Monday, September 25, 2017

Alys Clare's "The Devil's Cup"

Alys Clare lives in the English countryside, where her novels are set. She went to school in Tonbridge and later studied archaeology at the University of Kent.

Here Clare dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Devil's Cup:
When I started the Hawkenlye Series seventeen books ago, I had a clear image of Josse d’Acquin in mind, and he looked very like the actor Robert Lindsay. As, like all of us, he’s matured and life’s experiences and trials show in his face, he goes on looking just as I imagine the older Josse, and I still think he’d be just right. For Helewise, who we first meet when she’s Abbess of Hawkenlye, I would cast the luminous Juliet Stevenson. I used to think that the severity of the medieval nun’s habit would become her very well, although by the time of The Devil’s Cup she is, of course, no longer a nun, so we wouldn’t get the chance to decide. I’d love to see Bill Nighy as Yves, Josse’s brother, having loved him as an actor ever since hearing him play the part of Sam Gamgee in the BBC Radio 4 production of The Lord of the Rings in 1981 (which I have on my iPod and still listen to regularly; there are scenes between Bill Nighy’s Sam and Ian Holmes’s Frodo that still move me to tears, even though I know them well enough to say the words with them). Robert Lindsay and Bill Nighy as my two d’Acquin brothers would do such a fine job of demonstrating the humour, the closeness and the love between the pair and would undoubtedly also move their audience to tears.

Oh, and to play King John, I’d like Ray Winstone.

I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable to comment on who I would select as director, but I do listen to an awful lot of film (and TV) soundtrack, since I find it’s the perfect accompaniment to writing; somehow it makes the pictures I’m seeing in my mind as I work more vivid and real; more tangible, even. It’s hard to pick a favourite. Sometimes a composer seems to gel perfectly with one film whilst the marriage doesn’t work as well elsewhere (for example, Howard Shore was sublime with the Lord of the Rings trilogy but, in my view anyway, didn’t get it right with The Hobbit, although, given what was done to what was originally a beautiful and quite short children's story, it’s hard to see how anyone could). Ramin Djawadi has some brilliant moments with Game of Thrones; Hans Zimmer’s music and the mind-blowing Gladiator is a match made in heaven. Patrick Doyle gives the impression that he possesses singular insight into the scripts to which he is writing the music, and he has such a variety of moods, from Brave to Henry V via Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Sense and Sensibility. He, I think, would be my choice to write the music score for The Devil’s Cup.
Learn more about The Devil's Cup at the publisher's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Devil's Cup.

Writers Read: Alys Clare.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 22, 2017

Ismée Williams's "Water in May"

Ismée Williams is the author of Water in May, a pediatric cardiologist who trained and practiced for 15 years at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, the daughter of a Cuban immigrant partially raised by her abuelos, and the mother of three daughters, all of which have helped her to understand the many Maris she has met along the way.

Here Williams dreamcasts an adaptation of Water in May:
I’ve fantasized about Water in May becoming a movie since I started writing it! In fact, I pictured Reese Witherspoon as Helen, the woman Mari shares a hospital experience with, from the very beginning. She would do an amazing job playing the mother of a baby in distress. And I always hoped she would like the book since I once saw her say that if she couldn’t be an actor she would be a pediatric cardiologist (look up Reese Witherspoon, Vogue’s 73 questions video).

For Dr. Love, my vote would be Scott Eastwood. He’s the right age (early 30s) and has that dreamy look to him (along with the blue eyes), yet he is serious enough to make you respect him as a physician.

My main character’s boyfriend, Bertie, is somewhat of a jokester and has a carefree way about him, yet he is also tragically wounded by the circumstances of the novel. I’m envisioning someone like a young Merlin Santana, the late Dominican-American actor who played Rudy Huxtable’s boyfriend on The Cosby Show, among other roles in his short lifetime. He’d have been perfect.

And now for Mari’s girl crew: The role of loud and flamboyant best friend, Yaz, would have to go to a teen version of Dania Ramirez, known for her work in The Sopranos, Entourage, and Devious Maids. Julissa Bermudez, from Empire Girls, would play Teri well, with her innocent schoolgirl looks, but again she would have to be younger. For the role of Heavenly, the statuesque beauty who always has boys panting after her, Zoe Saldana would be my choice.

Mari’s abuela could be played by Iris Peynado, who is Dominican, or even Rosie Perez, who is actually Puerto Rican, though it would have had to have been when they were in their mid-40’s.

My main character, Mari, would be the tough one to cast. Sharlene Taule could play Mari because her skin is light enough to pass for white in certain situations, as Mari’s skin is. But honestly, for all of these younger roles my dream would be for scouts to go to Washington Heights or Santo Domingo and find up and coming talent. It would be incredible to have an unknown play Mari and have this be her breakout role.
Visit Ismée Williams's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Ismée Amiel Williams & Rowan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Jacob Stone's "Crazed"

Jacob Stone is the byline chosen by award-winning author Dave Zeltserman for his new Morris Brick series of serial-killer thrillers. His crime, mystery and horror fiction has won top praise and has been translated into six languages. His novels Small Crimes and Pariah were both named by the Washington Post as best books of the year. Small Crimes topped National Public Radio's list of best crime and mystery novels of 2008 and is being made into a feature film.

Here Zeltserman dreamcasts an adaptation of Crazed, the second Morris Black thriller:
I get to cheat a bit with this since Crazed is the second book of my Morris Brick crime thriller series, and I already provided my dream cast for the first book, Deranged.

Major characters who appear in both Crazed and Deranged:

Morris Brick, my ex-LAPD homicide detective and serial killer hunter, is tough, smart, and relentless, and Jason Isaacs showed from the Showtime series Brotherhood showed that he could play all that brilliantly, plus he physically looks like my Morris.

Evangeline Lilly would be a good choice to play Natalie Brick, Morris’s beautiful and charming wife.

Sheila Proops, the wheelchair-bound serial killer who escaped prosecution from Deranged and is back in Crazed. Elizabeth Banks would be a good choice, although she'd need a lot of makeup and prosthetics to play my twisted (both physically and emotionally) Sheila.

Philip Stonehedge, a method actor who forces himself into the investigation, and for most of the book acts as Morris’s sidekick, is the easiest role to cast—Ryan Gosling. In the third Morris Brick thriller, Malicious, there’s a running joke where the killer is described by witnesses as either the actor Philip Stonehedge or Ryan Gosling.

Scarlett Johansson would be a good fit for Annie Walsh, the tough, no-nonsense, and very attractive LAPD Detective who works with Morris and his team.

Morris’s team is made up of three former LAPD homicide detectives: Dennis Polk, a wiseass, Fred Lemmon, who takes it as part of his job to keep Polk in line, and Charlie Bogle, Morris’ right-hand man. Michael Rapaport would be perfect as Polk, Matthew Rhys as Lemmon, and Jon Hamm (who has a bigger role in future books, as well as showing some inner demons) as Bogle.

Finally, to complete the cast, we need to find a lovable and clownish bull terrier to play Morris’s dog, Parker.

Now for the two starring characters unique to Crazed:

Chris Evans would be playing against type to be cast as the serial killer Griffin Bolling, but I think he'd be a fun choice for the role, even though Bolling is quite a piece of work.

Josh Gad would make a perfect Perlmutter--a desperate wannabe filmmaker who catches on to what Sheila and Griffin are up to, and tries to deal himself into the action.

Simon Helberg would be pitch perfect to play Perlmutter's nemesis Bloom.

We'd also need the right fat, orange tabby to play Perlmutter's cat, Orson.
Visit Dave Zeltserman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Deranged.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 18, 2017

Cora Harrison's "Beyond Absolution"

Cora Harrison published twenty-six children's books before turning to adult novels with the "Mara" series of Celtic historical mysteries set in 16th century Ireland.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, Beyond Absolution, the third book in the Reverend Mother Mystery Series:
I had no hesitation here. I have immediately chosen Angela Lansbury to star in the movie of my book.

The main character in Beyond Absolution is an elderly Reverend Mother, superior of an order of nuns whose main task is to provide an education for the children of the poor. Cork city in the south of Ireland was, at that time, a place where terrible poverty and dreadful slums co-existed with wealth and splendid houses, built by the merchant princes on the hills well outside the filth and fog that envelope the city and its slums.

The Reverend Mother is by birth and upbringing one of the merchant princes’ class, but all her sympathies and her life’s work lie among the poor of Cork. She is no saint, though and possesses a sharp sarcastic tongue and a shrewd judgement of people and their weaknesses, whether they are among the privileged or the destitute of Cork.

I’ve had fun writing this character – somehow I never hesitate. Her opinions flow from my finger tips to the screen, her occasional sarcasm, her compassion, her interest in her pupils, her overwhelming desire to help the children, her boredom with excessive piety, her impatience with the bishop and his opinions. I can just see and hear Angela Lansbury in the part. And I hope that the long summers she has spent in southern Ireland would give her an interest in bringing the character of a Cork nun to the screen.
Visit Cora Harrison's website.

My Book, The Movie: Cross of Vengeance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 15, 2017

Michael Gregorio's "Lone Wolf"

Michael Gregorio is the pen name of Michael G. Jacob and Daniela De Gregorio. Best known for their Hanno Stiffeniis series, featuring a Prussian magistrate in a country invaded by Napoleon and the French, they have more recently launched a contemporary series set in Italy, where they live. The Seb Cangio novels follow the exploits of a forest ranger as he combats Mafia infiltration of the unspoilt national park in Umbria where he works.

Here the authors share the transcript from their (dream) pitch meeting with United Artists about adapting their latest novel, the third in the series, Lone Wolf, for the big screen:
Imagine: United Artists and us.

UA: These stories haven’t been adapted for the big screen?

US: Unbelievable, isn’t it? A mystery on every page, a dead body in every chapter, a climax that will blast the viewer out of his seat…

UA: His seat? Don’t tell me this is a guy film.

US: No, no, it’s got everything. Violence, sure, but love, devotion to duty, animals…

UA: No dogs die, do they? No horses? Nothing like that?

US: Only the thugs die. Quite a lot of them, actually. But it’s all good fun, plenty of action with a capital A and a serious investment in top quality tomato sauce.

UA: Now that is a good sponsor angle. Yeah, show the can… the can of sauce, I mean, in all the kitchen scenes.

US: We use Mutti Polpa at home and recommend it highly. Five stars, big lumps, great splatter…

UA: Mutti, Parma… you don’t say? (He’s making a note of the name). I’ll check it out. Now, tell me this. How do you see this movie playing out? Gimme a sketch.

US: Well, there’ll be trees, lots of trees, ’cause the hero is a park ranger. Oh yeah, and mountains, too, ’cause it’s set in Umbria…

UA: What’s Umbria?

US: It’s a place in Italy. It’s full of mountains, forests, full of wolves. That’s what the park ranger does, he protects the wolves…

UA: The wolves don’t die, do they? We have this thing with Animal Protection.

US: No, no, the wolves don’t die. The wolves are just an allegory…

UA: Allegheny? I thought you said Italy?

US: The wolves are a symbol. They’re cruel, but, well, that’s Nature, isn’t it? It’s the two-legged wolves we’re interested in…

UA: Wolves with two legs? You mean like walking wolves? Werewolves?

US: We mean criminals, people who behave like wolves, worse than wolves…

UA: Okay, so we got wolves and criminals, a dumb park ranger. What else?

US: There’s London, too, the seamy Soho underworld…

UA: We can film those scenes right here in New York, cut back on costs.

US: And there’s the ’Ndrangheta…

UA: The what?

US: The mafia from Calabria, the most dangerous criminal organisation in the world.

UA: Winslow’s already worked that angle. Slaughter on every page.

US: Our slaughter starts on page three…

UA: And the first two pages?

US: Magic, witchcraft, a pinch of historical backstory.

UA: What about a director? You got any thoughts on that?

US: Well, our vote goes to Mel. He’s been through this kind of thing before – oceans of blood, nastiness unchained, and a wild natural setting with eclipses of the sun and sudden downpours – we’ve seen Apocalypto twenty or thirty times, it’s one of our favourite movies.

UA: We’re talking big money here. So, what about the stars?

US: Well, there are two lead women…

UA: Two? That’s throwing money away. Could we cut it back to one? We got Scarlett, Cameron, Ashley, take your pick. Male leads are two a penny, so let’s play safe with Leonardo. Di Caprio. Italian-sounding, right? He should know how to handle this ’Ndrangheta angle… Okay, time’s up. I’ll get back to you on this. Have a great day!

As you may have realised, films and filmstars are not our thing. So, we’ll just have to wait for a producer with his cheque book and chosen camera buff to come along and finally do what Justice demands: make Lone Wolf into the blockbuster movie it deserves to be!
Visit Michael Gregorio's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Lone Wolf.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lisa Berne's "The Laird Takes a Bride"

Lisa Berne read her first Georgette Heyer book at fourteen, and was instantly captivated. Later, she was a graduate student, a teacher, and a grant writer — and is now an author of historical romance.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest novel, The Laird Takes a Bride:
I’m really bad at this sort of question, so really, the best I can do is to mention a film — and the actors — that influenced my thinking in The Laird Takes a Bride: the charming and deeply felt Leap Year. (Although, tangentially, in the interest of validating my taste, I feel obliged to add that I loathe the scene toward the end in which the protagonists carry on an extremely personal conversation in front of an interested crowd; such pointless contrivances are almost as annoying as the ones that take place in the rain. Case in point: Four Weddings and a Funeral.)

What drew me creatively to Leap Year is how the characters, winsomely portrayed by Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, are initially so shut off to each other — how enmeshed they are in their own damaged pasts. Both of my protagonists in The Laird Takes a Bride suffer from the same snare; their trajectories in this way mirror the other’s. They struggle to free themselves — to learn how to freely love — even as they resist their deepening connection.

So. Yeah. Matthew Goode and Amy Adams. With fetching Scottish accents. Could totally work.
Visit Lisa Berne's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 11, 2017

Peter J. Marina's "Down and Out in New Orleans"

Peter Marina is a New Orleans native and Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

Here he tags the actor who should play him in an adaptation of his new book, Down and Out in New Orleans: Transgressive Living in the Informal Economy--and sketches a scenario of the imaginary film:
If the book were made into a movie, Aidan Turner would play my role as lead actor. People sometimes confuse me for him in public, and he plays transgressive characters that lead debacherous, downright mischievous lives. The main character of Down and Out in New Orleans had to become transgressive to conduct the research into similarly transgressive lives. For a director, Paul Thomas Anderson, excels with large ensemble casts and uses lots of wide angle shots which would really show off NOLA and make the city itself a character in the film.

Peter Marina lives down and out in New Orleans reproducing, as closely as possible, the conditions Orwell faced in Down and Out in Paris and London in late 1920s Paris. Marina’s film tells the story of post-Katrina New Orleans and its culture of creative degenerates, vagabonds, artists, hustlers, transients, grifters, intellectuals, musicians, druggies, skells, gutter punks, goths, occultists, and existentialists who exist beneath the radar in the city of New Orleans.

Marina does not merely study the city’s fringes. He lives on them. He doesn’t merely interview the city’s new bohemians. He lives among them, lives as one of them. He doesn’t settle for examining the city’s modern underbelly. He creeps and crawls through it – sometimes on his hands and knees, working menial jobs, scrounging for enough to eat, living among the urban tribes – indeed, becoming part of them – and hoping to survive.

He walks on glass as “Cuban Pete the Clown” pantomimes on the streets outside the Superdome before Saints games, busks poetry on Frenchmen Street, bartends on Bourbon Street, cleans Air B&B apartments in Faubourg Marigny, trips with occultists in Barataria swamps, breaks into New Orleans’ aboveground cemeteries for underground Satanic rituals, attends informal burlesque shows, helps perform a marriage ceremony for homeless travelers, sleeps in down-and-out homeless shelters and squats in the many abandoned buildings of hurricane Katrina, shares life with gutter punks and down-and-out urban dwellers, dances in the streets of second-line parades, shares New Orleans culture with the black Mardi Gras Indians, and even sells pot for a few extra dollars.

The movie centers on the cast of characters Marina encounters on his various adventures throughout New Orleans traversing social life with many of the city’s urban tribes and subcultures. He finds Tim the Gold Man searching for relief at the end of a beer while somehow achieving semi-celebrity status. Marina discovers a colorful cast of characters such as Cubs the Poet writing for tourists, Eric Odditorium swallowing swords, and Stumps the Clown swinging a bowling ball through hooks in his ears, all attempting to stake their claim in the world. Marina penetrates into the three dimensions of Shannon’s life as she moves from peacefully writing poetry of French orgasms to frantically whipping tourists on the streets to hopping freight trains in a quest to reach the summit of life’s experiences. He shares adventures with occultists as they enter swamps and hop cemeteries to engage in supernatural rituals that empower and make meaning to their world. Marina encounters the world of buskers as they perform on the streets of New Orleans as well as gutter punks and homeless politically motivated youths who squat in the city’s many abandoned houses.

Marina travels with brass-band musicians blowing their trumpets making money from tourists while also keeping the culture of the city defiantly alive. He marches with the Mardi Gras Indians in their second-lines as they sing about spy boys while chanting Iko unday Jockomo feeno and dances with brass bands screaming “Fuck the po-po” with their middle fingers raised, speaking truth to power about police brutality. Marina witnesses community resident Vance Vaucresson getting the okey dokey from urban planners and city elites – like Pres Kabacoff, or the Robert Moses of New Orleans – hell-bent on transforming the culture of New Orleans into a personal means of profit.

In this pursuit of discovery, Marina unlocks a world where urban residents show their human agency and engage in new forms of transgression to find creative cultural solutions to collectively experienced structural contradictions posed in our late stage of modernity.
Visit Peter Marina's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Temple Mathews's "Bad Girl Gone"

Temple Mathews, a graduate of the University of Washington and a producer at the American Film Institute, has written dozens of half-hour animation TV episodes and several animated and live action features and direct-to-DVD and video films. His credits include the Walt Disney animated feature films Return to Neverland and The Little Mermaid 2 and the MGM feature film Picture This!

Here Mathews shares some thoughts on casting an adaptation of his new novel, Bad Girl Gone:
The movie of my book would feature a young actress, Jennifer Lawrence would have been perfect a few years back, same with Natalie Portman.

As with the cast of Twilight, when we make the movie (Iggy Azalea is producing and optioned the book) we will have the joy of bringing new faces to the screen.
Visit Temple Mathews's website.

The Page 69 Test: Bad Girl Gone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 8, 2017

Robin Merrow MacCready's "A Lie For A Lie"

Robin Merrow MacCready is the author of Buried, recipient of the Edgar Award for Best YA novel. She teaches reading and writing to middle school students, and lives in Maine with her family.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest YA novel, A Lie for a Lie:
I see my books in vivid scenes, like a film, and they serve as my guides while I write, so this was a fun exercise. Also, music sets the mood, so think Led Zeppelin for the island scenes since it plays a part in the book.

First off, the setting for A Lie For A Lie is an important character and the Maine Coast is the star; think rocky coves and points jutting into the ocean, sandy beaches, and squawking seagulls. The island that inspired this story was a real location when I was a teen, but it's barely there now, due to the storms and high tides that have eroded it down to a rocky strip barely walkable at low tide.

Kendra, the main character in A Lie For A Lie, is a teen that survived a scary boat accident. She’s close to breaking out of her protective shell, so an actress that can play both lows and highs is important. I like Hailee Steinfeld for Kendra. She’s smart and sensitive and I loved her in The Edge of Seventeen.

Bo is one of Kendra’s childhood friends. I saw Bo as Douglas Smith before I knew who he was and it took a lot of googling before I remembered what I saw him in. He's is known for playing the son in Big Love, but he’s older now. Back then he was a bit geeky and now he’s playing Marcus Isaacson on the upcoming series, The Alienist. Like those two different roles, Bo has grown out of his role as Kendra’s BFF’s brother and hopes to be her boyfriend.

Jenn is Bo’s sister and Kendra’s best friend. She's short and intense. I’ve always seen her as a young Rashida Jones, or maybe Tara Lynne Barr from Casual.

Bad boy Will is played by Jack DePew, who is Jasper Landry in The Fosters. From the beginning of the story, Will had a bad boy sneer and messy blond hair. Ryan Hansen was a look alike that I kept in my head mind when I was writing him. He played Dick Casablancas in Veronica Mars.

Dad is Patrick Wilson or Scott Foley. He’s a great dad, but overly tuned in to his flirty and charming side. He uses it in social situations and lawyering.

Mom is damaged, both physically (though she hides her scars) and emotionally. I see Mom as Vera Farmiga or Peggy Lipton in her Twin Peaks era.

This exercise has gotten me thinking of my work in progress, which is set in the mid-19th century and is filled with mysterious characters. Off to cast that one!
Visit Robin Merrow MacCready's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Eric Brown's "Murder Take Three"

Eric Brown began writing when he was fifteen and sold his first short story to Interzone in 1986. He has won the British Science Fiction Award twice for his short stories, and his novel Helix Wars was shortlisted for the 2012 Philip K. Dick award. He has published sixty books, and his latest include the crime novel Murder Take Three, and the short story collection Microcosms, with Tony Ballantyne. His novel Binary System is due out in Autumn. He has also written a dozen books for children and over a hundred and forty short stories. He writes a regular science fiction review column for the Guardian newspaper and lives in Cockburnspath, Scotland.

Here Brown dreamcasts an adaptation of Murder Take Three:
In my recently released crime mystery, Murder Take Three – the fourth book in the Langham and Dupré series, set in the mid-fifties, Donald Langham has just started work at Ralph Ryland’s detective agency, and his first client is the American movie star Suzie Reynard. Reynard and company are shooting a murder mystery film at Marling Hall, a four hundred year old Elizabethan manor house in the depths of the Norfolk countryside. She wants Langham to investigate threats made to the film’s director, Douglas Dennison, and she invites him up for the weekend to investigate. Langham thinks her worries rather nebulous, but relishes a weekend with his fiancée Maria Dupré in an old country house.

However, the break proves rather less relaxing than anticipated. He meets the cast, the director, and the owners of Marling Hall, the crippled war hero Edward Marling and his long-suffering wife Cynthia – along with his old friend the scriptwriter Terrence Ambler. Langham soon discovers that the cast and associates are seething with hatred and jealousy, and a weekend in the country soon turns into a longer stay as Suzie Reynard is found shot dead in the trailer of the director Douglas Rennison.

What follows is a murder mystery replete with intrigue, red herrings, false leads – as well as further murders – as Langham, ably assisted by his fiancée Maria Dupré and the detective Ralph Ryland, work through the convoluted clues to track down the merciless killer.

As to who might play the lead roles in the film of my book… That’s a fascinating question, and one I’ve never really considered until now.

Donald Langham is a mild-mannered, droll, pipe-smoking thriller-writer when he isn’t working part-time as a private detective. He’s tall, dark, and handsome (well, his fiancée Maria thinks so), and I can easily see Simon Mangan (who starred in the UK-US TV series Episodes), taking this part.

Maria Dupré, his dark, sultry soon-to-be-wife, who assist Langham in solving this crime and others with her intelligence and human insight, is in her early thirties and French. She is also his literary agent. The British actor Gemma Arterton (who starred in the film Tamara Drewe, among many others) would be ideal for the part, or perhaps even Catherine Zeta-Jones.

There’s only one actor on earth who could play Langham’s weaselly sidekick Ralph Ryland, and that’s the American actor Steve Buscemi – if he could do a Cockney accent, that is.

The actress Suzie Reynard, under-confident and rather neurotic, and very much in love with father-figure Douglas Dennsion, is thirty, small, pretty and blonde – I see someone like a young Goldie Hawn taking the role.

The tough-cynical movie director Doug Dennsion, late fifties and a overweight: how about the Scottish actor James Cosmo who plays Jeor Mormont in Game of Thrones?
Visit Eric Brown's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 4, 2017

Josh Dean's "The Taking of K-129"

Josh Dean is a magazine journalist and author based in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, The Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History:
When you do narrative journalism, it’s pretty common for people to say, in reaction to a story, “Hey, that should be a movie.” But I’ve never experienced that to the degree that I have with this project. It is the very definition of truth is stranger the fiction — the true story of how the CIA used Howard Hughes to provide cover for the attempted theft of a nuclear missile submarine, by creating the illusion that the world’s most eccentric mogul was going to mine the ocean floor for rare earth minerals. I’d conservatively estimate that 100% of people who’ve talked to me about it have suggested it be a movie, and I’ve taken to describing it, in Hollywood short-hand, as “James Cameron’s Argo.”

Anyway, the good news is that Hughes doesn’t ever appear on screen, so I don’t really have to cast him. He can be some deep breathing on a phone. The bad news is that it’s a sprawling, epic story that covers 6 years and includes the participation of hundreds of people. Maybe it should be a TV series? But that’s not the challenge here. The book really focuses most on four characters: Curtis Crooke, John Graham, John Paragosky, and Walt Lloyd. The first two are engineers, the second two are spies.

Let’s start with Crooke. I think of him as the 1960s version of a Silicon Valley hotshot. He was a clever engineer with a brash personality who worked for a big company but didn’t really care to abide by traditions. He drove a Ferrari, put his feet up on the desk during meetings and had absolutely no qualms about taking a nap during the workday, with the door open. That sounds like so many actors, but the one who stands out (and is age appropriate) is Robert Downey Jr. He plays smart and funny. He’s very likable. And he’s dashing, which I like to think Curtis was at the time.

John Graham was a brilliant naval engineer. A reformed alcoholic who nearly lost his family in middle-age then went sober, redeemed himself, and helped imagine some of the most spectacular ships ever designed — including the mind-blowing Hughes Glomar Explorer. Graham was a tough boss, but fair. He was highly educated (via MIT) but also an autodidact who did some of his best designing on napkins. He was a loyal husband but loved to flirt with waitresses. And every man who worked for him had tremendous respect. Put some glasses on any number of leading men and it would work, but the guy needs to be slightly intimidating, so I’m going with Ed Harris here. He can command room, but also disarm one when necessary.

Walt Lloyd ran the cover operation. Lloyd was a career CIA man who helped create the model for covert operations in his long-time role within the Agency’s security apparatus. He is sharp, straight-laced, and utterly unflappable, with a fondness for the efficacy of profanity when a point needs to be made. He recruited people to pretend to be mining the ocean without telling them that they were pretending. He commands respect, but not via fear. I met him in his 80s, so it’s hard for me to picture what Walt was like in middle-age, but I think Hollywood would probably cast someone like Tom Hanks here. Hanks feels a little soft to me. I picture a younger Robert Redford. Who is that today? In a pinch, Josh Brolin could probably pull it off.

That leaves John Parangosky, Azorian’s mastermind. This CIA science and technology lifer was a cypher to many people on the program. Most knew him only as JP or Mr P, if they knew him at all. He was a lifelong bachelor with a love for finer things, especially opera and French food, which he ate often, typically alone at one of a couple of Washington DC fine dining restaurants. He wore a uniform - dark suit, dark shoes, white shirt - and slicked back hair. He was thick, but not fat. Man, Philip Seymour Hoffman would have been perfect. I imagine JP to have a slight undercurrent of menace, mostly as a posture, and PSH could project that in spades. Since that’s not an option, I’m really struggling here. Can we put some weight on Leonardo DiCaprio? I guess we can. Okay, it’s Leo!

If you’re wondering (fairly), where are the women? Well, there weren’t any. This was the 60s and 70s, when things like engineering and espionage were almost entirely male dominated. The only women in the book are wives and daughters, plus one (very influential) secretary. I wish that weren’t the case, but I can’t rewrite history either.
Visit Josh Dean's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 1, 2017

Gerald Elias's "Spring Break"

A graduate of Yale, Gerald Elias has been a Boston Symphony violinist, Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony since 1988, Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Utah, first violinist of the Abramyan String Quartet, and Music Director of the Vivaldi Candlelight concert series.

His novels include Devil's Trill, Danse Macabre, Death and the Maiden, Playing With Fire, and the newly released Spring Break.

Here Elias shares some insights for casting the lead in an adaptation of his books:
Over the years I've imagined a variety of actors who would do a great job as the blind, curmudgeonly violin teacher/amateur sleuth Daniel Jacobus. Right now I'd have to say that I picture Donald Sutherland in the role. Not what I might have said before, but at the moment I'm thinking he'd do a bang up job. But if he doesn't get back to me this week I'm just going to have to move on to Geoffrey Rush, Michael Kitchen, Mandy Patinkin, or Anthony Hopkins, who are all waiting in line.

Regardless of who plays Jacobus, I'm sure Spielberg can't wait to direct it.
Learn more about the book and author at Gerald Elias's website.

My Book, The Movie: Devil's Trill and Danse Macabre.

My Book, The Movie: Playing With Fire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Allan Woodrow's "Unschooled"

Allan Woodrow is the author of Unschooled, Class Dismissed, The Pet War and numerous other books for middle grade readers, some under secret names.

Woodrow’s latest book, Unschooled, is set in the same world as Class Dismissed.

Unschooled is narrated by two rotating 5th grade characters, George and his best friend Lilly. They are excited to compete together during their school’s Spirit Week competition, until they are named captains for the two opposing teams. The principal announces the winning team gets a special mystery prize. Soon, cheating, sliming and sabotaging threaten to ruin the week, and George and Lilly’s long-time friendship is threatened.

Here Woodrow dreamcasts an adaptation of Unschooled:
When thinking about creating a ‘dream cast’ I had a significant obstacle—all the main characters are in 5th grade. It’s no fun to limit your cast to 10-year olds—there just aren’t many famous ones to choose from. So I’m going to assume that my actors are so awesome, and our make-up specialist is going to be so talented, that I can pick any actor or actress, regardless of age, and the audience will completely buy they are in elementary school.

Sure, that’s a leap, but this is my imaginary casting list, so I can do whatever I want.

The two main characters are George and Lilly. George is buttoned-up, great at organizing and a little neurotic. I need a great comedic actor, who can play neurotic. I’m going with Steve Carell here, mostly because I’m a big fan, but also because he excels in that sort of nerdy-but-likeable role. Opposite him, is Lilly. She’s everything George is not – carefree, disorganized. I’m going with Cameron Diaz. Yes, nailed it! Now, where’s that make up specialist? Steve and Cameron, Trailer 1, pronto!

There are a number of secondary players, most notably Sarah and Grace, the terrible twosome that are the source of many of the worst pranks. Mean girls. Evil in a ponytail, times two.

Do you watch Game of Thrones? Is there anyone who is more evil than Cersei Lannister? Lena Headey, the actress who plays her, step on up. She could win an Oscar. For evil plotter number two, I’ll go with the almost equally as horrifying Helena Bonham Carter, who is a genius at playing evil, such as in her role as Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series. Another benefit: since my book is a middle grade novel, Harry Potter fans will recognize her.

Come to think of it, Harry Potter movies did pretty well. I should find a role for Daniel Radcliffe, too. It will help our marketing campaign. Hmmm. He can play George’s second best friend Luke. It’s not a major part, but we’ll add a few scenes and give him a few more lines. And for the role of Principal Klein, our only real meaty adult character, we’ll add Michael Gambon, who of course played Dumbledore in the same movie series (after Richard Harris passed away). Perfect.

So we have talented actors, box office appeal, and ideal casting. Now we just need to find that magical make up artist.
Visit Allan Woodrow's website.

The Page 69 Test: Class Dismissed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 28, 2017

Ronlyn Domingue's "The Plague Diaries"

Ronlyn Domingue is the internationally published author of The Mercy of Thin Air and the Keeper of Tales Trilogy—The Mapmaker’s War, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, and The Plague Diaries. Her essays and short stories have appeared in New England Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and Shambhala Sun as well as on mindful.org, The Nervous Breakdown, and Salon.com.

Here Domingue shares some suggestions for casting a big screen adaptation of her fourth novel—The Plague Diaries, the last book of the Keeper of Tales Trilogy, which can be read in any order.
In The Plague Diaries, Secret Riven’s fate is to release a plague to end an ancient pestilence. Her mythic call involves an arcane manuscript, a strange symbol, and a 1,000-year-old family legacy. The trilogy’s last book is a whopper, and I can’t imagine anyone trying to adapt for a movie. For a series, oh most definitely.

Secret Riven—Our heroine with black hair, tawny skin, and eyes the colors of night and day. She’s smart, introverted, curious—and strong in ways she doesn’t realize. Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark on Game of Thrones, could handle Secret’s complexity.

Fewmany, the magnate—The villain you love to hate and hate to love. For me, only Alan Rickman possessed the gravitas, and the voice, to embody this character. Rest in peace, good sir. But a friend suggested Timothy Omundson, known for his parts in Galavant and several other series, would be a compelling choice. From the photos I’ve seen of Omundson and some of his work I’ve watched, yes, I agree.

Nikolas, the prince of Ailliath—A young man of integrity and compassion who leads with a balance of mind and heart. For this role, I’d pick Dylan Minnette because of his portrayal of Clay in the series 13 Reasons Why.

Bren Riven, Secret’s father—Bren is calculating and manipulative, but also vulnerable and endearing. Whoever portrays him needs to have serious range. I’ve been a longtime fan of Kenneth Branagh, and he’d be terrific in this part.

Harmyn—A magical child with a voice that brings people to tears. There’s a great deal of mystery about Harmyn, and who might step into this character continues to elude me. As it probably should. Readers who finish Book 3 will understand why.

Margana, a seamstress—A minor character with major significance. She has a small shop where she makes inventive costumes and clothing. Christina Ricci would wear this role well.

The Misses Acutt, Secret’s neighbors—Three spinster sisters who live together in an apartment with their fluffy gray cat. They’re a little comic and a little tragic. What about Blythe Danner, Betty White, and Helen Mirren?

Naughton, Fewmany’s manservant—An unassuming, quiet man who keeps a secret about himself. Ewan McGregor, please.

William “Quire” Remarque, a book dealer—Remarque and Fewmany have been friends for ages. Secret endures his boisterous, lewd, and hard-drinking company at several dinners. I adore this character, and if Peter Dinklage played him, I might fall into a dead faint from excitement.
Learn more about the book and author at Ronlyn Domingue's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Mapmaker's War.

My Book, The Movie: The Mapmaker's War.

The Page 69 Test: The Chronicle of Secret Riven.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 25, 2017

Michael Poore's "Reincarnation Blues"

Michael Poore’s short fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Southern Review, Agni, Fiction, and Asimov’s. His story “The Street of the House of the Sun” was selected for The Year’s Best Nonrequired Reading 2012. His first novel, Up Jumps the Devil, was hailed by The New York Review of Books as “an elegiac masterpiece.” Poore lives in Highland, Indiana, with his wife, poet and activist Janine Harrison, and their daughter, Jianna.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Reincarnation Blues:
Reincarnation Blues is the story of Milo, a man (sometimes a woman, or cricket, or turtle, or…) who has lived almost 10,000 lives. This makes him the oldest soul in the galaxy, and the wisest. But now he has been given five more lives to achieve some kind of perfection, or face oblivion. The movie version of the book would take those lives in turn, with Will Smith as my ancient, soulful hero.

Milo has to be extraordinary…smart and groovy, full of snappy understandings and deep wisdom, but he also needs to be someone we like and identify with. That’s Will Smith! I’m thinking of Hancock, here, where he’s a superhero, but a cool, kinda scruffy superhero. That’s Milo, in many of his lives (including one where he’s an actual superhero, Captain Gworkon). Smith would need to be able to play Milo as everything from a highway sniper to a student of the Buddha.

In between lives, we’d accompany Milo into the afterlife, and meet Suzie, his girlfriend of eight thousand years. Suzie also happens to be Death. “Earthly” souls aren’t supposed to get romantic with divine incarnations, but the two of them have been cozy for some time now. I would cast Maggie Gyllenhaal in this role, which calls for an actor who can be fun and girlfriend-y, while also having a slight vampire thing going on. Suzie is a gentle, sympathetic Death (she really wants to open a candle shop), but she is Death. She tends to bite during sex. She also tends to almost shred and absorb Milo’s whole existence, if she’s not careful.

Suzie isn’t the only divine superbeing in Milo’s life. He has two teachers (gods? angels? We don’t really know), in the afterlife: Mama, an earth-mother type is generally supportive, and Nan, a crazy cat-lady type who is more critical, and who has a lot of cats and television sets and smokes Pall Malls. For Mama, I can’t see anyone but Queen Latifah. She is everything her name implies. In my movie, she could be earthy and divine…a goddess you can hang out with, a goddess who will lend a kind ear when you’ve just died of decapitation in medieval Scotland.

For Nan, I see Helen Mirren. I know I could trust her to take the crazy cat thing into that mysterious Helen Mirren-country that only she inhabits. Nan is slightly seedy and not overly-friendly, with overtones of Florida trailer park. Helen Mirren could play that with a streak of bluesy sensuality, like a cat that sometimes bites because it’s trying to quit cigarettes.

And then there’s the Buddha. Milo goes looking for some great, hard-core teaching at one point, and gets himself born into the life of an Indian seeker. He becomes a student of the Buddha just when the Buddha is nearing the end of his long life. Milo discovers, to his anguish, that the Master’s mind is not what it used to be. Some days he’s fine, other days he thinks he’s back in the palace, sixty years ago, getting ready to marry his cousin. I see Irrfan Khan as Buddha. They’d have to age him quite a bit, but he’s got those eyes. Know what I mean? He could drink you like a glass of water just by looking at you.

This cast would be a trip to hang out with, wouldn’t it? Fingers crossed.
Visit Michael Poore's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

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