Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your latest book, River of Souls! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the novel’s premise?
T.L. Bodine: College drop-out Davin Montoya finds himself reanimated after a deadly car accident and is swept into an underground organization of Undead trying to fit in with the living. But what happens when the drug they rely on to retain their humanity runs out?
It’s a thriller, but it’s also a family drama about death and trauma and found family and a quiet horror about being trapped in a body that is no longer quite your own.
BD: What inspired you to tell this story, and what are some of your creative influences?
TLB: I was inspired in part by stories like Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion and Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S. G. Browne, where the zombie protagonists are sympathetic characters. I was also heavily influenced by Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist who has a real talent for unusual, gritty characters.
My story is set in rural New Mexico and draws a lot of inspiration from my home state. I rarely see stories about people living in trailer parks or reservation border-towns or working at gas stations, so it was important to me to give a voice to those sorts of people in my book.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in working on this latest book, and what do you hope that readers will take away from the story?
TLB: River of Souls took a long time to write. The earliest seeds of the story planted 15 years ago, but I kept putting it aside for other projects or scrapping what I had and starting over. I’d originally thought it would be a much “bigger” book, one of those geo-political thrillers about how the whole world would be affected by zombies seeking equal rights. But the more I wrote, the more intimate it became, dwindling down to the story of one sleepy town and one family’s struggle to fit into a strange new world, and I think it’s better for it.
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your book into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
TLB: Of course, I’d be flattered and delighted to see it adapted into anything. But I think it’d make a really neat Netflix series – just a couple of seasons. Maybe from the same showrunner as Breaking Bad. I’d love that.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
TLB: I have a sequel planned that I’m currently working on which delves deeper into the politics and conspiracies surrounding the Undead while following up on how the core characters are doing in the wake of the events in River of Souls.
I’m also an early adopter of Wattpad’s “paid stories” program which allows readers to unlock stories a chapter at a time. My book, The Hound, is about a couple who unwittingly invite evil into their home when a mysterious antique they buy in a storage auction turns out to be more than it appears. The Hound is sort of like The Babadook with vintage taxidermy, and it’s exclusive to Wattpad.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about River of Souls and your other books?
TLB: River of Souls comes out August 23 and is available at online booksellers and by request anywhere books are sold.
Pre-Order today on B&N.
Or on Amazon.
Or from the publisher.
Or add it to your Goodreads library.