31 October 2012 ~ 3 Comments

Guest Post by Paulette Mahurin, author of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

First let me say I am grateful for the opportunity to have this interview with you. It’s an honor.

What are 3 things that you need to get your morning going?

The sunrise, I don’t like getting up when it’s still dark out; a cup of something with caffeine in it, whether coffee or green tea; and cold water on my face.

Do you happen to have a favorite author?

No. There are way too many. I love to read and there are so many great books, great authors out there, different genres, that captivate, that excite, that make me want to pick up another book, too many good stories and talented writers writing about them.

Where did you get your inspiration to write your book?

I was in a writing class when the writing teacher brought in a stack of photos. We were supposed to pick one and write a ten-minute mystery about it. I saw this photo of two women standing really close together wearing long dark dresses that went from their neck to their ankles (circa turn of the twentieth century), they looked stiff and uncomfortable, like they were hiding something. I made them lesbians on the frontier afraid of being found out. That was the seed for the story. The actual inspiration came later, while doing research and I (actually my husband discovered) that Oscar Wilde had been imprisoned for having sex with another male in 1895. Britain had just changed their laws to make it illegal, a criminal offense, with a penalty of imprisonment of two years in a hard labor prison. Two years of spent on a wooden board, eating watery porridge, walking on a treat mill six hours a day, was torturous for me to conceive of. It kept me motivated and inspired to write this story, and keep the light on the injustice of Wilde’s imprisonment, through the metaphor of the lesbian couple being persecuted.

What is the hardest part of being a writer?

Some of the feedback along the way can be brutal, someone reads it and says it should never be written and it stops you dead in your track, you give too much weight to what others think, until it starts to take form, really shape up into something defensible, and then you start to get some good feedback that diffuses the response you felt about your writing not being good enough. You sit and write, and I spent six years in this process, and it feels like giving birth, it’s your creation, your baby, you want it protected, not kicked in the teeth. After a while, it’s all taken in stride, you take the good with the bad and start to objectify that it’s just another opinion.

What’s the easiest?

Reading a good review, seeing that someone liked it, and that it made a difference, got someone thinking in a new way, stretched one’s self perception of their value system. No question, that’s by far the easiest thing of the whole process and the most rewarding, that your writing touched someone.

What made you decide to become an author?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved to write. When I was ten I wrote silly little short stories and when I was in college a couple of these silly stories won awards. That encouraged me to write. I’ve started and finished a couple of murder mysteries, a love story, but never put them into book form. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap was the first that I saw through, because I got ill and that illness afforded me the time I needed to write, which is really what I’ve wanted to do since I’ve been ten years old.

Tell us a little about your book for those who have not read it yet.

In the late 1800s Britain changed it’s laws to make homosexual sex a criminal act. The story starts with this news going out over telegraph wires around the world. When the news hits a small Nevada ranching town it throws the town into chaos, and in particular a lesbian couple fearful that all the homophobia generated from the Wilde news would cause others to now be suspicious of them. This is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended consequences and how love and friendship heal.

What was the inspiration behind the story and how does it relate to today’s issues?

The basic fundamental inspiration was my desire for tolerance, for people to be accepted for who hey are and if their actions aren’t hurting anyone then don’t hurt them with intolerable words and/or actions. I tried to write to level the playing field of bigotry, to hopefully help another, see a human being as just that, another human being, just like me, no different really except by our actions, but inside there are similar bundles of emotions, feelings, attitudes, that make up the human condition. I am no better or worse than anyone else except by the judgment that I am.

What’s with the cover photo and why did you chose it?

The photo is my husband’s grandfather, grandmother, and grandaunt. It seemed to fit with the story line of the two women and a man that enters their life, plus it was from around that time period. The original photo, from my writing class, of the two women, could no longer be found.

The story is about a lesbian couple fearing they will be found out but what is the message you want to get across?

Lesbians are human, and deserve human rights. Can we view differences and agree to disagree without putting someone down? Can we really truly dig deep and inspect our own judgments and then ask ourselves what would we do, who would we be, in a similar situation? It is my hope that the reader takes away from this the true meaning of there by the Grace…

Will we see another book by you soon?

I’ve one in progress based on a true story of a couple that meets in an oncologists office and fall in love. Both have cancer. It won an award as a short story, while I was in college.

Were any of your characters inspired by people in real life?

I have a friend who is in the closet and chooses not to come out. This person was brutally molested and abused, and is fearful. I thought when I originally saw that photo of the two women, in my writing class. When I wrote, she was never far from my heart.

Have you thought about writing a different genre?

This is the first time I’ve written a historical fiction novel. My past writing has all been in genres different from this. I write where I am, with what moves me, what presents. The story I wrote the story about the couple with cancer, a love story, came after I penned a murder mystery. I really loved writing the historical fiction, doing all the research and stimulating my brain and I have a few more ideas of others I’d like to write. For me, it’s not about genre, but rather story, a good story is a good story no matter the genre.

A women’s Brokeback Mountain. The year 1895 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 to cover 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 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.

3 Responses to “Guest Post by Paulette Mahurin, author of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap”

  1. Paulette Mahurin 31 October 2012 at 10:33 am Permalink

    Thank you so much for having me over to your great blog site. I’m very grateful for your generous support of the indie community and my book in particular, since all profits are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, the first and only no kill shelter in Ventura Count, CA where I live. (http://www.santapaulaarc.org/)

  2. Paulette Mahurin 31 October 2012 at 12:18 pm Permalink

    If anyone would like to get in touch with me or buy the book, here are all the links. Please stop by and visit us on facebook and say hello. Thanks again!


    Paulette Mahurin´s last blog post ..Interview @Candy’s Raves: In The 1800s Britain Changed It’s Laws Against Homosexual…

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