Monday, January 31, 2022

Scotto Moore's "Battle of the Linguist Mages"

Scotto Moore is the author of Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You, a sci-fi/horror novella published by For fourteen years, he was an active playwright in Seattle, with major productions nearly every year during that time, and 45 short plays produced during that time as well. He wrote book, lyrics, and music for the a cappella sci-fi musical Silhouette, which won the 2018 Gregory Falls Award for Outstanding New Play, presented by Theatre Puget Sound. He also wrote, directed and produced three seasons of the sci-fi/comedy web series The Coffee Table; and wrote and starred in the horror/comedy play H.P. Lovecraft Stand-up Comedian!

Here Moore dreamcasts an adaptation his debut novel, Battle of the Linguist Mages:
My main character is Isobel, a young gamer who for years has held the title of Queen of Sparkle Dungeon, which is a medieval rave-themed VR MMORG. She’s brash and cocky, and also pretty hilarious, but if you’re in her raiding party she always tries to have your back. Her life out in the “mundane world” of work and relationships is a mess when we meet her, but she starts to put herself back together as the story gets going, and then she realizes there’s more to the game by far than she understood.

When I first saw the prompt here, without even trying to come up with a list, the first name that popped into mind almost immediately was Miley Cyrus. The persona she uses as a rock star, combined with the chops she has as an actress, would be a great foundation for a memorable performance as Isobel. She has a counterpart eventually, a genius computational linguist / underground resistance leader, and I would try to get Zoë Kravitz for that.

They’re each pitted against a cabal of technologists, gurus, ad executives – bad people, all of them – and while I won’t go into detail about each of them, imagine a villainous cadre comprised of James Spader, Cate Blanchett, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, and Anthony Hopkins. (Dreamcasting!) From their perspective, they’re trying to save the world from something much more dangerous than they are, but they can’t stop maneuvering and playing power games even with so many lives at stake.
Visit Scotto Moore's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Jacquelyn Mitchard's "The Good Son"

Jacquelyn Mitchard is the New York Times bestselling author of 22 novels for adults and teenagers, and the recipient of Great Britain’s Talkabout prize, The Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson awards, and named to the short list for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, with more than 3 million copies in print in 34 languages. It was later adapted into a major feature film starring Michelle Pfeiffer.

Here Mitchard dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Good Son:
I’d love to have my book made into a movie (and when writers say that they just hope that Hollywood doesn’t get its hands on their wonderful story and “ruin” it, they’re generally lying and trying to sound virtuous because no one makes you take that option money … you could just not take it …).

If this story were adapted, I think of who might play the role of the main character, Thea. It’s clearer to me who would play Julie, Thea’s wonderful best friend, and that would be Julianne Moore (not because of the name). She has a sort of patrician generosity that is the hallmark of Julie’s character. For Thea, I would see someone who is very down-to-earth and intense, like Kate Winslet or Rashida Jones. Thea is a reader and very involved with language and I have no idea why I think these actors bespeak that quality, I just do.

Who would play Stefan? He’s athletic and dark-haired and has a very “open” face and personality. Maybe it would be Jake Sim, who was in the movie It.
Visit Jacquelyn Mitchard's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

Q&A with Jacquelyn Mitchard.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Marty Wingate's "The Librarian Always Rings Twice"

USA Today best-selling author Marty Wingate writes The First Edition Library series (Berkley) set in Bath, England, about the curator of a collection of books from the Golden Age of Mystery. Book one, The Bodies in the Library, concerns murder among an Agatha Christie fan-fiction writing group, and in book two, Murder Is a Must (October 2020), an exhibition manager is found dead at the bottom of a spiral staircase.

Here Wingate dreamcasts an adaptation of the third novel in the series, The Librarian Always Rings Twice:
Dream casting is a lively subject among authors. Who would I want to play Hayley Burke, curator of the First Edition library in The Librarian Always Rings Twice? I’ll pick Jo Joyner. Currently, Joyner plays Lu Shakespeare in the comedy-mystery television series Shakespeare and Hathaway (set in Stratford-upon-Avon). Joyner has not only the look, but also that sense of dedication to the job. Shakespeare is a former hairdresser now amateur sleuth along with her partner Frank Hathaway (Mark Benton).

It’s just occurred to me that Benton might be the perfect Charles Henry Dill, Hayley’s nemesis in my book. Dill is the lout of a nephew of the late Lady Fowling. It is her collection of books from the Golden Age of Mystery that form the First Edition library and in whose home, Middlebank House, it resides. Although Joyner’s Shakespeare has elements of Hayley, Benton’s Hathaway is a good guy quite unlike Dill, who finds himself embroiled in the murder.

The question “Who would direct The Librarian Always Rings Twice?” had never occurred to me, but now I’m more focused on that than actors. My answer came to me in an instant—Richard Curtis, a British screenwriter and director whose credits include Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Yesterday. Obviously, I would want him to write the screenplay, too.

Why a writer/director who specializes in romantic comedy? Because his films are character-driven, ensemble cast pieces and that’s how I see the characters in a mystery. Hayley Burke, her boyfriend Val Moffatt, First Edition Society secretary Mrs. Woolgar, Mr. Rennie the solicitor, and Detective Sergeant Hopgood and Detective Constable Kenny Pye, plus members of the Society’s board are the ensemble cast and, along with a few new characters in each title in the series, they must work out their own problems as well as solve the murder. Plus, there’s humor and a bit of romance.

Curtis has a connection to mystery. It’s tangential, but it’s a connection near and dear to my heart. Curtis has said he modeled his sprawling multi-character structure of Love Actually on Robert Altman’s Nashville. I love Altman’s films. He directed one of my all-time favorites, Gosford Park—a classic British whodunit with Altman’s usual quirky touches.

If Curtis isn’t available for directing, I would name Mike Newell—director of Four Weddings and another lovely ensemble film, Enchanted April. And if not either of them, I’d choose Mackenzie Crook, who wrote and directed the delightful series, Detectorists, set in Suffolk. Another ensemble cast with quirky characters, humor, and a mystery. Of sorts.
Visit Marty Wingate's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Soraya Lane's "Under a Sky of Memories"

Soraya M. Lane graduated with a law degree before realizing that law wasn't the career for her and that her future was in writing. She is the author of historical and contemporary women's fiction, and her novel Wives of War was an Amazon Charts bestseller.

Lane lives on a small farm in her native New Zealand with her husband, their two sons and a collection of four legged friends. When she's not writing, she loves to be outside playing make-believe with her children or snuggled up inside reading.

Here Lane dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Under a Sky of Memories:
If I’m completely honest, I spend a lot of time dreaming about my books being made into films! I suppose it’s the ultimate dream of any writer, and I would just love to see one of my books on screen.

I’m quite a visual writer, in the fact that I like to have my Pinterest board for my story complete before I start writing, and I look at that board every day. I have a photo for each main character and images of the setting too. For Under a Sky of Memories, Emilia Clarke would be my first choice if I were casting roles. Visually she inspired the character Vita, but honestly I’d cast Emilia in any role for any of my books, because I just love her acting and feel she would be perfect for the time period! Emily Blunt was also, visually, an inspiration for me. I would cast her as my other main character, Evelyn, and once again I would happily cast her as a lead in any of my books that made it to the screen. She has a timeless quality about her that I feel is ideal for WWII films, and I also like her strength.

So Emilia and Emily, I have the perfect roles waiting for you both!
Visit Soraya Lane's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Spitfire Girls.

Q&A with Soraya M. Lane.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Karen Odden's "Down a Dark River"

Karen Odden received her Ph.D. in English literature from New York University and subsequently taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her first novel, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller, and A Dangerous Duet and A Trace of Deceit have won awards for historical mystery and historical fiction.

Here Odden dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest mystery, Down a Dark River:
My protagonist Michael Corravan is Irish in 1870s London, a time when anti-Irish feeling was on the rise. He grew up rough in Whitechapel (to give some context, this part of London was where Jack the Ripper murdered his victims in the 1880s), and after being orphaned at age 11, he took to thieving to survive; later, he did dock work and (illegal) bare-knuckles boxing. So he’s good with his fists, good with a knife, close to six feet tall, sturdy and quick. He also looks Irish, with black hair, blue eyes, and a pale complexion.

On a plane a few weeks ago with free movies, I rewatched The Last of the Mohicans (1992), and it occurred to me that this young Daniel Day-Lewis, 35 years old, of Anglo-Irish descent, fierce and intense, would make a wonderful Corravan. You might also recall Day-Lewis playing a young, intense Irishman in Belfast in the movie In the Name of the Father (1993).

As for my heroine Belinda Gale, a novelist and playwright and Corravan’s love interest, a young Madeline Stowe (also from The Last of the Mohicans, as Cora Munro) would be a great casting choice—not just because she looks the part—tall, with dark hair—but because she has a certain poise, seriousness, and maturity. Belinda Gale is financially independent, in part because of money left in trust by her brilliant father and in part because she earns a living by her pen. Raised upper middle-class, insightful, and psychologically astute, Belinda provides the social polish and EQ that balances out Corravan’s street smarts.

Gordon Stiles, Corravan’s young partner at the Yard, was raised working middle-class and had a proper English education. He’s obliging and personable and a bit bookish, with a good sense of humor; at one point, Corravan comments about Stiles, “He was just the person for such a task [convincing a frightened woman to trust him]. Pretty young maids and old harridans, they all unbent for him. James had met him several times and found him a smart, likable young man.” For Stiles, I might choose Tom Holland—friendly, earnest, unintimidating, and someone who can carry off a bookish demeanor.

Dr. James Everett, the erudite doctor in the ward for mental diseases (a proto-psychologist/neurosurgeon), is Corravan’s friend, mentor, and sometimes adversary. Shrewd, rather uptight, and fond of spouting Latin to try to put Corravan into his place, Dr. Everett and Corravan have a complex backstory; they both owe each other favors. A 45-year-old Ralph Fiennes who plays M in recent James Bond movies would be a good casting choice for him.

Harry Lish is a sixteen-year-old boy, Ma Doyle’s nephew, newly orphaned, whom Corravan adopts at Ma Doyle’s request. At first Harry is prickly because he senses Corravan’s reluctance to take him in, and (much like Corravan) he hates the idea of being a burden to anyone. Dark-haired and thin, bookish and clever, Harry reads both Latin and French and wants to be a doctor, so Corravan takes Harry to see Dr. Everett, who kindly finds Harry a role at the hospital. I wrote Harry to be a foil character for Corravan—a version of what Corravan might have become if he’d had a proper education. A young Timothée Chalamet would be a great casting choice for Harry.
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.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 1, 2022

John Copenhaver's "The Savage Kind"

John Copenhaver’s historical crime novel, Dodging and Burning, won the 2019 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel and garnered Anthony, Strand Critics, Barry, and Lambda Literary Award nominations. Copenhaver writes a crime fiction review column for Lambda Literary called “Blacklight,” cohosts on the House of Mystery Radio Show, and is the six-time recipient of Artist Fellowships from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He has taught high school English for nearly twenty years. He grew up in the mountains of southwestern Virginia and currently lives in Richmond, VA, with his husband, artist Jeffery Paul (Herrity).

Here Copenhaver dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Savage Kind:
So, I’m a big movie nerd. I’ve taught film to high school students for years. I’m always thinking cinematically, and I’ve had readers tell me that I write cinematically. I care a lot about the texture of my writing and how it creates a circa-1950 noir mood for my story. All successful films begin with a cohesive vision, and that vision is the director’s responsibility. With that in mind, for my fantasy movie version of The Savage Kind, I’ll choose a director who has a distinct and flexible style: the insanely talented David Fincher.

Not only are Fincher’s films—Panic Room, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and my favorite Zodiac—steeped in gorgeous atmosphere and unforgettable visuals, but also, he understands noir. His visual style of rich yet muted colors, lush shadowy imagery, and precise and elaborate camerawork allow him to shift between opulence and grit seamlessly. He prefers closed framed films in which the heroes—and by extension, the audience—feel predestined, locked into a series of unfolding events. Fincher is neither optimistic nor particularly romantic, and he loves stories with moral gray areas and deeply flawed heroes, which would suit Judy Peabody’s and Philippa Watson’s stories perfectly.

Now the question is: Who will play Judy and Philippa, my clever, complicated, and dangerous teenage girls? For Philippa, the “good girl” with secret passions and a barely repressed desire to manipulate others, I’d choose Elle Fanning. I’ve had so much fun watching her Catherine the Great in Hulu’s The Great. In that role, she embodies a wonderful blend of naiveté, vulnerability, and nerve, which would be a great fit for Philippa. For Judy: Anya Taylor-Joy, with a jet-black bob. I loved her in The Queen’s Gambit, and she has a remarkable range. In contrast to Philippa, Judy needs to enter thorny, all sharp edges, and then soften throughout the story. Also, much is made of Judy’s dark and all-consuming eyes; Taylor-Joy’s beautiful eyes dominate her face. Bottom line: she’d be amazing.

As for Miss Martins, I will dream even bigger and say Cate Blanchett. Miss M, as Judy refers to her, must be at once relatable and mysterious, kind and cold. Blanchett’s recent (and brilliant) turn at the chilly Dr. Lilith Ritter from Nightmare Alley is still echoing through me. Finally, for Moira Closs—the quintessential controlling mother, based on Angela Lansberry’s Eleanor Iselin from The Manchurian Candidate—I’d choose Sigourney Weaver because I don’t think there’s anything she can’t do as an actor. I’ve always loved watching her. She could materialize all of Moira’s imperiousness and corruption without losing her humanity, which is key.

One last thing: Since I was in high school, I’ve collected film score music. I still collect it digitally and listen to it while I write, choosing specific scores, even specific songs, to help me find the right mood for a scene. There are many amazing film composers, from names you might know, like Jonny Greenwood and Trent Reznor, to names you may not, like Emile Mosseri and Nicholas Brittel. For The Savage Kind, I’d want a score with touches of traditional noir, something nostalgic but still contemporary. Nathan Johnson’s recent scores for Knives Out and now Nightmare Alley capture so well the timeless shift between the delicate and the dark, the beautiful and the dreadful, qualities at the heart of my novel.
Visit John Copenhaver's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Savage Kind.

--Marshal Zeringue