Recently another mystery author and I tossed around the names of ideal actors and actresses to play characters in our books. While I feared it might be a depressing experience—given there’s slim chance of my books coming to either the big or small screens out there—instead it turned out to be not only a fun exercise but also an instructive one. Some characters will have encores in my next mystery in the Austin Starr series so my thoughts on their ongoing personalities, motivations, and secrets were deepened.
As an introduction to my latest book, AFTER YOU’VE GONE—An Austin Starr Prequel, here’s who its ideal cast includes:
Emma Stone stars as Austin Starr’s grandmother. Named Walter after her father the judge but called Wallie by her family and friends, at age twenty-three she lives in a small Texas town with her dad in a big Victorian mansion during Prohibition. She’s spunky and wants to write murder mysteries like her hero Sherlock Holmes.
Jeff Bridges (a born Texan) is the epitome of the judge Walter MacGregor, Wallie’s dad. His wife died and left him a widower when their daughter was an infant.
Meryl Streep must play Aunt Ida. She’s a proper and strict retired school marm who helps raise Wallie, pushing her to be a sweet young lady. But Wallie wants to live up to her male name by becoming an assertive personality.
Bradley Cooper plays the long-lost brother of the judge who turns up out of the blue after two decades’ absence. He’s on the lam from his bosses in the bootlegging business during Prohibition.
Zac Efron is perfect for one of Wallie’s suitors, and his rival would be Chris Hemsworth. Which one will win her hand? That is, if she lives long enough to make the choice, after she begins to court danger by tracking down a vicious killer.
Octavia Spencer takes the role of Athalia, the MacGregors’ housekeeper and outstanding cook. She has provided sense and stability to the family ever since Wallie’s mother passed away years ago. Her fried chicken is as incomparable as her day-to-day advice.
Ian McShane plays Sam Maceo, a real-life gangster who possesses both suave charm and deadly intentions. Wallie and Aunt Ida tangle with him and his thugs during a road trip to the sinful port city of Galveston, Texas. To note: Maceo’s progeny still reside in Galveston, these days pursuing only legal businesses. Supposedly.
Reese Witherspoon captures the part of Glenda, the tough but tender spitfire who works in Maceo’s speakeasy located on the Gulf of Mexico. At first Wallie doesn’t know what to make of Glenda, the likes of whom she’s never seen before. Aunt Ida thinks Glenda is a floozy and wants to leave without questioning her, but Wallie befriends her and prevails to uncover awful secrets.
The bit parts of Wallie’s cousins Doug and Hank are reserved for my pals Doug and Hank, who harbor thespian ambitions. They’ve supported my writing career a long time, and it pleases me to think I could help them out.
Finally, last but definitely not least, the role of Wallie’s ever-present beagle puppy Holler will be taken by a dog found at a shelter in south Texas, where the movie will be shot. This is a key decision. Holler provides comic relief when too much blood has been shed, and he also helps point to the clue that solves Wallie’s first murder case.
All in all, I say—An author can dream, can’t she?
Kay Kendall is an award-winning author of three historical mysteries. Her second book, RAINY DAY WOMEN (2015), won for best mystery and best book at Killer Nashville in August 2016. It is the second in her Austin Starr mystery series. The first was DESOLATION ROW (2013), published by Stairway Press. AFTER YOU’VE GONE, an Austin Starr prequel, was released February 12, 2019.
In her previous career, Kay was an award-winning international PR executive, working in the US, Canada, Russia, and Europe. She has graduate degrees in Russian history and was a Woodrow Wilson Scholar at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Kay and her Canadian husband live in Houston, Texas. They’ve rescued abandoned pet bunnies for twenty years and currently have three rabbits and a bemused spaniel, Wills.
Website URL: http://AustinStarr.com
Blog URL: http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com/2016/09/let-good-times-roll.html < http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com/> I blog every third Wednesday of each month.
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