Author Visit to English Departments/Libraries
From America’s Toughest Jail to Author
Shaun’s presentation will:
Inspire students with an amazing true story
Increase your students’ enthusiasm for reading and writing
Allow your students to meet an author popular among young people and to question Shaun about his work
Provide an opportunity to generate positive publicity for your school
Shaun Attwood's story is that of an author born from harsh jail conditions. Writing saved Shaun’s sanity, and sent his life in a whole new positive direction.
In the jail with the highest rate of death in America, Shaun used a tiny pencil sharpened on a cell door to document the human rights violations: dead rats in the food, cockroaches crawling in his ears ar night... His writing – smuggled out of the jail, and posted as the blog, Jon’s Jail Journal – was published in The Guardian, the BBC, and turned the international media spotlight on the conditions.
After graduating from university with a business degree, Shaun moved to Arizona as a penniless student, where he became a top-producing stockbroker and then a millionaire day trader during the dot.com bubble.
But he also led a double life. An early fan of the rave scene, Shaun threw raves and distributed Ecstasy. On May 16th 2002, a SWAT team knocked his door down.
Prior to his arrest, Shaun never read novels. After being told reading would improve his writing, Shaun submerged himself in literature – reading over 1000 books, including many classics – during almost 6 years inside.
Shaun’s book, Hard Time, was published by Mainstream, a division of Random House.
Structure of the one-hour talk:
How Shaun ended up in jail and the conditions (with PowerPoint images).
How in an environment where guards and gang members were murdering inmates, Shaun risked his safety to start the first prison blog, Jon’s Jail Journal.
Shaun’s eight year struggle to become a published author.
How Shaun’s writing evolved over the years. How reading influenced Shaun’s writing and his literary preferences: Tolstoy, Chekhov, Flaubert…
Promoting a book as an author, the post-publication experience and movie possibilities.
Questions and answers
PowerPoint images are used to show the jail conditions and some of the prisoners Shaun features at Jon’s Jail Journal. Student volunteer readers assisting the presentation have the option to wear actual jail outfits flown over from America. Shaun can bring books for sale, and sign them.
Shaun works for The McLellan Practice of Harley Street, who provide the highest quality speakers to schools. The audience sizes range from hundreds in year groups to dozens in a classroom. Shaun pitches the talk depending upon the age group. He can vary the length of the talk to suit your school timetable, or do multiple talks on the same day. Shaun has an enhanced CRB.
From Shaun's original prison notes on books he read. The highest rating is 3 1/2 stars.