Sunday, June 18, 2023

Kate Robards's "The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard"

Kate Robards holds a degree in journalism and works in communications at a nonprofit organization. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and children.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard, her first novel:
Before I wrote The Three Deaths of Willa Stannard, I sketched out the characters in great depth. Some of my notes made it into the novel, while others were simply for me to create multi-dimensional characters. As part of my process, I located a photo depicting my vision of each character. While not a celebrity, looking back at the photos guides me in dreamcasting my novel.

My debut thriller follows Sawyer Stannard, who’s grappling with the unexpected death of her sister, Willa. To understand Willa’s last days, she begins to retrace her footsteps, diving deep into a mysterious cold case of a missing toddler that Willa, an investigative journalist, was writing about.

The novel alternates between Sawyer’s perspective in the present day and Willa’s point of view in the past, so I consider them both leading ladies. Despite sharing their childhoods, these sisters have very different personalities.

Sawyer is extraverted, enthusiastic, and bubbly. A spin instructor in her late twenties, she’s bounced from job to job. Though she intends to find out what happened to her sister, she’s not a detective; she’s a grieving sister battling her own demons. I’d cast Lili Reinhart, best known for her role in the TV series Riverdale, in this role. I think she could capture Sawyer’s scattered-yet-naïve and bright, passionate personality. Sawyer has a lot of heart, and I’d love to see her played by an actress who is emotive and endearing.

Willa, on the other hand, is a high achiever who cares more about being right than kind. She’s a blunt perfectionist. At the time of her death, she was in her early thirties. I think Evan Rachel Wood would play Willa well, depicting a serious, sharp, yet troubled, woman. Evan Rachel Wood has played a wide range of independent and mainstream film and television roles, at times depicting a woman struggling with pressure.

Together, Lili Reinhart and Evan Rachel Wood are my dreamcasting for Sawyer and Willa Stannard, as I think both would bring complexity and depth to these characters.
Visit Kate Robards's website.

--Marshal Zeringue