Do same-sex relationships help to soothe scarred people? Yes & no.

Conversations with author Pauletter Mahurin, who wrote The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, via emails and messages have always been a pleasure. She’s passionate about many facts of life, animal rescue and rehabilitation toping the list. She talks to IBR about her book, the very true-to-real-life plot, her writing inspirations, and more… Read on.

Shana Susan Ninan: I cried when I read your book. I cried ‘cos I could relate to the various characters and the direction of the plot. When you wrote the story did you think of how the reader would react?

Paulette Mahurin: First let me say thank you so much Shana for having me over to your great site, for your time and generosity in reading and reviewing my book, and helping to shine a light on tolerance.

I’ve had feedback from several readers that the story made them cry, the ending in particular which unexpectedly reveals the unintended consequence of acts of hatred.  I could relate to the characters as well which may sound odd being that I am the author of the work but in reality they spoke to me and told me their stories, some through people I know and have worked with, one person in particular who committed suicide because he was gay, others from things I read about the history of lesbians, and then the varied emotions I see surrounding me in every day life, inside my head and that of others. We are all shades of the human condition, no one escapes loss and death, and some of us with compassionate hearts, sensitive souls, see these things even in fictionalized stories.

I felt the reader would react as all humans react when faced with anything, through their own subjective personal experience, conditioning, emotions, and knew it’d be all over the place. The reviews reflect this from hating it because it has a lesbian protagonist and it violates their belief system to loving it and finding God through the words of the story. I kid you not; one reader wrote to the book’s Facebook page this story helped her find her God. That floored me. I’m a practical person and don’t hold out a lot of expectations which lends to some lovely surprises as I move along in this journey called life.

SSN: How did this storyline come to you?

PM: I had been working with a person who was in the closet (as a medical provider) here in the United States. The person was tortured and abused as a child and shared this with me in confidence. It weighed on me and was present in my mind while I was in a writing class and came across a photo of two women, dressed circa turn of the twentieth century. We had to do an exercise using a photo and write a ten-minute mystery. The two factors melded together and out came the theme of the story line—a lesbian couple on the frontier afraid of being found out. It continued to haunt me after that class was over, demanding I write about it. Out poured the story, which was published six years later. The time lag was due to my having a chronic illness and limited time to put into writing as well as the amount of research and editing that all went into the book.

SSN: Fictionalised true events or pure fiction, what appeals to you as a writer?

PM: What appeals to me is the story, does it grab and hold my attention, do I relate to it, want to read it, and am I sorry when the last page is turned and it’s ended. Whether it’s fictionalized true events or pure fiction, if I’m not engaged than that speaks for what I like or not. I do find it fascinating that anything one can imagine has probably actually taken place lending to the old adage that fact is weirder than fiction. When one comes across these pieces of info it’s so interesting. I found a lot of that in writing this book, the debacle Oscar Wilde went through, how lesbians were treated on the frontier, right down to the details of aspects of daily living: what they ate, how they cooked, dressed, survived when their money ran out, etc. I loved, and got way too sidetracked, cruising down history lane as I wrote. The upside is it helped expand a few of my cerebral gray cells, lol.

SSN: Your driving forces, as regards writing?

PM:With this particular work I was passionately driven by intolerance, the impact acts of hatred have on another and the ripples created in society at large. I’m way too sensitive an individual and intolerance and hateful acts bother me a lot, make me sad. I could cave into depression or do something about it and I chose to take action, write, advocate, get out there and lend a voice to the voiceless. That strongly drove me while writing this book. The next story I’ve been writing and am approaching an end-point is being driven by an entirely different force, to take the mystique out of being diagnosed with cancer, that is isn’t necessarily a death sentence or end of life sentence and how one lives is not defined by anything other than the attitude and beliefs they approach the gift of breath with.

SSN: What kind of books/ authors do you read?

PM: I love the classics. Steinbeck, in particular Grapes of Wrath, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, but also love some of the incredibly well done contemporary work, like Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One,to name a few fiction works. And, a great non-fiction, biography or historical read is something I enjoy as well, like Joseph J. Ellis’ The Founding Brothers. Again, it’s all in the story, the writing, and how engaged I become in the work.

SSN: Good and bad, positive and negative, calm and turbulent, the two sides of people’s behaviours come out in your book very well. Was that a conscious reflection of society?

PM: Dichotomies exist, the human being is a mixed bag of paradoxes, all possessing shades of every variety and there by the Grace of the mystery that creates it all go I and every other person alive. The very nature of story, to be interesting, needs to embrace the ends of the spectrum to create tension and conflict that can move the story along to resolution. It’s how we live, how lives move in real time, and to think of a uni-dimensional personality: all good or all bad; would be boring, unless a parable to make some moralistic point but then it better be brilliant or it risks ennui. I write from what I know and what I know of humans is this ever-existing dichotomy.

SSN:At a time when the current generation is out to experiment every kind of lifestyle possible, do you think same-sex relationships help to soothe scarred people? As an alternative to “suffering” in a straight relationship against one’s wishes?

PM: I don’t know that I would say experiment would express how I feel about it. When it comes to questions like this I fall into the humble place of I don’t really know, how can I? As with everything else in life, real answers, big picture answers, are not there at my disposal. If I take a perspective than that’s what is talking and it would limit the answer down to exclude what I feel is very important.

We are born with a nature, our authentic selves, and to not have them nurtured threatens a thwarted self-esteem, self-development, not from the ego perspective but a sense of how to be and act in society, good conditioning vs. traumatic abusive conditioning (in other words, parenting). How anything comes about even in light of known facts is a mystery. One child comes from an abusive family and will soar as a human being whereas another is supported and loved and turns to drugs. I do know that when “we” can express our natures, what is our heart’s desires, it sits better in our skin and I think that’s the case with a same-sex relationship being out in the sunlight as opposed to being in a heterosexual relationship, miserable, and having to pretend-against one’s wishes as you put it. Do they help to soothe scarred people? Yes and no and I don’t mean to be glib, they do if they do and don’t if they don’t and no one I know of, read of, heard of, can lend an answer that can predict otherwise, a sure outcome, a guaranteed result for the complexity of this issue.

SSN: What next? Novels in the pipeline?

PM: While in college, I had the privilege of working with a couple, both with a terminal illness. They met and fell in love. Their relationship changed my life. I had their permission to write a short story about them. Upon entering it into a national writing contest, I came in second place and was published in a magazine. I’ve never forgotten about them. My next book is an expansion of their story into a full-length novel. I’m back and forth with the editor now and hope to have it completed by the beginning of the next year.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (9 votes cast)
Do same-sex relationships help to soothe scarred people? Yes & no., 8.0 out of 10 based on 9 ratings

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 at 10:13 pm and is filed under Authors, Interview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. October 30th, 2013 | Terry Mahurin says:

    The deep probing questions made for a great interview.

  2. October 30th, 2013 | Paulette Mahurin says:

    Thank you, Shana Susan Ninan,for your time and having me over to your great site. Your terrific questions really got me thinking. I’m grateful for the opportunity of getting to know you, which has been a joy, and your support of my book which is helping to shine a light on intolerance and donating all profits to animal rescue. Love, Paulette

  3. October 31st, 2013 | Tess Kann says:

    I enjoyed this probing interview. Thank you. One of the best I’ve heard lately.
    And, Paulette, you rose to the occasion. Congratulations.

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