Every two Fridays for the next six weeks, Front Row will bring you between the covers of Mike & Mike in the Morning co-host Mike Greenberg’s debut novel, All You Could Ask For.
In this first All About installment, Greenberg lets readers into his approach to writing the book and some of the people who have been instrumental in helping to create the finished product, which will be released by William Morrow on April 2. (More information, including an excerpt and purchase information, are available here.)
“Mike is as clever, astute and perceptive as he is brilliant. He has beautifully pulled off the three female voices in this novel — a rare feat for a man — with tremendous wisdom and insight. I can’t wait to see what he does next.” — Jane Green, New York Times-bestselling author
“Who would have guessed that a guy who works for ESPN could write such a terrific novel for women? ALL YOU COULD ASK FOR is smart, sensitive, very funny — and reminds us that our closest friendships constitute a second family. This book, and these women, surprised me all the way through, and moved me to tears and laughter both.” — Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times-bestselling author of “The Last Original Wife”
“Mike has taken something almost impossible to do — write about the opposite sex facing a heart-wrenching challenge you haven’t faced — and done it with breathtaking grace and wit. I read ALL YOU COULD ASK FOR with slack-jawed admiration. Hands-down Rookie of the Year!” — Bruce Feiler, New York-Times bestselling author of “The Council of Dads” and “The Secrets of Happy Families”
I wrote All You Could Ask For, as I did my previous book, Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot in my spare time, which helps explain why it took me eighteen months to write it. I wrote on planes, in bed at night, and occasionally during commercial breaks of Mike & Mike in the Morning. (I tend to write in bursts anyway; I write for about twenty minutes and then need a break. . . and often a drink.)
When I was about a month into the writing I awoke one morning in a panic, convinced there was no way I could pull off what I was trying to do: writing a novel in three female voices. So I sent what I had written to my agent, Jacques de Spoelberch, and expected him to tell me to give it up. The next day he called and said: “Mike, I think you’ve got this, keep going.”
So I did.
My next pause came about halfway through the novel. I put together a focus group of three women and asked them to critique what I had, specifically to tell me where I had it wrong. One of them, a yoga instructor named Sarah, told me: “No 28-year-old woman would ever use the word ‘blouse’.” Interestingly, though, in a different context, an older woman did use that word and Sarah had no quarrel with it.
So I learned as I went.
The most valuable insight I received came from two experts, one being my wife, Stacy. It was Stacy who lived through the illness of our friend Heidi Armitage, lived through it in the sense she was by Heidi’s side every day, along with two other friends. I called them “Heidi’s Angels,” not with any celestial connotation but derived from the old TV show Charlie’s Angels. Heidi loved that, she took to using the nickname as well. Today, our foundation is called Heidi’s Angels.
The second expert was Dr. Richard Zelkowitz of Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Conn. He was Heidi’s doctor. I spent hours with him learning the medical elements of the book, and he spent even longer making sure I got it all right.
In the end what came out, after magnificent work from my editor, Kate Nintzel of William Morrow, is something I am enormously proud of. It is also an extreme departure for me, and I am well aware of that. But it was written as a tribute to a dear friend who left us far too soon, and because of that it feels like it makes all the sense in the world.
Stacy and I are proudly donating all of our proceeds to The V Foundation for Cancer Research in the hope that no book will ever again have to be written for the same reason this one was. And that someday, no nine-year-old boys and seven-year-old girls will have to grow up without their moms. If we can help take even a tiny step toward that day, this will have been the most worthwhile endeavor of my career.
For more on “All You Could Ask for,” visit www.AllYouCouldAskFor.com and follow Mike Greenberg on Twitter (@ESPNGreeny); Stacy Greenberg (@StacyGSG) and William Morrow Books (@WmMorrowBks).