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Louisville Lawmaker Jim Wayne Pens First Novel

Jim Wayne unfinished man
Courtney Daniel

Louisville State Rep. Jim Wayne has expanded his writing repertoire beyond state legislation

and into the world of fiction.

Wayne’s first novel, "The Unfinished Man" tells the story of a priest wrestling with the wounds of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a member of the clergy.

Wayne, a Democrat from Louisville, says he drew on his experience as a state legislator and psychotherapist to address issues of corruption and healing.

“It’s easy to see the flaws in human beings who have power and how those flaws impact the lives of the common person,” Wayne said. “All of us are confronted with systemic evil in our midst and we can either ignore it, we can cooperate with it or we can confront it to try to change it.”

In the novel, Father Justin Zapp learns of sexual abuse in his own diocese and he has to find a way to confront his own shadows while preventing further damage.

Wayne says it’s important for victims to engage in life around them once they heal emotionally.

“In this case with the protagonist in this novel, he engages in the life around him that was causing more harm for other people,” he said.

As a state representative, Wayne sponsored legislation that tightened reporting requirements and penalties for sexual abuse of minors. It was passed in 2008. The law made it a felony for people in positions of authority — including clergy and teachers — to engage in sexual acts with minors. It also created escalating penalties for people who fail to report sexual abuse of minors.

Wayne says he's already working on a second novel and recently completed a children's book. He received a MFA in fiction from Louisville's Spalding University in 2012.

Wayne will attend book signing events in Louisville on Thursday, in New Albany, Indiana on Saturday and he'll also attend events in Frankfort and Lexington.

"The Unfinished Man" will be released on June 8.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.