Laura Essay: Side Effects Are Minimal

Please welcome guest author Laura Essay, who will discuss her novel centered on the opioid crisis, and what inspired her to write Side Effects are Minimal, and how she created her main characters. She will explain why she hopes the novel will be a call to action. Over to you, Laura:

The Hidden Costs of the Opioid Crisis: Reflections

When I began writing Side Effects Are Minimal, I knew I was stepping into a narrative woven with deep personal and societal anguish. The opioid crisis has cast a long shadow over countless lives, leaving a trail of devastation that transcends demographics, touching everyone from CEOs to grandmothers. As I delved into the research and stories that would shape my novel, I was continuously reminded of the pressing need to shed light on this epidemic and the forces that sustain it.

My inspiration for this novel was born from the constant stream of news stories about opioid-related tragedies. Initially, I wondered if the media was exaggerating the issue, but the more I explored, the more I realized the grim reality: the opioid crisis is pervasive, relentless, and indiscriminate. It spares no one, and its repercussions are far-reaching. This realization fueled my determination to write a story that entertains, educates, and provokes thought.

At the heart of Side Effects Are Minimal is Claire Hewitt, an attorney grappling with a case that eerily echoes her past. Claire’s journey is deeply personal—her sister Molly’s death, likely linked to opioids, has haunted her for decades. This case forces Claire to confront her unresolved guilt and the harsh truths about an industry that prioritizes profit over people. As Claire navigates the legal battle on behalf of the Satori family, she embodies the struggle many face when seeking justice amidst powerful, obstructive forces.

Researching for this novel was both eye-opening and harrowing. The statistics were staggering: “85% of heroin addicts start with a legal medical prescription.” This fact alone underscores the depth of the crisis. Opioids, once reserved for acute post-operative care and cancer pain, have become a widespread solution for chronic pain, mainly due to misleading information and aggressive marketing. The shift from regulated use to widespread misuse has led to an epidemic our society is struggling to control.

In creating the character of Dr. Phil Wescott, I aimed to personify the corporate greed and negligence at the heart of the crisis. Wescott, an influential figure in the pharmaceutical industry, represents those who prioritize profit over ethical responsibility. His arrogance and deceit are a composite of the many real-life figures whose actions have exacerbated the epidemic. Claire’s battle against such a formidable opponent highlights the immense challenges faced by those who seek to hold these powerful entities accountable.

The Satori family, particularly Clifford Satori, adds another layer of complexity to the narrative. Their prominence and wealth contrast sharply with the typical portrayal of families affected by addiction, emphasizing that the opioid crisis does not discriminate. While understandable, Clifford’s thirst for revenge underscores the broader societal struggle between seeking justice and succumbing to vengeful desires. This delicate balance is a central theme in Claire’s journey and reflects the broader societal conflict.



Through Claire’s story, I wanted to emphasize the aftermath of addiction—the families, communities, and systems left to pick up the pieces. The novel begins after the addict’s death, focusing on those who must navigate the legal, emotional, and societal ramifications. This perspective shift is crucial in understanding the full scope of the opioid crisis.

One of my primary hopes for Side Effects Are Minimal is to spark meaningful dialogue. We need to talk about the opioid crisis openly and honestly, addressing not just the people with an addiction but also the systemic issues that allow such an epidemic to thrive. Accountability at every level is essential in combating this crisis.

Writing this novel was also a personal journey for me. As a mother and someone deeply invested in my community, I have seen firsthand the impact of addiction. My volunteer work with youth programs, assisting people experiencing homelessness, and supporting refugees has shown me the importance of compassion and support. Through my writing, I aim to extend that compassion to those affected by the opioid crisis, reminding them that they are not alone and that their struggles are seen and heard.

Side Effects Are Minimal is not just a story about the opioid crisis but a call to action. It is a reminder that this epidemic affects us all and that we all have a role to play. Whether through advocacy, education or simply supporting those in our communities, we can all contribute to the fight against this devastating epidemic.

I hope readers of my novel will walk away with a deeper understanding of the opioid crisis and a renewed sense of urgency to address it. This novel is a testament to the power of storytelling to illuminate critical issues and inspire change. Let us not disregard the suffering around us, but instead, confront it with empathy, determination, and a commitment to justice.

Laura Essay is a lawyer whose dedication to justice and compassion shines through in her debut novel, Side Effects Are Minimal. Laura attended the University of Nebraska and obtained a law degree with honors from Creighton University School of Law. A profound commitment to serving others shaped Laura’s professional journey. Her firsthand experience as an assistant attorney general equipped her with a deep understanding of pressing issues, particularly the opioid crisis gripping America. Beyond her legal and writing careers, she has tirelessly devoted herself to humanitarian efforts by extending aid to vulnerable populations. In her moments of respite, Laura finds solace in various pursuits, including cooking, music, running, and travel. For further information visit,




MIss Demeanors


Marni Graff is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. Her story “Quiche Alain” appears in the Anthony-winning Malice Domestic Anthology, Murder Most Edible.  Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press, she’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Triangle SinC, Mavens of Mayhem SinC, the NC Writers Network, and the International Crime Writers Association.


  1. Can I just first thank you for writing this book?
    Very important!
    Your thoughts on the Supreme Court ruling last week that the Sackler family would not be shielded from responsibility?

  2. Laura, thank you for stopping by Miss Demeanors–and let me echo Lane’s comment: Thank you for writing this book. We all know that fiction allows readers to enter a world they would never experience any other way. It also allows us to contemplate and clarify our thinking. We need this so badly. Thousands of our fellow citizens are falling victim to this cruel assault. We must deal with it now, and although we will never irradicate all danger, we can save lives if we’re willing to make some hard decisions.

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