Posts Tagged ‘darker edge of desire’

The Case of the Vanishing Sock

Friday, October 17th, 2014
Mitzi and Teddy at Glacier National Park, Montana

Mitzi and Teddy at Glacier National Park, Montana

My talented co-author and celebrity bear Teddy Tedaloo and I are back from another whirlwind road trip through North America, taking in such destinations as the Black Hills of South Dakota, northwest Montana and Glacier National Park, the Canadian Rockies of Alberta and British Columbia, the eastern portion of the Pacific Northwest, and northern Colorado.

After two overpriced oil changes and having missed the Testicle Festival in Clinton, Montana (yes, you heard it here first!), we were pretty much ready to pack it in and give the exhausted credit cards a holiday of their own. Nevertheless, we managed to visit a lot of amazing places and cross a few more off our bucket list. Even more importantly, Teddy got to visit several brewpubs!

Teddy Tedaloo checks out the local ale

Teddy Tedaloo checks out the local ale

Of course no road trip of merit would be complete without some form of (mis)adventure, and this one was no exception. Last year I encountered a bored border control agent who gave me a load of bollocks going into Canada. This year I encountered a bored border control agent who gave me a load of bollocks crossing into the United States! I won’t say which border crossing it was (in case you might actually know this character), but I get the impression they don’t get too many customers and have to make the most out of this gig.

Now don’t get me wrong – we need to stay vigilant in today’s turbulent and dangerous world, but there’s a big difference between wasting time/resources and being on the lookout for potential terrorists and drug smugglers. I flew after 9-11 immediately after the international borders were reopened (going from the USA to Canada to the UK) and I didn’t experience anything remotely along these lines to enter a “foreign” country. Nor did I have any issues last year upon driving into the USA from Canada with a US passport, entering via New York State. In fact, they actually seemed glad to see me!

Not so in this case. Despite the fact that I handed over my American passport for inspection, I was asked to provide yet another form of photo ID. On presenting my US driver’s licence, the fellow proceeded to enter it into a computer, no doubt expecting to find a “Wanted By the FBI!” alert placed upon it. I was even asked if my car was rented (huh?) and my next intended destination (err… Starbucks?). I began to wonder if I was entering a foreign country rather than the one to which I had proof of citizenship. I looked around for a flag emblazoned with a hammer and sickle, but couldn’t see one.

Sure, it was all sweetness and light as my car and everything in it got a good going-over in search of… what? Dirty laundry? Well, yes, I had a tote bag-full in the boot and I warned the fellow that he would encounter it if he went in there. That didn’t put him off in the least. On the contrary, he seemed to take an inordinate amount of time going through all my stuff as I sat dumbfounded in the driver’s seat, wondering if a body search was imminent or being hung upside-down until I confessed to crimes I hadn’t committed. I dread to think what they do to American citizens who have even a drop of Middle Eastern blood running through their veins or a name with Islamic origins.

After a while I figured out that it wasn’t just about my potential threat to American security. It was also about all the illegal contraband I was potentially bringing into the United States and not paying duty on. (Clearly this fellow wasn’t too au fait with the income level of most authors or he might have slipped me a few bucks to help out.) Sure, I’d purchased a handful of things in Canada, but unless he wanted to tax Teddy’s new hoodie from Banff there wasn’t all that much to get excited about.

Yet boy was I surprised when, with a big Ah-ha! on his face, he pulled from my suitcase a small plastic bag containing not cocaine, but earrings, upon which he inquired if the tiny paper bag inside it contained new jewelry that I’d purchased on my trip. I was pleased as punch to inform him that yes, those were indeed newly purchased earrings in said bag – and I’d bought them in Montana. Last I heard they can’t charge customs on goods purchased inside the United States being brought back inside the United States.

Needless to say, I would have been perfectly cool with it had Teddy and I not been allowed back into the USA. Canada is a beautiful and friendly country that isn’t overrun with blood-thirsty psychopaths with guns, and they’re even civilised and humane enough to offer universal healthcare to its population rather than allowing them to descend into abject poverty or serious illness in order to keep from suffering or dying. So the decision would have been an easy one to make had the US border been shut against me. But after searching my car and everything in it (including the tote bag of dirty laundry I’d warned him about), the agent bid me a fond farewell. The barrier finally came up and we were waved on through. Welcome to the United States.

Damn.

Okay, so it gets a wee bit cold in Canada...

Okay, so it gets a wee bit cold in Canada…

Now if you think all this border-security song and dance was entirely justified, let me add a postscript to this. I fuelled up the car in the first town I came to and, still fuming over the incident, mentioned to the kindly ladies behind the cash register what had just happened. They asked me to describe the fellow, which I did. Their immediate response? “Oh, him.” Evidently I’d got lucky and drawn the short straw.

Now you’d think with this violation of my privacy and personal space that this guy would have promised to buy at least one of my books? I did tell him when asked that I was a writer, so ignorance was no excuse. After all, I have Darker Edge of Desire coming out and Teddy and I are always keen to find new readers for our Thelonious T. Bear quirky crime/cosy mystery series. But no. It was all just wham, bam, thank you, ma’am.

I felt so cheap and used!

As for that bag of laundry in the car boot, even that didn’t remain sacrosanct. When I arrived at my next destination and began to make use of the washing machine, it came to my notice that a certain article of clothing had gone missing from the tote bag – and it was nowhere to be found.

All I can say is, if that border control guy has it, I hope he and my sock will be very happy together.

 

 

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