Monday, March 28, 2022

Samantha Greene Woodruff's "The Lobotomist's Wife"

Samantha Greene Woodruff has a BA in history from Wesleyan University and an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business. She spent most of her career telling stories to executives at MTV Networks as the senior vice president of strategy and business development and, subsequently, audience research for the Nickelodeon Kids & Family Group. After leaving corporate life, she pursued her varied passions, teaching yoga, cooking, and taking classes at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. It was here that she combined her multifaceted background with her wild imagination and passion for history, reading, and writing.

Here Woodruff dreamcasts an adaptation of The Lobotomist’s Wife, her first historical fiction novel:
My protagonist, Ruth Emeraldine, is a woman before her time – a strong, independent female who happens to be beautiful but, for whom, looks are irrelevant. Ruth runs a mental hospital in the 1930s and has devoted her life to her patients. As I wrote her character, my inspiration was Katharine Hepburn. Like Ruth, Hepburn had a powerful presence that wasn’t overshadowed by her pin-up girl looks. She was the kind of woman who would be the first to wear pants when others were still in dresses, because they were simply more practical. I think the closest actress we have to Hepburn today is Cate Blanchett. Blanchett has a natural gravitas that balances with her beauty, elegance and intellect. I am not alone in seeing the parallel, Blanchett played Hepburn in the 2004 movie The Aviator, and I think she would be a perfect Ruth.

For Robert Apter, the lobotomist and Ruth’s husband, I would cast Edward Norton. Robert is a man who is not classically handsome but has an undeniable charisma. While he is intensely cerebral and passionate about his work, he is also a natural showman who added horrifying flourishes to his surgeries to make them more entertaining to audiences. He was arrogant but magnetic. It isn’t easy to walk that line between charm and demonism, but I think Norton could do it brilliantly.

For my secondary protagonist, the all-American 1950s housewife Margaret, I love the idea of Taylor Swift. On the surface, Margaret, a former-homecoming queen married to her high school sweetheart, seems like just another sweet and pretty face. She has three children and a lovely home in the suburbs – an idyllic life -- but she harbors secret darkness and pain. She is intelligent, but also so eager to please that she second guesses herself, and is willing to go to great lengths to fit in. Taylor Swift has that combination of innocence and depth that I think would really bring Margaret to life.

Finally, I’d love to see Alexander Skarsgård play Edward, Robert’s neurosurgical partner. Edward is dashingly handsome but unassuming. He is likable, quietly brilliant, and deferential to Robert even though he is the one with the surgical training. Edward is gentle and kind, with a midwestern sensibility and values, but also a stoic strength that, ultimately, enables him to stand up to his partner and mentor. Can’t you see Skarsgård doing that?
Visit Samantha Greene Woodruff's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Andrea Yaryura Clark's "On a Night of a Thousand Stars"

Andrea Yaryura Clark grew up in Argentina amid the political turmoil of the 1970s until her family relocated to North America. After graduating from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service — including a year of study at the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires —and completing her MBA at York University (Toronto, Canada), she returned to Buenos Aires to reconnect with her roots. By the mid-1990s, many sons and daughters of the "Disappeared"—the youngest victims of Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970s —were coming of age and grappling with the fates of their families. She interviewed several of these children, and their experiences, not widely known outside Argentina, inspired her debut novel. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two sons and a spirited terrier.

Here Clark dreamcasts an adaptation of On a Night of a Thousand Stars:
On a Night of a Thousand Stars has two narratives. One takes place in Argentina during the 1970s and the other one unfolds in 1998, starting in New York but quickly moving to Argentina. A few characters appear in both stories. Ideally, I would want the same actor/actress to portray him/herself as a young twentysomething and later as a fortysomething. When thinking about whom to cast, I took the liberty of imagining a time machine that would make each person the appropriate age for the character.

Paloma Larrea, the main character in the 1998 story could be played by Paula Christensen, who read the audio version of the book (!), Anya Taylor-Joy or Nathalie Kelley.

Valentina Quintero, the main female protagonist of the 1970s narrative, could be played by Anya Taylor Joy, Cecilia Roth, Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Mia Maestro.

Santiago Larrea, the male protagonist in both threads, could be played by Javier Bardem Cruz, Juan Minujin, Antonio Banderas.

Franco Bonetti, a male protagonist in the 1998 thread, could be played by Ricardo Darin, Gael Garcia Bernal or Diego Luna.

Maximo Cassini, an important character in the 1970s story, could be played by Ernesto Alterio, Daniel Day Lewis, Alessandro Nivola.

Lila Larrea— Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman.

Grace Diaz — Berenice Bejo, Stephanie Beatriz.

It would be a dream come true to have any of the following directors take on the project. They are listed here along with a movie I found particularly moving and meaningful:

Alfonso Cuaron (Roma), Juan Jose Campanella (The Secret in their Eyes), Fernando Meirelles (The Motorcycle Diaries, The Two Popes), Pablo Larrain (No).

Music plays a huge role in my life and I would want Gustavo Santaolalla (Babel, The Motorcycle Diaries) to compose the score.
Visit Andrea Yaryura Clark's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Josh Weiss's "Beat the Devils"

Josh Weiss is an author from South Jersey. Raised in a proud Jewish home, he was instilled with an appreciation for his cultural heritage from a very young age. Today, Weiss is utterly fascinated with the convergence of Judaism and popular culture in film, television, comics, literature, and other media. After college, he became a freelance entertainment journalist, writing stories for SYFY WIRE, The Hollywood Reporter, Forbes, and Marvel Entertainment. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his fiancée, as well as an extensive collection of graphic T-shirts, movie posters, vinyl records, and a few books, of course.

Here Weiss dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Beat the Devils:
What author hasn’t thought about their book becoming a film or television series? If a writer tells you it hasn’t once crossed their mind at least once, then they’re probably lying.

I love, love, love (did I mention love?) movies. While writing Beat the Devils, I tried to be as cinematic as possible, which included peppering a number of doo-wop needle drops throughout the narrative, Martin Scorsese style!

As for who would actually direct the adaptation, I think the Coen brothers’ talent for juggling Jewish concepts with human drama and acerbic irony would be a more-than-perfect fit. A number of years back, the filmmaking duo was attached to helm a film version of Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, which was a major source of inspiration for my novel.

Joel, Ethan…if you’re on the lookout for something similar…let’s talk!

I could go down a rabbit hole of who I’d cast for each character, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll stick to four of my personal favorites…


I’ve got three top choices for our cynical and peach-schnapps loving homicide detective. First up is Matthew Rhys of The Americans fame. But it’s not his performance on the FX series that sold me.

During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 — when I worried myself sick over whether Beat the Devils would ever be released to the public — HBO began ramping up publicity for its reimagined Perry Mason featuring Rhys in the title role. The Morris Baker who’d been living rent free in my head since 2015 suddenly appeared in the show’s teaser trailer, complete with fedora and a haunted expression.

Now, I very much doubt Mr. Rhys is interested in playing a similar character to Mr. Mason when he’s already got a sweet neo-noir gig, but hey, you never know.

If he decides to pass, however, I’d like to nominate Morgan Spector (who gave a knockout performance as impassioned Jewish patriarch Herman Levin in another HBO project: The Plot Against America) or Oscar Isaac (who proved he could play a hardened Jew with a vendetta against Nazis in Operation Finale).


After seeing The Batman, I think Colin Farrell could easily pull off the role of Baker’s abrasive Irish partner on the LAPD if the actor would once again be willing to disappear behind a mound of burly prosthetics. I also think Liam Cunningham (best-known for playing Ser Davos Seaworth on HBO’s Game of Thrones) would be an excellent casting choice.


In my mind, there are only two actresses who could play the innocent-looking, yet incredibly dangerous, Soviet spy, Sophia Vikhrov: Erin Moriarty (The Boys) and Julia Garner (Ozark). I’d love to see Starlight or Ruth Langmore kick ass and uncover a dangerous conspiracy in a dystopian version of Los Angeles, circa 1958. Who wouldn’t?


Whenever I think of Elizabeth “Liz” Short in Beat the Devils, my mind never fails to conjure up an image of Lizzy Caplan’s Marlena in one of my all-time favorite movies: Cloverfield. Look up the two on Google Images and you’ll see what I’m talking about…or not, I don’t know.

Still, I’m rather determined to get her cast based on a conversation I had with Cloverfield producer Bryan Burk last year. While chatting with me in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, I told Mr. Burk about how Marlena’s death scene (when she explodes after being bitten by one of the monster’s arachnoid parasites) has always stuck with me over the years.

“Here’s what’s gonna happen,” he told me, “you’re gonna go make a movie with Lizzy Caplan and you’re gonna be like, ‘Here was this crazy thing!’”

I just loved that comment. Thanks for believing in me, Bryan!
Follow Josh Weiss on Twitter.

Writers Read: Josh Weiss.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Annie Ward's "The Lying Club"

Annie Ward is the author of Beautiful Bad. She has a BA in English literature from UCLA and an MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. Her first short screenplay, Strange Habit, starring Adam Scott, was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award winner at the Aspen Film Festival. She has received a Fulbright scholarship and an Escape to Create artist residency. She lives in Kansas with her family.

Here Ward dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Lying Club:
I moved from Kansas to Los Angeles when I was eighteen to go to college. I had always thought I wanted to write poetry, short stories or eventually a novel. Less than a year after arriving in L.A. I’d caught the local bug, film fever. I decided I wanted to be a screenwriter and ended up getting my master’s degree from the American Film Institute. Inevitably, when hanging out with other aspiring filmmakers, we would fantasize about who we would love to see appear in the movies we would “one day” make. It was self-indulgent good fun, as we all knew quite well that we were more likely to get struck by lightning or win the lottery than see our “wish lists” come true.

Did it stop us from daydreaming? Not at all, and I continue to do so to this day.

The Lying Club “cast” consists of (primarily) five women, one man and a handful of teenagers. Though ultimately it’s a dark thriller with a very serious core about a horrible crime, I would like to think that it uses humor throughout to balance the depravity. As I was writing, I pictured Demi Moore as Brooke, back when she was forty-five, with those flashing eyes, the sleek, waist-length hair, and that throaty laugh.

If we cast the book today, I would want to look for a director who could embrace the notion that a sordid, racy, sinister book like mine could also be… (I hate to say it!) Fun.

I would start off by approaching Liz Feldman, the showrunner of one of my favorites from recent years, Dead To Me. She (along with others) wrote, produced, and directed a hit Netflix series that is classified as a “mystery, drama, comedy.” Brilliant! That’s everything good all rolled into one. I thought the series was twisty, smart, and at times hilarious. If I could, I would cast the two main actresses Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini as Brooke Elliman and Linda Leland. Or Parker Posey and Elizabeth Banks. I would love to see the brilliant Mindy Kaling be both fierce and funny as Asha Wilson, Kate del Castillo as the regal, mysterious Elena Ruiz, and I think Julia Garner would make a diminutive yet tenacious and threatening Natalie Bellman.

And as for Nick? Okay, this might surprise you. Think of Nick’s coaching outfits comprised of khaki shorts and collared polos. His whistle on a rope. His pervasive insistence on “knowing and doing what’s best.” Imagine Ted Lasso with a very dark secret. Jason Sudeikis is from my hometown, and I would love to see him tackle a character completely unlike his previous roles, breaking out beyond comedy with the challenging role of the duplicitous Nick Maguire. Jason Bateman would also likely be perfect for the role, channeling the smarminess of the character he played in Juno.

As for the teenagers, you could literally cast them out of the brilliant and disturbing high school series Euphoria, and I would be thrilled. Euphoria’s Jacob Elordi, however, is truly the Reade Leland that existed in my imagination back when I first started writing The Lying Club.
Visit Annie Ward's website.

The Page 69 Test: Beautiful Bad.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 14, 2022

Jason Sheehan's "Children of the Flying City"

Jason Sheehan is an award-winning freelance journalist and author. In addition to being a book and video game critic for NPR, he has published three books for adults.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of Children of the Flying City, his first book for young readers:
I have played this game since the day I started writing Children Of The Flying City. Since before I started writing, actually. My first page of notes has a cryptic mention of "Old John Hurt but 8 feet tall" in reference to a supporting character called Judocus the Fish--one of the strangest people in a book absolutely full of people who aren't what you think they are.

My most consistent dreamcasting has been of the Captain--a smuggler and gun-runner hired to go to the Flying City, run the blockade and kidnap (or possibly rescue?) one of the three children at the heart of this story, Milo Quick. The Captain is young, handsome, talented and sly. He's capable of doing terrible things with a smile, of lying through his teeth and convincing almost anyone of almost anything. Harry Styles (yeah, the ex-boy-band singer turned rock star) has been my Captain for longer than I can even remember. It's never been anyone else.

Milo himself is tough to cast. A clever, haunted 13 year old who has already seen the worst of the world and refused to let it break him? That's a tall order. Sunny Pawar from The Lion, maybe? He has Milo's smile for sure. Noah Schnapp in season 2 of Stranger Things can do haunted. A young Danial Kaluuya (with access to a time machine) for Milo's best friend Jules. Elle Fanning with a black wig and terrible secrets to play Dagda. Honestly, the three young leads would probably best be played by unknown actors. They live in my head as entirely their own people.

Ben Kingsley, on the other hand, was born to play the Captain's scheming navigator, Semyon Beli. And the fearsome, unstoppable, murderous Ennis Arghdal has got to be either Idris Elba or Tom Hardy. They'd both have to lose their accents, but I can't think of any other actors who could embody both the explosive violence and gruff tenderness that exist inside Ennis, who has been tasked with secretly watching over Milo for years, acting as both guardian angel and boogeyman to this child who has never known an adult he could trust. Elba had that as the Commandant in Beasts Of No Nation. Hardy had it (plus the walk of a man who is just murder on two legs) in Taboo. They're my guys.

So all of that (plus an 8-foot-tall John Hurt and Chloe Zhao to direct) and we've got it: Nomadland with airships. The movie that's been playing in my head for years.
Follow Jason Sheehan on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Sam Wiebe's "Hell and Gone"

Sam Wiebe is the award-winning author of the Wakeland novels, one of the most authentic and acclaimed detective series in Canada, including Invisible Dead (“the definitive Vancouver crime novel”), Cut You Down (“successfully brings Raymond Chandler into the 21st century”), and Hell and Gone ("the best crime writer in Canada").

Wiebe’s other books include Never Going Back, Last of the Independents, and the Vancouver Noir anthology, which he edited.

Wiebe’s work has won the Crime Writers of Canada award and the Kobo Emerging Writers prize, and been shortlisted for the Edgar, Hammett, Shamus, and City of Vancouver book prizes.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Hell and Gone:
Hell and Gone is the third novel in the series featuring Vancouver PI Dave Wakeland. As such, it hearkens back to the classic film noirs like The Big Sleep, the great neo-noirs like The Conversation, and also to classic British crime shows like Prime Suspect and Luther. All of those are influences. But rather than take the easy route and dream cast, say 1970s Gene Hackman, I wanted to choose contemporary talent, because Hell and Gone is a story about modern-day violence.

The Setup

Wakeland is the modern-day Jim Rockford (of The Rockford Files)—the person you want in your corner when there’s trouble. Tough, loyal, and handy with his fists, Dave is one half of Wakeland & Chen, Vancouver’s top private security firm. A capable and experienced detective, who’s seen just about everything.

But what happens in Hell and Gone shakes Wakeland to his core.

A robbery breaks out on the street in the early morning. Wakeland witnesses the violence from his office, getting a look at the shooters as they drive off. He leaps into action—literally jumping down from the fire escape to perform first aid on the wounded. A hero.

But when he enters the building where the shooters came from, he sees something so beyond his experience that when the police ask him what he witnessed, Wakeland refuses to say.

Soon Wakeland is caught between a ruthless police chief and a pair of gang leaders, all of whom want the shooters found, no matter the cost in human life.

The only way for Wakeland to come to grips with this is to find the shooters—before they find him.

In Front of the Camera

Rather than a physical type, when I think of Wakeland I think of a mindset: competent, compassionate, driven. Wakeland starts out confident and gets badly shaken up, and then slowly, painfully, pieces himself back together as he pieces the case together.

I think Wyatt Russell (The Lodge, Winter Soldier) would do an interesting job as Wakeland, because he has the look of a classic television PI like Selleck or Garner, but can play haunted and obsessed, damaged in some way. That’s an interesting paradox.

A good runner-up would be Brian Gleeson (Phantom Thread, Love/Hate). Both fair haired second-generation actors, coincidentally! (Maybe I should add in Scott Eastwood…)

For Jeff Chen, Dave’s partner, Max Zhang (Zhang Jin) (Ip Man 2, Master Z) would be a great pick. I really like him in the Ip Man films. Jeff has a grounded but debonair attitude to the security and private eye business, which conflicts with Wakeland.

After the shooting, a mysterious woman in a green jacket shows up following Wakeland. Celina Jade (Arrow, Triple Threat) has an elegance and danger that would work for the part.

Behind the Camera

Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) or Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) would be my choices. The look of the city and the immediacy of the action are key—Hell and Gone is a story about violence in contemporary Vancouver.

I think Gorrman Lee (The Order, The Imperfects) or Theresa Rebeck (NYPD Blue) would do a bang-up job on the script.

There are certain elements, such as the Vancouver setting, which I think are important to keep, and others (Wakeland’s appearance) which I’d be happy to see changed in service of telling a great story.
Visit Sam Wiebe's website.

My Book, The Movie: Invisible Dead.

Q&A with Sam Wiebe.

The Page 69 Test: Hell and Gone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Suzanne Redfearn's "Moment in Time"

Suzanne Redfearn is the bestselling author of five novels: Moment in Time, Hadley & Grace, In an Instant, No Ordinary Life, and Hush Little Baby. Her novels have been translated into twenty-two languages. In addition to being an author, Redfearn is an architect specializing in residential and commercial design. She lives in Laguna Beach, where she and her husband own three restaurants: Lumberyard, Slice Pizza & Beer, and Yard Bar. Her books have won numerous awards including Best New Fiction Book, Platinum Quill, and Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist.

Here Redfearn dreamcasts an adaptation of Moment in Time:
My two main protagonists are amazing young women in their mid-twenties living in San Francisco and making their marks on the world. Mo is revolutionizing the news with her media start-up. And Chloe is a veterinarian who is rescuing abandoned strays in the city. Mo is a classic all-American beauty, while Chloe’s a wounded, yet seductive femme fatale.

I think Brigette Lundy-Pane would be the perfect actor to play Chloe. She’s quirky, sharp, and funny but also undeniably bewitching. The perfect counterpart to play Mo would be Elle Fanning, an actor with wide-eyed guilelessness that belies true intellect and grit.

For their love interests, I would choose Lucas Hedges for Chloe because he’s got a wonderful lowkey, self-deprecating heroism about him. And for Mo, I’d pick Nick Robinson because he has the same earnestness and strength of the man who saved her life when she was sixteen and who she’s been madly in love with since.
Visit Suzanne Redfearn's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Suzanne Redfearn and Cooper.

My Book, The Movie: Hush Little Baby.

My Book, The Movie: No Ordinary Life.

My Book, The Movie: In an Instant.

Q&A with Suzanne Redfearn.

My Book, The Movie: Hadley and Grace.

Writers Read: Suzanne Redfearn.

The Page 69 Test: Moment in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue