Reading is about more than following a narrative or learning facts; it can also be a profound shared experience that culminates in a better understanding of ourselves and each other. In that spirit, welcome to the Westword Book Club, a weekly feature that celebrates the books that inspire Denver artists.
J.A. Kazimer is a Denver-based writer with a fascinating, wide-ranging set of skills and interests. The author of books with such disparate titles as SHANK, Holy Socks and Dirtier Demons and Froggy Style: A Fucked-Up Fairy Tale,, Kazimer has been uniquely influenced by the books she's read -- when she was finally able to read. This week, Westword sat down with Kazimer to discuss those books, dyslexia and her interesting work history.
See also: - Westword Book Club: donnie betts on reading from the bottom shelf of the library - Westword Book Club: Comedian Adrian Mesa on searching for spirituality - Noir @ the Bar celebrates red-meat fiction and remembers writer Cort McMeel
Westword: What do you typically like to read?
J.A. Kazimer: I read a lot, and I'll read almost everything. I really like genre fiction. I'm a big mystery buff. I'm currently revising and writing the first draft of a book, so I can't really read other people's stuff at the moment because I don't want to steal anyone's voice. The last book I read, though, was called Junkie Love, by Joe Clifford, which was pretty amazing crime fiction. It's pretty dark.
Can you describe some of the books you've written? I must be terrible at building my brand because I write anything from addiction or junkie fiction, to mystery, crime fiction, I have some urban fantasy, some satirical Jesus and God-related stuff, but the most popular books have been the Fucked Up Fairy Tales series. Which are just really wrong.
Fairy tales are already more fucked up than most people realize.
Totally. I love the Grimm's fairy tales, and I decided to just infuse them with my twelve-year-old boy humor. People really respond to fairy tale re-imaginings, on TV and movies now. You don't need to create a character organically anymore; you can just build variations on these archetypes, and comment on them through dirty jokes.
Have any books had a direct influence on what you do?
Books have had a ton of direct influence on my life and my decisions. I didn't read much growing up because I was dyslexic until I was eighteen. So the first series I picked up were like Sue Grafton novels, and reading those made me want to be a P.I So I became a P.I.
That's awesome. Please talk about being a private investigator.
I did it for four years. It is absolutely, positively not like it is in fiction.
No brassy dames with gams up to here?
No, none of that. I spent most my time following cheating husbands and tracking down missing persons. One time, do you remember that chick that knee-capped Nancy Kerrigan? Tonya Harding? I got to stalk her,which was kind of exciting. But there's no guns, no one shoots at you. It's mostly a lot of waiting, a lot of trying to figure out how to pee in a bottle when you're a girl. It's not pleasant.
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Really? No bathroom breaks?
Nope. That would blow your cover. I worked alone, too. Believe, it was always a last resort. It really was unpleasant. The first guy who hired me as an investigator made such a huge deal out of me peeing in bottles that I suspect he might have hired me to avoid being sued for sexual harassment.
Keep reading for more on Kazimer's career as a P.I.