Mike Greenberg is co-host of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike (weekdays, 6–10 a.m. ET, with the first hour simulcast on ESPNEWS during the Australian Open, with the 7-10 a.m. block on ESPN2). For the past 15 years, he’s reached millions of ESPN listeners through the spoken word. He has funneled his talent for the written word into four books, with the latest novel, “My Father’s Wives,” released yesterday. Front Row was curious how the novel came about.
Tell us about the creative process.
I’ve heard it theorized that all writers’ first novels are autobiographical. My first, “All You Could Ask For,” was told by three women experiencing breast cancer. It wasn’t me or my story. This one is me and, in some ways, my story.
It’s in a first-person voice that might as well be mine. The narrator, Jonathan, is about my age and has about my life: beautiful wife, wonderful children, rewarding and interesting career. I came up with the idea by imagining the worst thing that could happen to me, and quickly realized it would be the threat of losing my family. Jonathan is there at the beginning of the book and his reaction to the shocking event that rocks his world has surprised most people who’ve read it; if I ever found myself in his position, I would have done exactly as he does.
How did you determine the title?
Many have asked, since it is a tad unusual. It refers to Jonathan’s father, absent and larger-than-life at the same time, and married six times. When Jonathan is faced with losing everything he cares about, he embarks on a journey to find his father and, ultimately, himself. Because his father is dead, the only way he can do it is to travel around the world to meet – for the first time – each of the five women his father married after Jonathan’s mother.
Tell us about the wives.
The wives are hopefully each interesting. The goal was to use them to tell the story of a man’s life. Each of their appearances is a single scene. If I got it right, the total impact is greater than the sum of those scenes: From them, Jonathan finds the answers to the only questions that really matter and is finally able to make a decision about the situation with his wife.
What is Jonathan Tropper’s involvement?
Of all the cool things that could happen, perhaps the coolest was that one of the writers I respect the most liked the book. Jonathan Tropper, who wrote “This Is Where I Leave You,” among many other tremendous novels, wrote me a fabulous blurb. For me, that was like LeBron James complimenting my jumper. Which, if he ever saw it, he’d be very unlikely to do.