Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Corinne Demas's "The Road Towards Home"

Corinne Demas is the author of 38 books including two collections of short stories, six novels, a memoir, a collection of poetry, two plays, and numerous books for children. She is a professor emeritus of English at Mount Holyoke College and a fiction editor of the Massachusetts Review.

She grew up in New York City, in Stuyvesant Town, the subject of her memoir, Eleven Stories High, Growing Up in Stuyvesant Town, 1948-1968. She attended Hunter College High School, graduated from Tufts University, and completed a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She lived in Pittsburgh for a number of years, teaching at the University of Pittsburgh and at Chatham College.

Here Demas dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Road Towards Home:
The Road Towards Home is a love story (of sorts) between a most unlikely pair of retirees. Noah and Cassandra rediscover each other at Clarion Court, a senior living community (they knew each other fifty years before in college) and end up sharing a rough cottage on Cape Cod and trying to figure out if they have a future together. There are really three main characters here—the third is the setting, and I would hope any director who turns my novel into a movie is someone who’d love the Outer Cape and understand how important sea, sand, and sky (not to mention oysters and American Woodcocks) are to the story.

My novel was published June 1, and since then I’ve been hearing from many readers who say they’re eagerly awaiting the film version and send on their suggestions for actors. Several have pointed out that because the novel relies heavily on dialogue writing a screenplay would be a piece of cake.

When Brilliance Publishing was selecting two actors for the audiobook of The Road Towards Home they asked if I wanted to have input in the casting. Of course I did! The actors in the audition tapes they first sent me didn’t quite capture my characters, so I listened to samples of audio books in search of two voices who sounded like my Noah and my Cassandra, and whose voices worked well together. I realized how hard it is to have an entire character created by voice alone. Cassandra is seventy two, but she’s youthful and lively, as well as sharp and funny. Noah is a bit pedantic, but he’s witty and wry, and actually much kinder than he would like you to think he is. Voice actors David De Vries for Noah and Erin Bennett for Cassandra proved to be the perfect pairing!

Casting an actor when it’s not their voice alone is a different matter. Noah and Cassandra are turned on by each other physically (imagine waiting half a century for a first kiss!) as well as intellectually, and the film version of The Road Towards Home requires actors who can do septuagenarian sexy. They can be younger, in reality, of course, since in film as well as in life (alas) it's easier to age someone than rejuvenate them.

I would love to cast Colin Firth for Noah. I’ve long been enamored by his Mr. Darcy in the film version of Pride and Prejudice, and I’ve admired his range since then, especially in The King’s Speech. He’s known for his British accent, but he can certainly pull off an American accent to portray an erudite retired English professor like Noah.

Helen Hunt was quirky, ironic Jamie Buchman in the television series Mad About You where she was great at the fast, humorous dialogue with co-star Paul Reiser. She’s demonstrated a broad range of other characters since then. I think she’d be just right for conveying Cassandra’s spontaneity.

My first choice for director would be Eric Rohmer, who so beautifully explored the complexities of desire, but, sadly, he’s no longer available. Three great, living directors I’d choose: Greta Gerwig (she might need a reprieve from Barbie), Sarah Polley (who was a terrific Ramona when she was young), and Kelly Fremon Craig, who not only did a admirable job being true to the book Are You There God It’s Me, Margaret? but also gave author Judy Blume a walk-on part. I’d hope for that!
Visit Corinne Demas's website.

Q&A with Corinne Demas.

The Page 69 Test: The Road Towards Home.

--Marshal Zeringue