First let me say thank you so much, Jamallah, for having me over to your site. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to get to know and be interviewed by you.
Before we start talking about your book, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about yourself? I am a Nurse Practitioner, which in the United States, is like a general practitioner doctor, where I can see patients, diagnose, prescribe medications and treatment plans as fits what is wrong with them. My specialty is Women’s Health. I also do a considerable amount of pro-bono work with women with cancer. When I’m not involved with work or writing, I spend time involved in dog rescue, along with my husband. We’ve been into dog rescue for the past 28 years. We currently have two of our own, Max & Bella, from a kill-shelter.
Besides writing, what other things do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I think I just answered that above.
What is your daily routine as far as when you have an idea for your story? I usually wake up early, 5:30 to 6:00, feed and take care of the dogs, then begin writing and I stay with the process into the early afternoon. Of late, my writing per se has been on the back burner while I’m busy promoting my current book. I’m very invested in putting in the time for this one because all profits are going to animal rescue.
Where do you get your ideas from? The idea for this book came from a photo, of two women dressed in what looked like the turn of the twentieth century garb, standing very close together, looking worried, it seemed to say ‘lesbian couple afraid of being found out’ and so that’s what I went with, the seed for the story.
Out of all of the stories you’ve written so far, what would be your favorite and why? This one is one that I love but I have also written other stories that I like a lot also, a couple of award winning ones, all with different themes so it’s hard to pick out a favorite. This one, however, holds a strong place in my heart because it’s about bigotry, intolerance and hatred, leveled at innocent people; a lesbian couple, an African American man and a French Jewish man, all who did nothing to deserve the hatred spewed against them. It’s a story of the power of love and friendship also and a metamorphosis of the heart of someone who is willing to open, to something different, without judging it before he finds out for himself how he really feels. In this last character is an awakening, which shows the reader that the heart knows what the mind can never comprehend, of all that is possible.
Tell us something funny about yourself that not a lot of people know about? I have terrible stage fright. I get anxious when I have to “perform” in front of a large audience and want to avoid it. There was a reading at a very prestigious Art Center (my book was chosen as the read of the month at The Ojai Art Center) and I didn’t want to do the reading so we asked a local actress to do it for me. That was a huge relief and also did a better service for the story, lol.
Are any of the stories you’ve written based on real life experiences or basically just from imagination? A couple of stories I wrote in college, while at UCLA, were non-fiction, based on real life situations, but this one, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, is fictionalized in a factual historical setting. A lot of research went into the historical research to make it resonate as a happening at that time, 1895.
Does your ‘muse’ have a name and if so what is his/her name? What a great question and I’m assuming by it you are asking what is my source of inspiration? To this I answer no name is given, it that which has no label but resonates with something deep inside of me that sits right that says this is right, that speaks for the story and not for “me” to guide it along. I have answered in the past that when “I” get out of the way, the story flows, and that flow is almost joyous to write with, it comes and moves through me, as natural as breathing. It’s an inner sense, the intuitive voice we all have that if we pay attention to seems to make things flow without resistance, perhaps it is simply life moving and doing its things, even if it’s simply just the life of a story, and not me trying to make something happen.
What other genre besides the one you are writing about now would you like to venture into writing? I’ve written non-fiction, murder mystery, romance, and now this, historical fiction. I’m open to venturing into anything else that presents a story that I want to tell, that grabs me. I think this speaks to the expression that a good story is a good story, doesn’t matter the genre, so let the story come into focus and be told, and if it is my hands doing the typing then I’ve no problems with it. Of course, all of this is in the context of it sitting right, feeling right, for me to tell.
Who are your favorite authors that are out now? I like Ann Lamott, who is a brilliant author, but there are so many authors that I love to read, published and indie, that I would be very hard pressed to pick just one.
Who is your favorite female and male characters from your books and why? Charley, he represents the best of the human condition in the worst situations. His character shows a caved in man, devastated from an unthinkable loss, who manages to come through it all, and not just find a new life, new friends, but find his own soul and in that his heart opens in the most unexpected ways. He represents what is possible and does it in a way that isn’t unrealistic. He’s a walking, living, breathing, flesh bearing man, with all the foibles everyone else has, and yet… no spoiler here, but he is my favorite.
What do you think is the hardest thing about being a writer? Some of the criticism can be brutal while your story is taking shape, until you gain a thicker skin, and can sit back and take the bad with the good. Early on I had a reader do a read and the feedback was death. The story went on the back burner for a couple of months until another friend asked what was happening with it and wanted to see it. The second person, an X-N.Y. journalist loved it and brought it back to life, along with me. Since it’s been publishes, the reviews has mostly been very favorable and that has helped when a mediocre comment comes along, once in a while.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start off being a writer? A writer writes. If you don’t sit your butt down in the chair and write nothing will happen. Like the Nike commercial, “just do it” is the way to go about it. Doesn’t matter if it’s ten minutes or ten hours, just involve yourself in the process and then you can call yourself a writer.
If you hadn’t become a writer, what do you think you would be doing right now? Everything I mentioned above minus the writing, the medical work, the dog rescue, and hanging with friends and family. I may also do more art work, water color painting that I haven’t had the time to do lately, but to be honest I can’t see myself never writing. It’s something I love to do and envision will continue to do for as long as I’m able to.
What do you like on a man..briefs, boxer briefs or boxer shorts or nothing at all? Depends on who the man is and where we are, lol.
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.
“Paulette Mahurin’s first novel is surefooted and unflinching in its portrayal of a singular and unique character and her compelling struggles. Compassionate and confident, Mahurin allows Mildred’s story to burn through onto the page with all its inherent outrage and tenacious, abiding love. Here is a character we can champion—flawed, striving, surviving— and fully embrace in her awkward, beautiful navigation of a world that resists her in every way.” Deb Norton, Playwrite/screenwriter of The Whole Banana
“If you need to question your values, read this book! The author captures the intolerance and hypocrisy of a 1895 Nevada town, and its transcendence in time through tolerance and understanding. The angst and pain that two women feel daily, living the ‘lie’ of
their lesbian relationship, and the prejudice they must endure, is unconscionable. I
was moved to tears by their struggle in the face of the conflicted values that continue
to dominate our ‘modern’ society.” William K. Fox, PhD, Professor of Zoology
Paulette Mahurin, an award-winning 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 Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA. See links below, including shelter link and press article on her animal rescue efforts.
VC STAR Sept. 9, 2012 Sunday Life Section:
SHELTER PROFITS ARE GOING TO: