Sunday, April 29, 2007

Libby Hellmann's "A Shot To Die For"

Libby Fischer Hellmann is the author of the award-winning amateur sleuth series featuring Chicago video producer Ellie Foreman.

Here she develops some ideas about the casting for a film adaptation of the latest volume in the series, A Shot To Die For:
I’m a former film-maker myself, and no one was more surprised when I “came back to words” and wrote four novels. But I haven’t completely given up the ghost – my protagonist, Ellie Foreman, is a documentary film producer, and she’s always producing some sort of show in each book. In fact, I’ve often thought about who might play Ellie and the other characters in the series.

A Shot To Die For is the fourth Ellie book. In it, Ellie is at a rest stop near the resort town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where she’s producing a video when she witnesses what appears to be the work of a Chicago-area sniper. She does her best to stay out of the investigation, but when the victim's family prevails upon her to investigate, Ellie feels compelled to do what she can. That decision leads her into the twisted lives of Lake Geneva's gentry, as well as a relationship with one of the suspects that might be amorous — or dangerous.

I think Marisa Tomei would be a wonderful Ellie. Or Ashley Judd. Another good candidate would be Teri Hatcher. As for Jake Foreman, Ellie’s father, I’ve always seen him as Ben Kingsley. By the time they actually get around to making the movie, Dakota Fanning ought to be old enough to play Rachel, Ellie’s daughter. And her new love interest, Luke, should be played with just a touch of the sinister by Clive Owen or Daniel Craig.
Read more about Libby Hellmann's novels and short stories at her website. She also blogs at "The Outfit."

The Page 69 Test: A Shot To Die For.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Niraj Kapur's "Heaven's Delight"

Heaven's Delight is Niraj Kapur's debut novel, part of a romantic comedy trilogy.

The story, from the author:
Set in Heaven, Hell and the UK, Heaven's Delight is the story of Beth, a cynical, self-centred angel who God sends back to earth to atone for her past sins. She has six days to help bring together four couples, to learn the real values of love, friendship and honour. If she succeeds, she can return to her old life on earth. If she fails, she will be condemned to an eternity in hell.

Matters are further complicated when she falls madly in love with Chris and has to hide her true identity from him, while the devil and his demons do everything possible to keep them apart.

The opening chapter is available free of charge from along with the first chapter of my next rom com, The Matchmakers.
So who would the author entrust to present his novel on the big screen?
When people talk about their favourite movies, The Godfather, Casablanca, Goodfellas, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Shawshank Redemption, are regularly mentioned. These are sublime projects that deserve to stand the test of time. However, my favourite genre is romantic comedy and nothing beats the wit and feelgood factor of Annie Hall, Manhattan, Bringing Up Baby, When Harry Met Sally and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Heaven's Delight is romantic comedy meet fantasy. The fantasy element was added for a number of reasons: my passion for Star Wars and The Princess Bride. The desire to create a unique project. But also because I spent many years as a screenwriter. Getting movies made in England is almost impossible, (sorry, several more blogs are required to talk about UK Movie business). Plus, the budget so the movie is huge with visceral thrills set in Heaven and Hell, as well as colourful parts of London and Ireland, that a novel being produced was more realistic.

Kate Winslet is ideal for the lead role of Clara. Clara is not your typical sweet goofy Bridget Jones lead. She's flawed, unlikeable, but at the end of the book, becomes a better person. The lead actor is down-to-earth, likeable and heroic, but does have the classic leading man looks. Mark Ruffalo, Martin Freeman (from The Office) are ideal. For the role of God, there can be only one: Sean Connery. God even speaks with a Scottish burr like Sean.

The devil. Well, we're spoilt in England for great actors who could play this role. The devil isn't just evil, he's sexual evil, so Ewan McGregor is ideal. Richard Pryor appears in heaven and would require remarkable CGI reconstruction.

In terms of directors, there are many wonderful directors like Robert Zemeckis and Ridley Scott who could direct this in their sleep. Martin Scorsese directing a romantic comedy is long overdue. However, the master genius, Steven Spielberg, will be the number one choice. Just imagine what magic he could do with this.
Visit Niraj Kapur's website and read a sample chapter from Heaven's Delight.

The Page 69 Test: Heaven's Delight.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Noria Jablonski's "Human Oddities"

Noria Jablonski, author of the story collection Human Oddities, grew up in a commune in Petaluma, California. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Here are some ideas she had about the actors she would cast in the movie adaption of the book and, more importantly, which directors might best capture her work on screen:
I’ve only ever imagined Human Oddities: The Movie as a very far off abstract idea. I never went so far as to actually imagine actors playing the characters in my stories (except for Jack Black; after seeing the movie Jesus’ Son, it’s easy to picture Jack Black in my story about a hospital orderly).

Spike Jonze could direct a version where John Malkovich plays all the parts — from the aging conjoined twins to the drag queen on acid.

In the Wes Anderson version Angelica Huston would play both of the conjoined twins, and Owen Wilson could be the drag queen. Bill Murray would play Mad Manya, the owner of the mystic café where Owen Wilson works.

In the David Lynch version the conjoined twins would be played by Robert Blake in drag. Or Grace Zabriskie (she was Laura Palmer’s mother). Or the Log Lady. Or any combination of those three.

The other day a reader suggested that Todd Solondz would be a good fit as a director for Human Oddities. Dawn Weiner would fit right in with the oddballs and outcasts in my stories. I could definitely see Heather Matarazzo playing the daughter of the woman whose tummy tuck goes awry. Cher could play her mother.

Or, going in a different direction, Sarah Polley could be the daughter. Patricia Clarkson could be her mother.

I love what director Rose Troche did with A.M. Homes’ story collection The Safety of Objects. It’s Solondz-esque, but quieter, more graceful.

Human Oddities: The Movie is not poised to be a blockbuster. It’s definitely an independent film, an offbeat comedy/drama.
Visit Jablonski's MySpace page and learn more about Human Oddities.

The Page 69 Test: Human Oddities.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sylvia Warsh's "Season Of Iron"

Sylvia Maultash Warsh was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and immigrated to Canada when she was four years old. Her parents were both born in Krakow and survived the Holocaust, though much of the family perished. Sylvia grew up listening to her mother's stories about how she fled from the Nazis who had overrun Poland, then how she managed to survive the brutality of the labour camps. These stories sparked an interest in history, especially of the war, that has influenced Sylvia's fiction.

Her husband, a psychiatrist, is her consultant for any medical information she requires for her physician-protagonist, Rebecca Temple.

Here Warsh develops some ideas about the casting for film adaptations of her three novels featuring Dr. Rebecca Temple:
As much as I fantasize about a movie from one of my Dr. Rebecca Temple books, the reality is that they would be very expensive to translate into film. They’re not only set in 1979 Toronto, they tend to include stories from other historical eras, particularly the 2nd World War. In my latest, Season of Iron, the book follows two stories — Rebecca in 1979, and Frederika Eisenbaum in 1930s Berlin during the Nazi era. That’s not as complicated (read expensive to produce) as my second book, Find Me Again which won an Edgar. In it, Rebecca finds an historical manuscript about Catherine the Great that sweeps back to 18th century London, Warsaw, and St. Petersburg. Not that it would be impossible to do. They filmed War and Peace, right?

I always try to have someone real in mind when I write a character. I need to hear them speak in my head. When I first thought of Rebecca in the early 1990s, I pictured Debra Winger, who made her name in sexy but substantial roles. I was more interested in substantial — though Rebecca is an attractive brunette, she’s a dedicated doctor in mourning for her late husband. In my first book, To Die in Spring, Nesha Malkevich is a damaged Holocaust survivor. I wrote about him with Dustin Hoffman in mind, a combination of Babe in Marathon Man and Ratzo Rizo in Midnight Cowboy. Okay, maybe that’s too hard to picture. Try this — a cocky middle-aged man in a black leather jacket who could’ve been an Olympic swimmer. Except that he can’t get out of his mind the picture of his family rounded up by the Nazis when he was a boy. One of the perks of books is that people in them don’t age; unfortunately actors do. Since Rebecca is in her mid-thirties and Nesha is late forties, the ship with Debra Winger and Dustin Hoffman has sailed.

I’ve thought of one way producers could save money in Find Me Again: the same actor who plays Rebecca could play Catherine the Great. That would be very interesting. Something like the The French Lieutenant’s Woman, only Rebecca is reading a manuscript about Catherine, unlike Meryl Streep who played an actor in an historical film. My wish list actor for Rebecca is Rachel Weisz. Julianna Margulies would be a possibility, though I haven’t seen her in much lately. It would be a great role for a woman. There are so few decent roles out there.

In Season of Iron, one of my characters is a Nazi doctor. I wanted to make him human so I used Ciarán Hinds as my model. Hinds is a large handsome man who is adept at playing characters with many sides. My creation came alive when I put him in the role.

My first book, To Die in Spring, would be most practical to turn into film. The scenes that flip back to an Argentinean prison, as well as World War Two, could be done on a set. And a fair bit takes place in Kensington Market, an eminently filmable area in Toronto where fruit stands vie with Chinese goods on the sidewalk in organized chaos. Kensington Market could play itself.

The book I’m working on now, (not a sequel, not even a mystery) has more possibilities for film, with its beautiful but bitchy grad student protagonist. Though it also takes place in the 1970s, it’s set a few hours north of Toronto in Midland, a small town whose main street hasn’t changed appreciably in thirty years. I say that with affection.
Visit Sylvia Warsh's website and read excerpts from all three novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mary Sharratt's "The Vanishing Point"

Mary Sharratt's most recent novel is The Vanishing Point.

Here are some ideas she had about the actors she would cast in the movie adaption of the book and who might be an ideal director for the story:
Set in 17th century Maryland, The Vanishing Point tells the story of two star-crossed sisters entwined in a mystery. The older sister, May Powers, leaves her native England for an arranged marriage to a tobacco heir in Colonial Maryland. When Hannah at last arrives at the backwater plantation, her sister has vanished and her grief-stricken brother-in-law, Gabriel, is entirely alone. Did May die in childbirth, as he claims, or is something darker at work? Hannah, haunted by her lost sister and torn by her unexpected feelings for Gabriel, embarks on a twisting maze toward discovery.

I’m not the most knowledgeable person on things Hollywood. My favourite films tend to be quirky indy movies, such as the works of Pedro Almovodar. I would love to see what a director like Jane Campion (The Piano, Portrait of a Lady) could do with this story.

As for casting, I see Kate Winslet as the perfect embodiment of May’s ebullient beauty and lust for life. Casting Hannah would be trickier. Though formidably intelligent, she is shy and not traditionally beautiful with her flame-red hair, which in that era was seen as the mark of a witch. She is also skinny in a time that celebrated more voluptuous women. The actor who most closely resembles my vision of Hannah is Nathalie Press, who starred in Pawel Pawlikowski’s 2004 film, My Summer of Love. With her angular cheekbones, pale skin, and sweeping red hair, Press has a tough yet otherworldly grace about her, reminiscent of a young Tilda Swinton. She’s also an amazing actor when it comes to portraying unconventional characters.

Gabriel, the male lead, is a dark-haired, quiet, secretive young man, fiercely independent and half-feral from living alone in the wilderness. If Johnny Depp had an eighteen-year-old brother, he would be perfect for the part. Perhaps even Daniel Radcliffe could give it a go when he finishes his West End stint in Equus.
Read more about the book, including an excerpt, at Mary Sharratt's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Vanishing Point.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 15, 2007

John Nadler's "A Perfect Hell"

John Nadler's most recent book is A Perfect Hell: The True Story of the Black Devils, the Forefathers of the Special Forces.

Here's who he would cast in the movie or miniseries version of the book:
Many novelists today plan for movie adaptations even before they begin writing. Michael Crichton constructs his potboilers in the standard three-act cinematic structure. As a result, some of his novels read like fast-paced, slightly wordy screenplays.

When writing A Perfect Hell I too fantasized about a big-screen (even small-screen) version. Not without precedent. My book is based on the WWII exploits of the Black Devils, a legendary commando outfit. An earlier popular history of this unit was The Devil's Brigade, which became a classic 1960s war movie starring William Holden and Cliff Robertson.

Both men were class acts, utterly irreplaceable. But whom would I pick for a 2007 re-make? The leader of the Black Devil's (played by Holden in the original) was an extraordinary WWII commander named Robert T. Frederick. Although fearless and aggressive, Frederick had a refined, reserved, almost aristocrat quality to him that was not really consistent with Holden's robustness. I once thought George Clooney would make a great Colonel Frederick (because I like George), but if I had my druthers I would cast Guy Pearce (Memento, LA Confidential) because of his understated intensity.

A Perfect Hell is also the story of a lifelong friendship between two frontline soldiers: Joe Glass and Lorin Waling. My gut feeling is that both actors would have to be new discoveries: for the big-hearted Glass, a 19-year-old version of Adrien Brody (Hollywoodland), another fierce and flexible actor with a fascinatingly asymmetrical face. For Waling, a waif who comes of age on the front lines, I would cast Daniel (Harry Potter) Radcliffe in his first adult non-wizard role. For their girlfriends and wives: two down-to-earth beauties, Elisha Cuthbert (Kim on 24) and Canadian actress Sarah Polley.

Lastly, instead of a movie, I'd make a mini-series, and I'd spend as much of the budget as possible on a screenwriter and cinematographer. I'd shoot the movie on location in Montana (where the commando unit was born), and I'd cast the surviving Black Devils and their children in cameo appearances.
Read the prologue to the Canadian edition of A Perfect Hell and the prologue to the US edition.

Visit Nadler's official website and Contemporary Nomad, a group blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Perfect Hell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mark Coggins's "Candy from Strangers"

Mark Coggins is the author of three novels featuring PI August Riordan: The Immortal Game, Vulture Capital, and Candy from Strangers. (A fourth, Runoff, is due for release this fall.)

The notion that August Riordan could make the leap from the page to the screen is not entirely hypothetical; if (or when) that happens, who should play Riordan? The author weighs in:
If Candy from Strangers were made into a movie, the key casting decision would be who to put in the role of jazz bass-playing private eye August Riordan.

As it turns out, my first novel, The Immortal Game, was optioned by a producer in Hollywood and a script for the book was written by James Robinson of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fame. The project never got any further than that, but as The Immortal Game also features Riordan as the protagonist, I had a lot of fun batting around the names of actors to play Riordan with the producer.

But before talking about specific names, let’s review the requirements for the character. Riordan narrates most of the novels himself, so the reader only gets a few hints about his physical appearance. However, Vulture Capital is told in an objective third person point of view, and there is a description of him in the scene where he meets venture capitalist Ted Valmont:

He was over six feet tall, but his heavy musculature made him appear shorter — especially in contrast to Ted Valmont’s willowy stature. His forehead and jaw were square and his mouth was a crooked line that seemed fixed in a sardonic grin. A crookeder scar traced a route from the corner of his mouth to the edge of his jaw. He had brown eyes and tousled brown hair that he had not invested over $10 to have cut. His suit — with puckered seams and lapels that would not lay flat — was poorly made and its fit on his heavy frame was bad. His nose had been broken at least once.

As far as personality goes, he is pretty much of a wiseacre, although he is more of a counter-puncher: while quick with a comeback line, he doesn’t go out of his way to antagonize people upon first meeting — at least in the later books. And in the intelligence department, he’s not dumb, but he’s not a genius either.

The first suggestion the producer had seemed to me to come completely from left field: Jeff Goldblum. I didn’t think he was the right physical type, and he didn’t exude the sort of aggressive masculinity I associated with August. However, after thinking about it, I decided that Goldblum would be very good with wisecracks and comeback lines, and perhaps he could come across tougher for this part than he had in other roles. (It’s interesting to note, by the way, that Goldblum is now staring in a TV show where he plays a police detective.)

The producer’s other suggestion was Clive Owen. At that point, I’d only seen Owen in Croupier and thought he might be a little too slick for the role, and maybe too handsome, but I did think he could be tough and good with a wisecrack.

My pick was Clint Eastwood. At the time, he was definitely older than August, but The Immortal Game has no love interests for August (so no unbelievable May/December parings) and no particularly demanding physical stunts. He seemed to meet all the other requirements, and the thing I really liked is that Eastwood has an interest in jazz, and his son is a jazz bassist. In Candy from Strangers, he would be called upon to do a bit more physically, but the love interest is actually on older, married woman, and we all know he has experience with those sorts of relationships from The Bridges of Madison County!

It was all good fun, but none of the actors were ever contacted because we never got funding for the project. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “so it goes” (in Hollywood).
Read the results of the Page 69 Test for Mark Coggins's, Candy from Strangers.

Visit Coggins's website and his blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 9, 2007

Michael Allen Dymmoch's "Death in West Wheeling"

Michael Allen Dymmoch's most recent novel is Death in West Wheeling.

The story:
When a teacher disappears from a local missionary school in the rural town of West Wheeling, acting sheriff Homer Deters investigates. Before long, he's got three more missing persons: local ne'er-do-well Ash Jackson, a pregnant teenager, and an ATF agent on Jackson's trail. Further investigation turns up the bones of a murder victim in Goode Swamp and a second corpse dumped by the highway. Homer must determine just whose remains these are, and who — if any — among the missing might be their killer. The investigation is complicated by a car theft, a twenty-three vehicle pileup in the center of town, a missing pet tiger, and the arrival of more ATF agents in search of their vanished colleague. With no help from the feds, Homer turns to his moonshiner buddy, Rye Willis, and the town's eccentric postmistress, Nina Ross. Their aid and his own nose for the truth enable Homer to locate the missing, identify the bodies, and bring a murderous impostor to justice.
So who would the author cast in a film adaptation?
Though he drives a modern squad car and sends evidence to the state crime lab, Homer Deters, the Sheriff of mythical Boone County, is a throwback to the strong, silent western hero common in movies when I was growing up. He’s principled, good natured and resourceful. He doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, but he isn’t afraid to go after the girl.

Homer’s no clown, but some of the situations he gets into are hilarious. So the actor who portrays him has to be able to do comedy.

Death in West Wheeling took only three months to write, but nine years to sell. I finished the first draft in 1997. Ever since Starman, I’d been a great fan of Jeff Bridges; his was the face I saw when Homer first came to me. Back then, Jeff’s brother Beau would have been perfect for the part of Homer’s buddy Rye Willis. And I would have cast Meg Ryan for the part of Nina Ross, the eccentric postmistress.

Tempus Fugit. Jeff Bridges is now old enough to play Homer’s predecessor, Sheriff Rooney, and Meg Ryan could be Homer’s ma. If I were casting the parts today, I’d tap Owen Wilson to play Homer, Kristen Bell — who does tough and chutzpah so well — for the part of Nina, and Woody Harrelson — my second choice for Homer — to be Homer’s friend, Rye.
Read the results of the Page 69 Test for Michael Allen Dymmoch's White Tiger.

Learn more about Michael's books, and check out The Outfit, a group blog powered by her and six other Chicago crime writers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 6, 2007

Kris Nelscott's "Days of Rage"

Kris Nelscott is the mystery-writing nom de plume of award-winning author Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

In 2001, Nelscott
received the Herodotus Award for Best Historical Mystery Novel for A Dangerous Road, which was also nominated for an Edgar.

she develops some casting ideas for a film adaptation of Days of Rage, which Kirkus chose as one of the top ten books of 2006:
For years, people have asked me which actor should play Smokey Dalton, the late 60s private eye whose most recent appearance was in my novel, Days of Rage. My answer never satisfies anyone, even though they understand.

Sidney Poitier is Smokey Dalton. Hands down. The man whom they call Mr. Tibbs has the right combination of pride, toughness, and intelligence to play the hero of these novels.

But Smokey is in his forties and Sidney is no longer, unfortunately. So I’ve played with the idea of many different actors playing Smokey. All would bring something different. Denzel Washington can also do the anger/pride/intelligence but he’s always a bit vulnerable, when Smokey is not. He’s also the right age. Danny Glover is a tad too old, but who cares? He would be quite convincing. As would Morgan Freeman or Samuel L. Jackson or Will Smith or just about any major black star. (Don Cheadle is a small man, but I have a hunch he’d bring something quite unique to the role.)

As for the other main characters, I never gave an on-screen Jimmy much thought until I saw Jaden Smith playing opposite his father in The Pursuit of Happyness. Jaden Smith would be perfect for Jimmy. He has the right combination of heart and bravado.

Laura Hathaway ... well, in my dream casting, she’s Jane Fonda (from Coming Home). She is beautiful — required — and also has that perfect combination of intelligence and naiveté that are Laura’s hallmarks. Fonda can play a convincing hippie as well as a convincing wealthy woman. (Having been both.)

Modern actresses in the right age group? There aren’t many who can pull that combination off. I was thinking of Cate Blanchett, but naïve she’s not. It would have to be quite the acting stretch (which I suspect she’s capable of). Scarlett Johansson is too young. Jodie Foster maybe, but it’s hard for her to do extremely feminine, which Laura does as an act. The only one who might be able to pull off Laura now is Reese Witherspoon, because she can hide that intelligence and bring it out like a weapon if necessary.

And finally, Marvella Walker. That’s easy casting. We need a woman with a distinctive look and a lot of personal power. Gina Torres comes to mind. So does Angela Bassett.

As for the others, like Truman Johnson, I have no real preference. However, if anyone ever casts Jack Sinkovich, I’d like a true Chicagoan to play him, someone who still has the accent, like Gary Sinise or Gary Cole. I’ll even take John Mahoney, although he’s too old. He’s got the world-weariness.

My real dream casting, however, is to have Memphis play Memphis and Chicago play Chicago. I know that’s probably too much to ask, more even than to have my perfect actors in the right roles. But a writer can dream, can’t she?
Read an excerpt from Days of Rage.

Days of Rage is the sixth novel in the Smokey Dalton series: to read the series from the beginning, start with A Dangerous Road.

Visit Kristine Kathryn Rusch's website.

Also see the "My Book, The Movie" entry for Kristine Kathryn Rusch's The Retrieval Artist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Robert J. Sawyer's "Rollback"

Science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer, winner of Best Novel Hugo and Nebula Awards, has a brand new novel -- Rollback -- in bookstores this week.

Here the author offers some casting ideas for a film adaptation of the novel:
Rollback is a novel about rejuvenation, and so contains an interesting casting challenge. At the beginning of the book, the main character, Don Halifax, is 87 years old, but as the story progresses he ends up having his body rolled back to the way it was when he was just 25.

An elderly man, no matter how skilled an actor, can't move with the vigor and grace of a young person, so you can't have a senior citizen play both parts. And having different actors play young and old Don reminds me too much of the 1970s series The Incredible Hulk, in which Bill Bixby played Dr. Banner and Lou Ferrigno played the alter-ego: it was impossible for me to suspend disbelief and think of them as the same person.

No, let's go with a young actor and use makeup and appliances to make him look old in the early scenes. My choice would be Topher Grace, who played Eric Forman on That '70s Show. He's 28 right now but has that amazing combination of a really youthful smile and those soulful eyes that look like they've seen a lot.

The other lead role is Sarah Halifax, Don's wife. She's an astronomer who, in her youth, decoded the first-ever radio signal received by aliens; as the novel opens, a reply to the message she sent them is finally received. She's the one who was really supposed to get the rollback -- Don was just along for the ride -- but the process fails for her while succeeding for him, and the tragedy of that tests their marriage to the limit.

If one wanted to go for stunt casting, Jodie Foster in makeup would be excellent, as she played a SETI researcher once before, in the film version of Carl Sagan's Contact. But there are so many fabulous elderly actresses doing the best work of their careers right now that I'd go for one of them: Helen Mirren would be my first choice, followed by Judi Dench, and then maybe Rosemary Harris, who has been brilliant as Aunt May in the Spider-Man movies.

The book's other significant role is the real 25-year-old who catches Don's eye: a free-spirited red-headed astronomy grad student named Lenore Darby. Kirsten Dunst would be fabulous in the role, but so would Katrina Bowden, who is beguiling in her minor part as Cerie on NBC's 30 Rock.

There's also one meaty supporting part: Cody McGavin, the president of a robotics company, who is a bit of a Bill Gates character. Paul Giamatti would be my choice.

My own idol as a science-fiction writer is Arthur C. Clarke, and he has a cameo in 2010 -- he's the guy sitting on the park bench feeding pigeons outside the White House while Roy Scheider and James McEachin are talking. And since we're day-dreaming about making a movie of my book, I suppose I can day-dream about having a cameo in it. Don has a souped-up PDA/cellphone called a "datacom" that talks to him a couple of times. I'm a trained radio broadcaster, and people say I have a good voice; I'd love the chance to do the datacom's few lines.
Visit Robert Sawyer's website and blog, and read an excerpt from Rollback.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 2, 2007

Laura Wiess's "Such a Pretty Girl"

The book description for Such a Pretty Girl reads almost like a movie pitch:
Meredith was promised nine years of safety, but they only gave her three. Her father, who was sent to prison for sexually abusing Meredith and other children in their small town, has been released on good behavior. He was supposed to be locked up until Meredith's eighteenth birthday, when she could legally be free of both her abusive father and her delusional mother who dwells on a fantasy that the three of them will be a happy family once more.

But Meredith is only fifteen, and her father is out of prison ... and her mother is bringing him home. And Meredith won't let him hurt her, or anyone else, ever again. No matter what the cost.
So what does the author Laura Wiess think about casting this hypothetical film adaptation of her novel?
You would think casting Such a Pretty Girl, the movie, would be easy for me, seeing as how I wrote the book but that’s not the case.

I know so much about Meredith, the fifteen year-old main character, but the one thing I’ve never seen is her face. It’s always stayed just a little hazy, and off-focus, hidden behind a curtain of hair or a blank expression to mask her emotions. I’d like to see her played by an actress who could be any girl in the world, the girl next door, someone who is extraordinary not because of cheekbones or grooming, but because of her strength during ongoing, silent terror, determination and survivor spirit.

Meredith’s boyfriend Andy, who was also molested by Meredith’s father, would go to an actor with a lean, angular and hungry look to him, someone who, with long brown hair and a goatee, could have been plucked out of a garage band.

Her pedophile father Charles appears to be a regular kind of guy, on the handsome side, friendly, helpful, seemingly sincere, and very attentive to children, but has quite a frightening dark side. Readers have suggested Rob Lowe, Billy Zane, Dylan Walsh, and Julian McMahon, among others. Some of the actresses suggested for Meredith’s mother have been Charlize Theron, Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kelly Ripa and Portia de Rossi.

I can’t decide.

For retired police officer Nigel Balthazar, however, I’d choose Dennis Franz, and for Leah Louisa, Meredith’s no-nonsense grandmother, Glenn Close. Kathy Bates would be stellar as Paula Mues, and Gilly, Nigel’s Great Pyrenees, would go to an as yet undiscovered, gorgeous canine starlet.
Visit Laura Wiess's website, her blog, her other blog, and her MySpace page.

Read the results of the Page 69 Test for Such a Pretty Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue