The Story behind ‘Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy’ by MD Moore

Waiting for the CoolThe story behind my novel, as with most novels, evolved significantly over time though the bones always remained the same.  For several years, I worked as a therapist in our states most acute psychiatric hospital where the most chronically mentally ill patients lived, often for the rest of their lives.

Over the years, I saw it all: violent schizophrenics whose most direct target was a chair they felt was showing aggression; patients who bore holes in their arms to shove in dried and crumbled maple leaves to try and get high; giants of men who cried like frightened children at the demons who were always haunting them.  While these were literally everyday activities, these weren’t the patients who caught my attention when trying to figure out a story to write (in fact, while some of these patients did make the initial drafts of the novel, they were later cut due to their “non-essential” involvement to the novel – I had to “kill my darlings”).

The patient who struck me the most deeply and the one that I continue to think about when I think about my days at the hospital, was a quiet, schizophrenic woman who usually kept to herself.  She was middle-aged, mid to late 50’s and dressed like someone out of a 1950’s black and white.  Before her mental illness had really grabbed a hold of her, she had married and had two children.  Most weekends, her family would come to visit her, bringing her lunch that they would eat on the grounds of the hospital.  When this patient was “compensated” (hospital term for with-it) she would remember her family and they would have the same conversations we all have on picnics.  They would laugh, talk about how school was going, how the rest of the family and friends were doing, etc.  When she was “decompensated” (hospitalese for out-of-it), she got so bad that she wasn’t allowed to leave the ward or even have her family in her room.  They had to sit in a glass-walled room so they could be watched for signs of trouble.  She could turn violent and extremely confused which upset the family and usually ended their visits while this patient would be placed in the seclusion room to calm down, usually with the assistance of medication.

These visits, whether they went well or poorly, always left an impression as she was one of the few patients I ever worked with who had a spouse and children.  I always wondered how the family, especially the children, who from the outside seemed like normal teenagers, coped.  I wondered about the struggles they had and I wondered if they’d ever have their mother at home with them again.  I’ve thought of them often and though several years have now passed since I left the hospital, I find myself still wondering…



A native of Tacoma, Washington, M.D. Moore worked as a therapist in Washington State’s most acute psychiatric hospital. Moore currently serves as a rehab director at a long term care facility serving veterans and their families. A member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, M.D. Moore lives in Gig Harbor, Washington with his wife and sons.Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy is his debut novel. Visit M.D. Moore online

About the Book:

Title: Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy

Genre: Fiction/Family Drama

Author: M.D. Moore

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Purchase on Amazon

An extraordinary debut novel, Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy introduces protagonist Harmon Burke. The son of a schizophrenic mother, Harmon is haunted by three decades of his mother’s “un-cool” craziness and the mistakes of his own past.  Caught somewhere between his past and present, Harmon is trying to navigate and survive the detritus of his life—a life littered with personal failures, strained relationships and life-threatening health issues.

When Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy opens, Harmon’s mother Cece is on her way back to the psychiatric hospital after another psychotic episode—an episode that nearly lands Harmon in jail for his third and final strike before lifelong incarceration.  Landing an unusual lucky break, Harmon cashes in a literal “get out of jail free card” with one caveat: in order to avoid serving jail time, he promises to seek help for his issues.

Harmon starts to see Boyd Freud, an eccentric ex-convict and unorthodox counselor with a wry sense of humor, and a penchant for strong coffee and unusual theories.  Somehow, the no-nonsense and rough-around-the-edges Boyd manages to convince Harmon to confront the trials that have dogged his past and present. But everything changes when Harmon’s high school sweetheart Emmy shows up on his doorstep. Pleading for help escaping her abusive husband Frank, Harmon’s childhood nemesis and lifelong adversary, Emmy reopens a chapter in Harmon’s life he thought long closed.  But Frank—a cruel and vindictive bully intent on righting a past wrong—will prove a dangerous and complicating force for Harmon and his family.

With Boyd’s help, Harmon begins to make sense of the past and heal. But in order to help Emmy, find peace with his mentally-deteriorating mother and discover redemption from his past and current failures, Harmon will have to return to the trials of his youth to find answers and discover truths long buried. Along the way, Harmon will realize that making sense of the past might lead him to see the possibility of a future he’d given up on long ago.

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