Title: The Problem With Crazy
Author: Lauren K McKellar
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 13, 2014
The problem with crazy is that crazy, by itself, has no context. It can be good crazy, bad crazy . . . or crazy crazy—like it was when my ex-boyfriend sung about me on the radio.
Eighteen-year-old Kate couldn’t be more excited about finishing high school and spending the summer on tour with her boyfriend’s band. Her dad showing up drunk at graduation, however, is not exactly kicking things off on the right foot—and that’s before she finds out about his mystery illness, certain to end in death.
A mystery illness she is likely to inherit.
When your whole life goes from adventure and ecstasy to sad and suicidal, what’s the point? Not knowing who to love, and who to trust . . . where does it end?
The Problem With Crazy is a story about love and life; about overcoming obstacles, choosing to trust, and learning how to make the choices that will change your life forever.
*A portion of sales from this book will be donated to a Huntington’s disease-related charity (details TBC)
Lauren K. McKellar is a writer and editor of fact and fiction. She has worked in publishing for more than eight years, and recently returned to her first love: writing books that make you feel.
Lauren loves to write for the Young and New Adult markets, and blogs with Aussie Owned and Read, as well as vloggingwith the YA Rebels.
In her free time, Lauren enjoys long walks on the beach with her two super-cute dogs and her partner-in-crime/fiancé.
FIVE FACTS WITH LAUREN K. MCKELLAR
Where did you get your inspiration? I was inspired to write this story when I met a friend of mine’s father, who unfortunately, has the disease. I didn’t go through the struggle with him when he got tested, or anything, but meeting someone who suffered from such an obviously horrible illness was really sad.
My cousin suffers from a mental illness, and one of the things I dislike most is the special treatment, and the frequent use of the term ‘crazy’. And so, The Problem With Crazy was born.
Was writing about such a horrible illness difficult? I think writing about any illness is difficult. When you create fiction about something that not only alters people’s lives, but can kill them, you’re treading on sensitive ground.
That’s why I did a lot of research; I interviewed victims, spoke to state bodies, and observed people who weren’t affected, but who knew people who were. I hope this means I’ve done the subject matter justice.
Why New Adult? This illness is all about change in life, and for me, New Adult, or Upper YA, is one of the biggest change periods a person will go through. It’s coming of age, it’s defining life moments, and I couldn’t think of a time when people are more socially aware and conscious, and yet still at a period when life- and person-making choices are made. For me, eighteen years was the ultimate age to set this story with maximum impact.
So is the moral to the story to not get Huntington’s disease? No. This disease isn’t contagious. It’s hereditary, which is horrid enough.
However, the moral isn’t to do with this particular illness. It’s twofold; it’s partly to do with the literal use of the term ‘crazy’, and, more importantly, to do with living life to the fullest. To not knowing when or where you could die, but to living life anyway. To trying, and persevering, and working, and laughing, and smiling, and loving, and living—it’s to being. To being as if each day is your last—and in spite of the fact.
So, heavy stuff. Let’s talk about romance. Is there some lovin’ in this book? Well, you know what? Love is a central theme, as it is in most of our lives. Loving, however … well, let’s just say, it’s certainly not an erotic romance. Still, I don’t know that I could write and not include love to help bind the elements together.
For me, love has always been a part of my life. I’d dream of finding ‘the one’ when I was younger; and now that I’ve finally found him, it’s everything I could have wanted, and more. To write a story and not incorporate a part of that, a fragment of something I probably feel strongest about—I don’t know that I could do it.
Finally, the dedication. Tell us about that. Well, I dedicated this book to the person who inspired me to write it. I wanted to raise awareness about something that struck someone so cruelly.
Also, that person is someone’s father. While my father never had Huntington’s, he did pass away from cancer when I was in my late teens, and I feel like the altering of a father figure is something that’s personal. This book is being released on the anniversary of my father’s death; so it’s for dads everywhere. Happy, healthy, loving, paternal, diseased, and healthy. Because who can argue with that?
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“And there is something else we need to tell you, dear.”
“Deb, not now. Give ‘er a rest,” Dad interjected, his voice sounding ever more weary with each passing word.
“What? Tell me,” I demanded, my fingers clenching into little fists. “What could possibly be worse than what you’ve already said?” Dave placed his arm protectively around my shoulders. I wanted to shake it off.
“Maybe we should wait.” Mum eyed Dave’s hand.
“Anything you have to say, you can say in front of him.” I shook my head. “He’s family. You know that.” Dave and I locked eyes, and he gave me a special little smile.
“Kate, it’s not a good time.” Mum’s voice was shrill. My heart was beating like a jackhammer, thud-thud-thud, over and over at double time.
“If you don’t tell me now, I’ll Google it. I’ll just search the disease and see what I can find. We both will!”
Silence. Dave took my hand in his, clasping his other hand around it so I was protected entirely within his palms. Mum and Dad looked at each other, foreheads wrinkled and lips pursed.
“The disease your father has,” Mum paused. I nodded at her. Go on.
Just tell me. Get it over with.
I struggled to breathe as Dave’s fingers slowly unlaced themselves from mine.
I raised my hands to my sides and lifted up my T-shirt, throwing it over my head and letting it land on the floor next to me. Swaying my hips to the side, I threw my hands out in a ta-da movement, like I was the host on a game show.
“And the jeans.” Dave nodded and took a few steps back to the bed, sitting down and crossing his arms. His face was blank, and his eyebrows were raised. I’d never seen him look so unimpressed.
I flipped the button and undid my fly, slowly pulling my skinny jeans over my thighs, my knees, my calves, and finally my ankles and feet. There was no way to do it and be sexy, so I settled for not falling over. I stepped out of my pants and stood up straight, in only my underwear.
Dave checked his cell for messages.
I felt sick.
Dad was crouched down in the corner, sitting in a pile of dust. A grin stretched from cheek to cheek. Aside from the empty cans scattered around him, he looked normal. There was no blood, no limbs bent at an unnatural angle.
But his leg was kicking, tiny jerks into space, just like the genetics counsellor had warned me about.
Over and over and over.
The air clawed at my throat, stopping me from breathing. My chest closed in, constricted.
This wasn’t my father.
I pushed past Mum and bolted out into the yard again until I was in the opposite corner. I was desperate for air, taking big, needy gulps of it. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t dothis. I jerked my foot out and kicked a paling on our brown wooden fence, as hard as I could.
My toes curled up in pain and I hopped around, biting my lip and cursing. Even through my shoe, it hurt. It hurt so damn much.
But at least this was a pain that was real.
At least it wasn’t the pain churning inside of me, eating me alive slowly in its wishy-washy fashion. This pain was a release: short, sharp and loaded with hate. And it was sweet.
“You can take off now, Kate.” I turned to him, and he nodded to the door. “I’ve got the rest of this.”
“Are you sure?”
I walked over to the door and paused there for a second, unsure if I was doing the right thing.
“Yes?” I spun around at lightning speed.
He was there, right behind me, incredibly close. I had no idea how he’d moved so fast, but his broad shoulders were suddenly at my chin level, the muscled lines of his arms visible beneath his shirt.
I slowly let my eyes roam up his body, across his chest and over his rigid jawline, over the little freckle on his cheek and deep into his chocolate eyes that were staring into mine, staring through me, like he could see every little secret I’d ever kept.
Don’t look at his lips, Kate. Do not look at his lips.
I let my eyes flick down to his lips and saw they were slightly parted and wet. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, and a shiver ran down my spine.
Writing about illness and disease is obviously dancing with danger. After all, when you're talking about a condition that can change, and eventually, strip someone of their life, it's important to treat the topic with sensitivity and do it justice. Stuffing up things like symptoms, treatment and other conditional specifications can not only leave you labeled a liar, but also leave you responsible for potentially causing a sufferer insult and/or injury.
The Problem With Crazy deals with Huntington's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that results in a loss of brain function and, approximately 15-20 years after onset, death. And that's putting it in simple terms.
When writing about this disease, I wanted to keep as close to the facts as I could. Being a lesser-known condition than, say, cancer, or Parkinson's, it was difficult at first to gather facts.
Eventually, I approached a few organisations, state bodies for sufferers of this illness, to fact check and gather information. This was difficult as a writer; asking people to give up their time for something that may never be published is hard, especially when you're asking such personal questions. Still, I was lucky enough to speak with a person at the Huntington's foundation in Victoria, and they helped me a lot.
I also learnt a lot from talking with sufferers and relatives of sufferers. They showed me a unique angle to the disease I hadn't at that point considered: a compassion, and positive focus I may not have been aware of otherwise.
In the end, I asked another state body to read through the book for any factual errors. At the end of the day, this illness isn't my story to tell--it's theirs, and I don't want to misrepresent it. Still, I do expect there to be an element or two of information that perhaps isn't quite accurate. When it comes down to it, I haven't suffered from this illness, nor has anyone in my family, thank goodness. It is for this reason that I hope you, as areader, understand that this is a work of fiction, and for more information on this disease