Thursday, June 30, 2022

John Vercher's "After the Lights Go Out"

John Vercher lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and two sons. He has a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Pittsburgh and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Mountainview Master of Fine Arts program. He is a contributing writer for WBUR Boston’s Cognoscenti, and NPR features his essays on race, identity, and parenting. His debut novel, Three-Fifths, was named one of the best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune, CrimeReads, and Booklist. It was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Strand Magazine Critics’ Awards for Best First Novel.

Here Vercher dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, After the Lights Go Out:
As a film and television fanatic, I tend to think cinematically when writing a book. For me that means envisioning the actors who I think could embody my main characters on the screen. This was especially true for the After the Lights Go Out. Who’s here I would love to see in the main roles.

Jesse Williams as Xavier “Scarecrow” Wallace – Williams would bring both the physicality and nuance to Xavier’s challenges of his deteriorating mind and body.

Brian Tyree Henry as Shemar “Shot” Tracy – I’m a huge fan of the show Atlanta and my love for it almost all centered on Henry’s portrayal of Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles. He is equal parts subtle and explosive, and I can’t picture anyone else playing Shot, the cousin Xavier loves and fears in nearly equal measure.

Viola Davis as Evelyn Wallace – I’m not sure this needs any explanation. Davis is a powerhouse, and she would bring an incredible amount of gravitas to the role of Evelyn, a woman unfairly and incorrectly maligned by her son, Xavier.

Bryan Cranston as Sam Wallace – Breaking Bad demonstrated Cranston’s ability to shift gears from complicatedly endearing to volatile and loathsome—the same qualities present in Xavier’s father, Sam, as he loses his faculties (and his filters) to end-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Visit John Vercher's website.

Q&A with John Vercher.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 27, 2022

William Martin's "December ’41"

William Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels, an award-winning PBS documentary, book reviews, magazine articles, and a cult-classic horror movie, too.

In novels like Back Bay, City of Dreams, The Lost Constitution, The Lincoln Letter, and Bound for Gold, he has told stories of the great and the anonymous of American history, and he’s taken readers from the deck of the Mayflower to 9/11. His work has earned him many accolades and honors, including the 2005 New England Book Award, the 2015 Samuel Eliot Morison Award, and the 2019 Robert B. Parker Award.

Here Martin dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, December ’41:
I started in Los Angeles as a struggling screenwriter. I wrote three spec scripts and a play before I turned to novels. And only once did I imagine modern actors in any of them, in a screenplay that would eventually become my eleventh novel, Bound for Gold. I imagined Robert Redford and Jack Nicholson as the staid Bostonian and the rebellious Irishman who partner in the Gold Rush and James Stewart as the old miner who befriends them. Considering that Redford and Nicholson were mega-stars in 1976 and Stewart was a legend, my hopes were a little unrealistic.

But the truth is that anyone starting out as a screenwriter or novelist must operate with hopes that are unrealistic. It's the only way to keep going, and if you're lucky enough and relentless enough, you might keep going for 40-plus years, as I have through twelve novels.

And for the first time, I've written a novel that I 'cast' even as I was writing it. However, I didn't imagine modern actors. I cast December '41 with actors who've all gone to that big studio in the sky, because a novel set in the 1940s should have 1940s stars, especially since the novel itself uses the tropes and motifs of a '40s movie, right down to the black-and-white book jacket.

On the day after Pearl Harbor, a German assassin evades an FBI dragnet and begins preparations for a trip. He's going to Washington to shoot Franklin Roosevelt on Christmas Eve, as the president lights the National Christmas Tree. A failed actress travels with him, playing his faithful wife and - unbeknownst to her - covering for him. A disappointed Hollywood screenwriter crosses paths with him and comes under suspicion himself. A dogged FBI agent pursues him. Meanwhile, a wisecracking female private detective teams up with the FBI agent.

So who did I imagine in the roles? Well, since the book opens in Los Angeles, where everyone uses the movies as reference points, I'm not the only one who imagines these characters as movie actors in the book. A lot of the other characters do, too.

The German assassin, Martin Browning, should have a strong presence but a slight and unthreatening appearance. Some of his Nazi friends call him "Ash" because they think he looks like the actor who plays Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind. Before long, the FBI is looking for a guy who resembles Leslie Howard. So call Leslie Howard's agent.

The failed actress, Vivian Hopewell, has been told that she looks like a young Marlene Dietrich. So that's easy, even though one of the characters tells her that she reminds him more of Jean Arthur.

The screenwriter, Kevin Cusack, is the guy who does "coverage" on the source material for Casablanca, which arrives at Warner Brothers on December 8. He's a Boston guy gone to Hollywood. Like the city he comes from, he has a cultured surface, but he's good with his fists. At one point he says that people think he looks like Tyrone Power. I think so, too, especially since he's the protagonist.

Frank Carter, the dogged FBI agent needs to be someone who has a heroic look and a relentless drive but isn't above manipulating his friends. Think of Fred MacMurray. No, not the Absent-Minded Professor... the much darker MacMurray who played the role of Howard Neff in Double Indemnity.

The female detective, named Stella Madden, must be an actress who can play the tough-girl role, the gun moll who's both sidekick and love interest. Ida Lupino, fresh off her role as Bogie's girl in High Sierra, is my choice.

I filled out the rest of the cast, too: Dorothy Malone as the screenwriter's girlfriend: she played a bookstore proprietor with lust on her mind in The Big Sleep. Sidney Greenstreet as a jolly but dangerous German who runs an LA shop. Judith Anderson and Walter Slezak as a husband-and-wife murder team who help Martin Browning. Scatman Crothers, starting his career a few years early, as a Pullman Porter who plays an important part.

And of course, in a novel set in old Hollywood, there are cameos by Hollywood stars. We meet Humphrey Bogart and his wife, Mayo Methot, who are having an argument in famed Hollywood watering hole, Musso & Frank's. They weren't called the "Battling Bogarts" for nothing. John Wayne makes an appearance at Musso's later. He's having a post-coital lunch with the real Marlene Dietrich (Yes, they were an item.) We also meet producers Jack L. Warner and Hal Wallis, directors John Huston and Raoul Walsh.

OF course, the director who is the most important influence on the book isn't in it. But we feel him in the dark streets of LA, in cross-country train sequences, and in the suspense-filled final act, set around the national monuments of Washignton DC: Alfred Hitchcock. He's the Master of Suspense and I've been learning from him since before I went to Hollywood and started writing.
Visit William Martin's website.

Q&A with William Martin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Alex Jennings's "The Ballad of Perilous Graves"

Alex Jennings is a writer/editor/teacher/poet living in New Orleans. He was born in Wiesbaden (Germany) and raised in Gaborone (Botswana), Tunis (Tunisia), Paramaribo (Surinam) and the United States. He constantly devours pop culture and writes mostly jokes on Twitter. He loves music, film, comix, and even some TV. He has two of the best roommates on earth (one of whom is a beautiful beautiful dog named Karate Valentino).

Here Jennings dreamcasts an adaptation of his debut novel, The Ballad of Perilous Graves:
Dream casting is such a strange process because I’ve been working on this book for so long that the project has grown beyond its original bounds to take over every aspect of my imagination. I only just admitted to myself last week how much I would love to see Spike Lee, Barry Jenkins, or Regina King direct an adaptation of The Ballad of Perilous Graves. The director would need to understand this story as one that features children and whimsy, but is not aimed at kids. The book was conceived as something of a musical—a blaxploitation Pippi Longstocking adventure for adults set in an alternate New Orleans where music is a kind of magic. It’s full of living graffiti tags, jazz and blues songs come to life, talking animals, and there’s even a carefully curated Spotify playlist to go along with it, which you can find here.

Ideas of the supporting characters are the ones that come to me first. I imagine Clark Peters playing Daddy Deke, the patriarch with a secret he keeps even from himself. Regina King herself would make an excellent Mama Lisa. I imagine Brian Michael Smith playing both Casey Ravel and Casey Bridgewater. I first noticed him in Queen Sugar, and I would love to see Casey portrayed by a trans actor. I’ve imagined several actors in the role of Stagger Lee—Kofi Siriboe, Bokeem Woodbine, John Boyega…! Bryan Tyree Henry would make an excellent Jaylon Bridgewater, and Jon Batiste would be perfect for Dr. Professor. I have two options for Lafcadio Hearn, which are very different from each other, but I think they would both be amazing: Jason Mantzoukas, the comic actor/improv master, and Paul F. Tompkins, comic genius. Both of them have an air of distinction and intelligence coupled with the sense that they could do… anything.

I’d love to see Daniel Kyrie from Chicago Fire as Bee Sharp, and Charles Baker (Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad) as his arch nemesis, Tha Hanging Judge. I’d love to see Danny Boyd, Jr. from Bruised as Perry himself.
Visit Alex Jennings's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Alex Jennings & Karate Valentino.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 20, 2022

Mary Anna Evans's "The Physicists’ Daughter"

Mary Anna Evans is an award-winning author, a writing professor, and she holds degrees in physics and engineering, a background that, as it turns out, is ideal for writing her new book, The Physicists’ Daughter. Set in WWII-era New Orleans, the book introduces Justine Byrne, whom Evans describes as “a little bit Rosie-the-Riveter and a little bit Bletchley Park codebreaker.” When Justine, the daughter of two physicists who taught her things girls weren’t expected to know in 1944, realizes that her boss isn’t telling her the truth about the work she does in her factory job, she draws on the legacy of her unconventional upbringing to keep her division running and protect her coworkers, her country, and herself from a war that is suddenly very close to home.

Here Evans dreamcasts an adaptation of the new novel:
Justine Byrne

Either Saoirse Ronan or Anya Taylor-Joy would bring the right mix of intellect and individualism. Like Justine, they are beautiful, but in their own striking way that doesn’t depend on wearing trendy makeup and the “right” clothes. They look like themselves.

Georgette Broussard

I think Florence Pugh would have a lot of fun with Georgette’s Cajun accent and her bold physicality.


Jonathan Groff has Charles’s brainy-but-slightly-dangerous vibe.


Sebastian Stan has Martin’s magnetism and, not to put a fine point on it, his notable brawn.


I have spent a lot of time on the internet trying to answer the question of who should play Jerry. The difficulty I’ve had in finding the right actor just emphasizes the importance of casting him well. Jerry is a polio survivor with limited mobility in his legs, but full mobility in his upper body. He uses a wheelchair and drives a car with hand controls that he designed and built himself, because he is a mechanical genius. To do his job as a factory maintenance chief, he has designed his workshop to accommodate his needs. It is important to me that Jerry be portrayed by someone who uses a wheelchair. I know that there are actors out there who are perfect for this role, but I couldn't find quite the right person. A casting director with access to information on a wide variety of actors could surely do better than I could. I really hope the movie gets made, because Jerry would be such a good role for the right actor.
Learn more about the author and her work at Mary Anna Evans' website.

My Book, The Movie: Strangers.

Q&A with Mary Anna Evans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 17, 2022

Elissa Grossell Dickey's "Iris in the Dark"

Elissa Grossell Dickey is a mother, multiple sclerosis warrior, and author of The Speed of Light and Iris in the Dark.

Here she dreamcasts an adaption of her new release, Iris in the Dark:
Iris in the Dark is suspenseful women’s fiction about a single mother who must face her worst fear—the past—when she hears a chilling cry for help in the night while house-sitting at a South Dakota lodge. This book is a mix of creepy suspense and emotional love story, so I think it would make an incredible film! If it ever happens, here’s who I imagine playing the lead roles:

Iris Jenkins: The main character, Iris, is anxious but resilient, and stronger than she knows. The most important thing to her is keeping her son safe. For this role, I would cast Emily Blunt. She’s an amazing actress in any role, and she was especially outstanding as the mother in both A Quiet Place movies, so I think she’d be perfect for Iris as well.

Sawyer Jones: The role of Iris’s love interest, Sawyer, would be played by Bradley Cooper. He’s a great actor, and he has just the right mix of rugged and sweet to play the swoony lodge caretaker that sweeps Iris off her feet.

Natalie Jones: Maybe it’s because I’m obsessed with Stranger Things right now and really like Max as a character, but I think Sadie Sink would be perfect for the snarky-but-sweet character of Natalie, Sawyer’s daughter.

Cole Jones: For Sawyer’s younger brother, the charming but questionable Cole, I think Charlie Hunnam would be a good fit. He could bring an air of dangerous mystery to this character, whose intentions aren’t clear to readers during the story.

Now that my fancast for Iris in the Dark is complete, I’ll sit back and cross my fingers that someday we’ll be able to see my book as a film, either streaming or in theaters!
Visit Elissa Grossell Dickey's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Speed of Light.

Q&A with Elissa Grossell Dickey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Lauren Belfer's "Ashton Hall"

Lauren Belfer is the New York Times bestselling author of And After the Fire, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; A Fierce Radiance, a Washington Post and NPR Best Mystery of the Year; and City of Light, a New York Times Notable Book, a Library Journal best book, a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and an international bestseller. Belfer attended Swarthmore College and has an MFA from Columbia University. She lives in New York City.

Here Belfer dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Ashton Hall:
When I’m in the midst of writing a novel, I often imagine the book as a movie, and I write from what I see on the screen in my mind.

A film of Ashton Hall would require a combination of English and American actors. The story begins when Hannah Larson, an American woman, and her nine-year-old son, Nicky, arrive at an historic English manor house outside Cambridge to care for an ill relative who rents an apartment there. Within a few days, Nicky has thoroughly explored the house on his own, and he’s stumbled upon a secret from the past. As Hannah and Nicky begin investigating this secret, they create new lives for themselves in England.

Hannah is about forty, and although she keeps up a strong, happy façade for the sake of her son, she’s struggling on the inside. She has to be portrayed in such a way that her inner vulnerability and sensitivity are always clear. I can think of many wonderful actresses working today who would play the role of Hannah beautifully, and I don’t want to name just one. As I think of actresses of the past, however, my mind keeps going to Ingrid Bergman. She wasn’t American, of course, and she was blonde, not dark-haired like Hannah, but she always brought a touching and riveting vulnerability to her roles.

While Hannah is living in England, she becomes close friends with Martha Tinsley, a research librarian at Ashton Hall. For this role, my dream choice would be Michelle Dockery, who is famous for her fantastic work on Downton Abbey. Recently I saw her in the TV series Anatomy of a Scandal. Because of the fierce focus and drive (within the constraints of being English) that Michelle Dockery brings to her portrayal of a barrister on that show, I immediately thought she’d be perfect in the role of Martha in Ashton Hall.

For Matthew Varet, Hannah’s friend and romantic interest in England, I’d cast Matthew Goode. Yes, he’s played similar roles and so might be a too-obvious choice, but the fact remains that he’s handsome, thoughtful, sensitive, intelligent – he would be perfect as Matthew Varet!

For some of the other characters … Judi Dench would be ideal as the estate administrator, Mrs. Felicity Gardner, and I’d cast Luke Kirby to play Hannah’s estranged husband, Kevin Donovan.

On a lighter note, one of the main characters in the book is a Golden Retriever named Duncan. Duncan is based on my own magnificent, noble, and absurdly cheerful Jasper, who died some years ago. Jasper is still a vital presence in my memory. Whenever I see a Goldie on the streets of my Greenwich Village neighborhood, I ask myself: Could that Goldie play Duncan in a movie of Ashton Hall? So far, I’m sorry to say, I haven't found the ideal Duncan … but he might be waiting for me around the next corner.
Visit Lauren Belfer's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Fierce Radiance.

My Book, The Movie: And After the Fire.

Q&A with Lauren Belfer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 10, 2022

Peter Colt's "Death at Fort Devens"

Peter Colt was born in Boston, MA in 1973 and moved to Nantucket Island shortly thereafter. He is a 1996 graduate of the University of Rhode Island and a 24-year veteran of the Army Reserve with deployments to Kosovo and Iraq. He is a police officer in a New England City and the married father of two boys.

Here Colt dreamcasts an adaptation of his new Andy Roark mystery, Death at Fort Devens:
Death at Fort Devens is set in Boston and at Fort Devens (an Army base in Massachusetts) in the summer of 1985. Boston PI and former Green Beret/Vietnam vet Andy Roark is asked for help by an old Army buddy of his, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Billings. Dave saved Andy’s life in Vietnam and is newly stationed at Fort Devens. Dave has a teenaged daughter who has run away from home. Dave tries to hire Andy to find her, but Andy takes the case for free because of his obligation to Dave. Andy’s search leads him into Boston’s notorious Combat Zone, five square acres of sex, strippers, prostitution, and drugs. The search also leads Andy to a very dark, violent place within himself and forces him to consider how far he will go to save a young woman from a life of drug addiction and prostitution.

The characters I would like to see cast are: Andy Roark, Dave Billings, Sue Teller and Sailor.

Every writer since the invention of film has contemplated who they want to play their lead character if the book was made into a film. I am no different. Since I wrote the first book, I have gone around and around in my mind about it. Ideally, I want someone who seems credible playing a veteran, not just a veteran but someone who had been an elite soldier and who still carries his war with him every day. While I kept thinking about this over the months and years two or three names came to the top of the list and for very different reasons.

The first was Adam Driver. Driver, a former Marine, and extremely talented actor has the dramatic chops to play the part. Not only that but his service also gives him a great deal of insight into what makes my character tick. Driver is a versatile actor who can easily transition from dramatic to comedic and back. Driver could easily capture Andy’s sense of humor.

For years Adam Driver was the only actor that made sense to me. Then I saw Narcos Mexico, and I was looking at an actor who looked like I thought my character looked like. That’s Scoot McNairy. McNairy didn’t seem like an actor playing a DEA agent taking on the cartels, he was Walt Breslin. McNairy managed to seem dedicated, tough, driven, and sympathetic all at once. All the things that I want Andy Roark to seem on screen. As a bonus he is also in Killing Them Softly with Brad Pitt, in which he plays a criminal in Boston. McNairy accent may not be perfect, but it sounds perfectly like what I picture Andy’s to be like.

Dave Billings is a war hero and seems to lead a charmed life. He is tough and has the type of class that comes with being born into money. The actor who plays him has to have the military bearing of someone who is in command and whose men would follow him to hell and back. He also has to convey the sensitivity of a distraught father whose daughter has run away. For me the actor who stands out above the rest is Alexander Skarsgård. After watching him in Generation Kill it is easy to see him as a combat veteran and elite soldier. He has the range to do that and to make the audience want to go out looking for his missing daughter.

Sue Teller is Andy’s ex-girlfriend who runs an outreach program in the Combat Zone where she tries to get prostitutes out of the life. Sue is tough and dedicated. She is more than a match for Andy and is not just the usual female lead or romantic window dressing. This role demands an actor who can believably have had a relationship with, and left, Andy as well as hold her own when arguing with him. To me that is Zoey Deutch. She is equally adept at drama or comedy. In my mind she can bring Sue to life on the screen while holding her own with any of the other actors I have mentioned.

Sailor: Sailor is a violent street criminal. He is a drug dealer and is involved in the sex trade. He is a violent, captivating character who is also quite humorous. He has to go from insulting, to fighting, to being vulnerable and requires a pretty versatile actor. One who can also convey sleaziness. For me this was the easiest actor to imaginarily cast: James Ransone. His work in Generation Kill, The Wire and Bosch are all captivating performances in which he runs through the gamut of emotions, humor and ability to be violent. He is the perfect Sailor.
Visit Peter Colt's website.

My Book, The Movie: Back Bay Blues.

Q&A with Peter Colt.

The Page 69 Test: Death at Fort Devens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Katie Tallo's "Poison Lilies"

Katie Tallo has been an award-winning screenwriter and director for more than two decades. In 2012, she was inspired to begin writing novels. Dark August is her debut novel. Tallo has a daughter and lives with her husband in Ottawa, Ontario.

Here Tallo dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of her new novel, Poison Lilies:
I spent my early career making films and writing screenplays so as I transitioned to novel writing, the visual focus in storytelling always stayed with me. When I’m writing I often imagine the lights, the sounds, locations and sets, the actors, and I hear the dialogue (often saying it out loud).

If Poison Lilies was made into a film, I’ve love to see either Sadie Sink (Stranger Things) or Sophia Lillis (It, Uncle Frank) cast as the lead, Augusta Monet. I think both these actors can play tough, sassy, fearless, independent and vulnerable characters—like Gus. It also doesn’t hurt that they're both redheads like Gus!
Visit Katie Tallo's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dark August.

Q&A with Katie Tallo.

The Page 69 Test: Poison Lilies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Wendy Church's "Murder on the Spanish Seas"

Wendy Church has been a bartender, tennis instructor, semiconductor engineer, group facilitator, nonprofit CEO, teacher, PhD researcher, and dive bar cleaner. Her first suspense novel, Murder on the Spanish Seas, is set on a luxury cruise in the Iberian peninsula, and introduces amateur
sleuth Jesse O’Hara, whose adventures are partly informed by Church’s expertise and international travels.

Here Church dreamcasts an adaptation of Murder on the Spanish Seas:
The main protagonist in Murder on the Spanish Seas is Jesse O’Hara, a profane, introverted, hard drinking, 30-year-old woman. She’s smart, impatient, and fiercely loyal to her few close friends. She’s also really smart/witty, which helps her unravel mysteries, and solve crimes. When I think about casting her in a movie, I imagine Angie Harmon in her role as Rizzoli, or Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games, if they remade it with an ongoing internal dialogue from Katniss that was snarky and funny.

Jesse’s best friend and sidekick, Sam, I envision being played by Eva Mendes, thinking about her role in The Other Guys as Will Ferrell’s wife.

I’d love to have Mel Brooks direct a movie based on my book, as he can carry on a suspenseful/interesting story that maintains a baseline of funny the whole time. He’d probably add in a bunch of stuff that would make the movie way funnier than the book, which would be great. I’d also want him to do a cameo, maybe playing the role of the bumbling ship security officer.
Visit Wendy Church's website.

The Page 69 Test: Murder on the Spanish Seas.

Q&A with Wendy Church.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Marty Ambrose's "Forever Past"

Marty Ambrose is the award-winning author of a historical mystery trilogy: Claire's Last Secret, A Shadowed Fate, and Forever Past, all set around the Byron/Shelley circle in nineteenth-century Italy. Her fiction has earned starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, as well as a gold medal for historical fiction in the Florida Writers Association's Literary Palm Awards.

Here Ambrose shares her vision for an adaptation of Forever Past:
I would love to see a one-woman tour de force film of my novel, Forever Past, the final installment in the Claire Clairmont mystery trilogy. This book is really the story of Claire’s search for her lost daughter, Allegra, conceived out of wedlock with English poet, Lord Byron, and it is told in her words. For so long, Claire was the missing voice in the Byron/Shelley circle, eclipsed by the more famous members of this glittering literary group, and it would be fitting to see her take the center of a cinematic interpretation--alone.

I’ve always been fascinated by films with a single actor who is the lynchpin for making a movie captivating and intense, much like the vintage Vincent Price movie, An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe. I’ve seen this film many times, and it never grows old as he evokes the sinister world of Gothic horror. In his role, Price narrates four of Poe’s short stories and, with his bravura performance, he is mesmerizing during the entire film. No other actors are needed. No complex setting is required. No musical score is necessary.

In that vein, Helena Bonham-Carter would be my choice for Claire. She has played historical characters (think Room with a View) with the same passionate, impetuous nature and, now as an older actor, she also possesses the wistful wisdom that comes with age. I think she would not only embody the spirit of Claire but, also, be able to carry the film singlehandedly with her charismatic presence.

The movie would begin with Bonham-Carter as Claire at the end of the book, when she is in a garden outside Livorno, about to learn whether her daughter is still alive. She then begins to tell the story of Forever Past, speaking directly to the camera as she creates the atmospheric tale of what transpired to bring her to this point. As she relates the details of her quest that took her to Ravenna, the Convent of Bagnacavallo and, eventually, Livorno, she explores how each exotic locale revealed betrayals by people whom she loved and trusted. Her dearest friend Trelawny, had hid his role in Allegra’s life, the abbess at the Bagnacavallo convent lied to her about her role in Allegra’s disappearance, and her stalwart police ally hid important details about Allegra’s fate from her. Still, Claire prevailed and, in her dialog, Bonham-Carter would reveal a woman of resolve, deep feeling, and vulnerability.

In the course of Bonham-Carter’s monologue, I would also have her read aloud the part of Forever Past which contains the fictional letters of Pietro Gamba—the brother of Lord Byron’s last mistress—who bore witness to Byron’s final days in Greece when he died in the cause of Greek independence. As she recites passages based on Byron’s actual words, I would shift to a male actor’s voiceover, played by classical actor, Ciaran Hinds, to convey the world of men at war, from which Claire was excluded. Hinds would not be visible—only audible.

At the end of the film, Bonham-Carter will turn to a shadowy, unfocused figure who emerges from a small villa, as she utters Claire’s final word at the end of the book: Allegra?

Has Claire’s journey led to a satisfying conclusion? I can’t reveal that...
Visit Marty Ambrose's website.

--Marshal Zeringue