🗣 Locals to Know: Meet Patrick McGinty, the author imagining Pittsburgh in 2030

Patrick McGinty headshot

Hi Patrick! Who are you? What do you do?

I’m a Morningsider and also an assistant professor in the English Department at Slippery Rock University. My debut novel about Pittsburgh’s driverless car sector, TEST DRIVE, will be published on May 24th by teeny, heroic Propeller Books.

Wax poetic for a second and tell us: what brings you most alive about this city?

This is slightly odd to say, but: I love being elsewhere and running into a Pittsburgher, then suddenly this conversation reroutes my entire day (sometimes, it reroutes the entire trip). I’m someone who is often trying to build common ground or solidarity amongst unlikely folks, and “Pittsburgh” is this kind of magical bonding agent amongst people, regardless of where their feet may be.

What’s your favorite Pittsburgh memory?

When I was nine, the Steelers beat the Colts in the 1995 AFC Championship game en route to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1979. After the game, my aunts and I ventured pseudo-legally into the family area outside of the locker room, and suffice to say that as a 9-year-old Pittsburgher, it was rather amazing to high-five large grown athletes as they met their families to celebrate. I have never heard such joyful cursing.

If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Whatever the service staff at DiAnoia’s in the Strip might recommend to me. It opened right after my wife and I had our son, and we went there on our first date as new parents; whenever I drive past, I’m always reminded of that hectic, heart-bursting time in my life.

Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Pittsburgh day.

I’d start in Frick Park meandering along Fern Hollow Creek with my son, who loves clomping through the water. With a safe and magical ‘poof,’ my son would then disappear and plop down safely into his pre-K so I could bike alone to White Whale Bookstore in Bloomfield and explore for a solid hour. I’d close by biking home to Morningside, grabbing a hefty pile of Whirly Bird wings from the Bulldog Pub on the way and hauling them into some backyard of the neighborhood pod, where we would eat and drink and hope and laugh and lament and half-watch our kids.

What’s your favorite local social media account (Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or etc.) to follow and why?

My friend and former neighbor Rachel Belloma (@arbybeast on Twitter) is, to me, a perfect mix of Pittsburgh politics and every conceivable version and iteration of Pittsburgh—old, new, everything.

If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?

A city—or town, or village, or block—is only as strong as its citizens’ ability to forge bonds with those who are from different generations (also: please please please be nice to bikes and bikers).

How does Pittsburgh help you do what you do/influence your work?

This is like asking a goldfish “how does water influence your life?” Pittsburgh is the backdrop of basically every single fictional narrative I’ve ever drafted, published, or idly thought about. Even when I think a scene or conversation isn’t about Pittsburgh, there’s often a point in the revision process where I have to confront that I’m representing how Pittsburgh is, and I have to address whether I want to retain that portrayal or shift it slightly so as to convey how I want Pittsburgh to be.

The cover of TEST DRIVE featuring a blue car against a silhouette of the Pittsburgh skyline.
The cover of TEST DRIVE, out May 24 via Propeller Books.

What’s an unpopular opinion you have about the city?

I wish we had an NBA team. When I lived in Portland, I went to tons of Blazers games, and they were a blast. I am for sure in the minority on this.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

My wife and I will soon be reuniting with our best friend, Sarah Marshall, host of the You’re Wrong About and You Are Good podcasts. We usually see her two or three times a year but have not seen her since the pandemic started. She’s participating in my Pittsburgh book launch on June 3rd at White Whale Bookstore, and I imagine that I will cry multiple times just sitting next to her.

You can find Patrick McGinty on Twitter at @PatrickMMcGinty. TEST DRIVE is available for preorder and will be released next Tuesday via Propeller Books

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