MD Moore is the author of Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy, a family saga that spotlights the adult son of a paranoid schizophrenic mother. He has worked as a therapist with the most chronically mentally ill patients in Washington State’s largest psychiatric hospital. He lives in Gig Harbor, Washington with his wife and two teenage sons.
Q: Please tell us about Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy, and what compelled you to write it.
A: Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy is a story inspired by one of my patients at the psychiatric hospital where I worked. She was a schizophrenic, married, middle-aged woman who had two teenage sons. To look at her, you would expect to find her in the aisles of your local grocery store. Inside, she was a mess, often barely knowing how she was related to her own family (though she did know they were her family). Watching them together, I was often curious and heartbroken about what their lives were like, all having to live with such a debilitating condition. That was the impetus for the idea to write about how mental illness effects a family dynamic.
As for what compelled me to write it…well, this isn’t the story that I even set out to write when I began! I had another whole story that still involved my main character, Harmon, but that story was about how he handled having a teenage son that he just learned that he had who had developing schizophrenia. It also had Cece, Harmon’s mother, but she was just a small side story. I pitched this book to a number of agents without success until one of them told me that the really interesting story was between Harmon and his mother. I thought about how that would look, liked the idea, and rewrote 90% of the book to focus on that story which is the book you now have before you.
Q: What is your book about?
A: My story is about a middle-aged son of a paranoid schizophrenic mother who has the problems of the world on his shoulders, but doesn’t have the skills to navigate any of them successfully. He has a mentally ill mother who still is the cause of chaos in his life, a life threatening illness, a failing business, and a host of people who want to see him fail on all fronts. He also has 2 legal strikes (a third would result in a mandatory life without parole sentence) and anger issues. He is forced to see a therapist against his better advice who seems to have as many issues as he has. The only bright spot in his life is his reunion with his high school sweetheart, but even she is just recently divorced from his high school adversary who has the power to destroy what Harmon has worked to build. The story focuses on how he navigates and untangles the messes of his life to a logical conclusion.
Q: What themes do you explore in Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy?
A: My story digs into the themes of family conflict and resolution and where love and forgiveness fits into that mix. So many families have so much pain, hurt feelings and conflict borne from a lifetime of living together and experiences shared. It’s rarely one incident, but rather a lifetime of incidents that pull us apart and make us dislike (to use a kind word – hate is so ugly between family members) each other. This story looks at the roots of what makes Harmon, my protagonist, feud with Cece, his mentally ill mother. The time spent with Boyd, his therapist, helps Harmon understand some of the dynamics that exist so that he can move on past the pain and learn to forgive and love his mother again.
Q: Why do you write?
A: First, and most simply, I write because I love writing. I guess the more accurate statement would be that I still write because I love writing. I began writing because I thought it would be great to have a book floating around that I wrote and had published, kind of like saying that I climbed a mountain – it was something that sounded neat to do. After starting to write, I realized how god-awful hard it was and how much work and a challenge it would be to see this idea to completion. Then a funny thing happened during this transitional process – I began to enjoy the actual work of it. The brain drain after a good day of writing was intoxicating and I began to crave it. It felt like an Alcoholics Anonymous tenet: Fake it ‘til you make it. I initially faked writing then began to actually learn how to write and now do it because I love to do it. I’d write even without the possibility of publication, but it took me a while to get to that point.
Q: When do you feel the most creative?
A: I feel the most creative during exercise and the moments right before I go to sleep – both being times that kind of suck. I don’t care for exercise, but when I’m struggling I find that when I’m swimming or walking, the ideas just come flooding in so I make myself do it at times. I just carry my iphone and record the ideas as they come. The other time is literally the minute or two before I drop off to sleep. I’m often thinking of what I want to do next with my story and that is when some great idea or another comes to me. I force myself awake and again, record the idea into my phone so I will remember it the next day. I found that if I don’t record it, it will be absolutely gone the next morning.
Q: How picky are you with language?
A: Extremely. Every word is thought out and considered. I’m not saying I always get it right, but I always try. The language of the story is what makes it readable and also what gets the writer out of the way of the story. I have judged many writing contests over the years and I can always tell who has edited their story for language and who has not. It’s extremely important that after you write your free-flowing story in the first draft, that you take time on your re-writes to get the story and the language as perfect as you can. Not that your language is perfect grammatically, but that it’s perfect for the story you’re telling and perfect for the person telling the story.
Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
A: Absolutely. I love those times when the muse takes over and the writing just pores out. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but when it happens, it’s magical. I’m guessing it feels something like that “second wind” that runners talk about – that energy that carries them the 26 miles of a marathon. I’ve never had a runner’s “second wind” ( I hear you actually have to run to experience that), but I’ve had a writer’s second wind and it’s awesome. What’s really cool is when you read back what you wrote and you don’t remember writing it. The writing is good and you are just thankful that something took over and wrote it for you.
Q: What is your worst time as a writer?
A: When the story is done and you have to start the real work of selling it, promoting it, talking about it…for someone who is rather introverted, this is the time I look forward to the least.
Q: Your best?
A: When I’m drafting the story and some unexpected twist just comes at me out of nowhere that really works perfectly for the story. There are a couple of these in this book (I won’t give away here – spoilers) that weren’t in the original draft, but that came to me later that ended up being some of the best pieces in the book.
Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
A: Not at this point. Like I mentioned, I’ve learned to love writing for the sake of writing. I may not write everyday if there was no pressure, but I’d always find time to write. It’s who I’ve become and it’s one my identities.
Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
A: Finally, after nine years and a half dozen drafts, finishing my book and knowing that I was done – knowing that I didn’t have to do one more rewrite. It was a great feeling closing the laptop and knowing that I’d written the story I wanted to write.
Q: Is writing an obsession to you?
A: A casual obsession – like watching Saturday Night Live; I never miss it, even if I have to record it. Writing is like that for me. Even if I take a few days off, I’ll always come back to it.
Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
A: This book definitely is. The new book that I’m working on now has is far less connected to me personally, but I love where it’s taking me which is making it more personal.
Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
A: I do. Reality is the biggest killer of imagination, even if what you’re writing is based in reality. I find that the longer I go between bouts of writing, the harder it is for me to get back into the world of the story and write creatively. Keeping with it as often as possible, daily when I can, keeps me “intoxicated” so reality stays at bay.
Q: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
A: My website is mdmooreauthor.com From there, you can link to my Facebook page where I share my blog.