Patrick O’Neil

Patrick O’Neil is a former junkie bank robber and the author of the memoirs Gun, Needle, Spoon, and Hold-Up. He is the co-author of two instructional writing manuals, Writing Your Way to Recovery: How Stories Can Save Our Lives (with the author James Brown). And the PEN America Prison Writing Handbook, The Sentences that Create Us: Crafting a Writer’s Life in Prison.” In the early ‘80’s he was a roadie and/or road manager for Dead Kennedys, Flipper, TSOL, Subhumans, and The Dickies. He worked stage for the Mabuhay Gardens, the On Broadway, and Goldenvoice. And he was fired from the first Lollapalooza tour for being “too loaded.” After years of heroin addiction he turned to crime to support his habit, got busted, and was convicted of two counts of armed robbery. Getting clean off drugs in 2001 he started working as a drug and alcohol counselor. 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. O’Neil holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. He has taught writing workshops in numerous correctional facilities, universities, and institutions, and continues to work for prison reform. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife Jennifer, a Maine Coon named Jagger, and a squirrel named Mercer.

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