Summer is the season of Hollywood Blockbusters and it is in this frivolous spirit that The Prime Writers give way to the dream and have a go at casting their novels as films. Throughout the month of August Prime Writers will be putting forth their ideas. It will be interesting to see whether readers agree with our choices in casting beloved characters.
Louisa Treger’s richly atmospheric novel The Lodger is set in England in 1906.
When The Prime Writers invited me to do this blog, I jumped at the chance. Surely choosing movie stars for your characters is every author’s fantasy?
The Lodger is a biographical novel about the writer, Dorothy Richardson. She was a little-known peer of Virginia Woolf, a lover of H.G. Wells, and a pioneer of a new style of fiction that became known as ‘stream of consciousness’.
My novel is set in England in 1906: Dorothy is in her early twenties, existing just above the poverty line, working as a dental secretary, and living in a seedy boarding house in Bloomsbury. She is full of contradictions: torn between being bohemian and being respectable, exulting in her independence but frightened by it, attracted to men and women, wanting close relationships but repudiating them. She has a demure, proper exterior, beneath which turbulent feelings rage. I would choose Mia Wasikowska to play Dorothy, because as Jane Eyre, she excelled at being cool and sedate on the outside, yet passionate at the right moment.
The other main female character is Dorothy’s strikingly beautiful friend, Veronica, who comes from a wealthier background than Dorothy, but is just as rebellious. Veronica becomes involved with the militant suffragette movement: she has the courage to go to prison and endure the horrors of forcible feeding for the sake of her beliefs. She is vibrant, capricious and captivating; I think that Rachel Weisz would portray every one of her qualities to perfection.
For the role of H.G. Wells, I am torn – Russell Brand? Johnny Depp? I need a male lead with a working class edge; someone able to portray a man who pulled himself out of poverty through sheer intellect and grit. H.G Wells was a complex character: dynamic, eloquent and fiercely intelligent, yet prone to black moods. He was full of charm and warmth, yet he could let you down in an instant. On reflection, a young Michael Caine would be best suited to the role (it’s is my fantasy, so I can flip backwards and forwards in time, right?) by turns generous and astonishingly selfish, charismatic but a touch vulgar, with a voracious appetite for life, and a growing interest in Dorothy.
I would like Jane Campion to direct because she does period drama to perfection, and she is particularly good at capturing the unspoken tensions and undercurrents that simmer beneath the surface of life.