From more than 100 auditionees, the author and producers of 'Conversations With A Dead Girl,' the first historical fiction book to castthe protagonist, Thelma M. Barnes (1890-1903), a relatively obscure late 19th century teen, her mother, Reita Barnes, and Thelma's friends, selected the teen actresses below to help give Thelma a voice. Thelma died at the age of 13 of complications from Scarlet Fever. She now lies at rest beside her mother in a Southern California cemetery. Finalists had the chance to "be Thelma" during individual, real time Instant Message auditions that lasted one hour per girl. The author provided the girls very little direction:
"You are living in 1903. Your Author-interviewer is living in 2010. You are not sure if the author is real or whether your 'friend from the future' is simply a dream or fantasy. Likewise, the Author is not sure if you are real. But both of you do not seem to care. You are meeting in a cemetery in Southern California. But the Author, not wanting to let on that you may be dead, refers to the setting as only "a park." This is your third, chance meeting. From previous meetings, you know a little bit about the Author and his family. He is engaged to a woman with four children: Chloe, age 6 and a half, Matty, age 9, Noah, age 11, and Emily, age 16. Though the Author and his would-be family have known each other for more than two years, he is continuing to have "difficulties with Emily," his teen stepdaughter-to-be, and he's not sure what to do about it. One curious detail about the Author is that he is known to drive around in his convertible with his tortoiseshell calico cat, Allie. As Thelma, you are sometimes sad but you're not sure why. You believe something is not quite right. You know that you've been sick but you're not sure of your own status. You are searching for something, but you're not sure what. You hope that by speaking with the Author, you may be able to get insights into not only his world but...yourself."
Click on each Finalist's headshot to see their real-time Instant Message interviews.