15 May 2020



Thanks, John Floyd, for inspiring this posting with your May 2nd SleuthSayers posting Strange but True.

On vacation after my second novel The Big Kiss was published, a friend spotted a pretty woman reading my book as she sat in a beach chair next to the pool. My friend goaded me into going over and talking to her. After all – I wrote the book. I swam over and got close to the woman who continued reading with a smile on her face. I waited until she looked up to ask, "How do you like the book?"

She narrowed her eyes and said, "Preferably without interruption."

I swam away.

Pool without a pretty woman.

On another trip, I stopped at a truck stop for gas, went inside the gas station and spotted a rack of paperbacks which included my book Blue Orleans. As I moved close, a large, burly man picked up my book and read the back cover. I volunteered, "That's a good book."

"You read it?"

"I wrote it."

"The fuck you did."

I walked away.

Oh, my God. The nightmares at book signings. First thing I learned was to not dress up, don't wear a coat and tie because customers think you work there.

"Where are the Ann Rice books?"

"I don't know. I don't work here. I wrote this book."

"All by yourself?"

"No. I have elves. Like Santa."

No sale.

"You're not O'Neil De Noux. I went out with him and you're not him." This from a lady at a signing. Thanks goodness my brother was there because he remembered her. She had the wrong De Noux. Strange because my brother is 6" taller than me and looks like my father's side of the family (French) while I look like my mother's side (Italian).

"Hi, I'm your second murder victim," said the nice lady at a signing for The Big Kiss. She had the same name as the second victim in the novel but she never went for walk without her Doberman pincher. "If your victim had a big dog, she would be alive today, wouldn't she?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Got flashed at a signing. A buxomly blond woman opened her blouse and asked me to autograph her breasts. She worked on Bourbon Street. My brother hired her. A friend's wife became angry, said her 4-year old son saw the breasts and would be scarred for life. He grew up to be an opthalmologist.

At a signing in Eugene, Oregon, for my book Crescent City Kills, a man scooped up a copy and said, "Who the hell's dumb enough to write about Crescent City? Nothing happens there." I didn't realize there's a Crescent City, California.

Yet another signing a big man wearing a cowboy hat waved to the stacks of my different titles on the table and asked if I'd written all those books.


He picked up one, turned it over and said, "Then why haven't I ever heard of you?"

I shugged and asked his name then said I'd never heard of him.

He dropped the book and said, "You should. I'm the sheriff in this county." He snarled and walked off.

Uh, we don't have counties in Louisiana. We have parishes.

The 64 parishes of Louisiana. We had to memorize them in grammar school.

Sometimes, it isn't so crazy. At another signing, a young couple came in and I'm serious when I say they were the best looking couple I've ever seen. Both in their early twenties, both slim, both with long hair and soft tans. Newlyweds, they said, from the Seychelles. They were surprised I knew the Seychelles were in the Indian Ocean near Africa.

"Few Americans know this."

"Few Americans can locate Europe on a world map," I said.

When I autographed the book the woman spelled her name and I put it in my notebook. Never forgot it and she became a main character twenty years later when I wrote my novel USS Relentless – Ljilluana.

The Seychelles

The Seychelles

Finding humor during this pandemic is hard. Lost a friend and a distant relative to it. Both were younger than me.

That's all for now.


  1. You DO have stories, O'Neil! Nicely done.

    An author at a truck stop noticed his novels in a rack. He pulled out a pen, opened the covers and began signing them. An outraged clerk yelled at him to stop, saying he was defacing the books. The author tried to explain he was inscribing his autograph for readers. "Sure you are," said the clerk. "Now we have to trash them."

    O'Neil, sorry to hear about the loss of those close to you. Stay well.

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  3. I am sorry about your friend and your relative. These are tough times.

    I think a funny book could be put together out of the less glamorous side of book signings and reader spottings- if that is a word.

  4. Some really funny stories, O'Neil. And how cool that you came across people reading your books in public!

    And I'm really sorry to hear about the losses of your friend and relative.

  5. O'Neil, I love stories like these! Especially the lady beside the pool--leave me alone when I'm reading. And oh God you're right about the crazy encounters at booksignings. (Though I'm afraid I was never honored with a flasher signing.)

    Sorry to hear about the loss of friend and family. I know you're across the lake from N.O., but that's still close--you guys stay safe!

  6. O'Neil, comedy and tragedy are the two faces of theater. I had some great laughs from reading your blog. And then... it's never easy to lose someone. Take care.

  7. I love reading these book signing and sighting stories especially the lady at the pool though the big guy/sheriff was pretty funny also.

    I also lost a sister. Please stay safe everyone.

    Pat Marinelli

  8. Great stories! Loved the lady who told you "you aren't O'Neil De Noux, I went out with him!" (The temptation to respond, "Well, you just don't recognize me with your clothes on" must have been overwhelming.)
    Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend and relative... these are hard times, in more ways than one.
    Stay safe, stay well, stay home.

  9. Good stories, though I have a hard time understanding how the woman who dated your brother didn't remember his NAME. People are weird.

    I'm sorry for your loss. Terrible times we're in.

  10. O'Neil, this was great fun to read. Thanks for brightening my day. I was sorry, though, to read about your friend and relative. Life is kind of hard right now. Hang in there, and keep smiling. You have had a lot to smile about over the years, if this post is anything to go by.

  11. I should try humor more often. Great responses. Glad I didn't put anyone to sleep. Wait. Maybe I did. Ciao, y'all.

  12. First, my sympathies! I know something about losing people! Loved your column! I'll agree that we ought to try humor more often. I'll quote Jim Backus: "Without laughter, there's nothing!"


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