Interview@The Brook

Author Interview

Paulette Mahurin
November 30, 2012
Hello and welcome to The Brook Syers Blog!  Are you ready for some really tough questions?  Just kidding, I’ll go easy on you. 
Oh I’m disappointed you’re just kidding, lol. First let me say, I’m so happy to be here and a big thank you. I’m really grateful for this opportunity, especially since profits from my book are going to animal rescue.
Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
I struggle with chronic fatigue, a remnant from Lyme Disease that I’m about 95% over, but when that 5% kicks in, I’m a goner. Got a tick from a dog I rescued that knocked me out for the count, over ten years if you can believe that, and now I’m better but that triggers. I’ve learned to deal with the hand I’m dealt and am glad to be alive. I wake up every morning and say this, “I’m grateful for my vision, I’m grateful for my hearing, and I’m grateful that my body is alive and can feel, even if it’s pain…” then I give thanks for my hubby & dogs.
What made you want to become a writer?
Interesting question and my answer made seem odd, but it feels like writing did me, not I wanted to or something motivated me, just can’t remember ever not writing as a natural part of my life. I know when I was ten, I wrote short stories. I still have my notes in lined paper all in pencil with my immature handwriting, not that it’s changed all that much. I don’t really consider myself “a write” since it’s just something I do and not something I ever wanted to become.  I’ve been gifted with a couple of passions in my life, writing is one of them.  I can’t ever recall not wanting to do it than something happening and I wanted to become it, no it never happened that way. It’s always just been a part of what comes out of me. Not saying, I’m good as a writer, although people seem to like my book, it’s just my own internal, unlabeled, process.
Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
Sometimes I feel like I really understand what my dogs are saying to me and the conversation is as clear as when I talk to my husband. Their body language tells me so much, a look in their eye, a posturing, a distance from my body or the closeness to it, and something seems to transpire. Do I believe it or can I say it’s definite, no, but it sure feels real. I once read a book called A Kinship With All Life, by J. Allen Boone, where he writes about communing with a dog named Strongheart and from this relationship came a growth into relating with all of life, right down to a fly. I’m not that fine tuned, but with my dogs, yes, something is going on and more than a few would look at me weird were I to let on to it.
What gives you inspiration for your book(s)?
In the case with this one, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, my inspiration came out of a photo, of two women dressed in what looked like circa turn of the twentieth century garb, standing very close together, it screamed out lesbian couple afraid of being found out. That seed, the initial ideal for the book, was then set on fire when I researched the time period and came across Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment for homosexual activity. He was imprisoned in a hard labor prison came, which I could not imagine, being incarcerated for loving someone, making love to someone, which he could no more help that water from evaporating in heat, from a dog’s wagging tail, or the sun rise. In some ways, balancing his injustice, which still lives today in persecution, in bullying, in hateful acts against someone because of who they are, drove me to tell the story and continue to promote it, all in the name of tolerance.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Both. There are a lot of things drawn on from my insides, all parts of me, and parts of other people I know, and then parts from things I’ve read or seen, especially about the hatred, that awful judgmental opinion that ravages another’s life, for no good reason. There is never a good reason to hate and what’s significant about it is the damage is usually worse on the heart of the person harboring it. That part was foreign to me, that part I stretched and made up, but it was made up from seeing and understanding the human condition.
Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
If you search the net for a lesbian protagonist, a good woman, involved in a story about persecution and hatred, in an ranching community, around the late 1800s, you aren’t going to find any. It’s a novel approach to the history of stories. I don’t know if writers shied away from writing about it because it would turn readers off to read about a lesbian protagonist, but for me it was an imperative, and I wasn’t going to compromise because I felt I’d lose some readers. It is also a poignant love story, about friendships, and the power that we possess when doing decent, good, and right by another human being. I had another author review it for me and he wrote that there are two types of reads, those that are enjoyable and those that teach or enlighten, and he said that mine did both. There are more than 95 reviews on amazon, all favorable, even the ones that border on homophobia say that the characterization is the best they’ve ever read, and all this speaks to answer your question that it would be a new read story wise, and entertaining read, and it’ll get your thinking. Plus profits are going to help save animals.
What do you love most about the writing process?
Just sitting and doing it. I go into a zone, a joyous rapture at times, and really just love it. Writing is my sanctuary, when I can be totally myself, whatever that is in that moment and nothing out there controls or impacts it. There’s no fear while I’m writing, no worry about what will someone think, it’s really one of the only things in my life I do that I’m present with, without a lot of thinking. I love that!
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
Charley, because he comes through a devastating loss of his wife, the love of his life, and wanting to die, to finding purpose and meaning in life, in just being alive. He’s open, raw, and vulnerable, and we learn through him that the mind can never conceive or understand what the heart already knows, of all that’s possible.
What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
That a lot of people like my book, a lot. I had no expectation that I’d even sell one book and it’s been selling well now for close to six months. That really surprised me, and for that I am really grateful, because it helps spread the word for tolerance and is also helping animals get to their forever homes.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?  If so, what do you do during the day? 
I work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner, specializing in women’s health. I also have two puppies and take them to the dog park, then I write, and spend a lot of time into promotional things for the book. Plus other activities that change on a daily basis.
Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?  Do you have any other books in the works?
I’m really a live in the moment person. The Buddha said on his death bed, The trouble with you is you think you have time, and I think having a serious illness has really brought that home for me. I write today, do things today, and don’t put much stock in tomorrow, especially five years worth of tomorrows. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel I’ll be around, and I do plan things, but I’m not over attached.
And now, just some little random questions!
Favorite TV show?
X-factor. Love seeing all those talented kids getting a chance.
Favorite movie?
Not one particular, it changes. I liked The Bourne Identity trilogy, Titanic, Enchanted April, a lot of the classics, so many, it just depends on the mood I’m in and which I’m watching. There are so many.
Favorite city?
Ojai. Where I live. Look it up, it’s paradise.
Favorite food?
Favorite book?
Again, too many to pick just one. There are so many talented writers, and great stories, just way too many to chose. I loved Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, Don Miguel Ruiz’s, The Four Agreements, so many great books, which is determined by do I pick it up, don’t want to put it down, and am I disappointed when it’s over?  There are a lot that meet that criteria.
To conclude, is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Hope you have a look at my book and better yet buy it, spread the word for tolerance and help save animals.
It was a pleasure hosting you on my blog today.  I wish you all the best in your career!
The pleasure was mine and a huge thank you for having me here.
Where can we find you online?



About The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for "gross indecency" under Britian's recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When the news of Wilde's conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wildes' imprisonment. It is chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing. Paulette Mahurin, the author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs--- Max and Bella. She practices women's health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. All profits from her book are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Shelter, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA, where she lives. (see links below on Ventura County Star Article & Shelter) To find out more please go the The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on facebook or Amazon or e-mail us at the gavatar addresses. Thank you. (photos: of Paulette, her family, and a reading at The Ojai Art Center, July 2012)
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