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