Monday, September 3, 2012
Q1: What inspired you to write The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap?
I was in a writing class doing an exercise from a photo in which we had to write a ten minute mystery. The photo I had was of two women dressed in what looked like turn of the twentieth century clothing. It screamed out to me to make them lesbians afraid of being found out. That was the initial seed to the story. The inspiration then came when I researched the time period and came across Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, for indencency, in 1895, shortly after Britian had changed its laws to make homosexuality (sex between males) a criminal offense, the punishment was imprisonment in a hard labor camp. I could not comprehend something like this, going to jail for exercising my natural urge to be with someone I’m attracted to, in love with.
Q2: Do you have a favorite character from the book? If so, who?
It changes depending on the perspective I’m viewing and they all make up a composite that moves the story along. I love Charley, who is tortured from the loss of his wife and through this devastation opens and grows in ways he’d never envisioned. Then there’s Gus, whose voice is all about living and expression through the world as it is, as it is experienced, and not buying into another’s belief system, no matter the “group-think” pressure that surrounds him in a small town. And, I love Mildred, who for the most part accepts the hand she’s dealt in life and continues to survive, make the best of what she can, and shows open heart generosity to a fault. These three move the story along, but there would be no story without Josie, the metaphor of hatred and prejudice that develops the needed conflict to hold the story and make it interesting, I like her in the way we all like sensationalistic things because it reflects in us areas to grow in and improve.
Q3: You’re donating the profits from the book to a no-kill shelter. How did that come about?
Last September, almost a year ago, we lost our 15+ year dog, Tazzie. That was really a big loss. I had had lyme disease for the ten years prior and she was with me through all of it, through the worst moments of my life, and there were times when nothing mattered, when I was so sick I could barely move, and there she would be by my side, lifting my spirits. When she died there was a huge gap in my heart, and my husbands. We went to a shelter (a kill shelter) to rescue another dog, and saw all those pathetic depressed faces behind bars. It was heart breaking because no matter how many we rescue (we ended up with three but one has also since died, he was an ill senior when we took him home) you can’t save them all. I wanted to help with the big picture. Concurrent with this adoption, I was almost completed with my book. It was also right around the time I first heard the news that a new no-kill, the first one in Ventura County, CA, The Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center (SPARC), was about to open. It came to me that I could donate any profits to help save animals lives and SPARC seemed the perfect and most logical recipient. It’s my passion to help lessen the suffering of animals, to try to make a difference, to promote this, so I got together with some of the people on the Board of Directors and started the flow. You can’t buy the fullness in your heart you feel when forwarding something like this and you know that the gratitude you receive from saving or helping an animal comes back to you in so many incredible wonderful ways.
Q4: Your house is on fire and you can only save three books. Which ones do you choose?
The Four Agreements by Don Miquel Ruiz because of how it makes me feel when I read it. The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck because it was one of the most powerful haunting books I’ve ever read and each time I read it I learn different things. A Kindship With All Life, by J. Allen Boone because it is the best book I’ve ever read on our interconnection with animals, and is a joyous story.
Q5: There are too many books in the world, and not enough time. Why should someone choose to read your book instead of something else?
Another author read and reviewed my book last week and what he wrote is books do two things: they entertain and they teach or enlighten. He said that mine, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap does both. I don’t know this author so he wasn’t indebted to me to be nice in the review. My story is something that isn’t told about over and over, it’s new and fresh. You try to do a literature search and you won’t come up with many stories about persecuted lesbians, so there’s the aspect that it’s something novel but really the bottom line the best answer I can come up with is that every person who’s read it (friends and strangers, authors, reviewers, people buying it on amazon, renting it from the library) who has reviewed it have all said they enjoyed it, a lot said that they couldn’t put it down. The reviews are on Amazon, take a look.