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Writing true stories

I trained as a journalist from the ground up, starting at weekly newspapers and then later working for dailies writing features, covering hard news and politics, and working the desk as a copy editor. My work has appeared in most of the larger daily newspapers in Texas as well as Variety and Texas Monthly.  Here are favorite recent pieces:


The magazine with the largest circulation in Texas at more than 1 million is Texas Co-op Power News

This story began with photos. I talked my way inside the long-closed Hawn Hotel in Temple, TX, to document it as efforts continued to renovate the structure to its heyday. Then I realized hotels like it had popped up in medium-size cities across Texas and the country in the late 1920s. I ended up traveling to legendary closed hotels in Texas, including the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. 

Read the article here.


I was obsessed with discovering the true story of the homeless man who became the third lead in the Austin-shot film Joe alongside Nicholas Cage. His name was Gary Poulter and his story was a lesson for me both in persistence (it was not an easy story to research and birth) and humanity. The story remains one of the most viewed at the Austin Chronicle's web site. You can read it here.

II'm a writer, so of course I take great joy in talking to other writers, particularly when they're as legendary as Jeffrey Eugnides. I got to do just that for Kirkus Reviews. See the interview here

I was also thrilled to interview one of my fiction-writing inspirations, Charles Baxter. You can find that interview here

Yet another highlight has been frequent reviews of Carolyn Osborn's work including this piece for the Austin American-Statesman.


Andrew Shapter lost his battle with cancer in 2019. Back in 2014 I followed him through treatment and his efforts to get his film The Teller and the Truth out into the world. All the while his prime concern was his young son Ford. I was asked to both write the story and take photographs (including the cover pic) to accompany it. You can read the article here.


This piece revealed itself to me as I researched it, and affirmed my belief that writing is the process of braiding ideas that on their surface seem to have little in common. In this case it was the worst flood in Texas, a magical storm of snout butterflies and Dia De Los Muertos.


Read the article here.

"San Francisco," © Joe M. O'Connell
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