Duquesne President Ken Gormley publishes his first novel | Local News
As a lawyer, law professor, best-selling author and, most recently, university president, Ken Gormley has traveled on numerous planes across the country.
But instead of flipping through one of those easy-to-digest thrillers you can buy at an airport gift shop before take off, Gormley has been busy on some of these flights polishing his own thriller.
Creating dialogues, characters and situations was “a form of fun,” Gormley explained. “I have a small office at home and my wife Laura was like, ‘Why are you going on a Friday night or a Saturday night?’ And I would say, “Working on creative writing like this is as much fun as going to the movies. You just create it yourself. You make history. It is really, for people who love to write, a form of relaxation.
After a 30-year gestation, Gormley’s first stab in a novel, “The Heiress of Pittsburgh,” was published in October by the Milford House Press of Mechanicsburg. The story of a widowed Pittsburgh lawyer dealing with rebellious teenage girls and an estate case is a departure for the president of Duquesne University who built a national profile with a well-regarded account of the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998 and a biography of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. “The Pittsburgh Heiress” is something that Gormley has written, rewritten, revised and revised again over the years whenever he had a free minute between teaching, practicing law, writing no. -fiction and other obligations.
“I always knew I wanted to write fiction, and I always knew I wanted it to be about Pittsburgh and working-class cities like this place where I grew up,” Gormley said.
A native of Swissvale and Edgewood, the 66-year-old first stood out as a writer when he won an academic journalism award from Rolling Stone magazine while attending the University of Pittsburgh. After earning a degree in political science and philosophy from Pitt, Gormley went to Harvard Law School. But he returned to Pittsburgh after completing his JD and has remained rooted in the community ever since.
The gritty, working-class environment that Gormley portrays in “The Heiress of Pittsburgh” is, according to him, “such a rich part of American history. … All these working class communities across the region, I think they are the heart of America, and we often forget how much they have contributed. I grew up right across from Union Switch & Signal (railway company) and still hear the sound of cars bumping into each other at night.
Gormley continued, “I can close my eyes and imagine these remarkable people who had such character and integrity, but they didn’t have much fame or fortune. They kept their heads down and did the job that was important to the whole country. I think the whole area is a beautiful place for a writer to capture.
After all the tinkering with “The Heiress of Pittsburgh,” Gormley said he had reached a point where he believed the book was ready to be shared with the whole world. All the resulting royalties are allocated to Duquesne’s creative writing program because “it is really important that young people are supported in learning to write, which is a difficult and lonely profession,” he said. declared.
And, no, Gormley has no plans to write a second novel, although he has other plans in mind.
“I was born a writer,” he says. “I can not help it.”