An Interview With Patrick O’Neil


Gun, Needle, Spoon follows a punk rock pioneer on his slide into drug abuse and life as an armed robber, all the way through life in recovery and what it’s like to look back on those times. Hawthorne/Dzanc intern Alexis Woodcock talks with the author, Patrick O’Neil, about the book, his life, and rehabilitation.


Alexis Woodcock: You note at the end of Gun, Needle, Spoon that not only names, places, and other identifying details but also the chronology of events was sometimes altered in the making of this book. Can you talk a bit about what went into making those decisions, what that process was like?

Patrick O’Neil: The actual details of an average junkie’s day are pretty damn mundane and highly repetitive. Seriously, if I had written it all out exactly as it happened, it would have been page after of page of “woke up dope sick, went out and scored, shot up, and nodded out”—on an endless repeat. And that would have been so boring that no one would have read it, and I wouldn’t have been interested in writing it. The more interesting aspects of my story were the robberies, drug deals, and interactions that happened with friends, cops, weirdos, and assorted acquaintances. And in the beginning the robberies weren’t as frequent as in the end, when it was a daily occurrence. So I had to omit a ton of the repetitiveness. Not that I didn’t write all of that into the first draft. But there are only a few ways you can write a shooting-up scene, and really, it has been done before, and probably better. You can be graphic and describe the blood, the needle, the rush, and yeah, yawn . . . I included one in GNS because you sort of have to with a junkie memoir; I probably left another in because it was grossly graphic. Okay, I used too many—fuck me, I’m a cliché (laughs). And it’s the same with the robbery “scenes”—I could’ve written about the robberies that netted large cash and went smoothly and came off looking like a master criminal—but they really didn’t interest me either. I craved the hardships, the scary stuff, the parts where it was all going a hundred miles an hour off the end of a pier into deep water, and I didn’t know how to swim.

Alexis Woodcock: In the time before most of the events in this book, did you have strong opinions about drug use, one way or the other? How did you get into using initially?

Patrick O’Neil: You could say I was predisposed to be a drug addict. Not only is my heritage filled with drunks and addicts, but I suffer from clinical depression, both of which make me a genetically inclined candidate for addiction. I also have a deeply ingrained sense of alienation from a very early age, as my family moved a lot and I was always the new kid on the playground. We probably lived in twenty different cities and countries before I was fourteen. This allowed me an internal perception of never fitting in that kept me feeling like an outsider well into adulthood. Add that in with my depression and the aforementioned genetic disposition and you have a psychological profile for a person who most psychiatrists would agree would become the drug addict that I eventually became. Did I have strong opinions about drug use? Hell yes—I was all for them, any and all. I smoked marijuana from age eleven on, and I really never liked the crap. Always made me socially awkward and introverted, and those were my default settings to begin with. As a teenager I took LSD and experimented with whatever drugs were available. It wasn’t until I was seventeen that I discovered heroin. I thought I’d found the missing element in my life. Of course, I also went through that period where I believed heroin helped me be creative, and maybe in the beginning it did? But after years of using, nothing creative was happening, just addiction and the total enslavement that comes with it.

Alexis Woodcock: You make a living writing, editing, and teaching writing, as well as working on some film and music projects, and it’s mentioned in this memoir that you also went to art school early on. Did you always picture yourself in creative professions? Did you see yourself in your current occupations at any point prior to getting sober?

Patrick O’Neil: If anyone had told me when I was twenty years old that I’d be doing what I am today, I would have said they were insane. Although I was always into storytelling, I was a visual artist first. I drew comics as an escape from reality. Home life wasn’t exactly ideal and I would just lose myself in my art. At age fourteen I was the youngest nationally published cartoonist in America—uh huh, I was going to be somebody (laughs). Then my drawings started to deal with movement, and the natural progression was into animation, and then filmmaking. After art school I put all my creativity into music, and once heroin addiction took over it turned into talking about what I was going to do, as conceptually, I had very grandiose ideas and plans that were just pipedreams and all talk. It wasn’t until I was incarcerated and had kicked drugs that any sense or desire for real creativity came back, and then my choice of media was severely limited. I took an adult-education writing class and started writing. It was an immediate connection, much like my earlier mention that heroin was the missing link in my life—writing became the creative outlet I’d always been looking for. Years later I went back and got my MFA, and from there I’ve slowly progressed to what I do now. Yet to get to where I am today, I had to work in numerous non-creative positions and dead-end jobs. And each and every one of them instilled in me that I was a creative person. I didn’t belong there. Being a writer and a teacher was what I needed to do.

Alexis Woodcock: What would you say is the most significant effect that the events included in this memoir have had on you? How have these things most heavily impacted your life going forward?

Patrick O’Neil: Obviously the opening “scene” where the cops kicked in my door was a pivotal moment that instigated significant change that I, albeit reluctantly at first, followed through with. I quite literally was saved by that event. I was unable to quit heroin, my criminal activity was escalating to the point of no return, and I seriously thought that the rules, any rules, did not apply to me. And then there I was getting arraigned in court, and the DA was throwing around three strikes and twenty-five-to-life, and that reality that I am not a fan of landed so hard on me that I couldn’t ignore it. The ensuing years locked in a jail cell not knowing what the future held, and haunted with bad memories and even worse regret, was the biggest learning curve of my life. When the final outcome was not as severe as doing life in prison, I made the decision that I was never coming back. Incarceration is the most boring waste of time imaginable, and being surrounded by “lifers” who in one way or another were locked up forever made me realize that I had wasted a huge portion of my life. There were a million things I wanted to do before I died, and that time was seriously running out. When it was all laid out in front of me like that, there was no other decision than to make the radical change that I did: quit heroin, clean up my past, and make a future for myself.

Alexis Woodcock: In the chapter “The Gun,” when you first acquire a gun as a form of payment, it’s unloaded. As I read, I wondered whether it remained unloaded through all the robberies or if that was just the case for the first few. Are you interested in divulging, or was the omission of that particular detail deliberate?

Patrick O’Neil: Wow, you’ve asked some really good questions, but this one is the most unusual and insightful question I’ve ever been asked in an interview—I like the way you think, thanks. I never intentionally thought to omit that information, it just never really came up, or seemed pertinent at the time–although now that you’ve asked, it does seem odd that I never wrote about it. Yet with the progression of robberies getting more and more intense and my drug use and ensuing paranoia increasing as well, I eventually loaded the gun. I’m not exactly sure what the logic was behind putting bullets in the gun. Was I really going to shoot it out with the police? Definitely wasn’t going to shoot anyone that I was robbing. Sadly I have to admit that I started to believe my own hype and strived to get as hardcore as I could. It was all a survival technique, almost like getting into character. Seriously, these days I look at who I was then and I don’t recognize the person that I had become. How did I get so far out there? How did I get so cold and void of compassion? And then, when I was writing GNS, I had these horrendous reoccurring dreams about the police shooting me, yet I never shot back. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t follow through with it in the memoir? I just want to let that part of me go.

Alexis Woodcock: With so many years between most of the events in this book and the present, do you find that sobriety is still a difficult thing to maintain? Or has it been made relatively easy by memories of what life was like prior to getting sober?

Patrick O’Neil: My first few years getting clean off drugs were very hard. I had put in over twenty-five years of using and I really didn’t know any other way to live. And to be totally honest, I’m not that big a fan of reality, and doing drugs is a definite, although temporary, escape from reality. So yeah, there I was faced with life drug-free, and it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. Plus I didn’t really know how to live in the “straight” world. I was accustomed to the criminal life, which oddly enough affords you a certain freedom to just live (leach) off of society while still not really being a part of it. And so I’d be saying things to myself like, “Now I have to work at an hourly wage and pay rent and fucking taxes, really?” There were plenty of times where I’d be at some menial job bored out of my mind and wonder if this was all life had to offer. And if it was, then was getting clean and going straight really worth it? Yet that was really just my addiction talking to me—it’s like someone who was in an abusive relationship only remembering the good sex—and the reality is that every day that I am not strung-out on heroin or incarcerated is a gift. So when I keep that in perspective, it’s all good, and over the last fourteen years, being in recovery has become a whole lot easier. I have made some profound changes in my life and that old lifestyle no longer seems attractive. Yet every once in a while, that same old ungrateful, entitled attitude reemerges and I have to smack it back into the hellhole it came from.

Alexis Woodcock: There has been a huge resurgence of heroin use across the US in recent years. Do you think this influenced your decision to write this memoir at this particular point in time, to get a raw, first-person account of the unpleasant details inherent in this sort of lifestyle out to the public? Or was the decision to write it more personal?

Patrick O’Neil: Throughout history, heroin has always had a “resurgence.” It just hasn’t had such a prolific resurgence in the populace that is using it now: average-Joe, middle-class white people. America likes to ignore or downplay its immense history of involvement with drugs . . . But did any of that weigh in on my decision to write GNS? Well, no. I wrote GNS because it was my story to tell. Regardless of what anyone gets from reading it, I still needed to write it. If I can help someone along the way by giving them a first-hand account of what it’s really like and in turn they decide not to go down that same path, then that’s an added bonus.

Alexis Woodcock: What was the hardest part of writing this memoir? What was the easiest?

Patrick O’Neil: The hardest part was reliving the memories. There were many nights where I’d be awake in bed staring at the ceiling, stuck on a certain memory or event that I’d written about that day, and relive it over and over obsessively in my mind. Torturing myself with what-ifs well into the night. What if I had done something different? What if I hadn’t wasted twenty years of my life? What if someone hadn’t OD’d? What if, what if, what if . . . over and over and over. It isn’t easy to literally return to the “scene of the crime.”

If there was an “easy” part, I’d say it was the fact that this was my story. There was no research involved. I didn’t have to interview people. I remembered what I remembered and I would just write.

Alexis Woodcock: I noticed that the relationships with Jenny and Marisa, despite being mentioned at the end, remained unresolved and generally unexplored beyond pre-incarceration memories. Was that another decision made to protect privacy, or did the outcomes just feel less important to write about than the trials? I thought it was fitting where it ended overall, but I wondered about the inclusion of these people at the end if there wasn’t more to be said for those relationships post-incarceration.

Patrick O’Neil: I was not the healthiest of people to be in a relationship with, even with a few years of recovery under my belt. Relationships were just an extension of my self-centeredness. Sadly, it was more that I was afraid of being alone rather than wanting to be with somebody. I mean I loved Jenny as much as I was capable of then, but I had a hard time with intimacy—that said, when I was finally arrested, our relationship ended. I knew I was not getting out anytime soon. I was looking at possibly doing life in prison, and during our one and only visit in county jail, I told her to not wait for me. And up until a recent reading for my book tour where Jenny was in the audience, I had only fleeting contact with her, the amends letter, and one phone call. And she, like me, has moved on with her life. The relationship we had is what you see in the book, and with junkies people are in your life one day and gone the next. It is not always a happy ending that you can just wrap up and put a bow on, and I wanted the reader to experience that sense of impermanence. Now with Marisa, even though it was years later, I still wasn’t capable of getting into a healthy relationship. I was attracted to the same damaged women as when I was a drug addict. My perception of love was the attraction of lust and sex and after that I was lost. There’s no way you can maintain a relationship if that’s all there is to it. And in the book, she and I are at that place where we are no longer in a sexual relationship. It has run its course, and now we’re two people that shared something but now barely talk to each other. So it might feel unexplored, but that was all there was, and it took me another few years of heavy internal work on myself to be able to have a healthy relationship. Hmmmm, perhaps that’s another book? (laughs)

Alexis Woodcock: Finally, can you talk a bit about your certificate of rehabilitation and governor’s pardon? What has that process been like? And how does it feel to have it nearly done with?

Patrick O’Neil: I was granted a California state certification of rehabilitation, which in itself is unbelievably awesome, and I am eternally grateful. As of yet, I haven’t been granted the governor’s pardon**—it’s on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, and it can sit there until 2019 when he leaves office, and of course he can sign it, or not. So my two felony strikes have not been cleared, but I have all my rights back. And yes, I still have to check the “have you ever been arrested” box, but I can own a gun again—yeah, go figure. That’s not going to happen anyway, so who cares. Yet if I do get the pardon, I’ll be able to travel again, and maybe when I apply for that next professor gig, I won’t get passed over due to my felonies. The process to get here was slow and arduous, with a ton of paperwork. Luckily I had an incredible lawyer, Natashia Deón, who is also a wonderful writer in her own right—keep an eye out for her upcoming debut novel*—and she put in the work pro bono. But what was more important was that she believed in me. As you may well imagine, my experiences with the criminal justice system and the legal world haven’t been that wonderful. Even my own former lawyers were not the greatest of human beings. Yet this time, in court, the judge congratulated me and wished me the very best while signing the certificate—usually there’s more red tape involved, but he just did it right there in the courtroom. I was sort of speechless. No, I take that back—I got a little teary eyed. I experienced an emotional level of calm and wellbeing I’d never felt before. And standing at the docket with Natashia and looking around at the DA and the lawyers arguing the fate of others—it all felt surreal, and then last week the certificate arrived in the mail, and yeah, I feel pretty damn grateful to have survived all of that and to come out of it alive.


* Natashia Deón’s novel, GRACE was published by Counterpoint Press in 2016

** Patrick O’Neil was granted a Governor’s Pardon by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016

Photo Credit: Gloria Villegras

Interview originally published by Dzanc Books, October (2015)



This entry was posted on Friday, February 1st, 2019 at 9:50 am. Leave a comment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Gratitude 2019

Today I have 18 years free from drugs and alcohol. I can safely say no one ever saw that coming. What with the way I was living and the destruction of everything I touched it was becoming more and more apparent I wasn’t headed down the primrose path to a long wonderful life. January 8th 2001 I walked into a long-term residential rehab. My only intention was to stay one step ahead of my parole officer. As a convicted felon I was on what’s known as high control parole, which basically means I was under heavy scrutiny with constant surveillance, unannounced piss tests, parole agents showing up at my work and home whenever they pleased, and mandatory weekly appointments reporting live and in person. Which of course is exactly what “high control” sounds like, and with this kind of “supervision” one would think I would have walked the straight and narrow—at least until I was discharged (especially with the ever present threat of a twenty-five to life prison sentence hanging over my head). Yet this exact disregard for myself, and my wellbeing, was a true testimonial to the pull of heroin addiction (talk about high control). Regardless of the consequences I had stopped checking in (technically called absconding), was again shooting dope, and committing petty crimes to support my habit. It was only a matter of time before I was caught and sent back to prison.

On the day I walked into rehab the counselor doing intake told me they were full and I should come back next week when there’d be an opening. Not that willing to actually quit heroin I took this as a sign I was free to use all weekend and then return on Monday to be saved. Screw those bastards at parole. Checking myself into rehab was a get out of jail free card. I’d be in treatment before they found me, and by then it’d be old news and they’d just let me stay rather then deal with the hassle of violating me. With the entire weekend open and available I was going to shoot dope until I was really ready to quit. The counselor’s words were like a reprieve from hell and I was out the door and around the block just about to call my dealer when my phone rang… It was the counselor I had just left. He had pulled some strings. There was an available bed. I should come back immediately. Reluctantly I returned, and the rest, as they say, is history.

These past eighteen years have been a long worthwhile journey. Not always easy, at times incredibly hard, and others immensely rewarding. I have never regretted making the decision to ask for help, enter rehab, get clean, and stay clean. I now have an amazing supportive group of people in my life. I continue to have a healthy relationship with a cool-ass sponsor who only has my best interest at heart. I socialize with fellow addicts and alcoholics and attend meetings as an integral member of the recovery community. Whenever possible I give back by being of service to others.

Being in recovery has allowed me to actually become a better person. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. Even on my worst days I’m still in rhythm with the universe and I am forever indebted, humbled, and grateful. Without recovery I couldn’t be in a healthy relationship. Jenn and I are coming up on our two year anniversary of marriage and seven years of being together—which is the longest I have ever been with anyone. We share a deep connection of love and intimacy. We’re totally inseparable and everyday is a gift.

For my day job I’m still working in treatment and I deal with a lot of challenging clients and help them begin their own journey of recovery. It takes a lot of dedication. It’s hard work—but in the end worth every drop of sweat. Although the absolute best thing about working in recovery is that it allows me the time to write that teaching never did. I’ve complete my second memoir titled: Anarchy At The Circle K: On The Road with Dead Kennedys, T.S.O.L., Flipper, Subhumans… And Heroin — it’s all about my punk rock days of touring and causing mayhem in the clubs and on the highways of America. When the dust settles from the holidays and the powers that be in the publishing industry return to their offices I’ll start the process of getting published again. Not a dance I relish. But this is the profession I chose.  

I lost loved ones, family, friends, and people I know and respect this year. You will all be missed and continually loved in my heart and memories. I’m getting to that age where people close to me die. It happened with drugs back in the ‘80’s. But these days I’m more present. Life has more meaning. My relationships more valued—every moment that much more precious. I’ve made a commitment to engage with friends and family more. Whenever someone comes to mind, I reach out, because I never know if I’ll see them again. I recently had an opportunity to visit with a friend, but I was tired from work and canceled thinking we could reschedule anytime. That person died a week later. It hit me hard. I’m not going to let that happen again.  

Over the holidays I spent quality time with family and friends and basked in the warmth of appreciation and abundance. In a room full of people that matter I can easily be loving and grateful. Yet unbelievable as this may sound I’m not always that positive person brimming with love and gratitude. It’s just not my default mode. I’m quick to see blame and negativity. Some mornings I wake with an intense feeling of impending doom. Other mornings I’m almost happy to be alive—but there’s always a catch—as I calculate my options determining what I’m lacking. If there’s a glass it’s definitely half full. 

These are the moments where it is easy to get lost and lose sight of what’s important. When I want for a host of external solutions, as if there’s a missing component that is going to help me find purpose and attain satisfaction, I know I’m just grasping for an answer that can only come from within. Instead of buying another guitar or a bigger flat screen TV, I ask the universe for faith and to be grateful for every aspect of my life. Does this always work? Not always, and definitely not immediately. But much like being present with all my relationships, asking for help is another thing I am practicing. I’m getting older. Time is finite. I care more. I do more. 

2018 was abundant with the good, the difficult, and in between—all of which I am truly grateful for.


Dedicated to Cathy Eddy – much love, miss you


This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 at 7:55 am. Leave a comment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

SnowFlakes In A Blizzard: Gun, Needle, Spoon

THE BOOK: Gun, Needle, Spoon


THE AUTHOR: Patrick O’Neil

THE EDITOR: Guy Intoci


SUMMARY: Before his life went totally off the rails, Patrick O’Neil was living the punk rock dream, working at San Francisco’s legendary Mabuhay Gardens, going on to become a roadie and then the road manager for such seminal bands as Dead Kennedys, Flipper, Subhumans, and T.S.O.L. But that was before his heroin addiction veered totally out of control. A junkie for eighteen years, O’Neil, the educated son of intellectuals, eventually turned to a life of crime, ending up the ring-leader of a group of armed bank robbers, all in an increasingly out-of-control attempt to keep himself and his girlfriend in drugs. Now, after a stint in prison and fourteen years clean off drugs, O’Neil takes a look back at the experiences—moving, calamitous, and at times both hilarious and terrifying—that led to his downfall and recovery. Told in sparse prose and graphic detail, Gun, Needle, Spoon examines the long road to redemption, and the obstacles along the way, demystifying the “criminal life” so often depicted in film and fiction, but seldom written about from the first-hand point of view of those who have lived it.

THE BACK STORY: I got busted for armed bank robbery in 1997. I was strung-out, physically destroyed and looking at doing 25 years to life in prison. While I was awaiting trial in county jail I was stuck in a cell for 23 hours a day with a serial-killer cellie. He and his girlfriend had been busted for “befriending” old men and then killing them by poisoning them in order to steal their property and wealth. He was constantly offering me cookies and candy and I’d say, “Hell no George, you poison people!” After a few months, I’d do anything to get out of our five-by-10 foot cell. In San Francisco, at least back in the ’90’s, they offered adult education classes, and one of them was creative writing. Now, when you’re incarcerated there’s not a whole lot of options for creative self-expression; I had always been a storyteller as a visual artist and then a musician, so it wasn’t that far-fetched to try my hand at writing. Only I hadn’t read a book or scribbled even a short sentence in many years. I was practically illiterate. Yet boredom and adversity breed creativity, at least for me it did, and I started writing long diatribes against “the man” for keeping me down, and these short stories about the crimes I’d committed and the people I’d run with for the last few years. I was also reading a much as I could get my hands on. I read Edward Bunker’s Education of a Felon, and I knew I could write like that. I’d read George Jackson’s Blood in My Eye or Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice and wish that I could write like that. I’d try and read crap like Dean Koontz and end up throwing it across the cell. But I read a book a day and when I was eventually convicted and sent to the big house I kept writing. When I hit the mainline I joined a creative writing group. Every week I’d share my work with my fellow convicts and get nods of approval. My “stories” started to evolve into longer pieces of creative nonfiction, and I started thinking of myself as a writer. Then one day, out on the yard, a giant corn-fed thug, his skin covered in swastikas, sided up to me and handed me this book: “Yo, ya gotta read this, bro.” At first I was just really stoked he didn’t stab me, but then I realized he was a member of my writing group. When I read the book, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, it changed my perspective. It not only made me want to be a better writer, but I knew I was going to be one.

WHY THIS TITLE: My working title was “Opacity” – which was a design reference to a color’s density lacking transparency. I originally intended it as a play on words regarding memory not always being clear. I even submitted the memoir with that title to a few agents and indie presses (and received rejections). When I asked a friend to read the final draft and she wanted to know what the title meant I realized it was confusing and wasn’t working. A few weeks later I was driving in the Mojave Desert up by Joshua Tree with my friend and fellow author Rob Roberge. I was complaining that my title was horrible, but was stumped on composing a new one. He said, “What’s the book really about?” I said, “Guns, needles, spoons…” listing off the subject matter, and then realizing I had the title.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: You might want to read my memoir if you’re in recovery, thinking about getting into recovery, have a loved one that is in recovery, or know someone that should be in recovery. It’s not a cautionary tale of the horrors of addiction, or even a scared straight after school special. It’s a story of redemption and perseverance. Parents, wives, husbands, significant others, and children of addicts have written to me thankful for the insight into what their loved ones have and are experiencing and dealing with. Forgiveness starts with understanding and compassion. Gratitude comes from how we are able to help one another.

Also, if you’re into junkie lit, true crime, and addiction memoirs, than this book might be for you as well.

And lastly, I come from the original punk rock era of the late ‘70’s early ‘80’s and my memoir might make sense to a lot of aging punk rockers out there – in other words the mom and dads of today. Although I taught English at a community college for over nine years and it saddens me to say that none of my students read. Not for pleasure, not for educational purposes, not newspapers, or even the owners manual for their TVs. So these days I am always amazed when anyone wants to read—my work, or anybody else’s—so I thank you in advance if you do.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “Patrick O’Neil’s recent memoir, Gun, Needle, Spoon, follows [the addiction memoir’s] well-worn narrative tracks but also manages to push out of them in ways that are surprising and significant. — Lindsay Marshall, American Book Review

“The omissions, the prose, and the patience with which he tells his frequently disturbing tale all add up to a whole greater than the sum of its excellent parts. Patrick O’Neil is a fantastic writer, and this is a hell of a debut.”– Michael T. Fournier, Razorcake

“Gun, Needle, Spoon is a work of tremendous courage, one which strikes a perfect balance between bluntness and beauty—O’Neil is a truly gifted storyteller—and gives readers a peek behind the curtain of a life most have only ever seen in fiction.” — Elizabeth A. White

“That’s why I find Gun, Needle, Spoon so compelling. It dramatizes a big addiction in a way that sheds light on our little addictions. We’re addicts, but not heroin addicts. If O’Neil can come back, so can we.” — Art Edwards, Entropy Magazine

“Patrick finds a way to dance on the razor’s edge of emotion while not becoming sentimental.” — Jacob Singer, Curbside Splendor

“O’Neil either doesn’t give a damn what you think, or he simply trusts the reader to be smart enough to make their own judgments. He offers his story with grim humor and unsettlingly vivid imagery.” — Gabriel Ricard, Drunk Monkeys

AUTHOR PROFILE: Patrick O’Neil is the author of the memoirs Gun, Needle, Spoon (Dzanc Books) and Hold-up (13e Note Editions). His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Juxtapoz,, The Fix, The Nervous Breakdown, After Party Magazine, and Razorcake. He is a contributing editor for Sensitive Skin Magazine, a Pushcart nominee, and a two-time nominee for Best Of The Net. He holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles, and is the co-coordinator for the Why There Are Words, Los Angeles reading series. For the past 17 years he has lived and worked in the recovery community as a recovering addict/alcoholic, a drug and alcohol counselor, a college instructor, and a narrative therapist. In 2015 the State of California granted him a Certificate of Rehabilitation. In 2016 California Governor Edmund G. Brown awarded him a Governor’s Pardon. He has taught writing workshops in numerous correctional facilities and institutions and continues to be of service to his fellowship and community. O’Neil currently lives in the MacArthur Park/West Lake district of Los Angeles, with his wife Jennifer, and two rather large Maine Coons.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: A good sixty percent of the first half of Gun Needle Spoon was my thesis for grad school. I began my MFA studies with a definite vision of the book I wanted to write and I concentrated on completing it. The final draft of that manuscript was a slightly shorter version of what would ultimately become Hold-Up (my first memoir translated into French and published in France). After graduating grad school I wrote a “part two” —a “this is me now” part to the memoir—and I eventually got an American publishing deal with Dzanc and worked with Editor-in-Chief Guy Intoci on a complete re-write/revision that became Gun Needle Spoon. It was a long journey to getting published, but the final results were well worth it.


Here is the opening chapter to Gun, Needle, Spoon published by: The Nervous Breakdown

LOCAL OUTLETS: Los Angeles: Book Soup, Vroman’s, and Skylight Books.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Dzanc Books, Powell’s, IndieBound, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

PRICE: $14.95

eBook: $9.99





Instagram: @patricksoneil

Twitter: @PatrickSOneil
Originally published in SnowFlakes In A Blizzard, September (2018)

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 at 5:15 pm. Leave a comment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.