Saturday, June 30, 2012

Frances Osborne's "Park Lane"

Frances Osborne was born in London and studied philosophy and modern languages at Oxford University. She is the author of Lilla’s Feast and The Bolter, a San Francisco Chronicle's Book of the Year and No.1 bestseller in the UK. Her articles have appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, the Daily Mail, and Vogue. She lives in London with her husband, George Osborne, and their two children.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Park Lane:
If Park Lane is made into a movie, I'd love to see strong, almost dark characters. Gemma Arterton would be great as Grace, the maid new to the job and trying her best as she is forced to weave an ever thicker web of lies around her. Natalie Portman could portray beautifully the complexities of disillusioned debutante Beatrice as she comprises her principles and is drawn into the violent world of militant suffragettes. As for Michael, brooding and magnetic, James Purefoy would absolutely do the trick.
Learn more about the book and author at Frances Osborne's website.

Osborne was born in London and studied philosophy and modern languages at Oxford University. Her other books include Lilla’s Feast and The Bolter, a San Francisco Chronicle's Book of the Year and No.1 bestseller in the UK.

The Page 99 Test: The Bolter.

The Page 69 Test: Park Lane.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Beth McMullen's "Spy Mom"

Beth McMullen graduated from Boston University with a degree in English Literature and received an MLS from Long Island University. After landing a gig with Reader’s Digest, she eventually realized she’d rather write books than condense them.

Here she shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of her latest book, Spy Mom:
I love this question because it’s so fun to play with! Readers email me all the time with suggestions and so many of them are great possibilities I never even thought of.

I have an image of Sally Sin, the main character of the Sin series, in my head but it doesn’t line up nicely with any current Hollywood actors of the appropriate age. And my primary bad guy, Ian Blackford, is a mishmash of all my favorite movie villains over the years with a layer of Pierce Brosnan as Remington Steele thrown in for good measure.

But Simon Still, Sally’s boss and handler at The Agency, has been Kevin Spacey since his moment of his creation. Whenever I write Simon Still scenes, I hear Kevin Spacey’s voice in my head and see him walking across my pages. Recently, I watched Margin Call and kept thinking, “Wait a minute! What is Simon Still doing on Wall Street? This doesn’t make any sense.”

I hope these books haven’t ruined Kevin Spacey for me forever but who knows?
Learn more about the book and author at Beth McMullen's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Original Sin.

Writers Read: Beth McMullen (July 2011).

The Page 69 Test: Spy Mom.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Elizabeth Crane's "We Only Know So Much"

Elizabeth Crane is the author of the story collections When the Messenger Is Hot, All This Heavenly Glory, and You Must Be This Happy to Enter.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, We Only Know So Much:
Fantasy casting for the movie of my book? Why yes, I’d love to!

The challenge of casting the four generations of the Copeland family, I think, is finding actors who can show us exactly what they’re thinking without doing much ‘acting’ at all. In many ways, though each of the characters has their own issue that they’re dealing with, their conflicts are very much internal, and often this is dealt with in the narrative. So in a perfect world, the actors in the movie of my book will be so brilliant that when they turn their heads a sixteenth of an inch, or blink their eyes almost imperceptibly, the viewer will intuit my exact words from the novel without need of a voice over or any other explanation. I think it could happen.

Thusly, my dream cast:

Philip Seymour Hoffman or Robert Sean Leonard in the role of Gordon, the middle-aged father. Gordon is physically, kind of a stiff, described in the book as attractive in a “small market weatherman” kind of way. He’s also a bit of a know-it-all and at the moment he’s worried that he’s losing his mind.

Catherine Keener or Lili Taylor would be perfect for Jean, Gordon’s wife. Jean is silently suffering the loss of a lover her husband had not known about. There’s also an actress named Amy Landecker who would be fantastic.

Priscilla, their ‘bitchy’ nineteen-year-old fashionista daughter, and her thoughtful little brother Otis, are a tougher ones for me – there aren’t that many younger actors that are on my radar, and since in this universe I’m casting this, I feel like I’d like to discover these two. Physically, Heather Morris from Glee is almost exactly how I see Priscilla in my head (yes, she still plays high school on TV, but we all know that on TV high school it’s almost a requirement that in real life, the actors playing teens are twenty-five). Priscilla goes through a transition as well, though, so the actress playing her needs to play bitchy but also in a sort of quiet way – she’s not so much a tantrum thrower as she is silently hostile. Saiorse Ronan might also be a good choice for Priscilla.

For nine-year-old Otis, a kind of brainy, soulful boy falling in love for the first time, well, I have no idea. So I’m thinking, if he were an actor, I’d cast Caine from the short documentary Caine’s Arcade. He has the kind of creative spirit that Otis needs.

For Vivian, the 98-year-old matriarch and social butterfly, Angela Lansbury would be brilliant. She has the sort of elegance Vivian has, but can also bring the necessary edge to the character. Vivian is not always super nice.

For Theodore, Gordon’s father (Vivian’s son), who’s suffering from Parkinson’s, I would be beside myself if Anthony Hopkins were available. Theodore’s face has stiffened with his illness, but he still has a twinkle in his eyes and a sense of humor, and he has some important scenes and needs the depth of an Anthony Hopkins.
Learn more about We Only Know So Much and its author at Elizabeth Crane's website.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Crane (April 2008).

The Page 69 Test: We Only Know So Much.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kim Barnes's "In the Kingdom of Men"

Kim Barnes's books include two memoirs, In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country—a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize—Hungry for the World, and the novels Finding Caruso and A Country Called Home.

Here she shares some ideas for the actors, director, and screenwriter to bring her new novel, In the Kingdom of Men, to the big screen:
If they make my book into a film, here's who I'd like to play the lead role(s):

Virginia (Gin) McPhee (main character—an adventuress young wife from Oklahoma who doesn’t like to obey): Saoirse Ronan.

Mason McPhee (Gin’s handsome, idealistic husband—an oilfield roughneck rising through the ranks): Armie Hammer.

Ruthie Doucet (Gin’s best friend—a woman who has been around and knows the ropes): Tina Fey.

Lucky Doucet (Ruthie’s Cajun husband—a rough veteran of the oilfields): a beefy George Clooney, sporting a sun-bleached crew-cut (maybe because I want to see him canoodling with Tina Fey).

Linda Dalton (Gin and Ruthie’s single friend—a voluptuous platinum-haired nurse): Can we see Christina Hendricks as anything other than a red-head?

Yash Sharma (Gin’s Punjabi houseboy—a middle-aged, educated military man who has self-exiled to Arabia): an older Roger Narayan.

Abdullah (Mason’s driver and translator—a young Arab man, educated in the U.S.): Ben Youcef in a ghutra and plaited hair.

Ross Fullerton (Mason’s district manager—an ambitious and dangerous Texas oil man): A bald, pot-bellied Leonardo DiCaprio with sparse eyebrows, sweating in a Stetson.

Candy Fullerton (Ross’s wife—Houston debutante; never satisfied): I’ve always envisioned my close friend, Kelly Eviston (Mozart and the Whale, The Basket) in this role. She’s from Kentucky, and, as an actor, she’s got that Southern belle ability to turn from saccharin sweet to viperous in the blink of an eye.

Carlo Leoni (Italian expatriate, photographer, lothario, and self-proclaimed pirate): Johnny Depp. Oh, wait. Hasn’t he already played a pirate?

Director: Present tense, Clint Eastwood. Future tense, my twenty-two-year-old son, Jace Wrigley, who’s got the chops.

And should we bring in Tom Perrotta to do the adaptation?
Learn more about the book and author at Kim Barnes's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Country Called Home.

The Page 69 Test: In the Kingdom of Men.

Writers Read: Kim Barnes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 22, 2012

Julia Gregson's "Jasmine Nights"

Julia Gregson has worked as a nanny, a shearer’s cook in Australia, a horse wrangler, and waitress, before becoming a writer in her mid twenties.

She lives in Wales with her husband, and has a daughter and four step-children.

Gregson's last novel, East of the Sun, was an international best seller, translated into over twenty languages.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Jasmine Nights:
Jasmine Nights is set in 1942 in Cairo,Turkey, Wales and London. It would make a fabulous movie. But you are rolling your eyes already and saying she would say that, but hear me out, and help me if you can with the casting.

The two principal characters are Saba Tarcan, a half Turkish half English singer who performs for ENSA (the Entertainment, National Services Association) that sang for the troops. She is fiery, brilliantly talented, a rebel. I need someone tough and tender for her, who also looks a little exotic.

My dream girl for this is a new discovery: Katharine McPhee from Smash, would be perfect, in fact writing this has inspired me to send the book to her. She has a fabulous voice, has the kind of in your face charisma I need, and also high cheekbones--she could easily look like a half Turkish girl. My other candidate would be the Irish Ruth Negga, a classically trained young actress who has come up through the ranks of the Royal Shakespeare Company and who was hugely impressive in Phaedra and a recent television film about Shirley Bassey, a Welsh singer. For Saba’s mother, I want Catherine Zeta-Jones (in fact, if she was in her early twenties, she’d make a terrific Saba). Catherine would get the accent spot on.

Dom Benson, a young, fighter pilot made old before his time by the war and the loss of comrades, needs to be played by an actor who is not just a pretty boy, but who has depth, and an air about him of someone who has suffered. Eddie Redmayne, who played the love lorn boy in Marilyn, would be good. If any readers who can think of other actors who are young, dark, and look complicated and intelligent, do let me know.

I enjoy films where the actors don’t get in the way of their roles by being too well known. If I didn’t feel this, I might consider Robert Pattinson, as he does have the right look of a young man who has suffered.

For the supporting roles of Arleta, the amoral showgirl that Saba goes on tour with I’d cast Michelle Williams, she was great in Marilyn and has the kind of sexy vulnerability I need.
Learn more about the book and author at Julia Gregson's website.

The Page 69 Test: East of the Sun.

The Page 69 Test: Jasmine Nights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Josephine Angelini's "Dreamless"

Josephine Angelini is a Massachusetts native and the youngest of eight siblings. A real-live farmer's daughter, she graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in theater, with a focus on the classics.

Here she shares some thoughts on casting a big screen adaptation of Dreamless, the second installment of her debut YA trilogy:
If my books were ever turned into movies, and I actually got some say who to cast, I would pick total unknowns. I have two reasons for this. The first is that when I go see a movie with a really well-known star in it, all I can think is, "Oh. That's so-and-so in Spandex. Isn't she dating the lead guitarist from that band?". It's totally selfish of me, but if my characters ever found their way to the big screen, I'd want the opposite. Years later, I'd want people to see the actress and think, "Oh. That's Helen Hamilton". (my main character) I guess what I'm saying is that I'd want to totally ruin a young actor's life. Evil, but true.

The second motivation for me to choose unknowns is that I've noticed that when a book gets turned into a movie, especially in the YA genre for some strange reason, most the original fans of the book go bananas and openly protest the choices for the male and female lead. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart sent a lot of the fans of the book into fits. Then there's what happened to Josh Hutcherson. The fans of the Hunger Games books lost their minds when he was chosen, and the poor guy had to suffer through interviews about whether or not he was too short to work opposite Jennifer Lawrence and just not buff enough to be Peeta. I want to avoid that if I can. For the young actors, yes, but more importantly, for the fans. After all, they're the ones that loved to book enough, and supported it so fervently, that a studio decided it was worth the huge financial risk to make a movie in the first place. There are always going to be readers that hate it when their books get turned into movies, but I'd like to make the transition as easy as possible for them if I can.

So no stars.

Not that a studio would ever allow that happen, but hey. You can always ask, right?
Learn more about the book and author at Josephine Angelini's website and blog.

Writers Read: Josephine Angelini (June 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sam Walker's "Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama"

Samuel Walker is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he taught from 1974 to 2005. He is a widely quoted expert on issues of civil liberties, policing and criminal justice policy.

Here he shares some ideas for a cinematic adaptation of his latest book, Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama: A Story of Poor Custodians:
Fox Movietone News! August 8, 1974. President Richard Nixon speaks from the White House: “My fellow Americans, I am a crook. Consequently, I shall resign my office...”

How do you make a movie out of a 510 page book that covers 17 American presidents and a broad range of civil liberties controversies? Do it as one the old newsreels that used to precede the feature film along with the prevues and the cartoon. So Presidents and Civil Liberties: The Movie will appear as highlights from Fox Movietone News.

The script is based on a talk I gave on “The Great Speeches Presidents Never Gave – But Should Have.” Over the last century, several presidents have perpetrated terrible violations of individual rights. Franklin D. Roosevelt put Americans in concentration camps– the only president ever to do so. Woodrow Wilson suppressed all dissent during World War I. And the list goes on. The point of the presentation, and now the movie, is that they could have chosen a different course of action. They could have chosen to respect the Bill of Rights. The movie presents the speeches they could and should have given.

President Nixon famously did say “I am not a crook,” and he never admitted any personal guilt for the Watergate break-in and cover up that drove him from office. He could have admitted his responsibility and left office with at least some shred of honor, but did not.

In the second segment President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers one of his famous “fireside chats” from the White House in February 1942. Following Pearl Harbor, there were demands for evacuating all Japanese Americans from the west coast. Responding to these demands, FDR eloquently declares that “we do not punish people because of their race or national origins. That’s what the Nazis do.” (Of course, he conveniently overlooked American racism and segregation, but that is another long story.) “In this war,” he continues, “we are fighting for democracy and the principles in the Bill of Rights. We do not punish people because of who they are.”

FDR did not give that speech, and the result was one of the greatest legal and moral tragedies in American history, as 117,116 people, most of whom were American citizens were evacuated and detained in concentration camps.

In the third segment President Woodrow Wilson speaks Congress on April 2, 1917, asking for a declaration of war against Germany. Famously, he says “the world must be made safe for democracy.” In this version of the speech, he adds that “in the great struggle ahead we will not sacrifice democracy at home. People who have opposed our entering the European war have a right to voice their dissent, and we will vigilantly protect that right which is protected by the First Amendment.”

President Wilson never uttered those words, however, and his administration perpetrated the worst suppression of freedom of speech and press in American history.

The movie goes on, with many episodes. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in May 1954 delivers a strong endorsement of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, declaring segregated schools unconstitutional (something he never did). President Ronald Reagan tells the country he will respect the new legislative controls over the C.I.A., declaring that he will respect the will of Congress (something he did not do). President Bill Clinton announces that he will take steps to end the war on drugs because it has proven to be ineffective and because of its devastating impact on the African American community (instead, he actually intensified the war on drugs). We could go on, but you get the picture.
Learn more about the book and author at Samuel Walker's website.

Writers Read: Samuel Walker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Jeff Salyards's "Scourge of the Betrayer"

Jeff Salyards's debut hard-boiled fantasy novel, Scourge of the Betrayer, is now out from Night Shade Books.

Here he dreamcasts a big-screen adaptation of the book:
Like many writers, I've fantasized about what it would be like if someone turned my book into a film, so I've spent some time (OK, an inordinate amount of time) dreaming up the ideal cast for that adaptation. Time I should have spent writing, especially since even if a studio purchased the rights the movie would probably get shelved indefinitely, or if it did make it out there, Justin Bieber would get cast as Braylar.

I won't run through the entire cast, but here are some of the major players:

Captain Braylar Killcoin: The man is lean, cold, calculating, with a biting sense of humor, and yet somehow still sympathetic. He is also a haunted man, in more ways than one. Ten or 15 years ago, Daniel Day Lewis would have been absolutely perfect. He could have walked in, read one line, and I would have called off the auditions. But he's a bit older than the role calls for now, so looking at the younger generation of actors, Christian Bale would be a fine choice. He has mad range, he can obviously play haunted (see The Machinist), and he can project dark undercurrents and still manage to be charming and even endearing.

Lloi of Redsoil: The actress playing this part needs to capture Lloi's rough edges (really, rough most of the way through), blunt and sometimes profane delivery, matter-of-fact demeanor (even when describing horrific and unsettling topics), and yet still have an almost Zen take on all the awful crap that's come her way. And it's critical that even as some of her lines serve as comic relief, the character's humanity always trumps any ridicule she might encounter. Robin Weigert (Calamity Jane in Deadwood) would nail the role. Of course, Lloi should look a bit exotic, so that rules Robin out. Michelle Rodriguez could get the job done. Yes, she's too pretty for Lloi most days, but if Hollywood magic can make Charlize Theron ugly as hell, they can do it for anybody, and Rodriguez has the requisite grit and toughness, as exhibited in Girlfight.

Arkamondos (Arki): This one is tricky--the young actor playing Arki has to convey both naiveté and still be somewhat alert and perceptive; uncertain, sensitive, and wildly out of his depth, and still doggedly persistent. He also needs to pull off being both repelled by his new violent company and fascinated by them at the same time. This requires some deft subtlety and an absence of overacting. Craig Roberts (Jane Eyre, Submarine) is an up-and-comer with a young Dustin Hoffman vibe who could play vulnerable and still not get dwarfed by the other big names on set (he's in Red Lights with Robert De Niro).

Matinios (called Hewpsear): As far as Syldoon go, Hewspear is refined, cultured, and somewhat stately (even if no less skilled at bloodletting than the rest of the company). He is older than the rest of the crew, a counterpoint to his hot-headed cohort, Mulldoos, and generally accepts circumstances with a twinkle in his eye or a knowing wink. If I didn't tick him off by passing earlier, Daniel Day Lewis would be great, but if he walked, Laurence Fishburne or Jeremy Irons would be fantastic.

Mulldoos: On the surface, Mulldoos is all foul-mouthed, tough as boot leather, fist-clenched badassery. Not only does he not suffer fools, he might backhand them or stab them in the face, depending on his mood. A real tough customer. And beneath that, he's meaner still. But beneath that, he is also fiercely loyal, boldly honest, and would lay down his life for his comrades without question. If he could be coaxed into a non-lead role, Russell Crowe would own this part.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Salyards's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jill Kargman's "The Rock Star in Seat 3A"

Jill Kargman is the author of Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut, The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund, Momzillas, The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund and Arm Candy, and the co-author of Wolves in Chic Clothing and The Right Address, which were both New York Times and Book Sense bestsellers. She has written for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, Town & Country, British GQ, Elle, Teen Vogue, Travel + Leisure, and

Here she shares some suggestions for casting an adaptation of her latest novel, The Rock Star in Seat 3A:
The Rock Star in Seat 3A is about a thirty year old girl who is upgraded to first class on a NY to LA flight and is seated next to her sex fantasy since she was sixteen, a music icon who's hard guitars and throaty lyrics have always haunted her.

My dream Hazel would be someone like Zooey Deschanel and Finn Schiller the rocker could be anyone from Gerard Butler to Val Kilmer or Ralph Fiennes in age range. Wylie, Hazel's boyfriend could be someone like James McAvoy, someone fifteen years younger than Finn...
Learn more about the book and author at Jill Kargman's website.  Like her Facebook page and visit her Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Jill Kargman.

The Page 99 Test: Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Keith Brooke's "Harmony"

Keith Brooke writes science fiction, fantasy and other strange things.

He also runs infinity plus ebooks, publishing the work of Eric Brown, Anna Tambour, John Grant, Kaitlin Queen, Paul di Filippo, Iain Rowan, Neil Williamson and others.

Here Brooke dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Harmony:
I know some writers find this a natural game to play; they might even have actors in mind as they write. But for me it's quite difficult: I spend months with my characters - I can visualise them, hear them speak, I know their quirks and habits. Choosing an actor changes that: the actor will never be a perfect match, so I have to force myself to sit down and think hard.

The first one that comes to mind is Saneth, an elderly alien who plays a key role in the novel. Andy Serkis is the actor I think of for Saneth, at least partly for the motion capture work he's done with The Lord of the Rings and so on: that mapping of an alien morphology onto human features would be perfect, and Serkis is a master at it. Also, he's opening a motion capture studio in London, and already has the rights to one of my earlier novels, so it's a good match!

Just to contradict myself, while writing Harmony I had one of those very rare - for me - moments when I suddenly realised who one character was based on. Frankhay is a gang-leader who doesn't so much cross-dress as simply doesn't care about gender and clothes - he wears what he likes. There was a lot of Eddie Izzard about him, but worryingly there was also a lot of the eccentric British DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Savile about him, too. Maybe some Richard Harris, too. But given that Harris and Savile are no longer with us, I reckon it's down to Izzard, who would be brilliant in the role.

What about the two main characters?

The female lead, Hope, is a good example of where the author has to just let go. In the book she's young and blonde; but in my mind, the actor I see playing Hope is Christina Ricci: quirky, attractive, and able to convey the spooky edge we'd need so that we're never quite sure if Hope is good, bad, or mad as a box of badgers.

I've left the male lead, Dodge, to last because I really don't know what to do with him. He's quite intentionally a bit of an everyman: young, bright, engaging, a bit crafty and able to dig himself out of situations but just as likely to dig himself deeper. I'd like to think they'd take a risk with him: find exactly the right actor rather than just a name. My fear is that they'd make it a star vehicle and get in someone entirely inappropriate.

So for the final - and central - character, I can't come up with anything, as yet. I think we need to hold auditions...
Learn more about the book and author at Keith Brooke's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Harmony.

Writers Read: Keith Brooke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Heather Barbieri's "The Cottage at Glass Beach"

Heather Barbieri is the author of the novels Snow in July and The Lace Makers of Glenmara.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her third novel, The Cottage at Glass Beach:
The Cottage at Glass Beach tells the story of Nora Cunningham, a political wife, who retreats to Burke’s Island, the remote Irish-American community where she was born, seeking answers to her mother’s decade’s-old disappearance, and to put distance between herself and the scandal surrounding her attorney general husband. But Nora finds more than she bargained for, as she struggles to confront the past and save her young children, who have embarked on a reckless journey of their own.

I don’t write my novels with film adaptations/actors in mind, but it’s fun to think about now—another good opportunity to put an active imagination to work! Here’s my dream cast:

Nora: There’s much under the surface with Nora. She keeps her emotions in check, both from force of habit, and she’s trying to be a good mother to her two young daughters while dealing with the scandal of her politician husband’s affair. An actress who understands subtlety, with a fine command of her craft, would be perfect for this role: Diane Lane or Naomi Watts.

Malcolm: Nora’s husband is far from being merely a cheating spouse/politician. Greg Kinnear would do an excellent job portraying this complex, conflicted character.

Ella: Hmm. Open casting call for the part of Nora’s brooding, whip-smart older daughter. Will be fun to see what bright new talent arrives on the scene.

Annie: Maggie Elizabeth Jones, utterly delightful in We Bought A Zoo, has the effortless charm that would shine in the part of Nora’s youngest child.

Maeve: The Irish actress Susan Lynch or Helena Bonham Carter would be naturals for the part of Nora’s enigmatic mother, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances decades before.

Maire: For Nora’s aunt, a woman with a long, complicated history and a secret she doesn’t reveal until it’s too late, the impeccable Meryl Streep.

Owen: And for the possibly otherworldly man with problems of his own, who unexpectedly comes into Nora’s life, the Irish actor, John Lynch or Jason Isaacs.
Learn more about the book and author at Heather Barbieri’s website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lace Makers of Glenmara.

The Page 69 Test: The Cottage at Glass Beach.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 8, 2012

Patrice Kindl's "Keeping the Castle"

Patrice Kindl is the author of several Young Adult (YA) novels (usually for people aged 10 – 14, though lots of people younger and older read them too).

Here she shares her vision for casting an adaptation of the latest book, Keeping the Castle:
When I began looking for young actresses to play my heroine I found myself dissatisfied. I had already cast my book; while writing it I’d selected images to suit each major character, and I found these images far more pleasing than anyone I would be likely to find in the pages of “Variety.”

So, to be frank, my “actors” all have two things in common. First, they are not actors but real people, and second, they all (save one--my dog Dante, who should play Fido of the book/movie) are dead. Long dead. My book, Keeping the Castle, takes place in 1811. My characters are drawn from period miniatures:

Lord Boring: Miss Althea Crawley Miss Charity Winthrop
Miss Prudence Winthrop Mr. Fredericks Mr. Godalming
The Marquise of Bumbershook Miss Hephizibah Vincy Fido
(The portrait of Miss Hephizibah Vincy [center, bottom row] is heavily veiled at the insistence of her mother.)

Learn more about Keeping the Castle and the author at Patrice Kindl's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Patrice Kindl and Dante.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Simon Mawer's "Trapeze"

Simon Mawer is the author of the New York Times best-selling novel The Glass Room, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. His previous novels include The Fall (winner of the Boardman Tasker Prize), The Gospel of Judas, and Mendel’s Dwarf (long-listed for the Man Booker Prize). English by birth, he has made Italy his home for more than thirty years.

Here Mawer shares some ideas for cast and director of an adaptation of his latest novel, Trapeze:
It’s a game, isn’t it? Fun, but pointless because what will really happen is that someone will option the book, spend years writing a miserable script, try without success to get Angelina Jolie in the leading role, reset the whole thing in Afghanistan, make Marian a CIA operative with fluent Pushtu, and then fail to sell it because in the meantime the Taliban have become pacifist, NATO troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan and everyone is saying, “Where the hell?”

But even so, it is fun. I see it filmed with an understated colour palette, all greys and browns, and lots of mysterious, angled shots of Parisian streets. Absolutely no views of the Eiffel Tower or the Coliseum (largely because the Coliseum is in Rome, not Paris). 1940s period detail, both in Britain and in France. Director? Carol Reed, seeing what he did with The Third Man. He’s dead? Well someone must be able to do stuff like him. Noir. French, you see.

As regards cast – I’m in a bind here because the lead actress playing the part of Marian Sutro has to be bilingual in English and French, and actors suffer from the same problem that strikes all mortals – aging. Because I really need someone who can pass as 19 years old. That rules out Kristin Scott Thomas – but she’d have been great a few years ago. Quite a few years ago, actually. Sorry about that, Kristin. Maybe Natalie Portman could wing it in French (they say she studied the language) and also pass as ten years younger than she really is. Trouble is, I just don’t know many 19-25 year old actresses who are bilingual in French and English, although my life would probably be much more interesting if I did.

Then the two men in Marian’s life. They are both French. Oh dear, I can see no one in Hollywood is going to put up the money for this movie, more so because I’d want the French scenes to be in French with English subtitles. Death! Anyway, one of them I can do: Grégory Fitoussi. He’s the cool young lawyer in the current TV crime series that is a huge hit both sides of the English Channel: Engrenages (Spiral, in English). He’d be excellent as the worldly research physicist who Marian has a crush on. The second man, Benoît Bérard, would have to be younger. Young French hopefuls able to utter a few lines of English? There must be dozens of them...

Then there is the cameo part of Vera Atkins, the spymaster who sends Marian off on her mission. Well, there’s only one choice really. She’s also far too old but, hey, who cares? Helen Mirren.
Learn more about the book and author at Simon Mawer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Trapeze.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 4, 2012

Brian Freeman's "Spilled Blood"

Award-winning author Brian Freeman is an internationally bestselling author of psychological suspense novels. His books have been sold in 46 countries and translated into 20 languages. Freeman's debut thriller, Immoral, won the Macavity Award and was a nominee for the Edgar®, Dagger, Anthony, and Barry awards for best first novel. Since then, each subsequent novel has been published to similar acclaim. Freeman lives and writes in his native state of Minnesota.

Here Freeman dreamcasts adaptations of his Stride novels as well as his latest book, Spilled Blood:
I’ve spent the first few years of my writing career talking with readers about the perfect actors to play my series characters from Immoral, Stripped, Stalked, In the Dark, and The Burying Place. Nothing generates more passionate discussion (or disagreement!) than the idea of finding stars for Jonathan Stride and Serena Dial.

George Clooney as Stride? A lot of readers think so, although he seems a little polished and perfect for Stride in my mind. Stride wears his emotional scars on his sleeve. I’ve always thought Russell Crowe could do the job; he’s got the right combination of toughness and sensitivity.

As for Serena…well, I always said Catherine Zeta-Jones. My wife always said Angie Harmon. So I guess we’ll go with Angie.

But now I have two stand-alones…The Bone House from last year and my newest book, Spilled Blood. It’s a different experience “casting” a stand-alone novel than a series book, because the actor only gets one shot at the role. (Well, unless it’s a huge hit…then you’ll see him over and over in sequels.)

The hero of Spilled Blood is Chris Hawk, a Minneapolis lawyer who comes to the rural lands of southwestern Minnesota to defend his daughter against a murder charge – and gets pulled into a bitter feud between two towns. It’s intense emotional suspense, like my other books, so you need an actor who can bring out the emotional depths of the character. Chris Hawk is a father trying to trust his daughter. He’s an ex-husband trying to re-kindle a spark with his ex-wife. He’s a man in search of redemption.

Ryan Gosling? He’s got the depth of expressions in his face. Jim Caviezel? He definitely has the intensity.

Of course, great actors make the roles. I was always a big fan of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne novels, and I was surprised (dismayed?) when Matt Damon first took on the role of Jason Bourne. I thought he was too young and “baby-faced” to step into Bourne’s shoes. But he took that role and made it his own; it was inspired casting.

So whoever plays Chris Hawk…or Jonathan Stride…I’ll be rooting for him, and I’ll be in the theatre watching for that immortal line to cross the screen: “Based on the novel by Brian Freeman.”
Learn more about the books and author at Brian Freeman's official website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Jon T. Coleman's "Here Lies Hugh Glass"

Jon T. Coleman is an associate professor of United States history at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Vicious: Wolves and Men in America, which won the W. Turrentine Jackson Prize and the John H. Dunning Prize.

Here he shares some ideas for director and star of a big screen adaptation of his new book, Here Lies Hugh Glass: A Mountain Man, a Bear, and the Rise of the American Nation:
For an obscure fur trapper famous for nearly being eaten by a grizzly bear in 1823, Hugh Glass has a surprisingly high Hollywood profile. Richard Harris (Camelot, A Man Called Horse) played a character based on Glass in Man in the Wilderness (1971). Rumor has it that Christian Bale was all set to play Glass in a recent adaptation of the legend when the production was canceled. Both Harris and Bale lend British acting gravitas to this grueling role, but I think their casting misses the historical point: Hugh Glass wasn’t a leading man. He was a bit player who became a model American by surviving an epic workplace accident. Instead of an action hero’s grimace, he met adversity with a grin and twinkle in his eye. A sidekick and a trickster, he stumbled onto the main stage of American culture and tweaked his audience and those in authority with his wild tales.

Instead of giving Glass to an action director or a man vs. nature essentialist like Werner Herzog, I would ship him off to Joel and Ethan Coen. The Coen brothers have a knack for westerns, off-beat Americana, and extreme violence, the perfect combination for a Hugh Glass biopic. To star, I would cast John Hawkes, the sheriff’s sidekick in HBO’s Deadwood who burned a hole in Winter's Bone as Teardrop, the vengeful meth-snorting uncle.

Around Hawkes, the Coens could gather their usual cast of misfits: Jeff Bridges as Herman Melville; Steve Buscemi as James Hall, the lawyer who first wrote down the legend; John Goodman as William Ashley, Glass’s fur trade boss; William H. Macy as James Clyman, a trapper colleague who kept a journal; and Don Cheadle as James Beckwourth, the story-spinning mountain man.
Learn more about Here Lies Hugh Glass at the Hill and Wang website.

The Page 99 Test: Here Lies Hugh Glass.

--Marshal Zeringue