I'm working on a novel about a boy whose father goes missing during the *dreaded* 2008 Lions season. I have been a Lions fan my whole life. Lived in Tampa Bay and saw Barry Sanders play back in the days of the NFC Central. Was hooked ever since. As a writer, I've always wanted to do something Lions-related.
This summer, I am traveling to Detroit and need people to stay with in order to keep the trip economical. Let me convince you why you should put me up for a day or two!
In case you're wondering whether or not I'm just some hack writer and if this project is really worth supporting, I can direct you to some of my writing and prizes/recognition. A short story of mine about drone warfare was published in Juked. Glimmer Train awarded me the Short Story Award for New Writers and published a story of mine in issue #87. They alsopublished a short essay of mine on the craft of writing. Asterix Journal (formerly Vandal) published an essay of mine on traveling. Most recently, Oklahoma State University invited myself and a poet to read as well as teach a workshop class on writing as part of their reading series. I'm a dedicated writer, and I want to write a good book.
The novel, tentatively titled Paper City, explores the intersection of sports, religion, friendship, and family in struggling yet surviving Detroit. A little bit about the novel and characters: on Sundays, Isa and a close group of friends get together to watch the Lions, a ritual important in negotiating the chaos outside the organized world of sports fandom. Over the course of the season, their relationships are frayed and battle-tested as they each witness loss after heartbreaking loss and confront their own conflicts and traumas. Isa must negotiate a tenuous relationship with his father that becomes even more difficult after his disappearance as well as his future in a city that seems to offer no hope or opportunities. More exciting than a novel about the Detroit Lions? There's a fictional Jon Kitna character!
The winless Lions year was a harbinger of problems that Detroit was gearing up to face in the next few years: weak infrastructure, poor leadership, and unsustainable expenditure; however, despite the team's unparalleled collapse, fans developed a sense of community and closeness that helped unite pockets of families, friends, and other social circles.
This project requires heavy research. Before continuing, I want to visit Detroit during the summer and during the winter to become familiar with the city and its culture, research the architecture, explore its neighborhoods, and interview local residents and fans of the Detroit Lions. This book needs to feel genuine and needs to honor the city that inspired it.
Lately, Detroit's failings and bankruptcy have dominated the news cycle. Interest in Detroit is high, yet people are spectacularly uninformed either because of misinformation or long-held stereotypes about the city. Apart from being a story about a missing father, Paper City is intended to profile and explore Detroit.
Fiction is a powerful tool for generating interest in people, places, or things. Part of my intention behind this project is to give Detroit the human treatment, so people see more than the decaying Harbor Terminal Building, vacant homes, or the crumbling Michigan Central Station. Detroit is at the forefront of urban renewal, recovering and rebuilding itself as a green city. I want to renew people's interest in the city in hopes that we can change the national conversation about Detroit to one that is more constructive and accurate.
Because I live in Austin, TX, I need places to stay and people to stay with who know the city and could reflect on that season as well as show me around. I'm not picky, and I don't need to be particularly comfortable. I'm just trying to be economical. Couches are fine with me. Even a comfortable floor. I can cook meals. I'm clean and neat and won't be any trouble. If you are interested, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com
I will be traveling in July (after the 4th) and am looking to stay for about 7-10 days. I would like to break up my stay with as many people/families as possible.
A proof of the first chapter is available upon request.
If you're interested in the project or in what I'm working on, you can follow me on Twitter at @Haideriswriting
Thanks for taking the time to read or skim through this.