Archive for the ‘Writing and Publishing’ Category

Courting Horror with Florida Gothic

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Stephen King loves Florida Gothic!

 

 

OH, THE HORROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Horror isn’t exactly new to me. No, I’m not talking about my personal life; I’m talking about my writing life! I’ve crossed over into horror on several projects, though technically speaking, it’s probably safe to say that my new book release Florida Gothic is my first full-on, guts-on-the-table, cringing-in-the-corner horror novel. As the debut release in The “Gothic” Series, I’ve combined plenty of grit and gore for this one. I think the book demonstrates that I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to swimming in the alligator-infested swamps of the horror genre.

Ernesto’s mad as hell – and he’s not gonna take it anymore!

Hang on, did someone say alligator? There just so happens to be one in the book! And it’s because of him (or her?) that events move in a particular direction, shaping the fate of our unlucky protagonist, Ernesto Martinez. We get to see the “hero” of Florida Gothic shambling through life (or make that DEATH) as he seeks payback for all the wrongs that have been committed against him. Like this book’s author, Ernesto’s no shrinking violet either.

Though I’d like to think I’m better looking.

Set against the “glamorous” backdrop of South Florida (think heat, sun, sweat, beaches, drugs, voodoo, Cuban food, and Ernesto’s ever-present cucarachas), Florida Gothic offers what you won’t typically find in those tourist guidebooks.

So am I using my blog to promote my new book? You bet! If you enjoy horror, I’m convinced you’ll enjoy Florida Gothic. Even if you aren’t a horror aficionado, you’ll have a gruesomely good time reading it. So what are you waiting for?

To find out more about Florida Gothic (and access those handy little “buy” links designed to make your life so much easier), please visit: http://mitziszereto.com/florida-gothic

Oh, and here’s the official book trailer!

Dorian Gray Strikes Again: Riding the Wave of Decadence with Penny Dreadful

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Last November saw the publication of my sexually explicit Gothic novel The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray, a sequel to Oscar Wilde’s classic work about a man whose fateful wish to remain forever young and beautiful yields a bit more than he bargained for. The story moves through time from Victorian London on up to the present day, taking Dorian on a rollercoaster ride of unrepressed hedonism that’s not only sexual in the extreme, but fatal to many whose lives intersect with his.

The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray by Mitzi Szereto

The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray by Mitzi Szereto

Now it seems as if we’re seeing Dorian everywhere we turn – from actor/director Samuel Orange’s audience-friendly 2013 London stage performance set in Dorian’s “townhouse” (in reality Orange’s residence) to Britain’s royal family of thespians the Redgraves and the Foxes joining forces in a 2014 stage interpretation replete with all the sordidness Wilde could only hint at. And just this week we have the debut of the Showtime TV series Penny Dreadful, which features our dear decadent Dorian in a starring role courtesy of actor Reeve Carney, along with several other famous Victorian-era literary characters woven into the Gothic plotlines.

Do I sense a trend or perhaps more so the simple desire by creative artists to take inspiration from one of literature’s most fascinating and iconic characters, creating something new from the old?

Judging from the unmistakably adult content in these various works, it appears that I’m not the only one to have picked up on the cloaked sexuality and homoeroticism in Oscar Wilde’s novel, which he was forced to revise and censor in order to even make it “publishable.” Indeed, I stirred up a fair bit of controversy for interpreting Wilde’s character as a man driven almost exclusively by the desire to sexually corrupt others (with all the sordid details included) – a modus operandi that should be obvious to anyone who’s read with any semblance of care the original novel, which portrays Dorian as a sexual profligate who dallied with both men and women. Having been granted the freedom to work without fear of censorship (or a prison term), contemporary writers such as myself have finally been able to portray Dorian Gray as Oscar Wilde no doubt intended.

Yet even before the advent of The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray and Penny Dreadful Dorian was already being given new life. Director and choreographer Matthew Bourne‘s passionate and gender-swapping 2008 London dance production Dorian Gray is still making its way around the world, giving audiences further insight into the Dorian Gray of Wilde’s wicked imagination. Bourne’s version even goes so far as to change the gender of Sibyl Vane to that of a male, thereby throwing open the door to a full-on homosexual liaison. And the 2009 film version starring Colin Firth as Dorian’s mentor Lord Henry Wotton takes things well over the top when it comes to Dorian’s extravagant sexual behaviour, which descends into a degeneracy that proves as shocking as it does titillating.

These stage and film productions are no shrinking violets when it comes to dishing out some steam, and it appears that Penny Dreadful isn’t doing much blushing either. Intense sexual situations and nudity with Dorian at their core abound – and series’ creator John Logan makes no apologies. And why should he? Dorian Gray is the ultimate bad boy – a bad boy who’s irresistible to everyone he meets. When you’ve been granted eternal life and beauty, you have the freedom to do anything you want and have nothing to lose. Perhaps this is the key to Dorian Gray’s perpetual appeal, particularly in contemporary times. He dares to do what most of us would hardly dare to imagine!

Which only goes to prove that great literature will always inspire writers and other creative artists. And if it arrives with a delicious helping of the Gothic, so much the better!

(Shameless plug since this is my blog and I’m allowed to do these things: If you can’t get enough Gothic – and let’s face it, none of us can! – my new anthology Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance is now available for pre-order worldwide from Amazon and other major booksellers. So get a jump on the neighbours! After all, you wouldn’t want to be left behind, would you?)

Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance

Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance

 

The Controversial Life of a Book: The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Controversy. You gotta love it.

I got a shedload of controversy when I wrote my sex parody Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts. (Some of those Jane-ites really got their knickers in a twist over that one!) Now I’m getting even more raised eyebrows and shocked intakes of breath with the recent publication of The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray, my sequel to Oscar Wilde’s Faustian classic The Picture of Dorian Gray.

But surely you didn’t think it was a fluffy little romance about a man whose primary goals in life consist of hedonism, human destruction and even murder? “Fluff” just isn’t in my vocabulary!

I was fortunate to interview Mr. Gray as preparation for the writing of my novel. I’m not ashamed to admit that he managed to shake me up quite a bit, despite his charm and great physical appeal. Writing about his life and his descent into what can only be described as unrepentant debauchery took some doing. We’re not talking about a poster boy for Boyfriend of the Year here. We’re talking about an individual who desires sensation at all costs. Extreme sensation. Sensation that the average person would run away from in horror if confronted by it.

But we aren’t dealing with the average person. We’re dealing with Dorian Gray – a man whom I’ve brought back from the dead. The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray continues where the original novel by Oscar Wilde left off. And for this to be done with any reasonable level of believability and allegiance to his true nature, Dorian had to descend into a hedonistic chaos with no moral restraint whatsoever. There was only one logical direction for Dorian to go – DOWN.

Hey, you didn’t seriously think he would become a Born-again Christian, did you? If you did, then perhaps you might also believe that Norman Bates would make excellent husband material (as well he might, providing you don’t take a shower).

Is there violence in the book? Yes. Is there sex? Absolutely. Are they sometimes offered together on the same plate? It goes without saying. Dorian dishes it out, but even more so, he eagerly consumes it when applied to himself. He lives for sensation – and after living for more than a century, he requires increasingly extreme ways in which to achieve new sensation. Is this novel suitable for readers of a delicate sensibility? No, it is not.

So is The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray a work of Gothic horror? Yes. Is it Gothic romance? Yes. It’s both of these things and more, reaching into dark fantasy as well as paranormal, LGBT and historical fiction; in fact, it’s even been dubbed erotic horror. Do you need to read Wilde’s book before reading mine? Not at all.

The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray by Mitzi Szereto

The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray by Mitzi Szereto

Does Dorian eventually find himself confronted by a moral awakening? You must seek the answer to that on the pages. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a little taste of the novel. You might be shocked. And you might even be offended. But so too, were readers of Oscar Wilde’s original text, which is why he was forced to censor portions of it and revise others in order for it to be deemed fit for public consumption. One can only dare to imagine what his novel might have contained had he been alive to write it today. Why, it might make my sequel look like the proverbial shrinking violet!

***

Excerpt from The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray – a novel by Mitzi Szereto
© 2013 by Mitzi Szereto

Dorian remained as flawless as ever. He knew that no matter where he went, the situation would repeat itself, therefore he adopted a more primitive form of existence, neither mingling in society nor engaging with others save for acquiring the basic necessities of life. He passed nearly two decades in this fashion, reaching places as far-flung as India and, eventually, the southernmost end of Peru, where he decided to remain for a while. The years had gone by slowly, and he felt the tedium of each one, not to mention the anguish of tamping down his desires like a fire doused by a torrent of cold water. There were no more salacious reports following him from country to country and continent to continent, leading to his whereabouts like a trail of breadcrumbs. Since fleeing Marrakesh Dorian had avoided establishments catering to the more debauched members of society, knowing that even a small taste of such delights would propel him back into his old life. Instead he fought the urge for fleshly sensation until he believed he would go mad, finding a perverse enjoyment in his self-deprivation that added to his repertoire of sensations.

The war raging in Europe had ended, leaving behind ravaged landscapes and countless casualties. But his native England had endured. Dorian wondered if he would ever step foot upon its shores again. Was there anyone left alive whom he had once known? He thought of Lord Henry and the last time he’d seen him. It had been that evening he’d relayed with such naïve pride his sparing of Hettie Merton’s chastity.

“Play me a nocturne, Dorian, and, as you play, tell me, in a low voice, how you have kept your youth,” Lord Henry had said. “You must have some secret. I am only ten years older than you are, and I am wrinkled, and bald, and yellow.”

Only ten years older.

Even back then it was difficult to imagine so small a number separating them in age when the eye declared otherwise. Could dear Harry still be alive somewhere in the world at this very moment? Dorian hoped it to be so. The man had been like a father, a lover, a god. Although at the end he had disappointed him, Lord Henry was the closest Dorian had ever been to another human being—and this had given him a curious sense of belonging, which he’d never experienced since.

Dorian settled for a time in a quiet valley located in the shadow of a volcano in the south of Peru. To anyone in the village who asked—and with a population comprised exclusively of Quechuas there were enough who overcame their shyness to speak to him—Dorian claimed to be a man of faith who had come seeking spiritual enlightenment so that he might pass on his knowledge to others. This was how he’d first learned of a monastery located high up in the mountains. Its presence proved to be an unexpected bonus, since everyone believed this was why he’d chosen to come here. To add further credence to his tale, Dorian purchased a battered old typewriter from a shopkeeper in a nearby town, which he kept out on the scarred wooden table beneath the dusty window of his room in the event the old woman from whom he rented his lodgings called in when he was absent. He quite enjoyed his new persona and even spent some time typing away on the decrepit instrument, finding that his random entries would, indeed, make a fine book after he was finished, particularly since they pertained mostly to the hedonistic philosophies Lord Henry had instructed him in.

Had Dorian been anyone else he might have been content with his new existence. Life had been pared down to a beautiful kind of simplicity, and for some it might have been enough. For Dorian it was not. The pressure of his lust had been building like the pressure inside the volcano that hovered over the valley; an explosion was imminent. The catalyst that finally triggered it would need to be masterfully executed, for he had many arid years of self-denial to make up for.

Donning the humble garb of a peasant that had become his daily attire, Dorian set forth on foot for the mountains, looking like a man with nothing but the clothing on his back and his wits to guide him. When he first set out he had no purpose or destination in mind, yet his feet seemed to be leading him somewhere. The first night he slept rough, awakening dusty and dirty and resembling the impoverished beggars that occasionally traveled through the towns and villages. His shabby appearance combined with a few words of Quechua aided him well enough to locate a bed on the second night. The fact that it was located inside the monastery he’d been told about gave rise to a plan that would be his masterwork of corruption. It came to him the moment he saw the young priest working in the vineyards. The frank purity in his broad brown face cried out to Dorian to sully it.

At the monastery he was given a tiny cell-like room in which to sleep. The little cot that served as a bed proved as hard and unwelcoming as a boulder, but it inspired within Dorian thoughts of martyrdom, re-invigorating his former fascination with the Roman Catholic Church and men who lived lives devoid of fleshly pleasure. He spent a fitful first night, though this didn’t stem from discomfort in his accommodations, but rather his mounting excitement over his intention to commit an act of sacrilege so hellishly divine he could smell the brimstone in his nostrils.

An Interview With Dorian Gray

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray by Mitzi SzeretoI had the very unique privilege of interviewing the infamous Dorian Gray in preparation for the writing of my new novel The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray – a sequel to Oscar Wilde’s Gothic masterpiece The Picture of Dorian Gray. For those of you who haven’t yet heard of my book, here is a synopsis:

Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Mitzi Szereto continues where Wilde left off in her Faustian tale of a man with eternal youth and great physical beauty who lives a life of corruption, decadence and hedonism. The story begins in the bordellos of Jazz-Age Paris, moving to the opium dens of Marrakesh and the alluring anonymity of South America. In his pursuit of sensation and carnal thrills, Dorian’s desires turn increasingly extreme and he leaves behind yet more devastation and death. He ultimately settles in present-day New Orleans, joining with a group of like-minded beings known as the Night People. They inadvertently return to Dorian his humanity when he falls in love with a young woman he rescues from becoming their victim. Will she be his redemption? Or will she be his final curse?

And now for our interview!

MITZI: Thank you, Dorian, for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. I’ll try to make this interview as painless as possible, since I imagine you have other places you’d much rather be!

DORIAN: My dear, I am pleased to sit here and chat with you. As for being painless, I’ve found that painlessness is vastly undervalued.

MITZI: Indeed. And what do you have to say on the subject of pleasure?

DORIAN: I’ve discovered that they are often one and the same. The important element is sensation. There must be sensation at any cost. I learned this from my dear friend Lord Henry Wotton.

MITZI: Lord Henry was a major influence on you, wasn’t he?

DORIAN: Absolutely! Dear Harry was my mentor as well as my friend. Though I daresay I’ve far exceeded his expectations!

MITZI: Of that I have no doubt. Are there any limitations to your desires – any line you won’t cross in your pursuit of sensation?

DORIAN: Limitations are for the weak and those who fear their innermost desires. I have no such fear. I live for my desires. I see no reason to deprive myself when there is so much pleasure and sensation to be had in this life!

MITZI: Even if the pleasure and sensation is entirely one-sided? If you don’t mind my saying, but surely your victims have not enjoyed the same levels of pleasure and sensation as you have, particularly those who died as a result of them.

DORIAN: Oh, but that is untrue! I can assure you that my – as you refer to them – victims, attained the utmost in pleasure and sensation, even if it was the final pleasure and sensation they were ever to experience. It might even be said that I have been responsible for granting them the ultimate pleasure and sensation, regardless of whether they met their end after the experience.

MITZI: But in so doing, you have destroyed lives. Surely many would say that death is not a fair trade-off for pleasure?

DORIAN: My dear, that is a pedestrian outlook that the truly superior such as myself would take umbrage to.

MITZI: You’re certainly not averse to self-compliments, are you?

DORIAN: I speak as I find. I see no point in doing otherwise – unless, of course, it suits a specific aim of mine. I’ve been known to indulge in a bit of game playing, especially when it’s fraught with danger. Danger, especially when tinged with the threat of personal harm or death, is an excellent aphrodisiac.

MITZI: I’m sure there are those who might disagree on that point, but as they say: to each his or her own.

DORIAN: To each his or her own, indeed!

MITZI: Do you believe that you’ve finally experienced every sensation there is to experience?

DORIAN: That remains to be seen. For it is you who are putting my story onto the page. Therefore we shall let the reader decide.

MITZI: Thank you again for speaking with us today.

DORIAN: Thank you, my dear, for inviting me. Are you perchance available for a late supper this evening? I know the perfect little cafe! Then perhaps afterward you might grant me the opportunity to expand further on the tenets of my philosophy via a demonstration?

*Interview terminated*

Teddy Tedaloo opens the box of author copies

Teddy Tedaloo opens the box of author copies

Game of Thrones meets Thrones of Desire

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

With the hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones launching its third season in America as we speak, it’s no surprise that the fantasy genre is attracting a lot more people into the fold. Adapted from the bestselling epic fantasy series A Song of Fire and Ice by author George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones offers viewers a hearty bite of the genre without requiring them to slog through a novel as fat as the yellow pages telephone book.

This has often been the case with epic fantasy novels (or high fantasy as it’s also known), most of which contain complex worlds that you need a road atlas to navigate. In an era that offers less and less leisure time, it takes a true devotee of the fantasy art form to be willing to commit for the long haul. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why some people just don’t bother with the genre. I know it has been true for me.

Another reason why some might give fantasy a miss is the perception that the genre is directed toward the younger reader. With the success of the Harry Potter books and films along with those of J.R.R. Tolkien, such a perception is understandable. Game of Thrones knocks any such perceptions out of the water, for it contains enough “adult” content to make your dear old Aunt Agnes in Hoboken blush (and she used to be a stripper!). This very subject was discussed by legendary fantasy author Piers Anthony in his foreword to my anthology Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and FireIn fact, it eventually led him to seek out alternative publishing models due to the overly “family-friendly” nature of many fantasy novels and fantasy publishers. He considered it restrictive, particularly in light of the fact that he was writing his novels for adults, not children.

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire

I wanted to address some of these very same issues in my Thrones of Desire anthology, offering readers epic fantasy that didn’t require a month of their lives to read while also offering epic fantasy for the adult reader. Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire is not intended for children. It’s sexy, steamy and at times, explicit – just like the TV series that inspired it!

Attracting readers who are the more hardcore devotees of the genre is no easy task. Indeed, for me the ultimate stamp of approval has been seeing the anthology on bestseller lists in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy categories. Although I have worked in fantasy before with my solo short story collection In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales, tackling epic fantasy was far more challenging, especially when I had to rely on other writers to understand my vision and help bring it to fruition. Let’s just say that I did a lot of finger crossing, hair pulling and wide casting of nets to bring in stories that offered that sexy epic fantasy flavour that we see with Game of Thrones and which makes it the popular TV series it is today.

As I state in my introduction to Thrones of Desire:

You’ll find it all right here: corrupt kings, lusty queens, handsome princes, virginal princesses, randy knights, wicked sorcerers, kick-ass heroines, vengeful witches, mysterious shapeshifters… and we’re definitely not short on a few dragons either!

Heck, all that’s missing is Sean Bean!

For those of you who enjoy spoken word, several of the contributing writers have performed readings of their stories (or enlisted professional voice-over actors to do so) and these can now be found on the Thrones of Desire website. http://mitziszereto.com/thronesofdesire/author-readings/.

So grab up your swords and call for your dragons and let’s get going!

 

Hurricane Mitzi Hits Miami

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Everyone knows that South Florida is prone to hurricanes, and I’m afraid I made matters worse during my recent appearance at the Miami Book Fair International, where I was invited to speak on The State of Erotica panel. Erotica is the hot topic these days, thanks to 50 Shades of Grey or, as I refer to it in my blog post, 50 Shades of Nothing New. Since I had a new book to promote (Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire ) and since people are always asking me when I’ll be doing more appearances in America, I figured this would be a good way to show that I’m making an effort to be more visible in the former colonies.

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire

Well, the red carpet was laid out; however, it was not laid out for me. On the contrary. In fact, I had no idea that the real motive for my being invited to appear at the Miami Book Fair was, to put it bluntly, nothing but a thinly disguised plot for them to cozy up to someone I’m very closely associated with.

I knew the writing was on the wall when I arrived at the author hospitality suite and was asked almost immediately where Teddy Tedaloo was. Even the woman in possession of the media interview schedule remarked with forced politeness that I should have “brought the bear.” After all, how could I possibly expect her to come find me in the crowd when the photo on her printout was of both Teddy and myself? I had to concede the point.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I’d barely shaken hands with SiriusXM’s Kim Alexander from the Book Radio programme when the first thing out of her mouth was: “Where’s Teddy Tedaloo?” I felt like slinking beneath a chair. This continued throughout the day, even when I was speaking on the panel. At least two people in the audience asked where Teddy was – and need I say that he was very prominently mentioned in my introductory bio that was read off before the whole thing had even begun. Oh, the shame of it!

It appeared I’d made a major error by not bringing him with me to the book fair. A very major error.

May I take a moment to defend myself? I was operating with the best of intentions. By not taking Teddy, I thought I was sparing him some grief. You see, I normally do appearances in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe – and he always comes along for these events, be it literature festival, book festival, talk, or writing workshop. They’re very bear-friendly over on that side of the pond. However, I wasn’t too sure how welcoming of bears an American audience would be, or, for that matter, a Miami audience. (Have you met any bears in Miami? I haven’t!) Plus I generally do solo appearances, so there was the issue of whether Teddy would be happy being on a panel with several writers (all female) as opposed to only sharing the spotlight with me. And if the venue hadn’t thought to provide a chair for him to sit on… well, it could have been highly embarrassing for all parties concerned.

Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)

Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)

There was also another problem – and this was the real sticking point. Teddy felt snubbed. You see, he too, is now a published author. He’s the co-author of the quirky crime novel/cozy mystery Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) – and he felt (and rightly so) that he should have been invited to appear at the Miami Book Fair on his own merit and given his own slot, not playing second fiddle, or even third fiddle. Therefore he flat out refused to go to the book fair at all, opting to stay in bed in his pajamas all day and sulk.

A dubious Teddy Tedaloo as he checks out my author badge

A dubious Teddy Tedaloo as he checks out my author badge

If you think that’s bad, it gets worse. No one enjoys a pint as much as Teddy Tedaloo, so when he found out that I’d met up with Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh for a post-book-fair drink, well… he was none too chuffed, let me tell you. I, however, was. It was such a relief to run into someone from the homeland that when Irvine invited me along for drinks, I couldn’t say no. So in true British fashion, we headed on over to the nearest pub (or in this case a well-chilled downtown bar), where thankfully there were some decent beers on tap. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay out too late since I was tired and I had a testy little bear waiting for me back at the home of my Miami friends. I was in enough trouble as it was and didn’t want to exacerbate the situation by returning in the wee hours of the morning.

Mitzi Szereto hanging with Irvine Welsh at a local watering hole post-Miami Book Fair, minus the trainspotting!

Mitzi Szereto hanging with Irvine Welsh at a local watering hole post-Miami Book Fair, minus the trainspotting!

In retrospect, I suppose it’s just as well Teddy hadn’t been there or I suspect he and the Scottish wordsmith might’ve been going hand-to-hand in the drinks department until the joint finally kicked us outside into the street. As for the Miami Book Fair, hopefully next time the selection committee will know better not to snub a critically acclaimed author and major media personality. After all, it’s not as if they have a lot of ursine authors to pick and choose from, especially an ursine author with as much charm, good looks and talent as Teddy Tedaloo!

Thrones of Desire: A Foray into Sexy Fantasy à la Game of Thrones

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

I know I’ve not been around for awhile here at my “Errant Ramblings” blog, so I wanted to give you a little update about my latest book release just so you know that I’ve not been skiving. (As if I’d dare!)

Those of you who follow my work have probably figured out that I like to do many different kinds of projects. I’d be bored if every book I did was the same – and I imagine my readers would be bored as well or, at the very least, feel let down. Therefore I decided to take a foray into the mystical worlds of sexy fantasy with my new anthology Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire.

Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire

Now let me say that this isn’t the first time I’ve delved into the realm of fantasy. My short story collection In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales was a study in fantasy, albeit from the folk and fairy tale tradition. However, with Thrones of Desire, I’ve taken a leap off the cliff and gone the full Monty, grabbing onto a few kings, warriors, knights and dragons along the way, not to mention adding a bit of flavouring from the hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones (based on the bestselling George R.R. Martin epic fantasy novels). Oh, and I also grabbed onto Piers Anthony, the legendary fantasy author who lent his prolific pen to the book’s foreword. I mean, if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it right!

I’ve amassed an eclectic collection of stories from an eclectic collection of international writers, all of whom are deserving of the highest praise. I’ve got stories ranging from lighter fantasy fare to stories that would satisfy even the most die-hard fantasy lover – and there’s plenty of steam to keep those engines running too! There’s even a website featuring excerpts, contributor info and other bits of news that you can check out at THRONES OF DESIRE.

So for those of you who can’t wait for spring of 2013 and the return to the television screen of Game of Thrones, I’ve got the cure for what ails. Pick up a copy of Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire today (and don’t forget to pay for the book at the till – don’t just walk out with it)!

 

Normal for Norfolk: The Literary Collaboration of the Century

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)I guess it was inevitable that I’d finally end up being completely usurped by my famous celebrity sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo. His popularity has continued to grow over the years, and many of my fans and readers have been going over to his camp. Obviously I don’t wish to begrudge him his successes – he deserves every bit of it! But what’s a lowly author to do when she discovers that her star is waning while that of her bear’s is waxing?

Why, write a book together, of course! I’m referring to the release of our new venture Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles),  billed in the publishing industry as a “quirky crime novel.” It’s the first in our new series featuring the diminutive ursine protagonist and unlikely hero Thelonious T. Bear – a Mini Cooper-driving photojournalist teddy with a fondness for deerstalker hats, cologne, and real ale.

Unfortunately for the hapless Thelonious, he keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, which accounts for why the spotlight of suspicion shines upon him in a murder enquiry. The fact that he’s far too small and far too short to be battering grown men with crowbars and hauling their dead bodies around makes little impact on the man in charge of the investigation: the bumbling Detective Chief Inspector Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk CID.

At the risk of sounding like a book publicist, if you like your crime and mystery a wee bit different, you’ll definitely get your shilling’s worth with Normal for Norfolk! Did I mention the flatulent dachshund, the tobacco-cured rock guitarist, the beekeeper, the celebrity TV chef, the whisky-drinking old granny and the 21st century’s answer to the Kray brothers? They’re in here too. There’s even a grumpy vicar. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if the county of Norfolk appoints Teddy and I their official authors laureate!

Not surprisingly, the novel is taking off big time with the ursine community. Ted’s furry friends (and even those who aren’t so furry) are rallying around the novel like gangbusters, giving it some major paws (and claws) up. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve been putting my eggs into the wrong baskets all this time. I mean, here I’ve got a slew of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, and yet I’m not getting nearly the amount of cheering and celebration and recognition that Teddy is. Hmmm… Funny, that.

Mitzi Szereto & Teddy Tedaloo (photo credit Eric Schneider)

Mitzi Szereto & Teddy Tedaloo – The hottest literary partnership of 2012!

As for my new literary partnership with Mr. Tedaloo, some of you might be thinking that I’m trying to get a free ride on someone else’s coattails. Sure, we’ve seen it before – writers who can’t come up with their own stuff and freeload off someone else’s labours, even latching on to a bigger name to gain some glory for themselves. I’m afraid that in this particular instance I might be guilty of the latching-on business. But times are tough, and it’s not easy trying to make a living as a writer. To stay alive as a writer, one must expand one’s literary horizons – and expanding my literary horizons is something I most definitely do.

It’s always good to keep folk wondering (and hopefully wondering with anticipation) what you’ll come up with next! As for riding on coattails and all that, I should tell you that Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) was in its inception long before the film “Ted” showed its face in cinemas or was even being spoken about. Besides, our hero Thelonious doesn’t use foul language like (ahem) a certain animated bear. Which is not to say you won’t find some foul language in the novel. When you have Vinnie and Desmond Clark, two thugs from Bow, East London featuring prominently in the book, you’re bound to run into that sort of thing. So for that reason I’ll give our novel a PG rating.

So go on, you lot. Buy your print or e-book copy of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) now, because if you don’t…well, maybe Teddy and I will need to have a friendly word with the Clark brothers. And I don’t think you really want that, do you?

(Watch the book trailer!)

50 Shades of Nothing New

Monday, May 14th, 2012

bow tie

I figured that since so many journalists and broadcasters keep interviewing me and asking me for quotes about the recent publishing phenomenon of 50 Shades of Grey, I thought it was time I put in my two pence’ worth right here at my blog.

Now I’m the last person to rain on anyone’s parade, especially another author’s. Those of us who toil in this usually thankless and poverty-stricken profession know all too well how difficult it is to make a living, let alone garner the kind of phenomenal success now being enjoyed by 50 Shades author E. L. James, who, up until this time, wasn’t even a professional author (and there are many who would argue that she still isn’t). However, as a writer and editor who does quite a bit of work in the area known as “erotic literature” or “erotic fiction” or “erotica,” I’m truly in the dark as to what all the fuss is about.

James’s novel (and their many continuations) focus on a BDSM relationship between a “submissive” young woman and a “dominant” man. The book evolved from her fan fiction site for Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novel Twilight. Though unlike Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey has lots of sex in it.

Explicit sex. And some of it is considered kinky depending on what church you go to.

Err… okay. So what? Is this anything new? Has no one ever written these kinds of novels before? Has no one heard of the similarly themed classic The Story of O? Has no one seen the gazillion erotic novels that have been published over the last few decades detailing precisely the same plotline, replete with salacious details? Has no one noticed the amount of explicit sex to be found on the pages of what are considered to be “mainstream” as well as “literary” novels, not to mention “women’s fiction”?

The fact that 50 Shades appears to be geared toward women readers also seems to have raised eyebrows. I guess all those Black Lace erotic novels written by women for women never existed, not to mention the many similar publishing imprints that have been doing the exact same thing for years, all vying for the exact same audience – an audience which appears to be reading content that has now become commonly known as (*gags*) “Mommy Porn.”

What I’d like to know is, where have all these goggle-eyed readers and journalists been living – in a cave? Even if you’re sweet sixteen and have no literary history under your belt, a visit to the local bookshop or a perusal of the steamy books on offer at Amazon will be sufficient to educate you that these kinds of novels have been around for eons. Some are well written, some poorly written. But this phenomenon is nothing new. For the media and reading public to suddenly make out as if Ms James has invented the erotic novel is a slap in the face for the multitudinous authors both past and present who have been doing the same thing – and quite possibly doing it better!

Of course many of these authors are hoping that the huge success of 50 Shades will translate into greater success for their own books. And perhaps it will. Whether it does anything to improve the actual quality of material being written remains to be seen.

Frankly, I have my doubts.

Mitzi, Teddy and Kevin Spacey in the Garden of Good and Evil

Sunday, February 26th, 2012
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo hanging out Savannah's on River Street

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo hanging out on Savannah's River Street

For those of you who have been following our travel adventures on Facebook, you’ll likely have noticed that my famous bear Teddy Tedaloo and yours truly are recently back from a trip to the South, y’all! – in particular, Savannah, Georgia, land of moss-draped live oaks and more ghosts than folk who are still alive to draw a breath.

Ted had an invite to visit actor Kevin Spacey and I had an invite to visit the cemetery – the Bonaventure Cemetery, to be precise. If that sounds like a quirky way to spend a holiday, then you clearly don’t know us very well, as quirky is our modus operandi – in fact, the quirkier the better!

Teddy Tedaloo visits Kevin Spacey by Forsyth Square

Teddy Tedaloo visits Kevin Spacey by Forsyth Square

While Ted was busy sipping mint juleps with our Kev (aka “Jim Williams“), I was busy dodging branches of moss-laden oaks (along with a few headstones) looking for Talen Dashkovar, the handsome (read “hottie”) blood-sucking vampiric star of the hit American television series set in Savannah called “The Blood Moon Kiss” and, by coincidence, the star of my Southern Gothic short story of the very same name featured in my recently published anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic RomanceNow there’s a coincidence you can really sink your teeth into!

Looking for Talen Dashkovar in the Bonaventure Cemetery

Looking for Talen Dashkovar in the Bonaventure Cemetery

I suppose it was inevitable I’d meet up with him at some point, especially when you consider his close resemblance to Ian Somerhalder (aka “Damon Salvatore”) from another hit American TV series, “The Vampire Diaries,” which is an obvious rip-off of “The Blood Moon Kiss.” (They’re just lucky I haven’t sued.)

Fortunately, I managed to survive my cemetery date without losing too many pints of blood. As for Teddy, I’m afraid he ended up worse for the wear from his own social engagement. You see, he really tied one on with Mr. Spacey. I do declare, I even heard The Lady Chablis had to intervene between the two gents before they came to blows. Rumour has it they got into a scuffle over a woman. Or was it a pint? Knowing Ted, it must’ve been a pint. He’s a bear who has his priorities right – and he’s not inclined to lose in battle. Hmmm… I wonder if all our years of living in Britain has made him a wee bit too blokey. I do worry about him sometimes.

Teddy Tedaloo kicks Kevin Spacey's ass

Teddy Tedaloo kicks Kevin Spacey's ass

Anyway, it turns out we felt right at home in Savannah. We ran into a couple of good old boys in the form of an Irishman and a Scotsman on the very same day – now I ask you, how much better can it get? It’s always reassuring to meet people from the old country when you’re travelling. The fact that the Scotsman later plied Teddy with pints of Scottish ale at a local Scottish pub is another story.

Needless to say, at least we didn’t get thrown out of the joint. I’m just glad Spacey didn’t turn up, especially after the earlier bloodshed. I suspect Kev’s going to want some kind of rematch – I mean, why else do you think he’s always hanging around London? That Old Vic theatre stuff is just an excuse. Truth is, he’s stalking Ted. And yes, I agree this isn’t the most dignified behaviour for a man who’s received an Academy Award.

As for dignified, I’m afraid our trip took a slight turn for the worse when Savannah’s version of the Old Bill decided to take matters in hand.

We'll go quietly, Officer.

We'll go quietly, Officer.

Oh, well… I can always write a prison novel.