Thursday, August 30, 2012

Vincent Lam's "The Headmaster's Wager"

Dr. Vincent Lam is from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam, and was born in Canada. Dr. Lam did his medical training in Toronto, and is an emergency physician in Toronto. He is a Lecturer with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. He has also worked in international air evacuation and expedition medicine on Arctic and Antarctic ships.

Lam's first book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and has recently been adapted for television and broadcast on HBO Canada. Dr. Lam co-authored The Flu Pandemic And You, a non-fiction guide to influenza pandemics.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of The Headmaster’s Wager, his first novel:
The Headmaster’s Wager is set in the Chinese community of Cholon, which was once a sister city to Saigon. Percival Chen is an English school headmaster and a compulsive gambler. We follow his adventures, loves, and losses over a period that spans from the Second World War, through the end of the French colonial era in Vietnam, into the closing chapters of the Vietnam War.

With various armies coming and going, political leaders shuffled like cards in a deck, and disaster or immense wealth often potentially just around the corner, people who lived through that era in Vietnam experienced the kinds of plot twists that most of us only witness in feature film. Vietnamese and Chinese, French and Americans were all torn between the forces of colonialism and independence, tradition and modernity, east and west, and finally capitalism and communism. This was the volatile mix of that era. The actors in the film adaptation of The Headmaster’s Wager should be able to portray these tensions. Many of the best actors now working in Asia will come to this intuitively – because the Asian cultural scene is actively grappling with these issues both in what it represents, and how it represents it.

Tony Leung will play my protagonist, Percival Chen. Tony will portray the kind of cool self-regard that allows a man to accept both his own temptations – and their fulfillment – with total equanimity, as does Percival Chen. The on-screen vibe is "Buddhist calm meets the moral vacuum of lust and hedonism."

Maggie Cheung will play Percival’s wife, Cecilia, the heiress to a shipping empire which is lost to the Japanese Imperial Army after the fall of Hong Kong in World War Two. Maggie will perfectly embody Cecilia’s brittle and yet self-assured beauty. Cecilia later becomes a successful black market money trader, which is a role I know Maggie will pull off in a cinch. Tony and Maggie have tangled on-screen before and I can’t wait to see this riff continue.

Han Han, a Chinese novelist, intermittent magazine publisher, and professional race-car driver for Volkswagen, will play Dai Jai, the son of Percival and Cecilia. Han Han’s only acting experience is that he played himself in a film called, I Wish I Knew. That’s fine. He can basically play himself as Dai Jai, because Dai Jai is an irreverent, intelligent, and unpredictable young man who attracts attention even as he scorns it, just like Han Han. Also, Dai Jai becomes embroiled in the Cultural Revolution in China. I bet Han Han has a few thoughts on this that he might like to share. (I’m also pretty sure that Han Han would deny that suggestion, so why not channel it through film?)

Percival’s best friend, Mak, is a teacher in Percival’s profitable English school. Mak will be played by Byron Mann. Byron plays a bad dude opposite Russell Crowe in the upcoming film The Man With The Iron Fists. He also plays a naïve, good-hearted doctor in the TV adaptation of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (I wrote that book, too!) The point is that Byron is able to dish out both martial arts and melting stares. He is ideal for playing, concealing, and revealing the many faces of Mak. Once you finish reading the novel, you’ll know exactly why this is so important.

What about Jacqueline, the mysteriously sexy, French-Vietnamese beauty who captures the heart of every reader of The Headmaster’s Wager? Obviously, this role must go to Tran Nu Yên-Khê. Her performances in The Scent of Green Papaya and The Vertical Ray of the Sun are stunning. We will watch, captive with admiration and desire in the quietly simmering portrayal of Jacqueline that she will deliver.
Learn more about the book and author at Vincent Lam's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stephen Leather's "False Friends"

Stephen Leather was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as the (London) Times, the Daily Mail, and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. He began writing full-time in 1992. His bestsellers have been translated into more than ten languages.

Here Leather shares a suggestion for casting the lead in an adaptation of False Friends, the ninth book in the bestselling Dan "Spider" Shepherd series:
The actor I’d most like to play my hero Dan “Spider” Shepherd is Clive Owen, star of Sin City, Children of Men and Killer Elite. He’s brilliant and looks fit enough to have been a special forces soldier and an undercover cop. He’s got that brooding menacing presence that makes for a great hero, or a great villain.

I didn’t have an actor in mind when I started writing the first Spider Shepherd book – Hard Landing – almost ten years ago. I don’t know how most writers work but when I’m writing a scene I tend to picture myself as the hero. That’s not to say that I see myself as a thirty-something action hero who can jump out of a plane with guns blazing. It’s just that the dialogue comes from me and as I write I imagine I am in the scene relating to the characters. Also I tend to keep the description of my heroes as brief as possible. That’s an old writer’s trick – the less you describe the hero, the more likely the reader is to identify with him.

Shepherd was in his early thirties when I started writing Hard Landing, and now that the ninth, False Friends, is on the shelves he’s in his forties. During that time he has progressed from being an undercover cop, working for SOCA (the British FBI) and lately as an MI5 agent. Clive is 47 but looks younger. I know because I’ve seen him in the flesh. I had dinner with him and a group of pals in London and within minutes I realised he’d be perfect for the part. He’s a lovely man and signed autographs for anyone who came up to him, always with a smile and a friendly word. In person he’s much softer and gentler than his screen persona, and I could see him easily playing the action man parts but also portraying the softer side to Shepherd’s character. Shepherd is a single parent as well as a Government agent and has a teenage son to deal with in between missions.

I didn’t mention the Shepherd books during the dinner. It wasn’t the time or the place. In fact he was more interested in my previous career as a journalist. I had fish and chips. I can’t remember what he ordered. I did mention to my agent that he’d be the perfect actor to play Spider Shepherd, but nothing ever came of it. Maybe one day…
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Leather's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cyn Balog's "Touched"

Cyn Balog is the author of the young adult paranormal novels Fairy Tale, Sleepless, Starstruck, Touched, and Dead River. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters.

Here she shares some suggestions for casting the leads in an adaptation of Touched:
I know of authors who cut out pictures of famous actors and actresses so they can better understand what their characters look like. I'm not one of those people, as I've slowly come to learn that readers care less about the color of one's hair and eyes than what makes a character tick. In selecting characters for my movie, I'd love to find characters who are actually young, since the two main characters are 16 and 17. The viewpoint character, Nick, has led a very sheltered life, so there is a lot of innocence there. I see him looking like the young actor David Lambert. The main female character, Taryn, who has a little more worldly experience, would be Chloë Grace Moretz. Neither are household names yet, but they're young, give them time!

Nick's mother would be Zooey Deschanel. The expression she wore during all of The Happening is the exact expression I'd imagined Nick's immature, bed-ridden, guilt-ridden mother would have. And Frances McDormand would make a great grandmother-- she's caring, but fair, and not overly emotional.
Learn more about the book and author at Cyn Balog's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 24, 2012

Charity Shumway's "Ten Girls to Watch"

Charity Shumway received an MFA in Creative Writing from Oregon State University and a BA in English from Harvard University. After graduate school, she spent nine months reporting on the 50th anniversary of Glamour’s "Top Ten College Women" contest. Her writing has appeared in Glamour, Ladies Home Journal, Fitness, and Garden Design, and her short fiction has been honored by Glimmer Train and Slice magazine, among others. She lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York.

Here Shumway dreamcasts an adaptation of her new, debut novel, Ten Girls to Watch:
Long before Ten Girls to Watch was a book, back when it was just a few chapters on my computer, I indulged in regular daydreams about the movie premier—publishing a book already felt like an outlandish fantasy. Why stop there?—so I’ve been thinking about who I’d cast in the fantasy film version for years. Funnily enough, the leads weren’t the first people I thought of.

In the novel, Dawn interviews hundreds of women who’ve won Charm Magazine’s “Ten Girls to Watch” contest over the past 50 years (That sounds exhausting, but don’t worry -- the book isn’t an endless stream of interviews). Those women are my favorites to dream-cast.

Here are a few ideas:

Helen Thomas is a 1975 winner who also happens to have been Dawn’s college thesis advisor. She’s a scholar, an artist, and wildly stylish. Helen Mirren will do quite nicely. I’ll take Diane Keaton too!

Gerri Vans, 1984 winner, is a media mogul. Sort of like fake Oprah. Who better to play her than Maya Rudolph? (I thought of this even before Up All Night, I swear).

Jessica Winston, 1987 winner and opera diva has to be played by Renée Fleming. So what if she doesn’t really do movies? She can do this one!

Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Jodie Foster, Jane Fonda, Angela BassetEmma Thompson, Shirley MacClaine, Michelle Yeoh, Phylicia Rashad, Tilda Swinton, Lily Tomlin... I’ve got parts for all of them.

For the rest of the characters, I’ve done some dreaming as well. Dawn, the novel’s narrator, is 23, trying to pretend she’s more confident than she is, and pretty goofy when you wipe away her thin layer of faux-sophistication. I say Emma Stone!

Lily, who is Dawn’s ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend (got all that?), is a sort of lovably brazen well-to-do Texan. Dawn wants to hate her, but can’t ever get there. Rooney Mara, would you like to play her?

Dawn’s ex-boyfriend needs to be played by Andrew Garfield (Don’t you want to see him and Emma in more movies together? I do!)

The charming-but-can-you-trust-him journalist Dawn starts dating just has to be James Franco.

I’m casting Nicole Kidman as Dawn’s Mary-Kay-Saleslady Mom.

And of course there is the part of Charm’s Editor in Chief, Regina Greene. Tina Fey or Kristen Wiig, will one of you ladies please do it?

Last but not least, I obviously cast myself as an every scene.
Learn more about the book and author at Charity Shumway's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Padgett Powell's "You & Me"

In Padgett Powell's You & Me "two loquacious gents on a porch discuss all manner of subjects, from the mundane to the spiritual to the downright ridiculous."

Gary Shteyngart, bestselling author of Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story, claims that "You & Me, mixed with 750 ml of fine bourbon, is the most fun you can have in many states without getting arrested.”

Here Powell shares some suggestions for the above-the-line talent should the novel be adapted for the big screen:
I feel fairly sure that I want my book to be done by unknown actors, of whom there are so many who are so good. We won’t make money if we go good before hot, but who cares. Probably Warren Oates and Fred Ward could have done it well, but aren’t they gone?

Director: Louis C.K. would be a good rogue choice-–he could be one of the guys, come to think of it–-and since I have bought one of his $5 CD downloads he owes me.
Learn more about You & Me at the HarperCollins website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tabish Khair's "The Thing About Thugs"

Tabish Khair is an award-winning poet, journalist, critic, educator and novelist. A citizen of India, he lives in Denmark and teaches literature at Aarhus University.

Here he shares some ideas about casting a big screen adaptation of his novel, The Thing about Thugs:
The Thing About Thugs is a novel about how we construct our identities and see others, wrapped in the colours of a crime mystery located in early Victorian London. It sets out, however, to narrate the crime from the perspectives of the underclass of London – tinkers, gypsies, Indian ayahs, Asian sailors, ex-slaves. As such, it does not see crime as an intellectual game – a mystery to be solved – but as the source of disruption, threat and punishment. The real mystery in The Thing About Thugs revolves around who will pay for the crime and how. That, obviously, is all I can say without spoiling the fun.

I have been asked who I could see filling the main roles if The Thing About Thugs were turned into a film. Being brought up as much on films as on books, I cannot resist the experiment. Here is my list:

Qui Hy is an Indian ayah (nurse: many were taken to England to look after returning children and then abandoned there) married to an Irish ex-soldier-sailor. She is from Punjab, and as such quite fair. A feisty, thickset woman, she is the ‘detective’ of the novel. I could see her being played by someone like Kathy Bates, who can exude the right mix of trust, authority and latent threat.

Paddyji is Qui Hy’s natural law husband; we never learn his name. The derogatory ‘Paddy’ was what the English called him, to which Qui Hy attached the Indian honorific ‘ji’. He is an opium addict, but capable of decisive action when required. Older than Qui Hy, he needs to speak with a slight Irish accent. I would like to see Sean Connery, with stubbles and lanky hair, play Paddyji.

Amir Ali is the closest we come to a hero in this novel. He has been brought to London by Captain Meadows, who wants to write down Ali’s account of his past as a dreaded thug in India. But when the riffraff of London start being killed by someone, suspicion centres on Amir Ali. The only real option in Hollywood appears to be Dev Patel, who played in Slumdog Millionaire. He is the right age and build.

Jenny is a charwoman who falls in love with Amir, who reciprocates. She is older than Amir, independent-minded, attractive (but not supermodel-like) and strong. It is important for the story that she has long dark brown hair, which she cares for despite the nature of her work. Keira Knightly, if she could be made to look less upper class and beautiful, would be a possibility. I can also think of Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia), provided she undergoes a similar downgrading.

Captain Meadows is older than Amir Ali, and a person who comes across better than the reader might expect to begin with. Fixed in his own ways, very serious, he grows with the narrative and learns to give people a chance. Ryan Reynolds might be able to do him justice: it would be a very different sort of role from the one he played in Green Lantern!

James May is working class and desperate to escape his origins. He is both vulnerable and devious. This would need a complex actor, who can pass for someone in his early 40s. Hugh Laurie from Pilot perhaps?

Lord Batterstone is large, blue-blooded and very sure of his opinions. He lives life by his fixed ideas of life. He can bluster. It might be fun to see Roger Moore do him, if he can put on a few kilos and manage to make himself look a bit less likeable!

Gunga is a tough older Indian lascar (sailor), who befriends Amir Ali. He has to be played by someone who can suggest vast reserves of control, perception and understanding, and I think Ben Kingsley would be perfect for the role.
Learn more about the book and author at Tabish Khair's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Thing about Thugs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 20, 2012

Suzanne Desrochers's "Bride of New France"

Suzanne Desrochers grew up in the French-Canadian village of Lafontaine on the shores of Georgian Bay, Ontario. Now based in Toronto, she is currently writing a Ph.D. thesis at King's College, London, comparing the migration of French and British women to North America in the early modern period. She has lived in Paris and Tokyo and traveled extensively throughout Asia. Her travel writing has appeared in Toronto's Now Magazine, and she has presented her history papers at academic conferences and seminars.

Here Desrochers dreamcasts an adaptation of Bride of New France, her first novel:
Bride of New France has actually been optioned for film in Canada so hopefully I will have the opportunity to see actors playing my characters soon enough!

I'm not sure who I would specifically cast, but Laure would need to be played by a young actress (like Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation only dark haired and preferably French). I think it should be a French/CanAm co-production to ensure authenticity in the Salpêtrière scenes in Paris, French language, etc. Again, the role of Deskaheh would be best played by an up and coming young First Nations actor (preferably Canadian). I would love to see the midwife, Madame Rouillard, played by Jodie Foster who said she will play roles of older women rather than be a "botoxed weirdo". She's tough enough to carry the role and is fluent in French. She even has a husky voice like the midwife. Heck, Jodie Foster could direct the whole thing. Except, like me, she has two kids who have eclipsed all else in her life! And she would cost a fortune!
Visit Suzanne Desrochers' webpage, and learn more about Bride of New France at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tracey Garvis Graves's "On the Island"

Tracey Garvis Graves lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and hyper dog Chloe.

In On the Island, her first novel, two people stranded on an island struggle to survive—and slowly fall in love. Here the author shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of the story:
Upon hearing the news that MGM has optioned On the Island for a feature film, the first thing people often ask me is, “Do you get to help cast the movie?” Sadly, the answer is no. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun thinking about who would play my characters (and I want to be ready if for some reason MGM just happens to ask me for my opinion).

One of my friends sent me a picture of a very handsome actor. I didn’t recognize him because I don’t watch a lot of television. It turns out he’s on a show called Friday Night Lights. His name is Taylor Kitsch and I thought he’d make a perfect T.J. considering he already plays a high school student on FNL. In the name of research I watched an episode of FNL on Netflix and it pains me to say that although Taylor is absolutely swoon-worthy, I think he’s a smidge too old to play T.J. But, while I was watching that episode I came across the perfect Anna: Minka Kelly. She is absolutely adorable. She doesn’t have blue eyes but perhaps she can wear special contacts like the vampires do in the Twilight films (to be clear – the ones that make her eyes blue, not red). I am open to suggestions for the perfect T.J. He’ll have to be young enough to portray 16-17, yet still have the ability to look like he’s aging accordingly. This could be a really tricky role to cast. I also think pairing an unknown actor with an established actress (the way they did with Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon) might be the way to go. One last casting suggestion: I think John Goodman would be excellent as seaplane pilot Mick. I can just see him sitting in the cockpit eating that cheeseburger.

This will be a challenging movie to make and the right director is absolutely crucial. I have a friend in the movie business and he told me the ideal director will have a distinctive creative vision that s/he can articulate up front and who will fight, yell and scream for that vision without being certifiably crazy. That sounds about right to me.
Learn more about the book and author at Tracey Garvis Graves's blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Stephen Miller's "The Messenger"

North Carolina born and raised, Stephen Miller is an actor on stage, film, and television as well as the author of plays, screenplays, and novels. Unforgettable moments in his acting career include swimming with Hume Cronyn, improvising for a day with Robert De Niro, carrying Bette Davis down a flight of concrete stairs, stunt-driving with Burt Reynolds, and delivering Laura Dern’s child, as well as three appearances on The X-Files.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, The Messenger:
Without spoiling anything, all through the action of The Messenger, Daria, the protagonist, thinks of herself in reference to a certain well-known Hollywood actress. So, if they made a film of The Messenger, it would be very cool to have this actor in the part. The second major character is Sam Watterman, a scientist with expertise in biological warfare. Sam Waterston is an alliterative choice, and would be just fine. I'd be happy with him. When I wrote it I often thought of Walter Matthau. I think a lot of well known character actors could inhabit Sam's shoes.
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Miller's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 16, 2012

David Cristofano's "The Exceptions"

David Cristofano has earned degrees in Government & Politics and Computer Science from the University of Maryland at College Park and has worked for different branches of the Federal Government for over a decade. He currently works in the Washington, D.C. area where he lives with his wife, son and daughter.

Here Cristofano shares some ideas for cast and director of an adaptation of his new novel, The Exceptions:
The movie rights to my first novel, The Girl She Used to Be, a story about a woman lost in the Federal Witness Protection Program, were sold to Mark Johnson's Gran Via Productions (The Notebook, My Sister’s Keeper) and Julie Lynn's Mockingbird Pictures (Albert Nobbs, The Jane Austen Book Club) with Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island, Avatar) adapting the story. Since my new novel, The Exceptions, retells the story from the point of view of the young mafioso assigned to gun her down, the discussion of who would play the lead roles in both stories has come up with great regularity in my household over the last few years.

For Melody Grace McCartney, the witness, there are some wonderful choices in the film world. The actress needs to be able to pull off feistiness, a quick wit, and -- oddly enough -- an ability to look good with increasingly shorter hair as the movie progresses. Rachel McAdams would be on my short list, as would Jessica Chastain. Others have suggested Ellen Page could pull it off, and I agree. But I think the ultimate choice, if the decision could be made today, would be to tap Carey Mulligan for the role. Her performances in An Education, Drive, and Never Let Me Go were simply outstanding.

Jonathan Bovaro, the mafioso, is a tougher slot to fill, for "mob roles" in general lean to a certain look, and indeed I had hoped a new "undiscovered" actor might be selected to play the part. That said, there are few A-listers that come to mind. James Franco has come up before, and I agree he could pull off the mafia-related scenes with ease. Matthew Goode of Leap Year fame could also do the role justice. And though he doesn't closely resemble a mafioso in any way, who wouldn't love to see Ryan Gosling pound some thug into submission and get away with the girl? But overall, my top pick would be Chris Evans. He fits the bill: taller than average (over six feet), gravelly smoker-type voice, and capable of both onscreen violence and tenderness. Best known for his role as Captain America, I much prefer his performances in Puncture, Push, Cellular, and What's Your Number?

And then there's the direction. While my favorite directors include David Fincher and Christopher Nolan -- I am a guy, after all - I'm not sure either would be spot on for directing The Exceptions. On the other hand, Andrew Niccol (you had me at Gattaca) would be a top choice, a director who knows how to encapsulate a couple on the run with the urgent intimacy that can arise, as he did so well with In Time. The ideal director would be one who could capture the emotional tension of people on the run (Luc Besson's masterwork, The Professional, comes to mind), with the beauty that can be found in the strangest, darkest places (like with Brad Silberling's direction of City of Angels).

Put those pieces together and there's a movie to be proud of!
Learn more about the book and author at David Cristofano's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl She Used to Be.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Joanna Campbell Slan's "Death of a Schoolgirl"

Joanna Campbell Slan’s first novel—Paper, Scissors, Death—was an Agatha Award finalist. It features Kiki Lowenstein, a spunky single mom who lives in St. Louis The sixth book in that series will be released Summer 2013.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest book, Death of a Schoolgirl, the first novel in The Jane Eyre Chronicles, which features Charlotte Brontë’s classic heroine Jane Eyre as an amateur sleuth:
If they make Death of a Schoolgirl into a film, I'd love for Keira Knightley to play the part of Jane Eyre. I realize that most people would think Keira is too stunning for the part of the overlooked orphan, but when Ms. Knightley played the lead in Bend It Like Beckham, she downplayed her looks and seemed fragile. Jane Eyre is slight of build and small, with a beauty that glows from within, and I think Keira Knightley has the same radiance. See for yourself in the photo at right.

For Mr. Rochester, I'd choose Jeremy Northam. He's not classically attractive, and when he wants to, he can look rather rough. Also, he's 6'2" and Edward Rochester was a tall man. Certainly, in The Winslow Boy, Northam managed a tortured expression, a pained befuddlement that would make him a wonderful Edward Fairfax Rochester, as I think that a lot of the men who've played Edward had made him seem too violent. I think of Edward as hurting and confused.

The photo on the left shows Northam looking hopeful, a feeling that Jane brought back into his life.

For my two "new" characters, Lucy Brayton and her brother Bruce Douglas, I would choose Renée Zellweger and Owen Wilson. Ms. Zellweger can be flamboyant and dainty all at once. She has the most exquisite pout, and Lucy is a pouter par excellence. I absolutely adore Owen Wilson's nose. Since Bruce is a brawler, I think Mr. Wilson would be perfection in that role! Both actors bring a lot of energy to the screen, and that's a perfect balance to Ms. Knightley's restraint and Mr. Northam's smoldering emotions.
Learn more about the author and her work at Joanna Slan's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Joanna Slan & Rafferty and Victoria.

The Page 69 Test: Death of a Schoolgirl.

Writers Read: Joanna Campbell Slan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 13, 2012

F. J. Lennon's "Devil’s Gate"

F.J. Lennon is a Los-Angeles based writer of supernatural. His novels Soul Trapper and Devil’s Gate are the first two installments in a series that follows the turbulent life and times of rogue ghost hunter, Kane Pryce.

Here he dreamcasts Devil’s Gate—part ghost story, part murder mystery, part rock and roll fable. Protagonist Kane Pryce must discover why Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge, also known as Suicide Bridge, is haunted and what keeps tortured souls trapped there.
OK, let’s start at the top of the pyramid—Kane Pryce. A twenty-eight-year-old hard drinking, hard living, misanthropic ghost hunter and lead guitarist of a band on the verge of success. When I first wrote Soul Trapper as an iPhone audio adventure in 2008, I saw Johnny Depp in my mind as I created Kane, specifically Johnny from the movie, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?. That was the right age, the right look. Kane was more introspective and sad then. As Soul Trapper evolved from a game into a novel series, Kane also evolved. He became someone different. He can be a jerk; he also can be charming. Sometimes he’s sober; often, he’s drunk. Vulnerable and suspicious. Lonely. Today, I’d cast Sam Worthington as Kane. Though Sam is in his mid-thirties, Kane lives life hard, so he’d look a few years older than he really is.

Eva Kells—the object of Kane’s affections and up-and-coming L.A. Times reporter is a stylish, tall blonde in her late twenties. She’s tough and beautiful—no nonsense. I could see Blake Lively bringing Eva to life.

Dr. Ned Ross—Kane’s sometimes partner in the paranormal. A brilliant Cal Tech professor and relentless know-it-all. This is a heavy man with a heavy personality. He’s annoying, but full of heart—a caustic sweetness. My choice to play Ned is John Goodman.

Babalon—the beautiful and seductive demon that Kane must discover and confront. This one is easy. I saw Angelina Jolie the entire time I was writing the character. She’s so damn intense. Frankly, I think she might really be Babalon.

Millie Barrington—a ninety-something heiress to a billion dollar fortune. She hires Kane and Ned to unlock the secrets of the Colorado Street Bridge. She’s feisty, darkly humorous, still vibrant despite her age. She needs to have a look that doesn’t reveal if she’s a good or bad person. I’d love to see Lauren Bacall play Millie.

Teresa Burrows—vulnerable mother of a recent suicide victim. Kane tumbles into an unexpected romance with her. I saw Salma Hayek in my mind when I wrote her, but Teresa doesn’t have an accent. As I’ve never seen Salma play a role without her sexy accent, I’d have to go with Claire Forlani to play the part. She has a very penetrating look on film.

Drexel—the narcissistic and astoundingly arrogant an immature lead singer of Kane’s band, Astral Fountain. He’s only in his early twenties, but has the ego and raw talent to become a rock star. I think Aaron Johnson would nail the part of Drexel.

Anna Burrows—Teenage suicide victim who helps guide Kane from the afterlife. She’s a dark, gothic smart ass. I’d choose Madeline Martin to play her. Madeline really demonstrates her acting chops on Californication.

As for a screenwriter, I’ll take that job for myself.

And the director—I’d have to pick Brett Ratner. I’m a big fan of his films.
Learn more about the book and author at F. J. Lennon's website, blog, and Facebook fan page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Laurie Frankel's "Goodbye for Now"

Laurie Frankel was recently named one of ten women to watch in 2012. She is a proud core member of the Seattle7Writers. Her first novel, The Atlas of Love, came out in August 2010.

Here Frankel shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of her new novel, Goodbye for Now:
In fact, fabulously, Lionsgate has bought the film option for Goodbye For Now. Exciting, no? So they’re in charge. This is great news for many reasons, not the least of which is that casting a movie is a great mystery to me. Choosing real live actors to play characters who until recently existed only in my head seems completely daunting to me. But what if we took out the “live” part of that equation?

Goodbye For Now is a book about a software engineer who invents a way to digitally, virtually recreate your dead loved ones from their emails, social media, and old video chats. Remember when they brought Tupac back at Coachella? Like that. And you know who has lots of old video footage? Dead movie stars. I don’t know about the real movie, but it seems just perfect to me that the stars of my fantasy movie of Goodbye For Now should be, well, dead.

So Meredith, female lead. She starts off saucy and sweet and -- I don’t think this gives too much away -- ends up sad and sweet. So I’m torn between Katharine Hepburn at the beginning leaning more towards Audrey Hepburn at the end. Why aren’t those two related? Natalie Wood might be a good compromise -- sweet and saucy and sad and hopeful all the way through.

Meredith’s cousin, Dashiell Bentlively (a name he chose himself), is all L.A. chic and Hollywood cool, mysteriously connected to but not actually involved with the film industry, gorgeous, popular, beloved by all, bisexual, very loving towards his family and friends, and surprisingly loyal and down-to-earth and emotional when push comes to shove (as of course it must). Cary Grant, himself gorgeous, popular, beloved by all, bisexual, and very loving towards family and friends, seems a perfect choice. Dash would be delighted.

Sam’s dad is the main character’s father. We never learn his own name -- to us, as to Sam, he’s just Sam’s dad. He’s sort of the moral center of the book, not a huge part but a hugely important one. I like Paul Newman for him, but then, I like Paul Newman for anything. Paul had it going on: sensitive and concerned without being mushy about it, haunted and aching without shrieking tragedy, on his game but with something lurking beneath those eyes. That’s exactly what Sam’s dad needs.

And that brings us to Sam who’s a tough one. He’s the lead. He’s the genius behind the software. He brings the love and the tragedy and the joy and the heartbreak and the humor and the pathos. He’s very funny, very smart, a little wry, and very loving of lots and lots of people. So we need someone with range. It’s hard to imagine old movie stars as computer geniuses. But though Jimmy Stewart probably didn’t log a lot of hours on Twitter, I think he’d be great for the part. He does smart, funny, sensitive, and caring with the best of them. And he brings a touch of the geek, a notch below completely suave and debonair (see Cary Grant above). He’s a little bit more casual about his loveliness, and that’s Sam all over.

Now that I’ve put this post together, I’m dying to see this cast do this movie. If you are a computer genius or a hologram animator, you should call me.
Learn more about the book and author at Laurie Frankel's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Atlas of Love.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Laurie Frankel and Calli.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Carolyn Wall's "Playing With Matches"

Carolyn Wall is the author of the internationally acclaimed novel Sweeping Up Glass as well as the recently released Playing With Matches.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of the new novel:
I’m overjoyed with reactions to my second novel, Playing With Matches. It was fun to write and, in need of a setting, I did what fiction often writers do – I chose a town in one state and moved it to another. Thus, a chunk of Texas is now in Mississippi. I love the Gulf coast and have witnessed what hurricanes can do – even when they travel upriver. None of those things were hard to write. Neither were Belize or the Mississippi prison.

Creating people, however, has always been my first love.

While I wrote Playing With Matches, I did not visualize particular actors in each role – unusual for me. My favorite character – although I loved many in this book -- was that southern black gentleman, Uncle Cunny Gholar. As her earliest teacher at the domino table under the willow, this pin stripe-suited man with his pencil-thin mustache, is frustrated with young Clea Shine. She knows everything and will argue. But she will not subtract. Cunny Gholar is a role that begs for a young version of the late Sherman Hemsley. Now, however, there’s Will Smith to consider – the only actor whose facial expressions are greater than words, but he’s just not skinny enough.

Cousin Bitsy, a strong, sexy role throughout, will be played by Gabourey Sidibe – a fantastic match that would steal the show. However – and I laugh as I write this -- I welcome help filling the bedroom slippers of the irascible Miss Shookie. Wheezer, kept under a house as a child, requires a pale, blond actor. And Thomas – well, I never developed much visual for him. As for Sunnie, his undressed, desk-hopping, red-haired student – well, any undressed, red-haired actress will do. (You can see that I was, and remain, on Clea’s side.)

Through the writing of the book, I adored the invincible Jerusha Lovemore who’s fed up with her sister and niece from page one. I considered Loretta Devine for this part, but Mo’Nique is an excellent character actor, and I can almost see her pulling this off. Not sure, though, whether to team Gabby with Mo’Nique so soon, on the heels of Precious.

The main character, Clea – all grown up -- fits Cate Blanchett to a tee. The lovely Cate would have to be made-down, rather than up, to feature plainness, that beautiful commonness she portrayed in The Gift. She’d be the perfect candidate for this now-single mom who has been betrayed, is on the run, and is terrified for her children. I can see her with an ultra-smart daughter rescued from South America, and rocking five-year-old Harry, who won’t talk anymore.

But -- calling all movie-goers! I need help lining up Finn – a thirteen-year-old who lives in a tree – and Clea the child. She’d need to be willful and brilliant, show an abnormal curiosity and able to carry off frequent heartbreaks. A child who could carefully play with matches.

In the book that is currently on my computer – soon to be the third novel, the lead will bring home an Academy Award for Mare Winningham. Watch for it – no title, yet. I’m hoping Mare’s character will give me a clue.
Visit Carolyn Wall's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Matthew Parker's "Larceny in My Blood"

Matthew Parker recently earned an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and has been drug- and crime-free since 2002. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he now lives in New York City.

Here he shares a suggestion for the lead in a big screen adaptation of his new book, Larceny in My Blood: A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs, and Higher Education:
There are a several reasons why I’d choose Sean Penn to play me in a film of my book.

First off is we are close in age, both of us being born in 1960. Penn is also, like myself, a natural-born iconoclast, and often portrays such characters in film; from the perpetually stoned Jeff Spicoli in the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High to his Oscar-winning portrayal of in-your-face gay activist Harvey Milk in the critically acclaimed 2008 film Milk.

But his performance in the 1985 film The Falcon and the Snowman is the most analogous with me and my book. In the film Penn plays drug addict and larceny opportunist Andrew Daulton Lee who, with the help of childhood friend Christopher Boyce, went from part time dealer and smuggler (hence his moniker “the Snowman”) to espionage in an effort to support his habit. Lee was given life in prison for his crime. After serving 22 years, he made parole and is now out and working as Sean Penn’s personal assistant, in tune with the rehabilitative power of art and creativity which is a major theme in my book.

But perhaps the most striking parallel is that I was in prison with Lee in 1988 and 1989. It was in the medium security Federal Correctional Institution located just north of Phoenix, Arizona. He lived in Navajo Unit while I was housed in Pima, the building next door (I have yet to fathom the reasons why many of the buildings, along with a good deal of the prisons themselves, are named after Native American tribes, and not just in Arizona). I didn’t know him personally, but I used to see him around the recreation yard. Lee was a quiet prisoner who, like me, stayed out of the mix. Most often he could be found on the tennis courts where, by all accounts, he was an exceptional player.

The deciding factor, however, is that Penn and I are both altruistic, left-leaning liberals. He is a bit too far left for my tastes on occasion—embracing the civil rights-crushing regimes of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, for instance—but his opinions, political or otherwise, are his own, and only underscore the themes of freedom and its most extreme antithesis, prison, which are both hallmarks of my book.
Learn more about Larceny in My Blood at the publisher's website, and visit the Larceny in My Blood Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Larceny in My Blood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shon Hopwood's "Law Man"

Shon Hopwood is a law school student at the University of Washington School of Law who, prior to law school, served over ten years in federal prison for a string of bank robberies he committed as a young adult. While in prison, he learned the law and he wrote legal briefs for other prisoners, two of which were granted by the U.S. Supreme Court—the equivalent of winning the legal lottery. Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption is the story of his prison term, legal successes, and the romance of his now wife while he was still incarcerated.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of Law Man:
Law Man has six main characters.

By far the hardest choice would be picking a character for my wife, who is movie star beautiful. Many people mention Angelina Jolie as the obvious choice, but Annie would prefer Rachel McAdams, who seems to possess the same sweet quality as my wife.

Seth Waxman is the former U.S. Solicitor General who took over the Supreme Court case and became a mentor to me. I think George Clooney could play a great Seth because Clooney seems to pull off the charming but confident persona.

Noah Levine is another attorney involved in the Supreme Court case who later became a mentor to me. Noah has an uncanny resemblance to Rob Lowe and the same reserved demeanor.

John Fellers is my friend from prison. It was his case that was granted by the Supreme Court. Bradley Cooper would play an awesome John because both think they are players.

Bobbie is my best friend from prison. I actually think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would play a good Bobbie, if only because they have the same build and same shaped head.

People have told me about a bunch of different actors that could play me, including Matt Damon, a guy from Mad Men, and Edward Norton. But the one I like best is Ben Affleck. I don’t pretend to look anything like Affleck. I just like that he normally plays a guy’s guy—not a lot of fluff.

To be honest, if one day a movie is made about my memoir, it will mean that my book is successful, which will mean I probably won’t care as to who plays the roles. But it’s fun dreaming!
Learn more about Law Man at Shon Hopwood's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Margaret Dilloway's "The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns"

Margaret Dilloway was inspired by her Japanese mother's experiences when she wrote The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, and especially by a book her father had given to her mother called The American Way of Housekeeping.

Here the author shares some suggestions for casting a big screen adaptation of The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns:
I didn’t have any specific actors in mind as I was writing The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns except for two (which you will read about below), but when I see certain actors they conjure my characters. It’s shaping up to be an extraordinary (and probably extraordinarily expensive) cast.

Galilee Garner (Gal for short) is a high school biology teacher in her mid-30s whose amateur rose breeding hobby seems close to a breakthrough: the new Hulthemia rose, which breeders have been trying to perfect for 200 years.

Gal has one other major concern besides her students and her roses: she has end-stage kidney failure from a childhood ailment, and therefore must use dialysis every other day. Her long-term struggles with her kidneys have contributed to her stubborn way of thinking, which is really necessary for survival.

To keep herself going, Gal adheres to a rigid schedule, which she believes should include emotional distance from other people. She hasn’t seen her older sister Becky or her niece in years. Becky’s struggled with substance abuse and mostly cut herself off from the family. When Gal’s niece Riley arrives unexpectedly, Gal must re-examine her life and start having real relationships.

The other day I was looking at some website and saw a photo of Michelle Williams and Jason Segel together, and I immediately thought of them for my imaginary movie. Gal would be a very difficult role, because on the outside, Gal is very tough-minded. Williams needs to make her empathetic and convey her internal sweetness and grace. I think she would be able to do it perfectly.

Jason Segel is my choice for George Morton, the new chemistry teacher who shakes up the friendship between Gal and her teacher friend, Dara. His character is recovering from a bitter divorce, and has moved from the private sector to teaching. He’s got to be hopeful, the one who sees Gal’s beauty when she can’t see it herself.

I’d like Chloë Grace Moretz for Gal's neglected niece, Riley. She’s a teenager who vacillates between acting like a jaded grown-up, and being a very injured kid.

For Gal’s sister, Becky, I pictured Jennifer Aniston. Becky is in pharmaceutical sales, an ice princess with a vulnerable core. During the sisters’ childhood, Becky was often neglected due to her sister being so ill. Gal is clearly the family favorite, and it’s affected Becky profoundly.

Gal’s mother is a fiercely protective woman who has to yell at a lot of doctors. She’s a painter, kind of a hippie. Again, a difficult character. You love her for how she defends Gal, kind of hate her for how she treats Becky. My choice is Meryl Streep.

Dara, Gal’s best and pretty much only friend, is a very sweet art teacher who can’t seem to settle down with one man. Amy Adams would be perfect as the concerned woman who has her own issues to work out.

For Byron Madaffer, the rival rose grower, I had an actor in mind: Daniel Craig. Byron is a morally ambiguous character, and Craig would bring out his depths.

Mark Walters is a minor character who plays a pivotal role as another patient awaiting transplant. He’s got a white mustache and always dresses in white. When I wrote Walters, I was actually picturing Mark Twain, but my daughter just suggested Alan Rickman and I think he'd make an interesting choice.

Brad is another important minor character, one of Gal’s star students who is harboring a secret. My pick for him is Dylan O’Brien.
Learn more about the book and author at Margaret Dilloway's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Daniel H. Wilson's "Amped"

Daniel H. Wilson earned a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. His books include How to Survive a Robot Uprising, Where’s My Jetpack?, How to Build a Robot Army, The Mad Scientist Hall of Fame, Bro-Jitsu: The Martial Art of Sibling Smackdown, A Boy and His Bot, and Robopocalypse.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Amped:
Amped is a techno-thriller about a guy living through a civil rights movement that is sparked when people with disabilities start using neural implants that make them smarter and faster than average people. The protagonist, Owen Gray, starts out as a wimpy high school teacher, but pretty soon figures out that he has a weaponized neural implant that gives him the power to do really great things -- or really terrible things. A few days ago I found out that Chris Hemsworth is likely starring in the movie based on my novel Robopocalypse, and so I went and watched his movie Thor. I came away really impressed with Chris, but also with the character of Loki, played by an actor named Tom Hiddleston. I recognized him from another great movie, War Horse. Hiddleston has this way of transforming from a vulnerable, inoffensive guy into an icewater-veined badass on the spot. It's a transformation that would be perfect for Owen Gray.
Learn more about the book and author at Daniel Wilson's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Boy and His Bot.

Writers Read: Daniel H. Wilson.

The Page 69 Test: Robopocalypse.

--Marshal Zeringue