Welcome to my Q & A today. I’m delighted to have one of my favorite historical fiction authors over here today, Paulette Mahurin.
As many of you who read my Sunday Book Reviews know, historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read in; and I was hooked on Paulette’s writing ever since reading her gripping book – The Seven Year Dress – the story of one woman who survived WWII and lived to tell. Recently, I reviewed her latest book – Irma’s Endgame, a medical mystery/thriller, which I enjoyed too. But today Paulette is introducing us to her book – The Old Gilt Clock. Paulette’s royalty profits are donated to save dogs from kill shelters.
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 was published for her short-story writing. One of these stories, Something Wonderful, was based on the couple presented in His Name Was Ben, which she expanded into a fictionalized 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.
Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue. Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.
Thanks for being here today Paulette, I’m excited to learn more about your latest book too! Let’s get into some questions!
Where do your book ideas grow from?
As glib as this may sound, the tree of life and what spouts organically, what comes to me with spontaneous interest is where my ideas come from. I have a fascination and passion, naturally, about hard topics. Anti-Semitism, homophobia, women’s abuse, racism, to name a few and am drawn to these topics. Ideas come to me and if they hold an interest I research the subjects. For example, when I read of a little known man, a heroic historical resistance fighter whose last words were, “let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards,” I was instantly intrigued. What was this person’s life that brought him to these final words? That became the topic of my last novel, The Old Gilt Clock. The man, William Arondéus, was a World War II underground resistance fighter in the Netherlands who along with his collaborators managed to save the lives of close to a million Jewish people.
D.G. – It’s no secret I love your books, and it’s fascinating to learn what inspires you. I am drawn to same hard topics, and am always mesmerized by learning people’s actions and the whys of behavior, so no wonder I enjoy your books.
Do you have any advice you can share for new writers?
The best advice I think any writer can ever receive is what defines a writer is sitting down in the chair and writing. Like the Nike commercial, just do it, it’s the same with writing. Everyone has something to say. We all live stories. Our days have a beginning, middle, and ending. The same is true for all aspects of our lives.
We communicate to friends in stories, usually snapshots of events with personal judgments and narrative commentary thrown in. It’s no different for anyone who wants to write. You just sit down in a chair, put your hands on the keys, and punch in; vomit out what you want to say. Vomit out what you don’t want to say. Don’t hold back. And when the inaccurate critic inside your head starts complaining, you say to that critic, “Shut up!” It doesn’t matter if you sit for a minute or ten hours, typing your ideas down makes you a writer. Period. If you want to write a novel, a novella, etc. then that also is about sitting down and doing it. Tell what comes to you organically and don’t worry about editing, grammar, how flowery it sounds, and for Pete’s sake don’t listen to the inside of your head when it tells you that’s crap and you have no talent. We all have those voices, not a human being alive (with the exception perhaps of a malignant narcissist) who doesn’t have doubts, anti-creative thoughts, feeling it could be better, etc. you name it. Leave all that for after you finish writing what you want to. Then hand it over to an editor.
Writing is a process, the more time you put in the stronger your writing muscle becomes. Some of the greats hated their own work. Millions disagreed. We just can’t know how something we write will be received but if you never sit down and just do it then you miss the opportunity to find out.
D.G. – I love your advice. And I’m sure I speak for many writers when I say, we are our own worst critics.
Share with us a book that moved you so much it stays with you.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It is one of the most profound books I’ve read. A non-fiction account of Frankl’s imprisonment and experience in an concentration camp where he lost the love of his life, his wife, and parents. His entire family was wiped out and yet this incredible man watched others and observed the resilience of the human spirit shine through the worst of circumstances. A Viennese psychiatrist by profession, in the most unthinkable situation he saw other dance, sing, and go to their deaths laughing. With everything lost to him, he gained an insight:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human
freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ― Viktor E. Frankl. I’ve never forgotten this. When dark times happen, I remember this and like a ray of sunbeam shining through a rainy cloud it lifts me.
Frankl made it out of the camps and went back to his psychiatric profession in Vienna, and was subsequently a visiting professor at Harvard. What a teacher he must have been. He certainly changed my life for the better—to me there is no better educator.
D.G. – Wow, I just got goosebumps Paulette. We both read a lot about the atrocities of mankind. I’m sometimes asked from some, why I want to read those sad war stories of evil and sadness. Because I can’t help myself from reading about the human spirit and how some people manage, despite almost zero odds, to overcome despite the heinous world they live through. And Frankl said it so succinctly. I will definitely be looking up that book. Thank you for sharing this. ♥
During one of the darkest times in human history when millions of innocent Jews and others deemed “undesirables” were being sent to concentration camps to be brutality worked to death or slaughtered, a group of Dutch resistance workers rose up against the atrocities. Their resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands created a vast counterintelligence, domestic sabotage, and communications network to help hide Jewish people from German authorities. The Old Gilt Clock is the story of how one Dutch resistance member, Willem Arondéus, risked his life to defy the Nazis’ plans to identify and deport hundreds of thousands of Dutch Jews. Arondéus’ courage is largely forgotten by history, but not by the Jewish and Dutch people. Written by the award-winning international Amazon bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, comes a story of Arondéus’ courageous struggle to stand up to the unimaginable evil designs of Hitler. Inclusive is Arondéus’ battle to come out to his homophobic father, who hated his son’s homosexuality. It is also a story about friendships formed in the Dutch resistance movement, their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, their loves and betrayals, and ultimately their resilience to oppose tyranny and oppression when millions stood silent condoning heinous behavior. Thousands are alive today because of these brave, compassionate men and women.
The Old Gilt Clock Excerpt:
Across the ocean in America, where Birgit now lived with her new husband and a baby girl, the Roaring Twenties were reaching an end. It had been a time when blues and jazz bled into the culture, a time of rags-to-riches for black entertainers when the American prosperity was a way of life. But as the end of 1929 approached, it all came to a sudden end with the stock market crash. Not limited to North America, the Great Depression created a worldwide economic desperation that would last well into the 1930s, impacting the Netherlands. It led to political instability and riots. Hit hard was Germany. Already in political turmoil with the rise of brutality in the form of the Nazi and communist movements and the economic destruction levied on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles’ imposition of reparations in the sum of 50 billion gold marks, opportunity was provided for the rise of Hitler.
The end of the roaring twenties took on a new roar. At first, it was a low rumble but by the end of the thirties heading into the forties, it was deafening. The earsplitting grandiose contra-life outcry included talks of plans to create murdering machines. Sane ears discounted the oppressive rumors as madness. Just the talk of idle idiots. Sadly, as ears became unwaxed and able to hear, it became clear they weren’t just listening to rumors.
“There’s no such thing as a gas to kill people.”
“Oh, there isn’t? What of the poisonous asphyxiant gas used in the United States to
execute condemned prisoners?”
Soon it would not be a far stretch from the talk of one criminal being put to death to a
vast number of undesirables. Undesirables! They are not human, according to the proponents, remembered Willem, as electric ripples moved up his spine.
Fifty Sheds of Books
5.0 out of 5 stars The Old Gilt Clock
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 5, 2020
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
During these troubling times when fascism is on the rise, it is good to see quality authors like Paulette Mahurin tackling serious issues. In turns, I found this story gripping, sad and uplifting. There appears to be two sides to the human coin: people of evil and their acolytes, basically bullies and cowards, against people who demonstrate amazing bravery and courage. This is a story of incredible bravery and courage, a story that young people in particular should read so that they do not make the mistakes of past generations and our generation.
I found the setting intriguing, the story impeccably researched and the storyline engrossing. The men and women of the Resistance were a breed apart displaying the best of humanity, and the author captures their special qualities in this wonderful book. Paulette Mahurin has created a back catalogue of impressive quality and this book sits with the others as one of her best. Without doubt, she is one of the most impressive novelists writing today.
Well, between the blurb, excerpt and this rave review, you know I can’t wait to sink my eyes into this book! Thank you for joining us here today, it was fabulous having you over Paulette. ♥
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