Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A. Scott Pearson's "Rupture"

A. Scott Pearson is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis. For the past decade, Dr. Pearson has been on the surgical faculty at Vanderbilt University, where he combines cancer research with the clinical practice of surgery and teaches on the importance of the patient’s narrative in medicine.

Here he shares some ideas about the cast for a cinematic adaptation of his new novel, Rupture:
Rupture, my novel of medical suspense, introduces surgeon Eli Branch. While investigating the suspicious death of one of his patients, Eli uncovers an elaborate web of lies spun by his late father, a longtime professor of anatomy at Mid-South Medical College in Memphis. Instead of finding answers, Eli finds more questions–and more victims, each meeting a sudden, violent end.

Eli joins forensic pathologist Meg Daily to find a common thread among the victims. As they piece together the chilling puzzle, Eli and Meg plunge headfirst into the world of deadly medicine–a world way too close to home. Trapped in the paradox of ending one life to save another, Eli finds that in this life-or-death race against time, one false step could be fatal.

For the main character, burgeoning surgeon Eli Branch, I would choose a young Harrison Ford, without question. Since that’s not happening, I turn to Jude Law, or an inquisitive John Cusack. Maybe a serious Jay Mohr. It both thrills and troubles me to consider what Robert Downey, Jr. could do with the role. Jake Gyllenhaal could take this part and run with it. Rising to the top of the pack, however, is Matt Damon.

For the heroine, pathologist Meg Daily, her part is fun to think about, again and again. Cate Blanchett would be sumptuous, as would Juliette Binoche. Then there’s Minnie Driver. Driver and Damon might recreate their relationship in Good Will Hunting. Could be a good thing, but not right for this story. I’d go with Laura Linney.

I would love to see Telly Savalas portraying Lipsky, the gruff police detective. But Harvey Keitel could blow it away.

Henry Branch, Eli’s brother, would be a complex role. Better ask Ed Harris for that one.

For Fisher, the chairman of surgery, bring on Jon Voight. For Harvey Stone, powerful head of the biomedical device company, Donald Sutherland would rock. But, I love Bill Nighy in just about anything. And for Alex Zaboyan, Stone’s second in command, a skeptical Alan Rickman.

For Tsarina, the temptress-turned-villain, a role-reversed Allison Janney would be sublime.

And lastly, there’s Prine, a relatively minor character with major consequences for the ending. To be played by Scatman Crothers, from The Shining. I could “see” his face every time I wrote this character.
Read more about Rupture at the official website or at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Linda L. Richards' "Death Was the Other Woman"

Linda L. Richards is the editor and co-founder of January Magazine and a regular contributor to The Rap Sheet. Her latest books are the Kitty Pangborn novels, Death Was the Other Woman and Death Was in the Picture.

Here she shares some thoughts about the cast for a big screen adaptation of the novels:
I was asked to participate in “My Book the Movie” when the first Kitty Pangborn novel came out in 2008. I didn’t. I couldn’t. When I thought about the book, no film faces popped up. That’s just how it is for me. The characters that people my books are never – never – inspired by real people. Without exception. I never have anyone real in mind when I write those characters. They come out of my imagination: individuals fully formed.

Also, I know enough about the making and casting of films to understand that A) my casting choices will have little or anything to do with who ultimately plays those roles should there be a film version and B) there is no role – that is to say, I can’t imagine the role – that could be played by only one actor. Such is the nuance of that particular art that different actors bring different things to different roles. And so, for instance, if you’ve read the first Kitty Pangborn novel, Death Was in the Picture, imagine Charlize Theron in the Kitty role. Now imagine Halle Berry. Or Kate Hudson in the role. Now Jennifer Hudson. Now Katie Holmes. None of those five women would, in my mind, be entirely wrong for the role (and just what is “wrong,” anyway?) but, obviously, it becomes an entirely different role with each of those women: they’d bring different things to playing Kitty Pangborn and none of those things would be wrong; none of them would be incorrect.

That said, not long after Death Was the Other Woman was released in 2008, I was at a play that was produced and partly performed by my son Michael Karl Richards, who is a working actor based mostly in Vancouver. It was actually a series of plays known as The Good Doctor written originally by Anton Chekov and re-imagined for the stage by Paul Simon.

I know, cool right?

So, obviously, my son was brilliant in several roles, but that’s not the point of this particular exercise. One of the plays was actually a monolog performed by a young actress I’d met before on several social occasions. I’d never seen her act before. And she knocked my socks off. And though she was playing a heartbroken Russian woman, almost from the first moment, she took my breath away.

“Ohmigawd,” I whispered to my partner before very long. “She’s Kitty. I mean, she is Kitty.” It was like the character had gotten up and out of my book and strolled onto the stage.

Adrianna Spence is an actor you probably have not heard of, but she’s immensely talented and, to my mind, she could handle all aspects of the Kitty character, including the physical. Spence is young, lovely in an incredibly cute way, her coloring is just what I had in mind when I wrote Kitty: the sort of pert redhead who entrances men with a proclivity for that particular combination.

I think many, many actors – men of a certain age – could do a fantastic job with Dex, the damaged World War I veteran who is Kitty’s shamus boss. It actually would be the kind of role a lot of people would enjoy playing, I think. Dex is critically damaged; fatally flawed. Actors like dealing with the sort of challenge and nuance that sort of role brings.

So I’ll give you two names. Either would do wonderfully as Dex. Russell Crowe seems to inhabit and embody the necessary damage and danger Dex brings. I think also Robert Downey Jr. would do a great job. He’s a wonderful actor and he really walks that walk. And both of them would look killer in a high-crowned fedora.

But again, I have a great deal of respect for the acting profession and understand that a dozen competent people would bring a score of different things to those roles. I’d love to see any of them have a run at it. What fun to see your waking dreams brought to life.
Learn more about the author and her work at Linda L. Richards' website.

View the Death Was in the Picture trailer.

The Page 69 Test: Death Was the Other Woman.

The Page 69 Test: Death Was in the Picture.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gabriel Cohen's "Red Hook"

Gabriel Cohen is the author of Red Hook, The Graving Dock, and Neptune Avenue (coming April 27, 2009, from St. Martin’s Minotaur), three crime novels featuring Brooklyn South Homicide detective Jack Leightner. He is also the author of the novel Boombox and of Storms Can’t Hurt the Sky, a nonfiction book about how to recover from divorce.

He has written for the New York Times, Poets & Writers, the New York Post magazine, Crimespree, and other publications, and will be the guest lecturer aboard the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner in May, 2009. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Here he shares his tale of Jack Leightner's leap from novels to the movies:
It’s funny—not ha-ha funny, but I just fell down a flight of stairs and got severely banged up but I’m still alive funny—but this was almost not a theoretical question for me. My first novel Red Hook came out in 2001. After it got nominated for the Edgar award the next year, I got a hotshot Hollywood agent. In very short order, she found an interested production company (Denis Leary’s) and an interested screenwriter (Will Rokos, who was very hot that year as he had just co-written Monster’s Ball). There was just one inconvenience: they needed some serious studio money to make the film happen.

I didn’t let that little detail faze me. I was too busy dreaming about the single phone call, the tap from a studio head’s magic wand, that would instantly transform my life for the better. No more struggling to pay the rent. No more part-time gigs doing work I had zero interest in. No more plugging away in total obscurity.

My agent asked me to come up with a list of possible actors for the lead role. I figured, hey, why not start at the top? I still have the list on my computer: Robert De Niro. Nick Nolte. Ed Harris. David Strathairn. Etc. My books are as much about the mysteries of human character as the simple question of whoddunit, and I had gone to great pains to give Jack Leightner, my protagonist, a complex, well-rounded life. Aside from the big case he was working on, the divorced cop was struggling to deal with a difficult son, an uncertain new romance, and a painful secret from his childhood. It seemed (and still seems) like a dynamite role for a middle-aged actor looking for a meaty challenge: a flawed but deeply sympathetic human being, a homicide detective confronting his own mortality and personal life.

To make a short story even shorter, my little bubble managed to stay afloat for just a week. Our attached screenwriter made the rounds of the big Hollywood studios to pitch the tale. Nobody bit. Maybe there weren’t enough car crashes or explosions in the plot.

And that was that. The End. A little window of magical opportunity opened for a second, and then slammed shut. Back to the daily work. Which is okay with me, mostly, because I love the writing. My third Jack Leightner book, titled Neptune Avenue, will be released soon by St. Martin’s Press and I’m hard at work on a fourth installment in the series. I’m just as excited about deepening my protagonist’s character as ever.

I don’t dream about Hollywood very much anymore, though I would love for some serious, thoughtful star, writer, or director to get interested again. Barring that, I’d even settle for a hack job. Why? Because the money would enable me to focus even more intensely on my writing.

But what about quality, you ask? What about ensuring that the movie lives up to the promise of the book?

That’s simple. I always think of the famous novelist who was interviewed while sitting at his writing desk. “What do you think of what Hollywood has done to your movies?”

“Hollywood didn’t do anything to them,” he replied calmly, pointing at his bookcase. “They’re still right there.”
Learn more about the author and his work at Gabriel Cohen's website.

The Page 69 Test: Gabriel Cohen's The Graving Dock.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 13, 2009

David Blixt's "The Master of Verona"

In David Blixt's The Master of Verona, Shakespeare's Italian characters meet the historical figures of Dante's Inferno, setting the stage for the famous Capulet-Montague feud from Romeo & Juliet.

Here the author picks the director and principal cast for a film adaptation of his novel:
Directed by:
Peter Weir

Hugh Jackman as Cangrande della Scala

Jake Gyllenhaal as Pietro Alaghieri

Cate Blanchett as Katerina della Scala

Robert Pattinson as Mariotto Montecchio

Chris Pratt as Antonio Capulletto

Anne Hathaway as Gianozza della Bella

Avery Brooks as Tharwat al-Dhamin

Stacy Keach as the Count of San Bonifacio

Ritchie Coster as Asdente


Peter O'Toole as Dante Alaghieri

Weir - did you see Master and Commander?
Jackman - because he, like Cangrande, is everything a man should be.
Hathaway - beautiful, but empty.
Brooks - he, too, is everything a man should be.
Keach - because he'd eat this role alive.
O'Toole - he's too old, but he would still be genius.
Read an excerpt from The Master of Verona and learn more about the book at the official website.

The Page 69 Test: The Master of Verona.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Zachary Lazar's "Sway"

Zachary Lazar's first novel is Aaron, Approximately. He graduated from Brown University, has been a Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Works Center, and received the Iowa Writers Workshops James Michener/Copernicus Society Prize.

Here he shares some thoughts about a cinematic adaptation of his second novel, Sway:
A few months ago, I came across this exchange on the internet, in which Dan DeLuca, a critic at the Philadelphia Enquirer, interviews Martin Scorsese:

DeLuca: Do you know about Sway, Zachary Lazar's novel about the Stones in the '60s?

Scorsese: I have a copy of it. I haven't read it yet. I have stacks of books which I intend to read while shooting, which is impossible. [Laughs].

I could do without the [Laughs] part, which seems to underscore the “I haven’t read it yet” part. Still, while this internet chat may be as close as I ever get to seeing my novel turned into a movie, the mere idea of the book being in Scorsese’s possession (even if it remains unread) is exciting. But I wonder who could play any of my novel’s characters in any case? The recent Brian Jones biopic “Stoned,” which covers some of the same ground as Sway, shows how difficult it is for an actor to play a rock star without becoming a cartoon in the process. Another of Sway’s strands—the story of the Manson Family—poses the same kind of challenge, which was demonstrated in Jeremy Davies’s recent portrayal of Charles Manson in the remake of “Helter Skelter.” Perhaps the story is best left as a book (though I’d probably not complain if anyone wanted to make a movie out of it).

It is a movie that forms Sway’s connecting thread, Kenneth Anger’s 1969 short film “Invocation of My Demon Brother.” I once saw that film with Anger standing right behind me in the darkened theater, and it felt as if he was peering right through my skull into my mind. In a sense, this is the reverse of what many viewers of “Invocation” feel: as though they are peering directly into Anger’s mind. It is a quick, dark, powerful film—in its abstract way, it sums up everything corrosive and fatal about the counterculture of the 1960s. Anger’s reputation as hostile, even towards those who admire him, is legendary, and as I said, I felt in that theater as if he was peering into my mind. If he was, then he would have known that even then I was in the process of making a book out of his movie.
Read an excerpt and learn more about Sway at the publisher's website.

Check out Lazar's playlist matching songs to the chapters in Sway.

The Page 69 Test: Sway.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chris Marie Green's Vampire Babylon series

Chris Marie Green writes the Vampire Babylon series. Night Rising, Book One, was reissued in mass market format on January 27, 2009, and Midnight Reign and Break of Dawn are already available in trade editions. A Drop of Red, Book Four, will be released in trade on March 3, 2009.

Here she shares some casting ideas for the screen adaptation of the series:
Welcome to Hollywood after dark, where the stars shine brightly, the famous fall from their sparkling heavens, and the vampires lurk just under the ground, waiting for their own chance to “make it” in the biz.

So how does a writer go about populating an urban fantasy such as this? I would start with the hunters. The main heroine, Dawn Madison, is a lean, mean ex-stunt woman who’s returned to town to discover the whereabouts of her missing father. She’s got a lot of attitude that covers a few soft spots that she’d rather keep buried, as well as a real complex about her mother, a beautiful superstar whose unsolved murder made her a silver-screen legend. Even though Summer Glau has cornered the market on vulnerable scowls in action franchises, I’d love to see her wielding a machete at some vamps in the wilds of L.A.

Dawn’s co-worker at the paranormally inclined “firm” that employed her missing father is a far harder part to cast. Kiko Daniels is a twenty-something “little person” actor whose career is on the skids. But his psychic powers and hunting skills keep him cocky and confident, even when his agent can’t get him much work during the day. I’m not sure who’d play this role—someone unknown? A blond-haired, boyish guy who wears a soul patch with panache?

The third team member, Breisi Montoya, is a former Mexican soap opera actress, around thirty years old and seemingly too long in the tooth for the ingénue parts that used to give her a paycheck. But she’s hell in the lab, where she creates the team’s weapons, and she can handle a mean saw-bow outside of headquarters, too. I don’t know how tall Bianca Marroquin is, but this woman would carry petite Breisi’s trademark Louise Brooks hairstyle pretty well.

Dawn’s missing father, Frank Madison, is a former bar bouncer. He was everyone’s best buddy at tequila hour and, as far as his daughter knew, lived a wastrel’s life. But that was before she found out that he was a vamp hunter. Tough yet world-weary and remorseful, Frank is Bruce Willis. He was really the only character model I had while writing these books.

And then there’s Jacqueline Ashley, a rising starlet who befriends Dawn whether Dawn likes it or not. She’s plucky and naïve, sweet and wholesome. She’s also been targeted by studio suits to become the “next big thing,” seeing as she has a certain je ne sais quoi that defines a true star. I can see Jac as a twenty-three-year-old Charlize Theron, but with long strawberry blond hair.

Last, but not least, we’ve got “The Voice,” who communicates to his vamp hunting team only through speakers. It sounds as if his tone has been dragged through centuries of fights, and there’s a hint of “the old country” in every carefully chosen word. Michael Wincott’s tortured voice would be just the thing for this mysterious guy.
For more about Vampire Babylon, including book videos and excerpts, stop by

--Marshal Zeringue