Some examples of my work.
Sins of Our Fathers
- Midwest Connections Pick, Dec 2014
- “Masterfully written. It flows so beautifully that you don’t realize you’re in the middle of reading’s version of rocky river rapids until it’s too late to escape.” —PopcornReads
- Starred review in Publishers Weekly
"A literary tour de force.”
—Joel Surnow, creator of 24
“A master class...one key to the effectiveness of Otto’s novel is how cannily he shows the ages-old exploitative methods at work today.”
From the screenwriter and coproducer of the Oscar-nomi nated House of Sand and Fog comes a fierce, elegant literary thriller about race, money, and the American Dream.
JW is an unscrupulous banker who teaches other bankers how to profit from Indian casino deposits while legally avoiding the risks of lending on reservations. But grief over a personal loss has sent JW into a downward spiral and he’s just barely hanging onto his job and his family. When he is caught embezzling funds to feed his gambling addiction, JW’s boss Frank Jorgenson gives him two options: confess and go to prison, or use his talents to sabotage a man named Johnny Eagle, who Jorgenson suspects is starting a competing, Native-owned bank.
Seeking to reclaim his earlier life and status, JW moves onto the reservation to execute the plan. But as he works his way closer to Eagle and his troubled son Jacob, JW realizes he has become trapped in something far more dangerous than he ever could have imagined.
A Thanksgiving dinner resolution: Let's invite Indians to the table today
While most Americas enjoy our Thanksgiving holiday, millions of descendants of those alive during that first Thanksgiving—Native Americans—still live in a legal and economic limbo, denied access to the same standards of criminal justice and economic opportunity the rest of us take for granted.
Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America
- Minnesota Book Award 2012
- "One of the most important books published in America in the last decade."
- Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus
The book traces how America was founded on and grew out of the principles of science,and yet how, ironically, today it has become politically acceptible to be anti-science. Otto traces the efforts of a group of top scientists and artists to get the candidates for president to debate the major science issues facing the country - a topic that once drove presidential politics but now few want to discuss.
Antiscience Beliefs Jeopardize U.S. Democracy
- Scientific American
- Best Columns, US, 2012
The United States faced down authoritarian governments on the left and right. Now it may be facing an even greater challenge from within. A stunning look at how and why American politics is going anti-science, and what we can do about it.
Complete with ratings of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's answers to the Top 14 Science Questions Facing America, as posed by Shawn Otto and ScienceDebate.org.
Writers United for All Families: Seventeen Readings on Love and Liberty
In one of the most remarkable author readings ever held, seventeen award-winning authors wrote and read original short works on why everyone from liberals to libertarians should oppose restriction of gay marriage. The event was so special, and produced so many sparkling and varying perspectives, that the writers were asked to collect their works in a volume to share. This collection of original poems and essays includes works by Lois West Duffy * Jacque Fletcher * Michael Hall * Nor Hall * Patricia Hampl * Greg Hewett * Marya Hornbacher * Kathryn Kysar * Jim Lenfestey * Jim Moore * Darby Nelson * Shawn Lawrence Otto * John Reimringer * Kate St Vincent Vogl * Kurtis Scaletta * Don Shelby * Faith Sullivan * RD Zimmerman. Edited by Shawn Lawrence Otto. Profits from sales are donated to efforts supporting marriage equality.
House of Sand and Fog
- Feature Film
- Nominated for three Academy Awards
PEN Center finalist for Best Screenplay
Starring Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelley; written and co-produced by Shawn Lawrence Otto (adapted from the novel of the same name).
Down to his last few thousand dollars and working on a road crew in California, a former colonel in the Iranian Air Force, Massoud Behrani, sees a way to restore his family's dignity by purchasing and renovating a bungalow available via county tax auction. But the home has been improperly siezed from the house's owner, Kathy Nicolo, a recovering alcoholic, who will fight for the one thing she has left — appealing to Lester Burden, a married cop with a shallow moral understanding, who is driven to extremes to win her love.
"A masterpiece of American realism and Shakepearean consequence."