I know everyone is excited to read the book and I thought perhaps you would like to meet the person who wrote it.
Cindy: Chip, thank you for allowing me to interview you. Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Chip: In my professional life, I am a communications executive focused on helping brands tell better stories. Naturally, writing is and always has been a crucial element of my work as a storyteller, and the Diehards project served as an important creative outlet that blended my love of writing with my passion for sport.
Cindy: What do you do when you are not writing?
Chip: Aside from the aforementioned career in communications, which also includes media strategy, team leadership and event planning, I am a proud father and husband and I enjoy spending as much time as possible with my family. We live within a mile of San Francisco Bay and so we’re often beachside. As Diehards readers will soon learn, I go to quite a few baseball games and I’m often joined by my four-year-old daughter, if not the whole family. In fact, my daughter will be joining me this fall for an annual ballpark road trip I do each season with one of my very best friends from childhood. As far as she knows, Oakland is the only place in the world where baseball is played, so it’ll be a real thrill to see her reaction to these other stadiums we’ll visit in a few weeks!
I’m also a competitive runner and while my mileage has taken a nosedive during the past year, I do try to get out on the trail as much as I can manage.
Cindy: What inspired you to write this book?
Chip-Facing elimination during the 2012 MLB postseason, Oakland Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp pushed a groundball through the right side of the infield to cap a wild comeback against the Detroit Tigers and keep the team’s season alive for another day. That evening, as my emotional state vacillated between sadness and joy, I enjoyed the sensations that we’re all hoping to experience when we watch sports. I was fascinated by the idea that sports fans endure such a high degree of punishment and torture – as I had done in the early stages of the game – just for the off-chance that they might experience that magical, euphoric moment of glory. That was the spark for me to start writing and a couple years later, I’m thrilled to introduce the world to Diehards.
Cindy: Who is this book written for?
Chip: I’m hopeful that sports fans will enjoy the book and see a bit of themselves within its pages. I’ve tried to approach the concept of diehard fandom from several angles in an effort to make this the most comprehensive account of the fan experience available today and in doing so, I hope people connect with the stories and the perspectives from chapter to chapter. I’m also hopeful that Diehards will appeal broadly to anyone who wants to understand better why fans pour so much energy and passion into the world of sports.
Cindy: What does your family think about your writing?
Chip: My family has been supportive and enthusiastic about my writing and the encouragement and positivity have been hugely beneficial throughout the process. I have had a strong support system along the way and it has been a thrill to share this experience with them.
Cindy: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Chip: Writing and publishing a book is a challenging endeavor, period. First, the continuous challenge of producing quality content. Then, once you’ve done that, you have to stand out as an author with a unique point of view while swimming in a sea filled with millions of other authors with similarly brilliant ideas and manuscripts in the wild free-for-all pitch for an agent and publisher. Thankfully, Rowe Publishing took a liking to the Diehards project, but even then, there were several months of considerations and reviews before we took the next step toward bringing the book to market. Diehards is a passion project and I think that made the challenges easier to overcome. I wrote this book because I believe in it and I love – absolutely love – writing about the topic. So in that way, I could brush off the disappointment and rejection as it inevitably came along because in the end, I was producing something that I enjoyed writing, while fulfilling a dream and exploring a topic that I knew people would identify with while reading.
Cindy: Tell us about your research process.
Chip: As I had mentioned, I wanted Diehards to be a rich, comprehensive account of the fan experience – the good and the bad, the torture and glory, all woven together in a single book. So as I explored how to stitch chapters together in a way that made sense, I started with a series of questions – is it human nature to be a sports fan? I didn’t know the answer (and I imagined others might not either), so I determined that I should speak with anthropologists studying such things. Why do fans riot after their team wins a title? I didn’t have an answer for that either, so again, I felt it would be worth speaking with a sociologist who studies such things. And so the process went on and on until I had a framework in place for the book’s chapters. I conducted dozens of interviews and studied existing research on sports fans across a period of 18 months while writing along the way as the mystery of sports fandom began to slowly unfold.
Cindy: What impact did your research have on you personally?
Chip: Digging into sports fandom helped me better understand my own passion for sport. It’s a funny thing, really. We expend so much emotional currency on our favorite teams and players, and most of the time, that love and adoration is never reciprocated. It’s gratifying to come away understanding more clearly why I care as much as I do about a hobby that, on the surface, wouldn’t appear to matter all that much. And yet, I know that it does because of what it has provided for me and millions of other diehards around the world.
Cindy: Where do you like to write?
Chip: I do most of my writing during a 25-minute ferry commute across San Francisco Bay. I don’t have a whole lot of free time available to me due to my full-time job and family responsibilities, so I try to be as efficient and effective with the time I do have at my disposal. If you can believe it, I wrote most of Diehards in 25-minute intervals while commuting to or from SF. Even now, after Diehards, this distraction-free environment has continued to provide me with a creative outlet for my writing, as I’m approximately 30,000 words into a novel and I’ve flitted about with other writing projects here and there as well.
Cindy: What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
Chip: I’m proud of the entire body of work, but I have a few favorites. I tend to gravitate to chapter seven where I share the story of Athletics super-fan Will MacNeil. MacNeil, a man who may as well take up residence inside the O.co Coliseum in Oakland, is one of the most pleasant people I’ve been lucky enough to meet while writing Diehards. I also enjoyed the process of writing the chapter about loyalty. In that chapter, I shared the story of the last remnants of the surviving St. Louis Browns fan base and the writing process was a real joy, as were my conversations with the leaders of the Browns Historical Society. In fact, that’s the connecting thread that made the entire process such a pleasure from beginning to end: the interviews and deep discussions about a topic that, in many cases, proved to be a shared passion.
Cindy: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Chip: I hope readers finish Diehards and have a better understanding of their own passion for sports or, in the case of the non-fan, a deeper appreciation for the interests of the sports fans in their lives.
Cindy: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Chip: I have always enjoyed Bill Bryson for his approachable and humorous writing style. If you’re unfamiliar with Bryson, he is a gifted writer with a knack for connecting with his readers and painting a scene perfectly. In A Walk in the Woods, you really do feel as though you’re plodding along the Appalachian Trail with him – and laughing all the way. In a Sunburned Country, a hilarious exploration of Australia, is among my favorite books of all-time.
This may be surprising, but I don’t have a favorite sports writer. I have favorite books, of course, and two that I would strongly urge sports fans to read would be John Holway’s Voices from the Great Black Baseball Leagues and The Summer of Beer & Whiskey by Edward Achorn.
Cindy: Who designed the cover of your book?
Chip: The photograph used for the cover was captured by an incredibly talented Oakland-based photographer named Dennis Agatep. Similar to how I could see the chapters unfolding as I wrote them, I had a vision in mind for the cover and worked with Dennis to get the right shot. I’ve heard many stories from other authors who were not afforded the opportunity to offer design suggestions, but I was fortunate that Rowe Publishing allowed me to have a voice in the process and I think the final layout is quite lovely.
Cindy: If someone else were sitting at your desk right now, what would they see?
Chip: At the office, you’d find a collection of family photos and a few drawings that my daughter whipped up for me. At home, my desk is temporarily located in our garage, which I have reimagined as a baseball-themed cave complete with memorabilia, some signed, that I have acquired through the years. Decidedly more “on-brand” than my day job workspace!
If would you like to connect with Chip Scarinzi on social media do so at:
Twitter – @ScarinziSports
Web Site – www.chipscarinzi.com
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