Drug Noir and the Collision of Selfish Motives


April 28, 2015


The world of drug addiction and alcoholism fascinates me. It consistently generates drama, pathos, irony, and personal stories stranger than the edgiest fiction. My experience indicates that some growth and distance from active addiction is useful in finding a place of compassion and sensible reflection regarding the ordeal of dependence on substances.
In my book, Down Solo, the protagonist is a down-on-his luck insurance investigator named Charlie Miner. He’s a been addicted to heroin for years, and as a result of an exotic addiction-cure gone askew, he now occupies a strange existential niche—he’s technically expired as a human but is still able to walk around and interact with people. Now, except for the fact that dead people generally can’t do this, the novel is otherwise a fairly straightforward noir mystery.
The thing about exploring the world of addiction as a novelist is that it is already so strange and, in a creepy way, exotic, that a writer’s job is less to create outlandish scenes and make them believable and more about following the logic of the addicted mind. And because the addicted mind seeks kindred spirits, we find ourselves in an alternative universe, one in which even the best intentions—and there aren’t many—have disastrous outcomes. When nearly every character is single-mindedly trying to advance his or her own self-interest with no regard for the effect on anyone else, interesting collisions are bound to take place.
Ultimately, fiction, like life, is all about choices. The concept of free will has been discussed for centuries, and now it’s becoming even more complicated by new findings in neuroscience, new theories of consciousness, and the spectrum of opinions about the human spirit in terms of recovery, grace, and individual responsibility. I hope to explore these in the future.
Thanks for visiting and welcome to the conversation!

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  • arthur margain on May 6, 2015

    Well said, as you know, I also have known a few people to dabble in addiction, more dabble than not. My experience is that sadly enough many never made it to self reflection for a significant amount of time. With that being said, you deserve only the best…….

  • skierpage on May 11, 2015

    “[Addiction] consistently generates drama, pathos, irony, and personal stories stranger than the edgiest fiction.”

    Sounds great, where can I get some heroin? Society’s greatest acclaim goes to the brave ones who venture into that dark world and make it out alive. Meanwhile anyone who stays on the straight and narrow is… straight, dull, and narrow.

    It’s not the writer’s job to fix this, but it’s a big part of the allure. Anyway, I really enjoyed Down Solo!

  • Paul Simmons on June 25, 2015

    In fiction, addiction is a convenient plot device for lazy writers, which is why all my characters have Tourettes.

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