I'm especially glad to be able to interview fellow Indie Writers Unite member, Randy Attwood about his latest release, Crazy About You. It's a fascinating book, so take a closer look!
Hi Randy! I’m glad you’re here to discuss your release, Crazy About You, a fictional novel about asylum brats growing up on the grounds of mental hospitals where their parents work. What is the genre of this work?
My works don't fit very easily into genres. Crazy About You is written from the first person viewpoint of Brad, a junior in high school. So it is Young Adult and Coming of Age. But there is a murder to be solved. There is suspense and it gets pretty thrilling at the end.
What inspired you to write this book?
My father was a dentist and he worked at a state mental hospital. We were provided housing on the grounds. So I grew up at an insane asylum. Maybe that's one reason I have an odd outlook on life.
Are any parts of the story based on real life? Does or did the Larned State Mental Hospital actually exist?
Larned State Hospital did, and does, exist in the middle of Kansas. At the time of the book's setting, it cared for about 1,500 patients. It was a small city with its own police, fire hospital, and cafeteria. My first job was washing dishes in the cafeteria and those scenes occur in the novel.
Your main character, Brad, has a series of unusual adventures revolving around that asylum. Are his parent(s) who work there aware of the scary events their son becomes involved with? If so, do they take an active role? Are they afraid for his safety?
Most mentally ill patients are not dangerous. Brad's mother has deserted Brad's father and run away with a Cuban physician, so she's not on the scene at the time of the story. Brad's father isn't worried that his son makes friends with inmates. He knows they are mostly benign. The criminally insane, however, are dangerous. But that building is completely secured, until, at the end of the book, you find out it isn't.
Being a part of all these strange happenings, is it difficult for Brad to fit in with his peers in his normal high school life?
Larned State Hospital was a main economic factor for the nearby town of Larned, which had a population of about 5,000. Many fathers and mothers worked at the hospital, so there was no stigma for their children. Not many of them, however, had housing on the grounds.
What motivates Brad to solve the mysterious problems in the mental hospital?
Brad is at the age of discovery about himself, his surroundings, and other people. This first person point of view is written with a bit of twist. It provides opportunities for a future Brad to look back at himself and understand how he came to be the way he is.
May I add, too, that I donate $1 of every sale of the $4.99 ebook to Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence, KS. Those folks work the suicide prevention hotline for my part of the country. I respect and support this extraordinarily important work.
Brad does an English assignment in which he writes a kind of essay on the history of the treatment of the mentally ill. As I look around me today, and what we are doing housing too many mentally ill patients with criminals, I can only conclude that we haven't made much progress since the 1960s in caring for our fellow human beings.
Description ~ Crazy About You
By Randy Attwood
Service brats grow up on military bases. Asylum brats grow up on the grounds of mental hospitals where their parents work. High school asylum brat Brad has a week in 1964 that tests his sanity and grows him up faster than he ever wished. The potential for bizarre at the Larned State Hospital is coalesced into one week. Brad thinks he's in love with the schizophrenic teen, who has to be tied up to keep from picking her palms until they bleed.
The brutal murder of a townswoman rivets the town's attention. Brad becomes a hero when he leads campus police to the hiding place of an AWOL patient/suspect, who believes he's John F. Kennedy.
A group of employees who run a theft ring believe Brad is ratting on them so they take him to see Alex Krout, mass murderer and the most dangerous of the criminally insane.
It's prom week. The desire for normalcy finds Brad with a dream date who's crazy about him.
The lit fuses hit the dynamite when a group of patients in the building for the criminally insane hold guards hostage and Alex Krout, squealing in his cell, waits to run amok.
Purchase Link ~ Amazon
“You’re not really going out with Jake LaRue, are you?” I asked my sister. It had to be a joke.
“He happens to be one of the few guys willing to drive out to this nut farm to pick me up.”
I couldn’t believe she was serious, but her pug nose was pointing up higher than before, as if by challenging her it was I who was stinking up the room instead of her by dragging into the house even the name of Jake LaRue.
“Jesus, Sally, Jake LaRue drives around in that car of his with panties hanging from his mirror,” I told her, mentioning, for the first time between us, that unmentionable undergarment word. I had to send a signal this was a serious conversation.
“Are you worried about my virtue, Twerp Face?” my sister asked, saying “virtue” in a way that made it sound like it was a vice.
“Did you tell Dad? Does he know this guy?” I’d try a different strategy, an appeal to higher authority.
“Does Dad ask my permission to date his nursies?”
“That’s different. He’s an adult.”
“I happen to be eighteen.”
“If you can’t do better than Jake LaRue, you ought to give it up.” Another appeal, this one to her vanity.
“I find him kinda of cute. And that car of his is so cool. He spends all his time on it. He makes more in one race than you do in a month washing dishes at the creepy cafeteria here. He’s let me ride along.”
“Jesus, Sally, if Dad knew you went draggin’ with that guy you’d be grounded the rest of the school year.” I was down to my last strategy–threats.
“Well, Dad’s not going to find out, is he? And if he does, I’ll know you were the snitch. Then I’ll have to tell him about the time you brought your little fruitcake friend from the juvenile delinquent ward over here and sang songs to her, or whatever else you were doing down there in your room.”
“Suzanne needed to get away from her ward, and it’s called the Adolescent Rehabilitation Unit. All I did was play the guitar for her and we sang some songs,” I said, acting as if I hadn’t tried to kiss Suzanne and been turned aside and I could explain perfectly well to Dad why I had had a girl patient down in my basement bedroom. Like hell. Sally knew when she had me by the balls. If Dad found out, he’d kill me.
She pressed the advantage, “Do you know how sick I am of hearing you singing in the basement, imitating Peter, Paul and Mary? I swear, if I hear you sing 'Puff, the Magic Dragon' one more time, I’ll break that damn guitar. And since you think you’re so qualified to criticize who I date, who are you taking to your junior prom? Which, I believe, is only a week away.”
She did know how to sink her fangs into a raw nerve.