Sherry Knowlton books
A novel by Pat LaMarche, Sherry Knowlton, J.M. West, Mathew Best, Phyllis Orenyo,
Robert Bradshaw, Andrew Carey, and James Dodds.
October 24, 2023
One unremarkable Friday in April, a stream of ordinary people makes its way to Liberty Mall in Anywhere, USA, to shop, work, keep appointments, or catch a movie. A typical day in an average town. tells the story of eight of those people.
Emma Franz is a store security guard with a secret. Earl Bricker, a retired factory worker, loves his country, his wife, and his good-old-boy network. Roger Elliot, mid-twenties and miserable, has more than a few axes to grind. High school senior Caitlin Browning, having triumphed over personal challenges, hopes for a quiet evening with her boyfriend. Reverend Chris Dietrich has a special surprise for his weekly Bible study group. Leah McCall, TV personality and teacher, drops by the food court to visit with her best friend. Will Humphreys’ part-time job at the mall offers him little relief from the relentless bullying that plagues his existence.
At 5:17 PM, one of these characters’ actions will change the lives of all the others. Later that night, professional crisis consultant Steven Bradley arrives to help the community deal with the aftermath. An eclectic group of authors spent six months collaborating on American Roulette, a blockbuster novel full of tension, dread, and anguish. Individual authors created one of the eight key characters—complete with a supporting cast—who find themselves sharing a common destiny. Readers have but a single day to get to know each of the protagonists before time and circumstances seal their fate.
100% of author book royalties will be donated to organizations working to end gun violence.
American Roulette in the News
About the Authors
Pat LaMarche, Sherry Knowlton, J.M. West, Mathew Best, Phyllis Orenyo, Robert Bradshaw, Andrew Carey, and James Dodds
A concern for the increasing scourge of gun violence in America brought together ten collaborators to write American Roulette. Most are award winners. All are standouts in their field. They write for every genre—novels, nonfiction, kids lit, academic publications, journalism—one wrote for broadcast, and several have blogs. When this varied group isn’t writing, they are teaching, leading congregations, troubleshooting, reporting the news, running businesses, traveling, and inspiring others to believe in themselves.
Together, Pat LaMarche, Sherry Knowlton, J.M. West, Matthew Best, Robert Bradshaw, Phyllis Orenyo, Andy Carey, and James Dodds (with an introduction by Cheryl Woodruff Brooks and Cheryl Dunn Bychek serving as creative consultant) agreed to create a narrative and donate their time. The author earnings from the book sales, regardless of form—electronic, audio, or paper—will be donated to nonprofit organizations that address gun violence in the United States via The Charles Bruce Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization that supports the arts and those who make them.
Praise for American Roulette
“I have spent the past five years of my life working to reduce gun violence. My daughter Jaime was murdered in the Parkland school shooting. Over the course of the past five years, I have been on a mission to help people truly understand the reality of gun violence.
This book, American Roulette, does just that. I was not prepared for this book, and it truly impacted me. The approach to this book with multiple authors who have experience in the many areas around crime, gun violence, and its aftermath, is unique and brings a unique sense of reality. When you read this book, you will feel as if this could be happening now in a place that you recognize. My hope is that people read this book and put themselves in the shoes of the many families already affected by gun violence. My hope is that you read this book, and work harder to be part of doing something about gun violence, before this story hits closer to home.”
— Fred Guttenberg, gun violence prevention activist
“American Roulette is filled with believable characters; I loved some of them and loathed others, but they all jumped off the page. The characters’ tangible humanity is exactly what makes American Roulette as difficult to read as it is necessary. As the president of Brady United, an organization that works to prevent gun violence, I have seen mass shootings reduce real people, whose lives meant everything to them and their families, to casualty statistics, headlines, and hashtags, over and over again.
American Roulette doesn’t do that. American Roulette forces us to reckon with the ways that easy access to guns can erase an unsuspecting person’s life in an instant, and all their hopes, dreams, and ambitions, and with that, tear apart the fabric of families, communities, and our society. This book is not a light read. But it is an urgent one. I would recommend this book to so many, but for victims and survivors, I would approach it with extreme caution. With that caveat, if you want to examine the root causes of gun violence and our joint role in trying to end it, this is a book for you, especially for those of you concerned that nothing will ever change or worried that everything will. My hope is that, like art so often does, American Roulette will pierce through the rhetoric and preconceived notions surrounding guns and gun violence, to speak directly to your heart and inspire change.”
— Kris Brown, President, Brady
Why is this issue important?
An April 2023 survey done by the Pew Research Center found 83% of Americans believe gun violence is a major (60%) or moderately big (23%) problem in the country today.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, the number of mass shootings in the US has nearly doubled in the past five years, rising from 336 in 2018 to 690 in 2021 and 647 in 2022. From January to mid-September 2023, the country experienced 499 mass shootings. The 647 mass shootings in 2022 resulted in 673 deaths and 2,700 injuries.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2019, there were 39,707 gun deaths in the US, including 24,090 suicides and 14,414 homicides.
In 2020, the US had a firearm homicide rate of 6.1 per 100,000 people, which is significantly higher than other developed countries. (CDC)
A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 30% of US adults personally own a gun, and another 11% live with someone who does.
Gun ownership rates vary significantly by state, with Montana having the highest rate of gun ownership at 66.3%, and Massachusetts and Rhode Island having the lowest at 14,7%. (2023 update, Pew Foundation Survey)