Omar Epps in a scene from 'Resurrection'

Omar Epps reunites Jacob, a young boy presumed long dead, with his family on the series premiere of ABC’s Resurrection. Credit: ABC/Bob Mahoney

*In an in-depth and fun interview, EURweb publisher Lee Bailey spoke with Jason Mott, the author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Returned.”

The novel, published by Harlequin Mira last August, has already been adapted for television by ABC Studios, Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and Brillstein Entertainment Partners for the ABC drama series, “Resurrection,” which debuts March 9 on ABC.

At 35 years old, Mott is justifiably on cloud 9 with this latest accomplishment and tells LB that he has been trying to get published for years.

“I’ve been at this, trying to get that first book out the door for 12, 13 years I guess. This is probably my 5th or 6th actual manuscript. So I’ve been writing, trying to find agents…publishers for years.”

Mott says he got 15 or 16 rejections letters from agents before he finally heard from one agent who actually wanted to read his manuscript. He recalls getting bummed out and thinking that maybe there was something wrong with him; but as the type of person who must write daily – whether he’s getting published or not, he made a vow to himself.

“I made a vow to myself that, every project that I did, no matter how many times I got rejected before, I would still send it out, I would still try. You step up to the plate, you swing.”

Jason says a lot of what you write doesn’t go anywhere, until it does (go somewhere).

“It was surreal,” Jason shares with LB, about the day that agent asked to read his script. He says it took her a couple of weeks to read it and he admits, “Those were the two strangest weeks of my life. I was on pins and needles the entire time because after all of this time trying to get an agent’s attention, I finally had someone’s attention, but there was no guarantee she would like the manuscript. She could get halfway through and decide she didn’t like it.”

But then he got an email from the agent saying “Hey, let’s do a phone call!”

That’s when he knew something good was brewing.

“They don’t call you to say ‘no’” he tells LB. “When they call you they usually want to talk about something. So that was a good time and things just went well after that.”

After all was said and done, he learned that Plan B was interested in the project.

Mott explains just how the process evolved.

“About a month or so after we found a publisher, my agent gave the book – the project – to a film rights agent and he went out and did whatever wonderful things he does and we got contacted back saying that ‘Plan B was interested in the project’ – which is owned by Brad Pitt.”

Mott says as soon as he heard the company’s name he knew who it was because, as a big film buff, he is aware of all of the movies they’ve done.

“And they specialize in book to film translations. They do a good job at it…And when I got to speak with them about what they wanted to do with the project and how they kind of envisioned it going, we matched up. We paired up very well…We had a good fit.”

But before all of this wonderful stuff happened, Jason was a customer service rep for Verizon Wireless. He admits to LB that he sure did not expect things to turn out this way. In fact, he still expected to be swinging away at his day job.

The Returned

“If someone’s phone broke and they wanted to call up and yell at somebody for 20 minutes, I was the guy getting yelled at,” he tells LB.

Funny, this writer just bought a Verizon Wireless phone. I may have to call you just for the fun of it, Jason!

Then Bailey, just thinking about how weird people in Hollywood can be when you are a …um…how should I say this, nobody, laughs and asks the author to recall some of the things he was told as he peddled his work; mentioning that it should or could be “fodder down the road.”

Moss laughs and without skipping a beat says, “Oh yeah. There are quite a few of those. One thing I learned from a psychological aspect: People will tell you anything if they never have to talk to you again. So I did learn a whole lot about people in a very interesting way.”

We bet you did!

“Resurrection” is the TV version of the book, The Return. The series tells the story of a 70-year-old couple who had a son that drowned when he was 8-years-old, only to return to their doorstep 32 years later…still at the age of 8. Moreover, this doesn’t just happen to the couple, but is happening to people all over the world; and the reactions to the “event” vary. As do those Jason received when he showed excerpts from The Return at local venues during the process; where he says responses went from one end to the other.

“I’ve got responses from both sides of the fence on that topic,” he tells Bailey. “I tried to make the book as neutral as possible. I didn’t want to take any personal stance on that particular topic.”

The author says there are characters in the book who each pitch the occurrence in “their own unique kind of way.”

Since the book was published, Jason has had emails from people who were Agnostic or Atheists saying they loved the book because it supports their particular viewpoint and Christian bookstores contacted him saying they loved the book because it supports their particular viewpoint.

Mott says he feels good about the comments and didn’t write the book to start controversy.

 

Jason M

Jason Mott, Author of The Returned, A Harlequin Mira book publication

“I come from the south, the Bible Belt. A very religious background…I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I wanted it to be a book about connections and ultimately, that’s what it’s about.”

With the couple who stars in the program, Mott describes the wife as “very religious” and her husband as “borderline atheist” but makes a point to mention they have worked around their differences for decades. With that said, he is hoping that the viewers will each find their own story in this.

As a southerner, Jason says that it’s impossible to write a story about people coming back from the dead without thinking about religion and how it might affect people. He said that he seriously tried to not step over the line, and from the looks of things, he succeeded in this.

“Stepping over the line is when you demean someone’s point of view,” he explains to an inquisitive LB. “And you can talk about something a lot of different ways without ever…diminishing someone’s point. So I tried to stay away from that.”

How? He aimed to represent equal parts of every side.

As for the name change (from The Return to Resurrection), Jason learned about it just like everyone else, online. But he has seen the pilot and loves it! (Though he has yet to meet the very private Brad Pitt).

“I love where they are going with this!” he admits.

The very eclectic cast includes Omar Epps, Frances Fisher, Matt Craven, and Devin Kelley. Landon Gimenez plays 8-year-old “Jacob Langston,” the son who has returned.

Audiences can look forward to hearing more from Jason Mott, as he may be cranking the books out henceforth. He’s already working on another fiction manuscript that will probably be published in the fall of 2014. And although he wouldn’t reveal too much, under a bit of subtle pressure, Lee Bailey-style, he did tell us that it involves a small town and a father and daughter “caught up in a very unique event and people are reacting in very different ways.”

Sounds interesting, yes? We want more!

At the time of this interview, Jason Mott was in town for the NAACP Image Awards, where “The Return” was nominated for “Best Fiction Debut Author.”

Unfortunately, the book didn’t win (Sheri Booker, author of Nine Years Under, was the winner); but Mott was excited to have been a nominee. After all, this is his first book!

Resurrection will debut on Sunday, March 9 on ABC.

For more information on author, Jason Mott, the book: The Return, or the TV series Resurrection, go to Mott’s official website at: jasonmottauthor.com

See the OFFICIAL Resurrection trailer directly below.

Story by DeBorah B. Pryor – a Los Angeles based writer and entrepreneur. She is an adjunct communications instructor at UCLA Extension and an independent associate with LegalShield. Visit her website at www.dpryorpresents.com.