Author Interview: Liz Moore

In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.

Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit–and her sister–before it’s too late.

“This was a great book to listen to on audio. Based in the heart of the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia, this book was well-crafted with very realistic characters that made it feel and read like a memoir. It is suspenseful and unpredictable and kept me guessing (incorrectly) until the end. I recommend this for people looking for a somewhat atypical thriller/suspense story.”

Chelsea at Tattered Cover

Author Liz Moore talked with us about her inspiration for this audiobook, her own favorite listens, and the importance of independent bookstores to our communities.

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

I count two main sources of inspiration for this novel.

The first is my own family’s multi-generational struggle with addiction, which has been a topic of conversation in my life since childhood.

The other seed of inspiration for this novel was planted in 2009, only a few months after I moved to Philadelphia, when I did a photojournalism project with a photographer who’d been making work in Kensington.

That collaboration was what initially introduced me to the neighborhood, but I never stopped thinking about it.

Since that time, I’ve been working on sketches that would turn into Long Bright River. My research for this novel has brought me into contact with—and has allowed me to form friendships with—many women and men both in recovery from addiction and experiencing active addiction. I’ve also become engaged in doing community work in the neighborhood. In 2017 and 2018, I taught a free monthly writing workshop at a women’s day shelter in Kensington.

All of these experiences combined served as my inspiration for Long Bright River.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

I guess the most obvious answer is that there are several twists in the novel that readers report they’ve been surprised by. The other answer is that it’s as much a family drama as it is a mystery–the relationships between the different branches of the O’Brien family get a lot of focus.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

I listened to the first part of it. I think Allyson Ryan, the narrator, did a great job capturing the sort of subdued and sorrowful nature of Mickey Fitzpatrick.

Photo courtesy of @nerdybooknurse

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I love audiobooks. I listen to them while exercising, walking around the city, doing house chores…some recent favorites are How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee (narrated by Daniel K. Isaac), Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles (narrated by the author), The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (narrated by Bernadette Dunne, whose voice I could listen to forever). Can I also make a sneaky plug for one of my own books here? I think I’ve heard more about the extremely talented audiobook narrators of my novel Heft (2012) than about the book itself–people LOVED them. (Keith Szarabajka and Kirby Heyborne, for the record.)

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

I only buy books from indies. At the holidays, I order books online as I think of them through the website of Head House Books, my local store, and then pick them up all at once, which is super convenient. I used to teach writing workshops out of several independent bookstores in my area, which was great. Indies really are important community centers that serve so many roles.

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