Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and eighty-second, is of memoirist, non-fiction author and novelist Tekla Dennison Miller. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Tekla Dennison Miller is a former prison warden who managed two prisons simultaneously (a men’s maximum and a multi-level women’s) outside Detroit, Michigan. Her published memoir, The Warden Wore Pink, Biddle Publishing is about her twenty-year career in corrections and is required reading in criminal justice and women’s studies courses at several colleges and universities.
A second memoir, A Bowl of Cherries, released January 2003, is about Tekla’s challenging childhood in Central New York and California. At the age of 23, Alyce, Tekla’s older sister, became Tekla’s guardian when their mother committed suicide. Their father had died four years before. A Bowl of Cherries is about their relationship and Alyce’s escape from an abusive marriage.
A third and most recent publication is a nonfiction / biography, Mother Rabbit, released by Oak Tree Press on June 23, 2014’ It is about her sister Alyce Bonura who as a single mother became the Bunny Mother of the Chicago Playboy Club in 1966 to pursue a career that guaranteed financial freedom and upward mobility. Unfortunately, all was not what was assured or expected.
Tekla also has published two works of fiction: Life Sentences, and Inevitable Sentences released by Medallion Press. The first novel in this Chad Wilbanks series is about women that love men who murder. The second is about sexual abuse and domestic violence and the courage to survive.
Tekla taught children in South Central Los Angeles after the 1965 riots, worked with mentally challenged enlisted men while employed with the US Special Services in Germany, was the first female probation officer in Oakland County, Michigan and the supervisor of the first prison camp for women in Michigan. Tekla is a social activist, writer and national speaker focusing on women’s issues and criminal justice reform. She has had several nonfiction articles published in these areas. She also has had articles about dogs in prison published in Good Dog and Dog Fancy Magazines.
Tekla has appeared on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and has been featured in many radio, newspaper and journal interviews. Tekla was a technical consultant for Granada Entertainment / TNT on a TV movie and series about a woman warden and for NBC’s news special about women prisoners. As an adjunct professor, Tekla has taught a course on Prisons and Prisoners. In 2001 she was a contestant on the TV quiz show “To Tell the Truth.”
Tekla was among the women in law enforcement and criminal justice honored by the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2001 The Criminal Justice Women of Michigan again honored Tekla with the Josephine Davis Community Service Award. In 2004 Tekla received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Cazenovia College, New York. In May 2007 she was the commencement speaker at Cazenovia College and received an honorary doctorate in humane letters degree.
Tekla is a member of the American Correctional Association, Association of Women Executives in Corrections, North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents, Association of American University Women, La Plata county Women’s Resource Center, League of Women Voters, Sisters in Crime (National and Los Angeles chapter), and Southwest Writers’ Association. She is an advisory member for College Guild, a nontraditional educational program for prisoners and My Sisters Inc., a program working with incarcerated women that were victims of domestic violence.
Tekla received her AA from Cazenovia College, her BA from the University of California at Los Angeles and her MA from Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan.
Tekla lives in Colorado with her husband, Chet, a retired Ford Motor Design Engineer, and 2 rescued dogs. Throughout their 39 years of marriage she and her husband have rescued many dogs. Tekla has 3 stepsons, and 3 grandchildren.
And now from the author herself: