01 Sep 08

First Prize Koestler/Hamish Hamilton Award

Last Thursday, I received a call from London that made my day. The caller said I’d won the first prize in the annual Koestler Awards short story fiction category for my entry “Amazing Grace.” It’s a Hamish Hamilton Award and the judges were staff from the publishing company Random House.
Erwin James, a lifer who became an author and journalist, won first prize in the annual Koestler Awards for prose in 1995. While in prison, I enjoyed his book A Life Inside.

“Amazing Grace” is a story I wrote while at Tucson prison about the conflict between a youngster and a “shit slinger.” It’s set in the Violence Control Unit, which houses the most dangerous prisoners and is far worse than the hole

A lady at The Koestler Trust said I now qualify for a program financed by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation whereby a professional author can mentor me. She also invited me to be guest at this year's Koestler Exhibition at the Southbank Centre on the ground floor of the Royal Festival Hall in London. Admission is free, and the festival runs from 27 September to 8 November. I expect to be there in October. I’ll post the dates when I know exactly. Perhaps I’ll get to do my first reading there.

I also received tragic news from London last week. My literary agent died of ovarian cancer. She was only in her early forties. It’s hard to believe I was drinking wine with her last Christmas, toasting our future success together, and now she’s gone. She helped mature my prose, and while I was in prison, her and my sister, Karen, worked hard on a book based on Jon's Jail Journal for almost three years. She had intended to introduce that book to publishers at the London Book Fair last April, but she became ill just before it.

Meanwhile, I continue to work feverishly on my autobiography. Chapter 1 starts with the authorities smashing my door down. I’ve divided the story into two threads. The odd chapters are about my arrest and journey through Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail system prior to the blog, the dangers and characters I met along the way, and how incarceration led to introspection and personal development. The even chapters cover how I went from a penniless illegal alien to award-winning stockbroker to running a rave empire that went up against the Ecstasy ring run by the Mafia underboss, Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, whose gang tried to kidnap me.
I’ve had no professional help with the autobiography. I've recently polished some chapters up to send to publishers and literary agents in America, perhaps the best home for my story.

Email comments to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below

2008 Shaun P. Attwood


Anonymous said...

that is awesome my friend !! i knew you would make it !!!! I am PROUD OF YOU !!

Love you my friend

Barry in Tonopah

Anonymous said...


Everything serves a purpose.

Keep creating boxes in your mind - place in the box what you wish to create - then leave it to Geeohdee.

Love from Zen ;-)

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT!!!! Let me know when you get a book published. Can you email me a copy of the story? I'd love to read it. Also Pee Tested, don't think I read that one.-- Ed

Jon said...


The only short story of mine available online is "Pee Tested" and it is here:


It's thanks to my friend Jack, a lifer who is never getting out, that I started writing short stories in the first place. He badgered me into entering the 75th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, and I was in a happy state of shock when I won, out of almost twenty-thousand entries, an Honorable Mention for "Pee Tested."

So big cheers and appreciation to Jack at Tucson prison!

Shaun Attwood

Anonymous said...

I will be forever proud to know you , and to call you my friend !


Anonymous said...

Congratulations goooo....

I have known from day one that you have unlimited potential and that what ever you set your mind on to achieve, you will achieve.

Congratulations guy.....I am very happy for you...

Guy Goo

Anonymous said...


Well done thats excellent and great for confidence too I am sure. How many words was 'short' for the short story?


Jon said...


The word count is 3776.


Anonymous said...

That’s wonderful Blindman, Congratulations!!!! I mean I’m not surprised honestly your writing genuinely is outstanding, I’m not one to blow smoke up peoples asses (well not anymore and it was a weird time back then I needed the money…ahhhh =D forget I said anything ) but in all seriousness you have developed in to quite the literary talent. Your works that I’ve read have always shared the same qualities, such evocative imagery and brutal honesty it’s always kept me eager to read more. You justly earned the honor they’ve bestowed upon you, you’ve always had a superior intellect but over the years you spent confined you truly honed your skills and transformed yourself into a gifted author you whole heartedly deserve that award. They tried to put you in the dark and break you, so you just became the star and shined. Congrats again, I wish you nothing but the best in all of your future in devoirs and may the sun that shines on you now follow you ‘til the end of days.


Anonymous said...

Hi Shaun

Wow, that's brilliant! Well done, you must be really pleased. I'll look forward to reading it, and the next installment of your novel. Do you know who will be your mentor yet?

Guida x

Jon said...


I do not know who will be my mentor yet. I have to fill out the application forms this week.


Anonymous said...

Hey Shaun, congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I could tell you were a great writer, sadly, I dont read much anymore. So you got it in the Fiction cat, right? But you pulled it from real life? or was it total fiction?

Im sorry about your agent, shocked me, and I didnt even know her. What a sad way to leave, so soon. You wil have to live FOR her now. She would be so proud.

I hope you get an author to mentor with, a really great one, and write an award winner!!!!!!!!!! So proud of you.
Sincerely, Augst~

Anonymous said...

very very cool. congratulations. I'm glad we met.

Thank you for sharing with me and the world.

My condolences for the passing of your agent/friend. I am sure she will keep watch over you and still be your guide.


...health advocate...medical cannabis activist...California qualified patient identification provider


(link to my service blog)

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry to hear about your literary agent. i have a very dear friend that battled and won the same illness, but it's a tough journey still for her.
i am, however, also happy for your new success. i was just @ southbank for the meltdown festival not that long ago (and pine away for it daily) london has been the site for some of my happiest memories. i hope it becomes so for you as well.
my wishes for your continued success

Anonymous said...


Brilliant news on the book! That's wonderful (I actually have a little tear in my eye!).

I'm so sorry about your agent (another tear).......my heart goes out not only to you but to her family and friends.
Make her proud, Shaun. We know you'll make us, the dedicated readers of your blog proud :)

*pats you on the back*

P.S. Hull is still as crap as it always was ;)

Anonymous said...

wow shaun im so proud of you!! thats awesome!! congratulations!! youve come a long way brother and its nice to see your doing ok-take care of yourself and maybe you can come visit sometime? :)


Anonymous said...

Really great news Shaun, I've enjoyed that story the very first time you send it to me.

I'm very please to hear this. Thanks for sharing.

It's incredible!!!!

Cat Eyes x

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Would love to read it all. When are you going to publish it? Rita [Riot Grrrl] xx

Anonymous said...

Shaun: Time marches on - and so does Shaun Attwood. Excellent news! I'm sure a real picker-upper, which is what most writers need, as one toils without acclaim, monetary or otherwise, for much of the time. When I eventually make it to the UK to visit my Nigerian family friends and you, I will expect that the butler will indeed let me in, and your appointment secretary will award me a few minutes with you. Perhaps as long I am entertaining, I will be allowed to stay, but once I wear thin, the door will be shown to me. I'll tell Shannon about your good news. BTW, our class ends very soon. For the most part, a good experience. Dr.S

Anonymous said...


Sue Scam

Anonymous said...

Shaun, I am SO PROUD of you, way to go! :)

So where can we read the story?


Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!!!!Omedeto!!!!!!!("Congratulations" in Japanese)Wow, you've got an award of your story!!!!!!Sugoi!!!!!!!!!!(Means, "great", "amazing", in Japanese!!)I'm glad to hear about that!!!!!! Hope this leads to your success toward a greater writer for you!!!!


Anonymous said...

Congrats john - I am getting envious! Did you try the Writer's Market? > Huge> book, costs about $50 - it lists every book and magazine publisher in the> U.S., as well as agents, including those willing to take a writer on > without> charging them a fee (the writer gets paid; he (she) never pays a fee, is > an> adage I learned long ago about the publishing world.) They might have a> British version of WM, don't know.> -- > Ed

Anonymous said...

"CONGRATULATIONS!! That is wonderful, exciting news and very well deserved!! Everything that you have been through--you still landed on top and your spiritual growth has advanced to an impressive degree. I will always support you and, of course, be your friend (regardless of whatever may happen...past, present, and future) I could go into the Buddhist way of seeing time, but you already know what I mean...so I will keep it simple...hee hee!!

Talk to u soon!! Take Care. Have a wonderful day and a beautiful evening!!~"

Blue Lady

Prisstopolis said...

"Tempe Police Department! We have a warrant for your arrest! Open the door immediately!"

I'm a long-time fan of your journal, the book sounds very exciting. Here is a suggestion about the very first line. When English authors quote American speakers, sometimes there are subtleties of word choice or word placement in a sentence that make the American characters sound English too. I realize that this is autobiographical and that you are going on real memories, so that may have what they said, or they may have said "now." My point is, this is an aspect of book-editing that can sometimes be overlooked.

Anonymous said...

"good for you shaun keep up the good writing and letting everyone read what you have and for helping everyone be heard you are one in a million Deana"

Chris H said...


You go Big Dawg!

I love you man!

Hugs and Kisses,

Chris H

Anonymous said...

Hello Shaun,

Hope you are OK mate. Congratulations on winning your prize.

I am in Valencia now so if you every in this part of the world let me know..

Please pass on my warmest regards to your Mum and Dad also…I always sent them an e/m around Christmas time.

Best Wishes

Ian (…ex of Liverpool)

Anonymous said...

hey brother...love the writing and miss you ....hope all is well....peace and love...The Good Rev