Tom Perrotta on The Leftovers TV adaptation

What if millions of people around the world vanished -- suddenly, for no apparent reason -- in an event like the Rapture foretold in Christian prophecy? That's the premise of a new HBO series based on Tom Perrotta's much-admired novel The Leftovers. Perotta stopped by CBC Radio's Q on June 25 to discuss the adaptation, which he's working on with Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. You can listen to his conversation with Jian Ghomeshi below:

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In both the book and the show, the "leftovers" are those remaining on Earth after an unexplained phenomenon causes many, many people to disappear mysteriously. Those at the centre of the story struggle with the unexplained disappearance of so many loved ones and the shockwaves it sends through their lives.

"What's happening in The Leftovers is that the existing religious narratives can't explain this event, and so people, their minds go into overdrive," Perrotta said. "It's about what a deeply human act it is to try to explain the unexplainable."

Perrotta is no stranger to seeing his work adapted. His novels Election and Little Children were both made into successful movies. But seeing his book take shape on the small screen has been a different experience. "It's challenging, but it's also exhilarating, because you're making something new," he said. "It's just a bigger world that we've created. It's not so much translating the book but building from the book."

However, while the world is expanding, the essence of the story will remain the same. Like fans of the book, those hoping that the show will eventually lead to a conclusive explanation may be disappointed. "The people who... want reassuring answers will be frustrated with The Leftovers," Perrotta said. "But that will make them very much akin to the characters."

The Leftovers premieres on HBO on Sunday, June 29 at 10 p.m. ET.

Tom Perrotta was also on CBC News to talk about the show:

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