Kentucky State Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, has been quite busy working on a passion he’s had for years. Somewhere in the midst of serving in public office (since 1991) and working as a psychotherapist, he went back to school and received his MFA in fiction from Spalding University in 2012. And now, he’s debuting his first novel, “The Unfinished Man,” a fictional story that examines sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
Wayne says the idea for the book had been brewing for years, and after he received his formal training from Spalding, he used his downtime to write.
“To tell you the truth, I most often relax when I write,” he tells Insider. “Most of my work in psychotherapy and the legislature taxes the side of my brain that is logical, sequential and focused on goals. In writing, some of those skills are used, but the writing muses play best in the other side of the brain. It all keeps me balanced.”
The story of “The Unfinished Man” tackles a subject that is important to Wayne: Throughout his time as a representative, he has worked closely with victims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse and sponsored legislation to tighten the reporting requirements and penalties for sexual abuse of minors.
The main character in the book, Father Justin Zapp, suffered sexual abuse as a youth, and when he finds out there are rumors of abuse in his own diocese, he is challenged to protect his people and deal with his past at the same time.
Wayne says his partnership with the local chapter of Voice of the Faithful led him to champion for tighter laws on sexual abuse of minors. The organization included many who had been victimized by Catholic clergy, and they approached Wayne to help them lobby in Frankfort.
“We worked together for months and, surprisingly, passed the new laws in one legislative session,” he says. “Much of the credit goes to these laymen and women.”
Wayne has two book signings this week, and he’s looking forward to sharing his first novel with the public. The first is Thursday, June 9, at Carmichael’s Bookstore (2720 Frankfort Ave.) at 7 p.m., and the next one is Saturday, June 11, at Destinations Booksellers in New Albany (604 E. Spring St.) at 11 a.m.
Before Wayne signs his first copy at Carmichael’s, he answered seven very important questions …
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
The most surprising thing on my Bucket List is to witness the president of the USA sign a worldwide treaty to ban all nuclear weapons!
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
The poster on my wall in junior high was a LIFE magazine cover of Sen. John Kennedy, who was planning to run for president in 1960, the year I was 12.
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
If I were mayor of Louisville, I’d give the key to the city to Malala Yousafzai, the 19-year-old 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner who is an advocate for female education and human rights.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
My preferred pizza toppings are fresh homegrown diced Kentucky tomatoes, diced white onions, diced green peppers, Gorgonzola cheese, olive oil, fresh oregano and fresh basil. Yum, yum! (Thin crust, please!)
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
If I could be any age for a week, I’d choose 12, when my mind was just starting to think abstractly and I was in love with all the new things I was just beginning to learn with adult concepts about nature, geography and politics. It was also before all the complications of adolescence!
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
The most famous person I resemble? Some say Barry Manilow, others Abraham Lincoln, but I long ago gave up caring about comparing myself to famous people … it just causes me to not appreciate my own uniqueness!
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?
If I was to be stuck in an elevator for a while, I’d love to be there with Pope Francis. What a fascinating, authentic person!