Friday, December 7, 2012
Author Interview: Paulette Mahurin + Giveaway!
Paulette Mahurin is a nurse practitioner, specializing in women’s health in a rural clinic in where she lives with her husband and two rescued dogs. She also taught in several college level nursing programs, including UCLA, where she had a Master’s Degree in Nursing from their nurse practitioner program. Her two passions are writing and rescuing dogs.While in college she wrote and published two award winning non-fiction short stories.
Find more about Paulette here:
Before starting let me just say thank-you to Paulette for agreeing for the interview, and for her honest, enlightening and meaningful answers.
Thank you so much Nitzan, for inviting me over to your wonderful site here today, to talk about my book, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, and tolerance. I’m deeply moved that this is being featured, all the way from Israel, where there is so much to learn about tolerance.
When did you decide you want to be a writer?
I can never remember a time I didn’t want to write. To me, writing is like breathing. It just comes naturally, a place of sanctuary where I feel free to be my authentic self, without worry of what will others think or what will be the consequences of this or that. I am not, however, claiming that because there is this free flow that it is necessarily superlative. Absolutely not, let me not ever lose my humility and center by confusing the two.
Can you tell us a bit about your road to writing, editing and publishing your work?
That road is a tale I never envisioned for myself. I’ve always loved to write but also had a busy life with the forever excuse that there’s not enough time to sit and finish a novel. I have several on the back burner in varying degrees of editing drafts. It was not until several years back when we rescued a dog, Tazzie, and she came to us with ticks that one latched onto me and infused my body with Lyme bacteria. I was down for the count for many years, incapable of doing much of anything, except write, and so I did. I wrote my book during this time. I’ve been bless with friends who are professional editors and have been published who offered a hand, guidance, and guide me they did, my literary angels. I’ve also been bless to live in a city that has many talented professional writers, who have also helped me. Another very dear friend owns her own publishing company and it was she, near the completion of my book, who asked to see it. She completed the final editing and formatting process for me.
As an indie author, promotion is all on you. What do you do to promote your book and is it hard to do it all by yourself?
I had no idea what I was getting in to when I had a printed book in my hand. I networked and went where every sign presented, one step before the other.
I was guided to many sites, bloggers and wonderful indie people wanting to help.
I was also very lucky that some people who read it wanted to promote it. These were the readers that helped get it into the press, magazines, featured in a prestigious Art Center by its Literary Branch. I think that because it has such a universal theme, of tolerance, a strong human-rights message, and with all profits going to animal rescue, the first and only no-kill shelter, Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, in Ventura County, CA. where I live, that others wanted to help and so they did. There’s been a tremendous ripple effect. I’ve also found great sites like the World Lit Café, Book Blogs, Goodreads, Facebook, and other networking sites that help promote indie authors.
What inspired you to write The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap?
I usually answer this by talking about people I’ve worked with who were in the closet, suffering from past abuse and fearful to come out. I then add that I took
a writing class and saw a photo of two women huddled close together in turn of the twentieth century grab and the idea screamed at me, lesbians afraid of being found out. That’s how I usually answer and in part it’s true but something happened after I just wrote an e-mail to you, Nitzan, something deeper. To let the reader in here for a moment, we were chatting about intolerance, about fear of being hatred because of being judged to be something, a label, that doesn’t truly identify who were are at all.
There’s a deep pain we humans have connected with rejection, feeling unwanted, unloved, when we have such a great need for the opposite. There’s a cellular energy that comes with rejection, intolerance, hatred directed at oneself, I know, I lived with it. I grew up with a schizophrenic brother who was morbidly obese and sexually inappropriate, overtures a brother does not make to a sister. I couldn’t have friends over because of him and so I grew up in a culture where clicks rule and was always on the outside, kicked out or not accepted. It wasn’t until I got into college and succeeded with great grades in a field of study that afforded me the opportunity to know what it is to make friends that become ones extended family. I know the pain and intolerance my brother lived with, that made him drop out of High School and land in a mental institution, which to this day is his life. I know the hatred cast upon him because of his looks, his babbling to his voices, and his telling a family member he wanted to date them. In fairness to him, I want to state to my knowledge he never sexually molested or crossed that boundary with anyone, he just could not discern family from friends when relating.
While writing the story about Mildred Dunlap’s persecution, I know my past came up and went into the story, masked as hatred/bigotry of homophobia, racism and anti-Semitism, those were the populations I used in the storyline. I see that those are a limited few, and any label cast against another in a manner that says you are not okay being who you are, who you were born to be, your authentic self, is a dog of a different breed but nonetheless still a dog, hatred is hatred, intolerance is intolerance, doesn’t matter the scenario, the impact on lives the same, ruination.
Tolerance is one of the more important subjects out there, but also one very few choose to explore. What made you decide to write about it?
It wasn’t as if I made a conscious effort to write about tolerance. It surfaced.
The story came to me in a flash, the whole entire story line, from that first exercise in the writing class in Ojai, to the last final rewrite draft. In some ways I could say the story wrote me, through me. Tolerance has always been on my mind, a part of the culture I grew up with, right along with the injustice of intolerance, from my brother, to my parent’s Jewish lineage and all the persecution they and their parents encountered living in Europe, to living with mental illness, to growing up in an area where wealth and success were the norm and anything that didn’t fit a certain mold was fodder for bullying and intolerance, to being in the medical profession, the recipient of others bearing their souls about their emotional trauma. It seems there is an inherent aspect of the human condition, where “we” want to feel superior, boost our egos, and we do it by putting down the other, bullying, persecuting and hating someone else because as long as that exists out there, we don’t have to face our own shadows.
You chose to write about important and hard issues, such as having a hero who’s lesbian. Were you afraid while writing the book of how it’ll be accepted due to that?
Great question. Not at all. I had absolutely no expectation I would even sell one book. (I’m serious. To this day that it’s selling well and receiving rave reviews blows my mind). I’m a realist. I also see thought for what it is, beliefs for what they are, and how “we” can’t help our programming, our conditioning, and there will be some who won’t want to even pick it up because of homophobia. That’s happened. There are also others who have written negative aspects into reviews because of homophobia, one reviewer gave me a thumbs down because we don’t associate with those types.
I also got a thumbs up in the same review for it being the best character development in any novel they’ve read. Thankfully, I’m able to take it all in stride.
All I can do in my life is what I feel is right, put it out there, then let go. What will happen is completely out of my control. I see this. I understand this. But, more significantly, I am okay with this.
The issues in your book are close to my heart, such as racism, antisemitism, and homophobia. But I’ve been wondering since first reading about your book where have you encountered those subjects, as your book seems to dive into them in great depth and understanding?
These subjects live among us humans wherever we walk. Where is there an isolated place where one doesn’t see the put down of another because of differences, whether it’s religion, skin color, sexual preference, ethnicity, etc.? For some reason, some of us can see things, some others not. Why? I have no idea. The comment when Jesus was on the cross that there are none so blind as those who cannot see, (paraphrase) is so true. Who sees? Who doesn’t? And, what blinds us?
There is ever opportunity to see the human condition in all its depth, not just the fanciful story we identify with and want to believe or lie about to another, the Hollywood fantasy. The psychologist, Carl Jung, was right on point in studying our shadow side. He was right on about how “we” can’t become our whole, authentic self, without incorporating all our aspects. Who do you know that wants to say, to admit, yeah, I hate, I get pissed off, my marriage sucks, my children are driving me nuts, I brought my dog to a kill shelter, etc.? Who is really comfortable with that?
Why did you choose to set your novel in 1895? It was a time of great intolerance, no doubt, but we don’t have a shortage of intolerance these days.
I got the initial time from the photo in the writing class. When we started to do the research we (my husband helped) hit pay dirt when we found that Oscar Wilde was sent to prison, a two year sentence, for indecency, in 1895. The news of his imprisonment traveled around the world and it would be this news that would set a cascade of bigotry and hatred into motion that would impact Mildred Dunlap, a lesbian living in a small Nevada ranching town.
Your book seems to have a great and positive influence on people, judging by what they say; one found god, one says her psychologist bought the book because he had seen the change in her. How does it make you feel, as a writer and a person, to know your book is making a change?
It almost feels like an out of body experience. Were I to claim that I did this or that, that I did anything to create any effect, I’d be fibbing. I don’t know how this all came about and every response still surprises me. You can say I’m humble but honestly it’s not humility talking, it’s honest to goodness mystery, like so many other things in life. Why did I grow up writing? Why did I get a tick bite from my all time favorite dog (whose death inspired profits to go to animal rescue) which afforded me time to do little else but write, why did this story surface in a writing class? On and on and on like most things, a mystery to me, but a wonderful coming together that I get to be involved in. I get to feel good that something good is coming out of this mystery, that a light is shining on tolerance and hopefully more sad faces get out of these cages and land in their forever homes, now that would be a dream come true.
A lot of people who don’t usually read books like yours have read and loved it. What is it about this story that you think makes it so?
It’s a story that everyone can relate to. I didn’t hold back. The characters are real, not in the sense they are non-fiction but rather taken from what I observe in others.
I didn’t write to create a character; rather, I let the character be created from experience, from their voice, so to speak. It’s a story that happens around us every day, intolerance and hatred, a story that we love to point fingers at and say oh man she’s bad, he’s evil, and we don’t want to own that shadow part of our own inside, that there by the Grace… so it hooks the reader, the emotions grab, and in some ways we’re glad we’re not like that, not evil like Josie to the extreme she is. It’s also an uplifting story of love and friendship and shows that when we’re blessed enough
to have friends, to learn how to trust, that magic can happen. It’s a story of hope and people connect with that chemistry, the brain loves hope, it releases endorphins and serotonins. What better antidote for intolerance, then hope things will change for the better, and then, miracle of miracles, it happens, for real!
People might not know this, but all profit from your book sales go directly to animal rescue. Can you tell us a bit about this? Such as; why animal rescue, how did you get to this, and why, after putting in so much hours and work into this book don’t you feel the need to take a little bit of it for yourself?
Luckily, I can afford to donate all the profits to help animals. Dogs are my passion.
It haunts me when I see a photo of a dog (& cat, but I am a dog person) in a cage, looking so depressed, for what? For being born? I had a dog, Tazzie, that I rescued
many years ago. She lived to be 15+ years, which is ancient for a Rottweiler. When she died at home, in my arms, I was heartbroken. We went to a shelter a couple weeks later to rescue more dogs. It was too soon for me but I couldn’t leave empty handed. I wanted to get every dog out of their cage, off death row, but we can only do so much. It was right around that time, I finished my novel. It was also around that time the first and only no-kill animal shelter opened in the large county I live in. It was perfect, to donate all profits from my book to them, to a no-kill animal shelter, You can’t buy the feeling your heart feels that you’re helping a helpless dog or cat get off death row and have a chance at life.
Thank you again, for this wonderful experience, for your probing and deep questions, and joining forces with me from so far away to help shine a light on tolerance and perhaps get a few wagging tails in the process.
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 Britain’s recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When 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 Wilde’s imprisonment. It is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.
Find more about this extraordinary book on:
BUY this book here:
-This giveaway is open internationally.
-Must be older than 18 years old or have parent permission.
-Don’t cheat on your entries, I check.
-The winner will have 72 hours to respond to the email sent, or I’ll chose another one.