San Franciscans who spend any time around 6th or 7th and Market are no strangers to schizophrenia. Lowboy is a new novel that centers on a young man living with the disease who rides the New York City subway believing he holds the key to saving the earth from overheating, and it has something to do with meeting a girl. John Wray, the author of Lowboy -- his third and much buzzed-about novel -- is giving three Bay Area readings this week, including one tonight at Book Passage at the Ferry Building, and one tomorrow night at Diesel Bookstore in Oakland. He sat down with SFist for a few questions (via email).

SFist: What inspired you to write about a schizophrenic, and what research, if any, went into your portrayal of Will Heller/Lowboy?

John Wray: It's hard to say what inspires a given book. I had a friend, growing up, who developed symptoms similar to Lowboy's, but I don't think that's why I wrote the novel. I just saw some kind of possibility there.

As far as research goes, I go about it in the standard painfully boring way, and then, at some point, cut the cord and actually start having some fun. I developed the following M.O. while writing my first book, The Right Hand of Sleep: gather information assiduously until the magical moment when you find that you feel comfortable making stuff up. Then you can really begin.