I think it is every writer's dream to have their novel made into a movie. I suspect many have an idea who they would like to play the lead roles. The Novel Points of View team certainly have! So ... if there are any producers out there considering adapting some fiction, whether you are from Hollywood or one of the amazing UK studios, look no further. We are ready for your call and can help you visualise how our main characters should look.
When I wrote The Daughter of River Valley, I used images of certain celebrities to represent the main characters. It was only when I came to write this post did I do a little research to find out who they were. At the time it was their looks that was important, not who they were. Shallow, me? Not normally, but on this occasion I hold up my hands.
I am a big believer in visualizing what my characters look like. I actually do a very detailed storyboard, with pictures of setting, characters, and any nuggets of research that help me with my book. The visual just keeps me honest. So without further ado, I introduce pictures of the actors I would like to see cast should my book, The Silent Woman, be made into a movie.
Eloise Webb as Annie Havers. This young lady just personifies what I see Annie looking like, especially as she blossoms into a young woman. Keep in mind that Annie came from humble beginnings, and by virtue of luck and timing became the ward of Cat Carlisle.
Jason Hughes as Thomas Charles. For those of you who loved Midsomer Murders — and who doesn’t? — Jason Hughes will resonate with you. He just reminds me of Thomas Charles. It’s who I see during the dialogue and during all the scenes in the book.
Finally, Nancy Carroll as Cat Carlisle. For those of you who watch the Father Brown mysteries, you will have seen Nancy Carroll in costume similar to that which she would wear in my Cat Carlisle series.
These three characters have storylines in all of the series, so I’ll stop here.
Haven’t most authors had a daydream or two that one (or more!) of their books would be filmed? I know I have. My latest book – Summer at 23 The Strand, published by HarperCollins HQDigital – is a collection of themed short stories. There are many main characters so I’ve picked the first – Martha, and the man she meets while stopping at Number 23 The Strand, Hugh.
Martha is a film star who has run out on a US film after she got dangerously close to having an affair with her married leading man. She has questioned the ethics and isn’t at all sure she wants to be part of what can be a very fickle world. Into her life at the Devon seaside chalet comes Hugh, stopping just a few chalets away. To her distress she discovers Hugh is a journalist, and it isn’t long before she sees the similarity between her situation and Audrey Hepburn’s – playing the Princess Ann – in Roman Holiday. She discovers that Hugh knows that film well, too. So there isn’t anyone else I can choose to take the parts, although it will have to be some sort of time slip for Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck to take the leads.
I am tearing my hair out in the face of a terrible problem, and it’s all my own fault. I was the one who suggested that the next joint blog here on Novel Points of View should be about the actor/actors we’d like to play our protagonists in a future film version of our books, and now I wish I’d suggested we pool our tips on how to fold a fitted sheet. It would have been easier.
Subconsciously I may have suggested it because I want to force myself into seeing characters as a reader might, but I’ve discovered I can’t do this. I never have done. My many writer friends often post pictures of random photographs they’ve seen of someone, stranger or celebrity, who is the model for their characters. Some of them collect such images as a part of their research.
I have never done this. And it’s dawned on me that I struggle to describe my characters in terms of their looks. When I stopped to look at people in the street this morning I realised that I couldn't describe any one of them in a way that would distinguish them from half a dozen others who passed me by. Because short dark hair is short dark hair, and that’s all there is to it.
I begin inside my characters’ heads, which is fine, but I never come far enough out of them to see themselves as others do. Marcus, the policeman in my Dangerous Friends series, looks like a composite of two people I once saw in the street. Bronte, my heroine, looks vaguely like a modern version of a picture I once saw of a Land Girl on a history website. Beyond that, I can’t help you.
If I can’t see my characters in my head, how can I expect my readers to see them? I think the next step in my writing journey is to rethink descriptive writing…
My latest book, A Year of Taking Chances, is set in both France and London and tells the story of Tina and Jodie over the course of a year. When the story opens Jodie is already married to Ben and living in the south of France, while Tina is still single in London and hoping her life is about to change.
If the novel was to ever make it on to the big screen, the real life couple of Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz would be my dream casting. I fell in love with Javier when I saw him in ‘Eat,Pray and Love’ and Penelope is just beautiful as well as being a brilliant actress. Together they exude a happy chemistry - perfect for Tina and Luc.
Javier Bardem and his wife Penelope Cruz arrive at the 74th annual Venice International Film Festival, Italy, Wednesday 6th September 2017.
(Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP)
Like Victoria and Terry, I create a collage for each writing project, collecting images of main characters using a private Pinterest board, which is useful, as well as fun. I pin portraits of characters, location, clothing, funky apartments (my home is fairly traditional, so I love looking at funky apartments) and more…
My work in progress is a tale of trust between two sisters. I see Canadian actress Rachelle Lefevre, who played Victoria Sutherland, the evil vampire in the Twilight series based on the novels written by Stephanie Meyer, as my health conscious protagonist, Clarrie. In real life Rachelle tweets selfies bare of make-up and is concerned about the impact of body image in the media. Someone who has had problems with her relationship with food in the past, and is now determined to put her experience to good use by encouraging others to celebrate who they are, whilst eating healthily. Themes that also crop up in my novel.
A pussy cat plays a tiny but important role in my work in progress, so if a producer came calling I’d offer my own cat, Boston, to play the part. I’m not entirely confident in Boston’s acting ability, or even the ability to stay very long (he’s still young) but he probably would be willing to put on an Oscar-winning performance for cat treats!
Do you have trouble visualising the characters in a book?
If you are a writer, who would you like to see cast in an adaptation of your latest novel?
We would love to know.