Friday, May 26, 2023

Bryn Turnbull's "The Paris Deception"

Bryn Turnbull is the internationally bestselling author of The Woman Before Wallis and The Last Grand Duchess. With a master of letters in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews, a master of professional communication from Toronto Metropolitan University and a bachelor's degree in English literature from McGill University, Turnbull focuses on finding stories of women lost within the cracks of the historical record.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Paris Deception:
This is the first novel that I’ve written with fully fictional main characters, and when I started envisioning the novel I struggled with picturing my two main characters, Sophie and Fabienne. In my previous two books, I wrote historical heroines, meaning that I had photographs and newsreels to draw upon when picturing the character in my mind, but with this project I had difficulty envisioning the characters: they wavered on the edge of my mind’s eye, sometimes shifting into focus before blurring, frustratingly, once more.

I have Pedro Pascal to thank, in fact, for helping me solidify my characters. I was listening to an interview where he talked about developing scrapbooks to get himself into his character’s mindset, and I thought it sounded worth trying. In the course of developing my scrapbooks, I gravitated towards images that felt like one character or the other. I found their clothing – for Sophie, worn tweeds and pleated trousers; for Fabienne, rich velvets and flowing silks. Furniture for their apartments – a wrought-iron bed for Sophie, and a bathtub filled with pillows for Fabienne. The tools of their trades: palette knives and paintbrushes, coffee cups and champagne coupes. Finally, with a hundred different aspects of the characters down in the scrapbook I took a stab at their physical appearance.

To me, Sophie is Holliday Grainger, beautiful and strong with a cut-glass accent and victory curls. Having played queer historical heroines in the past, I think she would do wonderfully navigating the many levels on which Sophie has to hide her true self.

Fabienne, meanwhile, would be played to perfection by Aubrey Plaza: changeable and unpredictable, who could embody Fabienne’s empty bravado and grief like no other.

I continued this exercise of scrapbooking – and dream casting – for other characters in my book: Dietrich would be played, ideally, by Joe Alwyn, serious and steady yet dreamy enough for a romantic lead; Sebastien, meanwhile, I envision as Tom Sturridge, who could capture Sebastien’s reticence and hard exterior before unfolding and letting Fabienne, and the reader, glimpse his true nature.

Gerhardt Hausler, Sophie’s confidante and co-conspirator within the Jeu de Paume, I could see played by Torben Leibrecht, a German actor known for his role in Altered Carbon.

The most difficult castings, of course, would be the antagonists. Konrad Richter, Hermann Goering’s right hand man, is the main villain of this story: I see him as Daniel Bruhl, chewing the scenery as he embodies both Richter’s smirking elegance and brutal rage.

I pictured Christoph Waltz as Colonel Bohn, however he’s played plenty of characters in this ilk before; perhaps he’d prefer to take a pass on this project (and it’s terribly obvious casting given his work in Inglorious Basterds, I know) so let’s give the role to someone else: Alexander Skarsgård, who would do a masterful job playing the character’s weakness.

Finally, I would cast Helena Bonham Carter as Rose Valland, the real-life historical heroine who protected the Jeu de Paume, and the treasures within it, for the long years of the German occupation.
Visit Bryn Turnbull's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Tanis Rideout's "The Sea Between Two Shores"

Tanis Rideout’s internationally acclaimed first novel, Above All Things, was a national bestseller, named to numerous best books of the year lists, and published in several languages around the world. It was awarded the Premio ITAS del Libro di Montagna and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her new novel is The Sea Between Two Shores. She is also the author of the poetry collection Arguments with the Lake, and, in 2006, she was named the “Poet Laureate for Lake Ontario” by the environmental advocacy group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. Born in Belgium, she grew up in Bermuda and in Kingston, Ontario, and now lives in Los Angeles.

Here Rideout shares some thoughts on what a film adaptation of The Sea Between Two Shores might look like:
The writing of The Sea Between Two Shores was inspired by a brief paragraph I read in a left-behind guidebook while sitting overlooking the Pacific on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu.

The story stayed with me throughout the remainder of my trip and beyond and eventually after much reading and research developed into the first draft of a novel about two families, The Stewarts and The Tabés, who come together to reckon with their collective pasts.

I didn’t really dream cast the Stewart family while I was writing. They were much like people I knew, people I might run into at the supermarket or the library. I did however return to a film called Tanna a number of times while I was writing.

My husband and I saw the film while we were in Vanuatu. It is a tragic love story set on the island of Tanna and stars ni-Vanuatu actors, performing in Nauvhal, one of the many languages spoken on the islands.

The performances in the movie are luminous with Marie Wawa and Mangua Dain as star-crossed lovers and Marceline Rofit as Wawa’s younger sister Selin.

It was not so much that I imagined these specific actors playing roles in my novel, but rather the film worked to ground the characters for me, allowing me to hear the rhythm and tone of language and songs from Vanuatu, remember the landscape and the sounds of the islands.

The film, which went on to be nominated for an Oscar, showcases a sliver of the incredible talent in Vanuatu.

In my daydreams, when I do imagine the possibility of The Sea Between Two Shores as a film, it would be a collaboration, as Tanna was, with people – artists, actors and storytellers – from Vanuatu.
Learn more about the book and author at Tanis Rideout's website.

My Book, The Movie: Above All Things.

Writers Read: Tanis Rideout.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Verlin Darrow's "Murder for Liar"

Verlin Darrow is currently a psychotherapist who lives with his psychotherapist wife in the woods near the Monterey Bay in northern California. They diagnose each other as necessary. Darrow is a former professional volleyball player (in Italy), unsuccessful country-western singer/songwriter, import store owner, and assistant guru in a small, benign spiritual organization. Before bowing to the need for higher education, a much younger Darrow ran a punch press in a sheetmetal factory, drove a taxi, worked as a night janitor, shoveled asphalt on a road crew, and installed wood flooring. He missed being blown up by Mt. St. Helens by ten minutes, survived the 1985 Mexico City earthquake (8 on the Richter scale), and (so far) has successfully weathered his own internal disasters.

Here Darrow shares some ideas for the above-the-line adaptation of his new novel, Murder for Liar:
I didn't have any specific actors in mind when I wrote Murder For Liar, but I definitely pictured each character in detail, and if I think about which actors match up to those images... Let's see.

I guess the psychotherapist protagonist, Tom, who is a big guy with a rugged, scarred face, could be portrayed by a fortyish Nick Nolte. He'd need to be a bit more bewildered than usual. Zig-zag, the waif-like twenty-year-old daughter of a deceased spiritual leader could be played by a young Natalie Portman. Dizzy is a strong African American character who draws Tom into a conspiracy. Thus, Keke Palmer. The quite crazed therapy client--George Arundel--would need to be a bit spooky-looking, and capable of great acting for reasons I wouldn't want to give away here. Anthony Hopkins? Jack Nicholson? Ian McKellen? I'm not sure about this one.

There's a dog I know who'd be perfect for the one who provides Tom a major clue as he tries to solve a series of murders, but I doubt she can act.

I guess that covers the main characters. I wouldn't want the sort of director who puts a characteristic stamp on his work. People like Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, and Guy Ritchie would distract from what I believe is already a compelling story. After all, who gets singled out as a possible angel? Who encounters meaningful coincidences by the dozen? Who has to figure out whether they've lost their mind as outrageous events keep up a breakneck pace?
Visit Verlin Darrow's website.

Writers Read: Verlin Darrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Emily J. Edwards's "Viviana Valentine Goes Up the River"

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 an adaptation of her latest novel, Viviana Valentine Goes Up the River:
Before the first book in the Girl Friday mystery series came out, I mused for My Book, The Movie about who I’d love to see play the three main characters of Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man: Viviana Valentine, Tommy Fortuna, and Tally Blackstone. My dream casting for those three characters hasn’t changed, so be sure to click over to that piece to see who I’d love to see in the roles!

All three characters appear again in Viviana Valentine Goes Up the River, but in this “country mansion” mystery novel, there are a new crop of faces that need casting!

Without a doubt, Buster Beacon– the eccentric millionaire hiring Viv and Tommy– would be played by Cameron Britton, most notably of Mindhunter and The Umbrella Academy. He has the incredibly unique combination of height and gentility needed to play the imposing and eccentric scientist.

In my head, while writing, Richard Paloma was played by Eddie Cibrian. Paloma is also a scientist, and in the employ of Buster Beacon, and they have a contentious relationship. But Paloma is a man who is much more accustomed to flirting his way out of trouble than pushing someone around with money and influence. I think Cibrian would fit the bill!

Hazel Olmsted is another house guest, a wealthy woman in her late 30s. She’s a blue-blood society gal with a mind of her own but a pretty hefty secret– and I could see Danielle Panabaker pulling her off with aplomb.

There’s an older, married couple in the book as well, Edward and Evelyn Allen. They have more money than they know what to do with, and government connections. Both in their late 60s/70s, I feel like I’d love to see them played by Karen Allen (Marion Ravenswood in Indiana Jones) and one of my truly favorite actors of all time: John Lithgow.

A neighbor is also stranded at the house, a man by the name of Chester Courtland. He’s aloof and distant, and avoids Viv almost every time she tries to talk to him. She’s intrigued by what he’s hiding, and wants to get to the bottom of why he just, doesn’t, you know, go home. The only thing we know about him is that he was invited to the party by Richard Paloma, and he’s got on a cheap suit. I’d love to see a more enigmatic actor in the space, someone like Dane DeHaan.

Another scientist in the story is Stanley Swansea, who is described in the novel as looking a bit like Kirk Douglas, which is a pretty tall order. It’s someone who has a chin dimple for sure– but I can’t think of who that person is just yet!

And so much of the story hinges on Arnold, Buster’s butler. Talk about a man with a secret! He’s Hungarian by birth, but it’s been years and years since he lived in his home country. He’s eminently capable– for every task. While there are a few actors I think could do the role well, I think the multi-faceted Arnold would be done justice by Victor Garber.

And finally, though she’s mostly Viv’s lifeline over the phone, I have to finally cast Betty, Viv’s housemate. She’s the word “bubbly” personified, but never loses her head. I think Kiernan Shipka could give her a real three-dimensional presence in the story!

Tell me, readers: who would you put into the cast to play our mysterious Stanley Swansea?
Visit Emily J. Edwards's website.

My Book, The Movie: Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man.

Q&A with Emily J. Edwards.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 8, 2023

Andrew Welsh-Huggins's "The End of The Road"

Andrew Welsh-Huggins is the Shamus, Derringer, and International Thriller Writers-award-nominated author of the Andy Hayes Private Eye series, featuring a former Ohio State and Cleveland Browns quarterback turned investigator, and editor of Columbus Noir. His stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mystery Magazine, the 2022 anthology Paranoia Blues: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Paul Simon, and other magazines and anthologies. Kirkus calls his new crime novel, The End of the Road, "A crackerjack crime yarn chockablock with miscreants and a supersonic pace.”

Here Welsh-Huggins dreamcasts an adaptation of The End of The Road:
My new Ohio-set crime novel, The End of The Road, tells the story of a young woman, Penny, and her solo journey of vengeance after her boyfriend is shot and left for dead. It’s my eighth novel but my first stand-alone after writing seven books about Columbus-based private eye Andy Hayes. The novel loosely uses the structure of Homer’s Odyssey as it weaves together the stories of three main characters—Penny; Pryor, the villain she pursues after her boyfriend, Myles, is shot; and J.P., a sheriff’s deputy who inadvertently finds himself caught up in the action.

The actor I’d tap to play Penny is Kaitlyn Dever. She’s not a household name—yet—but to my mind, she exhibits the perfect world-weary demeanor and inner strength needed to play Penny, a single mom who’s struggled to make it while Myles was in prison and will now do pretty much anything to eliminate Pryor once and for all. I first saw Dever in the FX series Justified, where she played tough-as-nails teenager Loretta McCready, a girl informally adopted by Kentucky crime boss Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale), after Bennett poisoned McCready’s father. Dever has also had roles in the movies Booksmart and Dear Evan Hansen, and a smaller part in Dopesick, the HBO series about the history of the opioid epidemic.

For Pryor, a vicious, one-eyed thug (my nod to the Odyssean cyclops, Polyphemus), I’d love to see Aaron Paul in the role. Most people know him for his work as Jesse Pinkman, the crystal meth dealer and cooker in the AMC series Breaking Bad and that series’ satisfying movie sequel, El Camino, along with cameos in the Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul. As Pinkman, Paul exuded a spot-on combination of unhinged behavior, struggle with personal demons, and aptitude for revenge, all qualities needed to play Pryor.

J.P., the sheriff’s deputy who unintentionally unites with Penny in her quest, is a shy, introspective man battling a lack of self-confidence as mourns the death of his father, the former sheriff, whose loss has the division spinning out of control. For this role, I’d opt for Harvey Guillen, probably best known for playing a human familiar to a trio of bumbling vampires on the Hulu comedy What We Do in The Shadows. In that show, Guillen’s character, Guillermo de La Cruz, faces (and rises above) crises of confidence that similarly plague the deputy. Guillen’s character also possesses some of the same qualities—fatalism tempered by a quiet sense of rectitude—that ultimately help J.P. overcome the obstacles in his personal and professional life.
Visit Andrew Welsh-Huggins's website.

My Book, The Movie: An Empty Grave.

Q&A with Andrew Welsh-Huggins.

The Page 69 Test: An Empty Grave.

Writers Read: Andrew Welsh-Huggins.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Aaron Hamburger's "Hotel Cuba"

Aaron Hamburger is the author of a story collection titled The View from Stalin’s Head which was awarded the Rome Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and nominated for a Violet Quill Award. He has also written three novels: Faith for Beginners, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, Nirvana Is Here, winner of a Bronze Medal from the 2019 Foreword Reviews Indies Book Awards, and Hotel Cuba.

Here Hamburger dreamcasts an adaptation of Hotel Cuba:
I think my novel Hotel Cuba is wonderfully cinematic. It’s the story of two sheltered Russian Jewish sisters, desperate to find refuge in America after the Russian Revolution, who find themselves trapped in the sultry, hedonistic world of 1920s Havana.

Perhaps in a different political climate, the movie could actually be filmed in Havana, to capture the atmosphere of the tropical setting, and the heat and the light, combined with the gorgeous Baroque architecture of Old Town. Since this is a fantasy, I would have the Merchant Ivory team direct and produce the movie, in the style of A Room with a View or Howards End, with their frequent collaborator, the novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala writing an elegant and literary screenplay. I can imagine a lush and lyrical soundtrack, and lovely period costumes to evoke 1922 Cuba, with the American tourists dressed in cream-colored linen suits or pale dusty pink and pistachio green flowing dresses. My heroine, Pearl, is a seamstress and aspiring designer who would have loved being a costume designer for the film!

To play Pearl, I would want a dark-haired actress who projects an inner intelligence and strength, perhaps Oscar winner Rachel Weisz, who like Pearl happens to be Jewish. And then her husband Daniel Craig could play the mercurial Alexander, a dashing, debonair Jewish-American expatriate who may be helping Pearl, or may be wooing her. As Pearl’s impulsive and romantic younger sister Frieda, I could see Florence Pugh from the movie Little Women. For Ben the Oak, another of Pearl’s love interests, I might choose Adam Driver, who can play a strong, silent type who’s also a bit awkward.

Finally, I would have to find a part for Keanu Reeves just because I love Keanu Reeves. He could have a cameo as the American Counsel in Cuba, a glad-handing cynic, though maybe in all honesty, a Gene Hackman might be better suited to the role.
Visit Aaron Hamburger's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hotel Cuba.

--Marshal Zeringue