Omaha journalist and author Leo Adam Biga will make the Omaha Public Library rounds this November to discuss his new book, Alexander Payne: His Journey in Film. The 2013 release is based on Academy Award winning screenwriter and director Alexander Payne, also an Omaha native.
Biga, a writer for more than 25 years, writes about the people, businesses and history of Omaha. “I write stories about people, their passions, and their magnificent obsessions.” You can count Biga among Omaha’s biggest fans. He lists Lauritzen Gardens, Benson and Vinton Street business districts, and Love’s Jazz & Arts Center as local favorites.
Upon his return from Hollywood a few weeks ago, Biga took the time to answer some questions about Payne, writing as a profession, libraries and more. Enjoy!
1.) How would you describe Omaha?
Omaha is an earnest place with strong urban and suburban environments and a growing arts, culture and creative scene. It’s a city rich in history but it doesn’t take its history or itself too seriously.
2.) You’ve spent years chronicling Alexander Payne’s career and success. What ignited your interest in Mr. Payne?
My interest in him was a melding of my interest in film and my work as a journalist. I was a film buff and film exhibitor before I was a journalist. When I discovered that the young Payne had a student thesis film, The Passion of Martin, making waves on the festival circuit, I booked a screening of the film in Omaha at the New Cinema Cooperative. By the time he came back to his hometown to make his first feature in Omaha, Citizen Ruth, I was a journalist and within a couple years I began interviewing and profiling him.
3.) What advice do you have for aspiring writers and journalists?
Simply: write and read and repeat more of the same. Today, of course, anyone can get their work seen because of social media platforms. Anyone can have a blog or website featuring their writing. Self-publishing is within everyone’s reach.
4.) What five words describe Leo Adam Biga?
Passionate. Driven. Curious. Persistent. Eclectic.
5.) You’ve visited OPL on numerous occasions for numerous events, and you have a handful of OPL visits scheduled this year. What keeps you coming back?
Libraries are built on words and language, and because I make my living with those tools I have an appreciation for any venue devoted to them. To be honest, as a kid and even as a young adult I never felt very comfortable in libraries or most any public place because of social anxiety, but I’ve largely grown out of that and now I find libraries very conducive places to my heart and soul.
We thank Leo Adam Biga for answering our questions. Copies of the author’s latest book are available for check-out at OPL. In addition to his upcoming talks at OPL, he’ll be a guest at this year’s (Downtown) Omaha Lit Fest on October 19, 2013.