During a late-night shopping trip with Carrie, standing in front of the life-sized cardboard figure of Christian Bale dressed in a bat suit that was hawking DVD and Blu-ray copies of The Dark Knight Rises, I was reminded that I’d never have pegged Javacia Harris Bowser as a superhero fan.
I told her as much one morning last summer when she stopped in at the club for a strawberry smoothie. The final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy had just opened, and the founder of See Jane Write chided me for not having seen it yet.
“I didn’t like The Dark Knight at all, so I don’t really have high hopes for Rises,” I said.
Javacia looked at me as if I’d just stuffed a puppy into a Cuisinart. “How. Could. You. Not. Like. The. Dark. Knight.”
“Hated the story. Too dark.”
“That’s what’s great about Nolan’s Batman. He’s so dark. I love it. He is completely human. He doesn’t have any special powers. He’s just a man driven by trying to seek justice.”
At that time, Javacia had already seen the film twice, helping it gross more than a billion bucks in worldwide box office receipts and earn a spot among the top 10 all-time highest-grossing movies. It’s expected to be a top-seller as a home media release.
“It far exceeded my expectations,” Javacia said. “I had my doubts about Bane. I thought he’d be a terribly boring villain, but I was wrong. I walk around my apartment quoting him all day long.”
“Yes. I even try to sound like him, and yes, I know I need help.”
“Absolutely perfect. She knocked my socks off. I love that she wasn’t some stock sex kitten or whore-with-a-heart-of-gold character. She was complicated, quick-witted, intelligent and complex.”
The same adjectives describe Javacia just as well. An early achiever with an aptitude for formal and physical sciences with a particular interest in chemistry, she realized she wanted to be a writer at age seven and was soon composing poems and plotting short stories.
These days, she teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and writes what she describes as creative non-fiction. She organized See Jane Write, a successful group for local women writers, last year and encouraged its members to Blog Like Crazy during November, with entertaining and informative results from such Magic City bloggers as Erin Shaw Street, Clair McLafferty, Tanya Sylvan, and Sherri Ross.
“We had 14 at our first meeting,” she recalled. “That sounds so small now when we have 50 or 60 at our events. I think it’s funny that some people think See Jane Write is a non-profit organization run by a board. I tell them, ‘No, it’s just me.’ They always ask, ‘Where do you get your funding?” and I always say, ‘From my Hello Kitty wallet.’”
“Who are the writers you most admire?” I asked.
“One of my favorites these days is Anne Lamott, but I started writing because of Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Zora Neale Hurston. This is a bit ironic since I don’t really write poetry or fiction anymore, but the works of these women helped me find my voice and gave me the courage to let it be heard.”
“That’s sort of what you’re trying to help others do through See Jane Write, isn’t it?”
“It is, but that putting it that way sounds a bit grandiose. A lot of us want to use our free time to write, but it’s really hard to do that when you don’t have the contacts to freelance. It helps when you have a community of writers around you, and I thought it would be great to have one specifically for women. I love women. I think we’re awesome.”
Javacia sipped smoothie before adding, “No offense.”
I smiled. “None taken. Where do you do your best writing?”
“If I’m inspired I can write anywhere – my apartment, a coffee shop, at the gym waiting for an aerobics class to start, in the stall of a public restroom, anywhere.”
Trying to dismiss the image of Javacia scribbling in black marker on a ladies’ room wall, I asked, “Having named the writers whose work you admire, what’s guilty-pleasure reading for you?”
“Young adult literature, especially The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and The Carrie Diaries books by Candace Bushnell. They’re a prequel to Sex and the City. I also love the Sex and the City movies and even the soundtracks. In my head I’m the black Carrie Bradshaw of the South.”
“I imagine you’d also consider superhero movies guilty pleasures?”
“Oh, sure. I’m a big nerd and very proud of it. That’s actually why I’m not a fan of Spider-Man. Peter Parker is too nerdy for me. I don’t think people are actually that nerdy. I went to a nerd high school, and I teach at a nerd high school. I know nerds. Nerds are cool people.”
Javacia smiled, cupped her smoothie in both hands, slumped back into her chair, and looked thoughtfully at the ceiling.
“I dream of being an Omega class telepath like Professor Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, of the X-Men. This means I could read minds, project my thoughts into the minds of others, create illusions in the minds of others, and even control other people’s wills and memories.”
“And you would use this power for good, of course.”
She winked and took another sip of smoothie.