Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mandy Hager's "Into the Wilderness"

Mandy Hager is an award-winning writer and educator based on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. She has a drive to tell stories that "matter" -- direct, powerful stories with something to say. She won the 2010 NZ Post Children’s Book Award for Young Adult Fiction for The Crossing, the first book in the Blood of the Lamb trilogy.

Here Hager dreamcasts an adaptation of Into the Wilderness, the second book in the trilogy:
For a taster of the plot, here’s the blurb: Maryam, Ruth and Joseph have fled Onewēre, reluctantly taking Joseph’s troublesome cousin Lazarus as well. They arrive at their destination, Marawa Island, filled with hope for rescue and reprieve. But at first glance the island appears to be solely populated by birds. Perhaps the Apostle’s dire warnings about the fallout of the Tribulation were true after all?

As Maryam and Joseph experience all the topsy-turvy misunderstandings and sexual tension first love entails, the antagonism between Maryam and Lazarus reaches explosive proportions. But when disaster brings the crushing realization that time is now against them, all four must decided just who they can risk turning to for help.

It’s a pleasure to imagine Into the Wilderness as a film — in fact, as I write I visualise each story as if it’s a film playing out inside my head. This is the second book in my Blood of the Lamb trilogy, a series that looks at the way power and control is wielded over women, faithful populations and people of colour. Set in an apocalyptic future, the book takes its characters from a small island in the Pacific to the shores of an island detention centre off the coast of a transformed Australia (The Confederated Territories), based on the detention centre on Nauru.

One of the features of the book is that the main protagonist Maryam and her friend Ruth are Pacific Islanders – people who are not often represented in fiction. Maryam is a strong and courageous character, who rails against the oppressive religious sect that controls the island where she was raised and who, in Into the Wilderness, must learn to overcome great grief to stand up against racist nationalistic captors who have no regard for the plight of refugees and ‘boat people.’

So, to stay faithful to the underlying themes of the book, it would be essential to cast Maryam and Ruth as true Pacific Islanders. Now, if the adaptation was cast in New Zealand (where I live) this would not pose any difficulties. If it was to be a full Hollywood production, however, this might prove more difficult. I like to think that the casting director looked outside the square and went in search of new talent to bring a real freshness and authenticity to the film. With the cultural references (including the Gilbertese language) borrowed from the people of Kiribati, it would seem a sensible place to start the search. Just as unknown Papuan New Guinea actress Xzannjah was discovered to play Matilda in the wonderful film adaptation of Mr Pip, I would like a similar search to be undertaken to find the one special person who could bring Maryam life.

Therefore my dream would be for Andrew Adamson to direct, for the movie to be filmed on location in the Pacific with authentic Pacific islanders, and for the supporting cast to be New Zealanders, to showcase the wonderful talent we have down here! And, of course, it would be crewed by New Zealanders as well, with my dear husband Brian as Gaffer (head of lighting) – as that’s what he does in real life!
Learn more about the book and author at Mandy Hager's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tj O'Connor's "Dying to Know"

As an international security consultant and former government agent, Tj O'Connor has conducted security consulting, investigations, and anti-terrorism operations around the world. Today, he provides independent security consulting to government agencies and private businesses.

Here O'Connor dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Dying to Know:
Unlike many writers I’m sure, I’ve never contemplated Dying To Know as a movie. Maybe it’s because this is the book I never thought I’d write and never thought would be published. But that all happened, so now, I see… Dying to Know—The Movie!

Dying to Know is about Oliver Tucker, a homicide cop murdered in his own home. Tuck returns as a dead detective to help his brilliant and beautiful wife, Professor Angel Tucker, solve his murder. Yes, Tuck’s dead and back home. But, unlike other novels with ghost characters, this is not a ghost story. It’s a murder case with a paranormal twist. Tuck’s predicament—he’s dead—is a means to find his killer, not the story. In Dying to Know, Tuck searches for his killer among a litany of suspects, beginning with Angel and his partner, Bear Braddock—were they involved? And there’s Poor Nic, a retired NY mobster who isn’t completely retired and is involved in Tuck’s last case. Add in Lucca Tuscani, a NY hit man stalking Winchester, and the always-present-at-the-wrong-time Ernie Stuart and André Cartier—both aged professors from Angel’s university. There are a few others mind you, but I have limited space.

My amazing agent, Kimberley Cameron, has likened this story to The Thin Man meets Topper (from the 40s) and Patrick Swayze’s Ghost meets Castle (Nathan Fillion). I think she’s dead-on (pardon the pun).

So for the key roles, let’s try…
Tuck—Nathan Fillion
Angel—Rebecca Romijn
Bear—Joe Manganiello
Poor Nic—James Caan
Ernie Stuart—William H. Macy
Doc—Sam Elliott
Lucca Tuscani—Steve Buscemi
André Cartier—Jean Reno
This cast is a stew of big screen stars and television aficionados. But, their characters fit my characters. Nathan Fillion is a part-action, part-smartass character in every role I’ve seen him in—he’s fun and daring and is Tuck. Rebecca Romijn is a beautiful woman who can pull off smart and sexy and still be tough as nails. Joe Manganiello’s bulk and daring always seems to hide something quieter that fits Bear’s persona perfectly. William H. Macy is very diverse and his often dry wit and humor, added with some eyeglasses and a PhD, could capture Ernie’s stuffy brilliance and underhanded scheming well. Sam Elliott has a smooth delivery and a twinkle in his eye with many characters. Doc, a crusty, long-dead old surgeon appears to help Tuck find his killer and learn the ropes. Sam has that “I told you so” spirit and a keen wit that would capture Doc exactly as I see him. Who else but James Caan could be Poor Nic—retired NY mobster with an affinity for beautiful women, dangerous shenanigans, and still be likable and fun with a gun? Steve Buscemi is the picture image of Lucca Tuscani, the NY hit man who arrives in Winchester to stir up trouble. Steve’s tough and leathery character in Boardwalk Empire is Lucca throughout. Last is Jean Reno as André Cartier. André is Angel’s uncle and a Smithsonian professor who dotes over her while constantly pointing the finger at everyone nearby. Jean Reno can pull off the intellectual, hard-polished and often stubborn character I wrote as André. And if it comes to being the killer, Jean has the chops for that, too.

Perhaps Dying to Know will never see the screen or television. Perhaps it will die a slow death on the shelves (sorry did it again), or perhaps it’ll open the doors for my third career. But no matter, Dying to Know would be a killer show with this cast.
Visit Tj O’Connor's website, blog, and Facebook page.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Tj O’Connor & Toby, Mosby, and Maggie Mae.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ruth Dugdall's "The Sacrificial Man"

Ruth Dugdall is a British crime writer. She has a degree in English and Theatre Studies from Warwick University and an MA is Social Work at University of East Anglia, and has worked as a probation officer dealing with high-risk criminals for almost a decade. She is the author of The James Version and The Sacrificial Man.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of The Sacrificial Man:
To see one of my novels on the big screen is one of my favourite daydreams. For many writers, especially crime writers like myself, a movie deal is the Holy Grail.

But then the crunch question – who has the icy demeanour to play my uber-controlling, beautiful but brutalised Alice?

Alice is the central character in The Sacrificial Man, and she has agreed to kill a man, and eat him. She does not see herself as a criminal, but as a romantic heroine; she believes she is in a love story, that in helping her lover to die she was performing an act of devotion. Imagine Julie Christie, as she was in Doctor Zhivago, but with a knife.

Julie Christie being a bit too mature now, I think Nicole Kidman has a suitably frosty and fractured demeanour. I’d enjoy watching her reveal Alice’s motivations, but I’m not sure she could motivate the audience to empathise. An actress with a track record in making unpleasant people sympathetic is Charlize Theron. Even her Dior advert brings me out in goose bumps!

My other female lead is Cate Austin, the probation officer with the thankless task of writing a sentencing report on Alice. Cate has to delve into the dark side of life, and she sometimes struggles.

Cate is my everywoman, so I imagine a warmer, girl-next-door actress. My background is as a probation officer, so Cate has inherited some of my traits; she’s a petite redhead, rather serious-minded. I think Carey Mulligan would play her well (though she’d need some henna).

My dream director is Jordan Scott, Ridley Scott’s daughter (I bet she hates that everyone adds that, as if she has no identity in her own right). In fact (confession time) I e-mailed her after I watched Cracks because the themes seemed so close to what I hope to achieve with my writing, and I just thought: “she would get me.”
Learn more about the book and author at Ruth Dugdall's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nancy Bartley's "The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff"

Nancy Bartley is or has been a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at American University in Bulgaria, a Seattle Times journalist, a writing teacher, and the author of short fiction as well as the 2013 book, The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff – the Redemption of Herbert Niccolls Jr., a work of narrative nonfiction.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of the book:
First of all, I have to say I am writing a screenplay on The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff, so, of course, casting does come to mind from time to time.

Since the lead would require a very strong child actor who move from 12 to 21, it's a big challenge. Asa Butterfield, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, would be my pick. He can move an audience to tears without over playing the part. The Niccolls role calls for someone who can be vulnerable and willing to please, yet at the same time has a side quite capable to lying, cheating and even killing.

The wonderful Tom Hanks would be my pick for the warden, who turns around the life of the 12-year-old killer. Warden McCauley is a complex man. On one hand, he is known as the liberal warden because he believes in all kinds of prison reforms but on the other, he is still tough and presides over executions. The 1930s was the bloodiest time in the nation's penitentiaries with more people being put to death than at any other time.

There are smaller parts -- Walter Du Buc, the 17-year-old who is executed, I'd use Liam James, the Canadian up-and-coming actor, who does serious and sulky so well. Armene Lamson, the child-welfare crusader, I'd use Meryl Streep (who wouldn't?). No one, could do better when it comes to playing a driven woman who takes on a governor to free a child murderer.
Learn more about the book and author at Nancy Bartley's website, and follow her on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kathryn Erskine's "Seeing Red"

Seeing Red, National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine's latest novel, is a story of family, friendship, and race relations in the South.
Life will never be the same for Red Porter. He’s a kid growing up around black car grease, white fence paint, and the backward attitudes of the folks who live in his hometown, Stony Gap, Virginia.

Red’s daddy, his idol, has just died, leaving Red and Mama with some hard decisions and a whole lot of doubt. Should they sell the Porter family business, a gas station, repair shop, and convenience store, rolled into one, where the slogan — “Porter’s: We Fix It Right!” — has been shouting the family’s pride for as long as anyone can remember?

With Daddy gone, everything’s different. Through his friendship with Thomas, Beau, Rosie, and Miss Georgia, Red starts to see there’s a lot more than car motors and rusty fenders that need fixing in his world.
Here Erskine dreamcasts an adaptation of her novel:
There are a few characters who pop into mind immediately:

Miss Georgia:  Cicely Tyson

Mr. Walter: Morgan Freeman

Beau: Matt Damon

Mama: Julia Stiles

Red: Griffin Gluck

Thomas: Jaden Smith

Rosie: Madison Pettis

The other characters I can picture in my mind but don't know an actor to fit with them. I know who'd be a great director, though -- Ron Howard. Red, the main character, is a 12-year-old redhead in the early 1970's and even compares himself at one point to Opie, the character Ron Howard played on TV in The Andy Griffith Show. Also, it's definitely a Ron Howard kind of movie: thoughtful, serious, unflinching, but with charm and humor.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Erskine's website.

Check out Erskine's top 10 first person narratives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 14, 2013

David Bruce's "The Life of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton"

David Bruce is an assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, The Life of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton: Extraordinary Perseverance:
The Life of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton: Extraordinary Perseverance is a biography of one of Great Britain’s most prominent nineteenth-century social activists. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t scream box-office bonanza, so I can’t imagine anyone pursuing this as a cinematic project. On the other hand, I honestly think it would make a nice independent art-house film.

Although surrounded by many other reform-minded people, I consider Thomas Fowell Buxton to be the first true social reformer – that rare breed that is concerned with all of humanity, not just one or two select causes. An acolyte of William Wilberforce, Buxton is best known for his efforts to end British slavery in 1834. In truth, he was a man of many interests and focused much of his life on punishment and prison reform, providing charity and support for the poor, ending the centuries-old restrictions placed on Great Britain’s Catholics, and furthering education and religious training overseas. Along the way, he and his family experienced tremendous losses, personal and professional, and it is amazing that he never lost his focus or faith. For the most part, Buxton has been forgotten by mainstream historians; nowadays, he tends to stand in Wilberforce’s shadow. It’s really tragic – he literally went from being very well-known and respected, to being reimagined as a “minor supporting character” in less than a half-century. What better way, therefore, to reacquaint people with one of the more important activists in history than with his own movie?

Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton was an energetic social activist who was well-known for his meticulous research and long speeches. Personally, I like either Paul Bettany or Daniel Day-Lewis, as both are outstanding actors who have had much success with characters that are at once intelligent, determined, sincere, and a tad socially awkward. Additionally, both men bear a slight facial resemblance to Buxton and look good in period set pieces. It’d be a hard choice, to be honest – although if I were aiming for complete accuracy, then Bettany gets the nod, as he shares Buxton’s 6’4” frame.

Hannah Gurney Buxton was usually characterized as a dutiful, supporting wife, who also happened to be an exceptional, natural beauty. She was also an extremely resilient woman who experienced more than her fair share of tragedy and pain. I have long been a fan of Amy Adams and think that she’d make an excellent Hannah, although I think Winona Ryder might be a good choice, as well.

Buxton’s mother, Anna Hanbury Buxton, bore six children, lost one, and was widowed, before she reached the age of thirty. She had no problem in allowing her surviving children the freedom they’d wanted, but was also quick to command respect when necessary. Buxton suggested that his mother may have suffered from some mental health issues (which are understandable, considering some of the things her family experienced).  Emma Thompson, who I think would be perfect in the role.

Gabriel Byrne would make an interesting William Wilberforce, a man who recognized that his increasing physical limitations would prevent him from realizing his life’s goal of abolishing slavery. Stephen Dillane was excellent as Thomas Jefferson in HBO’s John Adams, and I think he would be equally as intriguing as Hannah’s brother, the evangelist Joseph John Gurney. Finally, I would cast Kate Winslet as Hannah’s older sister, the noted prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.
Learn more about the book and author at the Extraordinary Perseverance website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rebecca Cantrell’s "The World Beneath"

Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel mystery/thriller novels have won the Bruce Alexander and Macavity awards and been nominated for the Barry and RT Reviewers Choice awards; her critically-acclaimed cell phone novel, iDrakula, was nominated for the APPY award and listed on Booklist’s Top 10 Horror Fiction for Youth.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The World Beneath:
The World Beneath is set in the tunnels underneath New York City and follows Joe Tesla, a direct descendant of famous scientist Nikola Tesla, after he is struck by agoraphobia and can no longer go outside.

Who would want to come down and play in Joe Tesla’s world? Let’s run through the top characters.

Joe Tesla. First off, there’s Joe himself. Joe made his millions creating facial-recognition software, so he’s smart, and he didn’t spend a lot of time outside before this happened to him so he’s pale. But he spent his childhood working in a circus, so he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve. He’s also funny. Smart, funny, intense, quirky? How about Joseph Gordon-Levitt?

Vivian Torres. If Joe’s the brains, she’s the brawn. She is also very smart in her own right, luckily for Joe. She grew up on the mean streets of New York, went into the Army, and was recently released from on a dishonorable discharge. She’s been hired as Joe’s bodyguard, and in future books she’ll be his eyes and ears aboveground. Who is beautiful, a step ahead strategically, and can kick your butt? Michelle Rodriguez.

Celeste Gallo. Not so long ago, she stole Joe’s heart. But she wasn’t ready to settle down. She’s a carefree artist from a wealthy family—funny, charming, and talented. Unfortunately, she is struck by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is gradually becoming paralyzed. She can’t leave her house, and Joe can’t leave his. This might solve some of their commitment problems, even if it creates others. The actress playing her must be expressive, brilliant, and a force to be reckoned with even if she can’t move a muscle. For me, that’s Bryce Dallas Howard.

Ozan Saddiq. He’s a bad guy, but he’s very good at it. Like Vivian, he served in the US military. Unlike Vivian, he got an honorable discharge. He likes killing, and he’s well paid for it. His only close friend is his brother Erol, who has Downs Syndrome, for whom Ozan has assumed all expenses since their parents died. Unlike most killers, he’s not a giant bruiser. He’s deceptively slight and polite—until he’s close enough to slip the knife between your ribs. Who could get anyone to lower their guard? Omid Abtahi.

Edison. Edison is Joe’s best friend. He’s a psychiatric service dog. He’s part yellow Lab, part golden retriever, and part furry ball of wonder. Of all the characters, he’s the one I’d want to take home with me.

I’d love to hear your casting suggestions! (maybe for a psychiatric service cat for the next book?)
Learn more about the book and author at Rebecca Cantrell's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Rebecca Cantrell (July 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gail Oust's "Rosemary and Crime"

The author of the Bunco Babes mystery series, Gail Oust is often accused of flunking retirement. Hearing the words "maybe it's a dead body" while golfing fired her imagination for writing a cozy. Ever since then, she has spent more time on a computer than at a golf course.

Here Oust dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Rosemary and Crime, the first of her Spice Shop mysteries:
I’ve confided to friends on occasion that if I had a do-over, I’d run off to Hollywood and be a casting director. For some strange reason, the thought of finding just the right person for the right role appeals to me. When I’m in the zone, I can see the scenes in my books playing out on a movie screen inside my head.

Now who would play the lead of Piper Prescott in my little who-dun-it?

In my own private Fantasy Land, I possess a time machine. I’d turn back the years just a bit and make a younger Reba McEntire my leading lady. Like Piper, she is red-haired, sassy, and, in spite of adverse circumstances, determined to make her mark on the world.

Her ex-husband, CJ, who dumped her in favor of chasing ambulances and a bimbo in a short-skirt, would be played by a fortyish Alec Baldwin. Alec possesses CJ’s good looks and charm, but can also portray a jerk when a script calls for it.

Jim Caviezel is a shoo-in for the part of Police Chief Wyatt McBride. Add a hint of Georgia to his baritone, and he’s good to go. Height, weight, age, and build, he’s perfect for the former Miami-Dade detective returned to his boyhood home for a quieter life. Sorry, but with Piper finding dead bodies, he’s in for a rude awakening.

The part of Melly Prescott, Piper’s former mother-in-law, goes to Mary Beth Peil. For those not familiar with the name, Ms. Pell ably plays Alicia Florrick’s mother-in-law in the CBS drama, The Good Wife. Mary Beth is a dead ringer for Melly. She can be bit of a meddler at times but is still likeable.

I still haven’t found the perfect actress to cast as Reba Mae Johnson, Piper’s best friend forever, but I’ll know her when I see her.
Learn more about the book and author at Gail Oust's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Billy G. Smith's "Ship of Death"

Billy G. Smith is Distinguished Professor of Letters and Science in the History Department of Montana State University, where he has won every major teaching and research award offered. He is the author or editor of eight books and dozens of articles.

Here Smith dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, Ship of Death: A Voyage That Changed the Atlantic World:
The Hankey, a relatively large oceangoing wooden vessel, with square sails on foremast, mainmast and mizzenmast at the back, became the Ship of Death when it spread yellow fever around the Atlantic world in 1793. A replica ship might have a leading role in the film as was portrayed in Master and Commander (2003).

I would cast Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as Philip Beaver, the British naval officer and idealist who was one of the organizers of the short-lived attempt to found a West-African colony on land purchased from Africans and using hired rather than enslaved African labor. As conditions worsened at the colony, he took control of the venture and was the last person to abandon the colony. Cranston would be able to perform both aspects of Beaver’s personality, the visionary, self-righteous abolitionist and the ruthless, paranoid leader of a dwindling number of white and black workers.

Djimon Hounsou  (Amistad) would be cast as Jalorem, Bijago leader of Canabac Island, who both sold land to Beaver for the ill-fated colony and who held the British would-be settlers to behavior that would benefit local Africans. The role of Jalorem requires an actor to portray an extremely able warrior as well as a canny leader.

One of the few English women and men who survived the entire 1792-3 voyage of the Ship of Death was Elizabeth Rowe, widow of the physician who joined the colonizing venture. I’d cast  Robin Wright (House of Cards) for this role.
Learn more about Ship of Death at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 6, 2013

Stephen V. Ash's "A Massacre in Memphis"

Stephen V. Ash is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of Firebrand of Liberty, A Year in the South, and other books on the Civil War era.

Here Ash dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War:
A lot of actors would no doubt welcome a movie version of A Massacre in Memphis, for it features a large cast of interesting characters---black and white, male and female, old and young---and many dramatic episodes and gripping action sequences.

The setting is interesting, too: a Southern city one year after the Civil War, crowded with black people reveling in their new-found freedom, former Rebels resentful of defeat and emancipation, Irish immigrants struggling to survive and be accepted in America, and Yankee newcomers endeavoring to assert federal authority, help the freed people, or just make a buck.

In May 1866, long-simmering racial tensions in Memphis boiled over, resulting in a three-day race riot in which white mobs rampaged through black neighborhoods, shooting, beating, robbing, raping, and burning. Forty-six black people were murdered and every black church and school in the city was destroyed, along with many black homes.

One of the victims was fourteen-year-old Rachel Hatcher, a talented student in one of the freed people’s schools who dreamed of becoming a teacher. During the last hours of the riot, as she was trying to rescue a neighbor from his burning house, a white man put a bullet through her head. Her mother found her body moments later, but was unable to retrieve it before flames consumed it. A good choice to portray Rachel might be Quvenzhané Wallis.

One of the most colorful characters in the book is the city’s affable, alcoholic, Irish-American mayor, John Park. Quite drunk throughout the riot, he made a great show of trying to stop the violence while secretly sympathizing with the rioters. I can see Denis O’Hare playing him to perfection.

The commander of the U.S. army garrison in the city, General George Stoneman, likewise failed to distinguish himself during the riot. Having attained fame during the war as a dashing Union cavalry officer, Stoneman found his postwar assignment in Memphis boring and wished he was somewhere else. When the riot broke out he declined to get involved; only grudgingly and after much bloodshed and destruction did he deploy his troops and restore order. Sam Elliott, who did a fine job portraying a Union cavalry general in the film Gettysburg, might be a good pick for this role.

One of the bloodthirstiest rioters was a city policeman named David Roach. (Policemen in fact made up a large portion of the rioters.) Armed with pistol, club, and matches, he roamed around the city throughout the riot, setting fires and savagely assaulting black people. Although he’s really too old for the role, I’d love to see Jack Nicholson in it, reprising the demonic visage we all remember from The Shining.

These are only a few of the many good parts available in A Massacre in Memphis, should the casting call ever go out.
Learn more about A Massacre in Memphis at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Firebrand of Liberty.

Writers Read: Stephen V. Ash.

The Page 99 Test: A Massacre in Memphis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Jordan Dane's "Crystal Fire"

Jordan Dane makes up stuff for a living. She hears voices in her head and considers that to be a good thing.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her latest YA novels, Indigo Awakening & Crystal Fire:
It’s always fun to imagine your book on the big screen. The Hunted series (Indigo Awakening & Crystal Fire) had me searching the Internet for faces to inspire me. Here are a few:

Gabriel Stewart – is eighteen and has a faint British accent. He’s tall and well-built, with long hair and intense eyes. He looks like a rocker and wears T-shirts from local rock bands in LA. Gabriel is the most powerful Crystal child. In Crystal Fire, he’ll face horrific moral challenges as the young rebel leader in charge of training teens to fight.

Actor Landon Liboiron has been an inspiration to me for a long time. I love this guy.

Rayne Darby – is a spunky, emancipated minor at seventeen. Her parents died and left her older sister Mia to deal with the family money, trust funds, and the aftermath of caring for their mentally troubled brother, Lucas. She and Lucas are very close. She rides a vintage Harley motorcycle and cares for her ‘roommate,’ her pet Iguana Floyd Zilla. In Crystal Fire, she will face her worst fears and not have psychic powers to help her.

Actor Nicola Peltz – I love the vulnerability in her eyes, yet I can see where she could show strength.

Lucas Darby is fifteen, tall and lanky, with long hair and beautiful gray eyes that match his sister Rayne’s. He’s an evolving Crystal child who has been stunted by his time locked up in a mental hospital. At his young age, he’s manifested his Crystal child abilities early and becomes a target for the Believers. Crystal children tend to be peace loving. He’s at odds with Kendra’s warrior nature. Once he sees how far the Believers go to destroy innocent lives, Lucas will be forced to take a stand he’s not prepared for.

Actor William Moseley is how I envisioned Lucas. He looks like the boy next door and could play the part of naïve Luke.

Kendra Walker is a modern day Joan of Arc at seventeen. She’s strong and rebellious, driven to protect the Indigos right to live. She connects with other indigos, draws them to her and tracks them, with a limited range. She’s a healer and uses herbs and her garden to not only feed her street family, but she also hears the voices of “the others” through her plants. Kendra believes Lucas is the next coming of Christ and would die to protect him. In Crystal Fire, she’ll face down her past to find a future worth living.

Actor Emma Watson is always amazing in anything she plays. The strength in her eyes, coupled with the compassion I imagine she has, became a big draw for me.

Rafael Santana is a street kid who communes with the dead and connects with the spirit world. After years of abuse at the hands of his father, when he left home after his old man nearly killed him, he’s lived on the streets of LA and learned harder lessons. Once he met Kendra, he found a new kind of home. At eighteen, he’s the heart and soul of Kendra’s Indigo family, but in Crystal Fire, Raphael has lost everything. Not even his beloved Kendra and her Indigo rebellion can get him to care about his own life.

Actor Diego Luna captured the defiance and vulnerability of Rafael. He looks believable as a street kid who’d die for those he loves, yet carry deep emotional scars.
Learn more about the book and author at Jordan Dane's website and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 2, 2013

John C. Wright's "The Hermetic Millennia"

John C. Wright is an attorney turned SF and fantasy writer. He has published short fiction in Asimov’s SF and elsewhere, and wrote the Chronicles of Chaos, The Golden Age, and The War of Dreaming series. His novel Orphans of Chaos was a finalist for the Nebula Award in 2005.

Here Wright dreamcasts an adaptation of his 2012 novel, The Hermetic Millennia:
Here below are my choices for the casting of the characters in The Hermetic Millennia. Unfortunately, the cast list is rather long, so we will not be able to match all the names to faces. I took the liberty of selecting actors and actresses regardless of their age, or whether they were still living and working. Hence my first choice is for Menelaus Montrose to be played by Raymond Massey. He is not as homely as I describe Montrose to be, but then again, few actors are.

Next is Ximen del Azarchel, the Master of the World, to be played by Roger Delgado, the Master. There are several other Hermeticists in the story, of course, but he overshadows them.

Rania should be played by Rania. I realize Her Highness Rania of Jordan is not an actress, but then again she has the correct look and poise.

Let us do the rest in chronological order, starting with Trey Soaring Azurine, the Sylph, played by Ksenia Solo from Canada's Lost Girl.

Ben Kingsley as Sir Guy the Hospitalier.

Mickey the Witch played by Fiazon Love from Elf.

Irene Ryan, by herself, can play the other Witches from his era.

Jet Li as Yuen, the younger Chimera Alpha.

The older Chimera, Daae, to be played by Clint Eastwood after his hair went gray.

Lady Invinia is particularly hard to cast, but I will go with Eva Green.

Oenoe the Nymph is again difficult to cast. I select Tiffany Tang, who appeared in Chinese Paladin 3, which is perhaps my favorite television series to date. I saw it when I was in China. I am not sure where it is available here in the West.

For the other nymphs, nearly any Bollywood actresses or Japanese Gravure idols will do.

The Hormagaunt Soorm will have to be played by a special effect. I recommend Liam Neeson as the voice actor, only because I adored him in Rob Roy, a movie which I think I am the only person who saw.

Mentor Ull can be played, with some heavy makeup and trick photography, by Leo McKern, the British actor.

The Preceptor Illiance can be played by veteran character actor Lionel Jeffries.
Visit John C. Wright's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 30, 2013

P.S. Duffy's "The Cartographer of No Man’s Land"

P.S. Duffy is the author of The Cartographer of No Man’s Land, a debut novel that takes place during the First World War in Nova Scotia and the Western Front in France. She lives in Rochester, MN, had a long career in neurologic communication disorders, and now splits her time between writing fiction, reading history, fiction, and essays, and writing in the neurosciences for Mayo Clinic. She says that at her age she is happy to have the word “debut” applied to anything she does.

Here Duffy dreamcasts an adaptation of The Cartographer of No Man’s Land:
The novel takes place on the Western Front in the First World War where Angus MacGrath, a reluctant lieutenant, searches for his brother-in-law Ebbin and for his own purpose, and in Nova Scotia where his son Simon Peter is coming of age and like all the characters in the book, struggles to navigate war’s uncertainties and lasting effects. People consistently comment on how visually evocative the book is and who should be in the movie and who should direct. I smile indulgently—a movie, ha ha—but okay, yes, of course. Absolutely!!

Director: Ron Howard

Angus MacGrath, the main character: a younger (and maybe taller) Gabriel Byrne could portray Angus’s loneliness and strength, his poetic soul, his yearning, and his empathy-- without a trace of sentimentality. He’s sensuous, cerebral, and intense.

Simon Peter, Angus’s son: my oldest grandson, Aidan who at 11 years of age has Simon Peter’s sensitivity and openness of expression.

Hettie Ellen, Angus’s wife: Beautiful with a childlike face, Carey Mulligan could convey Hettie’s vulnerability, her secretive existence, and her later transformation, which, as Angus rightly suspects, has about it a false note: “Who was he to disturb such reinvention, to soil such brave efforts?” he thinks upon coming home to her shorn locks and her determination to run his father’s affairs. If there’s a sequel, Hettie will play a major role, I suspect.

Ebbin, Angus’s brother-in-law and friend: Ebbin is cocky, cheerful, breezy and a bit crazy. Maybe Joseph Gordon-Levitt could pull this role off.

Duncan MacGrath: Philip Seymour Hoffman could do a great job with Duncan, the grandfather who clings to moral absolutes to manage life’s losses. Once a captain of a fishing schooner off the Grand Banks, he is now the “owner of ships and the timber to build them.” He’s gruff, demanding, bitterly anti-Empire, and an aggressive pacifist. He is also vulnerable.

Mr. Heist: Paul Giamatti. With a trace of a German accent, he’d be perfect as the gentle Mr. Heist, the teacher, scholar and naturalist who refuses believe in the town’s growing need for a scapegoat.

Lady Bromley: Maggie Smith. Think Downton Abbey. Except Lady Bromley was not “to the manor born.” Her affections for Duncan rebuffed, she went to England as plain Hespera Church and returned married to Lord Edward Andrew Thurston Bromley, “a man of title, of many promises, older than she and thin as a rail.” He didn’t live up to his title, but Lady B. “assumed title enough for them both. And a bit of his British accent to boot.”

George Mather: Russell Crowe, younger and with silky hair down his back, could play George, the broken veteran, angry, unstable, and lost. Unable to communicate his truth, he is the voice of the war. Crowe would convey his anger and his humanity.

Publicover: Giovanni Ribisi as he looked in Saving Private Ryan. Publicover, a 19- year-old lieutenant, has been in the war for three years, which only increased his enthusiasm for a fight. But his brash, sometimes immature exterior belies the ice that runs in his veins when in the thick of it.

Captain Conlon: Colin Firth has the broad face and physique of Conlon and could capture his soft voice, his fatalistic musings, his leadership and kindness.

Juliette: I’m unfamiliar with French actresses, but Vera Farmiga, not your classic beauty, has the right look for Juliette and the dignity to pull off this somber, war-weary French widow who has no illusions but retains her capacity for love.
Learn more about the book and author at P. S. Duffy's website.

Writers Read: P. S. Duffy.

The Page 69 Test: The Cartographer of No Man's Land.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tea Krulos's "Heroes in the Night"

Tea Krulos is a freelance writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real Life Superhero Movement:
Heroes in the Night is non-fiction, one of those stories that proves truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. The book chronicles average, everyday people that belong to a secretive sub-culture, a movement of people calling themselves Real Life Superheroes (or RLSH.) They invent their own superhero identities and do charity events, activism, even patrol the streets looking for crime.

The two RLSH I spent the most time with were my own hometown Milwaukee heroes, the Watchman and Blackbird. I think we should have Val Kilmer and Edward Norton, respectively, for their roles. Seasoned actors, both with superhero experience (Batman Forever and The Incredible Hulk.)

Minnesota RLSH also were met several times. Geist (of Rochester, MN), the “Emerald Cowboy” could easily be played by comic book aficionado Nicolas Cage. Mr. Cage not only played Ghost Rider and Big Daddy (in Kick-Ass) but his name is derived from comic hero Luke Cage. He named his son, Kal-El, after Superman’s birth name. Razorhawk (of Minneapolis) is a RLSH and former wrestler with a signature wedge shaped mohawk. I say give the role to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

While in Vancouver, BC, I met a RLSH elder (in his mid 60s) named Thanatos and wrote a chapter about him titled “The Man in the Green Skull Mask.” I think we could get quite a striking performance from Keith Carradine.

Phoenix Jones is a controversial superhero from Seattle that finds himself in the media spotlight often. In fact, he’s been criticized as being a one man media circus, drawing them in with his personality. As such, I think it would be best for Phoenix Jones to play himself.

Female RLSH appear throughout the book. One mentioned is Terrifica, who used to appear at Manhattan bars to help inebriated women get home safely. I think Kristen Wiig would be perfect for the role. Former Batgirl Alicia Silverstone would be great as Rock N Roll, who helps lead a team called the California initiative. The Initiative is actually a franchise and has teams in several states. I met the New York Initiative and I feel the three I wrote the most about -- Zero, Zimmer, and Dark Guardian -- would be well cast as Henry Rollins, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Karl Urban.

Knight Owl lives in Oregon and I met him four different times in four different cities. Patrick Wilson portrayed a similarly named Nite Owl in Watchmen, and why not add another owl to the resume here?

I found out that Real Life Supervillains also exist, although they are Internet based critic personalities. There is a field day of casting here, but I’ll mention that I think Paul Giamatti could bring a certain gravitas as Lord Malignance.

I really tried to not make the book be about me, but as the narrator, I do show up in the story a few times. And the person who should play me on the big screen is without a doubt Bruce Campbell.
Visit the Heroes in the Night blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

E. J. Copperman's "The Thrill of the Haunt"

E.J. Copperman is a mysterious figure, or has a mysterious figure, or writes figuratively in mysteries. In any event, a New Jersey native, Copperman has written for such publications as the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, American Baby and USA Weekend. Night of the Living Deed is the first E.J. Copperman novel. It was followed by An Uninvited Ghost, Old Haunts, A Wild Ghost Chase, Chance of a Ghost, and the newly released The Thrill of the Haunt.

Here Copperman shares some insights on a big screen adaptation of the Haunted Guesthouse mysteries:
I have absolutely no idea who should play any of the leads in any of my books. The Haunted Guesthouse series assiduously avoids detailed descriptions of the main characters, mostly because I’m not completely sure exactly what they look like, myself. So I can’t offer any suggestions, although any readers with ideas are free to indulge themselves. That’s sort of the deal with me: Think it’s anybody you like, and you’ll be right. The one character for whom I have an actor in mind, however—and I have no idea where this thought came from—is Detective Lieutenant Anita McElone, the local cop Alison Kerby sometimes goes to for advice or information. When I’m writing McElone, I’m always picturing—no, that’s not right; I’m actually hearing the voice of—Queen Latifah. So take from that what you may. No idea who should direct such a movie, but I do have a number of suggestions as to who might be best to write the screenplay. I don’t think I’d be my first choice, but I could certainly do the job. I’ve written a screenplay or two. Or twenty-three. Something like that.
Visit E. J. Copperman's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Richard Toye's "Churchill's Empire"

Richard Toye studied at the Universities of Birmingham and Cambridge, and is currently Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter. His books include Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness, Churchill's Empire: The World that Made Him and the World He Made, and Rhetoric: A Very Short Introduction. His new book is The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill's World War II Speeches.

Here Toye explains how he would turn Churchill's Empire into a movie:
I would have Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) play Bella and Philip Seymour Hoffman play Churchill.

Churchill's Empire

His greatest triumph was also his greatest tragedy.

Winston Churchill – a man of greatness who outlived his era. He vowed that he had ‘not become the King’s First Minister to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire’. But it was on his watch that the imperial house of cards began its collapse. This film focuses on three crucial years, from the humiliation of the fall of Singapore in 1942, to Churchill’s dismissal by the British voters in 1945. It shows how a great power was humbled even as it achieved military victory over the forces of the Axis. And it shows the personal torment of an imperial hero as his beloved Empire crumbled to the ground. After the adulation of the crowds on VE Day cruelly followed by a crushing election defeat, he is caught by the ‘black dog’ of depression as he realises that his personal triumph is hollow. ‘I have achieved everything only to achieve nothing’, he confesses. ‘The Empire I believed in has gone.’

The story is told mainly through the eyes of the twenty year old Bella Hislop (a fictional amalgam of real people). Called to serve as a new secretary to Prime Minister Churchill on the very day of the British surrender at Singapore, her first experiences are enough to make her want to quit. Churchill’s moods, rages reduce her to tears – until she learns to answer back. From then on, he begins to trust her and she learns to love him wholeheartedly – whilst at the same time she experiences the agony of a tragic wartime romance. But she soon begins to experience conflicts of loyalty. The man she is in love with, Ranald Macrae, is a liberal-minded colonial office civil servant, who tries to persuade her that Churchill’s racial attitudes are out of date. And as Churchill stubbornly resists moves for colonial freedom, Bella begins to suspect that his antiquated diehard approach is threatening to destroy the very Empire he loves. Yet we also come to understand why Churchill sees things the way he does. We see earlier episodes of his life through flashback: his early, brutal experiences of imperial warfare in India, Sudan and South Africa form the dramatic counterpoint to his modern day political dilemmas. This is a grittily realistic Churchill for the Twenty-First Century.
The Page 99 Test: Churchill's Empire.

Writers Read: Richard Toye.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 22, 2013

Keith Raffel's "A Fine And Dangerous Season"

An avid reader of crime fiction since picking up his first Hardy Boys mystery, Keith Raffel became a published author in 2006. Bookreporter called his Dot Dead “the most impressive mystery debut of the year.” Its 2009 sequel, Smasher, was a national bestseller and has been optioned for film. Raffel’s next two novels, Drop By Drop and A Fine and Dangerous Season, were top 10 bestsellers on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s ebook lists. Raffel also has a life outside the literary world. He has founded an award-winning Silicon Valley company, served as counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee, taught writing to college freshmen, run for Congress, worked at a DNA sequencing company, and supported himself gambling at the racetrack.

Here Raffel dreamcasts an adaptation of A Fine and Dangerous Season:
Well, it’s not hard to get us writers spinning off into the realm of unreality – spending time in Fantasy Land is what we do for a living. Since Thomas & Mercer published A Fine And Dangerous Season this month, it must be about time to start casting the movie, right?

How about a little reminder of the plot of Fine and Dangerous? Twenty-three-year-old John F. Kennedy is spending the fall quarter of 1940 at Stanford as a special student. (That’s true in the real world, too.) He meets law student Nate Michaels who is in some respects JFK’s mirror image: secular Jew rather than observant Catholic; San Franciscan rather than Bostonian; son of a crusading left-wing union official rather than of a buccaneering capitalist. Opposites attract and the two become best friends until an irrevocable falling out. Twenty-two years later, in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, now-President Kennedy needs Michaels’ help to avert nuclear war.

So (drumroll)…. Here’s what I came up with in my daydream of playing movie producer.

Casting JFK is the key to the movie. My wife was watching TV the other night and I saw Dr. McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy. Patrick Dempsey is charismatic, outgoing, attractive to women, and even close to the right age. (JFK was just about 46 at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.) On top of that Dempsey has even had practice in the role. He played the lead in JFK: Reckless Youth back in 1993. (Here's a clip.)

So now who is going to be Nate Michaels? Intense. Introverted. Intellectual. How about Robert Downey Jr.? Right age, too.

Back in 1962, Jackie Kennedy was 30 years old. So we need someone dark and glamorous and young. How about Anne Hathaway? I really do think there's a resemblance there, don't you?

At Stanford in 1940, Nate has a girlfriend he has no right to have. She’s Miriam Coblentz, 19 years old and blonde. Dianna Agron plays someone around that age on Glee even though she’s 27. She's Jewish and from the Bay Area, just like Miriam. Let’s go with her.

What about JFK’s right hand man, brother Bobby? He’s 37, shorter than JFK and toothier too. I haven’t seen Tobey Maguire around lately. Do you think he’s available?

Whoever plays the cigar-chomping General Curtis LeMay, head of the Air Force, should have the inside track for a supporting actor Oscar. It’s a plum of a part. He’s done with 30 Rock, so let’s give it to Alec Baldwin. (Do you think he's willing to color his hair?)

Nate’s back channel to Moscow runs through Maxim Volkov, head of the KGB in Washington. There’s no dancing, but I’d still like to make an offer to Mikhail Baryshnikov.

At the end of the book, Nate finds himself leaping across the roofs of Washington with Russian femme fatale Natalya Leontieva while two agents of Soviet military intelligence give chase. I’ve heard her Russian accent on Castle. Sounded good to me. Come on down, Stana Katic.

Don’t like any of my choices? Fine. Am open to any bankable actors you might suggest. And if there are any producers out there with a few tens of millions to spend? Get in touch.

In the meantime, you could always try (gasp!) reading the book.
Learn more about the book and author at Keith Raffel's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Renée Rosen's "Dollface"

As clichéd as it sounds, Renée Rosen is a former advertising copywriter who always had a novel in her desk drawer. When she saw the chance to make the leap from writing ad copy to fiction, she jumped at it. A confirmed history and book nerd, the author loves all things old, all things Chicago and all things written.

Rosen is the author of Every Crooked Pot and Dollface, A Novel of the Roaring Twenties.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of Dollface:
Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve played “Central Casting” with Dollface. When I started working on this book about ten years ago, I had it all mapped out, only now I fear some of my picks are too old for the roles! But back in the day, Natalie Portman was a dead ringer for Vera, Adrien Brody was Shep Green, Sean Penn was the perfect Hymie Weiss, Scarlett Johansson was Dora and Bradley Cooper with dark hair could be Tony Liolli. For Vera’s mother I could see Susan Sarandon (it’d be good to get her and Natalie Portman together again!) And I’m not sure where Robert Downey Jr. fits in, but if he wants to jump on board, I’ll take him.

As far as directors go, I would love to see what Martin Scorsese (the master of gangster films) could do with this material since it’s told from the woman’s POV. I also love Robert De Niro’s directing in A Bronx Tale. Aside from those two, I wouldn’t be opposed to Robert Redford or Ron Howard or Penny Marshall or, as long as we’re dreaming here, how about Alfred Hitchcock?
Learn more about the book and author at Renée Rosen's website, blog, and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Every Crooked Pot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 18, 2013

Leslie Morgan Steiner's "The Baby Chase"

Leslie Morgan Steiner lives in Washington, DC with her husband and three young children. Her 2009 memoir about surviving domestic violence, Crazy Love, was a New York Times bestseller, People Pick, Book of the Week for The Week magazine, and subject of the first TED Talk by a domestic violence survivor.

Here Steiner dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, The Baby Chase: How Surrogacy Is Transforming the American Family:
If The Baby Chase, which explores surrogacy and a young couple's journey to India to have babies, were made into a movie, Scarlett Johansson would play Rhonda Wile, the beautiful blond Arizona nurse who always wanted children, only to discover at age 35 that she couldn't bear her own because of a rare condition where a woman has two vaginas and two uteruses. Her husband, the tall, handsome firefighter Gerry Wile whose right calf and shoulder are covered with tattoos representing Indian gods, would be played by the tall, handsome Channing Tatum.

I would want beautiful Bollywood actresses to play the four Indian surrogates Rhonda and Gerry Wile worked with through the Mumbai clinic, Surrogacy India. The Indian doctors who co-founded Surrogacy India would be played by the beautiful Freida Pinto from Slumdog Millionaire, and Kal Penn from Harold & Kumar.

And the three beautiful kids the Wiles came home with?

I would want Blaze, Dylan and Jett Wile to play themselves.
Read more about The Baby Chase at Leslie Morgan Steiner's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Trish J. MacGregor's "Apparition"

Trish J. MacGregor is the author of 36 novels and as TJ MacGregor won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for original paperback in 2003. Apparition is the third book in the Hungry Ghost trilogy, and takes place in the mystical city of Esperanza, Ecuador, high in the Andes.

Here MacGregor dreamcasts an adaptation of Apparition:
For both Esperanza and Apparition, my male protagonist, Ian Ritter, is George Clooney. He is described as a Clooney lookalike. Tacky, perhaps, but unless you live under a rock, you know exactly what the character looks like.

Tess Livingston: Gwyneth Paltrow. She’s about the same age as Tess, is blonde like Tess, and I enjoy watching her on screen.

Ricardo, the brujo: Graham Greene, who played Arles Bitterbuck in The Green Mile. He is one face of Ricardo. But in the course of the book, Ricardo has several human hosts. Johnny Depp could play one of those hosts, doing one of his oddball roles, and Denzel Washington would be perfect for Ricardo’s final host as a brujo who finds redemption.

Wayra, the shape shifter. He’s one of my favorite characters in this trilogy. In Quechua, his name means wind and he is certainly as ephemeral as wind, but also as powerful as wind can be (think cat 5 hurricane). In the 14th century, when he was the young son of a shepherd, he was turned by a shifter. That meant he would outlive everyone he knew and loved, that his blood could heal others, and that his alternate shape was that of a black lab.

Johnny Depp could play this role to the hilt and it would be weirder than his role in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Maddie, Tess’s redheaded niece. Maddie is a continuing thread in the trilogy. At the end of Esperanza, when everyone believes that Dominica and her tribe have been annihilated, Dominica seizes and possesses Maddie and forces her to flee to the U.S. Ghost Key is Maddie’s story and Deborah Ann Woll from True Blood is perfect for the role.

Here’s an interesting synchronicity about this movie category. Since I last wrote a post for Ghost Key here on My Book, The Movie, a screenwriter friend and I have completed a script for Ghost Key, a new venue for me. My co-author added a new character, the plot took a new and really intriguing turn, and I learned that what works with the written word doesn’t necessarily work visually. In a script, as in an outline, every piece must fit. I also learned that you must look forward, be flexible but not wimpy, and above all you must know what you want from your story and your characters. If you don’t know, no one else will, either!
Learn more about the book and author at Trish J. MacGregor's website.

The Page 69 Test: Esperanza.

My Book, The Movie: Esperanza.

The Page 69 Test: Ghost Key.

Writers Read: Trish MacGregor (September 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tamar Ossowski's "Left"

Tamar Ossowski resides in Needham, Massachusetts. She is married and has three children, one of whom was born with special needs and could spell before he learned to speak. She wrote the novel Left to explore the possibility that you can only become the person you are supposed to be once you truly embrace the person you already are.

Here Ossowski dreamcasts an adaptation of Left:
There are four main characters in Left. From the very beginning, I envisioned the actors who could play the parts of the two adult women but the girl’s parts were more difficult. I knew one was dark and curly haired and the other blonde. I could hear their voices in my head but no one I have ever seen on television or film comes close to being the children that live inside my head.

On the other hand, the two adult female roles have always been extremely clear in my mind.

Therese, the mother who abandons her special needs child would be played either by Natalie Portman or Ashley Judd who both possess a powerful sexy sultriness that is perfect for the roll.

Leah, the character with whom the child is left, would be played by Nicole Kidman. But I have to admit I can also imagine Amanda Seyfried or Scarlett Johansson playing her as well since both possess an ethereal quality mixed with a hint of broken heart that makes them ideal for the part.
Learn more about the book and author at Tamar Ossowski's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rachel Bach's "Fortune's Pawn"

Rachel Bach is the author of Fortune's Pawn, a fast paced, romantic adventure starring Devi Morris, a powered armor mercenary who signs on with the galaxy’s most trouble-prone space freighter in an attempt to jumpstart her career. But while Devi expected the firefights and aliens, this ship holds secrets she never could have imagined, and the greatest danger for this ship guard might just be the very people she was hired to protect.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Fortune's Pawn:
I'm sure all authors dream of seeing their books as movies, but I've been thinking about the casting for my new Science Fiction novel, Fortune's Pawn, since word one. So in case you were wondering, or you're a Hollywood type who thinks "man, that space opera would make a bad ass movie!" (Joss Whedon, call me!), here's how I would cast the film version.

For Devi Morris, our main character, powered armor mercenary, and all around awesomely violent lady, I can think of no one better than Gina Carano. As a former MMA fighter, she'd have Devi's animal aggression down pat, and as a bonus, I think she'd totally dig the role. She even looks like I imagined Devi! Clearly, a match made in heaven.

As for Rupert Charkov, Devi's love interest and unkillable man of mystery, I'm completely stumped. He's a subtle character with a lot to hide, so you'd need a good actor with a pretty face who also pull off some pretty intense combat scenes and who's at least 6'2" (or can be made to look 6'2" via movie magic). So yeah, I've got nothing, but I'm very open to suggestions!

Finally, I'd say the next most important character we meet in book 1 is the Glorious Fool's captain, Brian Caldswell. This might seem like a crazy suggestion, but I always thought that Nathan Fillion could do really well in the role. He looks the part, and it would be a great switch up for him since Brian Caldswell is a pretty dark roll. I bet he could pull if off amazingly, though. Nathan Fillion can do anything!

And one last note, for my darling space hippie Novascape Starchild, I think Jennifer Lawrence would knock it out of the park. It's really much too small a role for her, but she's amazing and I think she'd have a super great time acting like a total space case. Also, any chance of me getting to meet Jennifer Lawrence will always get my vote.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoy my casting choices, and if you don't (or if you have a cast of your own to suggest) let me know! I'd love to hear what you all think the characters look like!
Fortune’s Pawn is the first in the Paradox Trilogy from Orbit Books. Other books by Bach include The Legend of Eli Monpress fantasy series under the name Rachel Aaron. Learn more about the books and author at Rachel Bach's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Susan D. Carle's "Defining the Struggle"

Susan Carle teaches legal ethics, anti-discrimination law, labor and employment law, and torts at American University Washington College of Law. She writes primarily about the history of social change lawyering, anti-discrimination law, and topics at the intersections between civil rights, employment, and labor law. In the past she has been a community organizer, civil rights lawyer, and union-side labor lawyer.

Here Carle dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Defining the Struggle: National Organizing for Racial Justice, 1880-1915:
Defining the Struggle is a nonfiction book, but it would make a terrific and important movie. It tells a story only the most well-informed historical buffs already know: that of the founding, in the last two decades of the nineteenth century in the United States, of the first national civil rights organizations intended to have long-term status. These organizations’ varied experiments with social change strategies would sow the seeds for later major national civil rights efforts that would eventually give birth to the U.S. civil rights movement. The setting is a time of brutal racial oppression imposed by social, economic, and legal institutions during the so-called nadir period, in which American race relations were at their all-time low following the end of slavery -- a time of rising segregation, Jim Crow laws, brutal lynchings and other race violence, and a largely indifferent public reaction. In one respect this is a story about African American history -- a story of courageous work by and for African Americans. But it is also a general American history story about the early struggle for racial equality, which, as W.E.B. Du Bois famously described, presented the country with the greatest problem of the Twentieth Century. These early efforts have been largely overlooked by mainstream historians. What better way to turn this around than to make a movie that brings the relevant historical figures and their work to life? Here are my suggestions as to a “dream team” cast of leading characters:

W.E.B. Du Bois, founder of the Niagara Movement – Jeffrey Wright (relatively young but already full of gravitas)

Alexander Walters, head of the National Afro American Council – Idris Elba (powerful and pragmatic)

Frederick McGhee, lawyer for the Afro American Council and the Niagara Movement – Denzel Washington (charismatic and devastatingly handsome)

T. Thomas Fortune – Spike Lee (brilliant, high strung, somewhat erratic and very thin)

Mary Church Terrell, founder and three-term president of the National Association of Colored Women – Alicia Keys (regal, beautiful, socially committed)

Ida Wells Barnett – Naomie Harris (intensity packed into a smallish stature)

Booker T. Washington – Terrence Howard (focused, charismatic, and shrewd)

Jesse Lawson, dynamic legislative director of the Afro American Council - Don Cheadle (sincere, visionary, willing to attempt the impossible)

Lugenia Hope Burns, founder of the Atlanta Neighborhood Union – Kerry Washington (can-do energy for every challenge)

Carrie Clifford, founding leader of the Ohio Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, key activist in the Niagara Movement, close friend of Du Bois, and dynamo organizer for the Washington, D.C., branch of the NAACP – Carmen Ejogo (wouldn’t it be nice to see this leading couple -- i.e., Wright/Ejogo, married in real life -- play roles in the same movie?)

Mary White Ovington, white social worker who helped found the NAACP – Elisabeth Moss (serious, well meaning, willing to portray a character with some race privilege flaws)

Harry Smith, wise older editor of the Cleveland GazetteClarke Peters (still deeply committed to the racial justice movement, but a bit jaded with a tendency to caustic remarks)

Oswald Garrison Villard, founding chair of the NAACP -- Jeremy Piven (energetic, somewhat self-important)
Learn more about Defining the Struggle at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 8, 2013

Whitney Strub's "Obscenity Rules"

Whitney Strub is an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University, Newark. His first book, Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right, recently arrived in paperback, alongside his new book, Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression, which combines a legal history of obscenity doctrine with a cultural history of the poet, publisher, and pornographer Samuel Roth, whose 1957 Supreme Court established the obscenity doctrine that still fundamentally governs American sexual expression today.

Strub lives in Philadelphia and took a decidedly overwrought approach to the film adaptation of Obscenity Rules:
When my first book came out, I actually did receive a call from a producer. I didn’t really pursue it, and I still occasionally wonder what glorious imaginary futures I thus missed out on; could that be me on Drunk History? Damn.

That said, I’ve been watching a lot of Godard’s aggressively self-deconstructing films from his 1970s Maoist phase, and perhaps it’s warped my mind, but nonetheless, the last thing I would ever want to be responsible for is a stately historical biopic about middle-aged white guys discussing The Big Social Questions of Our Times or whatnot; next thing you know, we’ll have another deathly dull 150-minute snoozefest and I’ll have to pretend I loved The King’s Speech at cocktail parties, because the people who made it will be there. I’d gladly take the Hollywood money, but I’d feel bad for unleashing something like that onto the world.

So since this is my fantasy anyway, I’d dispense wholly with casting to type and just plug in a bunch of my favorite performers; if that means the entire Supreme Court of the 1950s is played by cast members from The Wire, well, damn right. Idris Elba has been pretty sadly (if surely lucratively) underutilized ever since anyway. Beyond that, Elliott Gould could play any part he wanted—though my preference might be Chief Justice Earl Warren. Give him the old neo-Philip Marlowe spin, I’m liking this.

Samuel Roth, an avant-garde poet turned smutmonger, could be the perfect role for one of those midcareer lightweight actors looking to show some gravitas; maybe Matthew Perry? Though the immortal Fred “The Hammer” Williamson has apparently languished in third-tier schlock this whole century, so he could be another contender; he knows how to chew the scenery, but who knows how he handles pathos? In the scene where Roth’s 5-year prison sentence is affirmed, we’ll find out.

Much of the roles would be lawyers and judges; for the sleaziest one, I’d see if James Carville were up for a cameo. Maybe Bill Clinton, too, since he exudes the right kind of smarm. Roth’s long-suffering wife Pauline is probably a fairly thankless role, but Jennifer Jason Leigh is the greatest actress of her generation, so if anyone could breathe some fire into it, it’s her.

Now the perfect filmmaker for this absurdist madness would be Fassbinder. Among the living, Paul Schrader’s sweaty sex obsession could work, as long as he kept Bret Easton Ellis away from the screenplay. But my nod goes to Lynne Ramsay, whose sustained delirium in the recent but overlooked We Need to Talk about Kevin was a real cinematic feat (I love her earlier work, too). Courtroom movies are almost always boring, so her fever-dream approach would help.

To be sure, this will be a terrible career move for all involved, but if it winds up as viewer-friendly as Godard’s Numéro deux, I will be filled with delight. And will never work again in that town.
Learn more about the book and author at Whitney Strub’s blog.

Writers Read: Whitney Strub (January 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue