Casting Call: Tom Leins on the Actors who Could play Joe Rey, the Gunrunner, Slattery and Wila

Who should play your protagonist on TV or in a movie? What is it about them that makes them suit the character – attitude, similar characters they’ve played or appearance or something else?

James Norton as Joe Rey

The protagonist of my new book Repetition Kills You (and my previous book Meat Bubbles & Other Stories) is Joe Rey, a cut-price private investigator, who regularly works as muscle-for-hire to make ends meet. Regular readers may recall that Rey has already had the Casting Call treatment, so I won’t go over old ground here, suffice to say, I picked James Norton – based on his performance as Tommy Lee Royce in the tremendous UK crime drama Happy Valley. The intensity that Norton brought to the role was hugely impressive, and while he was involved in some breathtakingly callous scenes, he was also a master manipulator who displayed a real toxic charm.

Repetition Kills You is a literary jigsaw puzzle. The book comprises 26 short stories, presented in alphabetical order, from ‘Actress on a Mattress’ to ‘Zero Sum’. Combined in different ways, they tell a larger, more complex story. Given the sheer number of characters that weave in and out of the various story strands I was spoiled for choice when selecting characters for this feature. They may not be the obvious choices, but these were the ones that elbowed their way into the Casting Call!

Charles Dance as The Gunrunner

The Gunrunner appears in the story ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, when he hires Rey to retrieve his estranged daughter, Shivonne. If you can imagine Charles Dance with a firearm fetish and a floral-patterned rayon shirt, and you are in the right ballpark!

I always enjoy Dance’s imperious tone, and it would work especially well here, as he talks down to Rey – not a man who enjoys being talked down to! Dance was great in Game of Thrones, but it is his stint as Conrad Knox in Season 3 of Strike Back that resonated more strongly with me when casting this particular role.

Casting Call #2 - Tom Leins - Repetition Kills YouMark Bonnar as Slattery

In the Paignton Noir series, Rey encounters a number of increasingly unhinged father figures, ranging from Wet-Look in Meat Bubbles to Cantonese mobster Malcolm Chung in the forthcoming Boneyard Dogs. In Repetition Kills You, Slattery comes closest to filling this role, albeit in a far more innocuous manner. He runs a sleazy, unsuccessful bar on a near-derelict industrial estate, and Rey and he enjoy an uneasy, unspoken friendship.

Mark Bonnar has worked on some of my favourite British TV shows in recent years (Line of Duty, Unforgotten, Catastrophe) – performing vastly different roles each time – and I think he could effortlessly tap into the shifty, defeated quality that Slattery brings to all of his scenes. The crime dramas may have displayed his sinister side, but the excruciating dark comedy in Catastrophe is a good reference point too – not least the scene where he hires a transsexual prostitute.

PJ Harvey as Wila

Wila appears in the story ‘Howl’, which is the longest piece in Repetition Kills You, and one of my favourites. I don’t want to give too much away, but Wila is a Polish lounge singer with a murky – possibly dangerous – past, who Rey is hired to hunt down.

I’m always surprised that PJ Harvey hasn’t done more film work (her sole acting credit seems to be Hal Hartley’s 1998 movie The Book of Life, which I have never seen), as there is no one quite like her out there. In truth, I’m not sure how well a Dorset-does-Polish accent would work, but I think it is important to have a singer in the role, to make it convincing!  

(Trivia: the song Wila sings mid-way through the story was inspired by ‘Dirge’ by Death In Vegas (which had Dot Allison on vocals), rather than a PJ Harvey track, but I’d love some PJ material on the soundtrack, as I’m a big fan.)

Tom Leins also did a casting call for Meat Bubbles & Other Stories.

Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. He is the author of a trio of novelettes, SKULL MEAT, SNUFF RACKET and SLUG BAIT, and two short story collections, MEAT BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES (Near To The Knuckle) and REPETITION KILLS YOU (All Due Respect, an imprint of Down & Out Books). His short stories have been published by the likes of Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Flash Fiction Offensive, Horror Sleaze Trash and Spelk Fiction.

https://thingstodoindevonwhenyouredead.wordpress.com/

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Online Issue 5

What is Furry Noir? You know you have to click now to find out.

Bill Kieffer talks about Mount TBR, what you’ll find there and bookcrossing.

Is My Colorblind Rainbow one of the best book titles ever? Chanel Hardy talks about her inspirational YA story.

Which protagonist is cranking up Ruth Etting, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong? Find out here.

What do Lisbeth Salandar and Arya Stark have to do with Secrets? Find out here.

Casting Call: Find out which SVU actor Barbara Winkes would pick for one of the lead roles in Secrets.

Don’t forget! Enter now to win a signed copy of Here and Gone.

Reviews:

Did you miss it? I’ve been trying to get Brian to blog more about music for a long time. He has his own system for finding obscure genius and up-and-comers before they make it big. His first music post installment is available here.

On Monday I blogged about using thematic writing to help enrich your books and to help you promote them more effectively. The timing was perfect. The Historical Novel Society just ran a feature on the latest books from Susan Meissner and Mindy Tarquini, who talk about using historical settings in their works. Both Meissner and Tarquini, who had short stories published by Spinetingler Magazine, placed their works during the influenza pandemic in 1918 and 1919.

Congratulations

Now that it’s public I can congratulate my sister on her new position as the cataloguer and collection development for a public library in Alberta. Yes, she’ll be working closely with other staff to decide which books to stock. No, I can’t give you here phone number. She makes this move after years of working as a media specialist in the public school system.

A Question For The Masses

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Head over to Twitter to share your opinion. I have to admit it would probably appeal to me. I aim for short breaks and I have the attention span of a gnat when I’m strictly listening to audio. This doesn’t apply to music but years of tuning out teachers because I was 10 steps ahead in class and could follow instructions from a book conditioned me to zone out.

 A.P. Bio Renewed

I’ve found myself watching more comedies over the past two years. I credit the political climate for this trend.

Loving Patton Oswalt as we do, we decided to check out A.P. Bio. We hoped it could help fill the gap between seasons of The Good Place. It was a rough start but it has gotten better. The writers and directors need to understand something, though. The whole revenge storyline? Weakest part of the show. Beyond done with it.

One of the absolute gems? Heather. I’m not alone. More Heather. More students. Less stupid revenge story.

 

Opinion: No, We Haven’t Reached All Readers

 

 

There isn’t much you can say when the likes of Adrian McKinty don’t have a publisher in the U.K. except what the fuck? And there are a lot of reasons Gabino Iglesias is cussing at editors that he names. While my objective here isn’t to simply point to things I’ve said, this does bring to mind a recent discussion on Twitter about failings of the publishing industry and how far behind it is when it comes to understanding segments of our population.

The discussion centered on the response of the publishing industry to the popularity of Roseanne and the reasons behind the success of the show’s comeback. All of a sudden publishers realized there was a whole world outside of New York City where people thought differently and had other interests.

This is why I’m going to maintain that no, we have not reached all potential readers. There are people out there who would buy books or borrow books from libraries (and drive up demand because of volume of requests) if they found books that spoke to them. The publishing industry has had its head up its ass on some things and it needs to get its head out of its ass to survive. There should be books out there for everyone. People are more likely to buy and treasure and recommend books that speak to them. And if you’re only speaking to the population of NYC that’s very nice for them, but what about the rest of the country? Or even North America? Or Europe and the other continents on this planet? It seems to me that publishers would be far more effective with selling books and reaching new readers to increase profits if they hired some sociologists to break down the cultural groups within the country and the priorities of those cultural groups, as well as their typical beliefs and customs. Not all Americans think the same way. And, shock of horrors people, individuals who are part of a group that’s experienced racial or gender prejudice or discrimination due to their sexual orientation have specific interests. Male authors have been called out for how they describe women in literature. We need to start thinking about the way that we’re presenting pertinent social issues in our fiction if we don’t want to alienate readers. That doesn’t mean pretending that sexism and racism don’t exist but it does mean we need to make sure we aren’t glamorizing it. I’ll make a face about a lot of stupid jokes about Canadians but every now and again something just crosses a line for me. It’s a statement that’s so stupid it isn’t even funny; it’s just pathetic, particularly since something more accurate would have been more effective in its place. We all have lines and when publishers fail to realize this and exclude whole segments of the population they are reducing their potential book sales.

In the same way that little Susie and May want dolls that share their hair and skin color, readers want characters they can identify with. And if the entire world you write about involves white protagonists, black criminals and Chinese Americans who own Chinese restaurants then you aren’t presenting the world I live in. Or the world I want to live in.

P.S. Television has been on to this for a long time. And its enjoying another golden age. Publishing needs to get with the program.

Have You Entered?

final day enter 2018 international book awards

Today is the final day to get your entry in for the International Book Awards. Don’t miss out. Visit their website to find out about eligibility and how to enter.

Staying With That Wednesday Theme…

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I can’t imagine how it’s going to end well on The Americans. Stan will be under the gun when it’s revealed he’s been chumming around with Russians for years, assuming he lives to face that discovery. And the stench of death lingers over Elizabeth, and not just because of all the people she’s killed. She’s expected to take her own life rather than be captured and that could be on the horizon for her.

And Paige… She’s going to screw up so badly she could be responsible for getting herself killed. Or her mother. With only a handful of episodes left we’re on the edge of our seats waiting to see how its all going to pan out. One thing is for sure – I’m really going to miss The Americans. And kudos to the crew because, while I’ll miss the show, that’s because they knew to end on a high note and not drag the show out just for the money, ala Walking Dead last season.

Thoughts On A Celebrity I Do Not Care About

While I hate to come across as though I’m setting up rules about what people are allowed to talk about, I am beyond sick to freaking death of hearing about Kanye Fucking West. Let’s not validate this whiny beeyatch by talking about him. Who the hell is he anyway? The guy who robbed Taylor Swift of her moments when she won some awards? The guy who’s always criticizing Swift? Does he make music himself or just bitch about everyone else in the world? Scratch that – I so do not give a shit so don’t answer.

But if anyone – anyone -is going to talk about Kanye and all his fucked-up-ness, then let it be Ta-Nehisi Coates.