Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Julie McElwain's "Ripples in Time"

Julie McElwain is a national award-winning journalist. Her first novel, A Murder in Time, was one of the top 10 picks by the National Librarian Association for its April 2016 book list, and was selected as the mystery to read in 2016 by OverDrive Inc., a digital distributor serving more than 34,000 libraries around the world. The novel was also a finalist for the 2016 Goodreads' readers choice awards in the Sci-fi category, and made Bustle's list of 9 Most Addictive Mystery series for 2017. Town & Country magazine recently selected A Murder in Time as one of 35 best time travel books.

A Murder in Time has been optioned for television/movie development.

A Twist in Time and Caught in Time — the second and third installments of the In Time series — were released in April 2017 and July 2018, respectively. Both novels were selected by The National Librarian Association for their Must-Read lists. Betrayal in Time earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Ripples in Time is the new novel in the In Time series.

Here McElwain reveals the on-screen talent that (maybe) inspired the protagonist of the series:
A Murder in Time—the first book in the series—was released to my latest installment, Ripples in Time, I have been asked who I might have been inspired by when creating Kendra. While I have often denied having anyone in mind for Kendra when I sat down to write the books, I have since realized that the subconscious is a funny thing and I may have had someone in the back of my mind, after all.

When I was a child, I used to watch late night reruns of The Avengers with John Steed and Emma Peel. The latter, played fabulously by Diana Rigg, was a great influencer. As the only girl in a family of boys, I have always loved strong female characters in books and film. Mrs. Peel was not only strong—indeed, she tended to be the karate-chopping action heroine next to the sophisticated John Steed—but she was also brilliant, beautiful, and always maintained her cool composure under enormous pressure. When Dame Diana Rigg died in 2020 and the tributes poured in, it occurred to me that I may have subconsciously channeled Mrs. Peel when I began building the character that would become Kendra. Of course, there are differences—Kendra might be a bit more hotheaded, a bit more damaged than the classy Mrs. Peel—but the spirit of Diane Rigg’s most famous alter ego is very much echoed and encapsulated in my protagonist.
Visit Julie McElwain's website.

My Book, The Movie: Betrayal in Time.

Q&A with Julie McElwain.

My Book, The Movie: Shadows in Time.

Writers Read: Julie McElwain.

The Page 69 Test: Ripples in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Peggy Rothschild's "Playing Dead"

After losing their home during a California wildfire, Peggy Rothschild and her husband moved to the beach community of Los Osos along the central coast. When not at her desk or out walking, you can usually find her in the garden. Rothschild is a member of Sisters in Crime National and Sisters in Crime Los Angeles.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Playing Dead:
Molly Madison is a former cop and P. I. Three months before the book begins, she relocated from Massachusetts to California to escape the rumors and suspicion about her possible involvement in her husband’s murder. Now working as a dog trainer, Molly is getting to know her new beachside town. She’s thirty-seven and has two dogs of her own, Harlow, a golden retriever, and Noodle, a Saint Berdoodle. When she takes her dogs to Playtime Academy to try out their classes, everything’s going great—until one of her dogs discovers a dead body. The universally unpopular victim was seen having a heated argument with Felicity—another agility handler—earlier in the day. Molly doesn’t believe Felicity is a killer, but her new friend won’t tell her what the fight was about. With a murder charge hanging over Felicity’s head, Molly begins investigating—with the help of her dogs.

I don’t usually picture actors when I’m writing. In Playing Dead, the lone exception was the character of Shondra Davis. The entire time I was writing her, I pictured Erica Tazel. But as I widened my thought process to dream-cast my book, the following actors came to mind:

For Molly Madison, I can easily see the wonderful Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She’s played a range of characters in her career and her portrayal of Nikki Swango in Fargo was perfect. She’s great at messaging inner strength—as well as physical strength—and does so well with light touches of humor.

Miguel Vasquez is a detective in the Pier Point Police Department and Molly’s boyfriend. The two rushed into a relationship and now Molly suspects her smart, sexy man is hiding something from her. Diego Luna Alexander could play this role in his sleep. Like Miguel he’s handsome and has soulful eyes.

Brandon Butler would do a wonderful job portraying Molly’s agoraphobic neighbor. J. D. Lennon is a former surfer-boy who has become largely housebound as a result of PTSD. Butler has the physicality and good looks to bring him to life.

Eight-year-old Ava Greenwood is Molly’s neighbor and a chess and math prodigy. The girl is whip-smart, but socially awkward and Molly is training both Ava and her dog, Butterscotch. Young Dervyn McDowell has the right look and easy charm to carry this off.

The brilliant Christina Ricci would be amazing as Celeste Simmons—she does catty and cutting so well!

The rest of the cast in order of appearance…

Simone Bealieu – Condola Rashad

Felicity Gaines – Becky Newton

Stacy Marinovic – Parker Posey

Quentin Cooke – Jake Cannavale

Deputy Wallace – Nick Offerman

Deputy Alvarez - Adria Arjona

Jemma Greenwood – Hope Davis

Joel DeCarolis – Kevin L. Johnson

Izzy Harmon - Kelly Reilly

Del Kaminski – Rex Linn

Lupe – Carmen Ejago

Maureen – Ana Rey

Mr. Hopkins – Don Johnson

Shondra Davis – Erica Tazel
Visit Peggy Rothschild's website.

Q&A with Peggy Rothschild.

The Page 69 Test: Playing Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 17, 2023

Scotto Moore's "Wild Massive"

Scotto Moore is the author of Battle of the Linguist Mages, and science fantasy novel, and Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You, a sci-fi/horror novella, both published by Tor.com. For fourteen years, he was an active playwright in Seattle, with major productions nearly every year during that time, and 45 short plays produced during that time as well. He wrote book, lyrics, and music for the a cappella sci-fi musical Silhouette, which won the 2018 Gregory Falls Award for Outstanding New Play, presented by Theatre Puget Sound. He also wrote, directed and produced three seasons of the sci-fi/comedy web series The Coffee Table; and wrote and starred in the horror/comedy play H.P. Lovecraft Stand-up Comedian!

Here Moore dreamcasts an adaptation of his second novel, Wild Massive:
Wild Massive is a grand science fantasy adventure, set inside an infinitely tall Building in the center of the multiverse. The cast of characters is rather large and includes humans, non-human species, and supernatural beings galore, but a few of them stand out. Here’s how I might cast them in an imaginary movie of the book.

Carissa – Closest thing to a leading role we might see, Carissa is a tough survivor who prefers the solitude of the Building elevator in which she lives over the company of others; but her sanity and safety are threatened when she’s yanked into the middle of a conflict between the fascist Association and their mortal enemies, the shapeshifting sorcerers known as the Shai-Manak. But Carissa’s got a few secrets and underestimating her would be a big mistake. Actor: Alicia Vikander

Rindasy – A top spy and sorcerer, deployed by the Shai-Manak to lead a surprise attack below the Association’s border. The Shai-Manak live thousands of years, have a martial spiritual system, and are fiercely protective of their secret home floor in the Building; Rindasy is one of their finest and a living legend among them. Rindasy befriends Carissa and the two of them wind up on the run from virtually every faction imaginable, but Rindasy’s confidence and magical acumen keep them a step ahead. Actor: Emily Blunt

Tabitha – A young writer and part-time fortune-teller (she can see a day into the future, but with unpredictable accuracy), Tabitha is an enthusiastic narrative designer for the Wild Massive corporation. She’s incredibly sharp, highly motivated, very enthusiastic, and perhaps a little naïve. But she never gives up hope that she’ll be able to help the fugitives, Carissa and Rindasy, escape an unfair fate. Actor: Jenna Ortega

Allegory – One of the mysterious and elegant Muses responsible for the original construction of the Building, Allegory is now the Chief Creative Officer for the Wild Massive corporation, leading all of its storytelling efforts across every medium, including the attractions at the Wild Massive theme parks. She’s also a cagy and savvy diplomatic operative for Wild Massive as it negotiates terms with the Association to deploy theme parks on its floors. She has untold power, but rarely ever displays it, and her secret agenda quietly drives the narrative in unexpected ways. Actor: Tilda Swinton

Roland – Theme park impresario and master showman, Roland is the general manager of the original Wild Massive theme park – an anachronistic tourist attraction that proves to be the location of a key showdown in the book. He’s a magician, an engineer, and a bit of a trickster, and he comes through for the fugitives despite his many misgivings, because standing up to the Association on his own home turf is the right thing to do. Actor: Malcolm McDowell
Visit Scotto Moore's website.

My Book, The Movie: Battle of the Linguist Mages.

Q&A with Scotto Moore.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 13, 2023

Caroline Lea's "Prize Women"

Caroline Lea grew up in Jersey in the United Kingdom. Her fiction and poetry have been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, the Fish Short Story Competition and various flash fiction prizes. She currently lives in Warwick with her two young children. Her work often explores the pressure of small communities and fractured relationships, as well as the way our history shapes our beliefs and behavior.

Here Lea dreamcasts an adaptation of Prize Women, her fourth novel:
Imagine Succession in the aftermath of Logan Roy’s death, combined with the menacing social control of The Handmaid’s Tale and you have my novel, Prize Women. Set in Toronto 1926, the book follows a scandal after a fabulously wealthy lawyer dies, leaving the majority of his vast fortune to the woman who can have the greatest number of babies in the ten years after his death. The catch? It’s based on a true story. The story of the women caught up in the notorious ‘Great Stork Derby' sounds outrageous. Often poor and socially disadvantaged, they found themselves at the centre of a court battle, a media maelstrom and scathing public criticism, which examined what it meant to be a woman, what makes a ‘good’ mother and whether certain women have the ‘right’ to have children.

It feels like a story ripe for movie adaptation: while writing, I drew inspiration for my character from films and television past and present. My novel follows two of the women caught up in the hideous ‘baby race’. Near the start of the novel, they are the closest of friends: their love is one of the propulsive forces of hope in the story. However, as the women compete for a sum of money that will change their lives and save their families, their relationship is fractured and tested to its limits.

Lily is an outsider in Toronto, of Italian-Canadian heritage and, at the start of the novel, is on the run from her abusive husband. Her mixture of vulnerability and strength would be played perfectly by Elisabeth Moss, whose compelling performance in The Handmaid’s Tale is both haunting and hopeful and she brings such depth and nuance to her characters.

Mae is the wife of a wealthy businessman, weighed down by the pressures and demands of motherhood. Like Lily, she finds an inner steel over the course of the novel: I loved writing about the way these two women slowly take control of their own lives. Kate Winslet would perfectly portray Mae’s initial icy stoicism, along with her inner fragility and ultimate resolve – I love the complexity she brought to Mare of Easttown.

Tony is Lily’s charismatic and abusive husband: self-assured, handsome and furious at the world. I would conjure a young Marlon Brando into the role, as he was in A Streetcar Named Desire: a magnetic ‘alpha’ male, whose simmering violence shapes everyone and everything to his will.

Charles Vance Millar is the rich lawyer whose will started the infamous baby race. Although he doesn’t have a starring role in my novel, his capricious bequest overshadows everything and I’d love him to be played by Brian Cox, who plays the brilliantly misanthropic Logan Roy in Succession.

Leonard is Mae’s husband: privileged and confident, having been shielded from any challenges in life, until the Great Depression causes the collapse of the business he inherited from his father. Leonard slumps into despair and self-pity, while retaining some of the arrogance that lingers from his prosperous past. Jeremy Strong, who plays Kendall Roy so magnificently in Succession would perfectly embody Leonard’s mixture of egotism and weakness.

I would love a movie of Prize Women to be directed and produced by the team that brought The Handmaid’s Tale so beautifully and compellingly to our screens. The pacing, the gorgeous cinematography, the wonderful closely-shot, intense exploration of how women fight back in a society that is trying to control their bodies: all of this would fit perfectly with my novel, which feels like a real-life version of Atwood’s dystopian world.
Follow Caroline Lea on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: The Glass Woman.

My Book, The Movie: The Metal Heart.

Q&A with Caroline Lea.

Writers Read: Caroline Lea.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Peter Colt's "The Ambassador"

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, The Ambassador:
Andy Roark: My strong favorite has been and continues to be Adam Driver. I think he is an excellent actor but he is also a veteran. The fact that he was in the Marine Corps, would in belief, allow him to really convey a lot of the nuance of Andy who is a Vietnam Vet. Andy is a character with a sense of humor which juxtaposes nicely with his loneliness and struggles with PTSD. I think that Adam Driver is an actor who can easily bring that alive on the big screen.

Another possibility would be Jake Gyllenhaal. He is an immensely talented actor with great range. He easily can shift from drama, to comedy to action roles. While the books are detective stories there is a fair amount of action in them and Gyllenhaal has been in some great action roles.

The Ambassador AKA Gordon Stevenson: Stevenson is the pivotal character in the book, he is the client and in many ways the foil to Andy. He is a character that starts off being all bluster and is really quite annoying. Later Andy comes to understand him and possibly even like him. I see J.K. Simmons as Stevenson. Simmons conveys authority and gravitas, yet he can be likeable and even vulnerable.

Honey Stevenson: the Ambassador's wife, would be played by the fantastic January Jones. Honey is beautiful and smart. She is her own woman and while she loves her husband she is not blind to her flaws. She also has an iron will and keeps Andy on task. January Jones can effortlessly play the part of the wife the viewer would be tempted to write off as a trophy wife but who is actually quite nuanced.

Special Agent Brenda Watts: Brenda is one of Andy's few friends. She is a no nonsense woman fighting for recognition as a woman in the FBI of 1985. She is competent, smart and tough. She also has no use for Andy's BS or his attempts at Charm. She also cares a great deal about him. Carey Mulligan looks very much like how I picture Brenda Watts. Not only that but she is an outstanding actress who has delivered captivating performances every time she appears on screen.
Visit Peter Colt's website.

My Book, The Movie: Back Bay Blues.

Q&A with Peter Colt.

My Book, The Movie: Death at Fort Devens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 6, 2023

Megan Chance's "A Dangerous Education"

Megan Chance is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of more than twenty novels, including A Splendid Ruin, Bone River, and An Inconvenient Wife. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest.

Here Chance dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, A Dangerous Education:
Given that I think very cinematically when I write, and have always assigned the roles of my characters to actors and pinned their pictures all over my office (very reminiscent of my young teenage years when posters of David Cassidy were on my ceiling), this is a pretty easy one for me.

More than that, for this book in particular, I had movies on the brain before I even started writing. A Dangerous Education is a story of a teacher who must come to terms with her own wayward past as she tangles with a dangerous clique at a boarding school for rebellious girls of influential families—and all of this during the repressive era of the 1950s, McCarthyism and the Cold War. I wanted the novel to have a similar feeling to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Picnic at Hanging Rock, not just the novels, but the movies made from them. I wanted dangerous, illicit, creepy, sensual—feelings often associated with girls’ adolescence. I’d also seen the Amazon series based on Picnic at Hanging Rock, with Natalie Dormer, and I wanted that feeling too, that propulsive malice.

Rosemary Chivers is angry, vulnerable, and struggling against the repressiveness of the curriculum she’s supposed to teach, I wanted a strong woman unafraid to say what she thinks and often getting in trouble because of that. Also someone with a sense of humor, because that particular woman in the 1950s would have to have one. When I watched the Starz series The White Princess, with Jodie Comer as Elizabeth of York, I had my Rosemary. Watching her in Killing Eve only cemented that.

For the girls, the actresses I chose are all too old to play the parts now, but I was looking at them in their younger years: Maddison Jaizani, from Versailles (now Bess in Nancy Drew) was my perfect Maisie. Kaya Scoledario (Skins, The Maze Runner) was Sandra, and Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma, The Queen’s Gambit) an excellent Jean. Each of them personified the girls beautifully.

And because I’ve been slightly obsessed with Luke Pasqualino since he was in the BBC’s The Musketeers, and he has the most vulnerable eyes, I picked him for Bobby.

For a director: a woman certainly. Emerald Fennell maybe? Niki Caro? Sofia Coppola? I’d want someone with a dry sense of humor and that ability to capture the enigmatic challenges of the 1950s, adolescence, and impossible decisions. If she could give it even the slightest touch of Prime of Miss Jean Brodie or Picnic at Hanging Rock feel, I would be more than satisfied.
Visit Megan Chance's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Splendid Ruin.

Q&A with Megan Chance.

The Page 69 Test: A Dangerous Education.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 3, 2023

Craig DiLouie's "Episode Thirteen"

Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

In hundreds of reviews, DiLouie’s novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.

These works have been nominated for major literary awards such as the Bram Stoker Award and Audie Award, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for film. He is a member of the HWA, SFWA, International Thriller Writers, and IFWA.

Here DiLouie shares some ideas for an adaptation of his new novel, Episode Thirteen:
Episode Thirteen is a novel about a ghost-hunting reality TV crew that explores a haunted house only to get way more than they bargained for. An epistolary work, it’s a mosaic of journal entries, video transcripts, emails, and the like that blend to tell a complete story about how everything went horribly wrong.

If the novel were made into a film, I’d love to see Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead direct it. You may know them for The Endless, Resolution, Synchronic, and Something in the Dirt. These guys are wizards at drilling the viewer deep into weird concept without needing any kind of major budget to do it, simply by staying focused on the characters and how they react to the strange. While Episode Thirteen is a haunted house story, by the end it goes way beyond the traditional tropes into cosmic horror territory, and I think these directors would perfectly adapt it onto the screen. They’d also give it plenty of rough edges and the right character development instead of a sanitized, polished product that I think might interfere with the reality TV aspect of it.

If they weren’t available, then I’d cross my fingers for Ti West, director of films like Testament and X. He has a real love for horror, and every one of his films is solid, focusing on a simple story well told with an intriguing concept that sucks you in and a focus on character that makes you care.

Regarding who I’d ideally cast in it… As Episode Thirteen is really the literary equivalent of a found footage horror movie, putting it on a screen for real I think would require a different standard for suspension of disbelief. What I’m saying is to push the reality aspect I think it’d be ideal to go with actors who aren’t yet recognized brands, similar to what The Blair Witch Project accomplished. While in a perfect world I’d stack it with my favorite actors—which would be heaven, as I’m a major film buff—the adaptation I don’t think would be served by it. This is a story where you should just let yourself go and enjoy the ride with maximum believability, a gritty sense of reality, and an open sense of wonder.
Visit Craig DiLouie's website.

My Book, The Movie: One of Us.

The Page 69 Test: Episode Thirteen.

Writers Read: Craig DiLouie.

--Marshal Zeringue