Schizophrenia research helped shape the author’s character
Jodi Bowersox has been an actress, seamstress, designer, business owner, homeschooler, children’s choir director and artist. His romance novels span genres from religious fiction to suspense to time travel and science fiction with small town and big city settings. Several have won awards from the Colorado Book Awards, the Colorado Authors League, and the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. Additionally, she has children’s picture books to her name, a book of theater productions, and a non-fiction Bible commentary. As an award-winning watercolor artist, Jodi specializes in pet portraits. You can see all of his creative endeavors, as well as read excerpts from his books at jodibowersox.com. She lives with her husband in Colorado Springs.
Sunny: Tell us the story of this book. What inspired you to write it? Where does the story/theme come from?
Bowersox: “Red Rabbit On The Run” is the third book in my Anonymous series. In the previous book, “The Diamond Diva Vendetta”, Stafford Investigations searches for trafficking victim Tiffany Morrow in Brazil. Many complications slow this down and a whole new plot takes over, but it is eventually found.
And that’s where “Red Rabbit” begins. For her rescuers, it should only be about getting her home and getting paid, but Tiffany has other ideas and drops them almost as soon as they reach Denver.
Put this excerpt into context. How does it fit into the whole book? Why did you select it?
This clip is right after those who brought Tiffany home – PI Will Yarnel and Dani Harper – lost her. Will sees her on a passing bus, however, and they jump into a cab to follow her. Dani and Will had been dumped together in Brazil, and here we see a bit of their current relationship. We also get a first look at Tiffany’s mind and motivations.
Each week, The Colorado Sun and Colorado Humanities & Center For The Book feature an excerpt from a Colorado book and an interview with the author. Explore the SunLit archives at coloradosun.com/sunlit.
Tell us about the creation of this book. What influences and/or experiences influenced the project before you sat down to write the book?
In the previous book, Tiffany was just a Denver student they were looking for. Now I had to flesh it out and make it a real person. I had thought about the paranoia of schizophrenics and how that could complicate a mystery. How would those trying to help him know if his perceptions were real or not?
Much research ensued. I read about schizophrenia. I have read first-hand accounts of those who have it. I read about current treatments and medications. I read about those who could live normal lives as long as they took their medication, and I read about those who were never quite normal – who never completely escaped the voices.
And once I had it written, I gave it to a doctor to read to make sure I wasn’t completely in left field. He gave me a boost but also gave me a few things to add – nervous tics to add to the realism of his condition.
Once you started writing, did the story take you in unexpected directions? If so, how would you describe the treatment of a narrative that seems to have a mind of its own?
It would take a brighter mind than mine to plot an entire book without surprises. I usually have a general idea – in this case, a traumatized sex trafficking victim with schizophrenia trying to prove a crime – and I start writing.
I guarantee I won’t keep everything I write, but everything I write will be valuable in finding out who this character is. And the characters are always the basis of my books. They absolutely form the story. It sometimes takes a while to get to know these characters. And sometimes what you think you know at first gets turned upside down as they reveal more to you.
I had side characters added for comic book relief who turned into major players, who then got their own book. That’s half the fun – finding out who they really are. There is an advantage to continuing a series with some of your previous characters; you don’t have to do this process with all of them.
What were the biggest challenges you faced or surprises you encountered while finishing this book?
I’ll let you in on a secret… writing a good mystery is hard work. I’ve written in a number of different genres, and I think mysteries require the most brain power.
All books need suspense in some form to keep a reader going, but work on clues that aren’t too obvious and keep the villain a secret until you want them revealed, without talking about solving all your problems is not a cakewalk. There’s nothing worse than the critic saying they figured it out too soon and nothing better than hearing, “I didn’t see that coming!”
Did the book raise questions or spark strong opinions among your readers? How did you address them?
The response so far has been really positive. It’s always risky to broach a subject like schizophrenia – eventually you’ll hear the “you’ve got it all wrong” criticism – but I hope readers will realize that there is a very wide range of symptoms and experiences around the world, and it’s okay if Tiffany’s experience is different from theirs.
Tell us about your writing process: where and how do you write?
I usually try to write every day, but for about six months I’ve also been working on illustrating a children’s book. Therefore, I paced myself with writing so that I could paint one illustration per week. There are two left!
Tell us about your favorite character in this book.
Tiffany enlists her IT tutor, Steve Elway, to help her prove her embezzlement allegations. Steve is based on an actual Steve I knew in college. Tiffany describes him as someone whose “reactions filled his whole body” and his expressions were like “reading Steve’s book”.
He’s so open and honest that he couldn’t keep a secret if he tried. And because he has an aunt with schizophrenia, he doesn’t care much about Tiffany’s condition. He not only agrees to help her, he even finds himself thinking about what a relationship with her would be like. Do they do it as a couple? You’ll have to read to find out!
Tell us about your next project.
The next book in this series, “Blue-Eyed Devil,” tells the continuing story of Justin Miranda, a prominent figure in “The Diamond Diva Vendetta,” and one of the men responsible for selling Tiffany to a Brazilian brothel. . It has a July 1 release date.
The book I’m illustrating is called “CATS” and will include 20 watercolor cat portraits. It will be released as JB Stockings, hopefully by the end of the summer.