Author’s Corner – Interview & Book Review with Author Paulette Mahurin
It was an honor to read Paulette Mahurin’s novel, His Name Was Ben and find out what inspired her to write the story story and what advice she gives to new writers. Below you will find my honest review and the interview.
About the Author
(Copied from author’s page)
Paulette Mahurin is an international best selling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She 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.
Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award-winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the bestseller lists for literary fiction and historical fiction on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K., and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird, was released in 2017 to rave reviews.
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.
The Synopsis of His Name Was Ben
Hearing the words “it’s cancer,” threw Sara Phillips’ life into chaos, until an unexpected turn of events and a chance encounter with a stranger changed everything—his name was Ben. Based on real events, Ben and Sara discover that when all else fails, healing can come in the most unexpected ways. Chilling and heart-wrenching, His Name Was Ben is a triumph over the devastating circumstances and fear experienced when faced with a terminal illness. In this narrative, the power of love conquers shadows and transforms the very nature and meaning of what it is to be fully alive. From the award-winning, best-selling author of, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, comes a story filled with soul and passion that will leave the reader thinking about it for days after the last page is closed.
This book touches so many emotions on so many levels, from sadness, love, heartwarming, heartache, joy and up-lifting that I had to wipe away a tear or two. The story revolves around a wonderful woman named Sarah who is fighting Breast cancer. Being a breast cancer survivor myself, this hit close to home. Everything Sarah was experiencing during her treatment, was spot on. Later in the book when Sarah developed blood clots, again I could relate, having had five clots discovered on my lungs and three behind my knee while taking the drug Tamoxifen as part of my treatment. The fear Sarah felt brought back memories of my own fears.
While going through her cancer treatment, Sarah meets Ben in the waiting room who is also fighting cancer. I have to say, I love Ben’s temperament throughout the entire book. Sarah and Ben develope a beautiful friendship that evolves into a deep love for one another. It’s an amazing love story that is told so well by the author and I as the reader felt it through every page. My only wish was that they had met each other sooner.
I can’t say enough about this book. I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and still find myself thinking about it and I’ll probably still be thinking about it for months to come. When a book does that to you, well it’s a damn good book.
COVER DESIGN – 5 STARS – The cover for the book, was perfect in every way. the colors, the mood of the picture. the setting. I can’t think of any way to make it better.
CHARACTERIZATION – 5 STARS – I felt like I knew each character so well. Each had their own distinct personality, with quirks and emotional challenges to overcome. Written extremely well, I was sorry to leave them when the story ended.
STORY & PLOT 5 STARS – Just outstanding throughout the entire book. I was engaged the entire time. At times crying and other times laughing. Feeling the emotional roller coaster the whole time.
OVERALL RATING – 5 STARS
First, let me say a heartfelt thank you for having me over to your great site. I’m grateful for this opportunity.
1 – How long have you been writing and why do you enjoy it?
I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember since I was preteen in my journal. Writing has been a sanctuary for me, a spacious place and a way to express my insides plus I enjoy stories: telling and reading.
2 – Other than writing, what else do you like to do?
I do a considerable amount of volunteer work that I love: first and my biggest passion is rescuing dogs from kill shelters. All profits from all my books go to help get dogs out of kill shelters. Last year, in 2017 I helped free 904 dogs and this year we’re already at 331. All the before and after photos of the dogs rescued our featured on my blog site.
I also enjoy my volunteer work with women with cancer. I’m a Nurse Practitioner professionally and put it to use assisting women in my pro bono work.
I am also a volunteer mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse and really enjoy doing this, helping with conflict resolution. It’s especially rewarding in these challenging stressful times.
3 – What inspired you to write “His Name was Ben”?”
Years ago I worked with a couple both diagnosed with cancer. They had a remarkable, inspiring relationship. I wrote a short story about them, which was published in a magazine(I believe it was titled, Concept) and won a literary contest. I expanded that short story into a full-length novel a few years ago.
4 – Who as an author, inspires you and why? You may mention more than one.
There are so many that it’s hard to pin down one, two, or even several. I love Steinbeck because he brings the human condition to the page without flinching. He’s a masterful storyteller and tackles subjects that don’t have a lot of sex appeal like in Grapes of Wrath about a family fleeing the dust bowl debacle. His characters are well balanced and his storytelling not glib or shallow. He depicts life, real life with all its inherent struggles we all face. I’m drawn to that aspect of writing: where it’s real and entertaining and gets me thinking.
5 – Name three of your favorite books. Explain why these are your favorites.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz which is a non-fiction but has been extremely instrumental in helping keep me centered when I need it.
Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. He was a Viennese psychiatrist who was incarcerated in a concentration camp in WW2. He lost the love of his life, his wife, and the entire family: parents, etc. And he came away from that experience with an incredible epiphany and I paraphrase: one can have everything taken from them but what they make their attitude. He wrote of peoples’ resilience: dancing and singing, making love, and daring to be alive in the face of incredible, unthinkable evil. This book has inspired and informed my attitude in life.
6 – What advice do you have for aspiring writers
The only thing that defines a writer is to sit down and write. Like the Nike commercial says, “Just do it.” A writer writes whether it be for an hour or several, whether it is about a story or a personal note. Too many writers look at the end game, wanting to publish. That is a trap that can slam the door on creativity. Writing is a process. Make the time. Sit your butt down in the chair and bang on the keys. And don’t let the critic inside your head tell you that you can’t do it. Just do it!
7 – What common mistakes do you see new authors make.
They jump way ahead of where they need to be in their process. And then their internal critic can get the best of them, many will stop at that point. As I mentioned above a writer writes. Doesn’t matter what they write, the first draft of anything is just vomiting out words and ideas. If there’s a storyline then just vomit that out. Don’t worry about editing or how it comes across, just tell your story. Then go back and read through for flow, consistency, etc. Spell check and grammar check. Another read through and if you can best way to read, is out loud, you can pick up a lot of typos and flow irregularities that way.
Once done off to an editor: creative and line editors are great assets. Now the real work begins with rewrites, corrections, polishing it up and getting it ready for publication. Again and again, just sit in the chair and stay with the process, where you’re at, in the moment and not an imagined, wishful end game.
8 – Are you currently working on anything now? If so, tell us a little about it and when it can be expected to be available.
Yes, I’ve just sent my sixth novel off to the publishers. It’s about Nellie Bly’s undercover work at a women’s mental health facility in 1887. Based on a true story, she was a journalist who went undercover to expose gross corruption and brutality. Aside from His Name Was Ben all my other books are historical fiction.
9- What genre do you normally write in?
As mentioned above, most of my work is in historical fiction. My first book, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, is about Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment for being homosexual and the fallout it has on a lesbian couple in 1895 Nevada. My second book, His Name Was Ben, has been discussed here.
My third book, To Live Out Loud, is based on the Dreyfus Affair, which was the biggest anti-Semitic scandal in French history and how Emile Zola sacrificed his life and livelihood to help free an innocent man. My fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, is about a concentration camp survivor who I rented a room from while in college. This book went on to great success on Amazon landing in the top ten lists in literary fiction and historical fiction in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. My fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird, is about a young slave who escapes on the underground railroad to gain his freedom.
10- Other than Amazon is there anywhere else, readers can purchase your book?
I’m currently contracted with Amazon but my books are available through Barnes & Nobel and probably all other bookstores, which order from Amazon.
11- Do you have a website, Facebook page or any other social media page where readers can follow you? If yes, please provide links.
Blog: which has all the before and after photos of dogs rescued
12- Is there anything else you would like to say?
I hope that for anyone who reads this, it inspires them to remove any blocks or barriers and write if that what they want to do. Just sit down and do it.
A Note for Authors
If you are an author and would like to be showcased on this site please contact me about your book.
Other Interviews you May Enjoy