Usually fairy tales start with a beautiful princess waiting for Prince Charming to whisk them away. But in the new book CURSES! A F***ed Up Fairy Tale, Julie Kazimer takes a different approach — Cinderella gets hit by a bus on page two.
Left with the mission of discovering the mysterious circumstances behind her sister’s death, Asia, Cinderella’s “not-so ugly” stepsister, hires the evil private investigator RJ, who is on a mental health leave from the Villain’s Union. The book takes place in New Never City, what would be present-day New York City, where Peter Piper is a homeless flute player and the Big Bad Wolf is diagnosed with a nasty case of pig-induced asthma.
Denver-based Kazimer describes CURSES! as a mystery with lots of humor in it — a cross between Shrek and Roger Rabbit. In the book, out March 1, she explores the fine line between good and evil.
“I wanted to write about the grey areas,” Kazimer says. “My character is a villain, but that’s not his heart. Fairy tales tell people there’s only black and white, but I wanted to dig deeper.”
Fairy tales have interested Kazimer ever since she was a little girl reading Cinderella over and over. She also takes some of her inspiration from the classic Brother Grimm’s fairy tales, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year.
While not all of her books are as magical as CURSES!, they all feature her distorted sense of humor, including her short stories “Honey is that a Dead Hooker Under our Bed?” or “Excuse Me, But there’s a Kidney in my Soup.” Her last book, The Body Dwellers, features a half-mutant, half-human heroine who protects her modified race while wearing pink combat boots. With her quirky novels, it’s not surprising she cites the eccentric author Christopher Moore as her biggest literary hero.
Fully-aware of her twisted style, Kazimer is the first to admit that her books are not for everyone.
“I wouldn’t want my 80-year-old grandma or my 8-year-old nephew reading them,” she says. “You’re either going to love them or hate them.”
Writing wasn’t always Kazimer’s plan. She received a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology, and while pursuing her master’s degree in forensic psychology, Kazimer worked as a private investigator.
“I wanted to go work for the FBI; however, once I got through my degree I realized it wasn’t the right choice for me,” she says.
But, even though Kazimer tried attending art school, she said she never felt like a creative person. She never attempted writing until 2001.
“When I watched the Twin Towers fall I was so upset and wasn’t sure how to process it, so I just started to write,” Kazimer says.
She started coping with her emotions by making lists of how many people had died or of all the medals that were awarded. That process slowly evolved into writing short stories and then novels.
Today, she works with finance and registration for Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program and writes in her free time.
Despite her twisted writing style, Kazimer says she’s a fan of classic fairy tale endings.
“Everything I write has to have a happily ever after, I’m a sucker for the wonderful last kiss, ride off into the sunset, happily ever ending,” she says. “There’s enough ugly in the world so why can’t I end everything happily ever after?”