Sarah Shotland



Sarah Shotland is the author of the novel Junkette and a playwright whose work has been produced widely nationally and internationally. She teaches in the MFA program at Chatham University and is co-founder and Program Coordinator of Words Without Walls, which brings creative writing classes to jails, prisons, and rehab centers in Pittsburgh. She co-edited the literary anthology Words Without Walls: Writers on Addiction, Violence and Incarceration.





2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
State Library of Louisiana, Capitol View Room
Book Talk
Words without Walls

2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookselling Tent
Book Signing

4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
State Capitol, House Committee Room 3
Book Talk



Junkette is the story of Claire Cunningham, a woman navigating disasters— natural and of her own making. Claire is a bartender in pre-Katrina New Orleans, a college graduate whose heroin addiction parallels the swirling fortunes of her sinking city. She knows she needs to get clean, but despite being smart enough to see all the angles, she can’t quite find a way out.

“In Junkette, every bag of dope is a bag of sunshine, until it turns into a hurricane.. Everybody is a potential lover until the love is gone. Junkette is the kind of book that makes you happy to be sad because Shotland is beatific but not a beatnik, and she knows that living is a tragedy and love is hard-earned. I haven’t read a book this wonderful since Barry Hannah dropped Ray on us all those years ago. Shotland hit my heart in the exact same way, with the exact same breath of awe.” – Lori Jakiela, author of The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious

“New Orleans —mermaid city—is a drug for the protagonist of Junkette. Claire tends bar, hangs out with dealers, and is willing to die a little each day, all so she can stay inside the petal-dream of her adopted city. In the end she doesn’t know where the city’s moist air ends and her own skin begins. Junkette is a provocative, literate and magnolia-skinned first novel.” – Maureen Gibbon, author of Swimming Sweet Arrow and Thief


Words without Walls: Writers on Addiction, Violence, and Incarceration

More than seventy-five poems, essays, stories, and scripts by contemporary writers provide inspiration for students in writing workshops in prisons, rehabilitation centers, and other alternative learning environments

Writing workshops in prisons and rehabilitation centers have proven time and again to be transformative and empowering for people in need. Halfway houses, hospitals, and shelters are all fertile ground for healing through the imagination and can often mean the difference for inmates and patients between just simply surviving and truly thriving. It is in these settings that teachers and their students need reading that nourishes the soul and challenges the spirit. 

Words without Walls is an anthology of more than seventy-five poems, essays, stories, and scripts by contemporary writers that provide models for successful writing, offering voices and styles that will inspire students in alternative spaces on their own creative exploration. Created by the founders of the award-winning program of the same name based at Chatham University, the anthology strives to challenge readers to reach beyond their own circumstances and begin to write from the heart. Each selection expresses immediacy—writing that captures the imagination and conveys intimacy on the page—revealing the power of words to cut to the quick and unfold the truth. Many of the pieces are brief, allowing for reading and discussion in the classroom, and provide a wide range of content and genre, touching on themes common to communities in need: addiction and alcoholism, family, love and sex, pain and hope, prison, recovery, and violence.

These inspirational pieces act as models for beginning writers and offer a vehicle to examine their own painful experiences. Words without Walls demonstrates the power of language to connect people; to reflect on the past and reimagine the future; to confront complicated truths; and to gain solace from pain and regret.


Book-loving volunteers are essential to the Louisiana Book Festival's success. Whether it's escorting authors, guiding visitors, selling refreshments, working with children in the Young Readers Pavilion or other fun and rewarding assignments, the Louisiana Book Festival wants you to join the volunteer team.

Read More


Follow on Twitter

We are social
Quick Email