Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Alex Kenna's "What Meets the Eye"

Alex Kenna is a lawyer, writer, and amateur painter based in Los Angeles.

Before law school, Kenna studied painting and art history at Penn. She also worked as a freelance art critic and culture writer. Originally from Washington DC, Kenna lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and giant schnauzer, Zelda. When she’s not writing Kenna can be found nerding out in art museums, exploring flea markets, and playing string instruments badly.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, What Meets the Eye:
I was addicted to film and TV thrillers long before I started writing crime fiction. That’s probably why I always pictured my book, What Meets the Eye, as a movie.

The story follows Kate Myles, a struggling PI, who lost her family and police career after an accident damaged her back and led to an opiate addiction. Struggling to pay the bills, Kate reluctantly agrees to investigate the suspected suicide of Margot Starling, a beautiful and famous painter. Along the way, Kate seeks help from her former LAPD partner, Luke Delgado, with whom she shares an unspoken attraction. The book also uses a series of flashbacks to trace Margot’s rise in the art world.

I’ve been casting the story since the first draft of the first chapter. Here are a few of my fantasy picks.

Kate: From the beginning, I’ve pictured Kate as Jessie Buckley. Buckley can do literally anything, is naturally likeable in an intelligent, adult way, and is blessed with an incredibly expressive face. In the book, Kate is struggling to regain custody of her seven-year-old daughter, who she only sees on weekends. Buckley was brilliant in The Lost Daughter as a loving, but deeply flawed, mother. She also carried a slow-burn mystery in The Woman in White. Buckley excels at playing understated characters who don’t try to draw attention to themselves. In her hands, even the most quiet, introverted women become magnetic through the sheer force of her talent and charisma.

Margot: Like many great visual artists, Margot is not neurotypical. She struggles with bipolar disorder and has experienced significant trauma. Jennifer Lawrence (a writer can dream, right?) would be perfect for Margot. In Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence starred as a young, mentally ill widow, who falls in love with a man suffering from bipolar disorder. She brought an incredible amount of nuance and sensitivity to the part. Lawrence could convey Margot’s passion, talent, and pain without turning her into a caricature.

Luke: For Luke Delgado, Kate’s LAPD love interest, I’d have to pick the dynamic Pedro Pascal, who was great as Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones. Luke is a manly guy, with a broken nose he never bothered to fix, and a fierce loyalty to the people he cares about. Pascal already convincingly played a rugged law enforcement officer in Narcos. And of course, he happens to be sexy, which doesn’t hurt.

John: Adding to Kate’s troubles are her hostile interactions with her ex-husband, John. John and Kate were fundamentally incompatible and share a mutual resentment. Initially brought together by physical chemistry, they were trapped in a bad marriage after Kate fell pregnant. I envisioned John as having a mild case of OCD and Kate a flaming case of ADHD. John’s the guy who makes his bed every morning with hospital corners. Kate’s the woman who leaves the oven on and has to go back to the grocery store because she forgot the milk. Now she has to keep him happy to obtain visits from her daughter, while John condescends to her and spits out insults. For John, I would love to cast Dev Patel. Patel is an incredible actor who could play any part, and he always seems to radiate kindness. Just for variety, I’d love to see him as a low-grade jerk. He has the nuance to show John as someone who is flawed, but not a one-note monster. And his good looks could help explain why Kate initially fell for John.
Visit Alex Kenna's website.

Q&A with Alex Kenna.

--Marshal Zeringue