Amber: What keeps you a relaxed creative writer? Or brings you back when stress takes over?
Mike: In order to really get into a writing session I need to have my head clear. To keep my mind from wandering, impending chores or responsibilities must be taken care of first. I am most relaxed in the morning. I am ready to write after a shower, coffee, and the newspaper. Later in the day I am most likely to have a good session after fifteen minutes in the hot-tub, especially if a round of golf or yard work preceded it. That fifteen minutes usually includes breathing exercises and thoughts of what's next in the manuscript. I don't think I get overly stressed about most situations. Take it as it comes, do what you are able, move on.
Amber: How does golf relax you? Using the categories in "Relaxing the Writer" would you call golf meditative, active, or sensual/artistic for you?
Mike: If you ask me questions like this about golf, you might get a new book from me. Golf can be relaxing and it can be very stressful. The whole point to playing golf is twofold. One, relax and have fun. Two, the stressful part, it's a competition (against yourself or someone else) so you are trying to achieve the best score. Without one, two is impossible. I have learned over many years in the game that relaxing, physically and mentally is vital to scoring well. How? Be positive, never entertain negative thoughts.
Sometimes (many times) a shot doesn't happen as I pictured it. I try to go right on to planning the next shot after a bad one. A French word may be uttered, but that's it, it's over.
I'm in a beautiful place out in the fresh air, feeling the sun and breeze, playing a game with friends. I see and smell acres of manicured green grass, there are lots of trees, a pond, birds and rabbits. So I relax, it's easy. Thoughts seldom wander to health, finances, writing, or the broken water pipe at home. Maybe I play golf because it is relaxing.
For me, I think golf would fit into all of the categories in Relaxing The Writer. I will do brief breathing exercises at certain times to help focus on a shot. It is certainly both a physical activity requiring some skill, and and an exercise for the mind in choosing the correct club and action for each shot.
Amber: How has golf influenced your writing?
Mike: style, came naturally, I think, from being immersed for so long in the golf culture. Conversations, settings, activity, and people on and around the course all provide ideas in developing characters and a story. I am really comfortable when in the whole golf atmosphere. I am much more outgoing there than in most other social situations. I guess I am very relaxed there. And, as you surely know, being relaxed can help a great deal when writing.
Amber: Since fiction (even cozy mysteries) is filled with conflict, what do your characters do to release stress?
Mike: Some do the normal things like yelling, joking, smoking weed. In the next book Bruce uses the hot-tub a lot. He will bake some bread or walk his dog, or go out to eat.
An excerpt from Willowtree:
Keely sat at my feet with her hedge hog “baby” in the living room while I tried to line up the facts that I learned from Holton, Ben, and Mrs.R. during the past day and a half. Actually they didn't mean a lot, just facts, things we knew. But strung together, these facts all bothered me. Calvin dead, Martin dead, both near the ranch. Bob, or Squeek supposedly weird, Vernon, Doc’s buddy, long gone. Miggy-Mike. Maybe all unrelated, maybe not.
To stop the race of Persistent Automatic Thoughts from taking over, I decided to bake the bread. That was one, golf was another, activity that kept PATS away. I formed the round loaves and placed them on cornmeal sprinkled on pie plates. My invention, at least I never heard of anyone baking bread in pie plates. I reasoned that the heat from the sloping, round walls of the pie plate made the finished loaf perfectly round. They sat, rising, under a clean towel for over an hour while I checked my email. I signed in on the Golf Association website and got my handicap info up to date.
The three dough balls were becoming bread in the hot oven when Genny came into the aroma filled kitchen. She said that it reminded her of the wonderful smell outside the bakery she passed while walking to school. Genny had a good day at the nursing home. She said she enjoyed working there. It was nice to have her home for a quiet evening. Genny was another thing that kept PATS away. With her, all of my attention was hers. I loved her so much. Away from her, many PATS were about her.
We enjoyed a gigantic salad she made with fresh veggies she picked up at a Sedona farmers market on the way home. Also a whole loaf of warm bread.
"Willowtree A Bruce DelReno Mystery" is Mike Bove's mystery celebrating his love of golf and the retired life in Arizona.Mike grew up in Vermont. He wrote articles and drew cartoons for his college newspaper. Mike was involved as an actor and director in high school, college and community theater. He adapted a Russian folk tale, The Nosebag, for the stage, produced and directed it. He was a public school teacher, track, and soccer coach before moving to Cape Cod. There he became an avid fisherman and golfer. He joined the Postal Service, transferred to Sedona, retiring in 2010.
"Willowtree" Is Mike's first novel in the Bruce DelReno Mystery Series. He lives in Cottonwood, AZ with wife, Jane, and Golden Retriever, Ceile.
Learn more about Mike and Willowtree