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Author Went Underground To Write 'Lowboy'

Lowboy has a plan to save the Earth from global warming: He will cool the planet by losing his virginity on the New York City subway. The idea may seem far-fetched, but not to Lowboy. He is a 16-year-old schizophrenic who has recently escaped from a mental hospital.

The novel, by author John Wray, is a psychological thriller that unfolds over the course of a day. Lowboy tries to carry out his plan before his mother and a detective named Ali Lateef can stop him. Vivid scenes of Lowboy's reality and psychosis play out in subway cars, tunnels and even in the underground chambers that are covered by sidewalk grates.

Wray says he researched the novel "like an overeager method actor." He spent nearly a week in a hospital psych ward observing patients. He also did much of his writing on the subway, where he encountered many passengers living with mental illness. Wray says riding the rails and writing was not always the most pleasant experience, but it fostered a "low-level paranoia" that helped him capture the thoughts of a schizophrenic teenager.

Wray paints a multidimensional portrait of Lowboy. Delusions aside, he is a pretty normal teenager. He's awkward, funny and full of angst. Wray admits he has what he considers a rather naive hope — that after readers finish his novel, they'll have a more "human perspective" on schizophrenia.

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