Do You Cast The Novels You Read (or Write)? by Author Kim Hornsby

Goldy from Necessary Detour
Ever read a book and think 'this would make a great movie!'? I do it all the time and try to play casting director while I'm at it. I imagine a current heartthrob as the hero and an actress or singer as the protagonist. I've used Ashley Greene, Sandra Bullock, Juliane Hough, Beyoncé, Kate Hudson, and Fergie for the girls. A young Debra Winger is my Stephanie Plum, for example. Fergie/Madonna is my character Goldy in my novel Necessary Detour, acting the part of a retired rock star.

Last night I was at a book club and they spent half an hour casting my novel, something that I found extremely interesting and flattering. Actually, just being asked to talk to a book club is interesting and flattering so this discussion about who'd play Jamey and Tina was icing on the already delicious cake. It's fun to put faces to names or photos to character descriptions.
Romance novels sometimes have the two main characters on the book cover, either locked in an embrace or otherwise. If they show the faces, it can help a reader get started.

Pete - Necessary Detour
Katie from Dream Jumper
Jamey from Dream Jumper

Pinterest can bridge a gap between the book and the movie by supplying visuals for characters and settings. Loads of authors now have links to their book boards on Pinterest and although it's fun to use your imagination to dream up your own ideas, sometimes it's hard to imagine a ski lodge in Aspen or a beach in Thailand if you've never seen one. Pinterest is like an imagination boost for the reader if they just can't be bothered conjuring up a visual for all the characters of a book. I've read books where I never got a clear idea of what everyone looked like and that was okay too. I just went with a general feeling of who the person was. My Edward looked very different from Robert Pattinson in Twilight. Bella too. But when the movies came out I quickly adjusted to Kristen and Robert. I can't even remember what my Bella looked like anymore.
Tina from Dream Jumper

As a novelist, sometimes readers tell me who they pictured as the main characters in my books. It's extremely amusing when this happens. I'm a huge fan of hearing from readers anyhow, but when they cast my novel and make a movie in their head, I'm tickled beyond pink. One such reader who gave my novel THE DREAM JUMPER'S PROMISE 5 stars, had Ryan Gosling and Natalie Portman in the lead roles and I thought that was excellent casting even though I wrote it with Ashley Greene in mind. I don't assign real people to every character but writers need to know the general physical look to their characters. Using movie stars or public personalities work extremely well where using your sister to play the evil stepmother or your best friend to be the ditzy airhead may get you into trouble later.
Me and Jane Porter at her launch of The Good Daughter
I have aspirations of my novels eventually becoming movies like Jane Porter with Flirting with Forty. When they turned her novel in to a movie, her protagonist was played by Heather Locklear and I bet she thought that was great casting. I doubt you get to put in your two cents about who to play your male and female leads and when that phone call comes to announce that Carrot Top signed on as the studly Drew Forest in your romance, you have to bite the bullet and cry privately. My friend Andrea, who is a screenwriter was thrilled when they cast Mira Scorvino in her latest script, and rightly so. An Oscar winner playing Mrs. Santa Claus was a real coo for Andrea.
I'm pretty sure if anyone liked my novels well enough to make a movie, I'd have to crazy glue my lips shut and accept what they did with it. Casting is such a personal opinion according to what and who you find attractive, funny, sexy, and all the other attributes we authors give our characters. I'd love to have the addresses of some movie stars who I picture playing my heroes so I could stalk them into producing and staring in the movie version of my book.
Next time you start a book you might want to check to see if there's a Pinterest board to help your imagination get started. Or not. Some people want to do their own casting and that's part of the joy of reading. If you find Carrot Top super-sexy, you can give him the hero job and no one elses opinion can sway you.

Do you cast your current bedside novel or leave the interpretation loosey goosey? Wanna tell us who you gave a staring role to recently?


  1. I guess I don't cast the books I'm reading--hadn't really thought about that question before. As for my own books, I cast them with photos I find online, but they're not necessarily celebrities.

    I need to learn more about Pinterest--is this worth my time as an author, or is it more of a time suck?

  2. I think it's valuable as long as you're not taking time to create extraneous boards for food, furniture, clothes etc. I have a board of doors and another with a beach theme that I made while lying in bed sleepless one night. It was fun but I can't be constantly on Pinterest.

  3. I use celebrities sometimes, but usually people I know. Lets em understand them better, so I can write them or visualize them more vividly.

  4. I originally chose Sam Worthington as the actor who would play my undercover cop hero, Sam Fields, but switched to Stephen Amell (from series Arrow). But I hope readers see their own version of Sam.

    Frankly, I wish readers would tell us who they see. I'm so curious how their version of the character is different. As you said, your version of Bella in Twighlight was very different than the actress (Kristen Stewart) used in the movie

  5. Sorry I missed this one, Kim! When I first started my website I had all the guy roles cast...I even have them separated into two categories: Beef from the Bayou State and Texas Prime Beef. BUT, then I started hearing all these copyright infringement horrors when using photos of celebrities on websites, so I removed almost all of them. I left Nick Ballard's, but he's a guy from Louisiana and loves having his picture on the does his mom! LOL! But yes, I've used Nick Ballard as Jackson, Tom Selleck as his hunky older Uncle Bill Broussard, Kimberly Paisley as Giselle, Bradley Cooper as Red McAllister and a few others. It helps me to picture them as the scenes play out in my mind. :)

  6. Funny that "Nick" loves having his picture on the site! Thanks for dropping in Lori.