Friday, May 23, 2014

On the Casting Couch: Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson

Every author dreams that, one day, their book will be made into a movie, or a television series. Of course, it happens to few of us but it’s nice to dream and many writers cast their novels during the writing process; it can help with characterisation and visualising your leads. I’m not one of those authors but I have relished this opportunity to act out a fantasy, so many thanks to Jencey for this!

Public Battles, Private Wars is quintessentially British, and like, say, Brassed Off, The Full Monty and Billy Elliot, chances are it would be made (if at all) with a British cast. However, as we’re in fantasy-land I’d also like to imagine it relocated to a small American mining town, somewhere outside Pittburg, let’s say. So here’s my dream-team cast lists: the cream of Hollywood and British acting royalty.

Mandy Walker – my lead – a feisty young redhead who finds love and personal fulfilment during a terrible year of hardship and strife would be played by Karen Gillan and Amy Adams. Both actresses would have to do a ‘Renne’ and gain 20-odd lbs because my Mandy loves cakes and definitely isn’t skinny, but both actresses can do vulnerable and insecure as well as kick-ass feisty and they’ll lovely without being scary-beautiful.

Ruth Braithwaite – Mandy’s glamorous, clever, best friend – would be played by  

Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman because they are breathtakingly beautiful with the ability to hint at a darkness beneath their gorgeous exteriors.

Dan Braithwaite – Ruth’s sensitive, handsome husband with a dark, shameful secret – would be portrayed by Kit Harington and Joaquin Phoenix. Both actors are handsome in a slightly less than conventional or perfect sense and can do strong and brawny alongside vulnerable. Both are magnetic.

Rob Walker – Mandy’s good looking, hard drinking, tough husband - would be played by Tom Hardy and Zac Efron. Tom Hardy should be obvious, if you’ve read the book (or even from the three word description above), Zac Efron perhaps less so. I’d like Zac stateside because looks-wise he’s just perfect – those blue-blue eyes and dark hair – and because I’d like to see him play someone who isn’t altogether nice, someone a bit raw, someone who makes stupid decisions and pays the price.

Ethel Braithwaite – Dan’s hard-nut exterior, soft interior, mother and matriarch of a male-dominated family – is to played by Julie Walters (she needs to be funny) and Kathy Bates (for she also needs to be terrifying occasionally).

Vince Braithwaite – Dan’s aggressive, intractable father – would be played by Sean Bean and Bryan Cranston.

And if I could choose my director? I know… it would never happen – indulge me! I’d choose Clio Barnard because she did such a beautiful job of The Selfish Giant, which is also set in the North of England. Here’s a bit more about the book and where you can buy it.
Yorkshire 1983
Miner’s wife Mandy is stuck in a rut. Her future looks set and she wants more. But Mandy can’t do anything other than bake and raise her four children. Husband Rob is a good looking drinker, content to spend his days in the small town where they live.
When a childhood friend – beautiful, clever Ruth – and her Falklands war hero husband, Dan, return to town, their homecoming is shrouded in mystery. Mandy looks to Ruth for inspiration, but Ruth isn’t all she appears.
Conflict with the Coal Board turns into war and the men come out on strike. The community and its way of life is threatened. Mandy abandons dreams of liberation from the kitchen sink and joins a support group. As the strike rumbles on relationships are pushed to the brink, and Mandy finds out who her true friends are.


  1. Thanks so much for having me over, Jencey. This was such a fun piece to imagine.

  2. Apologies to our US friends for the missing letters in PITTSBURGH!!! Imagine me grovelling now :0)