Dreaming Up a Series

I was just chatting back and forth with Shawna Romkey, author of Speak of the Devil, which I edited for her and Crescent Moon Press. Since Speak of the Devil is the first book in a planned trilogy, she’s found herself needing a name for the whole series.

This, of course, led me to the realization that while I have titles for several of the books in my series I don’t know how long the series will be, and I don’t have a name for it! As far as I’m concerned I’ve got enough material to compete for length with Piers Anthony’s extremely long-running Xanth series, so that’s a thorny problem all by itself. Added to that is the problem of a series title. I could just call it Smuggler’s Universe, a la Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s Liaden Universe, or Smuggler’s Saga a la Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, but that seems a bit… done. While either would work with the titles of the books, I’d really prefer not to be quite so derivative. I’m much more seriously considering Smuggler’s Journey, since the overall story arc fits that much more neatly and I’m not likely to be writing short stories about other places and people in the story universe like Lee & Miller or McMaster-Bujold have done. I have to admit that when I write a story, short pretty much never describes it. Heck, when I write anything short never describes it.

So far the story lines for Smuggler’s Pursuit, Smuggler’s ‘Flu, and Smuggler’s Necessity, with some thought put towards Smuggler’s Gamble, Smuggler’s Pardon, and Smuggler’s WarSmuggler’s Justice is done, so that’s seven already, and definitely in need of a series title. Of them, Smuggler’s Pursuit and Smuggler’s ‘Flu are best developed, particularly since I’ve spent the last 5 years or so messing around with Smuggler’s ‘Flu before I realized that Smuggler’s Justice and Smuggler’s Pursuit were necessary in order to refrain from confusing the reader with an annoying lack of background.

The series is bringing itself to life in my dreams. I was reading a blog kindly recommended by Seumas Gallacher in his ongoing Blog Scratcher’s Union efforts ( #TBSU – yes, there’s even a hashtag!). The fellow’s name is Donovan and in his blog post titled ‘Casting the novel…’ he posts pictures of actors and actresses who come closest to the characters he envisions for his novel. This gave me the fun idea of doing the same so that perhaps everyone else can see what I’m thinking when I’m talking about my characters, particularly when I’m talking about them as if they’re real people.

So, for Sophocles I’m thinking David Faustino – not prettied up, though, scruffy like this picture I grabbed from Wikipedia, taken by Gage Skidmore:

David Faustino by Gage Skidmore

David Faustino by Gage Skidmore

Just the right age to show a little life battering, right hair color, right blend of homely to be handsome (I can’t stand a ‘pretty’ man – a man should look like a man, not a woman with potential for growing a beard!), and fit enough to withstand the rigors of being Sophocles. He’s good at playing the smartass little jerk, which is the front that Sophocles puts out much of the time when he’s not being dead-serious and competent. Personally, I think Mr. Faustino could manage the role admirably.

For Magdalene May, I propose Zooey Deschanel:

Zooey Deschanel 07-07-2009Zooey Deschanel 2009-07-07

I think that Miss Deschanel is good at playing the innocent, but has enough tartness and spunk about it to be a convincing Maggie. The only problem I have with the young lady is that I don’t know how convincing she’d be at playing a girl so scary-smart that the government would Imprint her mind and personality into crystal, then kill her so as to not have to deal with the costs of upkeep. Yeah, the government that produced the partnership between Sophocles and Maggie was pretty damned evil. I think her appearance of shining innocence would point that out without having to do too much extra explaining about how it’s just plain not okay to kill people off for governmental convenience.

For Melia, on the other hand, I’m thinking Gwendoline Christie:

Gwendoline Christie

Gwendoline Christie

Because she can look like a lawyer, but she can also look like a complete badass:

Gwendoline Christie in Game of Thrones

Gwendoline Christie in Game of Thrones

As amply demonstrated by her acting in Game of Thrones. Naturally, something much different would need to be done with her hair, since Melia has a thick braid of dark auburn hair, eventually with the trinkets won in battle woven into it in the style of an Amazon Warrior. She’s an inch shorter than Melia should be, but David Faustino’s an inch shorter than Sophocles should be, so the height difference is preserved.

I’m considering Dot Jones for Barbara, Kim Blacklock for Hippolyta (even if she would have to play much older than she actually is), Suzie Plakson for Susan, Lindsay Hayward for Sonya (again, the hair issue), Jodie Kidd ( with a lot of padding, possibly even a ‘fat suit’) for Carrie Filbert…  The casting for the Amazon women from Smuggler’s Justice is mostly taken from the IMDb Tallest Actresses listing since they’re all very tall women.

For Crandal? How do you cast a lizardman when you know that whoever the actor is will be covered in some serious makeup? I want someone tall and brawny, but excruciatingly dignified and noble-looking in a sort of Norman Invasion kind of way. At this point Dolph Lundgren is looking like the most likely candidate:

Actor Dolph Lundgren

Dolph Lundgren

He isn’t really 100% ideal, he’s a bit too old to carry off the idealism convincingly, but he’s got the right look to carry off Crandal’s stiff almost-medieval formality, and he might be about right. I like Brad Garrett’s voice, but he’s too typecast as a comedic actor playing deadpan to pull off a role where the deadpan is “for real” rather than “straight man” to a more hyperactive “funny man”.  I’m thinking Crandal should remain quite human-like, rather than having some sort of alligator face, but not a human with bad tattoos like that Erik Sprague fellow.

There you have it, that’s the cast of characters that bicker and laugh and carry on all through my dreams. Now, for those of you familiar with my five years of prodding Smuggler’s ‘Flu,  you may be familiar with Calliope as well. For her, unfortunately, I haven’t had much success in finding an actress’s picture (and career/talent) that matches. I have yet to find someone with Marilyn Monroe’s general “look” (and curviness – what the hell is wrong with Hollywood that actual curves puts those poor girls on the ‘fat actress’ list? What the hell is sexy about looking at someone else’s skeleton through their skin?) and Eartha Kitt’s glorious purring voice and talent for being just plain evil – at least on the surface. Add to that the problem that she has to be a Pocket Aphrodite (little bit of a thing height-wise), and you’ll see my problem!

On the editing front –

I’ll be editing a new book for Crescent Moon Press – Soul of a Warrior by Denna Holm. I’m looking forward to getting the manuscript via email soon.




Filed under editing, writing

11 responses to “Dreaming Up a Series

  1. *sigh* series names. As if coming up with a title wasn’t hard enough. :p

    I’m trying to name the series that Virgo belongs to. I’m leaning toward “Nick Jackson’s Error,” because while the focus of the story is Nick’s little sister, it was mistake Nick makes that sets the wheels turning.

    Sometimes, I think, it helps to go outside of the keywords to find cool phrases.


    • robitille

      Hm. That could work really well for your series. That brings to mind other series titles that could work for mine, as well. Amazon At Large maybe?


  2. Oh, series names. I was just going to take the easy way out and name my entire series The Grave Winner. As for actors, I picture Aaron Eckhart for Leigh’s dad http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001173/
    but that’s as far as I got.


    • robitille

      I like The Grave Winner for your series because it’s a consistent theme throughout. I’m trying to find the theme and put it into words for mine – it’s definitely about her journey, both in terms of travel (though not a travelogue) as well as growing from idealist to activist to realist… I do like Aaron Eckhart for Leigh’s dad, but don’t cast Taylor Swift gone Goth for Leigh!


  3. robitille

    Okay… Ksenia Solo could work… I think Taylor Momsen could work, but her version of Goth is a little more ‘OMG is she *on* something??’ than you’re wanting for Leigh. I think it’s really hard to find actors and actresses when your cast is a bunch of teenagers, though. By the time an actor (or actress) has enough presence to be ‘findable’ they’re almost always too old to play a 15 year old convincingly. On the other hand, if your series goes nova like Rowlings’ did and there are movies then the movies wind up being how young actors and actresses get to be famous.


    • I Googled Taylor Momsen and *gasp* I think you found Leigh! Sure, in some pictures she looks like she’s strung out, but she’s got the bad girl thing working for her. Plus, in the less scary pictures, she’s really pretty. I’ll have to watch something she’s in to know for certain though…


      • robitille

        That’s me! Multi-talented – now I’m a casting director. :c) I usually look for someone as close as possible to the character because I really can’t stand that ‘recognizable actress wearing a costume wig’ look in a movie.


  4. “I have yet to find someone with Marilyn Monroe’s general “look” (and curviness … and Eartha Kitt’s glorious purring voice and talent for being just plain evil – at least on the surface.” My suggestion here would be Elizabeth Gillies–not a blonde like Monroe, but she’s got curves and the voice. She’s a regular on the Nickelodeon series “Victorious” where her character, Jade, is the evil one. (Well, as evil as you’re going to get on a Nickelodeon sitcom!) Don’t know how tall she is though…


    • robitille

      Close! She’s just a little too young, innocent, and really *much* too *thin*… Though finding a truly gorgeous blonde with “va-va-voom” curves *AND* Eartha Kitt’s voice at its sexy/jaded/woman-on-the-prowl “Santa Baby / Je Cherche Un Homme / Apres Moi” best is going to be a monumental task if the series ever went into movies. Thankfully, Calliope is from ‘rival’ planet Siren, so a “normal” height woman would work just fine for the role. Siren’s atmosphere is, if anything, is *more* toxic to men than Amazon’s – it kills them in just a handful of years or so – so Siren’s women have conquered the problem by being “Irresistable you fool”… (and as we all know, “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets”) through a combination of gene-dominant modifications for beauty and pheromone production and a much more “enterprising” approach to traveling around the Empire than the Amazons have taken. Even Sophocles, generally nanotech immune to anything the ‘new’ humans can throw at him, has had his share of rug burns and stupid grins.


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