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