Writing a novel or any hockey book sounds like a daunting task to most of us, but as in the case of Farhan Devji, in the right circumstances it can seem to almost happen by accident.
Originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Devji is currently a journalism student in Ottawa working towards a career in sports media. He answered some questions for me recently, and below that you’ll find an excerpt from his new young adult hockey novel currently for sale on Amazon.com.
Q. Can you tell us why you decided to write a hockey-themed novel?
FD: My decision to write a book wasn’t exactly, well…my decision. I took a Creative Writing class last year and one of our assignments was to write a novel, so that’s what I did. And there’s no way that I could have written anything close to 50,000 words about anything other than hockey, so that’s also what I did.
Q. Tell me a bit about the story and where the idea came from.
FD: Growing up in Nanaimo, my father owned and worked full-time on a poultry farm so I spent many of my younger days there. I also had aspirations to play in the NHL so I knew what it was like to be around the farm while continuing to play hockey.
Furthermore, I know for a fact that many NHL players also grew up on or around a farm. Mason Raymond (native of Cochrane, Alberta) of the Vancouver Canucks comes to mind; he’s part of the reason I chose to base the story in Cochrane. I’m sure that many Albertans, and many Canadians in general (regardless of whether they’ve had experiences on a farm or not) would be able to relate to this story.
Q. Do you have any other projects in the works?
FD: I actually just moved to Ottawa and will be attending Carleton University this year. Carleton is renowned for its journalism program, and after all, my ultimate goal is to become a sports journalist. With that, I’m not exactly sure what my immediate future has in store in terms of writing; however, I would definitely like to write another novel sooner rather than later.
Keep a tab on my column over at InsideHockey.com; I’m sure I’ll periodically post some new articles.
Q. Can you name us some of your favorite hockey-oriented books?
The following is a video trailer about the book, and below that is the opening of the first chapter. To get the rest of the story, links are below.
From the book:
“With the first overall selection in the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the New York Islanders are pleased to select, from the Russian Super League, Demitri Shirokov.”
Watching the Entry Draft on his 25-inch television at his home in Cochrane, Alberta, Logan Watt imagined what it would be like to hear his name called by a representative of any National Hockey League team. Logan didn’t bother making the trip down to Ottawa to attend the draft, even though he had a slight chance of being chosen in one of the later rounds. It wasn’t that the draft wasn’t important to him, but he just didn’t see the point in getting all worked up over something he couldn’t control.
The average Canadian kid dreams of hearing his name called by a General Manager at the National Hockey League Entry Draft, and Logan Watt was no exception. Growing up in Cochrane, Alberta—a large town located 22 kilometres west of Calgary—Logan played amateur hockey with the Midget AAA Flames. This past season, Logan was his team’s captain; he led the entire league in goals and assists, and he was also named the Most Valuable Player of the league. But Logan’s problem was that players in Cochrane, Alberta didn’t get as much recognition or attention from the professional scouts as players from the Canadian Hockey League did. The Canadian Hockey League was for all the elite players between the age of 17 to 20 and was a big step from playing amateur hockey in Cochrane. For that reason, Logan had his doubts that he would be drafted. And his small stature of 5’9” wouldn’t help his cause either.
“I’m going to go feed the chickens,” said Jacob, Logan’s father. “You should come with me; you can’t sit glued to the couch watching TV all day, especially when it’s so nice out.”
That was one thing Logan already knew. He was a big fan of the outdoors, and sitting inside while the sun shone brightly outside was killing him. He wasn’t planning on watching the whole draft anyway, but today he wasn’t in the farming mood either.
“I just want to see when Mark gets drafted, and then I think I’m going to hit up the Big Hill,” said Logan.
Mark Simpson was one of Logan’s best friends from childhood; they’d played together for six years in the Cochrane minor hockey system before Mark was offered a contract with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. Mark had impressed many professional scouts during his last two seasons with the Hitmen and was expected to be a top ten pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. A considerable part of his appeal was his tremendous core strength; he and Logan were both fitness junkies, so to speak. They were always in the best of shape, due largely in part to their respective training regimes. They used to cycle up to the Big Hill together, which was a very popular training ground for cyclists from the Cochrane region.
“With the tenth selection in the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs are pleased to select, from the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, Mark Simpson.”
Logan was thrilled when he heard Mark’s name called—he knew how hard Mark had worked to get where he was, and he felt as though he himself had also accomplished something. But dragging along with that sense of accomplishment was a hint of jealousy, which was only natural. Logan and Mark had gone through all the same steps together when it came to hockey, and Logan couldn’t help but be envious of what Mark was on the verge of accomplishing. However, he wasn’t resentful or bitter—that just wasn’t in his nature. If anything, Mark’s success gave Logan something to strive for; it gave him a sense of optimism and hope.