from NexGenInk, September 24, 2015

Author Dustin Costa is in his eleventh year of a ten year sentence for marijuana manufacture and distribution. He got the mandatory minimum of ten years for the marijuana charges. Tack on an additional five years consecutive mandatory minimum for the legally purchased and registered shotgun he kept in his home. His total sentence comes to fifteen years. With good time, Costa will be released in September of 2018. What is striking about his case is that he was a medical marijuana caregiver, legal in California at the time of his arrest. Was he really legal? Judge Anthony Ishii, the federal judge in his trial said so.  At least under State law. Unfortunately for Costa, State law is superseded by Federal law, and under Federal law there is no such thing as legal marijuana. 

Costa says he is not bitter, just peeved.  He is quick to point out that in prison you have a choice to either do your time in a productive way or not. His choice was to take advantage of his extended time out from freedom and the pursuit of happiness to write his first novel, “Squirrel Days.” It has just been released on

Squirrel Days is Costa’s take on the War on Drugs, from what he terms “a squirrels perspective…it’s the only way to do Uncle Sam justice.” He calls the War on Drugs one of the most insanely destructive campaigns America has ever undertaken. And true to the image the title evokes, it is mostly fun, sometimes horrific, and is always entertaining. According to early reviews, it could also be a bestseller.

True crime author John Lee Brook calls Costa “A cross between William Gibson, Elmore Leonard and Mad Max on steroids … fodder for Hollywood … an important book.” reviewer Anthony Tinsman says, “If reading Squirrel Days doesn’t make you pee your pants, you must be dehydrated.”  Early comments from readers who’ve purchased the book on range from “Never has the dystopian novel been such a rollicking good time.” to “five stars.”

See for yourself. September 21 through October 4, Squirrel Days for Kindle will be just 99¢. Check out what other readers say about Squirrel Days on Amazon and GoodReads.

Squirrel Days was a long time coming. It began its gestation 30 years ago when Costa was writing a political satire column for a now extinct weekly newspaper in the Sierras. It wasn’t until he came to prison that he found the time, and desire, to finish it.  As he wrote draft after draft of Squirrel Days, he became aware that there is a large number of hopeful prison authors. By his estimate, about one percent of all prisoners write at least one novel while they are incarcerated. He also noticed that few of them are published. He believes that many of these authors would be published if only they had sufficient logistical support. Support like coaching, transcription of handwritten manuscripts, editing, marketing and a publisher that understands and is sympathetic to the challenges prison authors face.

Squirrel Days offers a new type of reading experience designed to not only entertain readers, but to make them think.  Squirrel Days is released and marketed by NexGenInk Books; available through and on Kindle.

The Autumn 2015 O’Shaughnessy’s will include a dispatch from Costa in prison in Florence, Colorado.