Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Interview with Mark Obmascik, author of The Big Year + movie adaptation spotlight

I'm very excited to be joined today by Mark Obmascik, the bestselling author of Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled — and Knuckleheaded — Quest for the Rocky Mountain High, winner of the 2009 National Outdoor Book Award for Outdoor Literature, and The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession, which received five Best of 2004 citations by major media.

Mr. Obmascik is here with us today to talk about his book - The Big Year - its movie adaptation and his passion for writing (and not only!).

Make sure to check out The Big Year movie adaptation, starring Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black! It's definitely one of the best movie adaptations of 2012 - a must see not only for every bird watcher, but also for everyone who appreciates good humor, meaningful plot line and fabulous sceneries!

E: Evie
MO: Mark Obmascik
E: In The Big Year you told the story of three birders - Greg Miller, Sandy Komito and Al Levantin – who are the three top contenders in the 1998 American Big Year. Would you mind explaining to my readers what is a Big Year and why did you decide to write a novel about it?
MO:  A Big Year is a contest to spot the most species of birds in a single year. Hundreds of people try one each year in their home counties or states, but the grandest competition of all is a North American Big Year. There are few rules and no referees. Birders just drive, fly, or boat anytime, anywhere, in the continental United States and Canada to chase a rumor of a rare species. It's all done on the honor system, and the winner gets nothing more than bragging rights. (It's a true story -- I couldn't make this up!) North America has about 675 native species of birds. The winner of this competition saw 745 birds, which meant that he saw dozens of rarities that were blown in from Asia, Latin America, and Europe by the strongest El Nino on record.

    I like stories about people who are smart, driven, and fun. Most people live their lives in check. What happens when you surrender to your obsession? As a longtime newspaper reporter who made a career out of reporting on murderers, rapists, and politicians, I was grateful for the chance to write about people I liked. On top of that, the story had a ticking clock in a contest that ran across a magnificent landscape.
E:  Your book, as well as its 2011 movie adaptation (starring Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black), is full of fascinating information about birds, their habits, migration, but also the national and international birding communities. How long did it take you to write it?
MO: About a year.
E: Are you an experienced birder yourself or did you have to do extensive research for the book?
MO: I learned about birds and birders for the book. Because of my newspaper background, I was used to writing for general audiences, but The Big Year was a story about a subculture of experts with a unique, technical language. One of the biggest challenges in The Big Year was finding a way to write for readers who knew nothing about birds and also for readers who knew everything about birds. Doing all this research converted me into a birder. When someone cries, "Duck!" I look up.
E: Which of your characters do you feel is the most like you?
MO: I'm too chicken to follow an obsession for a year.
E: The movie adaptation of your book has an extraordinary cast of award-winning actors and actresses! Did you have any say in the casting of the actors?
MO: I had no say in the casting, but I was thrilled with the actors. We have three young boys at home, which means we already had just about every DVD of every movie of each of the three main actors. That includes Cheaper by the Dozen II. I wonder if Steve Martin even has that one.
E: Have you always wanted to be a writer? At what point in your life did you decide that writing is something you want to do?
MO: My dad helped teach me to read by coming home from work every night with the Chicago Daily News, plopping me on his lap, and reading aloud the world's greatest columnist, Mike Royko.
E: Your book (and the movie) is about calling - the characters in your book respond to a calling. What has been your calling? If you were to dedicate a whole year of your life to doing one thing you truly love, what would that be?
MO: Our three sons are 17, 14, and 8. At this point, my obsession is finding some way to pay for college.
E: How do you approach writing a new novel? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
MO: I'd rather make 500 phone calls than write 500 words. Reporting is fun. Writing is hard. I have to force myself to do it.
E: What’s next in line for you? Are you working on a new book now?
MO: I'm working on another non-fiction book now for The Free Press / Simon and Schuster. It's an extraordinary story I stumbled across while reporting The Big Year. It's about fatherhood, duty, and forgiveness. What happens when there's a conflict between family and country?
E: Where is your favorite place for writing? Do you have any special writing rituals?
MO: I am a nomad with a laptop. I write an hour or two at a time, then try it somewhere else. My great distractor is online backgammon.
E: Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
MO: I ride a bike, hike, run, eat, walk the dog, play with the kids, and drive my wife nuts. Ultimately, though, it's all about the fear of missing a deadline. Newspaper guys don't miss deadlines.

Mr. Obmascik, thank you so much for joining us today!  
I had a wonderful time watching the movie adaptation of The Big Year and am looking forward to reading your next book!!!

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview, for more information about Mark Obmascik and his books, please visit his website: Mark Obmascik.

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Comedic Icons Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson Star in the Hilarious Outdoor Adventure Coming to Blu-ray and DVD January 31!

Summary: Let the fowl play begin!  Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents the story of a competitive trio who quickly turn a simple quest into the ultimate competition when THE BIG YEAR spreads its wings on Blu-ray and DVD January 31.

Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson portray three men from very different walks of life, facing a mid-life crisis, a work-life crisis and a no-life crisis.  In the biggest competition of their lives, they undertake an unforgettable trek through North America, engaging in hilarious and bizarre adventures and forming friendships that will last a lifetime!

Directed by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me) and featuring outrageous supporting performances from Joel McHale (“Community”), Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”), Angelica Huston (50/50), Dianne Wiest (“In Treatment”),Brian Dennehy (The Next Three Days), Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation”), Kevin Pollak (Red State) and Anthony Anderson (Scream 4), THE BIG YEAR Blu-ray is loaded with special features including the theatrical and extended editions of the film, over 40 minutes of deleted scenes and the featurette “The Big Migration.”  The Blu-ray combo pack and single-disc DVD will be available for an average retail price of $29.99 and $19.99 respectively.  Prebook is January 4, 2012.

Blu-ray Special Features
  • Extended Feature Film
  •  “The Big Migration” featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Roger Tory Peterson
    • Bird Behavior
    • Stu Late for Boat, Bird Puns with Brad & Ellie, Stu Gets Bostick’s Autograph
    • Longer Boat End, Dock, Pretzels & Skippy
    • Nozzle Theft and Other Newscasters
    • Longer Cars to HI
    • Cereal Rat with Talk
    • Lanky Birder Makes Time with Ellie
    • Stu’s Summer Montage with Fire Island Fauna
    • Bostick Returns Home
    • Long Pelagic
    • Bostick Goes to China
  • Gag Reel
THE BIG YEAR Blu-ray Combo Pack
(Catalog #2277373)
Street Date: January 24, 2012
Prebook Date: December 28, 2011
Screen Format: 16:9 (2.35:1)
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio,
Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, Spanish
U.S. Rating: PG
Total Run Time: 100 minutes
Closed Captioned: Yes

(Catalog #2277366)
Street Date: January 10, 2012
Prebook Date: December 28, 2011
Screen Format: 16:9 (2.35:1)
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital,
Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, Spanish
U.S. Rating: PG
Total Run Time: 100 minutes
Closed Captioned: Yes

Uncovering The Big Year with Avery Delacroix

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The Big Year
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 27th 2004 by James Bennett Pty Ltd

Every year on January 1, a quirky crowd of adventurers storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year -- a grand, grueling, expensive, and occasionally vicious, "extreme" 365-day marathon of birdwatching.For three men in particular, 1998 would be a whirlwind, a winner-takes-nothing battle for a new North American birding record. In frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities that can make or break their lead, the birders race each other from Del Rio, Texas, in search of the rufous-capped warbler, to Gibsons, British Columbia, on a quest for Xantus's hummingbird, to Cape May, New Jersey, seeking the offshore great skua. Bouncing from coast to coast on their potholed road to glory, they brave broiling deserts, roiling oceans, bug-infested swamps, a charge by a disgruntled mountain lion, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man.
The unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to a new record -- one so gigantic that it is unlikely ever to be bested...finding and identifying an extraordinary 745 different species by official year-end count.

Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled--and Knuckleheaded--Quest for the Rocky Mountain High

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 12th 2009 by Free Press

Fat, forty-four, father of three sons, and facing a vasectomy, Mark Obmascik would never have guessed that his next move would be up a 14,000-foot mountain. But when his twelve-year-old son gets bitten by the climbing bug at summer camp, Obmascik can't resist the opportunity for some high-altitude father-son bonding by hiking a peak together. After their first joint climb, addled by the thin air, Obmascik decides to keep his head in the clouds and try scaling all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot mountains, known as the Fourteeners -- and to do them in less than one year.

The result is Halfway to Heaven, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Obmascik's rollicking, witty, sometimes harrowing, often poignant chronicle of an outrageous midlife adventure that is no walk in the park, although sometimes it's A Walk in the Woods -- but with more sweat and less oxygen. Half a million people try climbing a Colorado Fourteener every year, but only twelve hundred have reported summiting them all. Can an overweight, stay-at-home dad become No. 1,201? 

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Dana - Let's Book It said...

The book looks and sounds interresting but I am not drawn to the movie at all. Not having seen or read either, I'm alreading hoping the book is better. Great interview.

readaholicme said...

I saw the movie recently and loved it! Will pick the book up next time I hit the store. Great Interview!

Esha@ Readaholicme

Asheley (@BookwormAsheley) said...

I can't imagine writing a book, finding out it will be adapted, and then seeing a cast like THAT. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Amazing cast for that book. I should see it. I love Jack Black! Great interview!

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