Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jeffrey Wilson's "The Donors"

Jeffrey Wilson has at one time worked as an actor, a firefighter, a paramedic, a jet pilot, a diving instructor, a Naval Officer, and a Vascular and Trauma Surgeon. He also served two tours in Iraq as a combat surgeon with both the Marines and with a Joint Special Operations Task Force.

Here he shares some ideas for the cast and director of an adaptation of his new novel, The Donors:
So the premise of who would play whom in a movie version of my book, The Donors, is incredibly fun, but really not something I had ever thought about before (no, really-- I know that everyone thinks all authors write for the movie rights). Don’t get me wrong, a movie deal on any of my books would be fantastic-- I simply don’t write with that mindset. For me, writing is like watching a movie, but one about very real people played by-- well, themselves. The characters are very real for me, and when I’m writing I see them in my head as real people, not as Matt Damon or Brad Pitt.

So, enough of the disclaimer. Now that I am thinking about The Donors as a movie, the thought of picking the characters is really fun. Let’s start with those evil demons-- the Lizard men as my five year old protagonist calls them, for that’s how he sees them in the “other world” of his dreams. Max Van Sydow, especially as he appeared in the movie adaptation of King’s Needful Things, is very much like I pictured the human manifestation of this character. Pull a wide brimmed hat low over his eyes and flip up the collar on his long trench coat and with a little special affect for the glowing eyes-- you’ve got ‘em. Alternatively, since I’m told time has no meaning in this game, Vincent Price in his forties would do quite nicely also.

The main protagonist is five years old Nathan and any lovable, believable five year old would do great. Think of a five year old version of Haley Joel Osment in Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense and you are on the right track. Nathan’s new best friend is his ER Doctor, Jason, and this character is best played by someone not terribly “Hollywood”. Not a Brad Pitt or other mega-star, but rather solid character actor. I would pick Edward Norton for this role. And for his Nurse love interest and soon to be victim of Nathan’s Lizard men, actress Sarah Jones would be perfect.

This group would bring the characters of my book to life beautifully, especially if they directed by the M. Night Shyamalan who gave us Signs and The Sixth Sense.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeffrey Wilson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Claire and Mia Fontaine's "Have Mother, Will Travel"

Mia Fontaine is an author, writer and motivational speaker whose past appearances include Good Morning America, The O’Reilly Factor, and The Montel Williams Show. She has spoken nationally about drug addiction and the long-term cost of child sexual abuse. Claire Fontaine is the author of two memoirs, a national public speaker and a former screenwriter.

In their bestselling memoir, Come Back: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through Hell and Back, readers around the world were inspired by the story of Mia’s harrowing drug addiction and her mother, Claire’s, desperate and ultimately successful attempts to save her.

Here Claire Fontaine shares some suggestions for cast and director of Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World, their second book together:
Two of the most significant characters in the book aren’t people, they’re the world itself and the mysterious, medieval Avignon, France, where we lived for four months. So the director is key. Some locations can be faked, many would be shot on location or in the region – Katmandu; Beijing; Cairo; Budapest; Meteora, Greece; ancient sites unique to Bulgaria; Dracula’s castle; Provence; Singapore, among many others. It would need someone who’s worked in a big arena, who can convey global grandeur as well as the intimacy of the intense, primal relationship of a mother and daughter. It would also have to be an American. The more we traveled the more we learned that while some things about mothers and daughters are universal, the experience, POV and attitude of American women in general, and the American mother/daughter dynamic in particular, is distinct and unique. You couldn’t possibly know the subtleties unless you were raised here, an audience of American women will pick up on it. Director Kathryn Bigelow, who won the Oscar for The Hurt Locker, would be perfect.

The perfect actress to portray Claire would be a cross between Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who’s earthy, emotional and funny (as in we’re laughing with you, Julia, not at you. Really!), and the aloof, guarded Angelica Huston. That would also make me Italian Jewish, which I am. If you’re old enough to know who they are, an even better Claire would be a fusion of the Italian actress Anna Magnani, who’s intense, emotional (and looks a lot like Claire), and the late great, wacky Lucille Ball. Good luck, future producer.

Mila Kunis is definitely Mia. She’s got Mia’s spark, humor and beauty (can you tell it’s the mother half of us writing this?), as the same look. She’s also from the Ukraine, where Mia’s Bubbie is from, though it was Czechoslovakia when Bub was born (“don’t call me Bub!”). In the book, we visit Budapest so Mia can see where her Bubbie was in hiding from the Nazis during WWII. Bubbie lived there from age thirteen, but she was born in a small town in Czechoslovakia in 1927. And we do mean small – they actually got the news from a town crier. He would listen to the latest news on the only telephone in town, which was at the only post office in town, and then stood in the center of town, played a melody on his drum that Bub still remembers, and then cried out the news. Now you know where the term town crier comes from. See what you can learn on this website?

In adapting the book (Claire is a former screenwriter) we’d do some flashbacks to Bubbie’s wartime experiences, as they loomed large in Mia’s childhood. Not in a bad way. Part of the fallout of the sexual abuse we chronicled in our first memoir, Come Back: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through Hell and Back, was a long period of nightmares where Mia was trapped and in danger, and her Bubbie would appear to take her into safe hiding with her. Mia and her Bubbie also have many other things in common to children who suffered extreme trauma. German actress Diane Kruger, who was terrific in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, is perfect, she’s a dead ringer for Bubbie when she was young. And it was Bub’s flawless German that often saved her (she could scrub it clean of Yiddish when necessary.)

Claire’s husband, Paul, stuck back home with the famous fixer-upper (or fixer-downer) is played by Aiden Quinn, whose big gray eyes look sad even when he’s happy, that Irish thing.

Our angel in Avignon, Chyrstelle, plays a big role in the second half of the book. She’s a dear old friend who scolded, coddled, entertained and educated us, as only a proper Frenchwoman can. Arielle Dombasle, absolutement, she’s beautiful, charming, whip smart and she can sing. Isabelle, our cute young landlord and now friend, looks and sounds like Audrey Tautou. Our American friend, Kristen, of French-word-a-day.com, is Julie Delpy, who is half American, half French, and all adorable.

Our Greek chorus, Leah Komaiko, a little muse whose tart and tender words of wisdom spice up the story here and there, would be Lisa Kudrow.
Visit Claire and Mia Fontaine’s website and the Have Mother, Will Travel Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 27, 2012

Stephen Blackmoore's "City of the Lost"

Stephen Blackmoore is a Los Angeles-based writer of crime and horror.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of City of the Lost, his first novel:
I've been wracking my brains for a while now wondering who would make a good Joe Sunday, the protagonist of my urban fantasy, City of the Lost. He's not a nice man. He's a thug. He's brutal. He's borderline psychopath, if not already well over the top.

He's not the one you call to rough up some guy who owes you money. He's the one you call when you need to stick that guy's hand down a garbage disposal until he tells you where the money is then light him on fire after sticking him to the wall with a nailgun.

Like I said, he's not a nice man.

It gets worse in that he's killed and brought back as an undead monster. Because, you know, a regular human monster just isn't scary enough.

So, yeah, I've been having trouble figuring out who would make a good Joe Sunday.

Until a few days ago when I saw this short video.

That's the Punisher fan film Dirty Laundry starring Thomas Jane who had the role in the 2004 Punisher movie. I didn't much care for that film, but this one? Yeah. This one works.

And that's totally Joe Sunday. Well, maybe if he were meaner. Particularly around the 6:30 mark.

Some of the other characters are harder than others. Samantha, sort of a femme fatale of the book, is easy. That's Veronica Lake hands down. That's who I had in mind when I wrote her. She's got a vibe of someone who doesn't quite fit in the modern day. She's a little too classy, a little too practiced. And there's a reason for that. But you'll have to read the book to find out what that is.

The tough one is the main antagonist, Sandro Giavetti, an old Chicago mobster who turns out to be a lot more than he looks. A lot older, too.

When I wrote him he had a John Huston vibe in my head. Like in Chinatown, then he was a little more Pacino, then Robert Duvall, then maybe Christopher Walken in twenty years.

I think Walken would probably make the best Giavetti. Or maybe Willem Dafoe. Somebody who can do crazy and monstrous one second and then look like he's your best buddy the next.

I think Jessica Alba during her Dark Angel days might make a good Gabriela, a witch who's running a downtown flophouse for homeless vampires.

A couple of odd thugs, Archie, a roid-rage slab of muscle in a suit and his twisted, midget companion, Jughead, are echoes of each other. I see someone like Dwayne Johnson in the role of Archie, but Jughead would probably have to be CGI, because he looks like Archie's half-formed twin.

Get those people together and a director who can do some decent grindhouse like Robert Rodriguez and I think it'd be pretty kick-ass.
Visit Stephen Blackmoore's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Amy Franklin-Willis's "The Lost Saints of Tennessee"

An eighth generation Southerner, Amy Franklin-Willis was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She received an Emerging Writer Grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation in 2007 to complete The Lost Saints of Tennessee, a novel inspired by stories of her father’s childhood in rural Pocahontas, Tennessee. Atlantic Monthly Press published The Lost Saints of Tennessee in 2012. It is an “Indie Next” Pick and received glowing reviews in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Atlanta Journal Constitution and others.

Here the author shares some suggestions for casting a big screen adaptation of her novel:
It would be a denial of epic proportions to say I’ve never considered who might play the lead characters in a film adaptation of The Lost Saints of Tennessee. Here’s the dream cast I think could make my story about three generations of a working-class Tennessee family come alive on the screen.

Ezekiel is our main character/anti-hero. When we meet him, he’s 42 and living in a converted shed behind his mother’s house in Clayton, Tennessee. After the loss of his twin brother in a mysterious drowning ten years before, grief and guilt have wrapped themselves around Zeke so tightly that he withdraws from life. My top pick to play Zeke is Matt Damon. This might seem an odd match since Lost Saints is a fair distance from Jason Bourne but I’ve seen Mr. Damon in “softer” movies of late like The Informant and We Bought a Zoo and he possesses the key element for Zeke—vulnerability. Damon also has a high likability factor and if the audience is going to go along for the ride on this redemption story/hero’s journey, they must like Zeke. His character will prove frustrating and the audience may want to throw things at the screen when he makes one of his dumb decisions but they must like him enough to want to see him triumph in the end. Women are drawn to Zeke’s handsome face and innate, though complicated, goodness and Damon is certainly easy on the eyes.

After Zeke, we have to cast his mother Lillian—who is in her early sixties and facing a life-threatening illness. Lillian exists in that pantheon of grand Southern mothers who can chain-smoke, dominate their families, and look fantastically tragic all at that same time. Casting requires making the choice to use a younger actress who can pull off the scenes that take place when Zeke is growing up and then aging her as the story moves through time or using two different actresses, a younger one and an older one. If we choose the two actresses route, my top picks for “older Lillian” would be Gena Rowlands, Helen Mirren (though I’m not sure how her Southern accent is!), or Jessica Lange. Each of these great actresses could convey Lillian’s combination of faded dreams, regret and beauty but also the passion and strength she possessed to weather the crises that come as she raises her family.

For “young Lillian,” Reese Witherspoon or Jessica Chastain would be divine. Witherspoon’s work in Walk the Line as June Carter proved that she has serious dramatic chops and I think she’d thrive tackling the complicated role of a flawed mother struggling to keep herself and her family together. Chastain appears to be the Meryl Streep of her generation and is stunning and perfect in every movie I’ve seen her appear.

Zeke maintains two romances over the course of the story—one through an affair with his ex-wife Jackie, who has re-married, and one with new love interest Elle, whom Zeke meets when he moves to his cousins’ farm in Virginia horse country. Robin Wright would be a perfect match for Jackie—Ms. Wright has such a powerful controlled presence on the screen. I loved her in The Conspirator and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. For the role of Elle, it’s hard for me to imagine anyone other than Charlize Theron as the gorgeous divorced riding instructor who captures Zeke’s heart. Elle had a disastrous first marriage and generally prefers the presence of horses to people.

For the secondary characters cast:

Zeke’s daughters. Fifteen-year old Honora: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) or Dakota Fanning. Twelve year old Louisa: Joey King (Crazy, Stupid, Love). Zeke’s three sisters. Violet: oldest, sweet, quiet. Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy). Daisy: bossy big sister always in everybody’s business. Amy Poehler. Rosie: only sibling to make it out of small town Clayton; successful country music manager. Parker Posey.
Learn more about the book and author at Amy Franklin-Willis's website, her Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 23, 2012

Jessica Brody's "52 Reasons to Hate My Father"

Jessica Brody's books include two novels for adults--The Fidelity Files and Love Under Cover--and the young adult novels The Karma Club and My Life Undecided.

Here she shares some insights on casting the lead in an adaptation of her new YA novel, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father:
I have to admit, I normally have a really hard time answering the question: “who do you see as the lead role if your book were turned into a film.” Because as the writer, I don’t actually picture my character that often in the writing process. I see the world through her eyes instead. I become her. So it’s hard for me to say who would play her. However, with this book, the movie rights were optioned before I even started writing it and so I kind of wrote the book imagining (and hoping!) that it would become a movie someday. Which I think helped me make the story more visual as I wrote. But I still didn’t have an actress in mind. Then, more recently, I was told that Victoria Justice (from the show Victorious on Nickelodeon) had expressed some early interest in starring in the film (although nothing official has been decided yet) and as soon I heard that, I couldn’t not picture her in the role. She would be absolutely perfect as Lexington Larrabee. She even kind of looks like the girl my publisher put on the cover! But regardless of who gets cast (or if the movie even gets made!), it’ll be fun to see someone else’s interpretation of the character.
Learn more about the book and author at Jessica Brody's website and blog.

Writers Read: Jessica Brody (October 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chris Nickson's "The Constant Lovers"

Chris Nickson has written since he was a boy growing up in Leeds, starting with a three-paragraph school essay telling a tale of bomb disposal. That brought the revelation that he enjoyed telling stories, and then more stories, teenage poetry, and music, as both a bassist and then a singer-songwriter-guitarist.

Nickson spent 30 years living in the US, playing in bands and writing. He's made a living as a writer since 1994. Much of his work has been music journalism, combining the twin passions of music and writing, specializing in world and roots music. He's the author of The NPR Casual Listener's Guide to World Music and dozens of other non-fiction books, most of them quickie biographies.

The Constant Lovers is the latest of his Leeds novels featuring Richard Nottingham. Here he shares some thoughts about adapting the story for the big screen:
Quite frankly I’d have reservations about them making movies from my Richard Nottingham series. The characters would become concrete, set in my mind, and when I wrote I’d be seeing their faces and hearing their voices (they’re currently recording an audiobook of the first book in my series, The Broken Token, and hearing my characters’ words spoken by someone scares me a little for the same reasons).

However, if it were to happen I’d like Christopher Eccleston to play the lead. He’s Northern, for a start, a superb actor of seemingly limitless range, and one who can use silence as well as words. The age is about right, and he could bring quiet intensity to the role. For the other parts I’ve absolutely no idea; I consciously try not to think about it, as odd as that may seem…

One thing’s for certain, though, I’d want my friend Alice Nutter to write the script. She gets it, completely, and she’s a superb playwright for the screen, with an Emmy under her belt (more than justified) and an even more glittering career ahead.

Director? I think Ken Loach’s political heart would be in the right place.
Learn more about the book and author at Chris Nickson's website, and view the book trailer for The Constant Lovers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Katie Crouch & Grady Hendrix's "The White Glove War"

Katie Crouch and Grady Hendrix are co-authors of The White Glove War (Magnolia League Series #2).

Here they share some ideas about cast and director for adaptations of the series:
Though we both truly loved The Hunger Games, Snow White and the Huntsman, and the bevy of other movies out about earnest female characters kicking evil-doer butt this year, as writers we yearn for something a little more ironic and twisted. After all, we were in high school during the reign of Heathers. Our cynical minds ache for humor and darkness.

Our dream is to see both The Magnolia League and its sequel, The White Glove War, made into awesome, smart black comedies with heart. We're thinking a Heathers-meets-Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil film. So, while sharing a pitcher of southern sweet tea spiked with the teeniest bit of hooch, we did all the hard work and came up with the perfect cast.

The books are about Alex, who moves to Savannah, Georgia after her mother dies in a terrible car accident. She's forced to live with her grandmother, Dorothy, a beautiful, ageless, very rich and powerful Southern lady who heads a women's society that rules Savannah with weapons-grade perfect manners, and hoodoo, the distinctive Georgia version of voodoo.

The books have three trios of characters at their hearts: the three evil grandmothers - who are perfect roles for femme fatales of a certain age - their three granddaughters, and Dr. Buzzard, the conjure man, and his two children.

For Dorothy, Alex’s grandmother, well, who does icy and unforgiving like Demi Moore? Besides, don’t we all think that she probably sold her soul to a hoodoo doctor in order to stay hot forever?

For the other two evil grandmothers, let’s get Sharon Stone and Michelle Pfeiffer. Who better to personify brittle Southern ladyhood than the woman who tried to kill Michael Douglas with an ice pick and Catwoman?

Chloë Moretz would be an awesome Alex. She's just a fantastic actress. Alex has to transform from a hippie pot farmer to a (reluctant) Southern belle, and Moretz has done everything from Martin Scorsese’s Hugo to Martin Lawrence’s Big Momma’s House 2... and did anyone catch her on 30 Rock? She’s got range.

Alex’s two best friends, Hayes and Madison, need careful casting, as they are the respective stars of the sequels. Whenever we pictured Hayes, we thought of Blake Lively, but she's too old now (producers, why didn’t you call earlier?). Elle Fanning (Super 8, We Bought a Zoo) would be perfect, and besides, she’s originally from Georgia so we’re keeping it local.

Madison gets all the best lines and is the kind of girl who says what everyone else is thinking, only with more profanity, so let’s give Selena Gomez a chance to kick some onscreen butt. Besides, we need a Texan for a part this big.

And last, but not least, there’s the ageless conjure man, Dr. Buzzard, his conflicted (but mostly good) son, Sam, and his not-very-conflicted (and mostly evil) daughter, Sina. Dr. Buzzard should be Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) because he doesn’t get to play evil often enough. We also want Amandla Stenberg (Rue in Hunger Games) to play Sina. Why Stenberg? Because she was one of the best things in The Hunger Games and she deserved more screen time. Sam needs to be played by Mos Def, because we’ve noticed a direct relation between the amount of Mos Def in a movie and how awesome it is. Ben Harper would also work, because Katie has loved him savagely for fifteen years.

Hollywood, we’ll make a deal with you. We’ll get working on a third Magnolia League book, if you guys get working on the first Magnolia League movie. Michael Lehmann, you directed Heathers, yes? Tear yourself away from those naked True Blood bodies and get to work!
Learn more about The White Glove War, and visit the websites of Katie Crouch and Grady Hendrix.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ben H. Winters' "The Last Policeman"

Ben H. Winters is the author of several novels, including the New York Times bestseller Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and the middle-grade novel The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman, an Edgar Award nominee and a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of 2011. Winters’ other books include the science-fiction Tolstoy parody Android Karenina, the Finkleman sequel The Mystery of the Missing Everything, and the supernatural thriller Bedbugs, which has been optioned for the screen by Warner Brothers. Winters also wrote the book and lyrics for three musicals for young audiences: The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, A (Tooth) Fairy Tale, and Uncle Pirate, based on the award-winning children’s book by Douglas Rees.

Here he shares some ideas for casting a big screen adaptation of his new novel, The Last Policeman:
Detective Palace, the hero of The Last Policeman, would be hard to cast, at least as I’ve described him: He’s extremely tall and thin. People call him “Stretch” or “Tallboy,” and he is very uncomfortable in his lanky frame—he sits awkwardly, folding one leg over the other, and he’s always banging his knees on things.

He doesn’t really sound like a movie star. And I expect, if I were lucky enough that Hollywood took this to the screen, they won’t waste a lot of time finding an action-movie lead who looks like Ichabod Crane—they’ll just skip over the detail.

But when I imagine Palace, I imagine a body and a face like that of Jim True-Frost, who played the role of Pryzbylewski on The Wire. I don’t know how tall that guy is, but he plays like I imagine Palace—thin, wiry, hunched, interesting looking, inward, unconventionally handsome.

So then, as long as I’m in Wire world, I’ll take Wendell (“Bunk”) Pierce as Detective Culverson, Palace’s quasi-mentor and (per page 22) “the Only Black Man in Concord”. For Palace’s screw-up sister, Nico, who may or may not be involved in overthrowing a government conspiracy that may or may not exist, I imagine Rose Byrne, from Damages and Bridesmaids. She’s got this kind of angular toughness that emerges in Nico towards the end of the novel, though we’d have to scruff her up a little for the first three-quarters of the movie.

Finally, some stunt casting: in the role of tough but kindly Chief Ordler, who appears exactly twice over the course of the book, for one page each, I cast Tom Waits. But only because I’d really, really like to meet Tom Waits.
Learn more about the book and author at the official Ben H. Winters website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Myke Cole's "Control Point"

As a security con­tractor, gov­ern­ment civilian and mil­i­tary officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Coun­tert­er­rorism to Cyber War­fare to Federal Law Enforcement. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deep­water Horizon oil spill.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Control Point, his debut novel:
Control Point is ... cinematic, to put it mildly. One of the publishers we flirted with called it a "Michael Bay" story, which I took as a huge compliment. Shortly after the book came out, a Hollywood agency picked it up and began shopping it around, seeing if they could get anyone interested in optioning it. That's a long process (with the same odds of success as getting a book deal in the first place), and I keep my fingers crossed.

I did an ARC signing of Control Point at New York City Comic Con before the book came out, and was lucky enough to spark the interest of a small segment of Jim Butcher's fans. We hung out at the con, squeed over the video of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and became fast friends. About a week later, they'd all read the book and a fairly detailed conversation about casting for the movie erupted over Twitter. It gave me a chance to really think about what my casting calls would be. It also helped that, when Penguin solicited inputs for the cover [at right; the UK cover is below left], I had to come up with what famous actor each character would look like. We're fantasizing here, so I reserve the right to take aging actors and melt some years off them.

My picks are:

Oscar Britton - The book's protagonist. Oscar is a bald, African-American, heavily-muscled army officer. He needs to have a combination of a tough military exterior and the ability to convey the troubled waters beneath the surface as he struggles with hard call after hard call. The US cover makes him look like Dwayne Johnson or Vin Diesel, but I think he'd be better played by a buff Christopher Judge of SG-1 fame.

Harlequin - An army officer and Aeromancer. Harlequin is the call sign of Jan Thorsson, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed 3rd generation Scandanavian American. I'd need someone nordic, who could portray a hard-edged rule-bound bureaucrat driven by rock-solid belief in the righteousness of his calling. It would need to be a young Dolph Lundgren or someone similar. Maybe Val Kilmer after some gym time? Chris Hemsworth might work, but he's too ... well ... pretty.

Scylla - One of the book's villains, Scylla is a witch whose honeyed words do as much damage as her rotting magic. She was always Catherine Zeta-Jones in my mind. Wise looking, gorgeous. Wicked in a way. She needs to be older, alluring and sinister.

Therese - Therese Del Aqua is a Puerto Rican woman from California possessed of the ability to manipulate live flesh, a power she swore to use only for healing, though she has the ability to destroy flesh as easily as she can repair it. I always envisioned her in my mind as J Lo. Unfortunately, J Lo can't act. So, it would need to be Roselyn Sanchez.

Truelove - Simon Truelove (call sign - Rictus) is a skinny, nerdy kid possessed of powerful Necromancy, which makes him a mighty weapon for the US army. I need someone skinny and pale for this role, but with an earnest charm. Steve Buscemi would be good if he weren't so fish-eyed, so I'd go with a young Anthony Michael Hall or John Cusack.

Sarah Downer - A scared kid who made some bad mistakes, Sarah Downer can create magical elementals that are self-willed, and therefore illegal. Pushed around and manipulated, I need her to look innocent, haunted and just on the cusp of real beauty. I picture her as Natalie Portman with her shaved head in V for Vendetta. A young girl hardening in a tough world.

Marty - A goblin, prince among his own people, but a lowly contractor on a US military base in occupied territory. Dobby from Harry Potter [ha].

Fitzy - Mean, uncompromising and a fighter down to his marrow. He provides Oscar Britton with much of his training, and much of his angst. R. Lee Ermey plays every drill instructor in every war film ever made. Fitzy is younger, bald and mustachioed, but whomever played him would have to have that same granite hard presence.
Learn more about the book and author at Myke Cole's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Meredith Goldstein's "The Singles"

Meredith Goldstein is an advice columnist and entertainment reporter for The Boston Globe. Her column Love Letters is a daily dispatch of wisdom for the lovelorn that gets about 1 million page views every month on Boston.com. Love Letters appears in the Globe’s print edition every Saturday. Goldstein also writes about fake rock stars, former boy banders, female werewolves, self-help books, last picture shows, and how to sound like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Singles, her debut novel:
Dreaming of my book as a movie is tricky because The Singles has been optioned for film by the folks at Lime Orchard Productions (they made the beautiful movie A Better Life). I’m sure they have their own dream cast.

That said, I do have my own ideas for a magic movie.

The Singles is about the only five dateless guests a memorable wedding in scenic Annapolis. If it were up to me and the movie was being made today, here’s who would play the book’s VIPs:

The character Hannah Martin is a casting director from New York City who’s stressed about being a bridesmaid -- and about seeing her ex for the first time in years. I’ve always had a tough time casting her, but I always go back to Emma Stone. I know she’s an obvious choice, but she’s always a good one.

Rob is the heartthrob of the book. He’s also the friend who doesn’t bother to show up to the wedding. He’s emotionally unavailable and loves his dog more than he loves people. I have to admit that I named him after Robert Pattinson, so I could see Robert Pattinson in the role. I’d also love to see Boston guy Chris Evans as Rob. I live in Boston, so I always root for the locals.

Vicki is Hannah’s best friend. She’s a bit depressed and addicted to romance novels. Vicki could be played by my actress crush of the moment, Felicity Jones. If you haven’t seen her in the movie Like Crazy, please do.

Phil is a ballpark security guard who doesn’t know anyone at the wedding. A friend once told me that they could see Jason Segel playing him in a movie. That would work. I’d also love to see someone like Corey Stoll as Phil. Stoll played Hemingway in Midnight in Paris and I think he’s brilliant.

Joe is the inappropriate uncle of the bride who’d rather hang out with the twenty-something guests than people his own age. I always pictured him as John Slattery from Mad Men.

Dawn, the matron of honor, is a professional beauty pageant coach who’s a bit younger than the other characters. Many people who read the The Singles tell me that she’s the best part of the book. I’d love her to be played by Miley Cyrus. I know that sounds crazy, but I know she’d nail it.

Bee is my bride. She’s sweet and insecure, although she’s smarter than she seems. Her single guests wreak havoc on her wedding but she takes it all in stride. Staying loyal to Boston, Bee would either be Eliza Coupe from Happy Endings (she’s from New Hampshire) or Boston actress Julia Jones.

Jimmy Fee is the very attractive brother of the groom who causes the best kind of trouble. He’s Ian Somerhalder in my fantasy movie. Without a doubt.
Learn more about the book and author at Meredith Goldstein's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Singles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cathi Hanauer's "Gone"

Cathi Hanauer is the author of the novels My Sister’s Bones and Sweet Ruin and the editor of the New York Times bestselling essay anthology The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage. Her articles, essays, and/or criticism have appeared in the New York Times, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Self, Parenting, Whole Living, and other magazines. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.

Here she shares some ideas for casting the leads in an adaptation of her new novel, Gone:
I love Michelle Pfeiffer as an actress--she's so incredibly talented, and she's smart and sultry in almost every role--and she's about the right age to play the leads in my books, but especially in Gone, my new one. That said, someone like Reese Witherspoon or Michelle Williams--someone shorter, curvier, perkier--would be more true to my description of Eve, the main character, at least in terms of looks and personality. (Though I'd still pick Pfeiffer in the end, I think.)

For the male lead--hmm, that's hard. I love Jeff Bridges (especially with Pfeiffer--hello The Fabulous Baker Boys?), but not sure he could pass for 46 anymore, which is how old the other main character in Gone, Eric, is. But if he got in shape, that could work; Eric is a sculptor, very quiet, slightly tortured… I think Bridges could pull that off. If not, Liam Neeson. Yes. He could be perfect.
Learn more about the book and author at Cathi Hanauer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Esri Allbritten's "Chihuahua of the Baskervilles"

Esri Allbritten is the author of Chihuahua of the Baskervilles and The Portrait of Doreene Gray, the first two books in a mystery series that features the staff of Tripping Magazine, a low-budget travel rag that covers destinations of paranormal interest. The thing is, every time they cover a story, there’s a crime behind the supposedly supernatural event — kind of like Scooby Doo for grown-ups.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Chihuahua of the Baskervilles:
The big casting challenge is Suki Oota, Tripping's photographer. Suki is very talented with a camera, but was fired from National Geographic for "fraternizing" with the natives. It's a good thing this California girl has a trust fund and doesn't actually have to work. Here's the problem -- how many half-Japanese, half-American actresses do you know? "Find me the Japanese-American version of Cameron Diaz!" roars my film's producer. "We want someone who is highly sexed and drolly comedic. She should also be willing to cut her hair short." Good luck with that.

Angus MacGregor is Tripping's co-founder and editor. Casting Angus isn't hard, assuming Billy Connolly is up for the role. Craig Ferguson could also do it. Usually dressed in tweed or corduroy jackets, Angus is warm and fuzzy on the outside, driven and a bit insecure on the inside. He's a recovering alcoholic who grew up in very rough part of Scotland and has no college education. Angus is a nice guy who also happens to be an opportunist.

Michael Abernathy is a literary novelist, or will be when he gets published. His work in progress is Don Juan Conejo, the story of an abused wife who develops an intense relationship with her pet rabbit. Michael (never Mike) is a skeptic who works at Tripping for the paltry paycheck and the résumé credit. There are gobs of intense-eyed actors with dark shaggy hair who look like Michael, but Mark Ruffalo has the personality. Plus, Michael tends toward assholiness, so he has to be played by an actor who is inherently likable.

As for Chihuahuas, we're spoiled for choice. Pick a couple and let's greenlight this project.
Learn more about the book and author at Esri Allbritten's website.

The Page 69 Test: Chihuahua of the Baskervilles.

Writers Read: Esri Allbritten.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 6, 2012

Kitty Pilgrim's "The Stolen Chalice"

Kitty Pilgrim worked as a CNN correspondent and news anchor for 24 years. As a New York-based reporter her normal beat included politics and economics but her assignments also have taken her around the world – Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, the Middle East, Korea and South Africa. Pilgrim anchored her own CNN morning show, Early Edition in 1998-1999 and was anchor for prime time broadcasts at CNN from 2001-2010. Pilgrim is the recipient of an Overseas Press Club Award, a Peabody Award, an Emmy, and New York Society of Black Journalists Award. She is a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations and the Explorer’s Club of New York.

Here she shares some suggestions for casting the lead in an adaptation of her John Sinclair novels:
The one question I am asked is who would I like to play my character John Sinclair in a film. Sinclair is the hero of both The Explorer's Code and the recently released The Stolen Chalice.

I thought about Sinclair a lot before I wrote the book(s). Someone told me to write an entire biography of the character before starting the novel and I found that served me very well. I went through a whole checklist of questions ranging from “what was Sinclair’s most tragic moment?” to “what is Sinclair’s favorite cocktail?”.

In brief Sinclair is a tall, dark handsome archaeologist who made a fortune in the tech industry and then went on to pursue his passion – digging in ancient ruins in Ephesus, Turkey.

The actor that plays John Sinclair has to be a rugged archaeologist type who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty – but who can also be a man about town in London and a seductive charmer on the Cote d’Azur. Sinclair has a lot of baggage – plenty of past girlfriends, the tragic loss of his wife, a moody streak that makes him aloof and remote. I picture a modern  Cary Grant with moody overtones of someone like Clive Owen, George Clooney, or maybe a younger man like Michael Fassbender or Eric Bana. The actor would have to be very sophisticated – because the way I wrote Sinclair, every woman who reads my books always asks me “Where can I find this guy?” He is every woman’s dream.
Learn more about the book and author at Kitty Pilgrim's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mark de Castrique's "The 13th Target"

A native of North Carolina, Mark de Castrique writes mysteries primarily set in the Appalachian mountains. He is an award-winning film and video producer whose work has been broadcast on PBS, HBO, and network-affiliate stations as well as the author of the Sam Blackman mystery series, the Buryin’ Barry series, and two mysteries for young adults.

If he could bankroll the production of the movie of his latest thriller, The 13th Target, here are the actors he'd select for key character roles:
Rusty Mullins is a retired secret service agent who stumbles across a plot to destroy the Federal Reserve. The main problem - the major evidence points to him as the prime suspect. George Clooney would be perfect for creating sympathy for a man caught up in a web not of his own making while trying to protect others.

Amanda Church is a former colleague of Rusty Mullins who now works for the Federal Reserve. She believes someone on the inside is setting Rusty up and tells him they can trust no one. I'd like to see Jennifer Westfeldt in the role as a savvy, seasoned agent who knows her way around Washington politics.

Robert Sullivan, a veteran Arlington, VA detective crosses paths with Rusty Mullins when he investigates the apparent suicide of Federal Reserve executive Paul Luguire, a man Mullins was safeguarding. He is first and foremost a good cop, but his suspicions about Mullins are tempered by the ex-Secret Service agent's insights and insistence that a conspiracy of enormous consequences lies at the core of the case. Glenn Morshower is my choice for Sullivan. Who? you might ask. Morshower just casts a cop aura in his tone and manner. He played Secret Service agent Aaron Pierce in 24 and Landry Clark's father in Friday Night Lights. I think he could bring an extra dimension to his TV roles as someone willing to bend the rules to get to the truth.

Sidney Levine is a former Washington Times reporter whose objectivity was questioned because of a book he wrote against the Federal Reserve. Now a blogger catering to the conspiracy theorists, Levine sees the suicide of Luguire as proof something major is going down. He locks onto Mullins and Sullivan in an attempt to rejuvenate his journalistic career with the story of a lifetime. Jonah Hill could pull off this role as a reporter who lives in the netherlands of the Internet.

Rusty Mullins has a vulnerability - his daughter Kayli Woodward and grandson Josh. As the tensions mount, their safety becomes a major concern. Rose Byrne of Damages fame would be perfect as Mullins' daughter.

Curtis Jordan is a successful thriller writer and husband of Amanda Church. She confides in him and he uses his imaginative talents to help steer her course of action. Suave and sophisticated, Jordan works on his new book from Paris while trying to help Amanda cope with the twists and turns she and Mullins encounter. Since Jennifer Westfeldt is the long-time girlfriend of Jon Hamm, I hope she would entice him to round out the cast of these key characters.

As for director, I'd want someone who can handle big canvas and intimate canvas cinematic scale. Someone who always shows respect for the story and the audience is Ron Howard. He won't let plot overshadow character, but he also keeps action and conflict moving forward.

So, I've done the hard part with these wonderful selections. Who out there wants to raise the money to make it happen?
Learn more about the book and author at Mark de Castrique's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Mark de Castrique & Gracie.

The Page 69 Test: The 13th Target.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sarah Terez Rosenblum's "Herself When She's Missing"

Sarah Terez Rosenblum has an MFA in Creative Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her fiction has appeared in literary magazines such as kill author and Underground Voices, and she was a 2011 recipient of Carve Magazine's Esoteric Fiction Award.

She forwarded an invitation to dreamcast an adaptation of her debut novel, Herself When She's Missing, to the book's protagonist, Andrea Wynn. The character's response:
Dear "My Book, The Movie"-

Whenever I asked too many questions (which was always) Jordan would tell me to write a book. No way. I’m a list maker, not a writer, so I’m not sure how you caught wind of my story, though I appreciate your interest.

I want to tell you I’ve never considered your question, but whenever I lie I touch my face or provide too much information or screw up some small detail. And anyway, why should I feel embarrassed? Culturally speaking, movies are like rain gods, things requiring worship and sacrificial offerings; naturally I’ve pondered who might play me in a movie version of my life.

Reasons I’ve imaged my life as a film:

-I’m a former film major

-Jordan’s obsession with every new release

-How else could I get through?

I had to dig around a bit to find this; all of my stuff got jumbled when I moved. It was in a box with this newsboy cap I rarely wear and a video tape that’s not even mine. Looking at it now, I’m uncertain about some choices, but I’ve annotated and updated. I hope it lives up to any expectations you might have.

Note: Where more than one actor is listed, I’ve underlined my first choice (If I have one).

Scott: Mekhi Phifer (I can’t think too much about Scott right now.)

Linda: Alison Pill

Roslyn: Lizzy Caplan or Krysten Ritter (I sort of see Ellen Page but logically she wouldn’t take on a comparatively minor role. Plus she’d have to use stilts; Roslyn has to be tall.)

Peter Anderson: John Cameron Mitchell; or Josh Groban (Too young but just treacly enough.)

Adrienne Anderson: Katherine Moennig (Again, too young, but perfect, knobby spine); Melissa Ferrick (Probably can’t act); or Anne Ramsay (Though hot, flat affect)...none is quite right....

Jordan: Ally Sheedy? (No wonder actors are reluctant to play gay; one amazing lesbian role* and she springs immediately to mind); Helen Hunt (There’s something shrunken/exhausted about her lately. And what was up with that movie where Bette Midler played her mom?)

Updated: Before sending this off, I figured I’d sleep on it. Good thing I did because I dreamed Holly Hunter** lived in an underwater cave during the zombie apocalypse. Strong-jawed and shotgun toting, she rescued me from teeth-gnashing undead. Jordan, I thought, as I jolted awake.

Andrea (me): Natalie Portman (Too beautiful?); Anne Hathaway** (Doing her pre-Prada/Princess “my hair is curly and I wear glasses but underneath I’m a catch” schtick. (See The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada)

I’m truncating the list here, though it actually continues. (Example: Miley Cyrus as Hanna/Tanner). I figure no one would be interested in the bit players besides me.

*Specifically: the 1998 film, High Art, a luminous beacon of optimism in a dark land ravaged by the likes of Go Fish and Bar Girls. The film is visually riveting and gives hope for lesbian movies (although pigeonholing High Art as lesbian diminishes its scope and reach).

** Perhaps too old, but does age even matter? Time makes no sense anyway.

Andrea Wynn
Learn more about the book and author at Sarah Terez Rosenblum's website.

--Marshal Zeringue