Friday, September 23, 2016

Don Bruns's "Casting Bones"

Don Bruns is an award-winning novelist, songwriter, musician and advertising executive who lives in South Florida. He is the author of five Mick Sever Caribbean mysteries, and seven Lesser and Moore mysteries.

Here Bruns dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of his new novel, Casting Bones, the first book in a new series:
The protagonist in Casting Bones is Quentin Archer. Q is a homicide detective who is forced out of the Detroit Police force. His wife has been murdered, and the baggage he carries is sizable. Drawing a high-profile murder of a judge as one of his first assignments he finds himself under immense pressure to solve the murder in record time. He is helped by a young, attractive voodoo queen.

The actor I had in mind to play the detective is John Krasinski who had a starting role in TV’s The Office. I find him to be a very talented actor who has been grossly underutilized. Krasinski plays sarcasm well, has a warmth that draws viewers to his character and I detect the sadness and empathy that would be important to the character. If anyone knows him…send him a copy of Casting Bones!
Learn more about the book and author at Don Bruns' website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Caroline Leavitt's "Cruel Beautiful World"

Caroline Leavitt is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow, Pictures of You, Girls In Trouble, and other books.

Here Leavitt dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Cruel Beautiful World:
When I start to write a novel, I always tape up photos of people I think would be the characters. Mostly I use ordinary photos, from Humans of New York, usually. While I was writing Cruel Beautiful World, set in the 60s and the 70s, I thought of one actress for Lucy, the wild young 17-year-old who runs off with her older English teacher to a supposed back-to-the-land paradise which turns into a nightmare, I put up a shot of actress Julie Garner (Julie, I hope you are listening!) because she has the exact right vulnerability and impulsiveness. And she looks like a child of the sixties! For Iris, who thinks her life is over when she turns 80, and instead, she finds something extraordinary, I want Ellen Burstyn because how could I possibly not want her? And for Charlotte, who is forever trying to fix things and messing up, Emmy Rossum, who has that frenetic kind of determination and also looks like she could easily be 1960’d up!

And of course, I want to play a waitress in the film. I have always wanted to roll my eyes and say, “You want fries or don’t you?”
Learn more about the book and author at Caroline Leavitt's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Pictures of You.

My Book, the Movie: Pictures of You.

The Page 69 Test: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Is This Tomorrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 19, 2016

Marina Budhos's "Watched"

Marina Budhos is the author of award-winning fiction and nonfiction. Her novels for young adults are Tell Us We’re Home and Ask Me No Questions. Her nonfiction books include Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers and Sugar Changed the World, which she cowrote with her husband, Marc Aronson.

Here Budhos shares some insights about an adaptation of her new novel, Watched:
I have the happy circumstance of saying my book is being made into a film. Or, at the very least, it has been optioned and a filmmaker is currently writing the screenplay. However, for this very reason, we’re not right now ‘naming’ actors. Instead I can talk about what I think the film could be like:

I see the movie of Watched as pushing even further than the popular Night of HBO series (which obsessed many of this summer). That is, I think an adaptation of my novel is a chance to go even deeper into a Queens Muslim immigrant community, to get to know them better, from the inside, and to especially get to know a male teenager negotiating the gritty urban streets of the city. I’d love the film to feel like a plunge, a filmic odyssey, seen from the inside out in the paranoid swirl of surveillance.

I will say that I’d like Taylor, the detective, to be a recognized actor who can play someone all-American but who has another game and agenda going on with my main character, Naeem. My main character Naeem could be played by either a professional actor or even a non-actor, a discovery. The film needs to have a gritty, realistic feel.
Visit Marina Budhos's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Kenneth D. Ackerman's "Trotsky in New York, 1917"

Kenneth D. Ackerman has made old New York a favorite subject in his writing, including his critically acclaimed biography Boss Tweed: The Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York. Beyond his writing, Ackerman has served a long legal career in Washington, D.C. both inside and out of government, including as counsel to two U.S. Senate committees, regulatory posts in both the Reagan and Clinton administrations, and as administrator of the Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency. He continues to practice private law in Washington.

Here Ackerman dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, Trotsky in New York, 1917: Portrait of a Radical on the Eve of Revolution:
Playing Leon Trotsky would be a fabulous role for an actor should they make my book, Trotsky in New York, 1917, into a film. Two other major Trotsky movies have been made in America, both featuring top stars in the lead role: Richard Burton in The Assassination of Leon Trotsky (1972) and Geoffrey Rush in Frida (2002). But both these films showed Trotsky as an older man in Mexico in the late 1930s. My book presents him twenty years earlier, as a rising 38-year-old in his prime. So the role demands a younger actor.

My favorites, were they still available, would be the Maximilian Schell of Judgment at Nuremburg, or perhaps the Gene Wilder of Young Frankenstein, or one of Trotsky’s own favorites, Charlie Chaplin – though they’d need to make the movie a silent non-talkie to best capture Chaplin’s zany intensity. Errol Flynn too comes to mind, though he’d have to dye his hair black for the role.

Realistically, making the film today in 2016, I’d push for a younger, less-known actor who could reimagine Trotsky afresh. Best would be a young Russian star who could attract a young Russian audience. Trotsky might be a global icon, but he is largely unrecognized to his own country. Dictator Joseph Stalin spent thirty years literally erasing Trotsky from the country’s history, removing his face and name from photographs and accounts of major events. For most Russians today, his is a vague blur.

Young Russians deserve a chance to learn their own history and heritage, and what better way than through a good film.
Visit Kenneth Ackerman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 15, 2016

John Keyse-Walker's "Sun, Sand, Murder"

John Keyse-Walker practiced law for 30 years, representing business and individual clients, educational institutions and government entities. He is an avid salt- and freshwater angler, a tennis player, kayaker and an accomplished cook. He lives in Ohio with his wife.

Here Keyse-Walker dreamcasts an adaptation of Sun, Sand, Murder, his first book:
I must confess that I visualized actors playing the main roles in Sun, Sand, Murder while writing, from the very first word of the first draft. To me, having the mental image of a certain actor playing your character helps to shape the character.

There are many unique secondary characters in the book, whom I envision being played by quality character actors whose faces are familiar, but whose names are not household names. Here are my selections for the main characters:

Denzel Washington as Teddy Creque. Denzel is old enough to play the slightly-worn-around-the-edges protagonist, yet still young enough to carry off the steamy scenes with his mistress, Cat Wells.

Halle Berry as Cat Wells. Like Cat, Berry is a woman of a certain age but what a woman - strong, sexy, and manipulative. And Denzel and Halle have never appeared in a film together, reason enough to put her in this role.

Johnny Depp as Anthony Wedderburn, De White Rasta. The role as the ganja-smoking expat British aristocrat who affects Rastafarian speech and blond dreadlocks was made for the man.

Octavia Spencer as Icilda Creque. The veteran actress has the chops to play Teddy’s church-lady wife in a role any actress would savor.

Finally, the pristine island of Anegada in the British Virgin Islands must be the setting for the movie. In the book, the island itself is almost a character, and it’s a must for an on-location shoot of the film.
Visit John Keyse-Walker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Robert Wilder's "Nickel"

Robert Wilder is the author of a novel, Nickel, and two critically acclaimed essay collections, Tales From The Teachers’ Lounge and Daddy Needs A Drink, both optioned for television and film.

A teacher for twenty-five years, Wilder has earned numerous awards and fellowships, including the inaugural Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation. He has published essays in Newsweek, Details, Salon, Parenting, Creative Nonfiction, plus numerous anthologies and has been a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition.

Here Wilder dreamcasts an adaptation of Nickel:
I live a seven-minute walk from two great theaters in Santa Fe’s Railyard District: George RR Martin’s historic Jean Cocteau and the state-of-the-art Violet Crown. I see at least one movie a week and was lucky enough to attend the South by Southwest film festival this year in Austin. During South by Southwest, I saw the premiere of Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special starring a terrific young actor, Jaeden Lieberher who, in my opinion, would make a terrific Coy, the main character in my novel Nickel. Lieberher really captured the subtleties of being an (very) odd kid stuck in the middle of a variety of odd adults. In Nickel, Coy’s mom is in rehab and he lives with a slightly inept stepdad. His teachers are of little help as he tries to navigate a challenging life that only gets trickier. Even though Coy does not possess supernatural powers like the character of Alton does in Midnight Special, I think Lieberher would make a fine Coy.

I really liked Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl, one of my favorite films of 2015. The film is based on the Phoebe Gloeckner’s classic graphic novel by the same name. Powley would be perfect for the role of Monroe, Coy’s quirky friend who falls ill from heavy metal poisoning from her braces. Monroe is very smart, very funny, and, until she gets sick, dresses in clothes inspired by Anime and Manga. Her persona is only really understood by Coy, so she gets teased incessantly even before a mysterious rash appears around her mouth.

There is a terrific young cast in Richard Linklater’s hysterical new film Everybody Wants Some. She’s probably too old to play Coy’s love interest Avree (as is Bel Powley playing Monroe), but I could see an actor like Zoey Deutch playing her. Avree is the girl who can hang out with the so-called popular crowd, but has far more humor, depth and empathy. She connects with Coy on an emotional level even though they live on two different social planets.

Since Nickel is set during Coy’s ninth grade year, there are many secondary characters that would be fun to cast. (I really love films with casts of mostly unknowns but, for the sake of this exercise, I’ll choose known actors.) Coy’s stepdad is a good and flawed boy/man who never expected to be a single father. Dan could be played by the ever-likeable Paul Rudd. I could see Stephen Root of Office Space fame to take on Coy’s goofball and disconnected science teacher, Mr. Beakman. I loved Kristen Wiig in the brilliant Welcome to Me, and she would do well in the role of the hippie/new age school counselor, Ms. Sunday. Finally, Dianne Wiest would be too old for Coy’s mother, but I’d love someone of her caliber to tackle a hyper-sensitive parent unable to reenter the real world just yet.
Visit Robert Wilder's website and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Daddy Needs A Drink.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Rachel Hauck's "The Wedding Shop"

Rachel Hauck is the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress and other books.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Wedding Shop:
If The Wedding Shop is made into a movie, Greta Garbo would play the 1930's heroine, Cora. For Birch, Gary Cooper fits his personality perfectly. In the contemporary timelines, Haley is a retired Air Force captain so some one like Jennifer Lawrence should play her in a movie. Cole is an every man, part country boy, part business owner, part romantic. I choose Adrian Turner from Poldark. Only with an American accent.

Who would I like to direct the movie? J.J. Abrams! I mean, why not? ​Though Anne Fletcher would be fabulous. She did such a great job with The Proposal, one my of my favorite movies.
Visit Rachel Hauck's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Wedding Shop.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 9, 2016

Mel C. Miskimen's "Sit Stay Heal"

Mel C. Miskimen is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Her essays have been published in Wisconsin Trails, Fetch, and Rosebud Literary Magazine. She’s a past winner of the Wisconsin Writers Association’s Jade Ring and Florence Lindemann awards, a frequent essayist for Milwaukee Public Radio and a storyteller for The Moth.

Here she shares an account of the principals of her new book, Sit Stay Heal, dreamcasting themselves for a big screen adaptation:
Tom (he told me not to call him Mr. Hanks) pulled his Tesla into the driveway. He had no entourage (like Tom Hanks would!) He didn’t knock on the back door, or ring the bell, because my father had been expecting him. How else would he pull off playing the role of Dad in the movie based on my book, Sit Stay Heal?

It had Tom Hanks Movie written all over it – a guy loses his wife of 60 years and can’t find his way out of his grief, until his daughter and her inept labrador show up with a scheme: she needs help “turning the dog into a real dog.” Her father, who speaks fluent retriever, is the only one who can do it. So, every week, for a year, they go out, into a field, and the once curmudgeonly old guy, starts talking about feelings. They find their way back to a new normal, with the help of the underachieving labrador.

Hello, Oscar!

So, there was Tom and my father. In the kitchen. It was all so unreal.

Because it was.

Whenever I couldn’t sleep, I ruminated – who would play us if the book became a movie? I was thinking Sarah Silverman, for me, a perfect combo of comedy and vulnerability. Carrie Fisher was my first choice to play my sister Linda – an overly henna-d, part time actress, full-time diva. But, I recast Margot Kidder, because Carrie might not be crazy enough.

I should have kept all this to myself. But, I thought it would be fun to ask, “If they ever make the book into a movie, what actor would you want to play you?”

Dad: “That one guy–!”

Linda: “What one guy?”

Dad: “You know–that guy–he’s in all those movies–” He snapped his fingers, a signal to the ether to slide the answer into a file inside his mental hard drive. Dad was all about action adventure movies, so I went down the list of possible leading men.

Me: “Harrison Ford?”

Dad: “No–that other guy–”

Me: “Kevin Costner?”

Dad (exasperated): “No! Don something–”

Don?

Linda: “I think I should play myself.”

Me: “No. Margot Kidder or Carrie Fisher.”

Linda: “Isn’t Margot Kidder dead?” Linda picked up her phone and addressed Siri as if it was our father, sans hearing aides. “DEAD. . . OR. . . A-LIVE . . . MAR-GO. . .KID-DER!” Siri: “Forgot dinner?”

Siri had difficulty processing the request due to our heavy Wisconsin Fargo-esque accents.

Me: “I was thinking Sarah Silverman, for me–”

Linda: “Uh, honey . . . she’s a little too young.”

Me: “Uh . . . makeup? Hello?”

Dad (shouting): “Tommy Lee Jones! That’s the guy!”

Linda: “Who?”

Me “He was in The Fugitive.” Search every out house, whore house, hen house. That guy.’”

I really didn’t think Linda was certifiably insane, until she offered up Tyne Daly as our petite, 104 pound mother.

Dad: “Who the hell is Tyne Daly? Now, that Jennifer Aniston! I wouldn’t kick her out of the igloo–”

Me: “What about Tom Hanks? As Dad?”

Linda looked like she had sucked on a lemon.

Me: “Wouldn’t that be cool? You two. In the kitchen? Talking? He’d have to get to know you–”

Dad: “Tom Hanks? Uh–I don’t know–” He looked worried. Waved his hand, dismissively. “–like that’s gonna happen!”

Like that’s going to happen. Me! Sarah Silverman! Crazy! Still . . . what if? How’d we handle it? He could handle Tommy Lee Jones. But, Tom Hanks? Too much. He needed to stay in his VHS box, on the bookcase, forever saving Private Ryan, a hero.
Visit Mel Miskimen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bruce DeSilva's "The Dread Line"

Bruce DeSilva is a former journalist whose Edgar Award-winning hard-boiled crime novels have chronicled the adventures of Liam Mulligan, an investigative reporter for the dying Providence Dispatch.

Here he shares some thoughts about adapting his new novel, The Dread Line, for the big screen:
Since getting fired in spectacular fashion from his Rhode Island newspaper job last year (A Scourge of Vipers, 2015), Liam Mulligan is trying to piece together a new life—one that straddles both sides of the law. He’s getting some part-time work with his friend McCracken’s detective agency. He’s picking up beer money by freelancing for a local news website. And he’s looking after his semi-retired mobster-friend’s bookmaking business. But he’s still an anti-authoritarian with a strong but shifting sense of justice, and he remains prone to ill-timed wisecracks. And of course, he still can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

In The Dread Line, he’s feuding with a feral cat that keeps leaving its kills on his porch. He’s obsessed with a baffling jewelry heist. And he’s enraged that someone in town is torturing animals. All of this keeps distracting him from a big case that needs his attention. The New England Patriots, still shaken by murder charges against their superstar tight end, have hired Mulligan and McCracken to investigate the background of a college athlete they are thinking of drafting. At first, the job seems routine, but as soon as they start asking questions, they get push-back. The player, it seems, has something to hide – and someone is willing to kill to make sure it remains secret.

The new novel has a colorful and quirky cast of characters, some new and others who were introduced in the first four novels in the series. Movie thrillers tend to be full of gunfights, car chases and explosions, but there’s not much of that in my novels; so I think my books may be better suited to be turned into a character-driven television crime drama such as The Sopranos, Justified, or Ray Donovan.

I’ve always thought that Boston-raised actor Denis Leary (Rescue Me) embodies the smart mouth and bad attitude toward authority that is Mulligan; but my character is a youthful 45, and Leary may be getting a bit old for the role. Lately, I’ve been picturing Liev Schreiber as Mulligan. He’s got the bad attitude part down cold, and in Showtime’s Ray Donovan, one of the best shows on television, he’s adopted a convincing New England accent.

The rest of the cast:

Kerry Washington (Scandal) as attorney Yolanda Mosely-Jones, Mulligan’s love interest. She embodies Yolanda’s elegance and intelligence—and I think my hero deserves a woman like her.

Michael Chiklis (The Shield) as Bruce McCracken, Mulligan’s tough-as-nails boss at the detective agency.

Rob Gronkowski (of the New England Patriots) as Conner Bowditch, the football prospect Mulligan investigates. Gronk may lack acting experience, but all he has to do is be himself.

Steve Schirripa (The Sopranos) as Joseph DeLucca, Mulligan’s thuggish, smarter-than-he-looks friend, who is helping run the bookmaking business. Schirripa has both the right look and the perfect working-class manner of speaking.

Hugh Laurie (Veep) as Ellington Cargill, the arrogant billionaire whose jewelry is stolen in the heist Mulligan investigates—while not really caring if the creep ever gets it back.

Jason Beghe (Chicago PD) and Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) as the homicide twins, two Providence cops who have it in for Mulligan. They both know how to give somebody a hard time.

Robert De Niro (what hasn’t he been in?) as slimy, smooth-talking sports agent Morris Dunst.

John Francis Daley (Bones) as Mulligan’s young news biz pal, Edward Anthony Mason III, AKA Thanks-Dad. Like Thanks-Dad, he conveys a misleading naivety that makes him easy to underestimate.

Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds) as Chief Ragsdale, the over-his-head small-town police chief on the island of Jamestown, where some of the action takes place.

And Bruce DeSilva as Carmine Grasso, Rhode Island’s biggest mobbed-up fence, because it’s a small part so I should be able to remember my lines.
Visit Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Brady and Rondo.

The Page 69 Test: A Scourge of Vipers.

My Book, The Movie: A Scourge of Vipers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 5, 2016

Anastasia Aukeman's "Welcome to Painterland"

Anastasia Aukeman is an art historian and curator who teaches at Parsons School of Design in New York City. She has contributed essays to numerous exhibition catalogues and written articles and reviews for Art in America, Art on Paper, and ARTnews, among other publications.

Here Aukeman dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Welcome to Painterland: Bruce Conner and the Rat Bastard Protective Association:
Welcome to Painterland takes place in San Francisco just as the Beat movement was taking shape in the mid-1950s. Fifteen or so artists, poets, and musicians lived in and around the large, 4-flat apartment building that the poet Michael McClure dubbed Painterland, in the Fillmore neighborhood. Some in the community called themselves The Rat Bastard Protective Association, after the trash collection agency that had a monopoly at the time, the Scavenger Protective Association. The artists, especially, identified with the garbage collectors, as much of their work was made from cast-offs and detritus. These artists staged performances and exhibitions, they played in bands, and they ran art galleries--usually badly, but great art resulted. Their story includes the art, poetry, sex (gay and straight love affairs), drugs, and the music of Big Brother and the Holding Company, as drummer Dave Getz lived in Painterland.

The characters making up the community in Welcome to Painterland are risk-taking, quirky, extremely talented women and men. The movie version would be a thrill to cast, as there are so many strong male and female leads. Wes Anderson, who lives in my old building in New York City and is therefore channeling some of the energy of Allen Ginsberg, who also lived in the building and appears in this narrative, should really make the movie.

If my book were a movie:

Wes Anderson would direct.

Bill Murray would act as narrator.

Adam Driver as artist Wallace Berman, a shaman-like figure.

Greta Gerwig as Shirley Berman, Wallace’s wife and muse.

Ryan Reynolds as poet Michael McClure, the prince of the Beat scene and friend of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and the inspiration for at least one of Jack Kerouac’s characters.

Jennifer Lawrence as the poet Joanna McClure.

Dave Franco as artist Bruce Conner, founder of the Rat Bastard Protective Association.

Marana Bakaran as artist Jean Conner.

Aubrey Plaza as artist Jay DeFeo, the spiritual core of the group.

Imogen Poots as artist Joan Brown , the first one in the group to achieve commercial success.

Michael Cera as artist Wally Hedrick, husband of Jay DeFeo.

Miles Teller as artist Manuel Neri, eventually the husband of Joan Brown.

Gael Garcia Bernal as artist Carlos Villa.

Chris Pratt as artist George Herms.

Eddie Redmayne as the artist Jess (life-long “householder” or partner of Duncan).

Benedict Cumberbatch as the poet Robert Duncan (“householder” of Jess).

Jason Mantzoukas as Billy Jahrmarkt, the heroin-addicted owner of Batman Gallery.

Channing Tatum as poet Allen Ginsberg.

Isabella Rossellini as the East & West Gallery owner Etya Gechtoff.

Eva Green as artist Sonia Gechtoff, Etya’s daughter.

Parker Posey as the Woman Who Runs Flower Shop (on the ground floor of 2322 Fillmore Street, or “Painterland”) – because I have to find a role for Parker Posey in my fantasy movie.
Learn more about Welcome to Painterland at the University of California Press website.

Writers Read: Anastasia Aukeman.

--Marshal Zeringue