Thursday, March 28, 2013


How I Wrote Dope Sick: A Love Story
By J.A. Kazimer

Dope Sick: A Love Story started off with one thing—A simple mix-tape (Yes, I’m that old that it was an actual tape. For those who don’t know what a tape is, bite me). A mix-tape given to me by my boyfriend at the time. From that tape I should’ve realized our relationship, as well as many others since, was doomed. You see, the tape held a single song that defines me—Tainted Love.
While that defining moment and song didn’t kick start the book immediately, it did explain my odd obsession with Sid & Nancy, which was the first plot for Dope Sick: A Love Story. The relationship between Sid and Nancy fascinated me. Fueled by fame, drugs, violence and love their recklessness ended with Nancy’s murder, and Sid’s suicide by heroin overdose. But it wasn’t their terrible fate that drew me, but rather the way in which the loss of two lovers, so tragically, seals their romance. Why? What makes tragic death equal everlasting, true love?
Take Romeo and Juliet, if Romeo would’ve bothered to try CPR when he finds Juliet’s body, would the two star-crossed lovers be quite as star-crossed after ten years of marriage and three kids, or would they argue over money and bicker over the remote like most couples? But because Juliet and Romeo both suffered from stupidity, their love story has lasted since 1594.
With my twisted view of what is love, I started writing Dope Sick: A Love Story. My protagonist, Colin Wilde, fell in love at a very young age, but his true love, the needle, eventually left him a junkie. Following the death of his mother, Colin begins his dance with heroin as his music career begins to takeoff. Living it up like Sid Vicious, Colin meets and soon marries Lisa, his Nancy. A few years after their ‘I Do’s’ Lisa is dead, murdered, and Colin is the prime suspect. His record company quickly drops the heavily addicted rockstar as accusations swell. Soon Colin is left with nothing but his one true love, until heroin also betrays him, leaving him dying on a bathroom floor.
And this is where the story both ends and starts, after I refused to fall into the Love Story trap of star-crossed lovers and their incredibly stupid deaths. I decided to forget writing the next Sid and Nancy story and focus on what happened if Sid didn’t die.
With that, I also wanted to explore what it means to an addict to be clean. To wake up every morning, either facing the need for the needle or burying the desire until it fades to nothing. For those who’ve never experienced the pull of the needle, if you ever smoked cigarettes, it’s a similar question. Ask a former smoker, one who stopped years ago, do you miss smoking? Some will say no. They haven’t thought about it in years. Others, like me, will wake up every morning longing for what we can no longer risk.
Therefore the new opening of Dope Sick: A Love Story restarts with Colin Wilde, clean for two years and ready to return to both the world of music and the living after a self-imposed exile following his wife’s murder. What follows is Colin’s struggle to stay clean in the midst of a drug-riddled music industry while seeking the truth about his wife’s murder with the help of Zoe, a woman who just might turn his love story back into a tragedy.
And the rambling mess above is exactly why no one should ever ask a writer, “How’d you write….”

J.A. Kazimer is a writer living in Denver, CO. Novels include CURSES! A F***ed-Up Fairy Tale, Holy Socks & Dirtier Demons, Dope Sick: A Love Story, SHANK and Froggy Style. J.A. spent years spilling drinks as a bartender and then stalked people working as a private investigator. Visit: or


Charles Gramlich said...

I worked the addiction theme in my book "Under the Ember Star," the first time I've really dealt with it. I don't know how I did but hopefully captured some of the sense of it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm always interested in a story that's been inspired by music! Music is a big part of my life, too, so I can see how that tape would have started this whole thing. Thanks for sharing.