Wednesday, September 27, 2023

William Dameron's "The Way Life Should Be"

William Dameron is an award winning blogger, memoirist, essayist and the author of The LIE, A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Salon, The Huffington Post, and in the book, Fashionably Late: Gay, Bi and Trans Men Who Came Out Later in Life. He is an IT Director for a global economic consulting firm, where he educates users on the perils of social engineering in cybersecurity. Dameron, his husband, and blended family of five children split their time between Boston and the coast of southern Maine.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The Way Life Should Be:
As Down East Magazine put it, my novel The Way Life Should Be "is a sprawling, occasionally ribald, often moving meditation on how people who love each other can overcome uncertainty and shame — and on how the consistency of the places we love, like funky Maine beach towns, can set the stage for healing." The ensemble cast includes three generations of a family perched on the coast of Maine for one summer, attempting to make a place for everyone and heal old wounds. These are nuanced characters who balance humor with poignancy, and to explore each character's growth fully, I envision it as a limited series. Not only do I imagine it as a limited series, I am writing it as one, and this is where the fun begins.

A writer's job is to utilize the medium they are working in to its fullest potential. In a novel, the writer can explore "interiority," the characters' unspoken thoughts, but dialogue and action must carry the story in a screenplay. As I write my script and study others (This is Us, Euphoria, Little Miss Sunshine), my characters' voices are becoming fine-tuned, and I am learning to hone mine.

So, who gets top billing? I turn to other ensemble series and actors that I admire. Murray Bartlett from The White Lotus and The Last of Us displays vulnerability in a way that would bring doubting Thomas to life. Jennifer Aniston is a shoo-in to play Annie, the sister searching for the type of love her brother Matt and Thomas found with each other later in life. In a very Meta way, Jennifer Aniston is Annie's alter ego in the novel. Think of John Malkovich playing John Malkovich. I would love to see Maggie Smith tackle the darkly comedic and complicated Grammy. Sweet, wonderful, Matt? That's the toughest one. How do I cast an actor in a role that I can only see my husband performing? (He would never go for it). I ask my readers for help, but perhaps in another Meta twist, Matt Bomer?

The third generation in the novel presents opportunities for young actors like Jenny Ortega from Wednesday as Bex, who rescues everyone but herself. Jacob Elordi from Euphoria is the handsome lifeguard Conor, who plays a dangerous game of Kiss or Slap. Sydney Sweeney from The White Lotus is coolly popular Abbie, refusing to call her father Dad in order to protect her heart. In a twist, Timothée Chalamet is neurodivergent Brian, who sees everything the others do not.

I have been told that it is nearly impossible to break into Hollywood, but I have been told my entire life who I was unable to be and what I was unable to do, and yet at 43, I came out, married my husband at 47, published my memoir at 55 and my first novel at 60. For me, this is when the fun begins. This is—finally, the way life should be.
Visit William Dameron's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 18, 2023

Jamie Lee Sogn's "Salthouse Place"

Jamie Lee Sogn is a Filipina American author of adult thriller novels. She grew up in Olympia, Washington, studied Anthropology and Psychology at the University of Washington and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Oregon School of Law.

She is a "recovering attorney" who writes contracts by day and (much more exciting) fiction by night. While she has lived in Los Angeles, New York City, and even Eugene, Oregon, she now lives in Seattle with her husband, son, and Boston Terrier.

Here Sogn dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Salthouse Place:
In my novel, Salthouse Place, Delia and her friends, Zee and Cara are two carefree teenagers. One summer day, the three best friends go to the lake…but only two come home.

Ten years later, Delia is still tormented by the mystery of what happened to fifteen-year-old Zee on the lake that day. When she receives an email from Cara, the remaining friend in the trio, she can’t resist the pull of the “life-changing” news in the message. Delia, hopeful for answers, travels home to see her old friend. But Cara is gone by the time she gets there, setting off another mystery. When Delia hears about the women’s empowerment group that Cara joined, she sets out for the group’s retreat property on the Oregon coast to find her and meets the enigmatic and mysterious Sage, the leader of the company, Artemis Wellness.

As I wrote the book, the only character I had already “cast” in my head was Sage and it was Rosamund Pike. I think she can have an intense look about her, but at the same time have an ability to be both warm and trusting. With a blunt blond bob and some yoga leggings and prayer beads, she is Sage come to life.

For Delia, I would love a biracial Filipina to play her, so I instantly think of Olivia Rodrigo. She might be a little young, but I think she could portray the sarcasm and distrust that Delia often exudes. Also, I just love her!

While we are “dreamcasting”, I might as well dream big and cast Zendaya as Zee, who’s disappearance kicks off the entire mystery. She’s an amazing actress and would do one of my favorite characters in the book more than justice.

For Cara, who is the third friend in the trio, I would cast Lili Reinhart. She is very much a girl-next-door type who could be both fragile and vulnerable, but biting and believable as a “frenemy” as well.

The main love interest for Delia is Tom, Cara’s brother. While writing him, I didn’t have an actor in mind, but I did have a photo of a random male model who I thought was a great image for what I thought Tom would look like. Now I think Jeremy Allen White would be a perfect choice-- he’s brooding and charismatic all at once.

Finally, Sage’s brother and co-founder of Artemis Wellness is Everett. He never actually appears in the novel, but in a movie, I think there would be some flashbacks and backstory with him and Sage. For Everett, I would cast Jeremy Strong. For no other reason than I am still getting over the Succession ending.
Visit Jamie Lee Sogn's website.

Q&A with Jamie Lee Sogn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Brian Carso's "Gideon's Revolution"

Brian Carso, a lawyer and historian, has studied the American Revolution and the life of Benedict Arnold for more than two decades.

Here Carso dreamcasts an adaptation of Gideon's Revolution, his first novel:
Gideon’s Revolution is based on true events, an actual secret mission launched by George Washington to capture Benedict Arnold following his treason at West Point in 1780. It would make a great movie, so here are my thoughts about actors to play the two central characters.

To play Gideon Wheatley, the story’s central character and narrator, I looked at the long list of actors who have played Hamlet on stage, because Wheatley has a problem not unlike the Prince of Denmark’s. Wheatley’s intelligence, courage, and empathy make him highly capable in life and in battle, but, when he sets out to capture Arnold—which would surely result in the traitor’s execution—these same virtues muddy the clarity he needs to accomplish his mission.

The first time Wheatley sees Arnold, the general is on horseback, courageously leading soldiers into battle at Saratoga. When both Wheatley and Arnold are wounded, Wheatley discovers the secrets of Arnold’s personal history that reveal the general’s vulnerability. Over several months, Wheatley becomes Arnold’s close confidante and friend.

It's because of this familiarity with Arnold that, three years later, Wheatley is chosen for the spy mission to capture the treasonous general. Indeed, Arnold will readily trust Wheatley and not recognize his ulterior motive. Gideon Wheatley despises Arnold the traitor, but he has known Arnold the hero, and the bond he once had with the general complicates his task.

With this in mind, having considered the actors who have played Hamlet, I’ve made my choice. I’ll cast a different Benedict—Cumberbatch, to be precise—to play Gideon Wheatley.

Who should be cast as Benedict Arnold? By no account did Arnold have movie-star looks; he has been described as “stoutly made, with a ruddy complexion.” I could envision Paul Giamatti in the role (who, incidentally, I once saw play Hamlet at the Yale Repertory Theatre), but I’m not entirely convinced. On the one hand, Arnold should look physically ordinary, but also have the ability to switch on a mad passion as he charges on horseback across a battlefield, and a smoldering anger at feeling cheated, such that he would abandon all principle to stick it to his detractors. Additionally, he must show an occasional vulnerability, for the moments we see into the tragedies of his early teenage years that most likely caused the defects of his character.

My pick? Despite his 2021 selection as People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive,” (which doesn’t work at all for Arnold) I’m ready to contact Paul Rudd’s agent. I’m casting against type, but I see something we can work with in his current portrayal of Ben Glenroy in the TV show, Only Murders in the Building. Makeup can handle the “ruddy complexion,” and padding in the costume can be “stoutly made.” Ant-Man as Arnold, anyone?

Postscript: my wife isn’t buying it. She says Leonardo DiCaprio should be cast as Arnold. Maybe she has a point. In any event, Liam Neeson as George Washington, all the way. And Daisy Ridley (Rey in the Star Wars sequels) as the young English woman, Louisa Baxter.
Visit Brian Carso's website.

Q&A with Brian Carso.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Deborah J Ledford's "Redemption"

Deborah J Ledford is the award-winning author of the Native American Eva “Lightning Dance” Duran Series, and the Smoky Mountain Inquest Series. Part Eastern Band Cherokee, she is an Agatha Award winner, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, and two-time Anthony Award Finalist for Best Audiobooks Crescendo and Causing Chaos. Ledford lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and an awesome Ausky.

Here Ledford dreamcasts an adaptation of Redemption, Book 1 of the Eva “Lightning Dance” Duran Native American series:
Native American themes are hot right now and there is a wealth of captivating talent who are finding exposure in film and other platforms they have long deserved.

Eva “Lightning Dance” Duran - Lily Gladstone. The movie I’m most looking forward to is Killers of the Flower Moon, also starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese. Ms. Gladstone’s other performances prove the prowess to convey the vulnerability and yet capability of the only Native female deputy for the Taos County sheriff’s department.

Kai “Single Star” Arrio - Jerry Wolf. Also appearing in Killers of the Flower Moon, this up and coming actor is one I look forward to watching his star rise.

Paloma “White Dove” Arrio - Julia Jones, best known for Wind River, Westworld, The Mandalorian and The Twilight Saga.

Cruz “Hawk Soars” Miraba - David Midthunder. As Eva’s love interest and tribal officer Midthunder holds the essence of the calm and qualified, necessary skills in maintaining harmony on the Taos Pueblo reservation.

More books are slated to continue the series, therefore a limited series would be ideal as well.
Visit Deborah J Ledford's website.

Q&A with Deborah J Ledford.

The Page 69 Test: Redemption.

--Marshal Zeringue