Q&A with author Paulette Mahurin

Paulette Mahurin1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
The imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. Soon after Britain changed its laws to make homosexuality (a male having sex with another male) a criminal offense with a punishment of two years in a prison of hard labor, Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted and sentenced to the two years. It was devastating for him and from his writings, De Profundis in particular (which is a letter to his lover while in prison) that moved me to try to understand and imagine what he must have gone through. I couldn’t. The story, a ficitionalized account of the impact his imprisonment had on a lesbian couple living in a small Nevada cattle ranching town. The writing of this story was my attempt to try to understand the persecution Wilde must have experienced.

2. When did you take up writing?
At around the age of ten.

3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
Very important because it helps drive the story, like another important character which modifies the relating and
relationships of all the characters. How do they react to the weather, to nature, to their surroundings, where does
there attention go with regards to setting. Helps give good side story.

4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
No favourite. They all play a dramatic role in creating conflict and resolution. There is the subset of a few main characters and the surrounding cast but they need each other to draw out the emotional charge and depending on my reference I like that particular character at a certain time then it switches. For example, Gus is a character but also the alter-ego philosophical voice and I love what he says to counter Charley’s growth and help it along. I love Mildred and Edra and how they play off each other but without Josie the plot/storyline would fall short.

5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
A writer writes. That’s it. Tell the critic inside your head to “shut up” and get on with writing. Leave the editing up to the editors and feedback up to your readers. Doesn’t matter how much time one puts in if a writer doesn’t write there is no process.

6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
Usually mornings (7:00 – 11:00) but if I’m on a roll I’ll stay with it longer.

7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
Both. Things arise and I jot down some notes then the characters get into their scenes and advise me and off I go,
taking their leads.

8. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?
The Grapes of Wrath, by Steinbeck; Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl; The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by Wroblewski, The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, by Stieg.

9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
A love story, based on a true story about two cancer patients who met in an oncologists office.

10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
Don’t be hard on yourself or judge the quality of your writing, just write and put in the time. Trust in your gut, if it doesn’t resonate authentic, interesting, or flowing with the story and feels didactic (like you’re trying to show off your research or it pulls the reader out of the story) drop it. Keep the story about the story and not what you’ve invested in. The results may be very surprising.

You can find The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on Amazon.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap - Paulette Mahurin - Cover

Annette Bower
7/16/2012 03:42:52 pm

I enjoyed reading Paulette Mahurin’s interview. She reminded me of a workshop I took a couple of years ago when the facilitator suggested that you take what you know and then build the story. She took one story and tried to learn from it and created another story. I also liked Paulette’s use of landscape. It is a character when it helps create the tension and moves the story along.
7/16/2012 03:59:21 pm

I’m glad you enjoyed it. It is always interesting to me to read how people decide on a story line and what inspires them as well. There are so many different ways to approach a story.

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