Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mignon Ballard's "Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause"

Mignon F. Ballard grew up in a small town in Georgia, and now lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

Here she shares some ideas about casting the leads in adaptations of two of her series, including her latest release, Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause:
I always knew who I’d like to play the part of the guardian angel in my Augusta Goodnight mystery series, and that would have been the late actress, Eve Arden. I even pictured Augusta as looking a bit like Eve, and her character also shared Augusta’s sometimes-tart tongue and practical way of looking at life.

I had to think a bit to decide on an actress who might be natural in the part of Miss Dimple and I believe any of these four would do my character justice, although I realize it might be a bit late for three of them: Dorothy McGuire came to mind because I loved the way she played the gentle yet courageous mother in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. And naturally, I would be honored to have Olivia de Havilland in the role. I can see her now swinging that purple umbrella as she steps sprightly over the sidewalks of Elderberry – and she’s already mastered the Southern accent for GWTW. Greer Garson was perfect in the part of Mrs. Miniver during the same time period of WWII and shared the noble gentility I find in Miss Dimple. And lastly, but not least, the fabulous English actress, Judi Dench. (If she’s not too busy, of course, and doesn’t mind temporarily ditching the British accent!)
Learn more about the author and her work at Mignon Ballard's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tom Lowe's "The Butterfly Forest"

Tom Lowe's Sean O'Brien mystery/thriller series includes A False Dawn, The 24th Letter, and The Butterfly Forest.

Here he shares some casting ideas for the lead of an adaptation of the Sean O'Brien books:
A very successful novelist friend of mine doesn't want to sell filmmakers the right to adapt his books on screen. And he's had plenty of offers. He feels that would taint or certainly influence the personal image readers form of his characters, especially his two popular protagonists. That's a fair assumption.

But I disagree.

Apparently, so do readers. I often get readers suggesting who could "play Sean O'Brien" if the novels are ever adapted into films. Some of the suggestions include Bradley Cooper and Ryan Reynolds. I'd be happy to see either one of these guys in the role. I read where Tom Cruise will play Jack Reacher from one of Lee Child's novels. Reacher is depicted as 6'5", well into the 235 pound heavyweight category. Cruise is a good actor and can perhaps do well in the role. For my guy, Sean O'Brien, he's certainly not the size of Reacher, though he is 6'2", 185. I've thought that Colin Farrell could bring out O'Brien's character well. Hugh Jackman would be another one I believe would be good for the role.

Since Hollywood hasn't discovered Sean O'Brien, yet, I've cast my own version of O'Brien. He's a actor friend of mind who played the part remarkably well in a :42 second mini-movie. He did so in the book trailer for A False Dawn.
Learn more about the book and author at Tom Lowe's website.

The Page 69 Test: The 24th Letter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 25, 2011

Matt Rees's "Mozart's Last Aria"

Matt Rees is an award-winning crime novelist and foreign correspondent. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed Omar Yussef crime series, including The Collaborator of Bethlehem. He is also the author of Cain’s Field, a nonfiction account of Israeli and Palestinian society. Rees lives in Jerusalem.

Here he shares some suggestions about who should play the lead in an adaptation of his new novel, Mozart's Last Aria:
American actresses ought to be climbing over each other to option the film rights for Mozart's Last Aria. Why? Because the main character is a woman just over forty years old.

It’s well-known that all but a few actresses disappear from lead billing by the time they hit that age. Men, by contrast, can still be playing action heroes and romantic leads when they’re already in adult diapers.

Nannerl Mozart, the sister of the great composer, was a child prodigy at the piano, just like Wolfgang. But in her teens she was left at home by their ambitious father, while Wolfgang went to Italy to compose operas. After that, Nannerl was married off – eventually, at age 32, which was old maid territory in the late eighteenth century – and lived in a remote mountain village with her husband, a boring tax official.

In Mozart's Last Aria, she learns of her brother’s death and suspects foul play. (Mozart himself really did tell his wife that he was being poisoned and six weeks later he was dead.) She travels to Vienna to find out the truth. In the imperial capital, she uncovers a plot involving underground Masonic lodges, espionage, and a secret hidden in the libretto of Wolfgang’s last great opera, The Magic Flute.

As I wrote the novel, I was able to keep in mind the image of Nannerl, painted at about the age at which I portray her. She looked remarkably like Wolfgang, had Wolfgang been a cross-dresser. I used some traditional Zulu techniques (called “family constellations”) to connect with the energy field of the real Nannerl (sounds “New Agey” but it’s a technique I find very useful as a writer.)

Still, I had some of my favorite actresses in mind for the qualities I think they’d be able to embody in a movie version of Mozart's Last Aria.

For Nannerl, I imagined both Juliette Binoche and Julia Roberts for the quality of restrained humor they’ve both been able to bring to roles. Nannerl must be a quiet woman who has spent years far away from the limelight, a woman accustomed to disappointment after her brother was favored over her. Both Juliette and Julia would be able to convey the intelligence of Nannerl that survived those years of disappointment. That’s important because in the course of the novel she learns things which enable her to come to a new understanding of her brother – and herself. It also takes an actress who can embody the vulnerability of a woman in that era.

Incidentally, for the blind piano virtuoso Maria Theresia von Paradies, who has a significant role in the book, I had in mind the gorgeous Béatrice Dalle. Paradies had done what Nannerl was unable to do – made a career as a performer, despite being a woman. Her blindness, I believe, made her disregard a great many of the restrictions of the day and gave her a belief in her talent that someone like Nannerl would’ve suppressed.

I’ve been a Dalle fan since I saw her doing the nasty in her first movie Betty Blue, and despite the fact that she’s clearly a bit nuts (or that she just doesn't care what anyone thinks of her) I’ve continued to enjoy her movies. Plus she was great as a blind girl in Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth. It’s time she reprised blindness.
Learn more about about the book and author at Matt Beynon Rees' website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Craig McDonald's "El Gavilan"

Edgar®-nominee Craig McDonald is an award-winning journalist, editor and fiction writer. His short fiction has appeared in literary magazines, anthologies and several online crime fiction sites.

Here he writes about the actors he could see playing his characters in an adaptation of El Gavilan, his new novel:
El Gavilan is my first standalone novel following four entries in the Hector Lassiter series.

The Lassiter books are historical thrillers. El Gavilan is a novel about illegal immigration and a single murder committed in an Ohio town grappling with waves of undocumented workers.

The time is now.

The setting is, by-and-large, a re-imagined version of my hometown: Call it Main Street USA spilling over into an adjacent metro area-become-a-barrio.

The book—and any movie that might one day be made from it—is a kind of mash-up of a western and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. It’s an oater with Dodge Rams and vintage Impalas set to a soundtrack of sad border ballads and narcocorridos.

The novel tracks the investigations and conflicts of three very different brands of lawmen and the small town reporter who covers their efforts in the local weekly newspaper. Moving between the cops and the journalist—binding them in some ways—is a pretty young “legal” named Patricia whose family owns and operates the town’s favorite Mexican restaurant.

Here’s my dream cast:

I favor actor Timothy Olyphant of Deadwood and Justified fame to play the book’s “hero” Tell Lyon, an ex-Border Patrol agent whose family was murdered by a vengeful cartel chief.

In the part of Tell’s uneasy ally Able Hawk—the county sheriff whose nickname supplies the book’s title—I envision Jeff Bridges.

Rounding out the cast of key cops, I imagine a bark-knuckled and paunchy Russell Crowe as neighboring county sheriff Walt Pierce, a man given to escalating rather than diffusing tensions.

The plot of El Gavilan is fired by the murder of a widowed Latina mother named Thalia Ruiz. Thalia is not a mystery novel or potboiler’s throw-away crime victim: We get to know Thalia over the expanse of the novel, and we witness her family’s harrowing migration from southern Mexico across “The Devil’s Highway” and onto into the United States, and, eventually, to central Ohio.

In a perfect world, Thalia would be played by Salma Hayek. Her parents, Sofia and Francisco Gómez, would be played by the equally iconic Elizabeth Peña and Antonio Banderas. Those three famous actors would be tasked with embodying the deadly passage made—successfully and unsuccessfully—by generations of unknowable thousands of illegal immigrants.

My heavily compromised small town reporter Shawn O’Hara, the character whose story arc is arguably fiercest, would be personified by Chris Pine.

Patricia Maldonado, the young woman who is at points caught in a kind of crossfire between Tell, Able, Walt, Shawn and her larger Latino community—legal and illegal—is a pivotal and a harder piece of casting for me to settle on in my mind. One hour has me preferring one actress, the next another. That said, the actress I seem to return to most often when musing over this issue is Jessica Alba, so we’ll go that direction here.

That’s the cast, more or less, that populates the dusty, sun-drenched movie that runs in my head as I dip back into the book from time to time for a public reading or to prep for an interview.

Roll the credits…to the tune of Tom Russell warbling “Across the Borderline.”
Learn more about the author and his work at Craig McDonald's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 21, 2011

Charles Lemert's "Why Niebuhr Matters"

Charles Lemert is Senior Fellow at Yale's Center for Comparative Research. His recent books include The Structural Lie: Small Clues to Globalization (Paradigm, 2011) as well as Why Niebuhr Matters (Yale University Press, 2011).

Here he shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of Why Niebuhr Matters:
If Hollywood could do wonderful movies on, among others, the mathematical genius, John Nash (A Beautiful Mind) or Tolstoy (The Last Station), it could certainly make a popular, perhaps a hit, film out the life of Reinhold Niebuhr. Niebuhr's mind wove in and out of political controversy and very high-minded philosophy and theology. The drama and wonder of his life lies in his unblinking engagement with the evil of Hitler and post-war American arrogance combined with his calm in overcoming a debilitating stroke to continue his work as the most important moral and political thinker of mid-century America. I would see his role played very well by the Brad Pitt of Terrence Malick's Tree of Life or the Matt Damon of Clint Eastwood's Hereafter -- thoughtful men open in time to the mysteries of death and its beyond, both willing to tolerate not knowing the final answer.
Learn more about the book and author at Charles Lemert's website and the Yale University Press.

The Page 99 Test: Why Niebuhr Matters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Matthue Roth's "Losers"

Matthue Roth is the author of the novels Never Mind the Goldbergs and Candy in Action, and the memoir Yom Kippur a Go-Go.

Here he shares some ideas for cast and director of an adaptation of his novel Losers:
Two years ago I was in an uncomfortable situation. A production company wanted to put out my movie -- which is awesome, right? It's what every author dreams of, more or less. Everyday people, people like my parents' friends, don't read books. They hear about books. But movies, they actually see. Instead of being a rumor, I could control two entire hours of their lives.

"Cool," I said. "Which book do you want?" My novel Losers: hacker nerd-thugs who basically ran their school -- internet popularity power struggles, reconfiguring their GPAs and rosters so they didn't have to come in till lunchtime, that sort of thing?

But, no. "Write us a movie," they said. "Something new."

So I wrote them a movie. I called it 1/20. And then they went ahead and made it. It was about Obama's inauguration, but not really -- it was mostly about two high-school girls who ran away to Washington DC in order to see the Inauguration. They get lost. They meet strange people. They hook up, and break up, and things explode. All the weird and great and tragic things that happen when you're seventeen. It was an amazing experience, and they're still in post-production, but it sort of completely changed my way of thinking, as far as what happens when you write something on paper and then what happens when it gets acted out by live people on film.

Losers is my pride and joy. It's truer-to-life than my memoir, sort of an autobiography of my best friend. Over the course of a weekend, Jupiter Glazer, a Russian immigrant geek kid, sheds his accent, discovers punk, and accidentally gets into a relationship with the hottest girl in school.

The trouble with casting a movie about teenagers is that, as soon as you say a teenager's name, they've suddenly turned 35 years old. So I'm just going to pretend that I'm casting for the afterlife, and anybody's fair game.

Hollywood would probably want Jupiter to look like Christian Slater in Heathers. I'm going to go with Ewan McGregor, though -- five years before Trainspotting, with his hair a little shaggier and his eyes a little more feral.

His best friend, Vadim, in my head was always an Igor type. (Except, of course, that in Russia "Igor" is a name that real people actually have, and one of my best friends is named Igor, so I need to watch the references around him.) He's cool in his own way, but we'd probably have to prettify him up, so instead of, like, a 14-year-old Kyle MacLachlan who isn't quite ready to star in Blue Velvet, we'll probably have to go with what can only be described as a Wesley Crusher-type.

There. I said it. @Wilw, please don't hate on me forever.

For Devin, the diva-y, untouchable, too-popular-for-real-life girl who actually ends up being three-dimensional and cool, I want to say Sarah Michelle Gellar (but teenage -- of course). Not because of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I loved just as much as you did and we'd both love to see her reprising some variation on that theme, but because of the way she speaks. There's a tenth-of-a-second difference between the way actors talk and the way real people do, and Gellar gets that. She's not just a real person -- her characters are realer than any of us. That's how I pictured Devin to be. Underneath her perfect plastic exterior, she's secretly awesome.

And then there's Bates, whose character can only be described -- without giving too much away -- as Glenn Danzig meets Liberace. I'm tempted to say either of them -- or, so long as this is fantasy casting, both -- but I'd really love to see Jonah Hill, from Superbad, do it. Probably with a mohawk. Definitely in black leather. Or pleather, because as long as I'm calling the shots, I'm enforcing my super-dorky vegetarian agenda like nobody's business.

And if I can make one more request? The director. Gerardo del Castillo, who made 1/20, has my heart. David Lynch would get the spookiness perfect, and Judd Apatow would get the humor and the pacing -- with bonus points for his comic-book geek cred. But for the style of Losers, I'm thinking someone more along the lines of Amy Heckerling, who did Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless. Both those movies get their main characters and their time periods so perfectly, and they're both so completely different -- and I think that combination of wildness and innocence, of discovering the world and discovering yourself, are exactly what I wanted Losers to be.
Learn more about the author and his work at the official Matthue Roth website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nancy Jensen's "The Sisters"

Nancy Jensen, who received an MFA in Writing from Vermont College, has published stories and essays in numerous literary journals, including The Louisville Review, Other Voices, and Northwest Review. She was awarded an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council, and teaches English at Eastern Kentucky University.

Here she shares some insights on her difficulty of naming a dream cast for an adaptation of The Sisters, her first novel:
The first words out of my stepfather’s mouth when I called to tell him and my mother that St. Martin’s Press had made an offer for my novel The Sisters: “Tell them we want to be old-people extras in the movie!” Though my stepfather was the first, he certainly was not the only person who, on hearing news of impending publication, leapt immediately to some version of the same question: “What about the movie?”

I’m a film junkie—films like The Remains of the Day, Howard’s End, Enchanted April, All About Eve, Cinema Paradiso and Gosford Park give me the same deep, reflective pleasure I get from literature—so the idea of a gorgeous, well-written, brilliantly cast and subtly directed film based on The Sisters is alluring. Of course I’ve thought about it. A lot. But the instant someone asks me whom I would cast if I had a say—not that I would—I can never think of what American film actress would be right to play Bertie or Mabel or Grace or any of the other principal characters. I can only think of who would be wrong.

The trouble is all that sexiness. My characters are ordinary, working class women—women impossible for me to imagine vamping down the red carpet in golden glam at the Oscars, pouting at the camera, dropping names like Versace and Harry Winston. Okay, so I know they’re actresses and that actresses, with the help of film magic, can be roughed up like Charlize Theron in Monster, but that’s not appealing either—all the attention for the film (and sometimes the awarding of awards) turning on the weight gain, the false nose, the shabby dress, the smudge of dirt on the porcelain cheek.

So please, don’t ask me to think about casting.

But if I could have my one true wish, then give me Ang Lee, and any creative team he wanted to assemble, to make The Sisters, the movie. Why? Because Lee has proven in films like Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm, and Brokeback Mountain that he understands that what makes a great book goes well beyond plot to embrace tone, theme, and the building of character through often introspective, un-photographable tensions. Or if I can’t have Ang Lee, then give me Atom Egoyan, who made The Sweet Hereafter. I promise I wouldn’t even mind if, like The Sweet Hereafter, Egoyan made a film richer and more resonant than the book on which it’s based.
Visit Nancy Jensen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gary Corby's "The Ionia Sanction"

Gary Corby is a novelist and former systems programmer at Microsoft. He lives in Australia with his wife and two daughters.

Corby's debut novel is The Pericles Commission.

Here he writes about the actors he could see playing his characters in an adaptation of his new novel, The Ionia Sanction:
The Ionia Sanction is the story of Nicolaos, the only investigating agent in classical Athens, as he searches for stolen information that threatens the safety of Athens. One man has already died trying to protect the secret, another died trying to recover it. Now it's up to Nico to hunt it down, wherever it might be.

About half of the people in my stories are real people, the other half being figments of my demented imagination. So forthwith, I'll cast the major characters!

My wife tells me that Orlando Bloom would be perfect for my hero, Nicolaos. She also tells me that she's willing to take on the role of his girlfriend Diotima.

For Asia, the girl-slave who proves to be quite a handful, we'll have Chloe Moretz. She starred in Kick Ass; the movie was terrible, but she's the right age, and I like the promo shot of her holding a massive, silenced pistol.

For Themistocles, the strategic genius who saved Greece from the Persians, and then defected to the hated enemy, we'll have Laurence Olivier, firstly because it probably takes one genius to play another, and secondly because it would take an amazing actor to portray someone as deep and multi-layered as Themistocles.

For Mnesiptolema, the hardcase daughter of Themistocles, we'll have Helena Bonham Carter, because she dresses up well as a zombie. No, there are no zombies in this story, but if there were, Mnesiptolema would be one.

For Salaminia, the most famous warship of the ancient world, we'll use Olympia [photo left]. There's a good reason for that. Olympia is the world's only remaining trireme, so it's not like we've got a lot of choice. But in fact Olympia was built to ancient specs and probably looks exactly like the original triremes used to.

Barzanes, the devoutly religious and clinically cruel Persian agent, is a tough one to cast. Here's his first appearance: "A man stood there, a Persian, with the nose of a hawk and expressionless eyes under hair that was black as Hades." And later: "He wore a simple, unadorned tunic and no jewelry or display of any kind, yet stood out at this table of well dressed officers and overdressed civilians. The ringleted beard, the curled, black hair, the piercing dark eyes and the hawk-like nose gave him the air of a predator." After a lot of thought, I'm going with Jack Gwillim. Who, you ask? Well, he played King Aeetes in the original Jason and the Argonauts. A fitting finale for my cast.
Learn more about the book and author at Gary Corby's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 13, 2011

B. Kent Anderson's "Cold Glory"

B. Kent Anderson is a journalist and broadcaster. A graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma, he is currently a features writer for the Southwestern Publishing group of magazines. He lives with his three sons in Oklahoma City.

Here Anderson shares some suggestions about who should play the leads in an adaptation of his new novel, Cold Glory:
Now that Cold Glory has finally hit bookshelves, I’ve been asked at least a dozen times in the last two weeks about actors for the ever-elusive (and at this point, hypothetical) film of the story.

I honestly don’t write novels with an actor or actress in mind, but have found myself considering the possibilities in the last couple of weeks. My two series characters are college professor Nick Journey and federal investigator/researcher (and part-time concert pianist) Meg Tolman.

Journey is a middle-aged former ballplayer, now a professor at a small college in Oklahoma. He’s also a single father of a son with autism. He’s a little overweight, has high blood pressure and cholesterol. He’s not an indestructible action hero, so leading men like George Clooney and Tom Cruise, though being around the right age (early/mid forties) are out. I found myself leaning toward Sean Penn (though he is a few years old for the character). As he has aged, Penn has developed a bit of a weathered look that would serve Nick Journey well, I think. I have in mind Penn’s role as a weary, understated Secret Service agent in The Interpreter a few years ago, as being the type of look and feel that would be most appealing in Journey.

My fiancée said, “No, no, no!” when I mentioned Penn. She prefers Matt Damon, and I said, “No, no, no! I can’t have Jason Bourne as my college professor.” But she correctly pointed out that Damon has aged a few years since his Bourne Trilogy days, and after looking up a few photos, I can actually see it. Put some rumpled khakis on him and he could also be my Nick Journey. (Perhaps he and Penn could fight it out for the role?)

My female lead, Meg Tolman, is a five-foot-one, tough-talking fireball of a woman with short blond hair and a serious attitude. She also plays Rachmaninov with all the beauty and sensitivity of any top-notch professional pianist. I was at a total loss for an actress in her early thirties to play Tolman, but again my fiancée intervened and suggested Claire Danes. I’ve never seen any of Danes’s films (I don’t get out much, you see), but as soon as I pulled up her photos on Google, I did something of a double take and said, “That’s Meg Tolman!” She brings the right combination of toughness and refinement that could bring Tolman to life on film.
Learn more about Cold Glory at B. Kent Anderson's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 11, 2011

Paul Doiron’s "Trespasser"

Paul Doiron’s first novel, The Poacher’s Son, won the Barry Award and the Strand Critics Award for Best First Mystery of 2010. His second book in his Mike Bowditch series of rural crime novels is Trespasser, which was called “a masterpiece of high-octane narrative” by Booklist and was an Independent Booksellers Association bestseller.

Here he writes about the actors he could imagine playing Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch and some of the other principal characters in Trespasser:
The first thing I should do is quote my film agent who says that, in his experience, novelists are poor casting agents for their own books.

Having said that, I’ll take a stab anyway. Mike Bowditch should be a great character for an actor to play—he’s brave and intelligent but impetuous and haunted by violence, both his own and others’—but Hollywood seems to have a dearth of promising male actors under the age of twenty-five (which is Mike’s age in this book). For that reason, I’d probably go with someone a little older like Ryan Gosling, who has the acting chops and has shown an inclination recently to play more physical roles. I haven’t seen enough of Charlie Hunnam’s work, but his performance on Sons of Anarchy has intrigued me.

Mike’s girlfriend Sarah is earnest and beautiful, but deliberately a bit bland—she comes from money and can’t imagine being the wife of an underpaid warden living in the back of beyond. Their relationship is based more on their physical attraction than either will admit. For a long time I pictured January Jones in the role. Scarlett Johansson certainly has the animal magnetism to keep Mike from recognizing how little else they have in common. But there are so many great you female actors working now, it would be hard to go wrong.

In Trespasser a rape and killing take place that resembles an incident from seven years earlier, which means that the man already convicted was either railroaded or that a copy-cat is on the loose. The convict, Erland Jefferts, is a highly charismatic guy who has attracted a cadre of defenders (some attracted to his cause by his looks). I think an actor who projects uncomplicated likability, like Ryan Reynolds, might be right for that part.

Jefferts’ chief advocate and public spokesman is a bluff, blunt New Yorker. Dustin Hoffman would have a ball.

Another important character in the book is a slightly menacing Maine State Trooper. He’s a big and beefy guy who doesn’t quite strike Mike as being what he appears to be. One actor who came to mind recently was Josh Holloway, who played Sawyer on Lost, provided he could drop the Southern twang.

Mike’s supervisor, Sergeant Kathy Frost, is fortyish, smart, witty, and profane which leaves a single choice—Sandra Bullock.

I’ve always thought the plum role in my books is the retired Game Warden Pilot Charley Stevens. Charley is wise and folksy, not conventionally educated but the smartest man in any room he enters. He’s also a daredevil in the air, the best woodsman alive, and a bit of a boy at heart. You’d think any number of great male actors would enjoy playing him: Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones. (Please no Maine accents.) One unconventional choice would be Harrison Ford who would get to bring character traits from his roles as Han Solo and John Book (from Witness) to a unique character in his sixties.
Learn more about Paul Doiron at his website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Poacher's Son.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stephen Beachy's "boneyard"

Stephen Beachy is the author of the novels The Whistling Song and Distortion, as well as the twinned novellas Some Phantom/No Time Flat. His writing has appeared in BOMB, The New York Times Magazine, Chicago Review, Best Gay American Fiction, New York magazine and elsewhere. Raised by an ex-Amish father in Iowa, he now lives in California and teaches at the University of San Francisco.

Here he shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of his new novel, boneyard:
If they make boneyard into a movie, Justin Bieber would probably have to play the disturbed Amish boy at its center, Jake Yoder. He looks like a disturbed Amish boy, doesn't he? He doesn't really look like Jake, who has darker hair and bluer eyes and inappropriate affect, but we could work around that. I'm also a character in my book, and so is the editor, Judith Owsley Brown - we write battling footnotes that interpret Jake Yoder's text. Judith would definitely have to be played by Naomi Watts, who can do that kind of mildly uptight but morally concerned thing quite well, and who's just so brilliant there isn't much she can't do. I would like to be played by Barbara Hershey in male drag. Ever since I saw Barbara get raped by an invisible entity in The Entity I've felt an odd kinship with her, as I often feel as if something invisible and malevolent is touching me inappropriately. Maybe it's just a metaphor for capitalism or technology, but since boneyard deals with entities, abuse, horror and malevolent psychologists, her presence would add some rich meta-layers.
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Beachy's website; view the boneyard trailer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 7, 2011

Alan Lazar's "Roam"

Alan Lazar is a platinum-selling musician/composer whose career began in his native South Africa. He lives in Los Angeles, where he has composed music for more than 30 films and TV shows.

Here he shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of Roam, his first novel:
The hero of Roam is a dog, half-beagle and half-poodle. So, no conventional movie stars need apply. In Marley and Me, I believe the dog was an incredible composite of fourteen real dogs and some CGI. If Roam is a live-action film I guess it would be something similar. Alternatively Roam might be a fully animated film. I’m a huge fan of pretty much all the Pixar movies, and I’d love for Roam to be made over there. Up and Toy Story 3 both got my tear ducts pumping. They handle dramatic subject matter with such a beautiful touch.

If Roam is live action, we’d need to cast the main human character, a beautiful concert pianist named Katey. She’s the original owner, or Great Love, of Nelson, our hero dog. The agent selling the movie rights asked for a couple of names for Katey, and I came up with Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway and Kirsten Dunst. All would be great choices.

Thatcher is a truck driver Nelson spends some quality time with, and he’s one of the favorite characters of many who’ve read the book. I somehow imagine Jeff Bridges in the role, one of my favorite actors. I just loved him in Crazy Heart recently. He’s a little old for the role, though, as Thatcher’s only 40, but they managed to shave off a lot of years in Tron, so maybe…

Another of Nelson’s owners is Jake, and his son Oliver. He’s Latino. Benjamin Bratt could be good in this role, although I would love for Guillermo del Toro to play it. If Mario Lopez took himself a bit more seriously, he could also be good, as he’s likely to be the right age by the time the movie might get made.
Learn more about the book and author at Alan Lazar's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 5, 2011

D. E. Meredith's "The Devil's Ribbon"

D.E. Meredith read English at Cambridge, then ran the press office and the land mines campaign for the Red Cross, travelling extensively to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Rwanda during the conflicts. She worked as a consultant on media relations for Greenpeace and other worthy causes before embarking on "The Hatton and Roumande Mysteries" series for St Martin's Press (Devoured, October 2010, The Devil's Ribbon, October 2011).

For an adaptation of Hatton and Roumande’s latest adventure, here's who Meredith would cast:
Professor Adolphus Hatton. Ed Norton is the right look to play Hatton in that he’s svelte, pale, in need of a good meal and a good woman – I’m thinking Ed Norton in The Painted Veil not The Incredible Hulk. Norton projects a keen intellect and the fastidiousness of an over-achiever. He has an intensity about him which is right for Hatton and I can imagine him doing that “Repressed English Gent” bit brilliantly when he first meets Sorcha. Norton has a strong moral compass, a great sense of right and wrong and this quality is key to Adolphus Hatton. Norton would also capture that troubled side of Hatton, the non-believer, the cutting edge scientist, someone who is pushing up against convention.

Albert Roumande. Javier Bardem is quintessential Roumande, but he’d have to lose the Spanish accent and do a French one. Roumande is a great bear of a man, swarthy and has enormous presence and so does Bardem. Roumande, as Chief Diener (that’s Chief Morgue Assistant) quickly established himself as a father like presence in the morgue. He’s always first to give emotional support to Hatton, to the new assistant, Patrice who’s like one of his children to him. He’s not afraid to show his feelings and Roumande also has a strong sense of right and wrong. He’s believes in people, in ideas and is very passionate. Bardem would be fabulous in this role and win over the ladies, as Roumande seems to be doing!

Inspector Jeremiah Grey. It has to be Michael Sheen. He’s such a versatile actor and we haven’t seen him in a high camp role yet and I’d like to. Jeremiah Grey is a mixed up guy. He’s Welsh, low church, from a poor background but smothers himself in cologne, carries an ivory tipped revolver, is a serious morphine user and is altogether “flamboyant”. His sexuality is hidden, questionable, but we know he loves to dress up in finery and I think Sheen would pull off the camp side of Jeremiah Grey, together with that steely ambition and the sadistic cruelty, simmering just below the surface, very well indeed.

Sorcha McCarthy. Carey Mulligan. Still waters run deep. Sorcha McCarthy is the young woman left behind after her much older husband is murdered. She lives in a beautiful white house on Highgate Hill. She’s married into what the Irish called a “West Brit” family but later reveals she has a poor background. She left Ireland because her dead husband (an Irish MP) had to work in Westminster for the British. We know that Hatton falls head over heels in love the minute he sees her, but it’s not just because she’s exquisite. She’s educated, intense, distracted and seems very interested in Hatton’s work. Lose her trademark bob, give her a long black wig and Carey Mulligan’s perfect. How could Hatton resist such girlish charms? And Mulligan has an intensity about her, a wistfulness. She would make a perfect Sorcha.

And finally, I’d like Eddie Marsan as Mr Tescalini. He’s a wonderful British actor. Perfect for a Victoriana villain, and Stephen Rea has to be Father O’Brian. He’s Irish anyway and would do a brilliantly brooding politico like the Nationalist priest in The Devil’s Ribbon.

So, if anyone reading this blog has contacts with any of the above (especially Norton and Bardem) tell them lunch is on me. They are the perfect team for Hatton and Roumande. And the series isn’t optioned yet, so what exactly are they waiting for?
Learn more about the book and author at Denise Meredith's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Devil's Ribbon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tyler McMahon's "How the Mistakes Were Made"

Tyler McMahon received his MFA in fiction from Boise State University. His stories have appeared in Threepenny Review, Sycamore Review, and Surfer’s Journal, among others, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is a professor of fiction at Hawaii Pacific University.

If an adaptation were produced of How the Mistakes Were Made, McMahon's debut novel, here are his ideas for cast and director:
How the Mistakes Were Made is primarily the story of Laura Loss—a veteran punk rocker who is now blamed for the demise of the grunge band that she helped to form. The book is kind of a fake memoir, which tells Laura’s side of the story. In a sense, it is her defense. The casting for Laura’s part would be the most crucial. Visually speaking, she’s pale, with dark hair and a cynical intensity.

A great writer and filmmaker named J. Reuben Appelman produced a trailer for the book. Early in the process, he asked me what Hollywood actress she most resembled. Without hesitation, I told him that I pictured her as a mid-90’s Winona Ryder. He ended up casting the amazing Abisha Uhl—lead singer of the band Sick of Sarah—in the trailer and she did an amazing job. If someone were to make a movie of it today, certainly Natalie Portman comes to mind; some readers have mentioned that. I could definitely see Anne Hathaway in the role, especially based on her performance in Rachel Getting Married.

The other two band members would be more difficult. I’d like it if they looked young. Sean is visually lankier and darker—more quiet and awkward. His character makes me think of a What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?-era Johnny Depp, or Leonardo DiCaprio around the time of The Basketball Diaries.

Nathan is shorter and more solid. I picture him as generally a grounded and unflappable physical presence. Ewan McGregor definitely has the right energy for it. A young Val Kilmer could have pulled it off as well.

It would be hard to think of any rock-related film without thinking of Cameron Crowe as a possible director. He’s been fearless about putting music center stage on the silver screen—something that other directors shy away from. The fact that the book is set in the Pacific Northwest, however, also brings Gus Van Sant to mind. I greatly admire his attention to marginalized subcultures as well as to teenage life, and would love to see what he could do with the story.
View the trailer for How the Mistakes Were Made, and learn more about the book and author at Tyler McMahon's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sara Grant's "Dark Parties"

Sara Grant was born and raised in Washington, Indiana, a small town in the Midwestern United States. She graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, with degrees in journalism and psychology, and later she earned a master’s degree in creative and life writing Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Grant is senior commissioning editor for Working Partners, a London-based company creating series fiction for children. She has worked on ten different series and edited more than 75 books.

Here she shares some suggestions about who should star in an adaptation of Dark Parties, her first young adult novel:
It wouldn’t be easy to make Dark Parties into a movie. Dark Parties is set in a society that has closed itself off under an electrified dome for hundreds of years. Its citizens are growing to look more and more alike. They don’t look identical but have a family resemblance. Neva, my main character, explains it like this: “I see myself around every corner — every minute — like living in a maze of mirrors.”

For that reason, I didn’t really picture the actors who might play the leading roles. When I’m developing a story, I sometimes have a notebook with pictures for each of my main characters. I didn’t do this with Dark Parties. I focused more on the identity marks that the characters create for themselves. Neva has a snowflake tattoo in the valley between her stomach and hip. Neva’s best friend Sanna carves an ‘S’ on her cheek. One character always wears red, pointy-toed boots.

Having said that...it is nice to dream of a red carpet walk...

My first casting call would be to Kevin Spacey. I’d offer him the role of Neva’s dad. I would like to say it’s solely based on the fact that he’s an award-winning actor and has the capacity to play the subtleties in Dr. George Adams, but the truth is he’s my favorite actor and I would love to have the chance to sit down and talk to him artist to artist. Okay, it’s more like actor to near-stalker fan.

I’d give my leading lady to Emma Watson. She has the edgy, strength that Neva needs. And after all the testosterone of the Harry Potter series, Emma needs a kick a** leading role.

For Braydon, I wanted someone lesser known, an actor whose mystery off-camera could match Braydon’s mystery on. We’d have to travel a few years back to a time when Jonathan Rhys Meyers had long hair. Then he’d be the perfect Braydon with a mysterious, bold, sexy vibe.

I love a little bit o’ the Glee. I think Cory Allan Monteith could play a convincing Ethan. He’s the boy next door but I think he could add the creepy edge that Ethan needs later in the story.

I found Sanna the hardest to cast. I want someone who could play Sanna’s enthusiasm and heart. She’s got to be loveable but able to play some really tough and emotional scenes. I finally selected Abigail Breslin. Probably the primary reason is because I loved her in Little Miss Sunshine. But she’d be about the right age and is a stunning actress.

So Hollywood, whaddya say? Anyone out there want to make my Oscar wishes come true?
Learn more about the book and author at Sara Grant's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue