So Cold the River: an Indiana Inspired Thriller


Kayla Moriarty, Feature Editor

Michael Koryta’s So Cold The River is a fictional story rooted in Indiana legends and history. Eric, the main protagonist, is a filmmaker looking for new job opportunities. Alyssa Bradford, his client, asks him to create a documentary about her relative, Campbell Bradford. Campbell was a billionaire before his death, but his family knew  little information about his life. Provided with barely any details, Eric travels to Campbell’s hometown to uncover more. Campbell’s hometown is inspired by French Lick, Indiana. Eric ends up staying at a luxurious hotel, based on West Baden Springs and has some peculiar hallucinations. Eventually, Eric realizes that troubled spirits haunt the hotel, and the town is filled with supernatural mysteries. 

Mrs. Fleetwood of SHS has met Michael Koryta previously. She visited West Baden Springs and noticed that there was a showing of “So Cold the River” at the hotel. “There were large screens and extras,” said Fleetwood. She had a suspicion that Koryta was at the event and asked the woman at the desk if he was there, and received a vague answer. Mrs. Fleetwood saw a man talking who she believed to be Koryta, recalling “I pulled out my phone and checked his Facebook.” Much to her astonishment, the picture matched the face in front of her, she was thinking, “It’s him.” I know it’s him.” Next, she approached Micheal and asked him for a picture, to which he replied with a polite “sure.” The two talked for roughly five minutes about the movie, and Koryta revealed that his favorite part of his film was the train scene, where a CGI ghost floats between the train windows. Mrs. Fleetwood told Koryta how she recommends his books to more reluctant readers and he replied, “that makes me so happy.” His easy-to-follow style appeals to students who face challenges when getting interested in a book. Koryta was elated to be recognized for his work and was content to answer any questions. 

Koryta’s incorporation of the Hoosier state invokes a sense of familiarity for his midwestern audience, and So Cold The River is an awe-inspiring representation of French Lick. 


Special thanks to Mrs. Fleetwood for the interview and featured photograph.