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    Dawn Schiller

ISBN: 9781605420837

The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes

by: Dawn Schiller

Foreword by Val Kilmer:

“It’s a healing message for all the women and girls in the world who have not yet found their strength. It’s there, and Dawn’s story proves it. Her story is a miracle. She is a miracle. I am proud to know her.”
~ Val Kilmer

Foreword by Kate Bosworth:

“Dawn, I thank you for sharing your story not only with me, but with the many people who will now take strength from your brutal honesty. And who will be encouraged to not only survive but, like you, to thrive.”
~ Kate Bosworth

This is the true story of one of the most infamous of public figures and a young girl’s struggle to survive unthinkable abuse. Readers will be left shaken but clutching to real hope at the end of this dark journey on The Road Through Wonderland.

 Limited Edition Signed Copies are SOLD OUT.  You may however order unsigned copies from one of our retailers below. 


Meet the Author
Dawn Schiller was fifteen years old in 1976, when she met thirty-two-year-old porn star John Holmes. Holmes courted Dawn, had sex with her, and manipulated her with drugs and alcohol. Holmes physically and emotionally abused Dawn for several years. After the famed Wonderland murders in 1981, they fled to Florida, where she ultimately broke free and turned him over to the police. Dawn eventually relocated to northern California and finally to the Pacific Northwest, where she now lives with her daughter. In addition to being a devoted mother, Dawn has worked as an associate producer and consultant on the movie Wonderland (she was portrayed by actress Kate Bosworth; John Holmes was played by Val Kilmer). Dawn is adamant about relating her story with the hope that any other young teen won’t fall into the same hell that she did. She has developed a national presentation titled “Our Throwaway Teens—Who Are They and How Can We Help?” to raise awareness of the vulnerabilities of teens growing up in abusive and neglectful environments. Dawn educates audiences about what a teen might be experiencing internally when targeted and groomed by a predator, how to identify a young victim in trouble, pedophile seduction techniques, and the use of drugs to manipulate and trap a victim. She gives an inside view of what it’s like to be a “throwaway teen” and how we, as a community, can help. Dawn has founded E.S.T.E.A.M., (Empowering Successful Teens through Education, Awareness & Mentoring), a nonprofit dedicated to assisting teens who are struggling to find a safe and successful path to adulthood. Today, Dawn is the proud parent of a beautiful daughter. She works full time at a university in the arts and science department, is on the committee to revise the university’s sexual harassment policy, and is a member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW). Nationally she is a member of the education committee and is an advisory board member for the National Center of Victims of Crime as well as a TTEC consultant for the Office for Victims of Crime out of Washington, D.C. She is an advisory board member for The Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center as well as Voices Set Free. She presented for End Violence Against Women International (EVAW) in 2010 and represented Val Kilmer in New York for the Volvo For Life Awards in both 2006 and 2008. But most importantly, Dawn has spent the last six years completing her memoir, The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes. Nominated for the R.O.S.E. (Regaining One’s Self-Esteem) award in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and the Sunshine Peace Award in 2010, Dawn has been abstinent from drugs and alcohol for many years. For information on Dawn or her book, or to have Dawn speak at your event, please contact her at ESTEAM.one@gmail.com, or Dawn@EmpowerTeens.com Listen Dawn Schiller sharing her story at The Orchard church in Aurora, IL. 9/19/10. Websites empowerteens.com  

Awards and Nominations

Dawn Schiller Receives Courage Award! The President's Commission on the Status of Women Recognizes Dawn Schiller for her Courage and Vision in Working for a World Without Violence Against Women and Girls. International Women's Day, March 8, 2010. Eastern Oregon University.    
Books of Dawn Schiller
About This Book

The Road Through Wonderland is Dawn Schiller’s chilling account of the childhood that molded her so perfectly to fall for the seduction of “the king of porn,” John Holmes, and the bizarre twist of fate that brought them together. With painstaking honesty, Dawn uncovers the truth of her relationship with John, her father figure-turned-forbidden lover who hid her away from his porn movie world and welcomed her into his family along with his wife.

Within these pages, Dawn reveals the perilous road John led her down—from drugs and addiction to beatings, arrests, forced prostitution, and being sold to the drug underworld. Surviving the horrific Wonderland murders, this young innocent entered protective custody, ran from the FBI, endured a heart-wrenching escape from John, and ultimately turned him in to the police.

This is the true story of one of the most infamous of public figures and a young girl’s struggle to survive unthinkable abuse. Readers will be left shaken but clutching to real hope at the end of this dark journey on The Road Through Wonderland.

Also check out the movie Wonderland (Lions Gate Entertainment, 2003) for a look into the past of Dawn Schiller and the Wonderland Murders.


ISBN: 9781605420837
Publisher: Medallion Press Inc.
Publish Date: 2010
Page Count:

“When I got an advance copy of The Road Through Wonderland, I thought I already knew the story. I picked it up casually, and then l could not put it down. I was up till 3 a.m. reading it. The power of Dawn Schiller’s writing is that within a few pages, you are so drawn into her harrowing, roller-coaster life with her fractured family and then with porn star John Holmes, that you almost become her while reading it. There is not much separation between writer and reader. Schiller draws an unforgettable portrait of a lost, drug-addled corner of late 1970s Los Angeles and what it was like to be a lonely girl targeted by a predator in that world. The most mesmerizing memoir since Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, The Road Through Wonderland is one long, chilling money shot. ~ Dana Kennedy, Correspondent and Journalist, AOL News, The New York Times, People, Time

"Dawn Schiller’s chilling account of her youth as the underage mistress of legendary porn star John Holmes is infused with the goodness and humanity that ultimately delivered her from her abusive ordeals. A classic story of an innocent young woman’s descent and self-redemption, The Road Through Wonderland is gritty and starkly honest; it is at once a horror tale and a story of triumph." ~ Mike Sager, Writer at Large, Esquire; Author of Scary Monsters and Super Freaks

“Courageous. Not only will Schiller’s haunting story stay with you, but her beautifully descriptive writing will as well. This book is for anyone who has ever wondered why and how adults—or, for that matter, society—could turn their back on abused children. Schiller’s painful insights help us begin to understand how these horrible things might happen. A haunting story in beautiful form. . . . Dawn Schiller manages to write so beautifully about something so shatteringly repulsive. Her picturesque descriptions [demonstrate] her ability to somehow connect with the beauty of the natural world while being neglected, exploited, and abused by the human world. The thing to take away from The Road Through Wonderland is not that it is a bizarre or extreme story, but that it is a girl’s true story and gives us a rare and haunting look into what surviving takes. This important book illustrates the complexity of the victimization of children. For too many youth, victimization is not a single event but a process or even a state of being.” ~ Mitru Ciarlante, Youth Initiative Director, National Center for Victims of Crime

"Dawn’s writing candidly weaves through her horrifying existence during what should have been her carefree and innocent teenage years. I helplessly experienced her body, mind, and spirit being gnarled by the very adults who should have protected her but chose instead to destroy her. At times I was not able to put the book down; at others, I had to cry and hug my own teenagers, desperately wanting to comfort the girl on the pages. . . . This book is an absolute must for teenagers and especially for the adults who should be safeguarding them against the evils in this world." ~ Paula Lucas, Founder and Executive Director of Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center

"A compelling book by an unwavering woman who tries to take back control of her life after living in a world of drugs, murder, abuse, and human trafficking¬—all under the control of one man, porn idol John Holmes. The emotions are strong throughout this well-written book and lead the reader into a world few travel and survive. I was unable to put the book down! Though Hollywood used the real-life tragedy of the Wonderland murders to produce a pretty, neatly packaged movie, Dawn Schiller’s life was anything but neat and pretty. " ~ Susan Murphy Milano, Violence Expert and Author of Time's Up: A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abuse and Stalking Relationships

“The Road Through Wonderland is a gripping and beautifully written memoir about Dawn Schiller’s teen years with John Holmes. This riveting account moves the reader from Dawn’s impoverished beginnings in a rough neighborhood to a much worse life under the spell of John Holmes. Drug addiction, sexual abuse, hooking and being sold for drug favors, suicide attempts, physical abuse that almost left her dead, psychological trauma, and being way too close to multiple murders: Dawn endured far too much for any teenager. This book is a firsthand account of Dawn’s descent into hell and her struggle to survive.” ~ Lois Gresh, New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series

“Curiously enough for a book concerned with notorious pornographic film star John Holmes, there is very little emphasis on sex here. Instead, Schiller, who met Holmes in 1976 when she was just 15, details their five-year love affair, the stability he provided in the wake of her troubled childhood, and the deterioration of their relationship after Holmes became addicted to cocaine and was ultimately arrested. While in the grip of drug-fueled paranoia, he would beat her while also forcing her to prostitute herself for money to feed his habit. Her vulnerability is revealed by the fact that she spends as much time describing the way he casually destroyed her beloved Christmas gifts as she does the degradations he forced her to undergo. . . .” ~ Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist (June 2010)

“This is the grim, interminable plight of a "throwaway" teen with nowhere else to go, a cautionary tale…” ~ Publishers Weekly (May 31, 2010)

“Schiller does a good job of straight storytelling, with tasteful flourishes that subtly hint at her talent for prose without excessive sentimentality or gore. . . .” ~ Michel Cicero, Ventura County Reporter (August 2010)

“Her unflinching prose makes a gruesome story that much more compelling.” ~ Wendy Witherspoon, Los Angeles Magazine (August 2010)

“A harrowing and surrealistic story of power, control, love, and false hope, The Road Through Wonderland lends startling insight into the mind of a teenage girl whose desire for affection, meaning and love fueled her trust in a man that would haunt and scar her life forever.” ~ Eastern Oregon University Gender Studies (October 2010)

"The Road Through Wonderland is a both saddening and uplifting memoir, very highly recommended." ~ Midwest Book Review, “Biography Shelf” (September 2010)

“Schiller’s writing is gripping, and the reader gets sucked in to this twisted tale. The story is so shocking it’s hard to believe that she lived through these terrifying events. This book is hard to put down and definitely provokes the reader to want to continue to see what happens next.” ~ Nicole Will, Portland Book Review (March 2011)