The Seven Year Dress – Devastation & Resilience

Today, I introduce you to Paulette Mahurin and her new WWII-era novel, The Seven Year Dress.

The Seven Year Dress covers one of the darkest times in human history from the perspective of one Jewish woman who lived to tell her story.TSYD-FRONT COVER The Seven Year Dress KINDLE(1) copy

The narrative tells how teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn apart as Hitler put in motion his plan to eliminate the Jews and other undesirables. With the help of one of those “undesirables,” a German boy who was also homosexual, Helen and her brother went into hiding for several years. Ultimately, they were discovered and Helen was interred in Auschwitz.

It was in that death camp that Helen suffered persecution, torture, and devastation at the hands of the Nazis. It was also in the death camp that she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship. Ultimately, this is a story of the resilience of the human spirit.

The atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews aren’t easy to read about, but the story Mahurin tells in The Seven Year Dress is too important to miss. Click to read my review.

Telling stories for a purpose

Mahurin has written a number of books, most of them historical fiction. Her passion for telling stories supports another of her passions. The profits from all her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters. She tells me that so far this year, sales of her books have helped rescue 79 dogs.

More about Paulette Mahurin:

Paulette Mahurin lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.

While in college, she won awards and published her short-stories. One of these stories, Something Wonderful, was based on the couple presented in His Name Was Ben, which she expanded into a novel in 2014. Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction of the year 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015.

Links to Mahurin’s books & more

Purchase The Seven Year Dress on Amazon

Check out all of Paulette Mahurin’s books on Amazon

Find Mahurin:

Blog:

Facebook
Twitter:

Learn more about Mahurin’s efforts to help dogs

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap – Historical fiction relevant to today

As a reader and now writer of historical fiction, I’m always interested when an author tells a story that not only realistically captures an interesting place and time but also carries a story with themes so relevant to today. Paulette Mahurin does both in The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap.The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap - Cover

Set in the 1880s, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap tells the story of a lesbian couple living on a Nevada ranch when Britain changes its laws to make homosexual sex a criminal act. The news of Oscar Wilde‘s imprisonment burns up the telegraph wires and throws the Nevada town into turmoil.

Though they’ve lived their lives quietly and carefully, Mildred Dunlap and her partner fear the news will focus attention, suspicion and perhaps worse on them. They take extensive measures to appear “normal,” including Mildred’s plan to show interest in a widower who, she is certain, will not be interested in her.  A viper-tongued town gossip makes everyone else’s business her business, goading others to interfere with consequences that are tragic, but not for those she hoped to bring down. The couple finds friendship and support from unexpected sources.

Mahurin tells a story of hatred and prejudice that shows how love and friendship can heal. The end is surprising and a trifle troubling. Without giving anything away (I hope), we find that even the people who have been most open minded throughout the novel can have their own prejudices and are willing to act on them. Perhaps like all of us?

Mahurin adds quotes from Oscar Wilde throughout the book, which adds an interesting and unexpected commentary on the action.

I found the characters will drawn, the story well conceived and executed, and the result thought provoking. Well worth the read.

I interviewed Mahurin in October 2012.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap – Author Interview

I’m pleased to welcome Paulette Mahurin to my blog today. Paulette is a writer of historical fiction and author of the book The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. Though I haven’t read her book yet, the story is so intriguing, I’ve moved it to the top of my stack.

Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your great blog site, Carol.  It’s really a pleasure to have connected with you!

Tell us a little about your book.

In the late 1800s, Britain changed its laws to make homosexual sex a criminal act. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap 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—in particular a lesbian couple fearful that all the homophobia generated from the news of Oscar Wilde‘s imprisonment 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 your inspiration?

I was taking a writing class and the teacher brought in a bunch of photos for us to do an exercise on writing a ten-minute mystery. My photo was of two women, dressed in what looked like turn of the 20th century dress, standing very close together. It screamed out to me, “lesbian couple.” Prior to that, I had been dealing with a person who was gay and in the closet, afraid to come out because of molestation and prior abuse issues. All this dovetailed together into the seeds for the story. When I started my research into that time period, Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment rang out as a key homophobic event in history that I could use to create an air of persecution and move the story along. It would be the news of his imprisonment, that spreads around the world. When it reaches the small Nevada town where Mildred Dunlap lives with her partner, Edra, it throws the town into a frenzy of hatred and prejudice.

When I was doing research into lesbians in history, I learned that women friendships, even displays of affection or living together as spinsters, were acceptable. But were the women to have been suspected or labeled lesbian, then they were diagnosed as insane and thrown into mental institutions. Their treatment was rape, to cure them so they could then enjoy men.

I am a Nurse Practitioner specializing in women’s health. When I read that, I thought of all the beautiful, kind, decent-hurting-no-one women I provide for, and I couldn’t put this story down. It screamed to be told.

What advice would you like to give to other writers?

An author writes. Just sit down and do it and don’t let the critic in your head get in your way. Doesn’t matter the time put in or judgments involved by self or others, a writer writes. Leave the editing and critiquing up to others when the writing is ready for that but pay attention to seeking out supportive positive friends for feedback in the early stages so you don’t get your creative light turned off.

All your profits are going to the first and only no-kill animal shelter in the county where you live. How did this come to be?

I’d love to quote from a recent article in the Ventura County Star (the largest circulating press in Ventura County, CA, where I live, in which I answered that question:

Paulette Mahurin’s eyes light up when she talks about the dogs. An animal advocate, the Ojai resident and her husband, Terry, have been rescuing Rottweilers for nearly three decades.

When her beloved rottie, Tazzie, died last year at age 15, she was heartbroken. In addition to losing her best friend, the dog had been her constant companion throughout Mahurin’s life-altering bout with Lyme disease.

In honor of the 15 years spent with her beloved companion Tazzie, as well as her desire to support no-kill animal shelters, proceeds from the sales of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap benefit the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center.

After Tazzie died, my husband and I went to a kill shelter to rescue other dogs. I was still grieving her loss when I saw all those sad faces behind bars, on death row. I wanted to do more to help, more than just bring a few dogs home. This happened around the same time as I completed my novel and also heard about the first no-kill shelter opening. It just came to me to donate my profits to them.

Thanks for joining us, Paulette. Good luck with your book and thanks for helping out the animal shelters.

For more information on The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, here are links to guide you:

AMAZON.COM
AMAZON U.K.
GOODREADS
SHELFARI
FACEBOOK
BLOG
The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap WEBSITE
TWITTER: @MahurinPaulette