Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a
fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her
family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too
much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful.
Jonathan Harrow left a career in Hollywood to
pursue his dream of writing novels. He has an author crush on Charlotte Bronte,
and a real crush on his author wife, YA bestseller Kelly Oram.
They live in Phoenix with their four kids and
their cat, Mr. Darcy.
Hey, Jonathan here. One of the benefits of working together with Kelly on Joni, Underway was that we needed to establish a definite look for the main characters BEFORE any writing could start. When working alone, you can have a visual in your mind without worrying about how to make sure that others see the character the same way you do. When writing with a partner, however, there needs to be a certain level of agreement about what a character or location looks like. The simple solution to that? Casting! So we actually had most of these casting choices set before we even began writing. If Joni, Underway were made into a movie today, this would be our dream cast for the crew of sailing vessel Lady Marguerite…
JONI MONDAY – Brit Robertson
This was the easiest choice to make. In our minds, Brit IS Joni, and we wrote the character with Brit in mind. Her personality is the perfect fit, as she is down to earth and smart, but can be fun and quirky at the same time. Most importantly, she’s great at portraying quiet strength in the face of overwhelming odds. As for her look, she can be a stunner, but usually goes for the “girl next door” look, which is Joni all the way.
CAPTAIN REID – Jamie Dornan
This was a harder choice—not because of Jamie’s look, which is perfect for Reid—but because Jamie has mostly been seen in more brooding, dark roles, not to mention the fact that now everybody instantly associates his name with 50 Shades of Grey, so it can be hard to shake that off. In the end, he won the role for us because 1. He’s gorgeous, obviously, but in a way that seems European, if that makes any sense. As a bonus, he could totally pull off Reid’s “golden boy” look, with honey hair and brown eyes. 2. He’s got a natural accent, so again, easy to buy into the “hot foreigner” aspect. 3. Despite always playing darker roles, Jamie seems to be a great guy in real life, married with a kid. He’s a dad! We’d love to see Jamie finally play something light and fun, like Reid’s easy-going-beach-bum-with-a-heart-of-gold.
MURRAY AND GORDON – Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon
I know, this is cheating! Unfortunately, both of these actors have passed away, so we couldn’t really get them, but this is a DREAM cast, remember. Just watch “Grumpy Old Men” and you’ll have an easy time imagining Murray and Gordon. Murray is Walter Matthau, of course—the grumpier, more opinionated of the two. Matthau was great at playing a guy who was jaded and crabby, but in the quieter moments could really be a big softy. Perfect for Murray. And hey, if we really had to cast LIVING actors, we’d love to see Bill Murray play Murray!
JIM AND YVONNE – Bryan Cranston and Viola Davis
Viola Davis is another no-brainer. Beautiful (maybe a bit young for Yvonne) and authoritative and strong—easy to picture her being TOO strong, which is something that becomes an issue for Yvonne in the story. Cranston, of course, has proven that he is a master at playing the unassuming “normal guy” with deeper issues just waiting to surface. And we know he can do funny, so these two together would make the perfect mix of strong and tender.
STAR – Hayley Kiyoko
Another one that is not quite the right age anymore (Hayley is 24 now), but if we could go back in time and snatch her from “Lemonade Mouth”, we’d have our Star, the quiet anime artist and video game geek with parental issues.