13 Teams, One Journey. The Q and A.
Alex Chambers may be the WNBA’s biggest fan. He now has a book to make the case for him.
By Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
Alex Chambers is a huge WNBA supporter, to say the least. After his monumental 13 Teams, One Journey trek across the WNBA a couple summers ago—a trip in which I had the opportunity to meet the superfan—Chambers found himself as a mini-celebrity. With enough interest around WNBA circles and questions regarding whether he would ever craft a book regarding his journey, Chambers spent the time to do just that. The result is “13 Teams: One Man’s Journey with the WNBA,” now available for purchase.
Chambers has been a Facebook/Twitter friend for years—you can follow him @WGuyBlog—a fellow male supporter of all things WNBA who faces questions from time-to-time. It is because of this that I was honored to write the back cover and do anything possible to help promote the book, as in this Q&A regarding the work that has been a long time coming.
Alex Chambers: A little bit of both. When I went on my journey, I really had no intent of writing a book. Blogging while I was traveling was the closest I came to keeping a journal. However, when I did decide to start the book, having the blogs really helped, and then I filled in the gaps from memory. I got the rest from internet resources, i.e. WNBA.com for game stats, player’s names, etc. It took more that my feeble memory to put this story together. There were times I would finish a section, and then remember something I forgot to mention. It’s a good thing writing is a fluid process.
SLAM: What was the most difficult aspect of putting the book together?
AC: Probably the overall theme. I knew that I was sharing my story, but there had to be something to tie it all together. It had to be a universal theme that people could relate to. I met with a good friend, who is also one of my writing mentors, a man who has published over 20 books in his career. After a lengthy discussion, I realized that the theme of “discovery” would fit nicely. After that, everything fell into place.
I also get a little obsessive with editing, and can revise certain parts until there is nothing left. It’s a good thing I hired out to copy edit the book.
SLAM: Why write the book? Without giving the book itself away, what was the message you wanted to share?
AC: Why did I write this book? Two reasons: The fans and the athletes of the WNBA. They are the ones that made my journey special. The message I want to share is one of discovery. Before I started my journey, I had a general sense of my fondness for the league. However, after 28 days of travels, meeting new friends and making connections with many of the athletes, I discovered so much more about this league; things I didn’t share on my blog as many of them came from reflecting. Thus I had to find a medium in which to share my story, and a book seemed to be a perfect way to do that.
SLAM: Did you expect the support you received leading up to the trip, during…and after, now with the demand for the book seeming to be rather high among WNBA fans?
AC: Coincidentally, this is something I discuss in the beginning of the book. The whole thing literally snowballed, from being getting support from the league, well-wishes on the Rebkell message boards, and welcomes from fans in different cities, it was all a very pleasant surprise.
The most recent surprise has been the demand for my book. I’ve fielded messages from fans here in the US and overseas, from fans in Greece, Spain, Finland and Russia, all wanting to know when the book will be out. (Note from Stephen: Yes, the book is out now. Parts of this interview were a while ago and I’m just posting now. Blame the Minnesota Lynx for keeping me busy this year!)
SLAM: Now that the book is out, how has the response been?
AC: Response has been fantastic. People are posting twit-pics of the book when they get it in the mail, followed by positive tweets and supportive responses on Facebook. This is what meant the most to me – that the fans enjoy it. I recently gave copies to my hometown team, the Phoenix Mercury. I’m a little nervous because I’m still waiting to see what they, and other players think. Honestly, it means more to me that people enjoy the story than how many copies I sell. So far, I think the general consensus is that the book is being well accepted.
SLAM: Is there a player, coach, media member, etc with whom you met along the journey that you stay in touch with frequently?
AC: I’ve stayed in touch with a few people here and there. I manage to chat occasionally with Janel McCarville, mostly on Twitter. I’ve emailed Kevin Messenger (Indiana Fever) a few times chatting mostly about the book. There was a rather comical “incident” that I talk about in the Indiana chapter that involved him – wanted to give him a heads up. Cheryl Coward over at Hoopfeed.com and Jayda Evans in Seattle are also two I’ve managed to keep up with. I bumped into Connecticut Sun GM Chris Sienko at the airport coming home from the All Star game and handed off a copy of my book-he seemed to be very interested in it. Ben York (SLAM Online) and I had coffee a few weeks ago; it’s convenient being that we are fans of the same team and living in the same town. Former Mystics GM Angela Taylor and I have been chatting, mostly recently, as she has been helping me generate PR ideas for my book.
Oh yeah, and there’s this guy from Minnesota…
I really think this has happened because these were all people who truly supported the initiative I took in taking the trip that I did in 2009. Once I was able to share my story, several of those around the league found a common interest, which is how good relations start. I think it just continued to grow from there.