Since Lost went off the air in 2010, Damon Lindelof‘s been keeping busy with one high-profile big-screen project after another: Cowboys & Aliens, Prometheus, Star Trek 2, World War Z, Brad Bird’s upcoming 1952. But he apparently hasn’t left the small screen behind entirely.

Lindelof is now headed to HBO to develop a new drama titled The Leftovers. Unlike with most of Lindelof’s projects, this one won’t be shrouded in secrecy — it’s an adaptation of a 2011 novel by Little Children and Election author Tom Perrotta, so we have a pretty good idea of where it’s going. More details after the jump.

While Little Children and Election were both grounded in reality, the more fantastical premise of The Leftovers sounds like a perfect fit for the man behind Lost. The plot picks up three years after hundreds of millions of people suddenly vanish, apparently as part of a Rapture-like event. The folks left behind try to piece together their disrupted lives, struggling to deal with their bereavement while grappling with larger questions of faith and hope. “[The book] tries to explain the purpose of it all, and that lined up with the meta level of Lost,” Lindelof observed to Vulture.

HBO picked up the rights to The Leftovers last summer, shortly before the novel hit shelves. Lindelof wasn’t signed on at the time, but happened to pick up the book after reading a positive review by Stephen King that called it “the best Twilight Zone episode you never saw.” “I fell deeply and passionately in love with it,” he recalled. “I think that even from the moment I read the logline for the book, it was something I wanted to be vicariously a part of as opposed to just enjoying it as a consumer.” When Lindelof learned that HBO already held the rights, he contacted the network to see if he could get on board.

Deadline reports that Lindelof and Perotta will co-write the script, as well as executive produce with Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger. If HBO picks the show up to series, Lindelof will also serve as showrunner. But despite Perotta’s direct involvement, don’t expect the series to stay too faithful to its source material. “The pilot will introduce characters and storylines not in the book. It has to,” Lindelof said. While the book is “rich” in detail, “it probably only has enough content for two or three episodes.”

One of the major plot points the series will focus on is the mystery of where the Raptured people went. Lindelof acknowledges that his tackling another series built around a big fat question puzzle will inspire Lost flashbacks in some of his fans. “I’m sure there’s a certain subset of viewers who watched Lost until the bitter end and will say, ‘I’m just not going to put myself through that again,’” he said. In fact, Lindelof himself said he wasn’t interested in doing another show with “wackadoo mythology,” so perhaps this means The Leftovers will be a little more straightforward on that front. Whatever the writers have planned, Lindelof says he’s “incredibly magnetized” by it. “It’s firing all my creative pistons in a way they haven’t been fired since Lost,” he said.

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