Wednesday 7 November 2012

Paulette Mahurin - The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

Today, Paulette Mahurin is here to tell us about her novel The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, which is available in hard copy and electronic format on Amazon.

First, let me say a big thank you for having me over for a visit at your great blog site and this interview.

You are most welcome! Your book is set in 1895 Nevada. How did you choose the setting for your novel?

That's an interesting question. The seed for the novel came from a photo to two women, dressed in turn of the twentieth century garb. When I started to research that time period, I came across the Donner Party debacle, which changed the course of migrating west, to move further south in the Nevada Walker Lake region. When I read about that area it seems like an interesting place, really different, to place a lesbian couple afraid of being found out, sorta women's Brokeback Mountain scene.

You have had wonderful endorsement. Did those come from volunteers or do you have a circle of acquaintances that helped pave your way?

I have been blessed with so much good will from so many wonderful people. There have been a lot of fabulous bloggers, like yourself, readers who wanted to read and review my book, many who have purchased and reviewed it, a reader who was on the board of a prestigious art center who brought it to their board to be featured by their literary branch for their read of the month (that happened last July). I got lucky with some really good press coverage and national magazine coverage from nursing journals (I'm a Nurse Practitioner). A lot of individuals and good will. I have a terrific husband and some very close friends, like family, who have read and promoted for me, without my even asking for help, a lot of good people. I feel blessed. There's also the theme of the story, tolerance, and that profits go to help get animals out of kill shelters, a lot of people want to get behind these.

Portrait of Tazzie, the reason profits go to animals
That's right. I read that the profits are being donated to animal rescue. What a great thing to do. Have you found reception to your book positive? Have you gotten any bad reviews?

I haven't gotten any reviews I feel are bad. I've been very fortunate so far. I've had one, that got a thumbs up and thumbs down. The thumbs down because "they don't associate with those types (meaning lesbians); and a thumbs up because of the quality of writing, they felt it was the best characterization of any book they've read. I actually loved that review because it opened up some honest dialogue. Most of the reviews have been very favorable.

Well, that's hardly a bad review then! You can never please everyone. But if they STILL appreciate the writing, that's really what counts. Do you have plans for your next novel? Will it also be historical?

I've been trying to get back to the one I'm working on, a contemporary love story, based on a true story of a couple that met in an oncologist's office, both with cancer. I wrote it as a short story in college and won an award for it in a literary contest and had it published. I'm up to chapter 7, but that's gone on the back burner while I'm trying to promote The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. There are other historical stories I have in mind to write, but they are also on the back burner.

Ah that back burner. Sometimes I wonder how it holds so much! Your publisher is Blue Palm Press. How influential were they in the process of publication? Did you have several rounds of edits? Did you have input on the cover?

Some muses have fur
The publisher is a friend's company. She's an ex-NY-journalist and wonderful editor and format design person. I did my final edit round with her and she did the design and book cover. It was my husband's family photo we used, but my friend did the actual design. I had two other editors I worked with during the earlier stages, one was for flow and structure (& grammar) and the other, a professional screenwriter/playwrite did a creative edit which was terrific. She read for credibility, believability, did it flow and fit, were there lulls, things that distracted (like too much historical facts slowing the action, etc). I spent close to a year doing the rewrites from the pages of notes she gave me. I worked with these three people, all authors, all professional, all supportive, but all no nonsense.

It's good to have a full circle. I try to find beta/pre readers for credibility/believability and trust my publishers editors to help me catch the grammar. Did you consider self-publishing? It sounds like it was the next thing to self-publishing.

I took the book over from Blue Palm to pick up the printing costs because the funds weren't there to have her do the promo and printing. That's what I've been doing. I've had another publisher express interest in wanting to publish it but when I sat down and looked at the figures with my husband, who acts as my business partner (a retired NASA attorney) I was doing better to stay on my own, especially with profits going to animal rescue, I didn't want to take away from that.

Book Signings
That makes sense. I imagine the profit margin is much greater when dealing with costs yourself. You have nearly 100 reviews on Amazon! That's wonderful! Have you noticed times when there is a rise in sales/reviews? Do you know what media or promotion they might coincide with?

I had a huge spike in sales after an article in the largest circulating press in Ventura County, The Ventura County Star, featured it in their Sunday edition, front page Life Section. That was great. And, a spike again around a couple of readings, and other press and magazine coverage, but mostly it's been a steady stream of about a book to two/day since it's been out.

Grassroots is a great way to build. What types of promotion have you done?

Anything I can think of. Been very lucky with lots of people reading and reviewing. I have done interviews with bloggers, giveaways, articles/posts, a few book signings locally, and promoting with anyone who'll listen, on facebook, at the world lit cafe, on book's blog, on goodreads, twitter (@MahurinPaulette), I continue to reach and try to get it seen. Self promoting is not for the weak of heart, lol.

Thank you again for coming by, Paulette. If you have any questions for Paulette, or if you know another author or blogger I should interview, please leave a comment!

Update! Paulette has graciously offered to give away a kindle copy of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. If you're interested, comment with your email address and someone whose bravery and honesty in the face of great odds inspires you and should inspire us.