Fantasy casting the Dark Arts series

I have been asked, notably in two interviews by Paul Semel, about what actors I would cast in the key roles of my Dark Arts series if it were being produced today, and if money and talent availability posed no barriers. Because I tend to picture my stories as movies in my imagination before I write them, this is a matter to which I’ve given much thought over the past few years.

These days there are so many great premium long-form series running on so many different channels and services that I can’t really say I have a preference for which one I’d most like to see host a Dark Arts series. All I can say for sure is that I’d rather it be on a premium subscription service than on network television, but at the same time, several cable channels have impressed the hell out of me with their series work (including, but not limited to, AMC, FX, and BBC America).

So, who do I wish would star in this daydream blockbuster of mine?

TOM HOLLAND as Cade Martin
I feel like Tom Holland has the perfect combination of vulnerability and boyish innocence on the verge of becoming cynicism to play the lead role of book one, The Midnight Front.

SUSANNA SKAGGS as Anja Kernova
I was blown away by the subtlety and emotional depth of Susanna Skaggs’s performance in the final season of Halt and Catch Fire — so much so that I find it hard to picture anyone else as Anja Kernova, “the Saint of Stalingrad.”

TOMMY FLANAGAN as Adair Macrae
I’ve been a fan of Tommy Flanagan’s work for years. His recent work on the FX series Sons of Anarchy was especially powerful. He carries with him an aura of danger, gravitas, and loss that makes him the perfect choice to play a 357-year-old Scottish vulgarian master sorcerer.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER as Kein Engel
If you’ve seen Michael Fassbender in the recent Alien films, or as Eric Lensher/Magneto in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, you already know that he has a knack for portraying characters of cold, ruthless power. That makes him the ideal candidate to play the series’ arch-villain.

DIEGO LUNA as Father Luis Roderigo Pérez
A key character in book two, The Iron Codex, Father Pérez starts out as a rival to our heroes. He is decent, pious, and brave. I think that Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) would be the perfect actor to bring this character to life on the screen.

PARKER SAWYERS as Miles Franklin
Assuming this talented and charismatic actor (Pine Gap) can muster a good London accent, he would be a superb choice to play Cade’s best friend at Oxford (and, in the sequels, his partner inside MI6).

SARAH POWER as Briet Segfrunsdóttir
Perhaps best known to SF fans as Pawter Simms on the Syfy series Killjoys, Sarah Power has a regal quality, excellent emotional range, and a knack for playing the smartest person in the room. All of these traits make her a sublime choice for a villainess in search of redemption.

VOLKER BRUCH as Dragan Dalca
The star of German hit TV series Babylon Berlin, Volker Bruch possesses great charm and intensity, as well as excellent physicality. As soon as I saw him, I was able to picture him as the villain of book two, The Iron Codex.

ODED FEHR as Khalîl el-Sahir
With a magnetic screen presence, an aura of mystery, and a rich voice, Oded Fehr has all of the qualities I would expect for an actor looking to play a wise and ancient magician — in essence, this series’ Yoda.

So that’s my wish list for the most major roles. There are some important supporting roles from book one that I have never successfully cast in my imagination (such as Stefan Van Ausdall, Nikostratos Le Beau, or Siegmar Tuomainen), but who I will recognize if I ever see actors who match my mental portraits of those characters.

My Farpoint 2019 Schedule

If you’re coming to Farpoint in Hunt Valley, Md., Feb. 8–10, 2019, here is my schedule of panels and other events. At times not listed here, you can usually find me in the hotel bar, attempting to drink myself unconscious.


FRIDAY

Writing Projects Gone Awry – 5:00 PM – Salon C

Farpoint Book Fair – 10:00 PM – Hunt Valley Hallway

 


SATURDAY

Autographing (Davie; Mack) – 11:00 AM – Autograph Table 2

Readings (D. McPhail; D. Mack; Ransom) – 1:00 PM – Salon E

Publishing in 2019 and Beyond – 3:00 PM – Salon C

 


SUNDAY

Writing Genre Mash-ups – Noon – Salon C

Autographing – 1:00 PM – Autograph Table 2

 

See you at the show, kids! (Reminder: Don’t bother me when I’m eating.)

The Iron Codex Spotify Playlist

One year ago I brought you the Spotify playlist guide for my first Dark Arts novel, The Midnight Front. I’ve chosen to reprise that effort by putting together another Spotify playlist for the second book in the series, The Iron Codex.

Music is invaluable to me as a storyteller. It inspires me with new ideas, and when I’m working, movie soundtracks often help me maintain a consistent frame of mind and emotional state that’s suited to whatever I’m working on.

Once again, to give you a look into my brain’s creative relationship with music, and how it connects to the stories that I write, I have assembled this guide to The Iron Codex’s playlist. Not all chapters or scenes have specific tracks associated with them, but those that do, I’ve done my best to annotate accordingly.

As a quick review of the playlist will reveal, the biggest musical influences this time around were spy-movie soundtracks. Specifically, Kingsman: The Secret Service, by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson; Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace by David Arnold; and Skyfall by Thomas Newman.

Also, a fun bit — at the end are two “bonus tracks.” Neither informed any particular scene, but they were instrumental to me in defining the “headspace” for two characters in particular: Cade, whose heartbroken, soul-shaken state is evoked by John Fullbright’s earnest “Until You Were Gone,” and Briet, whose need to earn some kind of redemption is expressed by Brandi Carlile’s hit “That Wasn’t Me.”

Nota Bene: Not all of the listed tracks are available for playback on Spotify, due to ever-changing licensing permissions, etc. Those of you who collect movie soundtracks might own one or more of these discs already. If you can compile your own local playlist based on this, all the better. (more…)

Excerpt: The Iron Codex

The fires of Hell heat up the Cold War in this excerpt from The Iron Codex!

From the Tor/Forge intro:

1954: Cade Martin, hero of The Midnight Front during the Second World War, has been going rogue without warning or explanation, and his mysterious absences are making his MI6 handlers suspicious. In the United States, Briet Segfrunsdóttir serves as the master karcist of the Pentagon’s top-secret magickal warfare program. And in South America, Anja Kernova hunts fugitive Nazi sorcerers with the help of a powerful magickal tome known as The Iron Codex.

In an ever-more dangerous world, a chance encounter sparks an international race to find Anja and steal The Iron Codex. The Vatican, Russians, Jewish Kabbalists, and shadowy players working all angles covet the Codex for the power it promises whoever wields it.

As the dominoes start to fall and one betrayal follows another, Anja goes on the run, hunted by friend and foe alike. The showdown brings our heroes to Bikini Atoll in March 1954: the Castle Bravo nuclear test.

But unknown to all of them, a secret magickal cabal schemes to turn America and its western allies toward fascism—even if it takes decades….

If you have a copy of The Midnight Front, you have an earlier version of this excerpt in the back of book one. This is the copy-edited and polished version, now on the Tor/Forge Blog.

Follow my heroine Anja into a magick-fueled, globe-hopping Cold War-era spy thriller! The Iron Codex will be published in trade paperback, eBook, and digital audiobook formats in North America on January 15, 2019 by Tor Books.

FREE FICTION: “Hell Rode With Her”

Hell Rode With Her,” an original novelette excised from the manuscript of The Midnight Front, details events that befall Russian-born sorceress (aka “karcist”) Anja Kernova after she deserts from the Red Army in late 1943.

This was in fact the first part of the Dark Arts series that I wrote, and Anja’s confrontation with her countrymen during the Great Patriotic War sets the stage for the series’ second book, The Iron Codex, in which Anja is the chief target of an international magickal arms race in 1954.

The good folks at Tor Dot Com are hosting the publication of this story, which first appeared in the anthology Apollo’s Daughters. Please head over to Tor Dot Com, enjoy the story, and leave a comment so that the good folks at Tor will know people are actually reading it.

The Iron Codex will be published on January 15, 2019, and is available now for pre-order in both trade paperback and eBook formats.

#SFWApro

Midnight Front named a “Top Read of 2018”

I’m pleased to share that Richard Auffrey of The Passionate Foodie blog has named my novel The Midnight Front one of his Top Three Reads of 2018,” alongside “The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky” by John Hornor Jacobs and The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang. (Not too shabby!)

He says of my novel, “An impressive and riveting supernatural thriller…,” and “I highly anticipate the sequel.”

Check out his other comments and reading recommendations here!

My 2018 Awards-eligible work ( #SFWApro )

I have only one work eligible for awards consideration this year, and it’s The Midnight Front, my World War II-era supernatural thriller. Published by Tor Books on January 30, 2018, here is its back-cover description:

The epic first novel in the Dark Arts series.

On the eve of World War Two, Nazi sorcerers come gunning for Cade Martin but kill his family instead. His one path of vengeance is to become an apprentice of The Midnight Front — the Allies’ top-secret magickal warfare program — and become a sorcerer himself.

Unsure who will kill him first — his allies, his enemies, or the demons he has to use to wield magick — Cade fights his way through occupied Europe and enemy lines. But he learns too late the true price of revenge will be more terrible than just the loss of his soul, and that there’s no task harder than doing good with a power born of ultimate evil.

 

It is eligible for, among others, the Hugo, the Nebula, the World Fantasy, and the Sidewise awards. Because of an offset eligibility calendar, it is not eligible for the next round of The Dragon Awards (though its upcoming sequel, The Iron Codex, will be).

If you are a SFWA member, you can read this book for free in Kindle, mobi, or ePub formats by visiting the SFWA Member Forums and downloading it from the “SFWA Fiction 2018 > Novel 2018 > The Midnight Front by David Mack“. (You must be a member of SFWA to access the preceding link.)

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

#SFWApro