Sunday, November 12, 2023

Kathleen M. Willett's "Anything for a Friend"

Kathleen Willett has a B.A. in English from Holy Cross and a M.A. in English Education from Columbia University. An English teacher who grew up in New Jersey and London, Kathleen lives in Manhattan with her husband, two daughters, and a cat named Mr. Sparkles.

Here Willett dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Anything for a Friend:
Anything For A Friend features Carrie, a woman who has just moved with her family from New York City to Montauk, hoping for a change of pace and a fresh start. She's shocked when her former college roommate calls her and tells her she's passing through the area-- they haven't seen each other in nearly twenty years. Maya and her teenage daughter are in a difficult position, and Carrie offers to help by having them stay for a few days. But Carrie soon regrets her impulsive offer. There are reasons she and Maya are estranged, and having her in such close proximity is dredging up unsettling memories. Plus, strange things are happening in the house: Carrie's manuscript is deleted, her herb garden is destroyed, and she starts to fear that a piece of the past she'd hoped was buried may soon resurface and throw her world off course.

It would be a dream to see this story play out on screen! It's brimming with quiet, mounting tension and nonverbal communication and I think that would translate really well visually. I think the flashback scenes when Maya and Carrie are in college would also be a great aspect of a screen adaptation!

When I write, I tend to imagine actors as characters, to try to make describing them with detail easier and more consistent. For Carrie, I imagined Naomi Watts. She was in The Watcher, which, while different from Anything For A Friend, does share the trait of being about a situation where strange things are happening inside a house. Naomi Watts has a lot of depth and crevices as an actor and so does Carrie-- she's a fundamentally good person, but with lots of flaws and secrets. I think Naomi Watts also plays "stressed out" very well!

For Maya, I imagined Rachel Bilson. Maya is described as bird-like and quiet, but with a unique, intimidating imperviousness to others' opinions. I think Rachel really captures that kind of quiet confidence as an actor. Also, thinking all the way back to The OC (I loved that show, by the way!) where you couldn't really tell if her character Summer was nice or mean-- with Maya, (my hope is that) the reader can't tell if she's totally innocent or up to something, and I think Rachel Bilson could walk that line perfectly. I could imagine her in the scene after Maya reorganizes Carrie's kitchen (to Carrie's horror), saying ever-so-innocently, "I thought you'd love it."

For Pete, I pictured Aidan from Sex and the City. I'm just realizing maybe that's why I named the main character Carrie-- whoops! Pete is that classic "good guy," and yet, there may be something about him that rubs the reader the wrong way at times. Aidan was always that way to me-- clearly a great guy, in nearly all ways, but sometimes a bit condescending in the way he joked around with his Carrie, in a way that was just a bit grating.

As for Kelsey and Lola, the teenaged girls, I don't know many actors that age, but I will say that Lola's age is described to be a bit shifty-- sometimes she seems younger than she is, sometimes older-- so an actor like Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria), who could play sixteen or thirty, and who could seem at times off-puttingly mature for her age, would be a good choice.
Visit Kathleen M. Willett's website.

Q&A with Kathleen M. Willett.

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