Blogsite Interviews: What was the most shocking thing you learned by writing your book, etc.

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Madness: Paulette Mahurin

 All profits from The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap are going to animal rescue, the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County, CA (Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center)

From the time I was ten year old, I’ve loved to write. While in college I wrote two award winning short stories. This encouraged me to continue to write, and write I did but never completed any of my novels due to other responsibilities: education, jobs, family, etc. After attending and receiving a Master’s Degree in the Nurse Practitioner Program at UCLA, I went to work in the second busiest emergency room in Los Angeles county. I saw and learned about things that haunted me, until bit by a tick and diagnosed with Lyme Disease (which went to my heart valves, brain, and muscular skeletal system) knocked me down and afforded me time to write and release the memories onto pages before me. I wrote, and wrote, and released what was stored inside, which finally gave way to a story that was to change my life, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. When I began to feel better, I joined a writing class, in Ojai, CA, where I live. The teacher, Deb Norton (screenwrite/playwrite of The Whole Banana) had us do an exercise involving a photo. We were to write a 10 minute mystery. The photo I picked was of two women huddled close together in clothing that looked circa turn of the twentieth century. I made them a Lesbian couple trying to avoid being found out. In my research, I came across Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. Britain had recently changed it’s laws to make homosexual activity, a man having sex with another man, a criminal offense resulting in a two year hard labor prison sentence. The combination of the photo from that writing class and Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment were the seeds that started the story, six years in the making. For those six years, I studied Wilde, the history of Lesbians, western settlement in the United States, and I opened to what it must have been like to live in fear of being persecuted because of the nature of one’s existence, that can no more be changed than the color of grass. As I wrote, I saw myself in the characters who I dialogued with, related with as if we were friends today, and in doing this I learned that external factors may change (the environment, technology, family relating, etc.) but the nature of the human condition and how we manifest remains the same. There will always be stories to tell, to write, to read, to appreciate, because we invest in literature from our humanness, our emotional composition, and we relate to the imagery created with narrative and dialogue that suit our preferences. We are drawn in, over and over and over again, to similar story lines, themes, sequels, because of this human experience–that in sitting down before a book or ebook, we are transcended out of our ordinary lives to magical places that written words create, no matter how similar or repetitive the story, because,after all, we are all living, breathing, stories.I hope you read and enjoy my story. And, if you buy my book thank you from my heart for contributing to the energy to save the life of a dog.

A women’s Brokeback Mountain. The year was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; the United States expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in South America; 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 the Wilde news. It is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.

All profits are going to Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, Ventura County, CA. (the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County). For more info contact the author through Facebook. Buy a book; save a life.

Grab a copy of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, learn more about Paulette, and connect with her as well with the following links:

Interview With Award-Winning Author Paulette Mahurin

1.     Tolerance, Understanding, and true love are some of the values in your book. What are some other major values and lessons you have hidden among the words?
That what we do to others we do to ourselves. How can a heart be open that harbors hatred and prejudice? It can’t. And, significantly we can never know the consequences of gossiping or spewing hatred while we’re involved in it, the victims it impacts, the hurt it generates, and the rebounding right back to serve its karmic lessons.
2.      What was the most challenging part of the research part of writing your book?
To maintain accuracy and double fact check everything when inserting actual history. Then to piece it all together in a time line that made sense and help its continuity. There was a lot of detail work to weave together into a cohesive linear time line, while including back-flashes to earlier times. It involved a lot of searches and rechecks and readers to ensure consistency and that was labor intensive and time consuming.
3.      What was the most shocking thing you learned while writing your book?
Back in the late nineteenth century woman could have a friendship and even hug and hold hands in public. Two women who could afford it could even live together without raising eyebrows if they were deemed spinsters. But, if a woman were labeled a lesbian then it was considered (diagnosed by doctors) as insane. The treatment by their physicians was rape. That really was sobering to read and to this day can’t forget about it. It has motivated me to really advocate for tolerance.
4.      When can we expect to hear your next book?
I’m half way through my first draft, up to Chapter eighteen. I probably have several rewrites before I even send it to the editor. It doesn’t involve as much research as the last one, which took me six years to write, so hopefully it’ll be done in a year.
5.     How did it feel to see that The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap had won Historical Fiction of the Year award?
It surprised me. I was thrilled and blown away. I did not expect it. Those are the best kind of rewards, when nothing is expected and someone comes and pats you on the back. I’ll tell you I’m so grateful and humbled that people like the book, that it is helping to shine a light on tolerance and that all the profits are going to animal rescue, the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County, CA (Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center ( ). The combination of all of this made it so much more exciting to have received this incredible honor. I’m still so happy about it.
6.      Tell us something challenging, that you’ve never told anyone, that you faced while writing your novel.
I’ve written a lot about having Lyme disease but what I haven’t said is that it affected my cardiac heart valves and sometimes when I get overly tired, exhausted, I have an irregular heart rhythm and have to just stop everything and rest. I don’t like to talk about myself or my health and my personal life that much. I’d much rather listen to someone else. There, now I’ve stretched beyond my comfort zone with you to give you an honest answer.
7.      What advice would you give authors wanting to write in the Historical Fiction genre?
Read lots of books others have published on your topic or subject and then do your homework. Research your subject and subject matter well from multiple sites and references and have fact checkers read and help you. Take your time with all of this because readers are smart and if you don’t do it they might do it for you, or they already know about it, and will call you out on it.
8.     How do you like living in CA? Are there as many earthquakes as rumor has it?
Not really. I have been in a couple of bad ones. Well not in, but close. During the Loma Prieta earthquake (aka: the World Series earthquake) in 1989, the 7.2 magnitude, I was a Red Cross mobile nurse. That was a bad one and it did scare me. There was damage and deaths and it brought it home that these are really dangerous. Up till that one they didn’t bother me. I now have a very healthy respect for them. Even with that experience, I love living in Southern California in a beautiful small town just thirty miles south of Santa Barbara, where nature becomes wilderness. The warmer climate also suits me well.
9.      Tell us three things that make it on your grocery list every week.
Dark chocolate bars that I get at Trader Joe’s, salad fixings and fresh fruit, usually apples and bananas.
10.  After 28 years of actively helping and being involved with dog rescuing do you have a favorite dog breed that tends to steal your heart a beat faster than the others?
My husband and I have been mainly rescuing Rottweilers and for a very long time this was my favorite breed. When Terry and I married, his mother had a Rottie who had a cancer in his leg and had to have it amputated. That dog had the best attitude about being alive than any other living thing I’d ever met. I was so moved by that that it motivated me to want to help that breed. At the time they were getting a bad rap as being a mean dog and there were a lot of them in kill shelters. We felt that we could contribute where there was a special need to help them and so we took on this breed that others wanted to throw away. They have since risen in popularity in part to an author Alexandra Day who wrote a series of children’s books, “Good Dog Carl,” which are wildly popular. I still have a soft spot in my heart for this breed and the dog that inspired me to donate all the profits from my book to the rescue was Tazzie, a Rottweiler.  Truth be told, I have never met a dog I didn’t like. I have a passion for all things dogs. We’ve also rescued many other breeds. We take what life brings us and try to do our best.
11.  If you could meet anyone (past or present) who would you like to spend the day with?
Viktor Frankl tops my list. He was a Viennese Psychiatrist, a Jewish man, who was sent to the concentration camps and lost his entire family. He watched people during that experience, dance, sing and even make love and learned a lot about the resilience of the human spirit. He came away from his experience with a very profound realization and I paraphrase, “You can have everything taken from you but what you make your attitude.” He then goes on to say it should not be a “What’s in it for me attitude” but rather “What can I do to help?” What a remarkable man this must have been. I would love to spend time with him.
12.  Do you have a special reward (food, book, prize, etc) that you like to give yourself from time to time when something great happens?
Dark chocolate. It’s my favorite. Terry and I give it to each other on birthdays, Valentine’s Day, you name it. And, I indulge with a piece almost daily. I’ve read that it changes your serotonin level, making you happier which makes me happy that my reward is healthy, lol.
13.  If someone wanted to know where to start with getting involved in dog rescue where would you tell them is step one?
Humane Societies are a great place to start. Also checking with local vets for groups that do a lot of good to help. Ask specifically about dogs in cages that need socialization and go spend time with them; petting, walking, cuddling or just sitting in a run area with them to help socialize them so they are more adoptable. It also gives them that quality time they would otherwise be deprived of. Help get them out of those cages to have a taste of freedom even if only for an hour. The reward on your heart is enormous.
14.  CA is falling into the sea and you have 20 minutes to get away safely. What are the top 10 items you would make sure made it to the car?
My husband, my two dogs, dog food, their leashes and beds, money, a change of clothes, my photo album, my kindle and glasses. That might be more than ten but that would be the order.

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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22 Responses to Blogsite Interviews: What was the most shocking thing you learned by writing your book, etc.

  1. seeker says:

    That’s a good read about your interview. I’ve check Chapters in BC, and I haven’t seen it in the store. Keeping my eyes open. Take good care.

    • Thanks. The only stores it’s being sold in are in Ventura County, CA. Otherwise it’s available on Amazon. If you don’t have access to that and want to read it let me know and I’ll be happy to gift you an electronic book if you’d like. Thank you for your continued kindness and support.

  2. jmgoyder says:

    I need to get your book!

  3. Wow what a story of sadness, joy and success in so many heartfelt things. I appreciate your honesty.

    • You’re very welcome. I’m just another human being experiencing and expressing the spectrum of emotions involved in this human experience. I have a great respect for all we go through. I’m deeply grateful for you kindness and support. 🙂

  4. Uzoma says:

    Ah! I can’t wait for your second book, Paulette! Congrats on your award, I wish I could also give you something special and prestigious as that. I also appreciate you honesty and kindness.


    • Uzoma, my friend, you’ve already given me so much for which I am grateful. Your heart and talent fill oceans and I can not wait until I get to read your book. And, also another congratulations on being an award winning published author. It’s the best when we all succeed and help each other. Blessings to you. Paulette

  5. pattersonty says:

    Reblogged this on Taking the road less traveled.

  6. I’m in full agreement with Uzoma….waiting on the next book.

  7. Don’t hesitate to get this book. It’s haunting and so well-written.

  8. mixedupmeme says:

    What a very nice interview. So much work and research goes into a book. I don’t know how anyone has the patience or finds the time.
    I spend about 20 minutes on my nonsense pieces. lol

    • The time found me, in the nature of a tick bite and being down for the count with Lyme disease. It turned into a silver lining that I could do little else but write and so I did and was able to finally finish something other than a short story. Now with lifestyle modification and a reasonable return of health I still have enough downtime to write and tend to other things. Also, and most importantly for me is I love to write so finding time to do what I love isn’t difficult and my hubby supports me in it. I guess I’m lucky after all. Little long winded here. It’s such a treat to see you here, Meme. 🙂

  9. Teepee12 says:

    I have given you the Dragon’s Loyalty Award, which is both the Very Versatile Blogger and Very Inspiring Blogger combined. I hope you will drop by and collect your well-deserved kudos 🙂

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