Roderick Anscombe’s first novel was about a man who chomps on people’s necks. It was called The Secret Life of Laszlo, Count Dracula. But the author swears it, uh, drew less upon vampire legend than on his own experiences at the maximum-security prison where he worked five years ago, evaluating the mentally ill.
Much like Dracula, however, Anscombe, 48, leads a double life: Oxford-educated psychiatrist by day, late-blooming novelist…also by day, though his latest effort, Shank (due out next month from Hyperion), named for a crude prison weapon, is laden with metaphorical darkness. The on-the-lam, arguably insane protagonist, Dan Cody, is a man convicted of murdering his AIDS-stricken wife — because, he claims, she asked him to. Just the thing for Kevin Costner — or so his Tig Productions/Warner Bros. presumably thinks, since it’s optioned the movie rights for Shank.
”I was very excited, because he’s such a draw at the box office,” says Anscombe. ”Kevin Costner comes across as such a nice guy, so it’ll be very interesting to see him playing that part. I could also see someone like Daniel Day-Lewis.” For Carol, the nurse whom Cody takes as willing hostage, he’s eyeing someone ”tough and vulnerable. Remember Cher in Silkwood? Or maybe Sharon Stone.” And for the adulterous police sergeant who competes for Carol’s affections, he taps Alec Baldwin. ”It needs to be someone who is strikingly handsome — and also has a capacity for brutality.”
Tig won’t comment on any of these choices just yet. In the meantime, Anscombe is enjoying his dual existence. ”Part of the attraction of psychiatry,” he says, ”is that I hear so many stories. Each patient is a story. The good thing about fiction is that you can make them turn out any way you want. Patients are much more difficult.”