Parade: Celebrity

Tuesday, Apr 02 2013 09:00 AM

ESPN's Mike Greenberg on Debut Novel: 'My Goal Is Not to Be Thought of as a Broadcaster Who Also Wrote a Book'

By Parade Magazine
Sports fans love tuning into ESPN’s hugely popular radio show Mike and Mike in the Morning to hear what hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic have to say about the hottest headlines in sports. Although Greenberg has never played professionally, unlike his counterpart Golic (a former NFL defensive lineman), audiences respond to his unique thoughts and opinions because he has a genuine love of all things sports.

But the New York native’s passions go beyond the court and the field. The 45-year-old has now achieved one of his lifelong goals: becoming a novelist.

His debut novel All You Could Ask For (out today) may surprise fans, since it’s centered on the power of female friendship, but once they learn the inspiration behind the book, they’ll understand why he had to tell this story.

On the real story behind All You Could Ask For.
“In early 2009, a woman named Heidi Amitage, who was an incredibly good family friend of ours, developed pains in her back. She went to a physical therapist, a chiropractor, and her doctor, all without relief. So she had an MRI just to rule out anything serious, and it showed that she had Stage 4 breast cancer that had spread to her bones. It was devastating. She was diagnosed in February, and over the next few months, I witnessed my wife Stacy and her two other friends, whom I started calling Heidi’s Angels, rally around each other. It was really awe-inspiring. Heidi didn’t go to a single doctor’s appointment without one of them with her. There was always someone just holding her hand and taking notes. They really became her health advocates, and they were with her until the day that she died in September of 2009. I was really moved by the whole experience, and I was so upset by the whole thing, that I was inspired to write this book about three friends and the power of friendship and the power of coming together to lift each other through times of adversity. My wife Stacy and I have created a foundation that launches today in conjunction with the book called Heidi’s Angels, and through Heidi’s Angels, we’re going to donate 100% of the author’s proceeds to the V Foundation for Cancer Research to fight breast cancer in Heidi’s name."

On writing from a woman’s perspective.
"When I first started writing the book, I woke up one morning in a cold sweat, and I said aloud in my room, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing? No one is going to take this seriously! Who do you think you are that you think you can write this?’ I sent the first few pages to my agent with a note that said, ‘I want you to talk me out of this. I want you to be completely honest.’ To my enormous surprise, he called me the following day and he said, ‘No, I think you’ve got this. Keep going.’ Then I created a tiny focus group and enlisted three women, one of whom is my wife, and as I was writing, I would ask them to give me notes of things that didn’t feel authentic. They did a really great job, and I could never have done this without them. The ideas are all mine, the characters are all mine, but it had to be authentic from a woman’s point of view. I still have a note that one of them sent me that I will keep for the rest of my life that said: ‘Michael, no 28-year-old woman would ever use the word blouse,’ and that just made me laugh. It was those kinds of things that really made a difference!"

On his future writing plans.
"I plan to be a novelist. My goal in life is not to be thought of as a broadcaster who also wrote a book. I recognize that at this point, the show has given me the opportunity to do this, and I’m very grateful for that, and I absolutely have no intention of leaving it in the foreseeable future, but I have always wanted to be a writer. It’s my goal to continue writing. I’m almost finished with my next novel now. I plan to keep writing forever."

On the best thing about his day job.
"The best part about Mike and Mike is the interaction with the audience. Writing is a very lonely task, but with the show, my connection with our audience is immediate. I’m talking and people are listening and people are interacting with me and calling in and offering their comments and sending me their thoughts on Twitter. That by far is the best part of it."

On what makes his partnership with Golic work.

"Mike and I are very much like an old married couple, in that we bicker often, and we are seldom intimate! The serious answer is that Mike is as good a friend as I’ve ever had. He’s been incredible throughout the process of this book. He’s also the best family man I know. I don’t know a better father than Mike. I’ve learned a lot from that. His kids are a lot older than mine. When we first started, his kids were about the same age mine are now, and my kids weren’t born. I watched how he made being a father a true priority in his life. Almost everyone will tell you that their kids are the most important things in their lives, but it’s one thing to say that, and it’s another to actually live your life that way. He actually lives his life that way. I’ve learned that from him more than anybody else."

On losing this year’s NCAA bracket wager.
"I lost again! The Duke/Michigan State game Friday night ended me. Michigan State’s loss officially gave Golic our bracket wager for the third consecutive year, which means I have to go through this Wipeout-style obstacle course in Disney World called Mike and Mike: The Mess. But they’ve replaced the danger element with a lot of dirtiness, and If you’ve ever tried to shake my hand, you know that is not my favorite thing! I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m dreading this."

On his predictions for the rest of March Madness.
"I have Louisville winning the whole thing. I think they are clearly the best team."

On Louisville guard Kevin Ware’s gruesome leg injury.
"That might be the ugliest injury I’ve ever seen in more than 20 year of covering sports and almost 40 years of being a sports fan. But it was wonderful to see his teammates rally around him. That’s my favorite thing about sports — the team element, the brotherhood that these guys have. That’s what I really found heartwarming about the whole thing. There are a lot of players who have had injuries like this — bad compound fractures — and have come back and played successfully, so if he had a professional career in his future, then I don’t think there’s any reason to think that now he doesn’t anymore.”

To learn more about Mike Greenberg's All You Could Ask For, click here.

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