Reading Life

ABC's 'Resurrection' has roots in Wilmington

pkelley@charlotteobserver.comFebruary 14, 2014 

Jason Mott

Maybe you’ve seen the promo for ABC’s “Resurrection,” the new drama series starting March 9. Maybe you’ve heard the haunting background lyrics: I’m coming home. I’m coming home. Tell the world I’m coming home.

The show’s intriguing premise: Dead people all over the world are returning to their loved ones – not as zombies, but as exactly the people they were when they died.

Here’s the story behind that premise: In 2010, Jason Mott, who lives in Bolton, a town near Wilmington, had a vivid dream about his mom. She’d been dead for nine years, but he discovered her waiting for him at his kitchen table, wanting to hear about his life since she’d passed. The dream gave him an idea for a novel, about dead people returning to live among their loved ones.

Mott, 35, landed a book deal in 2012. “The Returned” (Harlequin MIRA; $24.95) was published in September 2013 to great reviews. USA Today, for instance, called it “a tense and touching treatise on life, death and life again.” It hit the New York Times best-seller list. By then, it had already been adapted for television as “Resurrection.”

Sounds like an overnight success. But Mott’s instant success came only after years of hard work.

He earned a BFA in fiction and an MFA in poetry, both from UNC Wilmington. He published two poetry collections, “We Call This Thing Between Us Love” and “… hide behind me …,” both with Charlotte’s Main Street Rag.

He also worked at a Verizon call center, fielding complaints about malfunctioning cellphones. “Whenever your cellphone breaks and you want to yell at someone,” he explains, “you call me.”

In his free time, however, he wrote. He finished several novels. The first five or so, he says, weren’t good enough to publish. But he never stopped writing.

Mott left his Verizon job in 2012, soon after he landed the book deal. He got a two-book contract, so he’s now at work on his second, to be published late this year. Like “The Returned,” it has elements of magical realism and it’s set in a small town. Mott says his publisher doesn’t want him to reveal much more.

Mott’s life, in some ways, has changed drastically. He went from being, as he says, “a guy who answers phones,” to a guy with a best-selling book and TV series. On the other hand, it has not changed much.

He won’t be flying to Hollywood for the series release party. Instead, he plans to watch the premiere at a friend’s house, sitting on the couch. “I like to be behind the scenes. I don’t like the attention.”

Besides, he says, “I’ve got deadlines I need to be working on.”

Pam Kelley: 704-358-5271; pkelley@charlotteobserver.com

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