Denis O’Neill grew up with his three brothers in Greens Farms, Connecticut, a few hundred yards from a muddy brook that offered up trout and bullheads in warm weather, and flowed from a woodland pond that froze in winter to inspire many a shinny hockey game. His father was a writer and a Civil War historian; the tap-tap-tap of his manual typewriter providing a constant soundtrack at 3 Turkey Hill Circle. His mother, who like his father served in the OSS in WW II, managed the wellbeing of four boys born in five years with a blend of common sense and uncommon patience.
After Dartmouth College, where he captained the hockey team, Denis worked as an ordinary seaman for long enough to make enough money to travel for some months in Europe, Great Britain, and Ireland. He returned to Boston where he became a folk singer for three years (Melville & Rockwell), then earned a masters degree in journalism from Boston University.
He worked on staff and as a free-lance writer/producer for Boston’s public television station, WGBH-TV — writing copy and host copy for such programs as Frontline, Mystery, Masterpiece Theatre, The National Ballroom Dancing Championships, Irish Treasure, and No Rish Need Apply.
He began publishing articles and short stories in Sports Illustrated, The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, Fly Rod & Reel, Antiques, American Photographer and others. In 1986 he moved to Los Angeles.
His original screenplay, The River Wild, was produced in 1994, directed by Curtis Hanson, starring Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, David Strathairn and John C. Riley. A Shot At Glory, directed by Michael Corrente and starring Robert Duvall as an old school, second division Scottish football (soccer) manager, was released in 2001.
His Dartmouth memoir WHIPLASH – When the Vietnam War rolled a hand grenade into the Animal House was published in the fall of 2013. His stand-alone novel, The River Wild, inspired by his original screenplay for that movie, was published by Skyhorse Publishing in June, 2017.
The next book on deck, A Howl in My Heart, an illustrated fable about the successful reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park, is based on an animated screenplay he was hired to write by Ted Turner. Canis Dirus, a wolf story of another stripe – a high country horror/thriller set in another national Park – Yosemite – will follow HOWL.
Denis has three sons from his marriage to Deborah McLeod. He holds an Irish passport, and has been a season ticket holder of the Boston Red Sox since 1978.
– Click on the book cover image in the left sidebar for more information about WHIPLASH The Book.