Meet Storming’s Cast of Characters!

Meet Storming's Cast of Characters!

What writer doesn’t want to see her story up on the big screen? “Casting” characters has long been a guilty pleasure for authors. After all, only the hunkiest, most Oscar-winniest actors could possibly play our beloved characters! But pleasurable though it may be, casting actually isn’t so guilty after all.

I get tons of benefits from casting my characters early in the outlining process. I almost always know who I want to “play” my leads before I ever start in (and if I don’t know–or if I keep changing my mind–that’s usually a sign those characters aren’t ready to be written). When it comes to the minor characters I’m making up on the spot while outlining, immediately casting them brings a ton of dimension to the table right away. I know not just how they look, but I have inspiration for their voices, their mannerisms, even their personalities.

And then–final benefit!–I get to share my casting choices with my readers (as I’ve done with Dreamlander‘s characters in the past). As a reader myself, I’m always fascinated to learn if and who my favorite authors have cast in their books, even though it’s usually exactly the opposite of the person I had my head!

Storming K.M. WeilandToday, I’m excited to share with you the cast of my upcoming aviation-adventure novel Storming. You’ll get to officially meet them when the book comes out December 4th, but for now here’s the sneak peek of the four main characters.


Robert “Hitch” Hitchcock is our cocky, charming, reckless biplane pilot of a hero. He spends his life chasing freedom through the skies, putting on barnstorming shows with his small crew for the aviation-awed audiences of the 1920s. He loathes the thought of being tied down, preferring to live life on the edge, but he’s actually way more responsible than he wants to admit–which comes in handy when he has to protect his old hometown from unseen dangers from above.

My favorite thing about Hitch: Not that I’m prejudiced or anything, but I just adore Hitch. For starters, he has all that awesome physical courage and ability (which, as a total klutz, I sadly lack)–and swagger. He’s devoted to being true to his own ideals and views about life–which often puts him at loggerheads with those he loves–but under it all, he’s really a major sweetheart, who puts himself on the line for others over and over again with hesitation.

From the book:

The plane glided in to about six feet off the ground, as nice and easy as you could want. Hitch brought the nose up and flared, then settled the whole thing with a bump-hop, then another. He finally brought the wheels to the ground to stay, let the tailskid drop, and killed the engine. The propeller’s noise died.

Earl came running over. “What in blue blazes? Where’d you get that thing? You’ve seen Livingstone? He let you fly his plane? That’s got to be a good sign!”

“Yeah, well, about that…”

Earl drew up short. “What now? Or wait, don’t tell me: You stole the plane.”



Hitch glanced over his shoulder.

Even now, a big cloud of dust chased the fleet of automobiles up the road to the field’s entrance.

He hoisted himself up and swung his legs over the edge of the cockpit. “Look, it’s not all that bad.”

“You stole Livingstone’s plane! How is that not bad? Tell me how that’s not bad!”

Hitch’s feet thumped against the ground. “You’re right, it’s bad.”

Earl leaned his head back and groaned. “You did this without having any kind of a plan?”

“Of course I had a plan. It just might not be, on reflection, a very good one. I had to save this girl, see.”

“What girl?” Earl whipped his head around to look at Jael standing in the front cockpit. “I knew there was a girl!”

“It’s the girl from last night.”

Earl didn’t look convinced.

“She saw somebody in town, got scared—and then I had this thought.”

“You should never have thoughts.”

“We needed to make a splash with Livingstone—get his attention, right? So what if I was to do him a favor? You remember the man. What’s the one thing in this world he loves better than flying?” He pointed toward the motorcars streaming in. “You cannot buy this kind of publicity.”

“This is the kind of publicity that lands you right in the pokey!”

The cars careened to a stop a few yards off. Rick drove the first one, with Lilla waving gaily from the back.
Livingstone piled out of the front passenger seat. He smashed his Stetson back onto his head and gave his black string tie a tweak.

Hitch hooked his thumbs into his suspenders, trying to keep his posture both relaxed and confident.

Who I cast as Hitch: Almost from the very beginning Hitch has been Cole Hauser–even though the only thing I had seen Hauser in at the time was his creepy role in Pitch Black. This was one of those castings that just happened. The actor fit the character, so there was never any molding the character to fit the actor. Hauser has that tousled charm and that wide grin (nice-looking, but not too nice-looking) with a hard-as-steel backbone that fits Hitch perfectly.

Robert Hitchcock 2


Hmm. What can I say here without giving too much away? Jael literally falls out of the sky right in front of Hitch’s plane. He tracks her down–both to make sure she’s okay and to get some answers to some obvious questions–only to discover she barely speaks English and has zero idea how what she calls the “Groundsworld” works. She can, however, wield a knife and kick a guy in the shins pretty good. Even more importantly, she’s absolutely intent on getting back “home” and stopping some bad people from doing some very bad things.

My favorite thing about Jael: Um, everything? Seriously, Jael was a joy to write from start to finish. Her clumsy English skills and her wide-eyed wonder with the seemingly prosaic world of Farmtown, USA, mask a keen intellect and a huge well of courage. She’s delightfully unpredictable: I never knew what she’d be saying or doing next. But I think probably the thing I love the most is how earnestly genuine she is.

From the book:

“It wasn’t an act,” Hitch said. “I didn’t plan any of it. All I did was hang on. She did it all.” He raised her hand, as if introducing her to an audience.

Jael bit her lip, shyly, her eyes still dancing.

Earl chuckled once. Then his grin faded. “Are you kidding me?”


He looked at Jael. “Is he kidding me?”

She shook her head.

“Well… dadgum.” Earl started laughing again and reached to engulf her hand in both of his. “Dadgum it is, sweetheart. You’re a crazier fool than Hitch is, you know that?”

She inclined her head in a small bow. “Thank you.”

“Well, come on, this is worth celebrating.” He released her and turned to rummage through the camp supplies.

Hitch led her, limping only slightly now, to a rolled-up bedroll she could use as a seat. “We got anything worth celebrating with?”

“Not much. I think Lilla left behind some orange sodey pop. Yep.” Earl stood up with three of the ribbed glass bottles. With his sleeve over the heel of his hand, he snapped off the tops, then passed them around. Still standing, he raised his bottle. “Here’s to our girl, who we may or may not let go back up again, but who definitely saved our grease-stained hides today.”

Hitch tilted the spicy citrus bubbles into the back of his throat and took a long chug.

Jael sipped hers, licked her lips thoughtfully, then tipped her head back for a deep swallow.

He watched her until she came back up for air. “What made you do that?”

“You were needing help.” She licked her lips again and raised a shoulder. “And I am needing to go home.”

Yeah, right. Go home where nobody seemed to care what happened to her—except Zlo, who definitely cared that she ended up as a blob on the ground somewhere.

He watched her, trying to read her. “You have any idea how lucky you are not to have fallen off the plane?”

“What is this lucky?”

“It’s like when everything’s going right, and you just know it’s going to keep on going. Nothing can touch you.”

“I like that. You have this lucky?”

“Luck. Yeah, sometimes.” He smiled at her. “But listen, no more of this. If you’re going to work on my crew, then you have to understand I’m the boss. If I tell you not to do something, you don’t do it.”

“If you are boss, I understand this. But there is something you do not understand. If I have this feeling, inside me”—she laid her hand over her stomach—“that I must be doing something, like today, then I must be doing it.”


“If I do not, if I think about it, that is when luck goes away. I maybe start believing I cannot be doing it, then I have fear. And then I cannot do it.” She gave him a long look. “You understand this?”

What airman didn’t understand that?

Who I cast as Jael: Jael’s character went through several manifestations very early on in the conception stage. (Originally, she was a dying time traveller named Greer McQueen.) About then, the first Thor movie came out, and I loved the effortless humor that arose from someone being a fish out of water in a strange place. I wanted to capture that, but with a female character–which immediately put me in mind of The Fifth Element‘s LeeLoo, played by Milla Jovovich, who has exactly the right mix of ethereal beauty, winsome charm, and physical and mental toughness to play Jael.



I’ve been wanting to do a child character for a while now: someone who was a complete and complex character in his own right, despite his age. This was the perfect story for it, since my initial germ of an idea centered around a child (“what if a female circus performer befriended a young boy at one of her stops?”). Walter is eight years old and hasn’t spoken for several years, ever since he caused a “bad thing” to happen. He’s an adorable sweetheart, but he’s also lonely and feels he has nowhere he really fits in–until the barnstormers come to town.

My favorite thing about Walter: His personality is so open. He’s still so young and so full of questions, and he passes zero judgments on other people. He’s fiercely loyal and much braver than he knows. I think there are more truths in his POV scenes than anywhere else in the book.

From the book:

Jael hoisted a hip onto the sill and scrunched her legs around so they were dangling out. Because the roof here slanted down from the dormer windows, it wouldn’t be a straight fall if she lost her balance. In any case, she didn’t seem too worried.

Walter tiptoed over and stood next to her.

“Come up,” she said.

He scrambled up and sat beside her, feet hanging out. He clutched the windowsill hard.

She laughed and let go with both hands. “Put up your hands. You want to be flying. This is flying.”

He shook his head.

“You will not fall. I will catch you.”

No, she wouldn’t. She’d miss him and fall right down after him, and it’d be his fault again, just like it had been with the twins way back when. But if a girl could be as brave as all that, then he sure could too. He pried his fingers loose and let go. He kept his hands hovering above the sill, in case he needed to grab it again.

She grinned. “See? Flying.” She spread her hands, palms up, and whistled through her teeth, like the wind blowing. Then she glanced at him. “I will tell you secret if you tell me one.”

It wasn’t like he had many secrets—except about Mr. J.W.’s penny and about Molly letting Jimmy Porter steal a kiss down by the creek that time last week. So he nodded.

“Your secret is first.” Her face went still and soft. “Why do you not like to be talking?”

That was hard to explain. Sometimes he thought he might like to say something again. But it had just been the way it was now for so long, it seemed too hard anymore. He shrugged.

“There must be reason.” She nudged him with her leg.

He eased a hand up from the sill and touched the overall bib on his chest. Then he pointed at her and back again.

“You mean you are like me?” She still smiled, but her eyes got faraway. “I am nikto. That is meaning having no place to belong.”

Nikto. He rolled the word around inside his head. He felt that way sometimes too.

Who I cast as Walter: This was no contest. Ever since Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, I’ve thought Zach Mills was the cutest thing with two ears. His sweet expressiveness and his slightly lonely looks embodied Walter right from the start.



And that brings us to the Big Bad. Dunh-dunh-duh-dunh. Seems like I usually do wealthy, megalomanacial white-collar antagonists, so this time I wanted to do something with a blue-collar guy. Zlo’s about as grungy as it gets. He comes from the same mysterious upwards place as Jael, and he has some serious ambitions-beyond-his-station that are going to cause trouble for Jael and Hitch–and everybody in Hitch’s hometown.

My favorite thing about Zlo: His silver-capped teeth. They add a bit of sparkle to his otherwise rather sloppy personal hygiene. I also gotta admire the man’s tenacity and ambition–even if he doesn’t blink at homicide on his way to where he wants to go. He is nice to his pet eagle Maksim, and he’ll take care of his own as long as they don’t cross him.

From the book:

Zlo pulled the flare gun from his belt and held it between them. “I have no fight with you.” His accent wasn’t as thick as Jael’s.

Hitch stayed back, stance wide, hands in front of him. “Fine by me, brother.” He pointed at the body. “All I want to know is where that guy came from.”

Zlo grinned. “He is good sign. My people are finished with taking control.”

“Control of what?”


“What’s Schturming?” Hitch ran back through his brain for the biggest airplane he could think of. “A Handley-Page bomber? A hot-air balloon? What?”

“It is place where we pretend not to envy your world. But I think maybe it will be your world that will envy us.”

“What does that mean?”

“It does not concern Groundsmen. Not yet.” Zlo turned up the corner of his mouth. He seemed to be enjoying the fact Hitch had no idea what he was talking about.

“I’ll say it concerns me,” Hitch said. “You people keep falling on top of me!”

Zlo looked around, a smidge of theater in his expression. “I like your town. Very rich.” He grinned fully, and his front teeth sparkled, as if they were capped with silver or gold. The grin disappeared. Zlo took a step toward Hitch. “This girl? Jael Elenava—you know where she is?”

Hitch moved to the side. “All I know is they found a body out by the lake this morning.”

Another step forward. “She was not killed. I saw her footprints.”

Well, it had been worth a shot. “Disappointed?” he asked.

Zlo shrugged. “I do not care if she dies or lives. If you want her, you can have her.” He tapped the center of his chest. “All I want from her is this.”

Her pendant? Hitch frowned and shook his head. “Maybe I can help you find it. My brother’s a deputy sheriff. Lives down the road here. He’ll help you retrieve what’s yours and get you on back home.”

“Deputy sheriff?” Zlo snorted. “I think not. But if you find yakor for me, I will promise you no more bodies will fall. I cannot leave you without it. I tell you that is no threat, it is just fact. I will even pay for it, yes? If you want nikto girl, she is yours too. And if you do not want her, I get rid of her for you. Is this deal?”

Hitch dropped his placating hands to his sides. “Look, you’re going to stay away from that girl.”

Zlo’s features stilled. “Fine. Idi i bud’ proklyat.

That didn’t sound too much like “farewell and good luck.”

Who I cast as Zlo: Poor Tom Hardy. Honestly, he’s probably my favorite actor going right now. But I think this is about the third time I’ve cast him as a bad guy. I promise I’ll give him a suitably tortured hero role soon. But for now, his turn as Bill Sikes in the 2007 BBC Oliver Twist miniseries provided inspiration for Zlo–right down to the scuffed bowler hat.

Rawliv Zlo

For more casting fun, be sure to check out the new Pinterest board of characters, which includes the entire cast.

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  1. With the sneak peek of Jael’s POV, you have made a costumer here. 😉

  2. Oh! I don´t know the guy you casted as Hitch, but Zlo is totally perfect and I think so is walter (even though I thought about someone more of the lines of a young Asa Butterfield since he´s a teen now).
    I think you nailñed it with Jael! Mila would be perfect! (I imagined a someone like a young Nicole Kidman).
    Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Ah, I was wondering if you did this or not. When I cast a character, the character generally appears fairly quickly in my mind’s eye, and usually based on someone I know – but never anyone in my family. When I’m certain of who it is, I go find a photo of them and put it in the Character file. Then I write about the character with the photo as a guide. 😉

    I was surprised by Mila’s role as Jael, but then I wasn’t. I’ve never used Mila as a prototype, yet. 🙂

    I’m sure if anyone knew who I chose to play characters in my stories, they’d be surprised.

    I notice you left out one very important character in this introductory list. Why not introduce Hitch’s best friend, the ___. 😉 Or should that remain a surprise? 🙂 After all, the ___ connects Hitch with the big surprise. 😉

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      The Jenny? 🙂 If you want to meet her in person, be sure to visit the Denver airport. She’s hanging in one of the concourses right now. I about walked into a display when I first saw her.

  4. Interesting cast of characters. Thanks for sharing. I’d love to read the book someday. 🙂

  5. WOW! I thought I was the only one who did this. Don’t know why I’d think that way, it only makes sense, now that I think about it.

    Have you ever had a character you were writing change as a result of the choice you made in casting him/her?

    I had a character who did. I wanted a walk-on / throwaway character as a henchman to my baddie. I planned on using him in one, maybe two scenes, whenever my baddie needed a thug to do his bidding. I had an idea of the physical “type” I wanted, and found it in Miguel Ferrer. But then my perception of Miguel Ferrer, and the kinds of characters I’d seen him play, changed that character. He did something EXTREMELY unexpected, interacting with my MC. Ho-lee spit, I thought, and sat back and stared at what I’d written. Or rather, at what he’d said and done, because I only typed it. He did it. I thought about that for quite a while, and then figured what the hell, I’d let him run with it and see what happened.

    What happened was that he became a major character, and the crucial lynchpin of my story! And it is SO much better for it! If you’d like to see how he turned out, feel free to check out an excerpt on my WordPress blog. Here’s the link:

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Definitely had casting choices change the character. I’ve learned I can’t have “big” actors play bit characters. The larger-than-life personalities try to take over!

  6. Hannah Killian says:

    I got Storming and Dreamlander this past Sunday and I finished Storming yesterday afternoon. I LOVED IT. It was so hard to put it down! I haven’t started Dreamlander yet, but I will before the end of the week.

  7. YAY! I’m reading Storming now and I had to come see if you did a dream cast for them. I was so excited to find that you did! 🙂


  1. […] your favorite characters? I know I do. Then I read fellow author K.D.Weiland’s post, Meet Storming’s Cast of Characters. I give her credit for this […]

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