It’s a gray day in Denver, Colorado. The forecast calls for snow tomorrow and, although people are out, there is a distinct echoing in the city that seems reminiscent of well, a Tuesday afternoon, which is precisely what it is. Mike Hedrick steps into the café, and there’s a presence about him. He has the piercing eyes of a man who is defiantly, perhaps to his detriment, in control of the situation. He commands a respect but when he opens his mouth a voice, a bit gruff from the cigarettes, but intriguingly quiet and at ease emerges. One can tell that he’s seen a darker side of the world but there’s something about him that puts you at ease, maybe his easy smile or the way he doesn’t seem to care how his portly stomach extends well beyond his belt line. He’s a big man but he has a softness that contradicts his imposing nature.
Mike: Hey Mike, How’s it going? How’s your Tuesday?
Mike: Good man, things are good. How are you?
Mike: I’m pretty good, should we get down to business?
Mike: Your e-book is out now on Thought Catalog, how does that feel?
Mike: It’s good man, I’m excited to finally get it out to a wider audience. Hopefully it’ll make me a little scratch, pay for some things I’ve been needing, like a private psychiatrist and maybe some self-sufficiency to get me off this government assistance stuff.
Mike: That’d be nice, but why do you need a good psychiatrist?
Mike: You tell me man, after all, I am talking to myself here…
Mike: Good point. Anyway, it’s a unique book. Something not a lot of people see. I think it deserves a wider audience as well, but what’s the story on that? Did it not sell when you first put it out?
Mike: Well, I self published it through Amazon when it came out originally in 2010, it was well received, people seemed to like it, but, well, no, it didn’t sell much.
Mike: Do you know why?
Mike: I’m guessing I just didn’t have a very wide reach, also I think maybe the motivations behind it were a little grandiose.
Mike: I had this image in my mind of being a successful author, with money, cars, houses, the works, but I think I had to face reality when it didn’t sell, I just don’t think enough people cared.
Mike: What drove you to self publish?
Mike: Rejection, hahaha. I went through the entire writer’s market book, you know that resource they put out every year? I went through that entire thing shooting off letters and email blasts and damned if every single one didn’t come back saying something along the lines of, “it’s not right for us, we wish you luck,” or some bullshit like that so basically, I said ‘screw it’ and looked into self publishing.
Mike: And then Thought Catalog came along.
Mike: Actually I floundered for several years before that happened, I was going through a rough time mentally so it was all I could do to just get up in the morning and basically wait for bed so I could go to sleep.
Mike: A rough time?
Mike: No prospects, no real hope, just kind of floundering. Basically just dealing with life as it came along with no real reason to get up in the morning.
Mike: That sucks man.
Mike: Speaking of rough times, the character in your book, Rob, is having some rough times of his own. What are the similarities between what you were experiencing and what your character was experiencing?
Mike: Rob is basically an amalgam of myself, the self I wish I was, and the horror stories I’d heard about my condition. In essence he’s me and the journey he goes on pretty much parallels what I did when I first “broke.” He’s also the epitome of the raw writer’s voice I was trying to portray at that time through my writing. My favorite author, Junot Diaz, has that sort of voice and I was trying, maybe too hard and maybe unsuccessfully, to emulate.
Mike: So it’s pretty much a true story?
Mike: True in an idealized sense. There were several embellishments and to be honest, a lot of what happened wasn’t entirely clear in my own mind when I sat down to write.
Mike: The symptoms though, the paranoia, the delusions, the strange thinking, that’s all real though right?
Mike: Actually yeah, I tried as best I could to convey that stuff truthfully, and really, that stuff’s about as raw as it gets already, so there wasn’t a big need for embellishment in that regard. It’s some crazy shit. I can tell you that much.
Mike: (nods his head)
Mike: So tell me about character development for this amalgam of Rob.
Mike: Like I said, it’s really just an idealized version of me. As for the development of the character into something else, I don’t know if that’s something I can really explain. The character arc sort of just progresses with the journey. He’s a scared kid who feels oppressed when he goes into it, as I was, but along the way, he builds himself a little confidence and in the end does something completely unexpected. I guess it helps him realize the good things he already has instead of seeking something elusive in his delusions.
Mike: What does he do that’s unexpected?
Mike: No spoilers. You’ll just have to read the book.
Mike: I have. In fact I wrote it; I’m you, remember?
Mike: Oh yeah, so at this point we’re just building anticipation for the book?
Mike: Yeah that sounds about right.
Mike: So what were your motivations in writing it? What made you sit down and crank it out?
Mike: I sort of feel like the only way I can express myself truly is writing, that’s what I’ve done since I was a little kid, and I had this blockage, you know? This big scary thing that had happened that I couldn’t fully express. It’s funny because it started out in little bits, a few paragraphs here, a few paragraphs there, a short story here, and one there and all this work just developed.
Mike: Yeah man, I don’t know exactly when I announced that I was writing a book but due to the illness and the scary stuff that goes along with it, everyone was just sort of kindly encouraging but not really expecting much you know? They’d be like, that’s great Mike, keep on truckin’?” Or “That’s cool, that’s gonna be a challenge, but you can do it!”
Mike: And you did it.
Mike: Fuck yeah I did. It took three years but I finally got it all down on paper.
Mike: And how did you eventually get involved with Thought Catalog?
Mike: Well, like I said, I was kind of floundering then, and this sounds bad, but The Sandy Hook tragedy gave me some inspiration.
Mike: That “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” piece went viral and I read it and said, “This is bullshit.” So I decided to write an article through the eyes of someone with mental illness and how most of us are in no way monsters and psychos and killers, we’re just lonely people who deal with scary shit in our heads. My article went viral on Tumblr and I got the taste of success and recognition in my mouth then fought for it, blasting editors with emails for the next two months to let me write for them. Chris Lavergne, TC’s publisher, decided to give me a chance and then he heard I wrote a book and well, here we are.
Mike: It is awesome man.
Mike: Good for you for getting your voice out there.
Mike: Thanks man, I really appreciate that.
Mike: No problem.
Mike: (nods head)
Mike: Ok, well I guess we’re done here.
Mike: It was awesome talking to you man, I don’t often get a chance to talk to myself.
Mike: Yeah you do. You live alone remember?
Mike: Oh yeah.