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Keith Gaddie

OU Architecture Professor/Mystery Writer Finds Real Life Is Often Stranger Than Fiction

The University of Oklahoma President's Associates Presidential Professor of Architecture and author Keith Gaddie has lived in Oklahoma for 27 years, but his imagination is still fired by the stories he heard and the people he grew up with in rural Kentucky.

The author has written 22 books, most in his educational field of political science or architecture. Commonwealth Conspiracy: A Southern Crescent Book (available on Amazon) was published last fall and is his second work of fiction.

“I stumble into things that look interesting, and then I just try to get as good at them as I can,” he said, explaining how he started writing fiction.

Sitting in his campus office filled with books that reveal his myriad interests, Gaddie continued, “I was not a particularly good student growing up. But if I found something interesting to me, I found it very interesting. Teaching at a good institution like OU, they allow you to explore anything.”

Born and raised in rural Kentucky, Keith graduated from high school in his home state in 1984, received a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in 1987, and eventually moved to Oklahoma in 1996 with his wife, Kim.

“We didn’t realize that we would be here in Oklahoma for so long. Oklahoma has been good to us.”

Gaddie’s first novel and the first book in the Southern Crescent series, Ghosts on Vintner’s Landing, was published in 2010, and had its beginnings as a term paper in freshman comp at Florida State. The assignment, a paper based on a traumatic life event, prompted him to process the death of a friend.

“A couple of years earlier, a good friend of mine had been killed in a shootout with the police outside his grandmother’s grocery store. When I finally wrote the book, I went back to that term paper. I kept everything in the first half of the novel true to life. The last half was speculation. It was a way of exploring the story, living other lives. It was therapy, in a way.”

Commonwealth Conspiracy was written as a follow-up to Ghosts on Vintner’s Landing. The story of political intrigue—a murdered senator, an accused judge on the run, and a lawyer caught in the middle—is set in the same part of rural Kentucky and several of the original characters return.

Gaddie said, “Many of the stories in Commonwealth Conspiracy are based on things that happened to people I knew growing up, but for the novel, I had to make the stories a little less absurd. I wanted the book to be believable!”

When asked how he prepared to write a fast-paced political thriller, Keith answered, “I worked for 10 years as a litigation consultant, which taught me how courts operate. And I’ve always liked gothic fiction and murder mysteries. My grandfather, who I never knew, was a cop for 33 years. My mother told my dad that if he became a cop, she would divorce him. He went into construction instead. I love writing procedural fiction.”

Keith has plans to write a third book to complete the Southern Crescent trilogy. He already has ideas for the plot, and like his other novels, it starts with truth far stranger than fiction.'

If you have a chance to meet him in person, Keith Gaddie will regale you with uniquely absurd and darkly entertaining stories from his Kentucky youth and family history. But if you aren’t that lucky, you can always pick up one of his novels.

“Many of the stories in Commonwealth Conspiracy are based on things that happened to people I knew growing up, but for the novel, I had to make the stories a little less absurd. I wanted the book to be believable!”

  • University of Oklahoma President's Associates Presidential Professor of Architecture and author Keith Gaddie in his office at OU
  • Keith Gaddies' book, (Commonwealth Conspiracy: A Southern Crescent Book (ailable on Amazon), was published last fall and is his second work of fiction.
  • Hamming it up with former Sooners head football coach Barry Switzer
  • On the air with PBS...