IN MID 2013, Douglas Dodd approached me about working with him on a memoir. He’d been at the Coleman, Florida, Federal Correctional Complex’s low security prison for several years, but I’d never noticed him. Another inmate had told Dodd that I was writing guys’ stories and he wanted to talk with me.
“Bro,” said Dodd, “you’ve got to help me write a memoir.” We sat down sometime in September and he laid out his tale of high school wrestlers, turned oxycodone smugglers. It actually sounded like a fun story. A story that I’d like to read. A story I’d like to write. However, I’d just started writing a true crime story based on another inmate.
“Look, I like the story, but I’m busy. Maybe when I finish my current project, we’ll figure somethin’ out.”
Over the next six months he badgered me relentlessly to help him with the memoir. I’d never ever noticed him before, and now every time I turned around he was there. He started eating all his meals with me in the cafeteria and stopping by my housing unit to talk about the story. He wouldn’t go away. So in early 2014, I agreed to write a 6,000 to 7,000 word synopsis of his story and submit it to half a dozen true crime writers in the hope of getting his story into a national magazine.
“If I can get you into Rolling Stone, GQ, or…something,” I said, “I’ll help you with the manuscript.”
During the month it took to write the synopsis I fell in love with the unique, quirky characters that made up Dodd’s co-conspirators.
I mailed off copies to six contributing editors of national magazines. Two didn’t respond, three liked the story, but were busy with other projects. Then there was Guy Lawson. Initially, he only seemed semi-interested. Lawson wanted to publish the story on a blog, but I insisted it be published in a national magazine like Rolling Stone, GQ, Maxim, Playboy, etc.
Over the next several months while Lawson emailed Dodd and spoke to him on the phone I worked on the Oxy Rush manuscript. Months passed, and Dodd and I began to get impatient. Lawson kept telling us he was trying to figure out how to structure the piece, but the article, based on his interviews with Dodd, never materialized.
In October 2014, Dodd was released to a halfway house in Tampa, Florida. Shortly thereafter, Lawson requested he mail him the completed manuscript.
Within a month of receiving the memoir, Lawson had penned The Dukes of Oxy: How a band of hard-partying teenage wrestlers from Florida cashed in on an epidemic and built a multimillion-dollar OxyContin smuggling ring. Admittedly, Lawson wrote he’d “never before reported an article based on a manuscript, [Oxy Rush: From High School Wrestlers to Oxycodone Kingpins,] a tale written by a convicted drug dealer and a major mortgage fraud mastermind, both inmates in a federal facility in Florida…Doug Dodd and his writing partner, Matthew Cox…”
The story was featured in the April 23, 2015 issue of Rolling Stone. The article was subsequently optioned by Newline Cinema/Warner Brothers and is currently being developed into a major motion picture starring Ansel Elgort, from A Fault In Our Stars and the Divergent’s trilogy.