Sunday, April 28, 2013

"The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap" by Paulette Mahurin

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap
by Paulette Mahurin

Paulette Mahurin's debut novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, is available in Kindle edition and in paperback format. Profits from sales go to The Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, the first no kill animal shelter in Ventura County, California, where Paulette lives.

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.

When Paulette asked me to review her novel, it was with great pleasure that I undertook the project. She is a dynamic person, a great friend and an observant, sensitive human with whom I have grown quite fond of. Few people I know could pull this off, that is to stage a story in the events of recent history, 1895, and make it so poignant for the present. There is great history here, but there is also so much about our present day societal problems. With all the political turmoil regarding same-sex marriages, homosexual behavior, and our place in history, she captures this on the stage of a small Nevada town, and the trying and impossible situation of this lesbian couple. She reveals our denied prejudices, and our hidden hypocrisy. It is entertaining and exceptional, she is a true word-smith that will rivet your attention.

From the Author - On Writing
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 (screenwriter/playwright 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 its 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.

From the Author - On Rescuing Dogs
My husband and I have been rescuing Rottweilers for the last twenty-eight years. When Tazzie, our last one, died at the age of fifteen plus years, it left a huge hole in my heart. She had been through the worst years of my life with me, a life altering long bout with Lyme Disease, and there were days when looking at her was all that gave me motivation. After her death, we went to a kill shelter to look at another Rottie puppy that had been thrown away, and still with a heavy heart I couldn't bear to see all the dogs behind bars, looking so depressed, awaiting their death sentence in this kill shelter. I became compulsive about wanting to help, yet not knowing how to. This was around the time I finished my novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. It was also around the time I first heard of the plans to open the first no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County, where I live. It was a no brainer for me to want to support this. I contacted the shelter and told them I wanted to have the profits from my book go to help them, and so began my journey in doing what I can to help avoid the tragedy of animals being put to death for no reason, other than they were born. The shelter is The Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center.

About the Author

Paulette Mahurin is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two rescued dogs, Max and Bella. She practices women’s health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. 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. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is her first novel.
For further insights, you can read an interview with the author.