What follows next is FANTASY CASTING for (1)The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, (2) The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, (3) The Queerest Quest of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, (4) The Perilous Past of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. This is like a fan game, okay? It’s strictly for fun (unless the Wachowskis give me a ring). Got that?
Updates on May 1, 2021 and August 31, 2020: My understanding of my characters has deepened since I wrote the first version of this blog post. This is partly because some of my characters have gone through changes, and also because the newer books bring whole new casts of characters. I’ve also become aware of many new and staggeringly talented actors and performers since I started the first book in the fall of 2016. Many of these performers are LGBTQIA+, transgender, intersex, otherwise gender diverse, and/or perform drag. This revised fantasy casting list includes an increased number of such folx, particularly among the Elves and in the third and fourth books, Lucky LaFey’s witch daughters. There are also many roles for actors who are Black, Indigenous, and other actors of color.
As a writer, it really helps to have “a face” to give to my characters. Actors and performers are easily “recruited” in this imaginative exercise. And so, enjoy the list below. I can’t promise it won’t change!
This fantasy series is about a group of human misfits (the Hermits) and their collisions with magic and a variety of supernatural beings, while having crazy dangerous adventures. It’s a “coming of age” story for (human) characters who are already “old”– a tale of mid-life magic.
The Hermits of “Hermitville” (Book 1) and “Neoville” (Book 2)
• Babe Bump [Narrator] – Intersex, pansexual. Babe often functions as the quiet, emotional center of The Hermits, but no one should underestimate her. She’s a sexy burlesque performer and an intersex activist, as bold in her way as Tomma is in zir’s. And she goes through some wild changes!
Fantasy casting – I’ve always imagined singer and actor, Eden Atwood, (with darker hair). She’d be terrific. And this song is a perfect way for her to express her feelings for her new sweetheart! Eden has been “the face” of Babe almost since the first chapter.
• Tomma Bedlam [Narrator] – Gender fluid/non-binary, pansexual. Prounouns are ze and zir. Tomma is a BIG personality–complex, creative, provocative, funny as hell, sexy, confrontational, flippant, intelligent, and courageous. Ze is also extremely tender-hearted. Tomma is Babe’s best friend.
Fantasy casting – Lately I’ve been realizing that Disasterina (Dragula Season 2, Dr. Sado), created and performed by Treiops Treyfid, has the emotional range, physicality, and over-the-top humor that I associate with Tomma. Though I don’t see Tomma with quite the non-stop boisterous campiness of Disasterina, Tomma comes close in several scenes. I find myself wondering if the thoughtfulness (as well as the punk-drag energy) behind the creation of Disasterina would allow this performer to deliver the Tomma I imagine. It’s an interesting speculation!
• Oyster Olson [Narrator] – trans man, asexual, pan-romantic. Multi-instrumental musician with a particular fondness for blues harp.
Fantasy casting – Imagining Will Krisanda who played Max in the Brothers series, but slightly gothy and with a little grey hair added. For me, he’s been “the face” of Oyster Olson all along and I remain devoted to this fantasy casting choice. Will Krisanda has the kind of range that Oyster needs, as Oyster’s life takes many unexpected turns.
• Aarrf Perry – Gender queer (they/them) “human puppy” who is head of Hermitville security and disaster prep. Aarrf is “a stray” looking for a master/mistress as the book opens.
Fantasy casting – This character requires versatility and has a pretty intense character growth. I now imagine Dina Nina Martinez in the roll, as she’s funny as hell and I think she could carry Aarrf’s character arc.
• Joe Hillstrom – Cisgender gay man, photographer and personal trainer. Always looks buffed and well-groomed (in contrast to some of Hermitville’s other residents). He was a long-time resident of San Francisco prior to moving to Hermitville. He’s also Sidley Croom’s ex.
Fantasy casting – This is a role for a Black man. I originally imagined Chiwetel Ejiofor, because he can pretty much do anything as an actor and I love him. However, there are several actors who could do wonderful things with Joe’s character. Also there’s no reason a trans man couldn’t be cast as Joe.
• Glysandra Shakti Om – Cisgender woman, hetero, hippy neo-tantra instructor. Glysandra can be clueless but also overly sincere and earnest. A bit of a tantric femme fatale.
Fantasy casting – I originally imagined Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders), but she has alas passed away! This is incredibly sad! However, there is no reason a trans woman or drag performer couldn’t be cast in this role. I think Victoria Elizabeth Black would be amazing as a slightly clueless tantra teacher with a heart of gold.
• Maximus Gordon – Cisgender man, hetero, polyamorous, kinky, musician and singer. He is tall, strong, super-capable (flies helicopters!), is sexy and has gravitas. Maximus is a former folk singer. His ex-wife and current girlfriend both live in Hermitville. They all get along, sometimes as a sexual triad.
Fantasy casting – This is a role for a Black man. I’ve imagined Maximus as someone with the stature and presence of Morgan Freeman, Idris Elba, Danny Glover, or Samuel L. Jackson.
• Sybil Perry – Cisgender woman, heteroflexible, polyamorous, musician and singer. Maximus’ former wife and folksinging partner.
Fantasy casting – I’ve imagined Annie Golden or someone like her who could give off a vaguely hippy vibe. Doesn’t have to be a cisgender actor but would be great if the person could sing.
• Maxine Richmond – Cisgender OR trans woman, heteroflexible, polyamorous, musician and singer. She is Maximus’ current GF. She and Maximus are a bit kinky.
Fantasy casting – Ever since I bought Rachel True’s Trueheart Tarot Deck, I’ve been seeing her as Maxine. Plus, she’s got a super adventurous scene in the second book and I can see this actor rocking it!
• Jennifer Juniper – Cisgender woman, hetero, musician and singer.
Fantasy casting – Another role for a woman of color, particularly Latina. Doesn’t have to be a cisgender actor but would be great if the person could sing.
• Frank Talk – Intersex man, heteroflexible, musician. “Hipster” or gamer persona.
Fantasy casting – This role should be given to an intersex actor, preferably someone with musical skills. No particular ethnicity. I haven’t found the right “face” for this character.
• Rozaline Rae – Cisgender OR trans woman, bisexual, musician/singer. Scottish heritage (plays bagpipes).
Fantasy casting – Imagining someone with a rock n roll persona similar to Poison Ivy (of The Cramps).
• Ginger Croom – Cisgender woman, hetero, age 70ish, winery heiress, Hermitville founder. Dies at beginning of the book. A “big” personality with lots of moxie and traces of her entitled upbringing. Seductive, charismatic. A redhead. She and her brother are rich white people.
Fantasy casting – Ginger is her 70s at the start of the first book. In the fourth book, we see a flashback to a younger Ginger Croom with her Elven lover – visualizing Christina Hendricks or Zackary Drucker.
• Sidley Croom – Cisgender man, bisexual, Ginger’s younger brother. Sidley has a somewhat stocky or large build, red hair, and a beard.
Fantasy casting – Anyone who could be cast as an older “leather” guy.
Elves of “The Realm” (All four books)
Note: The Elves (Eldar) have 29 genders in their world, depending on their “element” at birth and timing of developmental “shifts” over the course of their lives. The Elves are all pansexual. Elf names are given in Tolkien’s Elf language, Quenya.
• Professor Osbert Almond (Laurina Eälótë – Golden Sea Flower) – Professor Almond is a Human Studies expert. He has a very complicated love life. A bit overly formal and stiff. Works closely with Fantur Nen and Artanáro Alma. Mentor (and more) to Oyster Olson.
Fantasy casting – I’ve imagined Tom Hiddleston (but more gloss and gleam than Marvel Loki) and Alexander Vlahos (Versailles). Almond is supposed to be stunning. Long dark hair is required.
• Parsifal Berry Blue (Lúnë Pië – Blue Berry) – Breadcrumb’s father. Like his daughter, he is obsessed with human clowns. He’s a big goof who forgets to tone down his overwhelming glamour. Mentor (and more) to Tomma Bedlam.
Fantasy casting – The character is based on the real-life Puddles, the Sad Clown with the Golden Voice. Would love to cast Puddles (Mike Geier) in this role.
• Maud o’ Bedlam (Elemmírë Ohtar – Star-jewel Warrior) – Breadcrumb’s mother. Gothy, strong personality, physical (martial arts), a “straight man” foil for her husband, Parsifal. Mentor to Maximus and monitors Sidley.
Fantasy casting – At various times, I’ve imagined Eva Green (Penny Dreadful) in this role. But these days I like imagining Mj Rodriguez in the part.
• Breadcrumb (Titta Massánië – Little Breadgiver) [Book narrator] – A “manic-pixie-dream Elf” who is in love with human clowns. Dresses like one. Ditzy cute personality, martial arts skills. The “commander” in the first book. Mentor to Rozaline Rae.
Fantasy casting – Character based on Angela Mae, a clown and bellydancer who used to perform with Gooferman. Lately I’ve imagined Madeline Petsch in this role, as she can clearly camp up a storm without half trying.
• Gingevus Sitwell (Lindë Sorno – Sky Singing Eagle) – Brother to Septimus. A somewhat outdoorsy role. Mentor (and more) to Glysandra.
Fantasy casting: I’ve just seen some amazing photos of Ricky Martin. He’s now my current Gingevus!
• Hamfast (Nectë Morco – Honey Bear) – An unusually skilled shapeshifter, even for Elves. Mentor to Frank Talk.
Fantasy casting – I’ve imagined Brian Michael Smith (Queen Sugar).
Hamfast shapeshifting as Goddess Mal-i-bu Bar-bee – Imagining Candis Cayne in a cameo appearance as “the Cosmic Soccer Mom.”
• Nar (Artanáro Alma – Noble Fire Flower): Human studies expert, specialist in Asian magic traditions. Works closely with Professor Almond and Fantur Nen. Lives with “Nen” back in The Realm. Mentor to both Joe and Maxine.
Fantasy casting – Since I’m totally under the influence of The Untamed right now, I imagine Wang Yibo (who played Lan Zhan), especially for his range, martial arts skills, and experience performing magic acts on screen.
• Nen (Fantur Nen – Cloud Lord River): Human studies expert, specialist in Asian magic traditions. Works closely with Professor Almond and Artanáro Alma. Lives with “Nar” back in The Realm. Mentor to Babe Bump.
Fantasy casting – Again, from The Untamed, Xiao Zhan (who played Wei Wuxian), also for his range, martial arts skills, and experience performing magic acts on screen.
• Septimus Sitwell (Irmo Arwë – Long for Treasure) – Septimus is a specialist in materializing just about anything, human or Elven. Mentor (and Master) to Aarrf.
Fantasy casting: I’ve imagined both Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange, Sherlock) and Hale Appleman (The Magicians). This role has some campy aspects and either actor could pull this off.
• Who’s There (Yéva Sanomë – Who Will Be There) – Another unusually talented shape shifter. Also enjoys documentary filmmaking. Martial arts. Mentor to Jennifer and Sybil.
Fantasy casting: Imagining Jamie Clayton!
Supernatural Beings (All four books)
• Vesta the Salamander – Maxi Glamour can create the costume and portray the “human-like” persona of Vesta, who haunts via channeling and “kundalini” surges Babe Bump.
• Nienna, Elven Goddess – Totally seeing Vander Von Odd as this stern Elven goddess who haunts Babe Bump.
P.S. I’d also put Vander Von Odd and Maxi Glamour in charge of designing the Elf costumes and body makeup when they’re “at home” in the Realm.
Lucky LaFey & Family (Books 3 and 4)
• Lucky LaFey (Norse God Loki Laufeyjarson) – Yes, this is the Norse god wandering around Midgard as a handsome drifter, in search of his missing child. Long red hair, lanky.
Fantasy casting: If Hale Appleman (The Magicians) or Alexander Vlahos (Versailles) don’t end up as Professor Almond, either one could be a great Lucky LaFey as well. However long red hair is fundamental.
• Váli, Lucky & Sigyn’s Son – Teenager. Small role.
• Angrboda, Lucky’s Jotun wife and “Chief of Ironwood” – Powerful. Big personality. Currently imagining Biqtch Puddin, (Dragula).
• Sigyn, Lucky’s Aesir wife – Imagining Indya Moore, who is going to kick some Wethrini ass in a big way. (That was a spoiler.)
• Gyda, Lucky’s Witch Daughter – Bae Doona (Sense8).
• Runa, Witch Daughter – Kitana Kiki Rodriguez (Tangerine). Brief action role.
• Magnhild, Witch Daughter – Dahli, (Dragula).
• Ylva, Witch Daughter – Angelica Ross, transgender actress (Pose).
• Thyra, Witch Daughter – The “punk rock” one. James Majesty (Dragula).
• Eerika, Witch Daughter – Lousiana Purchase (Dragula).
• The rest of Lucky’s Witch Daughters, not yet cast. Alva, Oili, Ase, Unn, Sigrid, Gunvor, Nanna, Ingrid, Eira, Asta, Sylvi — all could be played by trans women and/or drag performers. Not yet “cast.”
• Sophie “Socks” Lokisdottir – A transient human trans girl adopted by Lucky. Role for a trans actor. Thinking Sadie O’Neal.
Bad Guys (Books 1 and 2)
• Anna Phylaxia – Cisgender woman, hetero, pretend “domme,” CEO of Anna’s Wicked Wares.
Fantasy casting – I’m seeing Ave Rose (Sado Psychiatrist).
• Stanford Lawsome – cisgender, part-human, bisexual, Anna’s assistant. Half human.
Fantasy casting: Reeve Carney (Penny Dreadful) with bleached hair and a spray tan.
• The Lawyer® – gender neutral (ze, zir), Elsewherian supernatural foe, devotee of Mal-i-bu Barbee.
Fantasy casting: Imagining Jamie Casbon (Brothers) with a very corporate wardrobe.
• Sri Niri Nimrod – cisgender man, hetero. Self-righteous yoga guy with man bun, leader of a Hippie Doomsday Cult.
Fantasy casting: Small role but Landon Cider could do it…
Bad Guys (Book 3)
• Samuel Dipps aka “The Big Dipper” or “The Dip” – Wethrini supernatural foe. He looks like an orange, spray tanned “Malibu Ken” doll. This is a nasty villain! Landon Cider could do it!
Fantasy casting – Landon Cider could do it! Whoever it is, has to be immensely sleazy.
• Anna Phylaxia – Ave Rose plays the spoiled “Martha Stewart of Kink” and returns as a friend of Samuel Dipp. See Bad Guys (Book 1).
Film Crew (Book 1)
• Miranda Jackson – Cisgender female, lesbian. Documentary filmmaker. Have imagined someone like Lea DeLaria (Orange is the New Black).
• Shank Stoma – Trans or gender queer person (they, them). Camera. Imagining Hudson Krakowski (Brothers).
• Eddie Sedgwick – Nonbinary trans male (they, them). Camera. Imagining Em Grosland (New Amsterdam).
• Toledo Jackson – Cisgender male, hetero. Miranda’s goat-selling, former tweaker brother. Hippie dude. Imagining someone similar to Russell Brand, but even more unraveled.
Hawaiian (Kanaka Maoli) Neighbors (Books 1 & 2)
• Namaka Kamapua’a– cisgender woman, mother of two including kapu (sacred) child. Cast a Hawaiian activist.
• Uncle Iolana Kamapua’a – cisgender man, kupuna (cherished elder), age 70ish. Cast a Hawaiian activist.
• Keiki`okalani Kamapua’a, Namaka’s year old baby (gender not specified).
• Kia`i`okamauna Kamapua’a, Namaka’s ten year old son.
This fourth book takes the “Guild” back to its origins in witch-hunting England. It is about halfway through the first draft, but so far it has a lot of new characters, including Ornamental Hermit ancestors of the 17th and 18th centuries, “witch prickers” and inquisitors, and so on.
This “fantasy casting” is not only good fun, it is also a productive exercise for a white writer to step out of a tendency to “cast white” or “cast cis” and to broaden the character possibilities beyond a token character or two, tossed in as a sop to “diversity.” It is also a way to search out and appreciate the work of talented people who in some cases have less recognition or opportunity for roles than they deserve. This is also a bit of “magical thinking.”
So mote it be.