The Prime Writers Summer Blockbusters – The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

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.

TDILY Latest jpegToday Prime Writer Fionnuala Kearney gets to grip with casting her thrilling novel The Day I Lost You.






Jess’s only daughter, twenty five year old Anna, is reported missing in an avalanche and her world’s axis shifts. Left looking after Anna’s small daughter, Rose, Jess imagines there aren’t many places worse than the Limbo she finds herself in. When the disappearance dredges up some life-changing questions and Jess is forced to admit she didn’t know the daughter she loved so fiercely – she learns a lot about the people she loves and about herself too…

Whenever I start to write a character, I always have a visual image in my head of who they are and what they look like. They are never images of real people, actors or otherwise, but I do find that towards the end of a novel, I tend to imagine them more cinematically and can begin to see the people who might play their character. Imagining The Day I Lost You as a film has been great fun – it’s something a lot of readers have said they could visualise while reading (always a great complement) and apart from fun with the casting, I have to confess I’ve had to stop myself location shopping in the snow-capped Alps and the Lake District!


The main character, Jess, a divorcee who’s raised Anna alone – is a gorgeous, gritty, funny and sensitive lady who’s been dealt one of life’s unkindest blows. I think Kate Beckinsale would be perfect in the role, not necessarily because of anything she’s done to date, but because I recently saw her (as herself) on the Graham Norton show and she reminded me of Jess in better times. We’d have to give her corkscrew curls but otherwise, she’s perfect.


Can Tom Hardy do kind and vulnerable yet obsessively loyal? I’m quite sure he can do anything so he’s my choice for Jess’s best friend, the multi-layered local G.P. Theo Pope.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 22.10.26Anna’s voice in the book is delivered via her blog pieces so her appearances and voiceover in the film would be performed by Emma Roberts (niece of Julia). Emma looks so like I imagined the complex and torn character that is Anna and she’s the perfect age to play her.

Family is hugely important to Jess and her sister Leah and husband Gus are her backbone of support as grief and loss threaten to overwhelm her.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 22.10.37

Leah’s character would be perfectly served by the wonderfully talented Gina McKee, of Notting Hill, Our Friends In The North and The Borgia’s fame.

It was my husband who suggested the actor for Leah’s husband, Gus, and I think he got it spot on! So Cillian Murphy, of Peaky Blinders, if this were to happen, hopefully, you’ll be free. (Well, available, not free!)

Jess and Leah’s parents, who though they have challenges of their own are hugely important to and supportive of Jess. The potential loss of their only grandchild, whom they adored, has hit them hard. They have got to be played by Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent, who would make the absolute best pairing.

The two children in the novel, five year old Rose, (Anna’s daughter) and eleven year old Finn (Theo’s son) will have to have their own casting session.

Right, having done all that and gotten incredibly excited at my perfect cast, I now have to remind myself that it was pretend. L That said, it’s ready – almost fully cast – I’m home, Hollywood, if you want to call?!

Fionnuala Kearney

Fionnuala Kearney



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