One of my favorite parts of my pre-writing process is casting my characters once I have them all fleshed out. Here are my casting choices for Ashes Swept!
For Synda May, I needed a redhead who could look like she fit in both the magisterial/ministerial world and the tractlands–someone who would look beautiful in a gala gown but wouldn’t look out of place heaving a sack of grain onto the back of a wagon. When I came across actress Rachel Hurd-Wood, she was perfect!
For Everton, I was really just looking for an actor who looked the part, and when I came across William Moseley, there were some photos of him that were pretty spot-on for what I was imagining. Bonus: he’s been acting since he was young, so that helped me imagine a younger version of Everton, too. The same was true of Rachel Hurd-Wood.
My friend Melissa suggested Charlie Barnett for Will, and as soon as I saw him I thought he was perfect. Although I found a lot of pictures where he’s all smiles, he does the quiet/contemplative look really well. Just what I’ve imagined for the miller’s son!
My critique partner and friend, Shannon, suggested Eva Tamargo for Estela after reading the first few chapters. I hadn’t really cast anyone yet, and when I saw her she was perfect.–although I picture Estela with shorter hair. She looks very kind and gentle, yet when she’s running two large estates, she means business.
Mark Ruffalo popped into my head for Brewster after seeing an interview with him where he was sporting this scruffy look. I saw the salt and pepper coloring in his facial hair and at his temples, and thought HOLY MOLY! That’s Brewster! He has that quiet gentleness I imagine in Brewster, but he can totally pull off gruff and cantankerous.
As soon as Maurel Kirby started to flesh out in my head, I knew she had to be played by Gina Torres. As a Firefly fan, I was definitely inspired by the character of Zoë, tough and no-nonsense, but with a good sense of humor and a big heart.
I came across Polly Walker in a list of actresses over 40, and I remembered her as Jane Fairfax from the 1996 version of Emma. I hadn’t seen her in a while, but she pulls off the sophisticated sternness that Gracia exudes.
I don’t know where I came across this picture of Asher Monroe, but the moment I saw it, I thought THAT’S AUGUSTE! I’ve never seen him in anything and other photos I saw didn’t quite pan out like this one did–but he gets the part anyway!
When I cast Antonine, I’d only seen Jodelle Ferland in a few things but didn’t recall them. You can see that this actress could pull off Antonine’s fiercest moods, and you can see her gliding elegantly across the gala hall, but at the same time she could pull off Antonine’s softer side as well.
From Letta’s first appearance in the story, I imagined Catherine Keener in the role. I’ve only seen her in a few movies, but she can definitely pull off Letta’s mild-mannered-but-take-no-crap attitude. This is someone who will help you bake a pie for a date, but won’t hesitate to boot you out if you break the rules.
I cast Amandla Stenberg as Maribel not long after seeing her as Rue in The Hunger Games. She’s grown now, but as a child actress she definitely would have nailed Maribel’s sassy-but-loving personality. She’s queen of the playground, but she would never hurt someone’s feelings.
I didn’t have any actors in mind when it came time to cast the littlest Kirby. Most of the young male actors I knew of were too old, and I also needed an actor who could look small and gentle, with the Kirby-male quietness, but who looked like he could have a daring streak, too. When I came across this picture of Sayeed Shahidi, I knew I had my Foster!