Retired lawyer pursues love of writing

Middletown native focuses on things he knows.

Writers just starting out, are generally encouraged to write about what they know. By incorporating their real-life experiences into their craft, the words often ring truer, and the stories are more meaningful.

Gregor Pratt, a Middletown native now living in Westchester published his first novel, “Ebola Island,” in 2019, shortly before the Covid-19 Pandemic changed the world. After retiring in 2015 from practicing law, he found more time to write, something he always wanted to do.

“I was born and raised in Middletown,” Pratt said. “When I got to Ohio Northern University in 1970, I discovered I had had a spectacular education in Middletown.”

Pratt initially studied economics in college and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1974. He wrote his first short story in 1972, incorporating his experiences working as a garbage man, practicing law and raising his children. He graduated from the Ohio University College of Law in 1977 and returned to his home town to start a private practice in 1978.

“I used to come home from practicing law and I’d be so tired that I couldn’t even read a story to my kids,” Pratt said. “So I made up stories for them.”

He got a friend to illustrate one such story, “Old Two Toed,” about a bear in the Great Smoky Mountains, but he never published it.

Meanwhile, his busy law practice and community involvement continued to define much of his life. He served on the Middletown City Commission from 1982-1985 and volunteered on several charitable boards in Middletown, including the Middletown YMCA, and the Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

“I had a general practice law firm with a focus on litigation,” Pratt said. “I did business litigation, injury, medical malpractice, family law and even handled estates.”

Practicing in his home town enhanced Pratt’s work as he would often represent several generations of the same families he knew from childhood. In 2007, he married his wife, Patty, and she had a daughter so along with Pratt’s two children, Justin and Lauren, they became a family of five.

Pratt’s love of writing never waned.

“I’d jot down ideas and stories late in my career and I found a workshop in Martha’s Vineyard geared to lawyers who wanted to write,” Pratt said. “I was among around 50 lawyers in that class, all of whom hoped to be writers.”

In that class, Pratt outlined a book about the mob in Covington, Kentucky and wrote it but never published it.

“It needs a lot of work,” Pratt said. “So it’s still in a box under my desk.”

Then in 2015, he closed his law practice and became a mediator part time until 2021.

“I finally found some time in earnest to write,” Pratt said.

About “Ebola Island,” Pratt said he didn’t predict the Covid-19 outbreak and pandemic, nor did he foresee the complete shutdown of businesses, schools and travel.

In “Ebola Island,” world governments have put a greedy class action lawyer named Jack Gamble on the verge of a big payday when he is found by the court to have contracted Ebola and is shipped off to the island where the people with the disease that he represents, have been confined.

“My hero and heroine are Jack and Maddy, both of whom are lawyers,” Pratt said. “I incorporate a little bit of law into each book, but not too much because people will be bored by it.”

Last year, Pratt published his second novel, “Dragon’s Eye, Who’s Watching You?” about the Chinese government and its far-reaching control. Main character Maddy goes missing and Jack works to unravel the mystery.

“It took me about four to five years to write Ebola Island,” Pratt said. “I started Dragon’s Eye right after I finished the first book and wrote the first draft in about a month.”

The process for the second book took about three years and, like his first book, Pratt chose to self-publish the second since he wanted to avoid the often-lengthy process of pitching to agents and awaiting responses.

“I didn’t want these books to just sit under my desk,” Pratt said.

Between writing and publishing, Pratt spends his time fly fishing, playing golf and reading. He and his wife have two grandsons and one great granddaughter, who represents the sixth generation of the Pratt family in Middletown.

“I love writing but I write for my readers, and I hope when people read my books, they are entertained,” Pratt said. “That’s the whole point of doing it.”

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