Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Kim DeRose's "For Girls Who Walk through Fire"

Kim DeRose writes dark, magical stories about strong, magical girls.

She grew up in Santa Barbara, California, where she spent childhood summers reading books and writing stories (which she was convinced her local bookstore would publish). She now lives in New York City, where she spends all seasons reading books and writing stories.

DeRose earned her MFA in film directing from UCLA, and currently works in digital media.

When she’s not reading or writing she can be found listening to podcasts on long walks, drinking endless cups of coffee, and spending time with her family.

Here DeRose dreamcasts an adaptation of For Girls Who Walk Through Fire, her debut novel:
My YA novel, For Girls Who Walk Through Fire, was pitched as The Craft meets Promising Young Woman and has been called “a searing examination of sexual assault centering teen witches who fight back” by Kirkus Reviews and described as a “bold and compassionate debut” by Booklist.

Now, you might think that because two films were used as comparative titles, and because I earned an MFA in film directing, I thought about this book as a movie all along. But while, when writing, I did often visualize the book’s scenes almost as if they were film scenes, I rarely considered how I’d approach the book as an actual film.

Until now! And I have opinions!

First off is our pink-haired, fearless coven leader and protagonist, Elliott. And this one is easy. Hands down, my dreamcasting would be Jenna Ortega. I love her in Wednesday and loved her in The Fallout. And while Elliott is white in the book, I’d love the movie’s casting to be more expansive by making her Latina or bi-racial. Jenna Ortega would absolutely nail this part.

Elliott’s dad is also easy. My dreamcasting? Pedro Pascal. We’ve seen him play the dad figure in The Last of Us and Mandalorian, but I want to see him play an actual dad. Right? Right?!?

For straightlaced Catholic schoolgirl, Madeline, Kiernan Shipka from Sabrina the Teenage Witch would be fantastic. She could really capture Madeline’s outer type-A, prima ballerina persona, as well as her internal fire and fierce strength.

For private-school socialite Chloe, I’d love to see what Ella Jay Bosco from Birds of Prey would do with the part. I really like her comedic instincts. And because she’s such a talented musician, it would be great if that was somehow leveraged in the movie – let’s make Chloe a songwriter!

For quiet Oboe player and track-star, Bea, Storm Reid of A Wrinkle in Time, The Last of Us, and Euphoria would do such a superb job. She brings such nuance and strength to her roles and could really capture Bea’s thoughtfulness as well as the many layers that exist under Bea’s seemingly quiet demeanor.

I think Keiko Agena from Gilmore Girls would be wonderful as Mary, the support group leader. I would definitely buy her as a positive, supportive force in teens’ lives.

And for Prudence, Elliott’s grandma, I would die of joy if she was played by either Kathy Bates or Dianne Wiest.

As far as directors go, I would obviously want a female director. There are four who would be absolute dream directors: Emerald Fennell, who directed Promising Young Woman, Greta Gerwig, who directed Barbie, Sarah Polley, who directed Women Talking, and Oliva Wilde, who directed Don’t Worry, Darling.

Lastly, music is a huge part of the book so I would really want a great soundtrack that makes use of all the 90’s songs Elliott listens to. But there’s one catch: I want all the songs to be performed by women. That obviously means including songs by Tori Amos, Bjork, Fiona Apple, PJ Harvey, and Alanis Morrisette. But I’d love to hear someone like Karen O do a cover of “Give it Away” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Sharon Van Etten do a cover of “Come as You Are” by Nirvana. And while this song isn’t mentioned in the book, I really want a gender-flipped female performed version of “Used to Love Her” by Guns N’ Roses. (Also, now that I’ve said that I dare you to get that fictional version of the song out of your head.)
Visit Kim DeRose's website.

Q&A with Kim DeRose.

The Page 69 Test: For Girls Who Walk through Fire.

--Marshal Zeringue