Published this year, Bohl’s novel, “Fractured Republic,” told the fictional story of Anna Rothwell, chief of staff to a senior member of Congress. When the two-party system collapsed and Capitol Hill tried to regroup, Anna was thrust into an election in a volatile new America as her boss announced his bid for Speaker of the House. The story went inside Anna’s life behind the scenes of the fractured nation and examined the complex relationships between political rivals, staff members, and the country they tried to rebuild.
Bohl himself worked in Congress for nearly seven years, serving as chief of staff for U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler and U.S. Congressman Jason Smith. He now serves as director of public affairs and advocacy for the Missouri Farm Bureau.
“About a year ago I read an article about a local resident who had started writing in his spare time and had become really successful with it, and that really caught my eye,” Bohl told The Missouri Times. “It made me think about my own experiences and what I might be interested in writing about myself — because that had always been my favorite part of my job — and I thought it might be a really good creative outlet for me. I talked with my wife and friends and found out that a lot of people are interested in politics and wished they knew more about what really happens behind the scenes. That’s something I have a lot of experience with, so that’s what led me to ‘Fractured Republic.’”
Bohl said one of his goals in bringing readers into the world of the novel alongside Anna was to show how intricate and in-depth politics — and those who work in it — can be.
“When you have that much interaction with the staff and members, you really start to realize how complex normal human beings are, and that’s sometimes left out of a lot of fiction, unfortunately,” Bohl said. “I wanted to show that in the book to help readers realize that the people who are making these decisions are human beings who have complicated motives and reasons for doing things. They go home at night and they have friends or a family; they’re not a two-dimensional character.”
“All those things really influence their decision-making and can make it really complicated as to why they do what they do,” he continued. “The book was informed by my experiences, people that I’ve met and become friends with, and the way that they made choices. I wanted to convey that to the reader as well — to show that every decision that you make in politics is informed by everything you’ve experienced before. Nothing is as easy as what’s on the paper in front of you.”
Bohl’s novel included regular interjections from a fictional daily newsletter called “Quincy’s Whispers” that gave both the characters and the reader context into the political world. Bohl said the idea was to give a broader view of the situation as well as paying homage to real newsletters, such as The Missouri Times’ Whispering Gallery.
Bohl said more “Fractured Republic” projects will be appearing in the future.
“I had thought the pandemic would give me a lot of time to write the sequel, but that wasn’t the case,” Bohl said. He said he is working on a short prequel and plans to release a second installment later this year. He is at work on an audiobook version of the original novel as well.
“It’s odd to see your work in print and hear your words read aloud by a professional narrator, but it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m really enjoying the experience and I’m looking forward to what’s next.”
The book is available on Amazon or at fracturedrepublic.com.