Posts Tagged ‘new books’

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

He Just Can’t Get Enough

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
Ted Reads My New Book

Teddy Tedaloo reads "In Sleeping Beauty's Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales"

No, I’m not talking about what you think (or hope) I’m talking about. Nor am I talking about Depeche Mode‘s Dave Gahan. As you may already know, I’ve blogged about Dave before – he was one of my very first Facebook friends! (Alas, our relationship has since gone pear-shaped, and we’re no longer speaking.)

No, I’m talking about Teddy Tedaloo, who’s one of my most devoted fans. Well, he’d better be, since I pay the rent. Though I really wish he’d stop singing that damned Pet Shop Boys song all the time; it’s beginning to get up my nose. I love you, you pay my rent, indeed! Mind you, when it comes to fans, he has plenty himself, if his Facebook group is anything to go by… and my long-distance phone bill. When my shipment of author copies for In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales arrived the other morning courtesy of my publisher Cleis Press in San Francisco, who do you think couldn’t wait to tear open the box?

You guessed it.

I didn’t even get a chance to make a cup of tea before Ted was already in the kitchen rustling about in the knife drawer to find something to slice open the box with. The next thing I know he’s happily ensconced on the fluffy white coverlet on our sofa with his little black nose buried in the book. How he managed to fetch his reading glasses from the upstairs bedroom without my seeing him is anyone’s guess. I suppose that’s one of the advantages of being diminutive in stature.

“Now Mitzi, are you using your blog to plug your new book release?” I hear you asking. Why, of course I am! After all, it’s my blog and I can do what I want with it. Having said that, don’t I provide you with hours and  hours of free entertainment? After all I’ve done for you – sacrificed for you, is it so much to expect a little consideration and support? (Insert Jewish mother guilt-inspiring voice here.) Haven’t I given you the best years of my life? (Insert nagging-wife voice here.) If my book is good enough for my bear, then it’s good enough for you! And take my word for it when I say that Ted’s not easily impressed. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more difficult critic to get past.

So if you want to make me happy (and you do want to make me happy, don’t you?), then click on one of the very handy Amazon carousels located right here on my website (you can select from three different countries – oy, how easy can it be?) and pre-order your copy of In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed now!

Do it because you love me.

And if you don’t, so lie.

(BTW, if you happen to be a book reviewer, drop me a note and I’ll put in a review copy request for you. But you gotta promise to be nice!)