Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley

Carol Es (Author)


Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it. --Hunter S. Thompson

Self-taught artist, writer, and drummer, Carol Es grew up neglected and believing she was inherently bad. Having a mentally abusive mother and an unstable family that moved around a dozen times before her ninth birthday, she'd also endured horrific sexual abuse. By age 14, she left home unnoticed, emancipated herself by 15, and from there wound up trapped in a cult for 20 years.

Seduced by the celebrity that lured her into Scientology and their magic promises to fix her broken life, Carol maintained an unbreakable bond with her passions as a means of survival. She exhibited her art and played music tirelessly in bands on Sunset Boulevard and the LA circuit. She toured the US and Canada, signed with Sony Music, but all the while she'd been conditioned to hide and deny her own mental illness in order to stay true to the doctrine of L. Ron Hubbard--a man who claimed psychiatric treatment was an evil hoax.

In her memoir, Carol explains how it was even possible to be both brainwashed and live "normally" in the world of contemporary art and rock n' roll.

After a tumultuous childhood and years of mind control, Carol has taken a huge stride out of the blackness of fear and silence by completing Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley in the face of resistance. With gallows humor and a unique perspective, she invites readers into her confidence, laying bare her most raw and intimate revelations on her seemingly endless search for self-worth as a woman. Managing to embrace the painfully sad scenes of her past and her biggest embarrassments, she finds absurdities one can only laugh about through tears.

Illustrated with original sketches throughout, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley is not just another survivor's tale or misery memoir, it is a courageous, relatable story about gaining the ability to identify growth from experience. Sometimes true victory comes when learning, relearning, and coming out okay is triumph enough.

Carol Es has earned many honors during her career in the arts, including a Pollock-Krasner and the Wynn Newhouse Award. Her work can be found in the Getty Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and MOMA. As a musician, she has worked with renowned producers, recorded with artists such as Rickie Lee Jones, and has toured North America. She lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys studying cultural anthropology and spending time with her partner and their little gray dog. For more info, visit Carol's blog at

Product Details

Desert Dog Books
Publish Date
August 29, 2019
6.0 X 0.77 X 9.0 inches | 1.09 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Los Angeles writer, musician, and artist Carol Es has written for the Huffington Post, Whitehot Magazine, and Coagula Art Journal. She's been published with Bottle of Smoke Press, Islands Fold, Chance Press, Lunch Ticket, and Santa Ana River Review. Her Artist's books are featured in the Getty Research Library, Brooklyn Museum, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Awarded grants in writing from the National Arts and Disability Center, Asylum Arts in Brooklyn, NY, Carol won the Bruce Geller Memorial Award WORD Grant for 2019. Some of her books include Monsters on Jasmine St. (poetry collection), 2011 by Bottle of Smoke Press; Today's Quandary (chapbook), 2013 by Careless Press. In art, she is a Pollock-Krasner fellow and won the Wynn Newhouse Award in 2015.


"...acerbic, warm, and funny. A captivating account filled with sharp perspectives on mental illness, childhood trauma, Scientology, and art."

-Kirkus Reviews

"...[a] well-paced, captivating memoir, [and] transcendent story about how fostering one's own creativity affords resilience and the means for survival."

-David Herman for IndieReader

"Carol Es has written about our essence and blasted it across the stars. I could not stop turning the pages. Her book is insightful, funny, horrifying, and beautiful, like life itself."

-Michael Phillips, Author of Riding Out the Dumb Silence

"Carol's deeply moving and inspiring story sheds light on the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome profound childhood sexual abuse and neglect."

-Magen Todd, Ph.D., CSAT, Trauma Specialist

"While seemingly strapped to a spinning wheel as a blindfolded carny throws knives at her, knives tipped with the poison of her off-kilter family, sexual assault, Scientology and abusive relationships, Es takes us through all this with a singular voice full of humor and warmth."

-Stephen Hines, Author of The Late Season

"With her strong voice and talent for descriptive experiences, Carol Es's writing is raw and original, giving you a sense that you are right there with her. Definitely a memoir to be enjoyed!"

-Nancy Many, Author of My Billion Year Contract: Memoir of a Former Scientologist