Posted June 5, 2024

From page to screen: Creative writing professor’s novel ‘Long Bright River’ to be made into a TV show

Associate Professor Liz Moore is adapting her novel Long Bright River for TV and is releasing a new book called The God of the Woods in July 2024. 

Liz Moore standing outside near trees
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg
Liz Moore continues her successful career as her novel Long Bright River is being adapted into a TV show on Peacock. Additionally, her new book The God of the Woods is coming out in July 2024.

Liz Moore remembers always being a writer, even when she declared a major in neuroscience and behavior at Barnard College in the 2000s.

“I was raised to be very practical and to always have a day job or some plan B,” she said. “I quickly realized that science wasn’t my niche. I became an English major, which I always should have been. I avoided it for the wrong reasons. There’s a perception of the English major as limiting, but in reality it’s a lovely, broad base for many careers.”

I’ve been lucky to encounter excellent undergraduate and graduate students who make my day every time in the classroom because they have a cool perspective on life that they bring to their creative writing.”
-- Liz Moore, associate professor of English

After graduating, Moore worked at a museum in New York City while she was also writing her first book The Words of Every Song, which was published in 2007. From there, she pursued an MFA and continued churning out novels—Heft in 2012 and The Unseen World in 2016, both appearing on various “Best of” lists.

Now Moore’s 2020 novel Long Bright River—a New York Times and international bestseller and Good Morning America book club pick—is being adapted into a TV series on Peacock starring Amanda Seyfried. Moore serves as co-creator and executive producer. In this role, she has co-written episodes and helped make creative decisions about the series such as set designs and hair and makeup, among other elements. “It’s been exciting to collaborate,” she said. “And working on this project has challenged my need for control.”

The story centers around two estranged sisters in Kensington, a neighborhood hit hard by the opioid crisis. When Kacey, who struggles with addiction, disappears at the same time that a murder spree begins, her sister Mickey—a police officer—becomes obsessed with finding her and the killer.

The book was inspired by Moore’s own family and her time in Kensington. “Any family dealing with addiction will likely recognize the themes and points of tension,” she said. “I have lived in South Philadelphia for 15 years and spent a good deal of time in Kensington, first writing about it and then leading free community writing workshops through St. Francis Inn. I was naturally drawn to the neighborhood and the organizations doing harm reduction because of my family history."

Her next novel The God of the Woods will be released in July 2024. Set in the Adirondacks in 1975, the story follows the wealthy Van Laar family and their community after their daughter Barbara goes missing at the summer camp they own.

“Universally, my books are place-specific and address themes around addiction, class and found families,” said Moore. “I form the ideas for my novels in a particular order: I start with place and then the characters in that place. Next I think about the central problem they’re facing within that place. I’ve gravitated more toward traditional mystery as I’ve gone on as a writer. I’m able to use the mechanism of a mystery to create a plot while also introducing those important themes."

She’s already thinking about a new project. “I have a seed of inspiration for the next novel. I always have one in the back of my mind. It’s just a matter of finding the right time to write it.”

Beginning as a writer-in-residence at Temple in 2017, Moore is now an associate professor of English, teaching both undergraduate courses and classes in the creative writing MFA program. Previously, she taught at Hunter College, the University of Pennsylvania and Holy Family University.

“As soon as I got to Philadelphia, I wanted to teach at Temple,” she said. “I really respect its mission, and it’s becoming increasingly accessible. I’ve been lucky to encounter excellent undergraduate and graduate students who make my day every time in the classroom because they have a cool perspective on life that they bring to their creative writing.”

While Moore enjoys the challenge of adapting to TV, she remains committed to writing page-turners. “Being able to regularly publish novels is what I always hope to do. The TV series feels like icing on the cake.”