Saturday, May 29, 2010

Emily St. John Mandel's "The Singer’s Gun"

Emily St. John Mandel's new novel The Singer’s Gun concerns a man named Anton Waker, who’s trying to lead a more honorable life. Everyone he grew up with is corrupt—his parents are dealers in stolen goods, and his first career was a partnership venture with his cousin Aria, selling social security cards and forged passports to illegal aliens in New York.

As the novel opens, the tenuous life he’s built for himself in the legitimate world is beginning to come undone. The process begins on the day his secretary Elena disappears. Elena is Canadian by birth, but has lived and worked in the United States for a number of years; she has secrets of her own, and she’s being pressed into service by a State Department agent named Alexandra Broden.

Here she shares some insights about casting an adaptation of the novel:
I’ve just started touring with this book, and at several events I’ve been asked about movie rights. Which haven’t sold yet. But if they do, I’ve often thought that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would make an excellent Anton.

When I was imagining what the character of Sophie looked like, I pictured Ginnifer Goodwin, whom you may know as the youngest wife on Big Love. (Which I haven’t seen, but I thought she was wonderful in both Walk the Line and Mona Lisa Smile.) I imagined Alexandra Broden as looking something like Cate Blanchett, but a Cate Blanchett with very close-cropped dark hair. If I were casting for Elena, my first choice would be Michelle Williams. She’s a remarkable talent.
Learn more about the book and author at Emily St. John Mandel's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Singer's Gun.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ilie Ruby's "The Language of Trees"

Ilie Ruby won the Phi Kappa Phi Award for Fiction, the Eden L. Moses Award, a Kerr Foundation Fiction Scholarship, the Wesleyan Writer’s Conference Scholarship in NonFiction, and the Barbara Kemp Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship. She has published poems and short stories in literary and online magazines, and is the former fiction editor of The Southern California Anthology. A graduate of the Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, she has worked on PBS documentaries in Honduras, as well as taught elementary school in Los Angeles.

Here is the story of her new novel, The Language of Trees, and her thoughts on casting a big screen adaptation of it:
The Language of Trees is a mystery-love story filled with restless spirits, both living and not. Woven with magical realism and Seneca Indian folklore, the story takes place in the sprawling lake region of Canandaigua, NY, once the site of battles that were fought there, now the site of battles of a different kind—those of love, forgiveness, and addiction. As the story goes, a little boy, Luke Ellis, disappears in the lake on a rainy night, and neither of his sisters, Melanie or Maya, can explain it though they were with him. The mystery is never solved. Over a decade later, Melanie, now a teenager, goes missing, leaving her infant son. Townspeople isolated by years of secrets and old lovers separated by guilt and grief come together in the frantic search to save her, only to discover a world where nature and the spiritual realm intertwine, nothing is as it seems, and the past refuses to stay where it belongs.

Frantic that the past is repeating itself, Grant Shongo, a Seneca healer, who has turned his back on his legacy, and the woman who left him years ago, his childhood love, Echo O’Connell, find themselves drawn into the search with the help of a restless spirit. Echo has returned after all this time to put the past to rest with a secret of her own.

My characters are ordinary folks who have fallen prey to tragedy and adversity, but who are capable of extraordinary things when put to the test. They are rarely beautiful, uncommonly wise, though this doesn’t stop anyone from falling in love with them, nor does it stop them from making very human choices—some that could wreck a life. They have let true loves slip away, they have let themselves become isolated by fear, they have made excuses for themselves—until this moment when everyone is called to action to prevent the past from repeating itself and bring Melanie Ellis home. I like the idea that one of my main characters, Leila Ellis, forgoes her usual raggedy attire and in a definitive act of dignity and self-preservation dons her once-worn suit and high heels before getting in the car to drive the streets of Canandaigua all night looking for her runaway teenage daughter. I love the idea that Melanie, her daughter, has just gotten herself clean for a cause: her infant son, and though she has not lost her edge or her temptation, she will do anything she can to be strong for him, even it means doing the hardest thing of all: forgiving herself for what happened to her brother all those years ago.

Here’s the cast of characters, and those I imagine would play them:

Joseph O’Connell: a former priest, wisdom keeper of the story, who maintains his belief in the goodness of the human spirit though he’s been given every reason not to. Let Morgan Freeman play him. What with those watery tender eyes, and that face full of wisdom. He is grand with depth enough to hold all the human tribulations in the story.

Leila Ellis: the mother of three, whose children have suffered at the hands of her mistakes. The big guns, Sally Field or Meryl Streep. They can play strong, broken, vulnerable, creatures that have made treacherous mistakes and yet somehow remain worthy of vindication and admiration.

Grant Shongo: the Seneca faith healer who can’t accept his legacy. I choose actor Eric Bana, from The Time Traveler’s Wife. He has just the right amount of humility and obsession. Tobey Maguire can also be humble while still being extraordinary. Grant Shongo is a far cry from Spiderman but it doesn’t hurt that Maguire knows how to use superpowers.

Echo O’Connell: the woman who broke Grant’s heart years ago, Joseph’s daughter, she has not let her heart settle into womanhood, remarkably vulnerable yet unshakably strong. This is a hard one. A young Deborah Winger would be perfect. Someone completely natural, who is beautiful mostly because of who she is.

Melanie Ellis: 19, a teenage mother, beautiful but hates the idea of beauty, edgy yet vulnerable, an ex-addict bent on changing her life. I am a huge fan of Brie Larson, who plays Kate Gregson on The United States of Tara. Kristin Stewart would be good here, too. It’s that irresistible quality of self-possession, with an incredible, if not rarely seen, warmth, that is unmistakably forgiving.
Visit Ilie Ruby's website, blog, and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Ilie Ruby.

The Page 69 Test: The Language of Trees.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jeremy Robinson's "Instinct"

Jeremy Robinson is a bestselling novelist whose books include The Didymus Contingency, Raising the Past, and Antarktos Rising.

Here is his take on casting adaptations of his first two Chess Team novels, which have been praised by Stephen Coonts, David Lynn Golemon, and Thomas Greanias:
Pulse and Instinct are both part of the Chess Team series which would make a blockbuster movie franchise similar to G.I. Joe meets Clash of the Titans — lots of action, guns, cool tech and mythical monsters. Here’s who I would cast to play the six man Chess Team:

King: Hugh Jackman —I’ve always had Jackman in mind for King. He’s got the right build, the right hair and can pull off the personality without any trouble.

Queen: Charlize Theron – Not only is she a blond hottie, but she can act and do the serious/angry roles that Queen would demand. She’s not always a light character!

Rook - Jason Statham – He’s awesome in action roles, can play the funny man and with a slight tweak to his accent would make a convincing New Englander.

Bishop – I have no idea. Despite all my searching I cannot come up with a large, super-strong actor of Arab decent that fits the bill. Would have to be somebody new.

Knight – Rain (Ninja Assassin) – Knight is a pretty boy Korean that can kick some butt. Rain was born to play Knight.

Deep Blue – Bruce Willis – Deep Blue, then ex-Army Ranger of the team can still open a can of whup-ass if need be, but his tough, smart and balding character is a perfect match for Willis.

And there you have it. With the exception of Bishop, the cast alone would sell movie tickets ... and take up about fifty million of the budget.
Watch the Instinct trailer, and learn more about the book and author at Jeremy Robinson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 17, 2010

Grace Coopersmith’s "Nancy’s Theory of Style"

Grace Coopersmith is a San Francisco Bay Area native and still lives there. She went to Stanford, where she studied creative writing, literature, and theatre.

Here she shares some insights about casting an adaptation of her new novel, Nancy’s Theory of Style:
Some characters come to me whole: I can see them in my mind, hear their voices, and know exactly what they’d say and do. Nancy Carrington-Chambers is one of those characters. She’s the girl you love to hate: she’s richer than you, went to better schools than you, and is invited to swankier parties and clubs than you. As a friend, she’s a guilty pleasure. The more you know her, the more you enjoy the appalling things she says and does.

She’s blond, blue-eyed, petite and more cute than beautiful, “a grown-up version of the cutest kid in kindergarten.” She’s formulating an all-encompassing theory of style that she believes will be more useful than Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

Her playful attitude and sense of entitlement are her most important qualities. I’d like to see someone like Mila Kunis (from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and That ‘70s Show) cast as Nancy. Although Kunis is dark-haired, she has a marvelous sense of comic timing and could deliver Nancy’s lines with aplomb.

Nancy hires the perfect assistant, Derek Cathcart, for her event planning company. “The tall, dark-haired man walked into the room wearing a windowpane suit in charcoal with a chalk line in the subtlest lavender, and a lavender shirt. She’d dreamed of meeting a man who could wear a windowpane pattern with élan…he had deep blue eyes… He wore his straight, espresso-dark hair and sideburns long, but beautifully cut -– too beautifully for a straight man.”

Derek is English and he has a smirk more than a smile. So I’d have to say Richard Armitage, who smirks like nobody’s business.

I’d love to see snarky, hilarious Betty White as Miss Binky Winkles, a local character, and America Ferrera as Milagro, Nancy’s smart, sexy, and eccentric friend.

One of the biggest characters in the book is the city of San Francisco. It photographs beautifully and ideally should be cast as itself.

A few producers are now looking at Nancy’s Theory of Style, and I hope one will decide to option it as a movie.
Read an excerpt from Nancy’s Theory of Style, and learn more about the book and author at Grace Coopersmith's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jennifer Stevenson's "The Brass Bed"

Jennifer Stevenson's Brass Bed series includes The Brass Bed (2008), The Velvet Chair (2008), and The Bearskin Rug (2008). Two more books are being written—The Genie Lamp and Welcome to Hel—both planned for release from in 2010.

Here she lays out some casting ideas should the novels be adapted for the movies:
The Brass Bed was by far my most “constructed” book, as were the sequels. I knew it would be a series from the git-go, and I knew I wanted known faces and voices to help me solidify the characters as quickly as possible.

I picked Drew Barrymore for Jewel Heiss—yes, I know Drew’s five feet tall, but so am I, and honestly who wouldn’t prefer a fictional avatar who was six feet tall if she had the choice? I found a photo of her online that completely characterizes Jewel: Drew is wearing boxing shorts and boxing gloves and a serious expression, poised with her gloves up in front of her. The contrast between her toughness and her nakedness is awesome—perfectly Jewel.

Hugh Jackman must be the sex demon, Randolph Llew Carstairs Athelbury Darner, third Earl Pontarsais. Because who else? He has Randy’s dark air of arrogance but also that brittle edge, as if he’s just waiting for the woman to mock him. At which point his ego will shatter and he’ll have do something sex-demonic to take back the upper hand.

And Owen Wilson is too perfect as the con artist Clay Dawes. Everything about his look screams “I don’t have a real job!” He’ll hang around Jewel, wait for his moment, take his opportunity when he can get it, and never lose his cool. Oh, but I’m doing some awful mean things to this guy in the next book, The Genie Lamp ... bwa ha ha!
Visit Jennifer Stevenson's website, blog, and Facebook page.

My Book, the Movie: Trash Sex Magic.

My Book, The Movie: Fools Paradise.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bill Crider & Clyde Wilson's "Mississippi Vivian"

Bill Crider is the author of more than fifty novels, including the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series. He is the winner of the Anthony Award and has been nominated for both the Shamus and Edgar Awards. Clyde Wilson was a legendary Texas private eye. He worked with the famous and the infamous. One of his cases was the basis for two true-crime books and a made-for-TV movie. He died in October 2008.

Here Crider shares his thinking on the cast for an adaptation of their recently released novel, Mississippi Vivian:
Mississippi Vivian is set in 1970, and if the movie could be made in that year, there’s no doubt that I’d cast James Garner in the role of Ted Stephens, a Houston private-eye who’s sent to a small town in Mississippi to investigate an insurance scam. That’s because I’d cast the James Garner of that era as just about any male character that I write about. It’s not that I have him in mind when I’m writing. It’s just that I think he could play any of the roles and do a fine job of it. And since it’s 1970, I’d cast Joanne Woodward as Mississippi Vivian. She can do the accent, and she’s be great as a waitress in a diner.

Unfortunately, it’s not 1970 anymore, and neither Garner nor Woodward is the right age to play those roles. These days I tend to think of Tommy Lee Jones as being able to pull of the male characters I write about. Not everybody thinks of Jones when it comes to characters with a sense of humor like mine have, but I’ve seen Man of the House, and I know that Jones has got a dead-on sense of comic timing that would be perfect for Ted Stephens. As for Mississippi Vivian, maybe I could lure Jamie Lee Curtis. Why? Because I think she’d do a great job, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen her in a movie. She’s always terrific.

I’m not sure about the minor roles, but I’d like to borrow Nick Searcy from Justified to play Sheriff Joe Bronte. He’s got the attitude and a style that would just fit. And while I’m borrowing from the Justified cast, I’d like to have Walton Goggins for just about any of the minor characters with bad attitudes. There’s one named Wade Dickie that he’d be fine for.

And as Kathy Hull, the young woman who tries an inept seduction of Ted Stephens, I’d cast Paris Hilton. I’d like to be known as the guy who gave her her big break.
Read more about Mississippi Vivian at the publisher's website.

Visit Bill Crider's website and blog, and read his My Book, The Movie entry for the Sheriff Dan Rhodes novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sarah Quigley's "TMI"

Sarah Quigley is the author of TMI, her first YA novel.

Here she shares her casting preferences for a big screen adaptation of the novel:
Most of these actors are much older than the characters in my book, but Stockard Channing played Rizzo in Grease when she was 33. If Paramount Pictures can take that much chronological liberty, so can I.

Becca: Jena Malone (Mary from Saved! and Lydia from Pride & Prejudice)

Katie: Martha MacIsaac (Becca from Superbad)

Jai: Lucas Grabeel (Ryan from High School Musical)

Evan: Paul Dano (Dwayne from Little Miss Sunshine)

Matt: Jonathan Bennett (Aaron from Mean Girls)

Annie, Becca’s mom: Julianne Moore

Dale, Becca’s stepdad: Brad Pitt (ooh, I can picture him with those little round glasses)

Nathan: Knox Jolie-Pitt (not technically an actor and not quite old enough, but he would be by the time filming began)
Read an excerpt from TMI, and learn more about the book and author at Sarah Quigley's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Nan Marino's "Neil Armstrong is My Uncle..."

Nan Marino is the author of middle grade books and a librarian who lives at the Jersey shore.

Here's her take on casting an adaptation of her debut novel, Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me (Roaring Book Press, 2009):
Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me takes place on Ramble Street in 1969 in the Long Island town of Massapequa Park, NY during the week of the first moonwalk. While this story is written for middle grade children, it’s got some serious moments as well as humor. The actors need to be able to do both comedy and drama. I hope this is a big budget film because many of the actors below would require a pretty hefty paycheck. Here’s who’d I’d pick for the key roles.

The book’s narrator and the film’s lead character is eleven-year-old Tamara Simpson, a girl determined to prove to the neighborhood that the foster kid who moved on the block is a “squirrelly runt, a lying snake and a pitiful excuse for a ten year old.” A feisty girl with an overactive sense of justice, Tamara is struggling with the sudden departure of her best friend. Actress Morgan Lily, who had a role in the apocalyptic film 2012, would capture Tamara’s tough and tender sides.

Tamara’s mom, thirty-something Shirley Simpson is a neighborhood outsider, more interested in her soap operas and her crush on Jack LaLanne than swapping recipes with the other moms on Ramble Street. She’s fragile, withdrawn, and serves burnt fondues. The role goes to Gwyneth Paltrow.

Ben Stiller is a shoe in for Marshall Simpson, Shirley’s husband, a self-absorbed, dysfunctional father of two. No one plays a better loser than Ben Stiller. He’d bring a comic touch to the character.

Teen heartthrob Logan Lerman is perfect to play Marshall and Shirley’s son Tim, a hippie/college student whose best friend is in Vietnam. After coming off of the action adventure Percy Jackson movie, Logan might enjoy a change of pace in this comedy/drama.

Tamara’s nemesis Douglas McGinty (aka Muscle Man) is a foster kid who tells tall tales and challenges the entire block to a game of kickball. Ten-year-old Preston Bailey one of the youngest actors ever to be nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award, would be great in this role.

One of the most important characters in this film is Mr. Pizzarelli, a widower whose only son, Vinnie, is off fighting the war in Vietnam. Loved by everyone on Ramble Street, Mr. Pizzarelli (a.k.a. Mr. Pizza) is a New York City cop who takes off from work every July 4th to sing “If I Were A Rich Man” at the Ramble Street barbeque. There were two actors up for this pivotal role. Tom Hanks could do it. He’d bring a sensitivity and depth to this character.

But the role goes to actor Alec Baldwin and it’s not just because of his versatility and screen presence. Alec grew up in the 1960s in Massapequa Park where the story takes place. He knows all about the barbeques, ice cream trucks, lawn-obsessed neighbors and sitting in front of a black and white TV to watch the first men walk on the moon.

There’s only one possible glitch. Mr. Pizzarelli brings the house down with his 4th of July song. So Alec Baldwin, you’d better practice up those “bid de bid de bums”. If you can sing the Broadway hit “If I Were A Rich Man”, the role is yours.
Learn more about the book and author at Nan Marino's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue