to, yet he has the ability to put her at ease with his easygoing demeanor. Garrett Hedlund is my pick to play Danny in the movie, mostly because he has a boyishly handsome look and has previously played characters who have a knack for witty banter.
Visit Elle Grawl's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Elle Grawl & Olive and Truffle.

--Marhsal Zeringue

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Christiane M. Andrews's "Wolfish"

Christiane M. Andrews grew up in rural New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine and still calls northern New England home. Her debut novel, Spindlefish and Stars, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, and Booklist, and was named a Kirkus Best Book of 2020 and a Booklist Editors’ Choice for 2020. A longtime writing and literature instructor, Andrews lives with her husband and son and a small clutch of animals on an old New Hampshire hilltop farm.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Wolfish:
Wolfish, a very loose reimagining of the Romulus and Remus myth, centers on four key characters: a rising boy-king who receives a troubling prophecy; Alba, a young oracle-apprentice who, despite her best intentions, gives the king this prophecy; and the twins the king abandons in the wilderness in an attempt to escape his foretold fate. While one twin, a girl, is rescued by shepherds who name her Rae and raise her as their own, the boy is left to nature. Nursed by a she-wolf, re-stitched by insects, he becomes a wolf himself, and it is years before the twins—as girl and wolf—find each other again. When the king learns the twins have lived, he sets out in search of them, and as his hunt grows ever more desperate and cruel, Rae and the wolf must unite with Alba to try to stop his terrible reign.

While much of Wolfish is set in a realistic ancient world, it does incorporate some fantastical natural elements—in particular, the aforementioned mysterious stitching insects and the boy bound into wolf. Though I don’t envision actors or directors or cinematic elements as I write, I think David Lowery’s The Green Knight, in which the fantastical arises out of lushly filmed nature that highlights beauty and depth and mystery, is an excellent model. (This is visible to some extent in his Pete’s Dragon as well.) Guillermo del Toro’s films, too, that present the magical within the human world (The Shape of Water or Pan’s Labyrinth, for example) could be another possible direction, as could Bong Joon-ho’s Okja.

Actors are more challenging, especially since the characters in Wolfish age almost a decade and a half over the course of the novel—some going from infants to teens, others from teens to adults. So I will cheat a little and name a director who I believe works brilliantly with children and whom I would trust implicitly in casting the roles for Wolfish: Alice Rohrwacher. In Happy as Lazzaro (Felice Lazzaro) and, especially, The Wonders (Le meraviglie), Rohrwacher captures stunning performances from her young actors. (Someone like Alexandra Lungu, who in The Wonders plays a girl so immersed in the natural world she is comfortable holding bees in her mouth, would, in fact, make an excellent Rae.) Lazzaro additionally demonstrates Rohrwacher’s ability to portray character change over years, and both films skillfully highlight the tension between nature and civilization—an important conflict in Wolfish.
Visit Christiane M. Andrews's website.

My Book, The Movie: Spindlefish and Stars.

Q&A with Christiane M. Andrews.

The Page 69 Test: Wolfish.

Writers Read: Christiane M. Andrews.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 19, 2022

Denise Crittendon's "Where it Rains in Color"

Before making the big leap into the world of sci-fi & fantasy, Denise Crittendon held a string of journalism jobs. In addition to being a staff writer for The Detroit News and The Kansas City Star, she was editor-in-chief of the NAACP’s national magazine, The Crisis. Later, she became founding editor of a Michigan-based lifestyle publication for black families. After self-publishing two manuals that empower youth, “Girl in the Mirror, A Teen’s Guide to Self-Awareness” and “Life is a Party That Comes with Exams,” she entered the new-age healing movement as a motivational speaker for teens. These days, she fulfills ghostwriting assignments for clients and writes speculative fiction on the side. Crittendon divides her time between Spring Valley, Nevada and her hometown, Detroit, Mich.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Where it Rains in Color, her debut novel:
After writing Where It Rains In Color, I couldn’t help but daydream about certain scenes and images appearing on the big screen.

The novel is picturesque and takes place on an idyllic world that’s actually bathed in fluttering, neon vapors. Tourists from across the galaxy flock to this vacation spot to get drenched in its brilliant mists, marvel at its high-tech underground city and gawk at Lileala who’s the Rare Indigo and considered the most beautiful woman in the galaxy.

That is until a surprise challenge shakes up Lileala’s life and transforms the entire planet.

Throughout it all, the colorful scenes and African culture put me in mind of an enchanting movie where the actors and actresses are dressed in elaborate garments by award-winning costume designer Ruth Carter (best known for the striking regalia in Black Panther and Coming 2 America).

Since the characters are descendants of Africa, if the book were adapted into a film, I’d love to see Lileala portrayed by an ebony actress like Lupita Nyongo or the Sudanese supermodel, Nyakim Gatwech (often called Queen of the Dark). When I finished my first draft of the novel, I began googling very dark black actresses and models. Nyakim mirrors Lileala, but there are also many other dark beauties who could be showcased as Lileala or members of her court.

As for Lileala’s bff, Zizi, I see the singer/performer Janelle Monae. It’s okay that she has a lighter skin tone than Lileala. On Swazembi, her mildly bronzed complexion would be labeled “Tawny Dramatic,” which is also held in high regard. Janelle would be ideal because she’s smart and sassy, like Zizi, and tends to explore Afrofuturistic concepts in her music and videos.

For the eccentric clairvoyant known as Cherry, I picture Whoopi Goldberg or Viola Davis. Sterling Brown of Black Panther fame could play Lileala’s dad, Pineal Crew chief, Kwesi, and Forest Whitaker would be ideal as the planet’s high order clairvoyant.

It would be great to see Ghanaian model, Philomena Kwao as the beloved Ahonotay and Denzel Washington’s son, John Washington, cast as Brian, a good friend Lileala meets while living on an asteroid. Meanwhile, Zendaya would be excellent as the biracial character, Martore. I’m on the fence about who would best be suited to play Lileala’s fiancé, Otto, possibly Hill Harper or maybe an unknown/ up-and-coming actor. For minor characters, Blair Underwood and Vanessa Bell Calloway (from the original Coming to America) are on my wish list to portray The Nobility – the royal rulers of Swazembi.
Visit Denise Crittendon's website.

Q&A with Denise Crittendon.

The Page 69 Test: Where it Rains in Color.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Lorna Landvik's "Last Circle of Love"

Lorna Landvik's novels include the bestselling Patty Jane’s House of Curl, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, and Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes).

Also an actor and playwright, Landvik has performed on numerous stages. A recent DNA test determined she’s 95 percent Norwegian and 5 percent wild.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Last Circle of Love:
I'm a big movie fan (although I'm getting tired of all these movies about super heroes who fly, become invisible, can scale skyscrapers, etc. -- when did Hollywood forget the real super heroes are regular people who figure out how to be/how to love/how to flourish in this world?).

If Last Circle of Love were made into a movie, its cast would be women who should be on screen more, but whose age (wrongfully) limits their roles. It'd be great to see Jane Fonda as Velda, the physically agile 80-year-old whose mind and world-view are becoming more supple as well. Sally Field could wonderfully play innocent, ebullient Edie and for Marlys, I think Reba McIntyre would nail the part. Christine Lahti could play a chic, ironic Bunny and Charlene, the youngest, but most uptight circle member, could be played by Naomi Watts.

Pastor Pete (Mallory Peterson) is a forward-thinking minister in her mid-thirties -- Blake Lively? Scarlett Johannson? For her friend, LeAnn -- Jessica Biel, Gal Gadot?

Godfrey is the in-recovery church custodian -- I could see a bearded, bedraggled Ryan Gosling. For Tad, the quirky choir director -- Daniel Radcliffe. LaVerne Cox would make a perfect Jolie. I think Brad Pitt would have a lot of fun playing Charlie, but as it's a much smaller part, I can't see him climbing aboard. (Although never say never...)

And psst -- any producer/casting director -- I'd be fabulous in any minor -- or what the hay, major -- role.
Visit Lorna Landvik's website.

My Book, The Movie: Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes).

The Page 69 Test: Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes).

The Page 69 Test: Last Circle of Love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 12, 2022

Kitty Zeldis's "The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights"

Kitty Zeldis is the pseudonym for a novelist and non-fiction writer of books for adults and children. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY.

Here she dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of her new novel, The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights:
Since The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights takes place in the 1920’s and earlier, I like to imagine it filmed in black and white or perhaps a soft, sepia tone, giving it the look of old photographs arranged in an album.

I would love to see Cate Blanchett play the role of the main character, Beatrice Carr. Bea is Russian (her name was Yevgenia) but when her father is murdered and his tannery burned to the ground, she is forced to leave her homeland to escape the the virulent anti-Semitism that threatens her too. She goes to New Orleans, where she becomes a nursemaid in a wealthy family; soon she finds herself pregnant and loses both her job and her home. Desperate and alone, she seeks refuge in the District, the notorious area of New Orleans where prostitution is legal and eventually she becomes a highly successful madam. Life has been cruel to her and she’s had to develop a hard shell to survive. Yet beneath that exterior, something tender still resides. I see in Blanchett a steely elegance and reserve that matches Bea’s, but also a vulnerability and gentleness that are Bea’s as well.
Visit Kitty Zeldis's website.

My Book, The Movie: Not Our Kind.

Coffee with a Canine: Kitty Zeldis & Dottie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Zachary Daniel's "Manifest Destiny"

Zachary Daniel is Midwest native raised in Germantown, Wisconsin. Now residing in Salem, Oregon he enjoys sports, travel, boating, family, friends and drink.

He graduated University of Wisconsin La-Crosse with a degree in Nuclear Medicine. Not too long after, he transitioned to finance and started Digital Edge Wealth Management.

Here Daniel dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of his new novel, Manifest Destiny:
The lead role would go to Edward Norton. An actor with a wide range and many projects under his belt, but this role would be most akin to his part in Fight Club. The look of a middle age white guy. A slight social disconnect to his perception of self and how those around him perceive him. A troubled and haunted individual who deals with his past in unhealthy ways.

Norton could pull off the role so well because the lead would require an actor to play a complex emotional range needed to bring the character to life. A life where the main character holds onto past traumas that cloud his judgment. Is estranged from his family and struggles to reconnect. Has anger buried deep, but can put on a happy façade at times. Is both impulsive, and dangerous if paths are crossed wrong. Sometimes awkward and sometimes cruel, there is always an element when he's on screen that you don't know what he might do because he is capable of anything. When the novel is made into a movie, I hope he plays it.
Visit Zach Daniel's website.

The Page 69 Test: Manifest Destiny.

Q&A with Zachary Daniel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Alex Kenna's "What Meets the Eye"

Alex Kenna is a lawyer, writer, and amateur painter based in Los Angeles.

Before law school, Kenna studied painting and art history at Penn. She also worked as a freelance art critic and culture writer. Originally from Washington DC, Kenna lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and giant schnauzer, Zelda. When she’s not writing Kenna can be found nerding out in art museums, exploring flea markets, and playing string instruments badly.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, What Meets the Eye:
I was addicted to film and TV thrillers long before I started writing crime fiction. That’s probably why I always pictured my book, What Meets the Eye, as a movie.

The story follows Kate Myles, a struggling PI, who lost her family and police career after an accident damaged her back and led to an opiate addiction. Struggling to pay the bills, Kate reluctantly agrees to investigate the suspected suicide of Margot Starling, a beautiful and famous painter. Along the way, Kate seeks help from her former LAPD partner, Luke Delgado, with whom she shares an unspoken attraction. The book also uses a series of flashbacks to trace Margot’s rise in the art world.

I’ve been casting the story since the first draft of the first chapter. Here are a few of my fantasy picks.

Kate: From the beginning, I’ve pictured Kate as Jessie Buckley. Buckley can do literally anything, is naturally likeable in an intelligent, adult way, and is blessed with an incredibly expressive face. In the book, Kate is struggling to regain custody of her seven-year-old daughter, who she only sees on weekends. Buckley was brilliant in The Lost Daughter as a loving, but deeply flawed, mother. She also carried a slow-burn mystery in The Woman in White. Buckley excels at playing understated characters who don’t try to draw attention to themselves. In her hands, even the most quiet, introverted women become magnetic through the sheer force of her talent and charisma.

Margot: Like many great visual artists, Margot is not neurotypical. She struggles with bipolar disorder and has experienced significant trauma. Jennifer Lawrence (a writer can dream, right?) would be perfect for Margot. In Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence starred as a young, mentally ill widow, who falls in love with a man suffering from bipolar disorder. She brought an incredible amount of nuance and sensitivity to the part. Lawrence could convey Margot’s passion, talent, and pain without turning her into a caricature.

Luke: For Luke Delgado, Kate’s LAPD love interest, I’d have to pick the dynamic Pedro Pascal, who was great as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones. Luke is a manly guy, with a broken nose he never bothered to fix, and a fierce loyalty to the people he cares about. Pascal already convincingly played a rugged law enforcement officer in Narcos. And of course, he happens to be sexy, which doesn’t hurt.

John: Adding to Kate’s troubles are her hostile interactions with her ex-husband, John. John and Kate were fundamentally incompatible and share a mutual resentment. Initially brought together by physical chemistry, they were trapped in a bad marriage after Kate fell pregnant. I envisioned John as having a mild case of OCD and Kate a flaming case of ADHD. John’s the guy who makes his bed every morning with hospital corners. Kate’s the woman who leaves the oven on and has to go back to the grocery store because she forgot the milk. Now she has to keep him happy to obtain visits from her daughter, while John condescends to her and spits out insults. For John, I would love to cast Dev Patel. Patel is an incredible actor who could play any part, and he always seems to radiate kindness. Just for variety, I’d love to see him as a low-grade jerk. He has the nuance to show John as someone who is flawed, but not a one-note monster. And his good looks could help explain why Kate initially fell for John.
Visit Alex Kenna's website.

Q&A with Alex Kenna.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Sharon Dempsey's "The Midnight Killing"

Sharon Dempsey is a PhD candidate at Queen’s University, exploring class and gender in crime fiction. She was a journalist and health writer before turning to writing crime fiction and has written for a variety of publications and newspapers, including the Irish Times. Dempsey also facilitates creative writing classes for people affected by cancer and other health challenges.

Here Dempsey dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Midnight Killing:
The Midnight Killing is a murder mystery that deals with toxic friendships and long held secrets that refuse to stay buried. A murder, staged as suicide, draws my investigators Forensic Psychologist, Rose Lainey, and Detective Inspector, Danny Stowe, to investigate the cold case of a missing child. The story opens with a crime scene: James McCallum, thirty-five-year-old architect, found hanged in the grounds of his former school, Osbourne College in Belfast. There’s some suspicion as to whether or not it is suicide since there has been no suicide note left as such, but an old friend, Lorcan Burns, contacts the police saying he had a missed call from the victim, and a text message saying: ‘I’m really sorry but I can’t keep going. The reckoning is coming.’

When Rose and Danny dig into James’ life, they discover encrypted files on his computer all about a missing child, Maeve Lunn, in the Donegal town of Mistle.

Emer, Ivy, Lorcan, James were best friends at school and have kept in touch over the years. The remaining three gather to mourn their friend and find themselves drawn back to the past and a secret they have held tight for nearly two decades.

When I write I do visualise the scenes and write as close to a cinematic style as possible without losing the interiority and integrity of a novel. I love story in every format so it’s tempting to think about how my book would look on the screen. The beautiful settings of Northern Ireland and even the city of Belfast, lend themselves to heightened drama so that would be another huge motivator to see it transferred into a screenplay. As for dream casting, I would love to see either Colin Morgan or Jamie Dornan play Danny Stowe. They both have the right look (handsome beyond!) and the perfect build to carry it off, plus they have that emotional intelligence that I hope my character of Danny conveys. And as for Rose, well, actor Valene Kane would be at the top of my wish list. I think she’s mesmerising on screen and has that quiet intelligence and steeliness that suggests you can’t mess with her!
Visit Sharon Dempsey's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Larrie D. Ferreiro's "Churchill's American Arsenal"

Larrie D. Ferreiro is an engineer, historian and the author of several award-winning books in history, science and technology, and was the 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist in history for his book Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It. He teaches at George Mason University in Virginia and Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey.

Here Ferreiro shares some ideas for adapating his new book, Churchill's American Arsenal: The Partnership Behind the Innovations that Won World War Two, for the screen:
Churchill’s American Arsenal would work well as a miniseries streaming on Amazon, Apple TV+ or Netflix, alongside other WWII epics such as Masters of the Air and Band of Brothers.

Churchill’s American Arsenal describes how British and American combat scientists and engineers, working both across the Atlantic and side by side, invented and brought to the front lines the weapons and innovations that won World War Two. The book is constructed around Churchill’s post-Dunkirk speech, each chapter describing how these inventions played key roles in various parts of the European campaign: fight in the air, fight on the seas and oceans, fight on the beaches….

Each episode of the miniseries would be character-driven, with the focus on the American and British combat scientists who were equally home in the laboratory and on the war front – not only building and testing the latest inventions (radars, fighters, tanks….) but also demonstrating them in battle alongside the foot soldiers and deckplate sailors. An international cast would bring the personal stories of these real-life combat scientists into vivid detail.

Think of The Imitation Game meets Saving Private Ryan, serialize it, and you have Churchill’s American Arsenal – the miniseries.
Learn more about Churchill's American Arsenal at the Oxford University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Brothers at Arms.

The Page 99 Test: Brothers at Arms.

The Page 99 Test: Churchill's American Arsenal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 11, 2022

D. M. Rowell's "Never Name the Dead"

Like her protagonist Mud, D.M. Rowell (Koyh Mi O Boy Dah) comes from a long line of Kiowa Storytellers. After a thirty-two-year career spinning stories for Silicon Valley startups and corporations with a few escapes creating award-winning independent documentaries, Rowell started a new chapter writing mysteries that share information about her Plains Indian tribe, the Kiowas.

Here the author shares some insights on an adaptation of her new novel, Never Name the Dead:
As I wrote Never Name the Dead, I did think of the book becoming a movie one day. But since I never imagined my book would be published, I thought it would be me producing the feature film and submitting it to film festivals. I’ve produced independent documentaries in the past, and had always wanted to create a feature film. My book seemed the perfect vehicle.

My novel is a brisk mystery, all taking place in less than twenty-four hours. I like the fast pace of the book and would want that energy in the movie.The adventure starts with Silicon Valley professional Mae Sawpole receiving a call for help from her traditional Kiowa grandfather. The call sends Mae on an unexpected spiritual quest as she returns to her childhood home in the former Kiowa, Comanche, Apache Reservation area of Oklahoma. There she’s called Mud, a childhood nickname that stuck. Upon Mud’s arrival, she finds her grandfather missing, a precious Kiowa artifact stolen, illegal fracking and a body. Mud faces angry tribal members, old enemies, wildcat frackers and a charging buffalo in her hunt for a murderer.

While I envisioned Never Name the Dead as a movie, I never put a face or name to the ideal actors to play the different characters. I always saw Mud as a Kiowa or other Native actor, not the faces I typically saw on screen. If I produced the movie, I planned to reach out to locals in the Oklahoma area to find the right Mud and Denny.

While I didn’t have a specific actor in mind, I knew the spirit I wanted for Mud. The type of actress I want to see play Mud would be similar to Zendaya’s portrayal of MJ in the Spiderman movies. MJ is an independent and strong multiracial woman. She projects quiet strength and confidence. These are characteristics I want to come across in the portrayal of Mud, while also showing the character as a bit of a klutz that can easily laugh at herself. Mud can do amazing things one moment and fall over her tangled feet the next.
Visit D. M. Rowell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Emily J. Edwards's "Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man"

Emily Edwards earned her degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and took the long road to becoming an author, working for over a decade as a wine and spirits journalist, radio producer, and creator of the podcast, F*ckbois of Literature. She currently resides in Connecticut with her husband, and several quadrupeds.

Here Edwards dreamcasts her new novel, Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man:
The best part about writing a detective story during the 1950s is getting to immerse your main characters into one of the most interesting and tumultuous times of American media. Daydreaming about my characters on the silver screen was as natural as having those same characters talk about Humphrey Bogart taking a turn in The Maltese Falcon.

Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man is a mid-century, Private Investigator murder mystery. Viviana is the Girl Friday to New York City’s best P.I., Tommy Fortuna. One day, they gain a new client, the industrialist Tallmadge Blackstone, who has asked Tommy to trail his young daughter, Tallulah. The next day, a body shows up in Tommy’s office, and Tommy is M.I.A. Viviana takes on the cases in an effort to keep the police from pinning the murder on her boss.

When I was writing, it was most important for me to imagine not who was going to play my leading lady, Viviana Valentine, but who was going to play the supporting cast. While Viv was very hard to #DreamCast for a film version (but you’ll see who I chose eventually!), the supporting characters were not.

First and foremost, I knew that the character of Tommy Fortuna, Viv’s boss, best friend, and private investigator, had to have that effortless cool and a rugged masculinity, but more than anything, he believes in Viviana and her capabilities. I needed someone who had his own identity and sure looked good in a suit, but would watch Viviana work with a smile on his face and awe in my heart– but also be able to deliver a one-liner without flinching. In my mind, Dustin Milligan, better known as Ted from Schitt's Creek, made an excellent Tommy Fortuna.

Secondly, I had to cast one of Tommy’s clients, a mean sonofab**** who has oodles of money and looked like he was up to no good. His name is Tallmadge Blackstone and at one point in the novel, he looks very large and menacing. Now, most actors are not that large (I lived in LA for 15 years and at 5’10”, I towered over most celebrities I saw on the street!), but without a doubt the perfect casting is Joe Manganiello, best known from True Blood. That’s a man who is built like a brick wall and could command a room!

Tallmadge Blackstone’s daughter, Tallulah, plays an essential role in the story, and there’s no one who could be her better than Barbie Ferreira from Euphoria. Tally is a fresh 18 years old, spoiled rotten, but knows exactly how people view her and what people want from her. She’s a curvaceous beauty who is frequently trapped by gossip magazine photographers and would be eaten alive by the public if she wasn’t such a force of nature by inclination.

And now, we get to the main character, Viviana Valentine. Viv is defined by her sense of humor, her ability to let things roll off her like water on a duck’s back. She gets internally frustrated but always has a comeback ready on her lips. She’s not a glamorous girl, like Tallulah, but charms the socks off people without thinking twice. I love her so much, and I cannot imagine anyone playing her but: Kaitlyn Dever, the breakout comedian from Booksmart.

Collectively, I feel like this casting best captures the essence of Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man. The book is a comedy in its head and detective story in its heart. I hope this helps readers better visualize the action of the novel!
Visit Emily J. Edwards's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Debra Bokur's "The Lava Witch"

Debra Bokur is the author of The Dark Paradise Mysteries series from Kensington. She’s traveled the world as a writer, journalist and staff editor for various national media outlets, with more than 2,000 print pieces carrying her byline to date. Her work has garnered multiple awards, including a 2015 Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism. For more than a decade, she served as the poetry editor at a national literary journal, and her poetry and short fiction have been widely published. Among her favorite writing credits are a series of original literary essays commissioned by the Celestial Seasonings tea company that appeared on the artfully illustrated boxes of ten separate tea flavors. She continues to travel in her capacity as the Global Researcher and Writer for the Association for Safe International Road Travel, and as a monthly columnist for Global Traveler magazine.

Here Bokur dreamcasts an adaptation of The Lava Witch, the third Dark Paradise mystery:
The Lava Witch has a slightly larger cast of characters than the first two books in the Dark Paradise Mystery series, and it wasn’t easy to narrow down some of my imaginary casting choices.

That said, I’d love to see the character of Charlie Holmes played by young actor Jace Norman, who appeared in Nickelodeon’s popular show Henry Danger; or possibly by Tanner Buchanan, who showed range and potential in the political thriller Designated Survivor.

For Maya Holmes, actress Isabella Gomez (of the Netflix series One Day at a Time) would be my choice. And Don Cheadle is hands-down my pick for Dr. Davos O’Connor. Cheadle has performed in more films than there’s room here to list, and I’ve admired every one of his performances. And, since this venue allows my dreamcasting to be as fabulous as I’d like, I’m going to pretend that he’s read The Lava Witch and we’ve already had lunch so he could tell me in person his take on the role.

For scientist Byron Coolidge, actor Jason Ralph—who starred in the series The Magicians and who also had a recurring role in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—would be excellent. Robert Sheehan (Umbrella Academy, Misfits) is a natural for the part of Vance Sousa, while either actress Liana Liberato or Maisie Williams would no doubt do a great job as Gloria Marsh.

Jody Phillips could be played by Jaime Ray Newman (Veronica Mars, Bones, Eureka, The Time Traveler’s Wife) or by Lauren Lapkus (Big Bang Theory, Orange Is the New Black). I’d round out my casting with Maggie Q (The Divergent Series) as Officer Jennifer Kama, and either Charlie Plummer or Lucas Hedges as Trey Carter.
Visit Debra Bokur's website.

Q&A with Debra Bokur.

My Book, The Movie: The Fire Thief.

My Book, The Movie: The Bone Field.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Briana Una McGuckin's "On Good Authority"

Briana Una McGuckin lives in a charmingly strange old house in Connecticut. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Connecticut State University and an MLS from Long Island University. Among other places, her work appears in the Bram Stoker Award–nominated horror anthology Not All Monsters, the modern Gothic horror anthology In Somnio, and The Lost Librarian’s Grave anthology. McGuckin has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, a perhaps concerningly large collection of perfume oils, and a fascination with all things Victorian.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, On Good Authority:
On Good Authority is a Victorian Gothic/Romantic Suspense story in which a lady’s maid called Marian Osley must teach a terrible master the difference between servitude and surrender—and confront her dark desire for the footman, Valentine Hobbs, along the way.

I don’t generally cast people in my head as I’m writing, but when the book was done I did happen to see an image on my Google home screen of Timothée Chalamet attending some event in connection with Little Women. He was in a dark vest and white shirt, and I had to do a double-take. I may have said, out loud to no one, “Valentine Hobbs?”

Since, in conversation about who would play the leads in my dreams, I said I would put Anya Taylor-Joy in the role of Marian. When I added that Chalamet would make a good Valentine, the person I was speaking with said I was describing a “sort of Tim Burton Gothic.” And that’s exactly right, I think. I would want it to be darkly beautiful like that, and rich, in the vein of Sweeney Todd.

I could also see it handled as a dark fairytale by Guillermo del Toro. I loved The Shape of Water, and I think there are similarities in the themes, the misunderstood love story and the way that what is truly evil hides behind the guise of normalcy, what we’ve been trained to see as right and virtuous.

There’s Mr. and Mrs. Bornholdt, master and mistress of the manor house, to cast as well—both of them running hot and cold, but never at the same time or for the same reasons. I think Emily Blunt would be a fantastic Mrs. Bornholdt, because she has the range, going from severe and strict but also to a place of secret warmth, sometimes.

As for the master and villain, Mr. Bornholdt, I’d be really excited to see Dacre Montgomery’s take on it because, well: Mr. Bornholdt may be a monster, but he is an attractive one, and he knows it. He leverages his conventional beauty to his advantage, to ensnare people. I think that’s important to the story, to that way in which real danger can hide behind what’s pretty, as I was saying about The Shape of Water. Montgomery really brought a magnetism to Billy in Stranger Things which would be good for the villain here, too.
Visit Briana Una McGuckin's website.

Q&A with Briana Una McGuckin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Roger A. Canaff's "City Dark"

Roger A. Canaff is a former special victims prosecutor and author of crime thrillers including Bleed Through, second in the ADA Alex Greco series and the 2020 IBPA Benjamin Franklin silver award winner for Mystery and Thriller.

Here Canaff dreamcasts an adaptation of his newest novel, City Dark:
City Dark is a legal and psychological thriller set in 2017 New York City, but also tracks the night of the NYC blackout in July of 1977. The protagonist, Joe DeSantos, was abandoned by his mother on that night, leaving him and his older brother Robbie to navigate the city to safety. 40 years later as the story begins, Joe is a brilliant and hard-charging prosecutor but with a terrible drinking problem. He finds himself accused of two brutal murders (including his disappeared mother) and due to alcoholic blackouts has no memory of the nights of the murders. The book tracks both the mystery of Joe’s current situation and the terrible night from his childhood that may be reaching back for him in the present day.

I have envisioned George Clooney to play Joe DeSantos, mostly because Clooney brilliantly played an attorney in a desperate situation in Michael Clayton. Clooney is about the right age, has a similar gestalt, and has a deep, confident voice I imagine would be perfect for Joe. More than any contemporary actor I can think of, Clooney seems to possess the streetwise, city-hardened, but still boyish and charming aura that I think would be perfect for an on-screen adaptation of my protagonist.

Another important character is Aideen Bradigan, a former colleague of Joe’s who takes his case as a defense attorney and struggles to unravel the mysteries of both past and present along with him. For this role I would love to see Kate Winslet. Winslet’s performance in HBO’s Mare of Eastown, where Winslet, a British actor, nevertheless melted perfectly into a Philly-area detective right down to the flawless accent, was genius. Bradigan’s character is Irish-American, she is a cop’s widow, and she is tough, smart and stoic. I think Winslet would nail the character and bring out the best of her onscreen.

Finally, I’d love to see Ben Mendelsohn as Robbie DeSantos, Joe’s haunted, destructive and tragic older brother. Mendelsohn’s brilliant performance in the Netflix series Bloodline as the troubled, black sheep bother Danny Rayburn is primarily why, but I have seen Mendelsohn in several other roles and he is always incredibly natural and compelling.
Visit Roger A. Canaff's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Danielle Binks's "The Year the Maps Changed"

Danielle Binks is an author and literary agent from Melbourne, Australia. The Year the Maps Changed was her debut novel and has been shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award and was a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book. She has since written her first young adult novel, The Monster of Her Age, and has edited and contributed to Begin, End, Begin, an anthology of new Australian young adult writing, which won an Australian Book Industry Award.

Here Binks dreamcasts an adaptation of The Year the Maps Changed:
Since my book is Middle Grade and there's a lot of kid-characters, I'd love to do an open-casting call and find some new talent. It still boggles that they did that for To Kill a Mockingbird and found *the* Scout in Mary Badham! As for Luca, Fred's father - I have this idea that he is very much Eric Bana. Hands down. I think the fact that Eric Bana's father is Croatian means he'd also have a lot of background knowledge about the unrest in Eastern Europe during the 80s and 90s, and the Kosovo War conflict borne out of the dissolving of the former Yugoslavia. That background I think would really open the role up for him, even as he's playing the local police officer of the small Australian town where Kosovar Albanian refugees arrive - I think he'd bring some critical empathy underlying to the character.

And as for directors? I could go a very Hollywood hype model and say I'd love the Duffer Brothers to bring some Stranger Things magic to the big-screen, but I'd much prefer to keep an Australian perspective, so my dream would be Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland (she did the Black Widow movie, and one of my favourite indie films in Somersault - so I think she'd tow a good line between cinematic and thoughtful, and I think she'd be a wonderful creator for young actors to work with especially.) I would trust that Shortland would bring dynamism to the weighty female roles within especially; young Fred learning that the world stretches beyond her back door, Anika her almost-stepmother who is not at all trope-fueled but rather complex and dealing with her own grief, and Nora - the Kosovar Albanian refugee, who is a pregnant mother when her homeland is thrown into turmoil and she's sent far away.
Visit Danielle Binks's website.

Q&A with Danielle Binks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Jason Mosberg's "My Dirty California"

Jason Mosberg lives in Los Angeles where he works as a novelist, screenwriter, and TV creator.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, My Dirty California:
I've definitely thought about the prospect of My Dirty California getting turned into a movie or a TV show. I actually wrote the pilot script before I wrote the novel. I work in Los Angeles as a screenwriter and TV creator. I decided to turn My Dirty California into a novel when the pandemic started.

I'd love to see My Dirty California get made as a limited series. It would be too difficult to make it as a movie. I've thought about actors and even have some actors reading the book as we speak! I can't say who my first choices are because this will live on the web forever and I don't want actors who eventually play the parts to read this and feel like they were my second choice.

So to make it interesting, I'll pick actors who are older or dead. I think River Phoenix would have made a great Marty, a twentysomething drifter who gets killed but lives on through the book via hundreds of video log entries he left behind. I think a young Robert Redford would make a great Jody, the character who's looking into his brother Marty's death. The character of Penelope is a thirtysomething woman who is looking for proof we're living in a simulation. I love casting comedic actors in dramatic roles. (Vince Gilligan is the master at this.) I think Mary Tyler Moore in her 30s would have been a fantastic Pen. The character of Tiph has been described as a young, pulpy, Black, female version of Indiana Jones. I think a young Pam Grier would be excellent.

Hopefully one day soon, you'll see who my dream cast is!
Visit Jason Mosberg's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Marcie R. Rendon's "Sinister Graves"

Marcie Rendon is an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation, a Pinckley Prize-winning author, playwright, poet, freelance writer, and a community arts activist. Rendon was awarded the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award for 2020. She is a speaker on Native issues, leadership, and writing. The second novel in her Cash Blackbear mystery series, Girl Gone Missing, was nominated for the Sue Grafton Memorial Award. Rendon was recognized as a 50 over 50 Change-maker by Minneapolis AARP and Pollen in 2018.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Sinister Graves, the third Cash Blackbear mystery:
Cash Blackbear is a vulnerable, yet tough-as-nails, resilient 19-year-old Ojibwe woman who has aged out of foster care in northern Minnesota. She lives on her own, works as a farm-laborer driving tractor and beet trucks while attending college; thanks to a push from her friend and mentor, Sheriff Wheaton. When not working, or shooting pool, or going to school, she helps Wheaton solve crimes that occur all to frequently in the isolation of rural farm and reservation country.

Readers love Cash and the number one comment I get, after being told she needs to quit drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, is that Cash needs her own TV series or movie. I can imagine Paulina Alexis, of Willie Jack fame from the hit Hulu series Reservation Dogs, being cast as Cash. If Julia Garner of Ozark fame were Native, she would also make a great Cash Blackbear. Gary Farmer, also seen in Reservation Dogs, would make a believable Sheriff Wheaton. However, if Dallas Goldtooth would agree to a serious character depiction he might be more age appropriate to play Wheaton.

Cash Blackbear appeared over my right shoulder as I was working on what I thought was goig to be a chicklit novel. Cash, young Ojibwe woman with long dark hair past her waist, shook her head, said, ‘no, no, no’ and proceeded to tell stories through me that have become the Cash Blackbear series. Just as I visualize her, her story begs to put on screen.
Visit Marcie R. Rendon's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sinister Graves.

Q&A with Marcie R. Rendon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Tasha Alexander's "Secrets of the Nile"

Tasha Alexander is the author of the New York Times bestselling Lady Emily mystery series.

The daughter of two philosophy professors, she studied English Literature and Medieval History at the University of Notre Dame. She and her husband, novelist Andrew Grant, live on a ranch in southeastern Wyoming.

Here Alexander dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Secrets of the Nile, the 16th Lady Emily mystery:
When I’m writing—or reading, for that matter—I rarely picture actors as characters in the book. I suppose it’s because I’m more verbal than visual, which isn’t to say that I don’t have images of them in my head. It’s just that they’re truly imagined rather than based on actual people, and I often leave the descriptions of them vague, so that readers can come up with their own ideas of what they look like.

Even so, it’s deliciously fun to think about casting actors as my characters. If Secrets of the Nile became a movie, Jennifer Lawrence would make a fantastic Emily. Readers have told me for years they’d love to see Henry Cavill play Colin. Kenneth Branagh would be the perfect Lord Deeley and Thomasin McKenzie a great Kat. For Colin’s mother, I picture Judi Dench.
Visit Tasha Alexander's website.

Q&A with Tasha Alexander.

Writers Read: Tasha Alexander.

The Page 69 Test: Secrets of the Nile.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Karen Odden's "Under a Veiled Moon"

Karen Odden earned her Ph.D. in English from New York University and subsequently taught literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays to numerous books and journals, written introductions for Victorian novels in the Barnes & Noble classics series, and edited for the journal Victorian Literature and Culture. Her previous novels, also set in 1870s London, have won awards for historical fiction and mystery.

Here Odden dreamcasts an adaption of her new novel, Under a Veiled Moon, her second Inspector Corravan Mystery:
Inspector Michael Corravan is 31 years old, nearly six feet tall and fourteen stone, with dark hair and Irish blue eyes. A former thief, bare-knuckles boxer, and dockworker from seedy Whitechapel, he’s quick with his fists and his knife, and he came out of Whitechapel understanding that being strong, decisive, and a rescuer kept him alive. These are all excellent traits for a Scotland Yard Inspector. But as Corravan’s love interest Belinda Gale explains, a little empathy and vulnerability, a memory of what it was like to be powerless and furious in the face of unyielding and abusive power such as he experienced on the London docks, will make Corravan a better policeman. For Michael Corravan, I’d love a young Hugh Jackman, with a mix of self-reliance and passion for fair play that he creates for the role of Drover in Baz Luhrman’s Australia.

My heroine, Belinda Gale, is a playwright and novelist, who once made a promise to her father, on his deathbed, that she would thoroughly vet anyone before she married. She is poised (most definitely not “spunky”), intelligent, well-mannered and well-connected, with a house in Belgravia where she holds weekly soirées. She provides the EQ to Corravan’s street smarts, and she is not afraid to tell him when he is steering into dark waters. I’d love Emma Watson for this part, or perhaps a younger Jennifer Connelly. (I’m thinking of her performance in A Beautiful Mind, which was spot on.)

Corravan’s superior, Sir Howard C. E. Vincent, the new director of Scotland Yard, is (like Corravan) in his early 30s, the second son of a baronet, a former newspaperman, well-heeled and well-educated. In the aftermath of a scandal involving four Yard inspectors who were convicted of taking bribes from con men, Vincent was brought in to sweep the Yard clean of corruption, which he did, despite never having served in uniform or solved a case. (Needless to say, his appointment initially didn’t go over so well with the Yard men who’d come up through the tough uniformed divisions like Lambeth.) Fair-haired Vincent can appear a bit stiff and proper, with his emotions tucked away, but he is deeply ethical and truly wants to make the Yard the best it can be. Dan Stevens (Matthew, Downton Abbey) might be a good fit for him.
Visit Karen Odden's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Karen Odden and Rosy.

My Book, The Movie: A Lady in the Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Dangerous Duet.

Q&A with Karen Odden.

My Book, The Movie: Down a Dark River..

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Christine Wells's "One Woman’s War"

Christine Wells writes historical fiction featuring strong, fascinating women. From early childhood, she drank in her father’s tales about the real kings and queens behind popular nursery rhymes and she has been a keen student of history ever since. She began her first novel while working as a corporate lawyer, and has gone on to write about periods ranging from Georgian England to post World War II France. Wells is passionate about helping other writers learn the craft and business of writing fiction and enjoys mentoring and teaching workshops whenever her schedule permits. She loves dogs, running, the beach and fossicking for antiques and lives with her family in Brisbane, Australia.

Here Wells dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, One Woman’s War:
One Woman’s War is about a young woman called Paddy Bennett, who inspired the character of Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond novels, and her involvement in a World War II intelligence operation known as “Operation Mincemeat”.

For the main character, Paddy Bennett, I envisage someone like Jenna Coleman, who gave a stellar performance in The Cry, although she is better known for her role in Victoria.

For the part of Ian Fleming, I thought Johnny Flynn was perfect in that role in the movie Operation Mincemeat. I am not sure I could do better.

For Friedl Gärtner, the Austrian double agent who puts Operation Mincemeat in jeopardy, I would choose someone blonde, glamorous, intelligent and sexy. Maybe Birgitte Hjort Sørensen or Nicole Kidman.
Visit Christine Wells's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Alli Frank & Asha Youmans's "Never Meant to Meet You"

Alli Frank and Asha Youmans met working on an admissions team together at a private school in Seattle, Washington. Between the two of them they have over forty years of experience in schools and more fodder for novels than they will ever have time to write. Their first book, Tiny Imperfections was optioned by Regina King’s production company and Netflix, but then, well, Covid.

Their second novel, Never Meant to Meet You, out October 1, 2022, is currently in the hands of their fabulous agents at APA, hoping to find a team and a home that will want to adapt the book to screen.

Here the authors dreamcast an adaptation of the new novel:
When we are supposed to be writing but are brain dead, we often indulge our Hollywood fantasies and cast our imaginary friends and families from our books. With a big deadline due to our editor for our third book coming out in 2023, we happily set aside our laptops to finalize how we would cast Never Meant to Meet You for My Book, The Movie blog. Maybe, someday, a real casting agent (not just the one in our dreams) will take our input to heart!

Marjette Lewis – Regina Hall. We just have a feeling Regina Hall can do nosy neighbor with a heaping side of loveable right.

Darius Lewis – Jaden Michael. Perfect mix of a teenager who looks like he would be true to his mama but start pushing boundaries to assert his own independence.

Booker Lewis – Jamie Foxx. Sexy Ex, who, try as you might, you just can’t hate. That would be Jamie Foxx.

Noa Abrams – Leslie Mann. We need a funny, emotionally raw WASPY looking female actor who, if you squint, could maybe look Jewish, maybe.

Max Kopelman – Andy Samberg. Hot Jewish baker? Say no more. Andy was our easiest person to cast.

Judy Oliphant – Alfre Woodard. We have not seen a lot of Alfre recently, but we know she does a strong, opinionated Black woman like none other. We would like to see her again. In our screen adaptation!

Rachel Ellis – Christina Applegate. Have you seen Christina in Dead to Me? No question that she is the one to play the rich, bitch single mom. The true definition of a cougar on the prowl in her daughter’s kindergarten class.
Learn more about Alli Frank and Asha Youmans at the Alli + Asha website and on IG/FB/Twitter: @alliandasha.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Kathleen George's "Mirth"

Kathleen George lives in Pittsburgh where she teaches theatre and writing at the University of Pittsburgh. Her new novel, Mirth, is her 15th book. It’s the third of her 20th century histories in which she tries to capture a whole lifetime.

Mirth should appeal to a general audience but will be of special interest to writers, constant readers, and those who are widowed.

George is also the author of the acclaimed novels Taken, Fallen, Afterimage, The Odds (nominated for an Edgar® award for best novel by the Mystery Writers of America), Hideout, Simple, and A Measure of Blood. All seven of these titles are part of her procedural thrillers set in Pittsburgh.

Here George dreamcasts an adaptation of Mirth:
One reason I would love to see a movie of Mirth is that I could fall in love with ... yes, three actors who play the role. Could it be two? Possibly. But there is a sixty year timeline and three phases of life--youth, middle age, old age. Alas, the timeline will get in the way of the movie's actually being made. But wouldn't it be lovely? I can't cast the whole thing because even though I study actors all the time, I don't have an immediate name for the current Albert Finney type as middle aged man or Peter O'Toole as a gorgeous older man. But I can say James Norton (from the early Grantchester episodes) could be a great young Harrison. All three of the actors I've named have a laugh behind the eyes and a playful wicked charm.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathleen George's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Blues Walked In.

Writers Read: Kathleen George (September 2022).

The Page 69 Test: Mirth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Christopher Swann's "Never Go Home"

Christopher Swann is a novelist and high school English teacher. A graduate of Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, he earned his Ph.D. in creative writing from Georgia State University. He has been a Townsend Prize finalist, longlisted for the Southern Book Prize, and a winner of the Georgia Author of the Year award. He lives with his wife and two sons in Atlanta, where he is the English department chair at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.

Here Swann dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Never Go Home:
Never Go Home is the story of Susannah “Suzie” Faulkner, the survivor of a home invasion that leaves her orphaned when she is ten and her brother Ethan is thirteen. Ethan grows up a bit closed off in his personal life, protective of his privacy and his history, but otherwise he seems to have a good life—he has a house, a dog, and a job he loves as a teacher. Suzie, by contrast, is angry and vengeful, and as a teenager decides she is going to hunt down and kill the man who shot her parents. In my first Faulkner family thriller, Suzie finally confronts that man. That situation resolved, Suzie now has to figure out what to do with the rest of her life, with a skill set that includes skip tracing, firearms, and martial arts. At the start of Never Go Home, she is working to find a missing teenage girl, but when her brother reaches out to her, she flies home to Atlanta to find her uncle in the hospital and a dangerous figure from her father’s past lurking in the shadows, threatening what family she has left.

I tend to write scenes you can visualize fairly easily, so I love the idea of Never Go Home as a movie. Or a miniseries on a streaming service. I’m not picky.

Suzie is a glorious hot mess of a character who struggles with her mental stability and reacts quickly and violently to any perceived injustice or cruelty. She is extremely smart but impulsive, fierce and flawed. She is also sexually fluid, attracted to both men and women. Any actor would need to capture all those traits along with her general quirkiness and occasional active ignorance of social norms. Florence Pugh with dark hair would be a fantastic Suzie. Hailee Steinfeld would be a close second, although Pugh seems like she could more easily pull off Suzie’s darker side.

Suzie’s Uncle Gavin, an Atlanta underworld figure, is from Ireland, and he looms large in Suzie’s life as her guardian after the deaths of her parents. Colin Farrell is a bit young but has the range to play Gavin’s cold and tender sides. Brendan Gleeson might be perfect, though—he has that cantankerous look down pat, and while he can be warm, he can easily summon up flashes of menace.

Suzie’s friend Caesar? Avery Brooks forty years ago. Mike Colter could pull it off—in his newest film, I’m Charlie Walker, with his shaved head he looks like Caesar.

Finn, the antagonist? Walton Goggins is as cool and cold as they come as a villain.

Ethan, Suzie’s brother? He’s a ginger, but Timothée Chalamet would be great.

And a director? I’d love someone who can direct an action movie while also doing the characters justice—both are equally important. Right now, Taylor Sheridan might be that director, especially if he could do what he did in Wind River. Denis Villeneuve would be fantastic as well. (Hey, dream big.)
Visit Christopher Swann's website.

The Page 69 Test: Never Go Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Martha Anne Toll's "Three Muses"

Martha Anne Toll writes fiction, essays, and book reviews, and reads anything that’s not nailed down. Her debut novel, Three Muses, won the Petrichor Prize for Finely Crafted Fiction. Toll brings a long career in social justice to her work covering BIPOC and women writers. She is a book reviewer and author interviewer at NPR Books, the Washington Post, Pointe Magazine, The Millions, and elsewhere. She also publishes short fiction and essays in a wide variety of outlets. Toll has recently joined the Board of Directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Three Muses:
What a concept. I am in the book writing business, not the film business so while I love this prompt, it’s hard for me to answer. But I’m happy to try!

I’d be thrilled if Three Muses were made into a movie. Given that many of the pivotal scenes take place in a ballet studio and on the stage, I think it is especially cinematic.

My biggest request would be for the protagonist to be played by a real, professional ballerina, so that she, not a stunt double, can do the dancing. My first choice would be Isabella Boylston, who is a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Boylston is a dancer of extraordinary grace and precision – two skills that do not often go together. She is a joy to watch on stage, and I’d be thrilled for her art to reach a wider audience.

As for John, the male protagonist, my first choice would be a young Mark Rylance (John doesn’t appear past his early thirties in this book). John arrives as a refugee in New York at age fifteen, having lost his entire family—immediate and extended—to extermination by the Nazis. John survives the Holocaust by singing for the kommandant of a concentration camp. In other words, John is deeply traumatized, at a level from which is not possible to recover fully. Rylance has an uncanny ability to express deep emotion while both speaking and through body language, which would be perfect for this role. And yes, I would definitely settle for Gregory Peck if he were around and willing!

As for the role of Boris Yanakov, Katya’s abusive and too-enthralling choreographer, I think Stanley Tucci would do it really well, so I’d love to ask him.
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--Marshal Zeringue