Friday, August 30, 2013

Debbie Levy's "Imperfect Spiral"

Debbie Levy writes books—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—for people of all different ages, and especially for young people. Before starting her writing career, she was a newspaper editor with American Lawyer Media and Legal Times; before that, she was a lawyer with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now called WilmerHale).

Here Levy dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Imperfect Spiral:
Imperfect Spiral has two storylines. One concerns the aftermath of a terrible accident, in which a five-year-old boy runs into traffic to chase down his football while in the care of his fifteen-year-old babysitter. The other is the tale of the deep connection forged between the little boy, whose name is Humphrey, and the babysitter—Danielle—during the summer they spend together as babysitter and babysittee (he coins that word) before the accident. Casting those two characters is key to the movie. Danielle feels, as teenagers often do, that she is impossibly peculiar. And she is, in fact, peculiar, but only a little bit, as so many of us are. Humphrey is also a little bit peculiar and wonderfully and completely unaware of this. And he thinks Danielle is absolutely the greatest. For the perfect Humphrey, I’d cast Jonathan Lipnicki—not as the 23-year-old that he is now (sorry, Jonathan, wherever you are), but as the six-year-old adorable little kid, Ray, he played in Jerry Maguire. As for Danielle—here’s a thought—Renée Zellweger, who played little Ray’s young mom in Jerry Maguire. I mean, of course, not as the forty-four-year-old she is now, not even as the young woman she was in Jerry Maguire, but rather Renée Zellweger as a teenager. We can make this happen, right?
Learn more about the book and author at Debbie Levy's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tracy Guzeman's "The Gravity of Birds"

Tracy Guzeman lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in Gulf Coast, Vestal Review, and Glimmer Train Stories.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, The Gravity of Birds, which is her first novel:
What a blissful assignment! Populating a film version of The Gravity of Birds with actors of my own choosing seems like the best possible way to procrastinate for a while. But since the narrative goes back and forth in time, I’d need a handful of Alices, a few Natalies, certainly more than one Thomas, and at least a pair of Finches. (Or else one extremely talented makeup artist.) I’m hard pressed to identify young actors that would bear enough resemblance to their older counterparts, something that often pulls me out of the action when I’m watching a film where the actors age dramatically. But for certain characters, at certain points in the novel, choosing a card-carrying SAG (or Equity) member is a piece of cake.

I didn’t have him in mind when I wrote the character, but now when I imagine Dennis Finch, the art history professor, I can only picture the brilliant Michael Kitchen. I’ve been a fan since seeing him in Enchanted April, then later in the PBS productions of Reckless and Foyle’s War, among others. He exhibits the ideal combination of intelligence, dry wit, and dark humor required to portray Finch, as well as a deeply-sentimental core that reveals itself in small gestures. Being able to think and talk at lightning speed, and make seemingly random connections completely plausible once explained, is critical for the eccentric art authenticator Stephen Jameson, so he would be played by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch. (Partly because I love saying that name, but also because, as evidenced by Sherlock, he makes antisocial behavior oddly endearing.) As for Phinneaus, the mysterious neighbor who pines for Alice for years, I’d cast Viggo Mortensen. His voice has the right quality—quiet and plainspoken, sincere—and he perfectly embodies the mental image I have of Phinneaus. He gets extra points for founding Perceval Press, and the fact that he’s a poet as well as a fabulous actor seals the deal. Naomi Watts (21 Grams, The Painted Veil, The Impossible), with her affinity for characters who find the strength to go on in the face of both physical and mental anguish, would be a good candidate for the adult Alice.

And as far as Thomas Bayber, the reclusive artist who sets everything in motion at the beginning of the novel, and then again, forty-some years later at its end, there’s only one choice: Jason Isaacs. Why? Because he can do wistful and brooding, and convince you that he’s aware of those opportunities for love he’s recklessly squandered, yet still can’t make the timely overtures required for redemption. As his own worst enemy, he’s perfect.
Learn more about the book and author at Tracy Guzeman's website and blog.

Writers Read: Tracy Guzeman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

David Rich's "Middle Man"

David Rich has sold screenplays to most of the major studios and to production companies in the United States and Europe. The author of Caravan of Thieves, he lives in Connecticut.

Here Rich dreamcasts Middle Man, the sequel to Caravan of Thieves:
Want to have some fun? Spend a little time trying to cast Maya: the daughter of the man claiming to be the King of Kurdistan; she is dark, voluptuous, mysterious, wry, witty, focused and determined.

For inspiration I spent a little time staring at photos of the astoundingly beautiful and talented Isabelle Adjani. If you have never seen her in One Deadly Summer, drop what you’re doing. She’s too old now for the part now, but once upon a time…

There are probably Persian actresses who would fit the part, but I am not familiar with them. French actresses are often popular around the world so I searched there and Bérénice Marlohe (Skyfall) stopped me right away. If you want to know what Maya looks like (and you do) check her out. And I would be remiss if I did not mention – in any blog post on any topic - Eva Green. I’m going to work my way through Italian and Greek actresses next.

Johnny Bannion is a bald headed Welshman, a one eyed charmer and con artist extraordinaire. He is Dan, Rollie’s father, times ten. Anthony Hopkins would be achingly good in that role. Pierce Brosnan  has just the right mix of menace and charm.Geoffrey Rush  would bring a different kind of energy to the part. Is there anyone better at being devious?

As for Rollie, I previously mentioned Colin Farrell or Ryan Gosling and would add Ben Foster to the list. He has the requisite unpredictability. A long list of leading men – from Jeff Bridges to Tommy Lee Jones to Jack Nicholson to Michael Douglas (and there are more) would be excellent as Dan. The art would come in matching the Rollie with the Dan. Ryan Gosling might go well with Jeff Bridges. Ben Foster with Tommy Lee Jones or Woody Harrelson. I would team Colin Farrell with Michael Douglas or Jack Nicholson.
Learn more about the book and author at David Rich's website and blog.

Writers Read: David Rich (September 2012).

My Book, The Movie: Caravan of Thieves.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Anita Hughes's "Lake Como"

Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia and had a charmed childhood that included petting koala bears, riding the waves on Bondi Beach, and putting an occasional shrimp on the barbie. Her writing career began at the age of eight, when she won a national writing contest in The Australian newspaper, and was named "One of Australia's Next Best Writers." (She still has the newspaper clipping.)

Hughes received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from Bard College, and attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing program.

Her debut novel Monarch Beach was released in June 2012, followed by Market Street in March 2013.

Here Hughes dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Lake Como:
The minute I started writing Lake Como, I began visualizing it as a movie - it is hard not to when the setting is one of the most picturesque lakes in the world!

Hallie is a young San Francisco interior designer and I see her as a vibrant and beautiful blonde - possibly Blake Lively. Hallie's mother, Francesca designs wedding cakes and she is one of those women who looks elegant in jeans and Keds with flour on her fingers. I see her as Ashley Judd or Andie MacDowell with a bob.

Hallie's grandmother - the San Francisco society matriarch Constance Playfair would be a lovely older actress with beautiful skin and exquisite fashion sense - perhaps Glenn Close.

One of my favorite characters is Portia Tesoro - Hallie's Italian half sister. Portia grew up in a villa on the shores of Lake Como under the thumb of her overbearing grandmother Sophia. Portia is beautiful and just a little bit wild. I think Emmanuelle Chriqui who played Sloan on Entourage would be fabulous as Portia. (And I miss Entourage so it would be great to see her on the screen again!)

The male characters are a little more complicated. Angus could be played by Matthew Goode who I loved in Leap Year and Peter might be Topher Grace (who I still have a crush on from That '70s Show!).

There is definitely a role that would be perfect for George Clooney, but I'll let the reader decide which character that would be!
Learn more about the book and author at Anita Hughes's website.

Writers Read: Anita Hughes (July 2012).

My Book, The Movie: Market Street.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 23, 2013

Carolyn Jess-Cooke's "The Boy Who Could See Demons"

Carolyn Jess-Cooke was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland – right around the corner from C. S. Lewis’ birthplace. Following a first class honours degree in English Literature and Classical Studies at the Queen’s University of Belfast, she received a scholarship to study for a Masters degree in Creative Writing, during which she developed the first drafts of what would later become her debut poetry collection, Inroads. Working as a piano tutor, pianist, photographer, and the occasional acting stint, Jess-Cooke travelled the world during this time and lived for several years in Sydney, Australia. Later completing a PhD in Shakespeare on film, she took up an academic post in film studies at the University of Sunderland in 2005 followed by a senior post in Creative Writing at the University of Northumbria in 2009. She gave up tenure in 2011 to write full time.

Jess-Cooke is the author of The Guardian Angel’s Journal (2011), The Boy Who Could See Demons (2012), and the award-winning poetry collection Inroads (2010).

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Boy Who Could See Demons:
There’s been some interest in making the film of The Boy Who Could See Demons and as a former filmmaker, I would just love to see it happen. I see all my books as films.

For Anya, I think it’s a toss up between Carrie-Anne Moss (yep, from The Matrix) or Jennifer Connelly. For Alex, Asa Butterfield (of Hugo and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas fame) has my vote, though he’s already 16… (come on Hollywood, get cracking!) For me, Michael was always Sean Bean. For Alex’s Auntie Bev,  Amy Poehler. For Cindy – she’s a tough one – Niamh McGrady, a Northern Irish actress. For Alex’s father, Cillian Murphy.
Learn more about the book and author at Carolyn Jess-Cooke's website and blog, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Writers Read: Carolyn Jess-Cooke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brad Smith's "Shoot the Dog"

Brad Smith was born and raised in southern Ontario. He has worked as a farmer, signalman, insulator, truck driver, bartender, schoolteacher, maintenance mechanic, roofer, and carpenter. He lives in an eighty-year-old farmhouse near the north shore of Lake Erie. Run Means Red, the first novel in his Virgil Cain series, was named among the Year’s Best Crime Novels by Booklist.

Here Smith shares some ideas for adapting his new novel, Shoot the Dog, for the big screen:
Let’s make this movie in the 1940s. That way we get John Ford to direct it, and we get Henry Fonda to play Virgil. Fonda has that perfect laid-back demeanor, coupled with wry humor. I’m thinking Barbara Stanwyck would make a cool and sexy Claire – she’s so good at playing smart, caustic women; her fire would make a great contrast to Fonda’s taciturn Virgil. Claire Trevor, volatile and beautiful, would be Kari. Who else? Well, if Ford’s directing, we have to cast Victor McLaglen – possibly as Tommy Alamoso. (We might have to make him a drinker instead of a toker.) And we’d have to find something for Peter Lorre to do, because why would you miss out on a chance to work with Peter Lorre?
Learn more about the book and author at Brad Smith's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Brad Smith.

The Page 69 Test: Shoot the Dog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

L. Tam Holland's "The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong"

Lindsay Tam Holland was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and actually convinced someone once that every student there rode dolphins to school. After moving to Northern California and earning an undergraduate degree from Stanford, Holland went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco. Along with teaching high school English and creative writing, Holland coaches water polo, avoids tofu, and enjoys writing limericks.

Here Holland dreamcasts an adaptation of The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong, her debut novel:
This brings up the interesting question of what my protagonist Vee Crawford-Wong (who is half-Chinese, half-Caucasian) actually looks like. I’ve hinted that he feels more Asian than he looks; his best friend Madison calls him “confused-looking” and “cute in a kind of old-fashioned way.” He’s also sort of big and soft, and very self-critical – and since the story’s told from his perspective, our view of him is really shaped by this. A friend of mine, who’s a fantastic painter, is working on a self-portrait of Vee; he ultimately told me he’s doing something a bit Cubist – drawing all the physical descriptions that Vee mentions and criticizes, and putting them together in an exaggerated mish-mash. I thought this was a great choice, since Vee’s self-consciousness about how he looks is intrinsic to his questions about his ethnicity and identity.

None of this, of course, is helpful for movie-making. To some degree, I think my book would make a good cartoon/graphic novel. But I also think, in realistic movie form, the father-son relationship and the vitality of China could come through in moving ways. I don’t think it’s a cop-out answer to say the best person to play Vee might be an unknown. If you look around at Asian-American actors, they are still so typecast as action heroes (a la Jackie Chan) or sidekicks (a la John Cho). My closest bet would be someone like Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower; We Need To Talk About Kevin), who isn’t Asian at all, but could put on 15 pounds and pull off the geeky, sarcastic-but-sensitive Vee.

Chinese-American actresses might have an even tougher time with being typecast. Vee’s best friend Madison is a nerdy, sarcastic, Chinese girl. Her charm comes from her sharp wit and the fact that she embraces and exaggerates the stereotype she knows she conforms to. For the role of Madison, I see someone like Sandra Oh – except, obviously, Chinese and a teenager.
Learn more about the book and author at L. Tam Holland's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 19, 2013

Margarita Engle's "Mountain Dog"

Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of The Surrender Tree, recipient of the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino/a. Other novels in verse about the island include The Poet Slave of Cuba, Hurricane Dancers, The Firefly Letters, Tropical Secrets, The Wild Book, and most recently, The Lightning Dreamer, Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist. Engle has received two Pura Belpré Awards, two Pura Belpré Honors, three Américas Awards, and the Jane Addams Peace Award, among others. Books for younger children include Summer Birds, When You Wander, and Mountain Dog.

Engle lives in central California, where she enjoys hiking and helping her husband with his volunteer work for various wilderness search and rescue dog programs.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Mountain Dog:
Mountain Dog is the story of Tony, a Latino boy from an urban dog-fighting background. When his mother is arrested, he’s sent into foster care with his uncle, a forest ranger in California’s rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains. Gabe, the uncle’s SAR dog, is a goofy, but hardworking Chocolate Labrador Retriever who changes Tony’s life.

I think Mountain Dog is adventurous enough to become a wonderful dog movie for the whole family. The book grew from a short story I wrote called "Trail Magic," which was published in Ann Martin’s middle grade anthology, Because of Shoe and Other Dog Stories. When Ann Martin (super-famous for her Babysitters’ Club books and movie) invited me to expand the short story into a full-length chapter book for 8 to 12 year olds, I was thrilled, but terrified. Then she offered to edit the manuscript herself, and she told me I could write it any way I wanted, even in verse. Suddenly, the scary project started to sound exciting. I had already written When You Wander, a search and rescue dog picture book for younger children, as well as numerous historical verse novels about Cuba. I also had a great deal of personal experience with search and rescue dogs. The resulting book includes fictionalized versions of many of the real life searches my husband and other local SAR dog handlers have experienced. So I think the movie would offer authenticity, as well as adventure, and it could help children understand topics as varied as kindness to animals, hiking safety, and Hispanic Heritage Month. (You have to read the book to see why I include the latter!)

Xolo Maridueña (who plays Victor on the Parenthood TV series) would be perfect for the role of Tony. In fact, the book’s beautiful illustrations by Olga and Alexey Ivanov portray a sensitive boy who looks so much like handsome young Xolo, that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Benjamin Bratt would be ideal as Tony’s kind, but reclusive, uncle, and Zoe Saldaña as his troubled mother. Choosing the perfect Chocolate Lab would be the only challenge. He would have to be a dog so energetic and imaginative that he’s willing to chase the moon, just because it’s round, and reminds him of a tennis ball. This is a dog that thinks in rhymes, and is mystified by the stupidity of the human nose. He just doesn’t understand why we can’t find lost people ourselves. Can’t we smell their scent trail? It would take a skilled film director and brilliant cinematography to convey Gabe’s fascinating dog-thoughts.
Learn more about the book and author at Margarita Engle's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Margarita Engle & Maggi and Chance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Clay Carmichael's "Brother, Brother"

Author-Illustrator Clay Carmichael grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and graduated summa cum laude in Creative Writing from UNC-Chapel Hill. Her books have been translated into many languages, most recently German, Korean and Chinese. She visits schools, libraries and other venues to talk about writing, illustrating, publishing, and the exotic life of the author, and lives with her sculptor-husband Mike Roig and an ever-increasing number of animals in piedmont North Carolina.

Here Carmichael shares some dreamcasting suggestions for an adaptation of her new novel, Brother, Brother:
When asked for entries for the blogs My Book, The Movie and/or Coffee with a Canine, I thought: Brother, Brother has two great dogs, so why not a canine-casting mash-up? In fact, when my editor Nancy Mercado bought the manuscript, she sent me a tongue-in-cheek canine guide to the characters in my book, which I redesigned only slightly to make-believe cast my pretend movie. I also invited galley readers to chime in with casting suggestions on my blog, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter. We had a blast coming up with the perfect actors for the book's ruthless and grasping Southern senator (no shortage of real-life role models around here); intrepid, outspoken, mystery-solving teens (ditto); and strong, smart North Carolina women (ditto again).

Since the actors could be living or dead, and aged-out of the part was okay, there were multitudes of choices and a slew of grade-A alternates/runners-up, which included:

For teen twins Brother/Gabriel: Will Rothhaar, Jonathan Jackson, James Franco, Liam James and Logan Lerman. For their sister, Lucy: Mae Whitman. For Brother’s love-interest, Kit: Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Amber Tamblyn, with several votes each for Emma Watson and Emma Stone. For Brother’s best buddy, Cole: Nick Robinson or Nicholas Hoult. For Cole’s kid brother, Jack: River Alexander.

Several people liked Robert De Niro (Magwitch reprise) as Amos, the strange island hermit, but also Steve Buscemi, Peter O'Toole, or Sam Shepard. For Brother's grandmother, Mem: Ruth Gordon, Helen Mirren, Lily Tomlin or Sally Field. For Senator Grayson’s sister, Mamie: Allison Janney, Emma Thompson (can she do Southern?), Betty White, or Lauren Bacall. And for the scenery-chewing part of Senator himself: Alan Rickman, Gene Hackman, Tom Hanks, Albert Finny, Philip Seymour Hoffman in 20 years, or Sam Waterston.

My co-caster husband argued, wisely I think, that since my book was for a younger audience, the final choices mostly ought to be actors teens might know or at least recognize. The by-a-hair canine-cast winners are represented in the fabulous Nancy Mercado's funky visual format in the graphic at left [click to enlarge].
Learn more about the book and author at Clay Carmichael's website, blog, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Greg Carter's "The United States of the United Races"

Greg Carter is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, The United States of the United Races: A Utopian History of Racial Mixing:
As a survey of positive ideas about racial mixing, The United States of the United Races spans over two hundred years, so a miniseries like Roots would best present the eras in the story I tell.

The book starts by contrasting views on race held by three men: Thomas Jefferson; his secretary in Paris, William Short; and Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, who wrote Letters from an American Farmer, which characterized America as new and mixed. Damian Lewis plays the President; James McAvoy is his more liberal protégé; and Michael Sheen is the Frenchman. On Monticello, Nicole Lyn plays Sally Hemings, with whom Jefferson fathered six illegitimate children. He only manumitted two of these, Madison and Eston. Complicating appearance and race, I cast two Weasley brothers, Rupert Grint and Chris Rankin, as these fair-skinned sons.

The Civil War era hosts the most tumultuous chapter of my book. At one end, the New England Anti-Slavery Society accepted interracial marriage over the racist laws that prohibited it. Wendell Phillips (Tom Wilkinson) expressed this position most regularly, outdoing his mentor, William Lloyd Garrison (David Strathairn). At the other end, David Croly and George Wakeman wrote a pamphlet in 1863 that seemed to praise mixture, but was actually a hoax associating the Republican Party with compulsory intermarriage. Seth Rogen and James Franco offer comic relief as these pro-Southern journalists.

The tension around racial mixture continued during the Reconstruction, culminating in Plessy v. Ferguson. Creoles of Color initiated this case, using their mixed background to invalidate racial classifications. One of their leaders, Rodolphe Desdunes (Giancarlo Esposito), presented his white-appearing son, Daniel (Michael Ealy), to challenge Louisiana’s Separate Car Act. Later, they hired Albion Tourgée, a former Union officer and federal judge to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Russell Crowe is the carpetbagger, and Naomi Watts is his wife, Emma, who supports him as long as she can. Wentworth Miller is Homer Plessy, the other white-appearing Creole who sat in the “white only” car in 1892.

Through the work of progressive intellectuals, the early twentieth century shifted the rhetoric around racial mixing. The playwright, Israel Zangwill, popularized “the melting pot,” providing a way for Americans to celebrate mixture. The novelist, Jean Toomer, and the Mexican educator and politician, José Vasconcelos, took him to task for his under-developed notions of diversity: Ben Stiller adds levity to Zangwill’s inconsistencies. Although white, rather than mixed like Toomer, Jon Hamm shows his skill at portraying a man with a complex past. Clifton Collins, Jr., adds fervor to Vasconcelos’s promotion of a “cosmic race.”

Concurrent with the civil rights movement, the story of Mildred and Richard Loving concluded with the Supreme Court deeming seventeen states’ laws against intermarriage unconstitutional in 1967. I’m imagining Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Renner as the Lovings, and Liam Neeson as Chief Justice Earl Warren.

My book’s adaptation will be the first to dramatize the efforts to put a multiracial identifier on the 2000 census. Andy Garcia plays Carlos Fernandez, who stressed how multiracial activism hailed from earlier civil rights efforts. Mary-Louise Parker plays Susan Graham, who emphasized the self-esteem of the children. A Georgia resident, Graham gained support from Newt Gingrich, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The final episode of the miniseries shows Barack Obama’s (Harry Lennix) 2008 campaign. Flashbacks tell the story of his parents, Ann Dunham (Rooney Mara) and Barack Obama, Sr. (Don Cheadle). At his side is Michelle Obama (Regina King). A montage of current events shows that, even with public acceptance of mixed figures, the U.S. is not “post-racial,” and the screen fades to black.
Learn more about The United States of the United Races at the NYU Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sean Beaudoin's "Wise Young Fool"

Sean Beaudoin's books include You Killed Wesley Payne, Going Nowhere Faster, which was nominated as one of YALSA's "Best Books for Young Adults," Fade to Blue, which was called "Infinite Jest for teens" by Booklist, and The Infects. His short stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications.

Here Beaudoin dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Wise Young Fool:
My casting for Wise Young Fool would be easy: the protagonist Ritchie Sudden (guitar) would be played by Ben Schwartz from House of Lies. Of course, he'd have to pretend he was 18. Lacy Duplais (lead singer) would be played by Natalie Portman. Elliott Heller (bass) would be played by Ving Rhames. Chaos (drums) would be played by Andrew Garfield. Ravenna Woods (unattainable hottie) would be played by Vanessa Hudgens. I, of course, would be played by Tom Waits.

I would be thrilled if the movie was directed by either Paul Schrader or Jim Jarmusch.

The soundtrack would be mostly handled by The Replacements, Husker Du, Fugazi, and Elliott Smith. With maybe a touch of Gillian Welch and Regina Spektor.
Learn more about the book and author at Sean Beaudoin's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 12, 2013

Jessica Spotswood's "Star Cursed"

Jessica Spotswood grew up in a tiny one-stoplight town in Pennsylvania, where she could be found swimming, playing clarinet, memorizing lines for the school play, or—most often—with her nose in a book. She has been writing since she was little but studied theatre in college and grad school. Now she lives in Washington, DC with her brilliant playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey.

Here Spotswood dreamcasts an adaptation of Star Cursed, the second book in The Cahill Witch Chronicles Series:
It's so fun to imagine who would play my characters in a movie! While I was writing Star Cursed, I created a Cahill Witch Inspiration pinboard which features pretty Victorian dresses, snippets of settings, quotes that inspire me, and lots of pictures of actors and models who capture some bit of my characters.

For Tess, the littlest Cahill sister, who is a terribly clever, observant, powerful young witch - I'd choose Elle Fanning. She did a spread for Teen Vogue a few years ago in which she looks so perfectly, perfectly like Tess that I gasped when I saw this picture! The braids, the pale blonde hair and gray eyes, the sweet-solemn face are all so Tess.

For Maura, the middle Cahill sister - the stubborn, romantic, impetuous one - I'd choose model Lily Cole. She's got the red curls and the round face and she's beautiful in a fierce bright way.

My heroine Cate is a bit more difficult. She's protective and loyal and independent - and looks-wise, thin and dark blonde and pointy. Reese Witherspoon has the stubborn chin but is a bit too golden (not to mention a bit too old to play 17 year old Cate). Chloë Moretz comes closest in this picture.

As for Finn - the clever bookseller-turned-gardener who steals Cate's heart - Andrew Garfield is my hipster dreamcast Finn. He's got the crazy rumpled hair and the soulful brown eyes - just add glasses and freckles! Ben Whishaw, who played Q in the most recent James Bond movie, would also be an excellently swoonworthy choice!

One last important role - the Cahill sisters' new governess - is Elena Robichaud. Elena is elegant and ambitious, and actress Aisha Dee would be perfect for the part with her dark curls and brown eyes.
Learn more about the book and author at Jessica Spotswood's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Carole Haber's "The Trials of Laura Fair"

Carole Haber is professor of history and dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Tulane University.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, The Trials of Laura Fair: Sex, Murder, and Insanity in the Victorian West:
As I have worked on the story of Laura Fair over the course of several years, I am continually asked if this tale is fiction, although of course the book is completely non-fiction. I have also been queried – sometimes in jest, sometimes seriously – about when the movie will appear. Although the majority of action occurs in the 1870s, the story’s themes of murder, reputation, and sexuality certainly resonate today. As such, it is not hard to envision today’s actors playing the roles.

The role of Laura Fair needs to be handled by someone who can be as mercurial as she. Tall, fair-haired, and beautiful, Fair could be assertive and bold one minute, seductive and sexual next. At times she was irrational and uncontrollable, while at other moments, she was submissive and passive. In everything she did, she drew public attention and comment. While much of the story takes place while Laura is in her thirties, the actress also needs to able to age from a young woman to advanced age. For the title role in the movie I envision the part being played by Charlize Theron or Kate Winslet.

Laura’s lover, AP Crittenden, was a dominate figure in legal circles in California and Nevada. Friends with the leading politicians and bankers of his time, he appeared to believe that his behavior had little relationship to the norms of middle-class Victorian society. He seemed convinced that by juggling the wants of both his wife and lover, he was demonstrating his supreme manliness: Jeff Daniels.

Clara Crittenden, although anxious to present herself as the good wife and mother, clearly had a backbone of steel. Her numerous interactions with Laura as well as her trial testimony revealed that while she was well aware of the societal role she was meant to play, she was able to use this role to her advantage to gain both sympathy and support: Holly Hunter.

Benjamin Lyford: As the leading medical witness for the defense, Lyford showed himself more adept at confusing the jury than convincing them. Judged by the press to be more a con man than a scholar or a professional, he created a story of his life that bore little resemblance to his actual history. Having gained experience as an embalmer and perhaps an abortionist, he represented to many -- both in the court and out – the limitations of 1870s medical practice: Leonardo DiCaprio.

N. Curtis Greene, Laura’s lawyer in her second trial, was able to manipulate the hearing according to his own narrative. He was not only able to control Laura – perhaps the only man to ever really do so -- but, to his delight, he was able to humiliate legal medical experts. As his post-trial interview demonstrated, he was convinced that he was the smartest, most able legal mind in the state, and that only he could defend Laura Fair: Kevin Spacey.

Emily Pitts-Stevens. As California’s leading suffrage advocate, she was the chief supporter of Laura Fair. Through her journal, The Pioneer, she waged war on women’s subordinate role in society. She surprised observers by relative youth, her attractiveness and her fierce independence:Natalie Portman.

Mark Twain: Hal Holbrook, obviously.
Learn more about The Trials of Laura Fair at the University of North Carolina Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 9, 2013

Stewart Lewis's "The Secret Ingredient"

Stewart Lewis is a singer-songwriter and radio journalist and is the author of You Have Seven Messages. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Here Lewis shares some reflections on the adaptation of his new novel, The Secret Ingredient:
Well, it actually is becoming a movie, and I just went to Birmingham Alabama to oversee the shooting of some scenes. I got to pick out what the main character (Olivia) was going to wear. I got to meet the cast members, most of which look exactly how I pictured them! It is a very small, independent production but still thrilling to me. I'm not sure how the end result will turn out, but my feeling is that no matter how big the budget, or how shiny the stars, a movie rarely lives up to a book. Don't judge a book by its movie.
Learn more about the book and author at Stewart Lewis's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Stewart Lewis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Kersten Hamilton's "When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears"

Kersten Hamilton is the author of several picture books and many novels, including the acclaimed YA paranormal trilogy The Goblin Wars. When she's not writing, she hunts dinosaurs in the deserts and badlands near Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she lives.

Here Hamilton shares some ideas for adapting When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears, Book Three of The Goblin Wars, for the big screen:
I have to start this fantasy in the proper place: with the book. First, I must imagine the books selling so well and becoming so beloved that I would actually have a voice in the choice of director and actors. After that that tiny detail of my career was squared away, I would ask only two things more of the Powers that Be:

First, that Joss Whedon direct the movie just as soon as he finishes the next Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. This would make me deliriously happy.

And second—that no ‘name’ actors are cast in the parts of Teagan, Finn or Abby. I would want my stories to start the career of new, wonderful actors.

With that minor proviso out of the way, I must admit that Finn does look like a young Brad Pitt—a little younger than he was when he played Mickey O'Neil in Snatch. And Teagan looks a lot like the post Harry Potter Emma Watson—the Emma with short hair. And Abby. Ah, Abby. She would have to look and act a great deal like Ellen Page!
Learn more about the book and author at Kersten Hamilton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Kathryn Lasky's "The Rise of a Legend"

Kathryn Lasky is the Newbery Honor-winning author of over one hundred books for children and young adults.

Here she shares some ideas about an adaptation of her new book, Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Rise of a Legend:
Well I am one of the lucky authors who did get to see her books turned into a movie. My first three books in the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series were made into the Warner Brothers 3D animation film Legend of the Guardians. And although the story was changed quite a bit I loved the acting and the gorgeous animation. Now my first new owl book in five years, The Rise of A Legend, has just been released. It focuses on Ezlyryb, the sage of the Great Ga’Hoole Tree, and tells about his life as a young commander and I really have some ideas in my head about who should play what parts. Geoffrey Rush played Ezylryb in the last movie. So I vote for him again but Ezylryb was old then so we need a great actor to play him as a youngster in the first half of the book. My choice would be Daniel Radcliffe. For Ezylryb’s father, Rask, I would choose Sam Neill who played the villain in the movie. Now he can be a good guy. His mate should be Maggie Smith. The evil owl Bylyric should be played by Jack Nicholson. He’ll be perfect. Ezylryb’s best friend should be Brenton Thwaites who is playing the role of Jonas in Lois Lowry’s classic The Giver, which is about to start filming. Emma Watson would make a great Lil, Ezylryb’s love interest, and Carey Mulligan would make a terrific young Strix Struma.

Writing stories is all about finding voices and faces. So I do think about movie stars often. Of course when you are writing about owls it is more voices than faces as I don’t know of any living owls who are actors. I have to admit a lot of these voices for my owls have British or Aussie accents , but I heard them that way long before the film was made in Australia by the wonderful animators at Animal Logic.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Lasky's website.

Writers Read: Kathryn Lasky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sam Cabot's "Blood of the Lamb"

Sam Cabot is the pseudonym of Carlos Dews and S.J. Rozan.

Carlos Dews is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English Language and Literature at John Cabot University where he directs the Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation. He lives in Rome, Italy.

S.J. Rozan is author of many critically acclaimed novels and short stories which have won crime fiction's greatest honors, including the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Macavity, and Nero awards. Born and raised in the Bronx, Rozan now lives in lower Manhattan.

Here Dews dreamcasts an adaptation of Sam Cabot's Blood of the Lamb:
When I first thought of the characters of Livia Pietro and Thomas Kelly I had actors in mind to play them (that is, in the ideal, fantasy adaptation of the novel that was already showing in my head). I thought someone like Ewan McGregor or a Philip Seymour Hoffman would be great as the Jesuit priest Thomas Kelly. Unfortunately both McGregor and Hoffman have played priests in previous films (McGregor in Angels & Demons and Seymour Hoffman in Doubt). For Livia Pietro my dream actors would be Angelica Huston, Isabella Rossellini, Julianne Moore, or Meryl Streep. The ages for Thomas and Livia are somewhat flexible, so actors of various ages could play them. A third character who has always had faces associated with him in my mind is Spencer George. The perfect actors for Spencer are Stephen Fry and Ian McKellen. I would love to hear who readers think of when they read the characters.
Follow Sam Cabot on Facebook, and learn more about Blood of the Lamb at the publisher's website.

The Page 69 Test: Blood of the Lamb.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Susanna Daniel's "Sea Creatures"

Susanna Daniel is the author of two novels. Stiltsville was a winner of the 2011 PEN/Bingham award for debut fiction, and Sea Creatures was named an Amazon Editors’ Top Pick in August of 2013. Daniel is a co-founder of the Madison Writers’ Studio and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Columbia University. Her work has been published in NewsweekSlateEpoch, and elsewhere. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida, and now lives with her family in Madison, Wisconsin.

Here Daniel dreamcasts an adaptation of Sea Creatures:
Georgia, the narrator of Sea Creatures, has curly masses of dark, coarse hair, and large breasts – otherwise, she is keenly aware that she’s not particularly beautiful. If not for this last bit, I’d cast Catherine Keener, but Catherine is too striking and tall and not bosomy enough, sadly. And other than they are too young (and also too pretty), I’d cast Alia Shawkat or Ginnifer Goodwin or Ellen Page – so in the end, I’ll have to dye her hair and go with the talented and chameleonlike Jennifer Lawrence!

Twice in Sea Creatures, Georgia is compared to or drawn as a mermaid (there’s context, I promise), and for what it’s worth I think Jennifer Lawrence would be a stunning mermaid.

For the attractive, older recluse character, Charlie Hicks, I’d cast – who else? – Jeff Bridges (at his fittest and shortest and most groomed, to be frank).

Now I’m pausing to picture Jennifer Lawrence and Jeff Bridges in a scene thick with sexual tension. Which is not unpleasant.

For Graham, who is a parasomniac and avid cyclist and very tall, with prematurely white hair and deep-set eyes and flamingo legs, I’d cast Matthew Modine. If he’s not available, I’ll go with Ewan McGregor (who, by the by, can do no wrong).

For Lidia, the chatty but loving stepmother, I’d cast my old friend Raul’s mother Patricia Mendoza, who for some reason I pictured as the physical model for Lidia, and who would kill it on the big screen.

For Georgia’s late mother Gigi, seen in flashback, in homage to my own late mother, I’d cast a young Meryl Streep, but of course.
Learn more about the book and author at Susanna Daniel's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Stiltsville.

Writers Read: Susanna Daniel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Andrew Sean Greer's "The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells"

Andrew Sean Greer is the bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was named one of the best books of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle and received a California Book Award. He is currently a fellow at the New York Public Library Cullman Center. He lives in San Francisco.

Here Greer shares some reflections on adapting his new novel, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, for the big screen:
It's a nice thought to put oneself to bed at night, that one day your meager book could be a movie! But, of course, the final form of a book is a book. Books can be "made into" movies, but movies can never be made into books, so in every way it is a diminution. And so of course I try to calm my anxieties by imagining Anne Hathaway running through the streets of 1918 New York! The anxiety it relieves is this: that Greta Wells is already being played, by actors I will never see, in the minds of everyone who owns the book.
Learn more about the book and author at Andrew Sean Greer's website and follow him on Facebook.

Writers Read: Andrew Sean Greer.

The Page 69 Test: The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jessica Brody's "Unremembered"

Jessica Brody is the author of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, My Life Undecided, The Karma Club, and the recently released, Unremembered, the first in a sci-fi/suspense/romance trilogy. Her books have been translated and published in over 15 countries and several have been optioned for film and TV. Sometimes she wishes her memories could be erased so she could reread all her favorite books for the first time. She splits her time between California and Colorado.

Here Brody shares some suggestions for casting an adaptation of Unremembered:
Recently, I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful person named Michelle Levy who is an author and professional casting director She’s worked on projects like My Name Is Earl, Mr. Popper's Penguins, and she just worked on the new Vampire Academy film.

Michelle happened to have read Unremembered, my latest sci-fi thriller release and I was so thrilled when she put together a dream cast for me based on who she pictured while reading the book.

I’m usually very bad at dream casting my own books. But I think Michelle nailed these picks. And here they are…


Actress Name: India Eisley

Where You’ve Seen Her: The Secret Life of the American Teenager

My Reaction: Yes! Yes! Yes! With some purple contacts India is Seraphina!!!


Actor Name: Steven R. McQueen

Where You’ve Seen Him: The Vampire Diaries

My Reaction: OMG! Zen! I’ve always loved The Vampire Diaries. And I think Steven definitely captures that “desperate need to protect” that Zen embodies.


Actor Name: Chandler Canterbury

Where You’ve Seen Him: The Host, Knowing, Fringe

My Reaction: This is exactly how I pictured Cody. We’ll have to “nerd” him up a bit, but Chandler is perfection!

About Unremembered:

When a sixteen year old girl wakes up among the wreckage of a devastating plane crash with no memories, she’s forced to piece together her forgotten past with only one clue to her identity— a mysterious boy who claims he helped her escape from a top-secret science experiment.
Learn more about the book and author at Jessica Brody's website and blog.

Writers Read: Jessica Brody (October 2009).

My Book, The Movie: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father.

Writers Read: Jessica Brody (August 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue