03 April 2020

Character bios

It's hard to write a column when you see this headline online from the New York Times: 13 Deaths in a Day: An 'Abocalyptic' Coronavirus Surge at NYC Hospital.

But I'll give the column a shot –

A nice reader emailed me recently asking if I compiled a bio of the main characters in my series books. I replied, "Yes." The nice reader asked me to send examples. I replied, "No. That information is classified." I explained what I want readers to know about my characters is in my published fiction. The reader persisted, so I sent the following bio of a non-series character, information recently declassified by the CIA, FBI, NSA, FOP, SPCA, BMW, AARP, FDFUU, and Mensa.

Bio of character Christopher Fry from fiction written by O'Neil De Noux

Christopher Fry (white male, born 1910 in Spitzhavelziess, Germany, 5'8" tall, 150 pounds, blue eyes, sandy hair).

French fries

Christopher Fry's real name was Cristoph French Fry. He changed it when he left Europe in 1937, after the Popsicle Affair (still classified) in Bavaria. He came to America to fulfill his dream of meeting Rita Cansino after seeing Rita play an Egyptian girl in Charlie Chan in Egypt (20th Century Fox, 1935). He spent a year knocking around San Francisco until someone told him Hollywood was in Los Angeles. He spent another year in a futile search for Rita Cansino until he spotted her in another movie, Only Angels Have Wings (Columbia Pictures, 1939) and realized she had changed her name to Rita Hayworth.

Rita Cansino
Rita Hayworth as Gilda

Christoph managed to run into Rita at the swank Hollywood nightclub The Lion's Roar (which burned down in 1944 during the Great Coloring Book Scare). Rita did not call the police on the adoring fan but told Fry if he really wanted to be someone she admired, he should paint ducks. Lots of ducks. Just ducks.

"Do you mean I should catch ducks and paint them?"
"No. I mean duck paintings. Painting images of ducks on canvas."

a duck

Unfortunately, Rita soon married another and a crestfallen Fry moved to Algeria to begin a fifty-year sojourn into art and painted some of the most expressive ducks ever painted. Critics hailed the expressions he was able to portray in duck eyes. In Algeria, he met his wife Azocolzzzlollah, a former nun who made chocolate giraffes in the Algiers Kasbah (Casbah). When the bottom fell out of the chocolate giraffe market, the couple migrated to Saskatchewan where Fry became the most celebrated duck artist in the province. Fry returned to the US, settling briefly in New Orleans in 1965, where he nearly drowned in Hurricane Betsy. He vowed to never return to the US, leaving several paintings with local art dealers, paintings now hanging the New Orleans Museum of Art between the Gaugin section and E.J. Bellocq's lurid nudes of Storyville prostitutes.

Storyville photo by E.J. Bellocq

Fry returned to Canada.

In 1997, Fry and Azocolzzzlollah were canoeing on Reindeer Lake in Saskatchewan during moose mating season. They were last seen frantically paddling away from a large moose.

a large moose

END of Fry bio

My reader thanked me but had one question. Was Fry's sandy hair the color of Sahara Desert sand or Gobi Desert sand or Death Valley Desert sand. I informed the read the color was more like the sand of the Kalahari Desert. The reader thanked me.

Thats all for now –


  1. That French Fry guy had one hell of a life, O'Neil. And I remember the Great Coloring Book Scare -- truly tragic. At least he got to meet Rita.

    But speaking of real tragedies, it's hard to do anything with all that's going on. But hopefully this will peak soon and start tapering off. In the meantime, I think we just do the best we can. Take care of yourself.

  2. Well, it might've been hard to write the column, but you sure did a good job of it. Love the bio!!

    Be safe, down there!

  3. You rose to the occasion, O'Neil!
    BTW, for some reason it made me think of a scene Deighton's "Funeral in Berlin", where Harry Palmer's negotiating about his bio for the trip. He wants his fake Irish passport to be Kinsale, and the forger sucks his teeth and says, "Too risky, Kinsale". For some reason that line always makes me laugh.

  4. Great post, O'Neill, but I remember the Great Coloring Book Scare as a somewhat off-color story. Am I remembering it wrong?

    I have a bio for my main characters, but I didn't really start until after writing a story or two, and there are a lot of gaps I wish I had thought about before starting. Oh well, live and learn.

  5. Glad y'all remember the Great Coloring Book Scare. Eve – I'm a big Harry Palmer fan, Love THE IPCRESS FILE and FUNERAL IN BERLIN. Back when we had land lines, I didn't want to pay extra for an unlisted phone number and being a struggling writer between law enforcement jobs, I learned I could list my phone number under another name, especially when you tell the phone company it was a pseudonym. For over ten years my phone number was listed in the New Orleans directory as Harry Palmer. When Harry got a call I knew it was no one I knew and always dropped my voice and said, "Mr. Palmer's out of the country on assignment."

  6. Ah, the madness. I love it.

    When I was wee, me mother pointed out a man in church and commented that he painted my beautiful Aunt Rachel. This concept was new to toddler me. I said, "Naked?" She affirmed, yes. I didn't know about the 'on canvas' part. It took me years to discover he didn't daub paint on her naked body, although knowing my aunt, she'd probably have enjoyed that too.

    +1 more for Ipcress File and +2 for its soundtrack.

  7. Oh, I LOVE that response, O'Neil.


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