No offense, but while reading the book, there were many times I checked the cover to make sure the author’s name wasn’t Michele Greenberg. You see, the ESPN radio host wrote a book about the intimate details of three women suffering from breast cancer.
I know “Greeny” is an enlightened guy, but the idea of him coming out with a women’s book still seems as unlikely as Martha Stewart writing on the greatest hockey fights of all time.
Yet Greenberg pulled it off. He wrote an entertaining book that has received favorable reviews.
Typical is this contribution from a reader named Amy on a review page:
I loved this book from beginning to end. I’m still flabbergasted by the fact that this was written by a man, one that is in fact a sports fanatic.
I believe that not many men out write chicklit books because of the difficulty they would have in developing genuine female characters. Well, Mike Greenberg has definitely proved us wrong. He not only beautifully managed to create just one, but three realistic and extremely relatable female characters. Mike clearly understands the women’s psyche.
Again, it’ll make a nice Mother’s Day gift. Perhaps even for Father’s Day too.
And the best part: All the proceeds of the book go to the V Foundation in memory of Heidi Armitage, a close friend of Greenberg and his wife Stacy, who died of cancer in 2009. Heidi was the inspiration for the book.
Here’s my Q/A with Greenberg:
So what’s next? You starring in an opera?
My father would love that. He loves the opera.
Seriously, what gave you the inspiration to write about three women?
At Heidi’s funeral, her husband, Adam, was reading these letters about Heidi from women I never met. It didn’t seem right to me. My wife, Stacy, said she became active in a support group during her last few months. She died never having met these women.
The next day, I was sitting at the kitchen table. It was as if I got struck by a bolt of lightning. I said, ‘I’m going to write a novel about three women.’
Forget the women aspect. Your two previous books were non-fiction. What made you think you could do a novel?
This is actually my third novel. It’s just that the other two weren’t published. The second novel is about the seedy underbelly of sports. I was really disappointed when everyone passed on it.
Again, forget the women’s aspect. What made you think you could pull this off?
About a month in, I literally woke up in a cold sweat. ‘What the hell am I doing? I’m going to make a fool out of myself.’ I sent what I had written to my literary agent. I told him, ‘Tell me I’m crazy for doing this.’ The next day, he said, ‘I think you’ve got this. Keep going.’
Absolutely. My father was a lawyer. Whenever we would go to a movie, all he would do is complain that the courtroom scenes were dreadful. I knew if the book was not authentic, people would never lose themselves in the characters.
I don’t know how to explain it, but I got a lot of help from my wife, my agent’s wife, and my yoga instructor. So I had women in their 20s, 40s, and 60s. I kept sending them stuff and told them to tell me what I was getting wrong. For instance, they said no 28-year old would use the word, ‘blouse.’
Ultimately, I don’t think men and women are that different. This is a book about big topics: Power, friendship, mortality. In that way, I don’t think there is much delineation between the two genders.
What has struck you about the reaction?
I did two previous books tours where the people who came out were sports fans. They only wanted to talk about sports. ”
This book tour is totally different. For this one, I make it clear to people, “Just because I wrote it, please don’t think it’s a sports book.”
There were women who came out wearing these T-shirts. One said: “Sure, they are fake; The real ones tried to kill me.” Another said, “FU-BC.”
Not one said, “I have cancer, pity me.”
Heidi has been gone for three years. That part isn’t as current anymore. So to go out and meet these women (who have battled cancer), it’s been a great experience. It really hits home for me.
The best part is the money we’re raising. We’re close to making our first donation. It’s going to be a lot of money.
Now that you have written a successful women’s novel, can we expect another?
I’m working on a book that has a first-person male character. It comes closer to my own sensibility.