This entire series began with your novel. What has it been like working on this story and these characters for so many years?
It’s been an amazing experience working on the show, watching The Leftovers expand beyond the boundaries of the novel. The show’s become increasingly rich and deep and wild over the years -- it’s starting to make my book feel like an acorn that’s blossomed into a huge and majestic oak tree.
Has the evolution of any of the storylines surprised you?
I’ve been most surprised by Kevin’s journey -- the hallucinations, resurrections, and boundary crossings. In the book, he was a solid, reliable guy without any messianic pretensions.
What episode in Season 3 was the biggest challenge to conceptualize?
We spent a long time at the beginning of the season trying to crack the finale. It was a challenge because we usually start at the beginning and move slowly forward, allowing the end point to come gradually into view. This time we worked in the opposite way -- starting at the end and moving backwards.
Could you talk a little about the process of creating a new episode -- what was the dynamic in the writers’ room like this season?
In the writers’ room, we begin with a broad, freewheeling discussion about each episode. We usually have a pretty clear idea of who the main character will be and what the essential plot points are, but the writing doesn’t really take off until we find the special element that makes the episode unique -- the plastic bag in Episode 1, Mark Linn-Baker in Episode 2, Senior’s self-imposed quest to stop the flood in Episode 3, and so forth.
Which one was the most fun to write?
There were so many crazy and fun moments this season, but Episode 5 [“It’s a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World”] with the lion and God and the ferry boat orgy, has to take the prize for pure Leftovers fun and insanity.
Is there a character you've really loved writing for?
We only used Ann Dowd [Patti Levin] in one episode this year, but her performance was so effortlessly brilliant. It's a pleasure to write for all of our actors, but Ann is a singular talent.
The humor of the show really comes through in Season 3 -- how do you approach writing the funny moments?
The show got much funnier over the years -- early on, we weren’t sure how much humor The Leftovers could accommodate, but it turned out to be a lot more than we’d ever imagined. This season we embraced the absurdity of the post-departure world.