During his 40-year career as a journalist, G. Wayne Miller has written countless stories for the Providence Journal.
But his writing doesn’t stop at the newspaper. Twenty of his books, some fiction and some non-fiction have been published with “Traces of Mary” just having been released.
“Despite carrying the scars of childhood trauma, Mary McAllister has enjoyed a successful career and become the mother of two wonderful children,” the summary of the book reads.
“Then their deadbeat father leaves, her young daughter dies, and she is hospitalized in a psychiatric center as she seeks to recover from this devastating loss. But she is not the same when she is released—and during escalating periods of crisis, she claims to be possessed by Z-DA, an evil creature from a distant galaxy that has come to earth in a war almost as old as the universe itself with Ordo, leader of a good species.”
“Traces of Mary” has a mental health theme. The book’s summary asks “Is this real, or only extreme psychosis? Is Mary’s young son, Billy, really Theus, the First Lieutenant for Ordo, as she increasingly believes? Is Billy’s dead sister, Jessica, really reaching out to her brother for help in freeing her from the dark and distant place where she is trapped?”
Mental health is a topic Miller has reported about many times throughout his career. Early in his career the Providence Journal had a far larger editorial staff and Miller and other reporters had the opportunity to do investigative pieces and take a large chunk of time working on stories.
One of the assignments that Miller got to do was to spend a week at Ladd Center during its final days as the state’s locked mental institution.
“People were treated barbarically there,” said Miller.
It was the 1980s, a couple decades after the Journal first began investigating the center in the 1950s. Miller said conditions had improved when the state approved his request to stay at the center but it was still a powerful experience.
“That was pretty dramatic and powerful,” said Miller.
Miller said he also spent a week at the Institute of Mental Health which is now part of Slater Hospital.
As a reporter especially early in his career Miller took advantage of the fact that he was allowed to write books based on the series he did with the Journal. He said that the only stipulation was that the Journal got rights to the series first. Miller said he wrote four non-fiction books thus far.
One of the non-fiction books that Miller wrote was called “Human Hands.” He said he got to spend over a year at Boston’s Children’s Hospital observing the work of the chief of surgery, even getting to spend many hours in the operating room, when families signed off on it.
But all the way back in grammar school Miller said he always liked to write.
“I always liked to write fiction,” said Miller.
Knowing that he wanted a career where he could make a living he chose journalism. After graduating from Harvard he began freelancing for different publications while working as a baggage handler for Delta Airline in Boston.
After applying to a number of different places, he got a response from the editor of the North Adams Transcript.
“He took a shot on me,” said Miller.
Miller said his first short story was published in a mystery magazine. He was paid a penny and a quarter per word. He still has his acceptance paperwork to this day.
Eventually he found an agent Kay McCauley, whose brother Kirby was the agent for Stephen King at the time to help him get more of his books published.
“That was a huge breakthrough,” said Miller.
A Warwick resident, Miller said that he enjoys writing fiction because he is able to be creative.
“Your imagination is your only control,” he said.
To this day Miller continues to write stories about mental health, with his latest being about a bill requiring the state to build suicide barriers on the Jamestown, Pell, and Mount Hope Bridges.
Throughout his career Miller said that he has seen less stigma around mental health.
“It’s okay to talk about mental illness, it’s okay to have mental illness,” said Miller.
Miller’s book can be found online on Amazon.
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