Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wendy L. Rouse's "Her Own Hero"

Wendy L. Rouse teaches United States History and social science teacher preparation at San Jose State University. Her research interests include childhood, family, and gender history during the Progressive Era.

Rouse's new book is Her Own Hero: The Origins of the Women's Self-Defense Movement.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of the book:
My Book, The Movie is definitely an interesting prompt to think about. The truth is that there are so many women in my book Her Own Hero that it would be impossible to choose a main character or even several main characters. If I had to cast it though, I would no doubt choose from the group of everyday “sheroes” that I have had the privilege of knowing. There are so many amazing female empowerment self-defense instructors out there today teaching women how to be their own heroes that they would be the natural stars of my film. Another advantage of casting them is that we would not have to hire any stunt doubles since they could, obviously, perform their own fight scenes.

Since My Book, The Movie is mostly just a fun intellectual exercise, if we were to make the book into a movie I would want to convert it into some sort of action-hero movie. Then we would need a big name Hollywood star to draw attention to the film. I would have to figure out away to include Kate McKinnon as Holtzmann in Ghostbusters because who doesn’t need a bit of comic relief in a bad-ass, female, superhero, fight film, right?

Learn more about empowerment self-defense.
Learn more about Her Own Hero at the New York University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Her Own Hero.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mary Miley's "Murder in Disguise"

Mary Miley grew up in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and France, and worked her way through the College of William and Mary in Virginia as a costumed tour guide at Colonial Williamsburg. As Mary Miley Theobald, she has published numerous nonfiction books and articles on history, travel and business topics.

Here Miley dreamcasts an adaptation of Murder in Disguise, her fourth Roaring Twenties mystery:
This question, commonly posed to fiction authors and book club readers, is harder for me to answer than it would seem. The main character in Murder in Disguise (and in the entire Roaring Twenties series) is a young woman who has spent her life on the vaudeville stage playing kiddie roles into her mid twenties. Any actress playing Jessie would need to be petite and have a boyish 1920s silhouette—no curves—those traits, along with her acting skills, allow her to continue impersonating teenage girls, which is important to the stories. So the film version requires an actress who can believably become 16 with the right clothes and makeup. Not many fit that description. Drew Barrymore would have been perfect 15 years ago. Keira Knightley and Emma Stone are probably too old.

The main male character, David Carr, was introduced in The Impersonator and continues in the subsequent three mysteries of the series. David is in his late twenties, a tough gangster with a disarming smile—the lovable rogue sort. Ryan Gosling or Nic Bishop are about the right age or could fake it a bit younger. I also like Chris Pine and Ryan Reynolds, but fear that they might be too old for the part.

Should the Roaring Twenties series actually become a movie, I think the wisest course would be to choose unknown actors for the roles.
Learn more about the book and author at Mary Miley's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 18, 2017

Zoë Sharp's "Fox Hunter"

Zoë Sharp is the author of fourteen novels so far, either in the Charlie Fox crime thriller series, standalones or collaborations, as well as moonlighting as an international pet-sitter and yacht crew. When she’s not doing that, she dabbles in self-defence and house renovation. (If she visits don’t tell her to make herself at home or she’s liable to start knocking walls out.)

Here Sharp dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Fox Hunter:
Charlie Fox herself is always hard for me to cast. Because I write in first person I look out through her eyes all the time, not at her from another viewpoint. And anybody who’s familiar with Charlie knows she doesn’t spend much time gazing into mirrors at her own reflection. The TV/film option held by Kathleen Rose Perkins has just expired, so I’m having to wean myself away from visualising her in the part. So, if not her then I’d love to see Gina Carano in the role. She has Charlie’s sheer physicality and I love her fight style. If I was casting a Brit, I’d go for somebody like Natalie Tena of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.

For Sean Meyer, why not Jeremy Renner? I thought he was brilliant in The Bourne Legacy, and The Hurt Locker, with the perfect driven-to-the-edge air I need for Charlie’s former lover at this stage in his storyline. Allison Janney from The West Wing has just the right smoky, cynical edge to play CIA agent Aubrey Hamilton, and for Charlie’s sidekick, injured private military contractor Luisa Dawson, what about Monica Raymund? I first saw her in Lie To Me, but she has more recently been playing another character called Dawson, strangely enough, in Chicago Fire.

For the bad guys, Sean Harris was an incredibly convincing nasty piece of work both in Harry Brown with Michael Caine, and in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, so he would have to play Hackett. Harrison Ford would be brilliant as Balkan gangster Gregor Venko, and has the acting chops to play a man whose grip on the power he once had is now slipping. And Jamie Bell, once of Billy Elliot, as his son Ivan. I can see it on the big screen now…
Learn more about the author and her work at Zoë Sharp’s website, blog, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rachel Kadish's "The Weight of Ink"

Rachel Kadish is the award-winning author of the novels From a Sealed Room and Tolstoy Lied: a Love Story, as well as the novella I Was Here.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, The Weight of Ink:
For Ester Velasquez, who would have to radiate intelligence as well as a mix of passion and wariness, I’m going to go with Natalie Portman.

And Helen Watt? Judi Dench or Emma Thompson, each of whom would play her character quite differently…but either would bring out the intense force of Helen’s personality, her ability to intimidate others even as she isolates herself, and ultimately her vulnerability.

I was trying to think of the right actor for Rabbi ha-Coen Mendes, a beautifully gentle man blinded at the hands of Portuguese Inquisitors but nonetheless committed to a life of study. At first I imagined Ben Kingsley—but there’s something more forceful about Kingsley that makes me put him down instead for the role of Benjamin HaLevy, alone in that grand house on the hill with all his anger and hurt.

I can’t come up with the right actors to play Aaron Levy, or Dror, or Mary or Rivka or the HaLevy brothers or the Patricias, or the trio of Thomas, John, and Bescos…

But Bridgette Easton is an easy one—she’s got to be Gwyneth Paltrow!
Visit Rachel Kadish's official website.

The Page 69 Test: Tolstoy Lied.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 14, 2017

Erika Gasser's "Vexed with Devils"

Erika Gasser is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Vexed with Devils: Manhood and Witchcraft in Old and New England:
Vexed with Devils is a cultural history of the role that manhood played in early modern instances of demonic possession and witchcraft. Many people know that women were more commonly suspected, prosecuted, and executed for witchcraft in England and New England, and so the book begins with things we do not expect to see—men and manhood in witchcraft and possession—and uses them to analyze the varied ways that gender mattered for early modern people. The book contains a few case studies of particular accused witches or demoniacs (those who appeared to suffer from the symptoms of possession), and one that would suit a film adaptation is the story of Margaret Rule, a seventeen-year-old girl in Cotton Mather’s Boston congregation who appeared to be possessed in 1692-93, just after the conclusion of the famous outbreak of witchcraft at Salem.

For the role of Margaret Rule, I immediately thought of Anya Taylor-Joy, who was so electrifying as a Puritan girl in The Witch (2015). In addition to showing a facility with period language, Taylor-Joy showed vulnerability and glimpses of an undimmed spirit. Taylor-Joy’s other work in Morgan and Split (both 2016) only reinforce this choice; even though Margaret Rule was no action hero, the combination of strength, calculation, and vulnerability in all three roles make her the ideal candidate.

The role of Cotton Mather, the frustratingly complex minister who was thirty years old at the time of Rule’s possession, is tricky to cast. Historians have struggled over the meaning of Mather’s character, alternately placing the blame for the witchcraft outbreak at his feet or wholly exonerating him from the accusations of his detractors. This performance would need to allow for the ambiguity of Mather’s position and would need to capture his overwhelming faith in his family’s view of Puritanism, his inability to shake doubts about his own salvation, his preening self-aggrandizement, and also his painful awareness of the follies of vanity and pride. If age and sex were no object, I’d like Patrick Stewart or Tilda Swinton for it. But perhaps James McAvoy (of many films, including Split) or Shaun Evans (of the PBS Mystery series, Endeavour) would be good choices.
Learn more about Vexed with Devils at the NYU Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Vexed with Devils.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 13, 2017

James Abel's "Vector"

James Abel is the pseudonym for Bob Reiss, an accomplished author and journalist who has written extensively on the Arctic. He lives and works in New York City.

Here Abel shares some thoughts about adapting his new novel, Vector, for the big screen:
Vector, like the other three books in the Joe Rush series, features two former Marines who have become bio-terror experts and doctors. When I think of actors to play them, I think of their attitudes toward life. One is a loner, stung in the past in relationships, and weighed down by past choices that he would make again the same way, nonetheless. The other is a family person, better able to incorporate the strain of work and an outside life. I could see men or women playing these roles. In a film, I don't think of these two in terms of gender, or age, but of the way they connect (or not) with others. I think many actors with good range could become one of these two.
Visit James Abel's website.

The Page 69 Test: Protocol Zero.

My Book, The Movie: Protocol Zero.

The Page 69 Test: Cold Silence.

My Book, The Movie: Cold Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fiona Davis's "The Address"

Fiona Davis was born in Canada and raised in New Jersey, Utah, and Texas. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After ten years, Davis changed careers, working as an editor and writer, and her historical fiction debut, The Dollhouse, was published in 2016. She's a graduate of the College of William & Mary and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is based in New York City.

Here Davis dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Address:
Since The Address has two timelines: 1884 and 1985, there are two sets of heroes and heroines to cast. In the Gilded Age era, I’d choose the talented Gal Gadot as Sara Smythe, the protagonist who comes from London to work at the Dakota apartment house in 1884. Why? Because the character has to be able to raise one eyebrow, which Gadot executes with perfect aplomb throughout Wonder Woman. The character of Sara was inspired by a John Singer Sargent portrait of Lady Gertrude Agnew, and the resemblance between the painting and Gadot is uncanny. Gadot has the requisite beauty, skepticism, and strength for the role.

For her love interest, Theo Camden, I’d love to see Ewan McGregor in the part. He’s got the right energy for the role of an ambitious architect in the Gilded Age. His versatility and quick wit work well with the part. Another option, if Ewan is booked, would be Mark Ruffalo. Simply because I love everything he does and would love to say so in person.

In the 1980s story line, I’d have to jump into my time machine and cast 20-something Phoebe Cates as Bailey, the down-on-her-luck interior designer who’s tasked with stripping down an apartment in the Dakota of all its period details. She has to have a close resemblance to Sara Smythe, and be able to raise one eyebrow as well.

Finally, we have Bailey’s love interest, Renzo, who works as a super in the Dakota. Let’s go with Charlie Hunnam. A gorgeous man with serious acting chops.

The only question left is, when do we begin filming?
Visit Fiona Davis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Anna Stephens's "Godblind"

Anna Stephens is a UK-based author of gritty epic fantasy debut, Godblind, the first in a grimdark trilogy about a religious, political and ideological war, the people caught up in its midst, and just what, exactly, they are willing to do to win – is the cost ever too high when the fate of an entire people is at stake? She lives with her husband, Mark, an enormous book and movie and music collection, and – allegedly – too many toys.

Here Stephens dreamcasts an adaptation of Godblind:
Godblind is a gritty epic fantasy novel of rival factions and gods fighting for the soul of Rilpor and the wider world, Gilgoras. It has a large cast of central characters, so I won’t name all of them or we’ll be here all day!

Lord Galtas Morellis – the evil sidekick to Prince Rivil – is a lean, one-eyed psychopath and assassin, and when he can’t get his hands on his enemies, takes his revenge on their families instead. I think Idris Elba would be awesome as Galtas, because he does evil very, very well, and yet he retains his charisma and devilish charm throughout. Someone you hate to love, rather than love to hate.

Captain Tara Carter – Tara is the only woman in the West Rank, the elite branch of Rilpor’s army, and she’s there because she deserves to be. Despite her obvious ability, she’s spent years having to prove herself as good as the men, fending off inappropriate advances – often with her fists – and enduring the daily barrage of abuse from men angry at her captaincy. I think her sassy, competent and self-confident demeanour would be perfectly played by Hannah John-Kamen, who is currently rocking as Dutch in Killjoys and is going to appear in next year’s Ready Player One (please be playing Art3mis!!)

Dom Templeson – Dom is known as the Calestar, a seer of the Wolves of Rilpor (civilian warriors who patrol the border against invasion). Dom is cursed with the ability to see snippets of the future, and can commune direct with the gods. I think Richard Madden (Robb Stark) would make a good Dom – he’s got the steely-eyed determination to see things through, but there’s a vulnerability about him too that is essential to any portrayal of Dom.

Lanta Costinioff, the Blessed One – Lanta is the high priestess of the Red Gods, dedicated to blood and battle and death and the subjugation of all Rilpor. She’s the high priestess of a death cult and is power-hungry, staggeringly ambitious, and more arrogant than is good for her. The obvious answers would be Carice Van Houten (the Red Woman) or Lena Headey (Cersei) from Game of Thrones, but actually I think Michelle Gomez, who played the excellently bonkers Missy in Doctor Who, could totally own Lanta’s power-mad personality.

Rillirin Fisher – Rillirin is a traumatised, abused slave of the bloodthirsty Mireces, who escapes and makes her way to Rilpor, where she’s taken in by Dom and the Wolves, and begins to heal, both physically and mentally. They teach her to fight, and the ability to protect herself is instrumental in helping her recover from her PTSD. I’ll go with Rose Leslie, who was Ygritte in Game of Thrones, both for the red hair, the same as Rillirin, and that edge about her, the strength she had to fight after Jon betrayed her, how she translated grief into fury and refused to be cowed or broken despite everything.

Captain Crys Tailorson – Crys is a captain the Palace Rank, a bit of a loose cannon who likes to gamble and drink when not on duty. He befriends Prince Rivil and there’s a deep rivalry between him and Galtas, and then he ends up fighting against the Mireces invasion, while Dom’s visions hint at a larger – and much darker – path he must walk. Crys is one of my favourite characters, and his journey of self-discovery provides a lighter element to Godblind, as does his sense of humour. Diego Luna, who played Cassian Andor in Rogue One, could be a great Crys.
Visit Anna Stephens's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 7, 2017

Mitch Kachun's "First Martyr of Liberty"

Mitch Kachun is Professor of History at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is author of Festivals of Freedom: Memory and Meaning in African American Emancipation Celebrations, 1808-1915 and co-editor of The Curse of Caste; or the Slave Bride: A Rediscovered African American Novel by Julia C. Collins.

Here Kachun dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory:
It would be challenging to make a film based on the life of Crispus Attucks since we know almost nothing about the man’s life that can be confirmed with documentary evidence. This is a big part of what makes Attucks such a fascinating figure—he is pretty much a blank slate, so over the nearly 250 years since his death in the 1770 Boston Massacre various people or groups have constructed a wide range of versions of his life to suit their purposes—sometimes a hero who was the first to give his life for American independence; sometimes a good-for-nothing rowdy who was a threat to the social order; sometimes an irrelevant nobody who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It would be doubly challenging to make a film based on my book because, while my analysis does suggest the most likely framework for Attucks’s life, family, and experiences, it is primarily an exploration of the stories and myths that have grown around him over the past quarter millennium.

There actually have been several efforts to make films based on Attucks’s life, and several playwrights have developed scripts as well. In the 1940s one African American writer claimed to have gotten Paul Robeson to agree to portray Attucks on the silver screen, and in the 1980s a playwright contacted the agent for James Earl Jones regarding the role. Neither project came to fruition.

If I were to cast an Attucks biopic today, my choice for the mature Attucks—who was 47 years old when he died—would be Shemar Moore, who has the presence and power most people would want to see in the First Martyr of Liberty, and Moore is also light-skinned enough to play the mixed-race, African/Native American Attucks. For the younger Attucks—who was in his 20s when he escaped from slavery in 1750—I think Noah Gray-Cabey, from the TV series Heroes, could be good. For the child Attucks, I’d have to go with Miles Brown from the TV series Blackish.

Now I’ll just wait for the offers to start rolling in!
Learn more about First Martyr of Liberty at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Candace Ganger's "The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash"

Candace Ganger is a mother, blogger, as well as a contributing writer for sites like Teen Vogue and Hello Giggles. She's also an obsessive marathoner and continual worrier. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike.

Here Ganger shares some insight into casting an adaptation of The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash, her debut YA novel:
When I wrote Birdie & Bash, I played the movie version in my mind already though, none of the actors I envisioned were famous. I see them as actual high school students — not adults playing teens — and a true Brazilian-American as Sebastian. They're fully formed in my mind, we just haven't seen them in anything yet.
Visit Candace Ganger's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 4, 2017

Michael F. Haspil's "Graveyard Shift"

Michael F. Haspil is a geeky engineer and nerdy artist. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he had the opportunities to serve as an ICBM crew commander and as a launch director at Cape Canaveral. The art of storytelling called to him from a young age and he has plied his craft over many years and through diverse media. He has written original stories for as long as he can remember and has dabbled in many genres. However, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror have whispered directly to his soul.

Here Haspil dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Graveyard Shift:
I think Graveyard Shift is extremely cinematic. There's a reason for this; I started my writing career as a spec screenwriter and I still see the scenes I write through a camera's lens. I would love to see it turned into a limited episode show, something along the lines of HBO's True Detective. If they were shooting it right now and asked me whom I would recommend for the cast, here's what I would tell them.

Jacob Anderson would play Alex Romer, the main protagonist and reanimated immortal pharaoh. He currently plays Greyworm on Game of Thrones. He's a little on the young side, but that's okay. He definitely could bring the hotheadedness needed to play the pharaoh Menkaure.

For Marcus Scaevola, his Roman vampire partner, I imagine Adrian Paul or Marton Csokas. I love both these actors and they could bring gravitas to the role. For the police lieutenant, Constance Howe, I've always imagined Molly Parker in the role. She plays damaged characters that look great on the outside but hurt on the inside extremely well.

Alicia Witt would play Lelith, the figurehead of the Lightbearer Society. We got to see her play a villain in an all too brief appearance on The Walking Dead recently, and she did an amazing job on Justified. She could bring just the right mix of super sexy maturity needed for Lelith. I always saw Nestor Carbonell as Lugal Zagesi. He'd knock it out of the park.

Father Lopé Aguirre would go to Gael Garcia Bernal. He's great with accents and I think he would do a great job as the religiously fanatical former conquistador. I'd really like to see Morena Baccarin play Stephanie Garza, the new detective to the Nocturn Affairs unit. We'd have to change the character description a bit (Stephanie is tall), but it would work.

Finally, the critical role of the shapeshifter, Rhuna Gallier, I'd like to see go to Cara Delevingne. I loved her turn as the spooky Enchantress in Suicide Squad and I think she would do a great job as Rhuna. However, Natalie Dormer could probably play Rhuna in her sleep, so that's something to consider.
Visit Michael F. Haspil's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

David Burr Gerrard's "The Epiphany Machine"

David Burr Gerrard is the author of The Epiphany Machine and Short Century. He teaches creative writing at the 92nd Street Y, The New School, and the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop.

He lives in Queens, NY with his wife.

Here Gerrard dreamcasts an adaptation of The Epiphany Machine:
I’m always afraid when movies are books are made of movies I love. I’m afraid that the filmmakers will get the book “wrong.” (By which I mean, of course, I am afraid their vision of the book will be different from mine.) When I see a film version of a book I’ve read many times, when I get to see actors I admire speak lines I’ve underlined, I grab my popcorn, take my seat, and think: “Oh, this is going to suck.”

You might think that those feelings about a potential movie made from a book I wrote would be enhanced many times over, and that I would be utterly terrified that a film or television of adaptation would get my book “wrong.” But I feel nothing but giddy, earnest excitement over seeing how a filmmaker would interpret my work, if I’m lucky enough for that to ever happen. Maybe I should not speak too soon, but the more “wrong” any film or television adaptation gets the book, the better.

My new novel, The Epiphany Machine, is about a device that tattoos epiphanies on the forearms of its users. Everyone in the book has a different opinion about what their tattoos mean, and about where the tattoos come from—whether they are messages from some kind of god, or whether they are simply the ravings of the man who owns the epiphany machine, Adam Lyons. Over the course of the novel, many different people tell their stories about what their tattoos have meant for them, how their tattoos have enhanced their lives or destroyed them.

I’m interested in stories that are told from many different angles, different perspectives. As a reader, I feel a jealous, dictatorial desire to impose my reading of a given book. As a writer, I consider my contribution to be only the first of many contributions.

Of course I have some ideas about what I would like the film or television show to look like. I have some ideas about who I would like to play various characters. When I was writing the book I sometimes imagined Adam Lyons, who is big in body and personality, played by Paul Giamatti or by John Goodman. Ever since I saw the trailer to The Last Jedi, I have been imagining Mark Hamill in the role, a casting choice that would make my Star Wars-obsessed childhood self very happy.

But it seems to me that be true to the spirit of my book, a filmmaker would have to bring something to the book I could not yet imagine. I hope that one day I get to find out what it is.

And of course I hope it doesn’t suck.
Visit David Burr Gerrard's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Epiphany Machine.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 31, 2017

Eric Kurlander's "Hitler’s Monsters"

Eric Kurlander is professor of history at Stetson University. His books include The Price of Exclusion: Ethnicity, National Identity, and the Decline of German Liberalism, 1989–1933 and Living With Hitler: Liberal Democrats in the Third Reich, 1933-1945.

Here Kurlander dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich:
In making Hitler’s Monsters into a movie, we would have to cast supporting roles for prominent Nazis central to the plot–– Hitler, Himmler, Hess, and Goebbels, among others. But I would reserve five of lead roles for important characters whose unique stories help define the supernatural history of the Third Reich.

First, I would cast Jason Isaacs, of Harry Potter fame, as the aging horror writer, Hanns Heinz Ewers. A renowned louche whose penchant for seedier side of Berlin night life was legendary, Ewers’ politics in the Weimar Republic ranged from progressive sex reformer to rightwing nationalist and Nazi. In November 1931, on the occasion of his 60th birthday, Ewers used his connections with Hitler’s Harvard-educated limousine driver, ‘Putzi’ Hanfstaengl, to organize a meeting with the Führer. After a lively discussion during which he impressed Hitler with his charm and commitment to the cause, the leader of the NSDAP commissioned the horror writer–– author of salacious, sex and violence filled books about vampires, homunculi, and Satanists–– to produce propaganda for the party, including a popular biography of the Nazi martyr, Horst Wessel (which Joseph Goebbels later optioned into a 1934 biopic).

For the role of Ewers’ friend, the pro-Nazi–– and secretly Jewish–– clairvoyant Erik Hanussen, I would cast Christian Bale. Born the same year as Hitler, to a family of Jewish artists in Vienna, Hanussen built an occult empire, replete with his own popular periodicals, The Other World and Hanussen’s Illustrated Weekly and a “Palace of Occultism” near Berlin’s fashionable Kudamm. Despite rumors of Hanussen’s Jewish background, Nazi party leaders were attracted to the popular and charismatic magician, who loaned the Berlin Stormtrooper Chief Graf von Helldorff 150,000 marks to pay off gambling debts and offered his Cadillac to other stormtroopers for use at Nazi rallies. In return for his public support of the NSDAP, Hanussen enjoyed unofficial SA protection. Hanussen even met with Goering and possibly Hitler, supposedly to provide advice on manipulating the public. But it is Hanussen’s well-documented role in “predicting” the infamous February 28th 1933 Reichstag Fire at a séance held at his Berlin “Palace for Occultism” that indicates the remarkable extent of the Jewish clairvoyant’s relationship with the Nazi Party. He paid for this intimacy with his life, however. Four weeks after the Reichstag Fire, he was shot dead by his erstwhile party colleagues.

The third figure, played by the award-winning British actress Emma Thompson, would be the former World War One Field Marshall Erich von Ludendorff’s second wife, Mathilde Ludendorff. A sometime Nazi fellow traveller, sometime Hitler critic, Ludendorff was a trained psychiatrist who considered herself the most prominent anti-occultist in the Third Reich. Ludendorff’s circle attacked everyone from Hanussen, to whom they referred as “Hitler’s Jewish prophet,” to respected “scientific occultists” who worked for Himmler, Hess, and Goebbels. Initially the Ludendorff circle held out hope that the Third Reich would embrace the struggle against the shadowy Jewish occultists and Tibetan priests who the believed were “prepared to use any methods in championing their claim to world domination–– including monstrous genocide” against pure Aryan Germans. Of course, Ludendorff’s “Enlightenment” efforts turned out to be just as dubious as her occult opponents. Her husband, the Field Marshall, was himself swindled by an alchemist and believed that a cabal of masons and Jews stood behind the Weimar Republic. Not surprisingly, the Gestapo, which closely surveilled members of the circle, found it impossible to determine whether the Ludendorff circle were occultist or anti-occultist in nature.

The fourth figure would be the dashing young archaeologist Otto Rahn, the Third Reich’s “real Indiana Jones.” Plucked from obscurity by Himmler after reading Rahn’s first book, Crusade for the Grail (1933), he was tasked with conducting additional research, from the Pyrenees to Iceland, on the Holy Grail and lost civilization of Atlantis (or “Thule” in Nazi parlance). Rahn’s second book, Lucifer’s Court (1937), written directly under Himmler’s auspices, speculated that the Grail lay at the center of a cult of Luciferians–– literally devil worshippers––who practiced an Ur-Aryan religion drawn from Tibet and Northern India, via Persia, in pre-modern times. Rahn fell out of favor in the late-1930s–– and eventually committed suicide–– due to persistent reports of alcoholism and homosexuality, which Himmler tried to counter by urging him to marry. Yet Rahn was rehabilitated by Himmler shortly after his death, while Lucifer’s Court was widely read. Indeed, in the wake of the D-Day landing, Himmler approved a print run of 5,000 new copies intended to improve the morale of units stationed at the western front.

The fifth and final leading role would be given to Michael Fassbender, who would be perfect to play the Nazi Special Operations hero and SS Captain, Otto Skorzeny. On 12 September 1943, Skorzeny conducted a daring raid on the Campo Imperatore Hotel in Italy’s Gran Sasso Mountains. His mission was to liberate Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, whom the Italian people had deposed and arrested in the wake of the Allied landings in Sicily. According to Skorzeny, his information on the dictator’s location was the result, not of top secret intelligence or code-breaking, but of Operation Mars, a bizarre SS-sponsored operation, masterminded by Himmler, which assembled an expert team of occultists in a fancy villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. A year later, with the Third Reich in its death throes, Skorzeny would be called upon again to salvage victory from the jaws of defeat–– this time to train the Nazi ‘Werewolf,’ a last gasp partisan effort to stave off Götterdämmerung. Needless to say, the project failed just as spectacularly, and with it, so did the Third Reich.
Learn more about Hitler's Monsters at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Eric Kurlander's Living with Hitler.

The Page 99 Test: Hitler's Monsters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 28, 2017

Rosemary Ashton's "One Hot Summer"

Rosemary Ashton is Emeritus Quain Professor of English Language and Literature, University College London.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest book, One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858:
If my book One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858 were to be adapted as a film, I would choose some of Britain’s most admired and award-winning actors, and an award-winning director.

My first choice of director would be Sir Nicholas Hytner, until recently Director of the National Theatre in London, and now Director of a new theatre, the Bridge Theatre, which is due to open in October 2017. Hytner has directed for theatre, opera, and film. Two of his most acclaimed films are adaptations of plays by Alan Bennett: the award-winning The Madness of King George (1994) adapted from the stage play, The Madness of George III, which Hytner also directed, at the National Theatre in 1991, and The History Boys (National Theatre 2004, film version 2006). He also directed the hugely successful farce by Richard Bean, One Man, Two Guvnors (2011).

I would choose fine English actors to play the three main characters.

Charles Dickens was 46 in summer 1858 and undergoing a crisis in his domestic life, fearing he would lose his adoring public when his separation from his wife of 22 years, and rumours about his affair with an 18-year-old actress, became headline news. Dickens would be played by Rufus Sewell, well known for his part in the BBC’s highly successful adaptation of George Eliot’s Middlemarch in 1994. More recently Sewell appeared as Alexander Hamilton in HBO’s miniseries John Adams (2008), and as Lord Melbourne in Victoria, a television drama about the life of the young Queen Victoria.

Charles Darwin was 49 in 1858, and also faced a crisis in that hot summer, with the death of his infant son and the shock arrival of a letter from a fellow naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, outlining the same theory of natural selection on which Darwin had been working for 20 years. Darwin now feared losing precedence. The part would be played by one of Britain’s finest actors, Simon Russell Beale, who has portrayed characters as varied as Uncle Vanya, Galileo, Hamlet, and John le Carré’s George Smiley. Russell Beale could best portray both Darwin’s humility and courtesy towards his fellow scientists and his determination to achieve his proper fame as the author of the work he was now galvanised into completing and publishing in 1859 in the shape of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Species in the Struggle for Life.

Benjamin Disraeli was 53 in 1858, and newly appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Derby’s Tory (conservative) government. He was only just making his way in politics, after a slow start and a lack of trust in him from his own colleagues. For Disraeli, the summer of 1858 was one of triumph, since he was the chief mastermind of the Thames Purification Act, which he forced a reluctant Parliament into passing in July 1858, tasking the innovative engineer Joseph Bazalgette with taking the stinking raw sewage out of the Thames by means of intersecting sewers hidden under handsome stone embankments. Disraeli won round his colleagues, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the newspapers with his energy and brilliance in debate. He would be played by Sir Antony Sher, who has played the part of Disraeli before, in the film Mrs Brown (1997). He also acted in Shakespeare in Love (1998), and has won several awards for his theatre and television representations of King Lear, Richard III, Primo Levi, Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, and more. His versatility would suit well the part of the mercurial Disraeli.
Learn more about One Hot Summer at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Victoria Houston's "Dead Spider"

Victoria Houston is the author of the Loon Lake Mysteries, which are set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin against a background of fishing – fly fishing as well as fishing for muskie, bass, bluegill and walleyes.

Here Houston dreamcasts the three main characters in an adaptation of Dead Spider, the newest book in the series:
The retired, widowed Dr. Paul “Doc” Osborne would be played by George Clooney (only ten years older than he is at the moment!).

His neighbor and nemesis, the 32-year-old fishing guide, Ray Pradt, should be played by a young Robert Downey, Jr. (the actor will have to shave ten years off his age).

And the heart of my stories — the tough cop/expert fly fisherman and Loon Lake Chief of Police Lewellyn “Lew” Ferris is not unlike the dedicated, determined detectives played by Olivia Colman in the BBC’s Broadchurch and in HBO’s The Night Manager. Lew is Lew is neither blond nor beautiful but tough, wise and kind.

These are the actors whom I think might best capture the best and the worst of my characters.
Learn more about the book and author at Victoria Houston's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Insider.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Insider.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 24, 2017

Jason Hewitt's "Devastation Road"

Jason Hewitt is a novelist, playwright and actor. He was born in Oxford, and lives in London. His debut novel, The Dynamite Room, was long-listed for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Authors' Club First Novel Award.

Here Hewitt dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Devastation Road:
Writing Devastation Road I always had James McAvoy in mind for Owen, probably because I had a picture of him from Atonement on my Inspiration Board. Now, he’s probably a little old for the role, or certainly would be by the time any movie version was put into production. Waking up in a field in May 1945 with no idea of where he is or why, Owen is a complex character that needs to have an air of bewildered innocence about him; however there is darker side to him too and he holds within him a deeply buried guilt. Age-wise Jeremy Irvine is probably better suited now, if only we could make him a little scrawnier and a bit dirty behind the ears. Ideally, Owen would not be played by an actor who is instantly recognisable. (Daniel Radcliffe, sorry, but you need not apply.) The whole point of Owen is his ordinariness. He’s just a man trying to get home but finding himself in extraordinary circumstances and with little idea of who he is going home to.

The first travelling companion Owen meets is Janek, a 16-year old Czech boy who speaks little English. Janek was inspired in part by Jamie Bell’s character in the film Defiance. Like James McAvoy, Jamie is a bit too grown up now but I think Billy Howle has the same sort of look. US readers may not have come across Billy Howle yet but he was in the film The Sense of an Ending and is in the forthcoming movie adaptation of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach.

I can’t say much about the character Connie without giving her storyline away. All I will say is that she’s an attractive young woman who strays and then pays the price. I think Alicia Vikander would do a great job. She has the charisma and looks that Connie has, but also Connie’s embittered emotion. Failing that, Lily James has the same beguiling intensity. She was mesmerising in Baby Driver, but I first discovered her in the BBC TV adaptation of War and Peace.

Irena has the most devastating storyline and would need to be played by a actor that was prepared to shave off their hair and really be put through the emotional ringer. Irena keeps her feelings pressed deep beneath the surface and is full of secrets but her tragic truth is always bubbling away beneath. She commits the most unforgiveable act and yet still needs to win the audience’s empathy. Writing her I always envisaged Samantha Morton’s character in Minority Report. Samantha has that perfect pale complexion and yet also the emotionally wounded look that Irena has. I think Carey Mulligan would do a great job too – someone that can be understated throughout most of the story and then sock us with a stomach-tightening wallop of emotion come the end.

Martha, my lead American character, requires no thought. Owen thinks she looks like Loretta Young, the 30s-40s actress, so, naturally, that’s who I’d want playing her. Unfortunately, Loretta Young died in 2000 but Natalie Portman did such a good job transforming into Jackie Kennedy that I’m sure she could transform herself into Martha looking like Loretta Young (if that’s not too complicated).

As for director, it would have to be Terrence Malick, especially if he collaborated with his usual Director of Photography, Emmanuel Lubezki. The story is set in the devastated heartlands of post-war Europe and yet it’s May and Nature is at its most bounteous. I’d want a director with as much an eye for beauty as for the horrors that lie within the grass.
Visit Jason Hewitt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Beth McMullen's "Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls"

Beth McMullen is the author of the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series and several adult mysteries. Her books have heroes and bad guys, action and messy situations. An avid reader, she once missed her subway stop and rode the train all the way to Brooklyn because the book she was reading was that good. She lives in Northern California with her family, two cats and a parakeet named Zeus, who is sick of the cats eyeballing him like he’s dinner.

Here McMullen dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls:
This is a tough one! I’m finding out how few actresses under the age of fifteen I can actually identify.

For Abby Hunter, maybe Siena Agudong, who is on Nickelodeon, but only if she can pull off funny.

For Jennifer Hunter, Abby’s mother, Sandra Bullock –that one was easy.
Visit Beth McMullen's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 21, 2017

Jo Perry's "Dead Is Good"

Jo Perry earned a Ph.D. in English, taught college literature and writing, produced and wrote episodic television, and has published articles, book reviews, and poetry. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist Thomas Perry. They have two adult children. Their three cats and two dogs are rescues.

Here Perry dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Dead is Good:
I still think Jonah Hill would make a fine Charles Stone, my chunky, rueful, murdered protagonist, even though Hill is now extremely slim. Zach Galifianakis could step in as Charlie, too--he's good at playing self-deprecating, smart, and messed up men. And Charles is messed up in Dead Is Good, as he returns to to the living world help the one woman he truly loved in life, and whom still loves in death, Grace Morgan. Grace is a prickly, brave and complicated person––a performance artist who breaks barriers, who likes to shock, and who can be haughty and remote. I would love to see Tatiana Maslany play Grace, and considering Maslany's magnificent and endlessly creative performances in Orphan Black, Maslany could also play Grace's sister, Hope. Another actress who would be very fine as Grace is Alison Tollman of Fargo. Charles has a smug,brother whom he hates. I think Dean Winters ("Mayhem" on those Allstate commercials) would be perfect. William H. Macy could play the homeless man named Goldberg.

And I can't imagine a real dog who would play Rose who is composite of all that is good and beautiful and wise in dogs. And I worry about the often cruel methods used with animal actors. So I hope that Rose would be computer-generated.
Visit Jo Perry's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Better.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Best.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Best.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jack Grimwood's "Moskva"

Jack Grimwood, a.k.a Jon Courtenay Grimwood, was born in Malta and christened in the upturned bell of a ship. He grew up in the Far East, Britain, and Scandinavia. Apart from novels, he writes for national newspapers including the Times, Telegraph, Independent, and Guardian. Grimwood is two-time winner of the BSFA Award for Best Novel, with Felaheen, and End of the World Blues. His literary novel The Last Banquet was shortlisted for Le Prix Montesquieu 2015.

Here Grimwood dreamcasts an adaptation of Moskva, his first thriller:
I think Casablanca era Humphrey Bogart for Tom Fox. Either that or early Bond Daniel Craig. Both have the cynicism and the damage and the need to do the right thing, at war with a wish for the world to leave them alone.

The Tom Hiddleston from Only Lovers Left Alive for Dennisov. Just the right mixture of dangerous, charming and barking mad for an alcoholic, ex special forces, son of a Soviet general. The CGI guys could probably have fun with his artificial leg made from a helicopter spring too.

I know everyone thinks of him as Hagrid from Harry Potter but Robbie Coltrane would make a good Russian mafia boss and I can really see him as Beziki, sitting half naked in his private sauna, knowing he has to go to war with the Soviet Politburo and understanding how hard a battle that is to win.

Wax Angel is hard to cast. She's strong and fierce and absolutely pivotal to the whole story. In my head, thinking about it now, she has to be Maggie Smith in full on Professor McGonagall mode.

Beetlejuice era Winona Ryder for Alex Masterton on the run in Moscow and only slowly realising how much trouble she's made for herself. Elisabeth Moss for her mother, Lady Masterton. She's younger than her husband, had Alex early, and she's fighting the demands of being a diplomat's wife and the having had to put her own life on hold.

Lady Caro Fox has to be Keira Knightley, playing a great great descendant of the part she played in The Duchess. Brittle and complex but nothing like as unsympathetic as she first appears. Her and Tom's daughter, Becca, is only ever seen in flashback, and is almost an unknown to everyone except her little brother, so I feel she should be played by an unknown.

Finally, General Dennisov needs to be played by Anthony Hopkins at his most deliciously depraved and twisted. An elderly Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs wasn't in my head when I wrote the character but he should have been.
Visit Jack Grimwood's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 17, 2017

Gary Corby's "Death On Delos"

Gary Corby is the author of the Athenian Mystery series, starring Nicolaos, his girlfriend Diotima, and his irritating twelve year old brother Socrates.

Corby lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife, two daughters, two ducks, two budgerigars, and a brush turkey that is almost as irritating as Socrates.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of the latest book in the Athenian Mystery series, Death on Delos:
Death On Delos is set on a small, isolated island, complete with a holy sanctuary and a substantial number of slightly odd people. Too many to cast here! So let me give you a snapshot.

The detective in this story is the female lead! Plus, she's pregnant. For Diotima I will therefore cast Alyssa Milano, because not many actors could do a funny, pregnant detective, but I suspect she could.

For Nico, hero of my tale, I want to cast Kyle MacLachlan. He was the detective in both Blue Velvet and the FBI agent in the original Twin Peaks. I think he could probably cope with the weirdness in which Nico is constantly enmeshed.

For Meren, the priestess of Artemis I will cast Merryn Anderson. That's because Meren was named for Merryn. She's a friend of ours, and there's a story behind this. When I was writing the draft of the scene in which the priestess first appears, I happened to be sitting in the living room of a holiday house with a bunch of my old school friends and their families. We do this get together once a year. I was scribbling away in pen on the back of an old printout, which is how I sometimes write first drafts. When I got to the new character I said, "I need a name." Merryn happened to be sitting beside me, and while Merryn is not remotely ancient Greek, Meren will pass. So that's how she became Meren.

For Anaxinos, the High Priest of the Delian Apollo, I will cast Pope Francis. The two jobs are kind of equivalent.

For Damon, the slightly crazy chief of the island village I will cast Gustaf Skarsgård. Because he does a fantastic job of being the slightly crazed Floki in Vikings.

For Karnon the Accountant I will cast Kenny G, the Saxophonist. Believe it or not, Kenny G is a trained accountant.

Lastly, for Pericles, I will cast Linus Roache, because he does such a great King Ecbert.
Visit Gary Corby's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 14, 2017

Claire Booth's "Another Man's Ground"

Claire Booth is a former true crime writer, ghostwriter, and reporter. She lives in California. The Branson Beauty, featuring Sheriff Hank Worth, is her first novel.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Another Man's Ground, the second Sheriff Hank Worth Mystery:
The Hank Worth series has three main recurring characters: Hank, the sheriff of my fictional Branson County, Missouri; his chief deputy, Sheila Turley; and young deputy Sam Karnes.

Hank has a very dry sense of humor and an innate kindness that both would need to come across on screen. He also has a Latina mother, and speaks Spanish fluently. Because of all that, I’d love to have Oscar Isaac cast as Hank. (He might have time in between the new Star Wars movies, right?)

Sheila is the sheriff’s department’s only African American deputy and one of the only women. She has a very tough outer shell as a result. She’s had to work twice as hard as anyone else to get where she is in law enforcement in the Ozarks. She’s also fantastic at her job, and regularly bails Hank out of situations. I think Octavia Spencer would be perfect. With her acting, she has the great ability to be both caring and tough as nails, which are traits Sheila has as well.

Sam, whom Hank has nicknamed “The Pup,” is a young, eager deputy who’s often assigned to help with Hank’s investigations. His physique – tall and lanky – is key to his character, so the actor who I’d dream cast needs to be the same. Logan Lerman from the Percy Jackson movies and The Perks of Being a Wallflower would fit the bill wonderfully. He can portray wide-eyed naiveté but still have that toughness that my Sam character needs to have.

Lastly, in Another Man’s Ground, there’s a key character named Jasper Kinney. He’s in his 70s, and he’s lived on his property in the Ozark woods his entire life. His motivations aren’t clear early on, but he’s a menacing presence in the book. The late Eli Wallach would have been perfect for that character. Since this is dream casting, I’m going to choose him anyway!
Visit Claire Booth's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Deborah E. Kennedy's "Tornado Weather"

Deborah E. Kennedy is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana and a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has worked as both a reporter and editor, and also holds a Master's in Fiction Writing and English Literature from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Here Kennedy dreamcasts an adaptation of Tornado Weather, her debut novel:
Tornado Weather is teeming with characters – casting the whole thing would be like casting Game of Thrones before the Red Wedding. So I'm going to focus on three pivotal ones. Love triangles, amiright? The triangle is the strongest geometric shape out there, which could explain the timeless appeal of love stories that take that particular form. Who could forget Humphrey Bogart versus William Holden in Sabrina? Or Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story? And, of course, there was Pearl Harbor, which gave Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett a chance to fight over Kate Beckinsale while I guess a war of some sort raged in the background?

A teenage love triangle looms large in my book, Tornado Weather, pitting the brittle but brilliant Renee Seaver against Marissa “the Italian Slut” Marino in a battle for the affections of Benny Bradenton, a handsome and charming boy whose dad operates a chain of gas stations and convenience stores around northern Indiana. I started this book back in 2009 and originally thought Kristen Stewart would be perfect as Renee, with Vanessa Hudgens stepping into the role of Marissa. Taylor Kitsch would be a convincing as the two-timing Benny. Or maybe Milo Ventimiglia. Now that the book and those stars have aged, it's time to rethink the triangle. Sophie Turner as Renee. Zendaya as Marissa. Ellar Coltrane as Benny. Or better yet, Donald Glover. Let's see those nice boys play bad.

Maybe, if I begged them, the Duffer Brothers would direct? Stranger things have happened...
Follow Deborah E. Kennedy on Facebook and Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 10, 2017

Kathleen Anne Kenney's "Girl on the Leeside"

Kathleen Anne Kenney is an author, freelance writer, and playwright. Her writing has appeared in Big River, Coulee Region Women, and Ireland of the Welcomes, as well as other publications. She has had numerous short plays presented in Minnesota theaters and has published the play The Ghost of an Idea, a one-actor piece about Charles Dickens. Her play New Menu was a winner in the 2012 Rochester Repertory Theatre’s national short-play competition. She is currently at work on a novel based on her 2014 stage play, The Bootleg Blues.

Here Kenney dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Girl on the Leeside:
Though I didn’t have specific actors in mind when I wrote the novel, because most of the characters are Irish it was important to have that lilting, authentic intonation in the dialogue. So the voices in my head were those of Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hind for Uncle Kee.

For Katie I thought of Sinead Cusack, for Galway Gwen I definitely heard the voice of Fionnula Flanagan, and for Siobhan the lovely Saoirse Ronan. She was perfect in Brooklyn.

For a director, I’d love to have Kirk Jones or John Crowley who have directed Irish-themed films in the past.

And how wonderful it would be if it could be filmed in Connemara, completely on location!
Visit Kathleen Anne Kenney's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 7, 2017

Leigh Fought's "Women in the World of Frederick Douglass"

Leigh Fought is Assistant Professor of History at LeMoyne College. She is the author of Southern Womanhood and Slavery: A Biography of Louisa S. McCord and an editor of The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series Three: Correspondence, Volume 1: 1842-1852.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest book, Women in the World of Frederick Douglass:
Women in the World of Frederick Douglass follows the life of nineteenth century black civil rights activist through the eyes of the women who made him. These are only a few, and don’t include Douglass’s mother, Harriet Bailey; his slave mistress, Lucretia Auld; his sisters; abolitionists Abby Kelly, Isabel Jennings, Maria Weston Chapman, Ellen and Anna Richardson, and Amy Post; German-language journalist Ottilie Assing; and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, all of whom played significant roles in his life and the book.

Betsey Bailey, Douglass’s grandmother: Angela Bassett. In other roles, Bassett has consistently captured the elements of strength, grit, wit, calculation, and compassion necessary for a woman like Betsey Bailey, who navigated her large family through the fateful turns of life under capricious master.

Sophia Auld, Douglass’s mistress: Jennifer Lawrence. Sophia Auld first treated little Frederick with dignity and taught him to read, but at the threat of her husband turned against him and became cold. I imagine the earlier scenes much like those of Katniss and Rue in The Hunger Games and later ones requiring the edge that Lawrence showed in Winter’s Bone.

Anna Murray: Viola Davis. Frederick’s biographers have depicted Anna, Douglass’s wife of forty-four years, in unflattering ways because they cannot fathom that Frederick could love a dark-skinned woman who did not read. Viola Davis has similar features as Anna, but a person would have to be a fool to consider her anything but beautiful and intelligent. She would therefore shift perceptions of Anna, animating her with greater justice than any written words have.

Julia Griffiths: For the Englishwoman who saved Douglass’s newspaper, The North Star, and revitalized antislavery in Western New York, earning her the animosity of abolitionists in Boston -- one of the central dramas in the early part of the book -- but Douglass’s undying friendship, cast actress Olivia Colman. She would respect the role, bringing no-nonsense intelligence to the part, and giving Griffiths her due as a serious actor in Douglass’s life.

Rosetta Douglass Sprague, Douglass’s daughter: Kerry Washington could capture the innocence, steel, and frustration of Rosetta’s struggles to be independent, to please to very different parents (but mostly her father), and to play the mediator in a family of very strong personalities, despite having one herself (a bit like Olivia Pope).

Helen Pitts: Laura Linney. The white woman who became Frederick Douglass’s second wife, faced criticism and ostracism along with her husband from both black, white, family, friend, and stranger alike, bearing all with poise and dignity. This is Laura Linney’s métier.

Frederick Douglass: An inevitably controversial casting choice, the actor would have to convey the type of charisma that Douglass still projects across 150 years. At the same time, the actor must resemble Douglass enough not to distract the audience.

Dennis Haysbert, most famous for Allstate commercials, has the height, resonant voice, resemblance, and relaxed quality of the older Lion of Anacostia. You can imagine him sitting on the porch of Cedar Hill or standing on the deck of a ship in the Mediterranean and marveling at how far he had risen in life. At the same time, you can see him marshal the kind of controlled fury necessary for his frustration with the rollback of the Civil Rights Act or the rise of lynching in the South.

Ricky Whittle, who plays Shadow Moon on American Gods, bears enough of a resemblance to the younger Douglass to melt into the character in the same way that Helen Mirren did with Elizabeth I. Whittle also has the physicality and background in modeling allow him to project the electricity apparent in all of the younger Douglass’s photos.
Learn more about Women in the World of Frederick Douglass at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Keely Hutton's "Soldier Boy"

Keely Hutton is a novelist, educational journalist, and former teacher. She is the recipient of the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop scholarship at Chautauqua. She has worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar, the founder of the international charity Friends of Orphans who was a child soldier in Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, to tell his story in her first novel, Soldier Boy.

Here Hutton dreamcasts an adaptation of Soldier Boy:
If I were asked to cast a movie adaptation of Soldier Boy, I would pick the following talented actors and actresses for the main roles.

These actors brought me to tears on a weekly basis during the first season of the TV show This Is Us. I have no doubt they could handle the emotionally heavy scenes in Soldier Boy with raw honesty.

Samuel - Lonnie Chavis –Young Randall in This Is Us.

Ricky - Niles Fitch – Teenage Randall in This Is Us.

Patrick - Jermel Nakia – Young William in This Is Us.

Okot (Ricky’s neighbor) - Ron Cephas Jones –Older William in This Is Us and Bobby in Luke Cage.

Otim - Sterling K Brown –Adult Randall in This Is Us. Otim demands an unrelenting intensity that Brown has proven he can deliver.

The Man - I loved Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in the movie 42 and as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. He has a commanding presence and quiet, gentle strength. He would be a perfect choice to play the important role of the Man.

Komakech - Academy Award winning actor Mahershala Ali, who played Juan in the movie Moonlight and Cornell “Cotton Mouth” Stokes in the Netflix series Luke Cage, would be brilliant as Commander Komakech. Ali had proven he can handle portraying a wide range of characters, which would be necessary for Komakech. In one moment, the commander displays detached cruelty to his rebels and in the next, jovial pride.

Ricky’s mother - Mary, is a loving mother and strong woman. Florence Kasumba from Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, and Wonder Woman could embody Mary’s strength and love.

Ricky’s father - Babs Olusanmokun, whose powerful portrayal of Omoro, Kunta Kinte’s father in the remake of Roots, conveyed a regal strength and humble intelligence that would be perfect for Ricky’s father Michael.
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Soldier Boy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 3, 2017

Patrick Dacey's "The Outer Cape"

Patrick Dacey holds an MFA from Syracuse University. He has taught English at several universities in the U.S. and Mexico, and has worked as a reporter, landscaper, door-to-door salesman, and most recently on the overnight staff at a homeless shelter and detox center. His stories have been featured in The Paris Review, Zoetrope All-Story,Guernica, Bomb magazine, and Salt Hill among other publications. Dacey is the author of The Outer Cape and We've Already Gone This Far.

Here Dacey dreamcasts an adaptation of The Outer Cape:
It’s been awesome and intimidating and somewhat embarrassing to have this book talked about as a contemporary version of Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road, but it’s also an honor, and though I’ve read the novel a number of times, I didn’t necessarily think of this as a similar book. I mention Revolutionary Road because here was a movie where the two actors—Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet—just didn’t seem to fit the way I read the Wheelers on the page. Ironically, Kathy Bates seemed to play the realtor exactly as I imagined her. I think it’s dangerous to imagine a novel on screen. A novel explores something much deeper than a screenplay ever can, and an actor can’t translate the source material without a talented screenwriter, director, producer, crew, etc. With that said, I’d love to see this novel be made into a film. I’d love Carey Mulligan to play Irene, the mother/wife/artist, whose life we get to experience over the course of four decades. I could see Joaquin Phoenix as Robert, the father/husband/builder/gambler. Robert is such a complex character, embodying all of what America has been over the last forty years. I think Joaquin Phoenix could pull that off. He seems to take a darkness to his characters that don’t come just from the material.
Follow Patrick Dacey on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: The Outer Cape.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 30, 2017

Michael P. Spradlin's "Prisoner of War"

Michael P. Spradlin is the New York Times bestselling author of the Youngest Templar trilogy, the Wrangler Award Winner Off Like the Wind! The First Ride of the Pony Express, and several other novels and picture books.

Here Spradlin dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Prisoner of War:
I often say that writing a novel is like watching a movie in my head and recording what I see. There have been dozens of times when I’ve watched a film and realized a previously not thought of actor would be perfect as a character in one of my books. Writing Prisoner of War made that a little more challenging. The novel is based on the true story of America’s youngest POW in World War II. Henry Forrest, my protagonist, is fifteen years old and big for his age. He convinces his grandfather, who speaks little English, to vouch for him with a Marine recruiter and enlists in the Corps. This was a very common practice in World War II. Many men didn’t have official or accurate birth records and there were thousands of underage enlistees.

It makes the job of casting Henry doubly difficult. A young actor would have to have a certain physicality to ‘play older’ and offer the physical strength, yet emotional vulnerability that makes up Henry’s character. Choosing someone to model him on was a conundrum. For my book Into the Killing Seas, the nineteen-year-old Marine, Benny Poindexter, looked and acted like a young Jimmy Cagney. His appearance, style and even manner of speaking was imminently clear to me. I watched several Cagney clips and movies to get down the mannerisms, the cadence, and personality to breathe life into Benny.

Many of the young actors today, say Andrew Garfield, could pull off the emotional range Henry needs, but he lacks the size. Obviously, the action stars popular today are far too old to play a fifteen-year-old. Then it hit me. As a writer, I can travel through time. I’ve gone from the Crusades, to the Civil War, to World War II in my novels. Since Prisoner of War is unlikely to hit the screen anytime soon, I can cast anyone I want from any time period I want. So, I did.

I climbed into my time machine and went back to a young Ben Affleck. Stay with me. I’m talking Good Will Hunting pre-Gigli era Ben. Matt Damon would have been my first choice, but again even at that age he wasn’t physically big enough. In the novel, Henry’s Gunnery Sergeant McAdams from Denton, Texas, takes his first look at him and says “Henry Forrest, huh? Well, yer big as a durn tree.” Damon isn’t as big as a tree. But young Affleck is tall and could put on the pounds for his art. He could handle the physical piece of the role. And as an actor, when Affleck is good, like in Hollywoodland or The Town, he’s excellent. He has the range to pull off the emotional transformation Henry experiences as a Marine, a physically and emotionally abused captive, and learning how to deal with the aftermath of the war’s effect on him.

That’s it. That’s my choice. Young Ben Affleck, starring as Henry Forrest in the Steven Spielberg directed Prisoner of War. Coming soon to a theater of the mind near you.
Visit Michael P. Spradlin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hallie Ephron's "You'll Never Know, Dear"

New York Times bestselling author Hallie Ephron, Edgar Award finalist and four-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, writes books she hopes readers can’t put down. Her newest suspense novel, You’ll Never Know, Dear is set in South Carolina; it tells the story of a little girl’s disappearance and the porcelain doll that may hold the key to her fate.

Here Ephron dreamcasts an adaptation of You’ll Never Know, Dear:
One of my favorite reviews of You’ll Never Know, Dear came from Kirkus: “Would have been a great vehicle for Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, including all the slightly creepy dolls.” Taking that as my lead, I’d want to subtitle (do movies have subtitles?) my movie What Ever Happened to Baby Janey?

Right. Maybe. Though horror fans would be disappointed, because though the book is creepy (and full of mildly creepy dolls and doll parts), it's more suspense edging over into women’s fiction. It tells the story of a little girl’s disappearance and the porcelain doll that may hold the key to her fate, but what propels the narrative is the complicated relationships among three generations of women. That, in turn, is powered by secrets.

Still, taking a cue from Kirkus, my dream cast would be:

Sorrel “Miss Sorrel” Woodham: Joan Crawford

Miss Sorrel is an elegant older woman and gifted artist, famous for her porcelain dolls; her four-year-old daughter Janey disappeared forty years ago, along with a “portrait doll” Miss Sorrel had made for her.

Evelyn Dumont: Bette Davis

Evelyn lives next door to Miss Sorrel, helps her make and repair dolls, and has been her best friend ever since they were girls. Of Evelyn, Miss Sorrel says, “She won a baby contest and never got over it.”

Elisabeth “Lis” Woodham Strenger: Reese Witherspoon

Miss Sorrel’s older daughter, a single mom who had to move home in the wake of a messy divorce; forty years ago she was supposed to be watching her sister Janey when she disappeared. Now she sometimes feels as if all she’s doing is serving time and worrying about her own daughter, Vanessa.

Vanessa Strenger: Emma Watson

Lis’s daughter, a psychologist who lives in Providence where she studies the science of sleep and dreams. Ambitious, independent, she appreciates and resents her mother’s smothering, protective instincts.

Jenny Richards: Mary Louise Parker

Once a homeless drug addict, is she Janey Woodham?

Maggie Richards: Kristen Stewart

Jenny Richards brittle, angry daughter who’s trying to take care of her mother and also make an independent future for herself.

Frank “Officer Frank” Ames: Tom Hanks

Lis’s long time friend and more; much older than Lis, he was a rookie cop when Janey disappeared. Now Lis wonders if he’s the "good guy" that he seems to be.
Learn more about the book and author at Hallie Ephron's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 26, 2017

Stephen Hinshaw's "Another Kind of Madness"

Stephen Hinshaw grew up in Columbus, Ohio and attended Harvard and UCLA. A professor of Psychology (UC Berkeley) and Psychiatry (UC San Francisco), he is an international presence in clinical psychology/mental health, with over 320 articles/chapters and 12 books. He received a Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001; his Teaching Company (‘Great Lecture’) series, “Origins of the Human Mind,” appeared in 2010. He has been recognized by the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (2015), the James McKeen Cattell Award from the Association for Psychological Science (2016) for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to applied psychological research, and the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award (2017) from the Society for Research in Child Development. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife Kelly Campbell; they have three sons.

Hinshaw's newest book, Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness, chronicles his father’s recurring mental illness and the doctor-enforced silence surrounding it, plus the huge need to combat stigma.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of the memoir:
The material is clearly cinematic.

My father, a brilliant philosopher who studied with Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, has periodically experienced wild bouts of psychosis and mania since age 16. As a teen in Pasadena during the 1930s, he believed he could stop the worldwide Fascist threat by flying, with outspread wings, to warn the leaders of the free world. Barely surviving, he was warehoused in a snake-pit hospital for half a year, beginning his life of high achievement intermixed with utter madness.

It’s now years later, and he’s a professor in the Midwest during the 50s and 60s, following even more terrifying episodes and incarcerations. He and his beautiful wife, who also teaches at Ohio State, are expressly forbidden by his doctors from telling their two young children—my sister and me—the real reason for his sudden, mysterious disappearances: His recurring madness and forced entry into brutal mental hospitals. Indeed, his episodes during that time endangered the family.

Focusing on Dad’s dramatic past and my own childhood, the film would convey the core tension: Life was idyllic, filled with school, sports, and high accomplishment, but simultaneously terrifying, as Dad tried to survive electroshock treatment and beatings and I scrambled to understand the truth behind the silence and shame. Like so many kids in families where danger lurks but nothing is said, I blamed myself for not being able to prevent Dad’s mysterious absences. During all of those, it was as though he’d been abducted by aliens in the middle of the night.

A crucial scene occurs in the early 70s. As I return home from Harvard for my first spring break, having convinced myself to draw away from the silence of my upbringing, Dad pulls me into his study and awkwardly starts to reveal his life of madness.

I now have a mission—to study psychology and solve the riddle of mental illness. Yet I’m simultaneously terrified, fearing that I’m next to become a hopeless mental patient. In subsequent years I correctly diagnose Dad with bipolar disorder and proceed to an award-winning career in psychology. Yet it took many years for me to break the code of family silence.

Who would play my father, the athletic scholar, the tender father, the madman given up for dead in some of the nation’s worst mental facilities? Alas, Russell Crowe could surpass his brilliant turn as John Nash in A Beautiful Mind (indeed, my father knew Nash at Princeton back in the 40s): Crowe’s mixture of brutality, tenderness, and intelligence could reach new heights in portraying the life of Virgil Hinshaw, Jr., my father.

My mother, the unsung hero of the family, could be portrayed by Meryl Streep or even Cate Blanchett—conveying a will of steel intermixed with a forlorn hope for the innocence of the family’s earliest days.

My sister and I, as our younger selves, would be played by earnest child actors and, as we age, by Leo DiCaprio and perhaps Jennifer Lawrence.

Who could direct: Ron Howard or even—in a dramatic montage of families and history—Martin Scorsese.

Our family’s story spans the political history of the U.S. in the mid-to-late 20th Century, conveys my emergence into the world of science and mental health from the silent terror and stigma I experienced as a child, and offers lessons for the current need to maximize human capital by humanizing the psychological afflictions so many of us face. The film would end on a note of hope and triumph: disclosure of the truth can set us free and humanize those with mental disorder.
Visit Stephen Hinshaw's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sarah Azaransky's "This Worldwide Struggle"

Sarah Azaransky is Assistant Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. She is the author of The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith and the editor of Religion and Politics in America's Borderlands.

Here she shares her take on adapting her new book, This Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement, for the screen:
A crackerjack production team is necessary for This Worldwide Struggle, a movie about a group of black American Christians who looked abroad, even in other religious traditions, for ideas and resources to transform American democracy.

The location manager needs to have extensive contacts in South Asia to chart Howard and Sue Bailey Thurman’s five-month journey in 1935-1936 through what is now Sri Lanka, Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and throughout India, when they met many activists and intellectuals, including Rabindranath Tagore and Mohandas Gandhi. After meeting with the Thurmans, Gandhi proclaimed it may be through black Americans “that the unadulterated message of non-violence will be delivered to the world.”

A skilled lighting team is necessary to capture William Stuart Nelson’s awe of an Indian dawn. Nelson and his wife Blanche spent a year in India, working with the American Friends Service Committee in 1947-1948. On a visit to the largest Christian meeting in the world in southeastern India, Nelson wrote that “few sights more beautiful than dawn in Travancore… Slowly many objects and events take shape; bullock carts carrying their loads of cocoanut hulls to market, a great work elephant lumbering toward you… workers already in the fields. The rising sun, lighting up the green fields and tinting the flowering trees.”

Only an expert sound mixer could capture layers of joyous celebration on independence day in Calcutta, when, according to Blanche Nelson, “hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children…rushed through the streets on foot, by rickshaw, by bus, by tram, by automobiles, in lorries but always shouting ‘Jai Hind! Jai Hind!’ They shouted until their voices completely disappeared and then they painted their throats with lime and started all over again.”

The director will need to have an eye for the pageantry of world historical events, such as Ghana’s independence, and the deftness to portray crackling exchanges between powerful men. Coretta Scott King, who was on Accra’s polo grounds that night in March 1957, recalls how the crowd listened with rapt attention as Kwame Nkrumah called for moments of silence to mark the transition to independence; then, as Nkrumah raised his hand in celebration, fifty thousand roared in unison “Ghana is free!” Earlier that evening, her husband had his first high level encounter with the American executive. Eisenhower had not responded to Martin Luther King’s entreaties for a meeting. When King met Nixon, the Vice President leading the official American delegation, King reportedly said, “I’m very glad to meet you here, but I want you to come visit us down in Alabama where we are seeking the same kind of freedom the Gold Coast is celebrating.”

Certainly the casting director has her work cut out for her to find actors to portray identity-defying Pauli Murray, brilliant Bayard Rustin, and charismatic Benjamin Mays. As well as an international cast of characters, including Gandhi, Nehru, Nkrumah and many others, for This Worldwide Struggle is indeed a sweeping historical narrative, showing how the greatest American social movement had significant roots in many other parts of the world.
Learn more about This Worldwide Struggle at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue