Ogden Honors College alumnus M.O. Walsh’s book ‘The Big Door Prize’ optioned for TV, season one streaming on AppleTV+

May 30, 2023

Big Door Prize

Season 1 of The Big Door Prize is now streaming on AppleTV+. The man behind the storyline is author, Baton Rouge native, and Ogden Honors College alumnus M.O. Walsh. Walsh’s novel The Big Door Prize was optioned and produced for television shortly after it was published in 2020. 

In the book, a mysterious machine appears in a grocery store in the fictional town of Deerfield, Louisiana. The machine purports to reveal its user’s destiny, causing residents to make drastic decisions like quitting jobs, rethinking relationships and questioning long-held beliefs. The story centers around a married couple, who've been together for about 15 years, love each other very much, but get very different readouts from this machine. “I don't want to give too much away, but most of the book is them trying to figure out how they're going to manage these new dreams in a comedic way,” said Walsh. “It's a much more lighthearted and humorous novel than my last book, but it also has some dark stuff in it, too, because that's how life is. There's going to be sadness and secrets.” 

“When I was at LSU, I had an instructor named Matt Clark who was so enthusiastic and really believed that making stuff up can make people's lives better and change the world. So, I really wanted the book to be funny, page-turning, mysterious, and helpful in a way and I think that comes through in the series as well,” Walsh explains.

Reflecting on his Honors experience Walsh recalls, “being sort of surprised that I was accepted into the Honors College. I feel like it had to have been some sort of bookkeeping mistake, but yeah, I really enjoyed it. I loved my whole Honors experience, being able to meet other people who were really smart and taking their academics to another level. My friends were much more into the social part of LSU, which is also fun, but being able to sneak over there [to the Honors College] and experience diverse people and perspectives, that was the best. I felt like I was going to two different colleges at once.”

Since graduating, Walsh’s fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, The Southern Review, Oxford American, Best New American Voices, and many others. He is currently the Director of the Creative Writing Workshop at The University of New Orleans. 

His best advice to his students or any aspiring writers is to “stick with it and ask yourself why you are doing it. If you're doing it because you want to be a famous writer, that's not a good reason because that won't sustain you. There's too many years of rejection for that to sustain you. The way that you know you're doing the right thing is if you feel your best when you're writing. In other words, you don't feel good because you've written something and someone told you it’s good. You feel your best when you're actually working.”