Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Jill Fordyce's "Belonging"

Jill Fordyce was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. She received a degree in English from the University of Southern California and a law degree from Santa Clara University. While practicing law, she continued to study writing through the Stanford Continuing Education creative writing program.

Here Fordyce dreamcasts an adaptation of Belonging, her debut novel:
I write in scenes and I love movies, so I have always imagined Belonging as a film. A little about the novel: Jenny Hayes is raised in a dreary, faithless home, so she paints her room the color of a tangerine, collects prayer cards, and surrounds herself with music. She has a self-reliance that both protects her and keeps her from the love and closeness she desires. As an adult, Jenny returns home to confront the wounds of her childhood: the mother who abused her in subtle ways; the father who allowed it; the boy she once loved; the landscape that is beautiful, barren, and stifling; the secrets kept for generations. Spanning three decades, Belonging is about first love and heartbreak, friendship and secrets, family and forgiveness, hometowns and coming of age, and memory and music. The heart of the story is Jenny’s struggle to undo the binds of a childhood that have deeply affected her life, the painful path to love endured by children raised in alcoholic families, and the grim reality of believing you must hide a part of yourself in order to belong.

My dream director for the film adaptation of Belonging would be Sofia Coppola. I loved her most recent film, Priscilla, for several reasons—all of which would be important to a film version of Belonging: a strong female perspective, a commitment to authentic depiction of the time period, a soft retro color palette, and an evocative and original soundtrack. Music is an integral part of Belonging, spanning years and genres, a way to bring the reader to a specific time and place, a nod to the Bakersfield Sound, and also, a window into Jenny’s lonely bedroom, where music insulates her from the chaos of her home. I listened to a lot of music while writing Belonging and created my own soundtrack along the way (Belonging: Soundtrack to the Novel is available on Spotify). I also feel like Sofia Coppola would also uniquely understand the material, having grown up in an Italian family in a part of rural California.

My dream cast would be Camila Morrone as Jenny, Timothée Chalamet as Henry, Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Billy, and Mark Ruffalo as Uncle Gino. Camila Morrone has a lovely understated, earthy, and earnest appeal, while also conveying a quiet strength, which I think would be perfect for Jenny. I have always seen Timothée Chalamet as Henry. Physically, he has the same beautiful eyes and tall, thin build. Emotionally, I think he would be able to bring out Henry’s whimsy and fun, and also his vulnerability—the depth of his pain and his secrets. Seeing Hero Fiennes Tiffin in First Love, I was reminded of Billy. He is strong and sweet, part teenage boy, part grown man. I have loved Mark Ruffalo since 13 Going on 30. He conveys such a gentleness, care, and warmth, which is the hallmark of Uncle Gino.
Visit Jill Fordyce's website.

The Page 69 Test: Belonging.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Sarahlyn Bruck's "Light of the Fire"

Sarahlyn Bruck writes contemporary, book club fiction and is the award-winning author of three novels: Light of the Fire (2024), Daytime Drama (2021), and Designer You (2018). When she’s not writing, Bruck moonlights as a full-time writing and literature professor at a local community college. She’s also a co-host of the pop culture podcast, Pretty Much Pop. From Northern California, she now lives in Philadelphia with her family.

Here Bruck dreamcasts an adaptation of Light of the Fire:
If they make Light of the Fire into a film, here’s who I’d like to play the lead roles of Beth, Ally, and Jordan.

Beth is a professional soccer player—a goal keeper. I envision her as tall and lanky, with far reaching arms, and long, light brown hair that’s almost always pulled into a ponytail. Originally, I envisioned actual soccer players for the two leads as I wrote the first draft. But the actress who could capture her athleticism, competitiveness, and independence would be someone like Mackenzie Davis. She’s tall, the right age, and she has something about her that could inhabit the character of Beth.

Ally used to play soccer, too. She’s smaller than Beth and has a classic soccer build with muscular legs and lean torso. In high school she wore her hair short and she’s never let it get too long. She had her daughters in her early twenties, dropped out of college and soccer, divorced her first husband, and now finds herself unexpectedly pregnant in her late 30s with her newish boyfriend, Noah. Over the years, Ally has worked her butt off and founded an all-girls soccer league in her hometown—something she’d wished she and Beth had been able to benefit from as kids but now can give to her own girls. She’s got a lot of literal and proverbial balls in the air, so someone I think can capture Ally’s energy is Anna Kendrick.

So Jordan. He’s a journalist, which means he’s curious and intelligent. And for the first time, he’s seeing his father in a new light—as someone who was possibly blamed and punished for something he didn’t do. Subsequently, Jordan, his mom, and sister suffered, too. In his mind, the least he could do now that his father’s health is on the decline is to try to clear his name and make up for not being the son his dad needed him in the last 20 years. The actor I could see in this role is Jesse Williams. Most people know him from Grey’s Anatomy, but I enjoyed his performance in the latest season of Only Murders in the Building. Williams brings both an academic intelligence as well as an emotional intelligence that I think serve Jordan really well as an investigative reporter and genuinely caring guy, who wants to do the right thing.
Visit Sarahlyn Bruck's website.

--Marshal Zeringue