Friday, March 31, 2023

Marcia Bradley's "The Home for Wayward Girls"

Marcia Bradley is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. An adjunct professor, she also teaches economically challenged teens and is proud that one of her Yonkers students is now a student at Sarah Lawrence. A former editor of Antioch's Two Hawks magazine, Bradley has been awarded residencies at Ragdale, Community of Writers, and Writers in Paradise. She lives in New York City.

Here Bradley dreamcasts an adapation of her debut novel, The Home for Wayward Girls:
The Home for Wayward Girls takes place in the late 1990’s and the early 21st century. The protagonist, Loretta, has spent the first seventeen years of her life on a ranch where people pay her parents to imprison their daughters and teach them to be good, subservient, God-fearing young women. Yet, I don’t imagine that it’s so different than the lives a lot of people find themselves stuck in. I think that many people, especially women, find that they must flee circumstances that are unbearable, as does Loretta.

In the dictionary the term everywoman is defined as an ordinary woman, representative of all women. Loretta is like many women who feel they have no way out, or that they are being brainwashed by questionable religious teachings, or that they have to repay a debt to those they live with. Whoever plays her in a movie must be an everywoman.

I must say that I’m beyond delighted to offer my picks for the cast of this movie. For Loretta, the big qualifier is that many young women would have to be able to see themselves in the actress. Emma Stone is perfect because she’s fantastic and earthy and seems she could be anyone’s friend. Elle Fanning as Loretta’s best friend Elsie would be awesome. I can just see the two of them breaking free!

There is an incredible group of young actresses who also come to mind like Callie Haverda from the new That 90’s Show as sweet resident, Crystal. Also, Jenna Ortega from Wednesday as tough resident Tanya. For Loretta’s parents, I wonder if Margo Martindale and Nick Nolte would be available—they’d be so despicably great.

And last, who should be Clarke, Loretta’s kind, nonjudgmental, and helpful husband? I’ve given this a lot of thought and decided (as if this is reality) that the role goes to Elijah Wood from Lord of the Rings. He’s got the right demeanor and deserves a break to spend time with Loretta in the wonderful world that is The Big Apple. I think Loretta would approve.
Visit Marcia Bradley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Josh Weiss's "Sunset Empire"

Josh Weiss is a first-time author from South Jersey. Raised in a proud Jewish home, he was instilled with an appreciation for his cultural heritage from a very young age. Today, Weiss is utterly fascinated with the convergence of Judaism and popular culture in film, television, comics, literature, and other media. After college, he became a freelance entertainment journalist, writing stories for SYFY WIRE, The Hollywood Reporter, Forbes, and Marvel Entertainment.

Here Weiss dreamcasts an adaptation of Sunset Empire, the thrilling alternate history sequel to Beat the Devils:
My personal fan-casting still stands from last time: Matthew Rhys (The Americans), Morgan Spector (The Plot Against America), or Oscar Isaac (Operation Finale) are all free to play the role of Morris Baker if they ever find themselves interested. For now, though, I’ll continue to sit by the phone, eagerly waiting for Hollywood to call and scoop up the screen rights to Beat the Devils, Sunset Empire, and any subsequent novels that may come out of my head.

While I don’t have any strong casting thoughts on Book 2 beyond the character of Baker, I think its general atmosphere would be really cool to see on screen — perhaps in the hands of horror maestro Guillermo del Toro? Guillermo, bubeleh, give me a buzz when you get a chance. Let’s talk turkey! All joking aside, I’d love to see del Toro’s penchant for exploring deep themes by way of a fraught historical period by way of this novel.

Sunset Empire takes place against the backdrop of a dreary, almost gothic cold spell gripping the city of Los Angeles in late 1959. Instead of the blazing sunshine and choking smog the town is known for, you have have icy rain, swirling mist, and an all-consuming, San Francisco-y fog. The visual of palm trees, that ultimate signifier of warm weather, obscured by a constant downpour of frigid precipitation just seemed really cool and ominous.

In fact, I have to give all the props to my returning cover illustrator Philip Pascuzzo, who perfectly nailed the vibe with the artwork for Sunset Empire.
Visit Josh Weiss's website.

My Book, The Movie: Beat the Devils.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Amulya Malladi's "A Death in Denmark"

Amulya Malladi is the bestselling author of eight novels, including The Copenhagen Affair, A House for Happy Mothers, and The Mango Season. Her books have been translated into several languages, including Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Danish, Romanian, Serbian, and Tamil.
She won a screenwriting award for her work on Ø (Island), a Danish series that aired on Amazon Prime Global and Studio Canal+. Currently living in California, she is a Danish citizen who was born and raised in India.

Here Malladi dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of her new novel, A Death in Denmark:
In A Death in Denmark, there is a tricky element to my protagonist Gabriel Præst. He shaves his head. While I wrote the book, I didn’t have an actor in mind, I never do, my characters are their own people—but once the book is done and people say, “this will make a great movie”—as a writer, you started to go through your mental rolodex of actors to see who would fit.

So, let’s talk about Gabriel. He’s an ex-Copenhagen cop turned Private Investigator. He loves good food and wine. Dresses well. Has an excellent sense of humor. And he plays the blues and jazz. He shaves his head and loves a good fedora. Is a snappy dresser—designer all the way. Lives in the famous Kartoffelrækkerne, the historical “potato” townhouses in the center of Copenhagen—a house that he was constantly renovating. Is not an alcoholic or a drug addict or tortured soul as so many Nordic Noir male protagonists are. He is a good father and close to his daughter. He is single and has lovers. He has authentic relationships with friends. And most importantly, he knows himself.

My first choice would be Danish actor Dar Salim, who received a Bodil Award nomination in the category Best Actor for the film Go With Peace, Jamil in 2008 and you can see him in the recent Danish Netflix crime drama, Loving Adults. He’s a fantastic actor (and he makes bald look sexy).

Now, if we could look past the “bald” thing, one of my favorite Danish actors is Pilou Asbæk known for playing the troubled spin doctor Kasper Juul in the Danish television political drama Borgen and Euron Greyjoy in the television series Game of Thrones. I think he’d bring a lot of gravitas to Gabriel.

If Pilou is busy, Nikolaj Lie Kaas who plays the tortured detective Carl Mørck in the Department Q novels by Jussi Adler-Olsen would make a perfect Gabriel. I love Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, famous for playing Jaime Lannister, again from Game of Thrones—he can play any role he likes; actually, I’ll even write a new role for him if he’d ever considers being part of A Death in Denmark, if it ever hits the small or big screen.
Visit Amulya Malladi's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 20, 2023

Asale Angel-Ajani's "A Country You Can Leave"

Asale Angel-Ajani is a writer and Professor at The City College of New York. She's the author of the nonfiction books Strange Trade: The Story of Two Women Who Risked Everything in the International Drug Trade and Intimate: Essays on Racial Terror. She has held residencies at Millay, Djerassi, and Playa, and is an alum of VONA and Tin House.

Here Angel-Ajani dreamcasts an adaptation of A Country You Can Leave, her first novel:
A Country You Can Leave tells the story of Lara, a biracial Afro-Cuban-Russian girl, and her Russian mother, Yevgenia. It opens with their arrival at the Oasis Mobil Estates, a somewhat ne’re-do-well community located in the California Desert. As a mother and daughter duo trying to figure out their place in America, the novel is part love story and part a story of coming of age under difficult circumstances. But it’s also a novel of dark humor and outrageous characters that, I hope, stay with you for a long while.

As my novel is set in the desert, I imagine one of those films that have to convey the heat and the stretch of open blue skies in a way that was both artful and realistic. The actresses that I think would be great at playing the central mother and daughter characters would be Charlize Theron, playing the complex and fierce Russian mother, Yevgenia, and the British actress, Nathalie Emmanuel playing Lara. There is a small part of me that would love to see Zendaya opposite Charlize Theron but I may be overthinking this. But they’d all be great. Of course, Brad Pitt would play himself (just kidding). In my book, my characters do call the cute neighbor, Steve, “Brad Pitt” but that would be a bit too meta.
Visit Asale Angel-Ajani's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Elizabeth Wein's "Stateless"

Elizabeth Wein is the holder of a private pilot’s license and the owner of about a thousand maps. She is best known for her historical fiction about young women flying in World War II, including the New York Times bestselling Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire. Wein is also the author of Cobalt Squadron, a middle grade novel set in the Star Wars universe and connected to the 2017 release The Last Jedi. She lives in Scotland and holds both British and American citizenship.

Here Wein shares some ideas for an adaptation of her new novel, Stateless:
Stateless is a thriller and a mystery, set in a young people’s air race around Europe in 1937. Tensions are high anyway, with the Spanish Civil War in full swing and Hitler’s Nazi government in power in Germany. Our narrator is seventeen-year-old Stella North, the only girl out of twelve racing contestants all from different European nations, and on the very first day of the race she witnesses one pilot forcing another to his death over the English Channel. All the race contestants are hiding secrets, and so is Stella – and will there be another attack?

I have a very cinematic brain, and a lot of the scenes in this book are very visual. I can picture it as a film so easily, I have clear images in my head of what each character looks like, and yet I struggle to come up with actors to play them because they’re are all so young – everyone in the race is under 21.

But here’s my wish for Stateless, the movie. I don’t care who the actors are. What I care about is the aeroplanes.

In my 1937 air race, we’ve more than a dozen vintage aircraft flitting about. In my dream film scenario, I don’t want CGI. I want real planes! Hear me out –

One of my top ten favorite movies is The Rocketeer, a live-action film released in 1991 from Disney and Touchstone (with fabulous music by James Horner!), about a young barnstormer pilot in 1938 who gets hold of a jet pack. More than 25 vintage aircraft were used in the film. It was a box office flop but it’s an exquisite period piece, giving a true taste of the Golden Age of Flight, and the flight sequences just make the whole thing feel so much more real and less cartoony than CGI.

And if we can’t come up with enough vintage aircraft – I still don’t want CGI and would like to make an argument for model aircraft. One of my other well-loved aviation media triumphs is a 1979 television series called Flambards, made by the UK’s ITV. One of the characters is an aviation nut in the very, very early days of flight before the First World War. The planes in this show were all model aircraft and were utterly convincing.

So – without being too much of a plane nerd, when Stateless’s Stella is flying her open-cockpit Avro Cadet over the English Channel and sees two distant aircraft collide, how much fun would those model aircraft association folks have if they got to engineer a plane wreck on film? Or how cool would it be to get a couple of stunt pilots to stage a terrifying mock dogfight over the Alps, such as Stella find herself involved in? What about the glorious opening scene of a bi-plane flying loops over Stonehenge in the long golden light of an August afternoon?

Ah, I long to see it on the silver screen!
Visit Elizabeth Wein's website.

The Page 69 Test: Black Dove, White Raven.

The Page 69 Test: The Pearl Thief.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Wein (January 2019).

The Page 99 Test: A Thousand Sisters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 13, 2023

Alma Katsu's "Red London"

Alma Katsu is the award-winning author of eight novels, most recently Red London, Red Widow, The Deep, and The Hunger. Prior to the publication of her first novel, she had a thirty-five-year career as a senior intelligence analyst for several U.S. agencies, including the CIA and NSA, as well as RAND, the global policy think tank. Katsu is a graduate of the masters writing program at the Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelors degree from Brandeis University. She lives outside of Washington, DC, with her husband, where she is a consultant to government and private industry on future trends and analytic methods.

Here Katsu shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of Red London:
Casting ideas for Red London has actually been front of mind because--and I can't give details yet--there's been a lot of Hollywood interest. The book is about a British aristocrat married to a Russian oligarch who has made London his home. Russia's invasion of Ukraine forced the UK government to deal with the Russian population, many of them billionaires who had dug into the British economy, Emily thinks her husband is feeling the pressure. In Red London, there's a new Russian president. Putin literally disappeared in the night and the new man says all the right things about making peace, but CIA and MI6 aren't so sure. They want to get Emily Rotenberg to find out where her husband has stashed his billions before the new Russian president can get to it, and they send in CIA officer Lyndsey Duncan to recruit Emily.

Red London is modeled after one of my favorite le Carré books, The Night Manager. It's about sending someone to live in a nest of thieves in order to pull off an operation. My book is part spy novel, part domestic suspense, a little "Real Wives" where you get a peek into the world of the Russian oligarchs.

The main character is Lyndsey Duncan, and I'm still looking for the perfect actress. Jessica Chastain is the type of actress I'd like to see but she's probably afraid of being typecast in spy shows!

There are lots of candidates for the second main character, Emily Rotenberg. Lily James' combination of innocent beauty and vulnerability would be a good match.

I've had an actor in mind for Davis Ranford, MI6 officer who once broke Lyndsey's heart and is now running the task force that's seconded her, since I wrote the first book: Matthew Goode! I don't care who they ultimately cast, Goode will always be Davis in my mind.

I would love to see Janelle Monae or someone like her play Dani Childs, the former CIA officer who is now working in private intelligence and is competing with Lyndsey for Emily's confidence.

Mikhail Rotenberg, a really nasty piece of work, and Pasha Lychnikoff would be a good candidate. He's got the mix of manicured good looks with evil bubbling under the surface.
Visit Alma Katsu's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Hunger.

Q&A with Alma Katsu.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Frank Sennett's "Shadow State"

Frank Sennett has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana and a journalism degree from Northwestern University. He has taught creative writing at UCLA Extension and has published nine books. He has served as a senior leader at multiple media outlets, including Time Out Chicago and He also spent one lucky season in the Wrigley Field press box covering the Chicago Cubs.

Here Sennett dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Shadow State:
If Shadow State scores a film adaptation--which would be a natural progression, given the propulsive, cinematic nature of the story--I'd be thrilled to see Michael B. Jordan cast as Rafe Hendrix.

I was blown away by Jordan's acting in the tragic Fruitvale Station (2013), and was then delighted to see him expand into a range of different film roles, including his excellent Creed franchise. There's a mix of toughness and humanity in Jordan's performances that would aid his portrayal of Rafe. Hendrix is white in the book, but Jordan could easily inhabit the character and make him his own.

One reason Jordan is well suited for the role is that he has already done a credible job portraying a Special Forces veteran pulled into a conspiracy that threatens his family in 2021's Without Remorse, based on the Tom Clancy novel.

Jordan's age and physicality also line up nicely with Hendrix. And I like the fact that he's a fellow Aquarian. Maybe we'd become best friends on set.
Follow Frank Sennett on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Shadow State.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Sarah Lyu's "I Will Find You Again"

Sarah Lyu grew up outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She loves a good hike and can often be found with a paintbrush in one hand and a cup of milky tea in the other. Lyu is the author of The Best Lies and I Will Find You Again.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of I Will Find You Again:
I Will Find You Again, my upcoming YA thriller, sees driven overachiever Chase Ohara devastated when her ex-girlfriend Lia disappears. As she tries to piece together what happened to Lia, Chase’s life turns into a kaleidoscope of heartbreak and disaster: sleepless nights, pink pills in an Altoids tin, a cheating ring at school. She misses her best friend, her soulmate, and the happiness they once shared, and if she can’t work through the past, she may not get a future.

The cast:

Chase Ohara: Elizabeth Yu. It can be a little tricky when dreamcasting young actors of Asian descent given the limited roles available, so I based this choice on Yu’s role on the upcoming live-action adaption of Avatar the Last Airbender where she’ll be playing Azula. Known as one of the villains of the series, Azula is a fierce and calculating opponent, but she has a vulnerable side too, and Chase’s character treads that line carefully. Plus, both aspire to power and have control issues.

Lia: Lana Condor. There’s such an exuberance to Condor’s Lara Jean on To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and I’d love to see her capture the full range of Lia’s personality and experiences—her carefree zest for life and also the moments of sadness and doubt.

Hunter: Elle Fanning. An amazing comedic actor, her portrayal of Catherine on The Great had me in stitches, but it’s Fanning’s ability to capture both the depths of despair and the ferociousness it takes to execute a coup against the Tsar that would make the perfect Hunter, a character whose dark schemes are carefully hidden until the very end.

Chase’s father: Sung Kang. Known for his appearances in the Fast and Furious franchise, he got his start with Justin Lin in Better Luck Tomorrow, a film that partly inspired the cheating ring in I Will Find You Again. Kang is the master of wearing an outward mask of rage that hides deeper motivations and emotions. Chase’s father uses anger as a tool to control his family, but that anger is only a coverup for childhood trauma he never dealt with as an adult.

Chase’s mother: Grace Park. Though she’s best known for her role in the recent Hawaii Five-0 reboot, I fell in love with Park’s acting on Battlestar Galactica, where one of her character’s journey through betrayal really captures the essence of Chase’s mother, who’s dealing with grief over having spent years compromising what she wanted for someone else.
Visit Sarah Lyu's website.

Q&A with Sarah Lyu.

--Marshal Zeringue