Email from a Guard

I received this heartwarming email from an officer who read Hard Time and now relates to prisoners in a more positive way:

I am a judicial marshal for the state of Connecticut in the US far north of where you spent you time over here. Unlike most other states we work for the court house and are in charge of safety for the court house and transport from jails and prisons for court dates. We don't work for the jails/prisons or a police force we just deal with the court house. I came across hard time last week on Amazon and I read it in two days. As soon as I was done I had to buy prison time to finish your story. I must say it's an absolute nightmare but it's crazy intriguing and I just can't put it down. Within a week I will have both done and then play catch up and read party time. I started my job when I was 19 and thankfully I got taken under the wing of a few senior marshals that had great heads on their shoulders and aren't the type to fight everyday. I don't work in a prison or jail but I deal with inmates on a daily basis on my transport truck. Reading your book it makes me sick how some of the officers you deal with treated people. I understand that yes some on the people I deal with are 100% monsters but most are people who made mistakes or people who didn't have family structure to help guild them through a life without crime. I also understand that I am one mistake away from ending up right where they are. I made mistakes as a kid with drugs and minor criminal activity and had to spend a few nights in lockup because of it. I just want you to know that I read your book and now understand the mindset of someone who is locked up a little bit better. I also hope I know understand enough to maybe offer a kind word rather then a quick smart ass remark. We aren't all bad some of us do care. I know you don't think we are all bad but I just wanted to tell you that your book will help me interact with inmates on a much deeper level. Also most of the reading was done in a lock up and I was sharing stories with co-workers in hopes they will read your books a well. My goal of to keep everyone safe and go home to my wife and son at the end of the day. I would love to tell you we are all good people but we both know that's a lie lol. I definitely work with assholes who want to fight to prove that  they are tough but in the grand scheme that means nothing. Attacking an inmate when it's 5 on 1 makes you a coward not a tough guy.

Thank you for writing your journey through blogs and books.

Keep up the good work.

From T-Bone (Letter 68)

T-Bone is a massively-built spiritual ex-Marine, who uses fighting skills to stop prison rape. T-Bone’s latest letter from Arizona prison:

I had to write this letter even though these people are reading my mail to you. So check this out, as you know, there’s a serious drug problem in places like this. How crazy people get from and for it, especially Spice. That is some nasty stuff! They make the chemicals in China. I swear it has sexual chemicals sprayed on it. The prisoners smoke it. Well, they have a prison channel and they play this infomercial 24 hours a day about “The Dangers of Spice,” but it doesn’t make a difference to people who want to sell it and smoke it.


This guy by the name of L got to smoking it out on the recreation field. He fell head first in the hot sand and then he got to fighting the air. He was hearing and seeing things that weren’t even there. He was talking to demons, I believe. He’s a good-sized guy and everyone, and I mean everyone, was scared of him.

I couldn’t just stand there and let the man embarrass himself anymore, so I asked the Lord for help, and walked up and hugged the man. His eyes were open, but he was possessed. I held onto him. He’s a hard man. He stood there with his mind on something far away (something was in him). He was sweating and his muscles were twitching from head to toe, like the wind was blowing under his skin. I got scared for a moment, and he sensed it and started holding on tighter, but God calmed me and out of nowhere came medical personal who put him on a gurney and took him to Medical.

Prisoner on Spice

I went on to my cell and prayed and out of nowhere three buttholes who like to see things in a negative way, they stated that I was making it hot for them. I laughed and told them to leave before things got serious. The one who considered himself to be the leader called me a “stupid nigger.”

I kicked him in the knee and wham-wham-boom! I hit him three times. He was out. To my surprise, some guys came to support me. They knew what had happened to L was wrong.
The leader came back after he had woken up. His so-called homeboys put him up to it. He wasn’t ready, but he tried. I grabbed him and put him in a chokehold. He tapped my arm real quick and I told him to let it go and to grow up. His people ran off the yard.

There are always guys falling out from that stuff who know better, but they have to have it. I feel no sorrow for any of them because they are allowing a way of thinking that’s become a culture. Now, they go around giving hot ones (butt-kicking) to people falling out from smoking Spice.

The guy I had to deal with, his nickname is “Infant.” Does that say it all or what? I hope he changes his name because his nickname is without a doubt for a kid. Ha ha! I had to throw that one at you! Can you believe I was making it hot, because I helped a guy who had fallen out on the rec field? Wow! It’s hard to believe, but people do think like that. I’ve put everything in God’s hands, so please continue to pray for me.

Each one
Teach one
Strength and Honor
Steel Embrace


Shaun Attwood  

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is Now a Convicted Criminal

Arpaio's karma finally caught up with him today. Read more here.

A New Adventure (Part 20)

Approaching the anniversary of my ten-year release from prison, I’m pleased to announce the publication of my eighth book over that period. The Cali Cartel: Beyond Narcos is now available worldwide on Amazon as a paperback and an e-book here. The audiobook will be available within two weeks. If you live in the USA, you have a chance to win a copy of the paperback for free at this Amazon giveaway. The Cali Cartel took over Pablo Escobar’s cocaine business, and the book includes the war between the cartels. Here’s the Narcos trailer introducing Gilberto – the head of the Cali Cartel – as the new super-villain for Narcos Season 3.

For my long-term blog readers, the only Arizona prisoner I still get letters consistently from is T-Bone, a former US Marine who uses his fighting skills to stop prison rape. His harrowing accounts of Arizona prison life can be read at my blog here.

My YouTube channel subscribers have risen. I should be over 10,000 by the end of the year. I’ve set up a prison questions playlist. If you have any prison questions you’d like to see me make a video about, please add them to the YouTube comments or email them to me at

Sales are starting to rise for my book American Made on the back of the imminent release of the Tom Cruise movie American Made. The action-packed trailer about the CIA’s cocaine smuggling pilot Barry Seal is here, but from watching it, I can tell that the movie has whitewashed Barry’s story to make it US government friendly – just like Narcos is told from the DEA’s perspective. The DEA agents threatened to pull out of Narcos if Pablo Escobar’s son was allowed to contribute.

I’m just finishing the final book in my War on Drugs series, We Are Being Lied To, which hopefully should be published by the end of the year.

In August, I have three talks in London. Tickets and further info.

2 FREE Audiobook Giveaways

Audiobook Giveaway 1
If you’d like a free audiobook of American Made about the CIA drug smuggler Barry Seal, I have some Amazon codes to give away, so just email me your request and state your country at  

Audiobook Giveaway 2
If you’d like a free audiobook of Unmaking a Murderer based on the Netflix series, I have some Amazon codes to give away, so just email me your request and state your country at

Shaun Attwood

A New Adventure (Part 19)

It was a real honour to be asked to judge prisoners’ short stories for the Koestler Trust, who help prisoners rehabilitate through art. Ten years ago, I won a Koestler Award for a short story, which I read to an audience at London’s Royal Festival Hall. It got me a place on the Koestler mentor scheme, and I was assigned a published author, who helped me achieve my writing goals and launched me as an author. My sessions with my mentor are all available here.

There has been lots of Making a Murderer news. Kathleen Zellner filed a 1,272-page notice for post-conviction relief. She named Ryan Hillegas as the lead murder suspect and accused Ken Kratz of fraudulent conduct. The motion was so significant that I have replaced the chapter at the end of Unmaking a Murderer with a new chapter titled “Did Ryan Hillegas Kill Teresa?” which you can listen to me narrate here.

The Federal Court ruled in favour of Brendan Dassey, and mandated that some action must be taken within 90 days such as retrying him. The corrupt State of Wisconsin is throwing vast taxpayers resources at holding this innocent young man in prison because they don’t want to pay millions in compensation. It’s despicable that they have not only destroyed a mild-mannered teenager’s life, but that they continue to incarcerate him with zero evidence of him ever committing a crime.
I’ve added several new videos to my Making a Murderer playlist, which are all available here.

If you’d like a free audiobook of Unmaking a Murderer, I still have some Amazon codes to give away, so just email me your request and state your country at

Shaun Attwood

Q40: What Is A Paper Shank?

Brendan Dassey's Court Victory! #makingamurderer

Brendan Dassey's Court Victory #makingamurderer

Brendan Dassey finally won in court. He must be retried in 90 days or the State of Wisconsin must appeal to the Supreme Court, but they have no evidence because he is 100% innocent, so he will be freed this year barring unforeseen legal trickery. All of the dominoes are falling!

From the Seventh Circuit Court decision:
"To be sure Dassey's confession was not a smooth and consistent story. There were holes in the narrative. Dassey waffled and backtracked. The sequence of events was not always clear. The majority, reviewing the interview with its defense-friendly 'key' in hands, takes these inconsistencies as proof that Dassey was not recounting real memories but only telling the investigators what he believed the wanted to hear."

Did Ryan Hillegas Kill Teresa? #makingamurderer

Unmaking a Murderer Chapter 11 (Revised June 2017)

Writing for the Daily Mail, Chris White referenced a Facebook poll of more than 1,200 people: 62% thought that Teresa’s ex-boyfriend, Ryan Hillegas, was guilty of her murder and 17% blamed Manitowoc law enforcement for the crime. In June 2017, Kathleen Zellner filed a 1,272-page notice for post-conviction relief. She named Ryan as the lead murder suspect and accused Ken Kratz of fraudulent conduct. In response, Kratz called Zellner deplorable for blaming Ryan.

Kathleen Zellner’s post-conviction relief motion opines that Teresa was not murdered at Steven’s property. After her appointment at Steven’s, Teresa had attended the Zipperer’s residence and returned home. Zellner believes that Teresa met her demise at the rear of her RAV4 where Ryan bludgeoned her to death. After burning her body, he planted evidence on the Avery’s property, while manipulating law enforcement into pursuing Steven as the perpetrator. Having found appointment details in the paperwork in the RAV4, Ryan learned that Teresa had visited Steven earlier that afternoon. From the local news, he knew that Steven was a famous exoneree who was suing Manitowoc County. To shield himself from becoming a murder suspect, Ryan devised a plan to move the body and the vehicle to Steven’s property. 

Here are some of the main points in Zellner’s motion as to why she suspects Ryan:

1. Ryan was abusive towards Teresa and jealous

Having met as freshmen in high school, Teresa and Ryan had dated on and off for approximately five years in a farming community called Hilbert. During that time, Teresa had purportedly been subjected to both verbal and physical abuse. After she ended their relationship, Ryan continued to exercise control over her by living nearby and frequenting her home. In emails to friends, Teresa complained that Ryan was still checking her out years after they had broken up.
Ryan became aware of Teresa’s sexual relationships with a married man and her housemate, Scott Bloedorn, who was also one of Ryan’s closest friends. Just months before her disappearance, Teresa had become sexually involved with Scott. Jealousy was the motive for the murder.
After refusing to sit for an interview about false statements he had made to the police in 2005, Scott Bloedorn was informed that the post-conviction counsel planned to name a suspect in Teresa’s murder. Scott immediately blurted out, “You mean Ryan Hillegas.”
The married man Teresa had become involved with was a client of her nude photography business. Taking nude photos of Bradley Czech and his wife was the catalyst for the sexual relationship that ensued between Teresa and Czech. Teresa kept nude photos of the Czech couple in the bedroom of her home, which Ryan frequented. The discovery of the photos and the relationship with Czech may have been another point of jealousy for Ryan. Prior to her disappearance, Teresa had broken off her relationship with Czech. On November 3, 2005, Ryan called Czech for the first time. The reason for the call is unknown.

2. Ryan deleted Teresa’s phone records after she had disappeared

Deleting messages required someone to access Teresa’s voicemail from another phone by using her password. Her phone records show that her own phone was not used to access her voicemail after 2:12 pm on October 31, 2005. This means that the person who accessed her voicemail prior to the authorities realising that she was missing on November 3 had to be the killer who knew the password required to delete her voicemails. To know her password, the killer had to be extremely close to Teresa. Clearly, this was not Steven.
Ryan wanted to buy time before people noticed that Teresa was missing. After her death, Teresa received multiple phone calls, which filled the 20-minute capacity of her voice mailbox. Knowing Teresa’s password, Ryan deleted messages to prevent Teresa’s loved ones from noticing that her voice mailbox was uncharacteristically full, which would have alerted them to her disappearance. Although Ryan had delayed the inevitable, on November 3, Teresa’s loved ones discovered that her voicemail was full and contacted the police. At Steven’s trial, his lawyers asked Ryan how he had accessed Teresa’s phone records. He testified that he had guessed her username and password.
“There is evidence that voice messages were deleted from Ms Halbach’s voice mailbox after her death and before law enforcement initiated their missing person investigation,” stated McCrary – a retired FBI agent hired by Kathleen Zellner. “Mr Hillegas is one individual who knew Ms Halbach’s username and password and assisted law enforcement in accessing her Cingular Wireless account to obtain a list of her phone calls during the relevant time period.”
By deleting Teresa’s messages, Ryan had extra time to dispose of her body and personal items, and to frame Steven.

Familiar with the area, Ryan planned to put Steven’s DNA in the RAV4. As Ryan drove the RAV4 onto the Avery’s property, Steven – who was driving at the time – spotted the RAV4’s taillights, turned around and drove back to investigate. Ryan was forced to retreat to Kuss Road. Unable to ascertain the source of the taillights, Steven left the property.
Evidence from the scent and cadaver dogs indicates that Ryan drove the RAV4 onto the property from Kuss Road and across a field to the vicinity of Steven’s trailer. Finding a door to Steven’s trailer unlocked, Ryan entered with the intention of obtaining Steven’s DNA to plant in the RAV4. Inside the trailer, he noticed fresh blood on the bathroom sink. Due to his knowledge of science and medical training as a nurse, he knew that if the blood were found in the RAV4 then Steven would become the only suspect. After collecting the blood from the sink, he deposited it in several spots throughout the RAV4, mindful of having to plant it quickly before it coagulated.

In the late afternoon of November 4, Ryan drove the RAV4 into the Radandt pit, aided by an accomplice in a second vehicle, which was used to transport Ryan off the Avery’s property. Ryan planted the vehicle on the south-east corner close to the car crusher. A new witness saw the RAV4 enter the property followed by a white Jeep. Only the jeep left.
On the evening of November 4, Ryan told the police that he was willing to search the Avery’s property. As the police did not yet have a warrant based on probable cause, they could not perform a search. Accompanied by law enforcement, Ryan went to the property and led the police to the vehicle in the south-east corner of the salvage yard. After looking into the RAV4, he yelled, “It’s hers.” He claimed to have recognised the vehicle and Teresa’s personal items inside it. The discovery of the vehicle focused the investigation exclusively on Steven. Having being duped by Ryan, the police felt justified in planting additional evidence to frame Steven.

5. Ryan volunteered to lead the citizen search

To further steer the investigation towards Steven, Ryan volunteered to run the citizen search. To make his role credible, he did not initially tell law enforcement that he had been in a relationship with Teresa. He gave the impression that he was only a concerned friend. “Mr. Hillegas injected himself into the police investigation by taking an active role in the volunteer search,” McCrary wrote.
On Saturday morning, November 5, Ryan coordinated a volunteer effort and sent dozens of people into the surrounding area to search for Teresa and her vehicle. After most of the searchers had left the property, a former private investigator and second cousin to Teresa, Pam Sturm, arrived. Pam spoke to Ryan and Scott Bloedorn. “He [Ryan] gave a female volunteer searcher (Pam Sturm) a camera and a direct phone number to the sheriff (Jerry Pagel),” McCrary wrote. Clearly, he knew that Pam would discover the RAV4.
Pam drove to the Avery’s property and – in less than 30 minutes – located the RAV4 sparsely covered with branches and debris. Finding it was a true statistical improbability considering it was amid 4,000 other vehicles on 40 acres of uneven topography. “It appears that he [Ryan] directed her to the area where the victim’s vehicle was located,” McCrary stated.
Heading the search team gave Ryan unlimited access to the Avery’s property, which was closed to the public. This enabled Ryan to plant Teresa’s burned bones and electronic equipment in Steven’s burn pit and burn barrel.

6. Ryan used a fake name to access the salvage yard

“On at least one occasion,” McCrary stated, “Mr Hillegas had misidentified himself as Mr Kilgus to gain access to the Avery property. Regardless, the authorities allowed Mr Hillegas multiple entries to the Avery property while it was under police control.”
During the weekend of November 5-6, law enforcement officials recovered no major physical evidence to suggest that Steven was the killer, despite a massive police presence meticulously canvassing the 40-acre property soon after the RAV4’s recovery.
“On November 7, 2005, the day before the victim’s burned bones and electronic devices were found in Mr Avery’s burn pit and burn barrel, Mr Hillegas entered the property without signing in at the command post,” McCrary stated. “There is no way to know exactly when he entered the property, or how long he had remained, but it might explain how, despite previous searches of that property, that the victim’s bones were not discovered until November 8, 2005. At the very least, this type of unauthorized entry to a restricted crime scene violates proper police practices and risks contaminating the scene.”

7. Ryan gave the police and the court false information

On November 3, during his police interview, Ryan learned that law enforcement was entirely focused on Steven. He was not asked about his relationship with Teresa, why he had scratches on his hand or why he knew Teresa’s voicemail password. He wasn’t even asked for an alibi.
The discovery of a broken blinker light on the driver’s side of the RAV4 became an overlooked clue due to false information provided by Ryan. McCrary wrote that Ryan “also appears to have misled police when he told them that Ms Halbach had damaged the front driver’s side of her vehicle months before her disappearance, had filed an insurance claim for that damage and had taken the cash pay-out without repairing the vehicle.”
Zellner ascertained from Teresa’s insurance company that she had never filed an insurance claim for the front-end damage. It seems that Ryan had fabricated the story to hide that he had caused the damage while attempting to plant the vehicle on the Avery’s property by hitting a 2½-foot metal post protruding from the ground between the Avery’s property and a cul-de-sac at Kuss Road.
At the trial, Ryan committed perjury by claiming that Teresa’s relationship with Scott Bloedorn was platonic and never sexual or romantic.

Dr Blum, a pathologist from Rockford, Illinois, reviewed television footage showing Ryan with several scratches on his hands as he was organising the citizen search. “It is my opinion, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty in the field of forensic pathology that Mr Hillegas’ right hand… appears discoloured… the abrasions I observed on the back of Mr Hillegas’ left hand are consistent with scratches inflicted by fingernails.” Dr Blum used photos of Teresa to confirm that her fingernails were long enough to have caused such scratches.

9. Ryan has no alibi

Trained as a nurse, Ryan was unemployed in October and November 2005. He testified that he last saw Teresa on October 30, when he dropped something off for her at her house. Suspiciously, he could not recall what he had delivered nor could he remember what time of the day it was when he had supposedly last seen Teresa alive.
“I have seen no evidence that he offered an alibi or any sort of statement regarding his activities from October 31, 2005 to November 3, 2005. Nor have I seen any evidence that the authorities ever asked him to do so,” McCrary stated.
Ryan’s cell-phone records show suspiciously large gaps during time periods in question. From 9:41 am to 3:48 pm on Halloween, there were no incoming or outgoing calls. It is most likely that Teresa was killed during this time. After she had departed the Avery’s and the Zipperer’s, she would have arrived home at approximately 3:45 pm. Teresa’s day planner indicated that she wanted to “get Sarah’s stuff from mom,” at about 3 pm, and, “do biz paperwork,” at approximately 4:30 pm. From 3:50 pm to 6:01 pm, there was another gap in Ryan’s phone activity. A gap of over 17 hours, from 7:47 pm on Halloween until 1:31 pm on November 1 corresponds to when Teresa’s body was transported and burned. 

To get Steven released, Zellner does not have to prove that Ryan committed the murder. Her motion shows that Ryan had a motive, opportunity and a connection to the crime. Such evidence would cause a jury to doubt that Steven had committed the crime. 

From T-Bone (Letter 67)

T-Bone is a massively-built spiritual ex-Marine, who uses fighting skills to stop prison rape. T-Bone’s latest letter from Arizona prison:

My public defender is a joke. He doesn’t want to go up against the state, and he traded some other case for mine. Now I really need help, ask people online for help so I can get a lawyer in Arizona who will plead my case. I’m in here because someone said I did something with no evidence at all, none. Just hearsay, which is like saying a man in Texas heard you did something and reported it to the police, but you were in England when he said it. I have a copy of a call that went to the police and it said that I had some gold coins that I was selling and trading. Where’s the robbery? Where’s the crime? There is none.

Yes, I have a record, and that is one reason they did this to me. Another reason is me being a big, black man! They look you in the face and pretend that they don’t see the color of a man’s skin. But honestly, that’s the first think they look at, along with how much money you have! You know the police need to gather evidence because without evidence, people can make any claim they want! They can say anything, make up any story against anyone.

The public needs to know the truth. I was convicted based on testimony alone and made-up stories and my lawyer asked the prosecutor to read what she had said previously, but she was not to read it aloud. So the jury never heard anything she said before, and the judge never told them that there was no hard evidence, yet the judge wouldn’t grant my motion and said there was “sufficient evidence” to go forward knowing full well that everything they did was calculated and done for the state.

They knew then and know now that everyone in this country who makes an allegation must have proof to back up their assertion. There must be collaborating evidence to prove what was alleged. The judge looked down on me because of my record that isn’t pretty, but that’s not their job.

Looking down on a defendant is wrong because they must be impartial. They must go by the law. They cannot allow personal thoughts or feelings to interfere with their judgments, but the prosecutor did, and allowed fake testimony to be shown to the jury. I know people look at me and think, “Karma got him”. But no, it wasn’t karma: it was racism, plain and simple, because if I had taken the 40 years, I would have signed the plea bargain!

Each one
Teach one
Strength and Honor
Steel Embrace


Shaun Attwood  

A New Adventure (Part 18)

My biggest news in May was an appearance on the True Geordie podcast, which gets almost 1,000,000 views on iTunes and YouTube combined. I had an hilarious time with the hosts, who got lots of extra details from my story, including some of my wild antics before incarceration. We ended up chatting for over two hours. The complete podcast which they titled England’s Wolf of Wall Street is here.

My second TED talk, which includes tips about overcoming fear and building resilience is here

In it, I explain how I had to address my own anxiety issues and get to the root causes of my drug addiction to lead a normal life. Hopefully, my talk will help you if you suffer from anxiety and give you some techniques that you can use. My first Ted Talk is here:

With my school talks coming to a close for the academic year, I aim to finish my War on Drugs series by completing We Are Being Lied To: The War on Drugs. The Cali Cartel: Beyond Narcos ebook is now available for pre-order on Amazon here. I’m sure many of you are looking forward to Narcos Season 3 which premiers in September, featuring the new supervillain Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, the former head of the Cali Cartel.

After writing non-fiction true crime for over a decade, I aim to cross over to crime fiction next year. I’ve met so many characters over the years and heard so many stories, it’s time to start weaving them into a series of fiction books, perhaps with one main character.

I have some Unmaking a Murderer audiobook codes to give away that enable you to claim a free Unmaking a Murderer audiobook on Amazon’s Audible. On a first-come first-served basis, please email me for a code at and state which country you are in. If you have watched the Netflix series, you’ll enjoy this book, which exposes the extreme corruption in the justice system.

If you want to come and see me speak in London, I have two June talks:

June 13 Pablo Escobar Narcos talk. Details and Tickets. Promo code for ticket discount: narcos10

June 28 Banged Up Abroad talk. Details and Tickets. Promo code for ticket discount: bangedup10

From T-Bone (Letter 66)

T-Bone is a massively-built spiritual ex-Marine, who uses fighting skills to stop prison rape. T-Bone’s latest letter from Arizona prison:

Do you remember that guy’s butt I kicked that one day named Cannonball? Well he used to give guys dope to tell on other people who sold dope, and he used that stuff on them to give him oral sex. In other words, he got them strung out, and when they needed the dope, he had them suck him off. Sickening, isn’t it?

Sexual Assault Education Poster

Old nasty Nate here had a couple of young white boys doing the same thing for him. Not long ago, one of those youngsters came up to the fence and laid it all out on the line. All hell broke loose and Nate was taken off the yard.

Before getting moved, Nate was selling dope and doing it on the DL [down-low], and playing basketball like he was some cool guy or something. He fooled me. In other words, I knew about the dope and so did the guards and everybody else. I didn’t know about the sex thing when he asked to talk to me, and I talked to him. 

Nate has been playing those youngsters on Yard 2 for some time. They kept it to themselves because they wanted to get high. Nate was about to be crushed, but they moved him to lock up on lock down! I feel like a fool because I spoke up for him, not knowing, but then nobody knew until that kid went off on him.

Strength + Honor
Steel Embrace
Each one – Teach one

PS) Hi to the T-Bone Appreciation Society

Shaun Attwood  

New book - Girl With A Gun: A Teenage Freedom Fighter in Iran

My sister is writing a book about a world-renowned women’s rights activist Diana Nammi and we’re asking for your help in making this happen.

The book Girl With A Gun: A Teenage Freedom Fighter in Iran is being published by Unbound, the world’s first crowdfunding publisher, and you can pledge for a pre-order copy of the book at this page.

Diana Nammi became a frontline fighter with the famed Peshmerga -  Kurdish freedom fighters - when she was only 17. Born in Iran and now living in the UK where she runs a women’s rights organisation, Diana’s life story is full of incredible twists and turns.

Diana when a peshmerga freedom fighter in Iran
Karen was sent to interview Diana Nammi for the British newspaper the Independent on Sunday in October 2014 after Diana won a Woman of the Year award for her work campaigning to get ‘honour’ based violence recognized in the British legal system.

Karen says: “I had one hour but could have talked to her all day. I knew immediately that her story should be told in a book and hopefully, one day a film.”

My sister Karen Attwood

One Person Can Change The World

Karen explains what the book is about:

“Originally named Galavezh (Morning Star), Diana grew up in the Kurdish region of Iran in the 1960s and 70s. This was a time of cooperation and looking out for neighbours. It was also a world of forced marriages, with a woman’s value determined by her husband or male relatives.

But Galavezh was cherished by her father, who was a kind and brave man. At the age of four, she witnessed him stepping forward to save a woman’s life on her wedding day. From this act, Galavezh learned that one person can change the world around them.

After Kurdistan was attacked, she became a soldier in the famed peshmerga fighting force. She spent 12 years on the front line, and helped lead the fight for women’s rights and equality for the Kurdish people. She became one of the Iranian regime’s most wanted. The book is also, at its heart, a love story.

Diana wins woman of the year award
Peshmerga literally translates as ‘one who sacrifices oneself for others’. The forces, including more than a thousand women on active duty, are currently fighting ISIS in northern Iraq. This is the unique and powerful account of a woman who fought with these troops, travelling across Iran and Iraq, standing up for women and girls and slowly but surely changing the world.

“We’re working with the publisher Unbound, who are behind a number of recent best-sellers including The Good Immigrant and The Wake which made the Booker long-list. Unbound raise the money for the cost of a book's publication by pre-selling the hardback to about 600 people. This is where you can come in by helping to get this important story told.”

Shaun Attwood

A New Adventure (Part 17)

My biggest news this month was the incorporation of my publishing company, Gadfly Press, which has been officially established as a business with Companies House in the UK. As it costs thousands to publish a book, I'm focusing on true crime and the subject must have international relevance such as the Pablo Escobar level of interest ie) movies, series or millions of followers online as that should generate enough sales to cover the costs. Writing and publishing are not without challenges: over 1 million books are published each year in the US alone, and over 99% of them never sell.

I’m hoping that September will be a strong month for my publishing company. I have a book tied into season 3 of Narcos, which is about the Cali Cartel, who took over Pablo Escobar’s business. Here’s the blurb that I just refined with the help of Woking Writers Circle:

The Cali Cartel: Beyond Narcos
An electrifying account of the Cali Cartel beyond its portrayal on Netflix.
From the ashes of Pablo Escobar’s empire rose an even bigger and more malevolent cartel. A new breed of sophisticated mobsters became the kings of cocaine. Their leader was Gilberto – known as the Chess Player due to his foresight and calculated cunning.
Gilberto and his terrifying brother, Miguel, ran a multi-billion-dollar drug empire like a corporation. They employed a politically astute brand of thuggery and spent $10 million to put a president in power. Although the godfathers from Cali preferred bribery over violence, their many loyal torturers and hit men were never idle.

Here’s the cover, featuring Gilberto:

On September 29, the Tom Cruise movie American Made arrives in the cinema. It’s about Barry Seal, a CIA pilot who flew billions of dollars worth of cocaine into Mena, Arkansas. Pablo Escobar put a hit out on him, and George HW Bush wanted him dead because he was threatening to blow the lid on CIA cocaine trafficking. My book about Barry Seal is available worldwide on Amazon as a paperback and e-book. The audiobook should be up in a few months. I just received an email from Barry Seal’s son, who said he really enjoyed the book. Here's the cover:

So far only my book about Pablo Escobar is available on audio. The audiobook for Un-Making a Murderer: The Framing of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey should be available in May. Un-Making a Murderer has received over 100 Amazon reviews in three months. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to leave reviews on my books.

My next event is in London on Monday, May 22. I’m doing a talk about Pablo Escobar. Tickets and info. 10% off tickets with promo code pablo10

I did a second Ted Talk: Overcoming fear and building resilience in America's deadliest jails. It was filmed at the University of Surrey, and the video should be up in 1 month. 

If you are stressed out about life, my first Ted Talk might help you: What facing 200 prison years taught me about happiness. I was a bit breathy in the first Ted Talk, so I hired a voice coach for the second. I just got invited to do a third Ted Talk in India.

On, I was interviewed by Sean Stone, the son of film director Oliver Stone. Sean has read my books about Pablo Escobar and Barry Seal (American Made). He is helping to expose the prison industrial complex and the dark side of the War on Drugs. I managed to get over 10 minutes of airtime, a record for me. Here are the two clips: clip 1 clip 2

My talks in the schools are still going well. Here’s some recent heart-warming feedback I received from a family member of a student:

Hi Shaun you gave one of your talks at my grandson's school and gave him one of your books life lessons. He was very impressed by you and gave me the book to read. I was a bit sceptical but the book was small so I started to read. Well my goodness I was captured by the first page and was overwhelmed by your courage and insight. I lost my daughter and he his mother last year. And we have both held it together through sports rugby for him and gym for me but I am going to get the book on yoga you mentioned in your book and try and conquer meditation. I have never read anything so inspiring. Thank you so much for putting your life on paper. Fond regards

Shaun Attwood