From a press release:
[It's] the simple true story of his seventh grade year in high school, “a vanished time and place, namely Little Rock from 1985 to 1986.” Brockmeier, a novelist, is taking the actual circumstances of his life and applying “a novelist’s methods to reconstructing or calling them back into being….The book is by far the most Arkansas-centric I’ve attempted to write.”
The main criteria for the fellowship, beyond being previously published and an Arkansas native, is "creative excellence." That's clearly a fair characterization of Brockmeier's previous works. But maybe need should be added to the equation. I'm sure Brockmeier can use the money — just about every professional writer in Arkansas not named Charlaine could — and maybe he wouldn't explore Arkansas or his memories of seventh grade, topics that might not have his publisher salivating, without it, but I'd venture that $10,000 is not the difference between him writing full time or not.