Mike Haszto – From Athlete to Author

Blood and IceTypically, when you come across an author, they specialize in one type of format.  Their area of expertise is usually one in novels, short stories, poetry, or even comic books, but a combination of two or more of these is a rarity.  Such is the case with author Mike Haszto.  The former New Yorker and St. Anthony High School graduate didn’t spend his youth focused on writing though.  Haszto utilized his extracurricular time on the soccer field, the baseball diamond and the hockey rink.  After high school he played Triple-A ball as a center fielder for the Oklahoma City 89ers in the late 1970’s before heading to the University of Akron as a goalie in college soccer.

The man’s athletic journey didn’t cease there, however, as he soon moved up the ladder to minor league hockey as a backup goalie for the Flint Generals of the Colonial Hockey League for the ’93-’94 season.  From there it was on to the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the now defunct International Hockey League as the team’s practice goalie.  His active life certainly didn’t take a relaxing turn after those days as he now turns his personal goal attention towards his writing, something that has long been on the mind of the husband and father of five.

From idea to paper, Haszto’s literary work started coming to fruition within the last couple of years as his first title, Of Dampness and Dreams, arrived on store shelves and Amazon.com in April of 2008.  This poetic delivery was soon followed up a month later with Pieces of the Heart.  That year turned out to be a productive one for the budding author as it closed with his first novel, Radio Free Mickey; a story about an independent radio station trying to survive under the burden of corporate America.  The author/athlete recently spent some time sharing his experiences and offering his thoughts on his works, his accomplishments, and his latest book, Blood & Ice: Tales of 32 Years in the Crease.

WSB:  You work full-time and you’re a full-time dad and husband.  How do you balance all this and still have time for your writing?

Mike:  That’s a question I get asked frequently.  I utilize my quiet time as my writing time.  With a very hectic, ever-changing schedule, my quiet time is often improvised to whenever I am actually free for the moment.  It could be two in the morning, five in the morning, or thirty minutes between dinner and bedtime.  I really try and block out at least an hour when I write in novel form in order to get into character, but sometimes that is just not doable.  I do reflect upon where I’d like to go with the next chapter of the story ahead of time so I can sit and write productively when I do, but things like storyboarding do not work with me because oftentimes when I do sit down and write, the story takes on a mind of its own and creates tangents that I go with, because those tangents tend to be more exciting than any storyboarding that I do.

WSB:  You seem to be turning your works out at a pretty good pace while maintaining substance.  So often we see assembly-line authors whose projects seem to get watered down with each progressive release.  What is your secret to keeping your material fresh?

Mike:  I have a couple, really.  On the novels, I tend to write over periods of time, anywhere from a page or two to a chapter or two a day, depending on how much time I have.  Since I have a full time, and then some, job/career, time is of an utmost importance, and I try to utilize any free time well.  I have a knack for ‘living the main character’ in the novel…I can go into character as I write.  With that there is an intensity and a focus in the writing. How it can stay fresh is that I only write so much a sitting.  The other secret is that I balance my writings between novel and poetry.  If I get a bit burned out, or dry for ideas in the current novel, I will sit and compose poetry for a day or two so I can refresh my mind and go back at the novel after a couple of days writing poetry.  A final secret is that I don’t write about the same thing book after book.  Each novel is another story, another genre, another subject matter.  Although I have written one sequel thus far, the story line between those two books is quite different while utilizing the same background and characters.

WSB:  What kind of recognition or awards have you received as an author?

Mike:  My recent awards include Nominated Poet of the Year in 2008 by the International Society of Poetry.  I also received a Poet Fellowship Award in 2008, as well as an Editor’s Choice Award by the International Library of Poetry.

WSB:  Your books are definitely varied in content.  There are multiple books of poetry, one of which tells a bit of a story that ages as the book progresses, a novel about a mom-n-pop radio station, and now Blood & Ice: A Tale of 32 Years in the Crease.  Do you have a lot of ideas upstairs and if so, how do you determine what gets priority for a serious project?

Mike:  Within the five books of poetry there seems to be a reoccurring theme.  The first book was actually planned to go through life’s timeline.  The next three all have to do with emotions, aptly titled Pieces of the Heart, II, III.  The most recent poetry book, A Warm Breeze From Under Palm Trees, takes on the theme of tropical emotional poetry…probably because I yearn for the tropics…writing about the beach and such lifts up my spirits.

The novels are very varied in story content.  I chose to write stories about things I knew so much of during the first two books.  I was taught somewhere along the line to write what I know, so I did that with two books about a man who owns a radio station.  A hobby I had since I was a kid was radio and I have always been obsessed to a point with radio, so much so that I was on college radio and afterwards here and there.  While I was writing the first two novels, I realized I had a gift for telling stories and creating…thanks to the poetry writing that I have developed.  So with that, I leaned on some creativity and came up with different subjects to write about.  The idea for Eyes of Fury though, was from a thirty second conversation with a friend of mine.  He gave me an idea he had that came to him in a dream and said ‘you’re the writer, now give me 400 pages.’  So I made up everything except the original thirty second concept.  The book turned out awesome.

I do have a fountain of ideas in my head to write about…the priority?  I think some of that comes with feedback from friends I know.  A few people pushed for me to write a hockey book, so I did.  A few people are pushing for a third radio novel, and a few are pushing for a sequel to Eyes of Fury.  In the end though, whichever subjects motivates and captivates me will win out.

WSB:  Is this latest book more of an autobiography or rather a fictional tale based on your experiences playing hockey?

Mike:  This is a fictional tale, although some stories are indeed true.  The story takes place in the future, but I will say that a number of the stories have truth in them…parts of the main character have some similarities, but no, this isn’t an autobiography.  This is a simple feel-good story of an aging goalie.

WSB:  As far as your time on the ice, what keeps you going as the proverbial “over the hill” goalie?

Mike:  I have always loved the game of hockey, from a child through now.  I still have the feel of first putting on old coach cushions and tying them around my legs with work boot laces…wow…that was when I was seven or so, and on the streets of Central Islip with my neighborhood friends.

I still have that childlike motivation…always wanting to put on the pads and play.  It is a little more difficult to do with the tremendous work schedule I endure, though it makes me appreciate playing that much more.

WSB:  What is your greatest hockey moment, either as a fan, coach, or player?

Mike:  That’s an unfair question.  I have several in each category.  On the big stage, the Miracle on Ice in 1980.  The Islanders first, second, third and fourth Stanley Cups.  They won their fourth Cup during my wedding and honeymoon (no wonder they haven’t won since…lol) !

On the Coaching stage, any moment where I have seen my children play.  I’m so proud of all of them. One has played for National Championships at the Junior and College level.  That’s been exciting, but no more exciting than any of them skating hard on the ice, giving 110%, and having fun.  To see the smiles on their faces really touches me…being able to coach a number of players that have gone on to become very successful in the sport.  It’s not about championships and banners at this level, it’s about development and fun, and if the players enjoy the sport so much that they develop and play until they can’t physically play anymore.

Greatest moment as a player?  Again, so many.  With all of the experiences I’ve had over the years, it would be anytime that I can lace them up with any of my kids and play, either with them or against them.  Any time I can step out on the ice with any and all of them, that right there is my greatest moment.

WSB:  What kind of literary work can we expect next from the mind of Mike Haszto?

Mike:  Well, I’m taking a short break to collect my thoughts right now.  I have enough material for another poetry book or two, but instead may dip into another novel.  Eyes of Fury has done so well that I’ve had lots of requests to do another suspense thriller.  I also have quite a few people waiting for another Radio Free Mickey tale that is set in Key West.  Then again, I never know.  I may wake up tomorrow with yet another idea…stay tuned!


(Author Mike Haszto with WhySoBlu’s Gregg Senko)

In Closing…
Be sure to stop by Amazon today and get your copy of Blood and Ice: 32 Years in the Crease or any one of the other engrossing stories or collections of poetry from Mike Haszto.  Influenced by sports, family, and a little Jimmy Buffet, expect to see more quality releases from Haszto in the future.  Being the hockey fan that I am, I must say I am a little biased toward his latest work, Blood and Ice, over his other writings.  Nevertheless, Haszto has a way to welcome the uninitiated to his stories, making those readers unfamiliar with his material feel like they are right there, witnessing his experiences and stories through their own eyes, and while I may not be able to decipher which tales in Blood and Ice are true and which are creative conjurings of the writer’s mind, I did indeed feel like I was at that Brooklyn banquet or sharing ice time with his goalie alter ego.

It’s certainly evident that Haszto’s literature offers a little something for everyone; from poetic grace to suspense to blue collar grit.  As long as he continues living life to the fullest and keeps the gears turning upstairs, audiences will continue to enjoy Haszto’s affinity for assembling quality publications.






1 Response to “Mike Haszto – From Athlete to Author”

  1. Brian White

    Awesome! We need to talk Mike!