Book events and signings

Speaking gig update: We are currently lining up readings, presentations, and community conversations timed around the Aug. 7, 2018 release of DOPESICK. (So please check back for further details.) This is a list of events we have confirmed so far.

For more information or to request an interview or an event, please contact Lena Little at To request a lecture, please contact Tom Neilssen at

One of my favorite readings, cramming the super-cute Chop Suey Books in Richmond's Carytown, home of Won-Ton, the store cat. November 2014

One of my favorite readings, cramming the super-cute Chop Suey Books in Richmond’s Carytown, home of Won-Ton, the store cat. November 2014.

• In conversation with BuzzFeed science reporter Dan Vergano at Politics & Prose: Aug. 9, Washington, D.C., 7 to 8 p.m.

• “DOPESICK: Portraits from the Frontlines of the Opioid Epidemic,” photography show opening and discussion, 2 p.m. Aug. 12, Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Va., featuring the portrait work of photographer Josh Meltzer and a discussion among some of those featured in the book; learn more about the exhibit here.

• The Richmond launch of DOPESICK, where I will return to the scene of my archival research (featured below) at the Library of Virginia at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14, 2018. Reception at 5:30 and the program starts at 6. Co-produced by Chop Suey Books. Richmond, Va., Aug. 14.

• Scuppernong Books reading and discussion, 7 p.m. Aug. 15, Greensboro, N.C.

• Reading, Barnes & Noble, Tanglewood Mall, 7 p.m., Roanoke, Va. Aug. 17.

• Reading/presentation, Washington County Central Library, to be held at the Sinking Springs Presbyterian Church in Abingdon, Virginia, 3 p.m. Aug. 19.

• Writers on a New England Stage, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, The Music Hall Historic Theater, 7 p.m., Aug. 21.

• Presentation and discussion, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Roanoke, Va., 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23.

• Presentation, Bassett Historical Center, 10:30 a.m. Aug. 28, Bassett, Va.

• Traverse City, Michigan, National Writers Series, 7 p.m. Aug. 29.

• AJC Book Festival, Decatur, GA, 3:45 Sept. 2.

• Christiansburg Library, Christiansburg, Virginia, 6 p.m. Sept. 4.

• Book No Further, 16 West, 16 Church Ave., SW., Roanoke, VA, 7 p.m. Sept. 5.

• BookMarks NC Festival, Winston-Salem, N.C. Sept. 8.

• Shenandoah University presentation and NarCan training, with Winchester Book Gallery, Winchester, Virginia, 7 p.m. Sept. 13.

• Floyd Center for the Arts, 3 p.m. Sept. 16, Floyd, Va.

• East Tennessee State University, School of Public Health, Johnson City, Tenn., Sept. 18.

• Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Va., Sept. 20.

• Clifton Forge Library, Masonic Theatre, Clifton Forge, Va., 7 p.m. Sept. 24.

• Virginia Western Community College, author talk and community call to action, 7 p.m. Sept. 26.

• Junior League International, conference, Sugar Land, Texas, Sept. 29.

• Ferrum College, Ferrum, Va. opioid symposium, 7 p.m. Oct. 1.

• Bradley Free Clinic Book & Author Dinner, Valhalla Vineyards Oct. 3, 2018; details to come.


Me and Josh, journalism-ing together since 2001, back when he had to pick PopTart crumbs (and worse) out of my minivan when we drove to newspaper assignments together. Love him. Love his ethics, his eye, his work.

• Steamboat Springs Library, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8. 

• Boston Book Festival, Oct. 13, panel discussion about communities in distress.

• Wall Street Journal C-Suite Book Club, New York, N.Y. Oct. 15.

• Mentor Public Library, Mentor, Ohio, Oct. 17.

• South Boston Library, South Boston, Va., Oct. 22.

• Pulitzer Center/Virginia Center for the Book panel, “Democracy and the Informed Citizen,” with Pulitzer-Winning reporter Eric Eyre and Monica Hesse, and moderated by Radford University sociology professor Dr. Reginald Shareef, 7 p.m. Oct. 23.

• 2018 Virginia Women’s Conference Keynote, Hotel Roanoke, Roanoke, Va. 9:15 a.m. Nov. 17.

• Miami Book Fair, in conversation with Maureen Cavanagh, the author of “If You Love Me: A Mother’s Journey Through Her Daughter’s Opioid Addiction,” Nov. 18., Miami, Fla.


From the Richmond Dispatch, Jan. 25, 1884

From an 1884 letter from a Richmond doctor to the Daily Dispatch, imploring citizens to understand that opioid addiction spares nobody. The post Civil War epidemic led forty years later to a medical community and criminal justice crackdown on doctor-led (or iatrogenic) addiction. For most of the last century, painkillers were reserved as end-of-life/cancer treatment or for post surgical care — until pharmacy-funded “pain as the fifth vital sign,” and OxyContin came along. Archives courtesy of the Library of Virginia.


Tess Henry, an honor roll student who loved poetry, playing sports, the essays of David Sedaris and rescue dogs, asked me to chronicle her story of becoming addicted to prescription opioid pills and, later, heroin in 2015. I dedicate this book to her, “our poet,” and to so many others whose efforts to access addiction treatment repeatedly were thwarted by indifference and rigid treatment ideologies. “I want to better my life so badly and become the person I was before drugs. I am going to die if I keep living the way I am,” she wrote in her journal in late 2016. She wanted most of all to regain custody of her young son.


To inquire about a lecture for 2018, please e-mail Tom Neilssen at Thank you.

The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.

—Walt Whitman (1819-1892)