Posts Tagged ‘writers’

Good-bye, Sir Arnold Wesker

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

One of the hardest things about being away from home is when you find out news entirely by accident, especially sad news.

I was right in the middle of organising the promotional blurbs given to me by fellow authors for my upcoming book Oysters and Pearls: Collected Stories when I decided to check something on the Internet. Well, I received quite a shock when this Telegraph article about Sir Arnold Wesker came up at the top of my search:

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2016/04/13/sir-arnold-wesker-playwright—obituary/)

I suppose we always think people will remain exactly the same as they were when we last saw them. If they were young and vibrant, they will forever remain young and vibrant (or older and vibrant) until the next time we’re with them and can see the changes wrought by time. Alas, on the last occasion I’d chatted with Arnold, he’d told me that his health had deteriorated significantly. And he hadn’t sounded encouraged about any potential for improvement. I can only hope he found some enjoyment in his remaining days.

It’s quite curious how we came to meet. I’d just released an anthology of short stories (Erotic Travel Tales 2). One of my contributors was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Somewhere in the promotional material it said that this was the first anthology of erotica to feature a FRSL. I’m not entirely sure how Arnold came to hear of the book, but I had an email from him not long afterward, telling me that he (also a FRSL) had written his own collection of erotic short stories. His book The King’s Daughters, which he’d signed for me, holds pride of place on my bookshelf and has done since he’d first given it to me during our visit to his charming thatched cottage in Wales. Perhaps it was our shared genre or perhaps it was our shared Hungarian blood or perhaps it was plain old serendipity—something had prompted him to reach out a hand in friendship.

Arnold Wesker's book

When Arnold first invited me to visit him, I’d told a poet and academic friend of mine about the invite. She immediately issued a foreboding warning that Sir Arnold was considered “difficult” and one of the “angry young men”—and on my head be it! I had to wonder why someone so difficult and “angry” would bother to invite me (and Teddy Tedaloo) to come stay with him, let alone cook us dinner! Not knowing what to expect, I threw caution to the wind (as I so often do) and got the train to Abergavenny, where he was to pick us up. Well, Arnold was there as promised, and in true British style, the first thing we did was head down the pub!

During our stay, Teddy was on his best behaviour (as one might expect), though I’m afraid I can’t say the same thing about Arnold or myself. We started on the wine in the garden—it was a lovely sunny late afternoon, and  the bees were having a fabulous time terrorising me. This was followed by lively conversation in the kitchen, where Arnold began preparing us a delicious meal. We scarfed it down in no time, because after desert we had a date with the Scrabble board. Now let me tell you, there’s nothing quite so amusing as two authors engaging in a game of Scrabble with a bottle of wine. We quickly became annoyed with our pathetic collection of letters—none of which seemed to add up to any word that followed the rules. By mutual agreement, we decided to relax the rules a bit and allow words that didn’t exactly conform to what the game’s inventors had in mind. We even threw in some proper nouns while we were at it. How we both laughed at the hilarity of the situation—two authors cheating at Scrabble. Can it get any better than that?

It was probably a good thing I was sleeping over, because at some point during the night we had a bit of a downpour and if I hadn’t been upstairs, the leak in the roof might not have been discovered until some serious damage had been done. We were running around like proverbial headless chickens, moving things out of harm’s way and trying to wedge cloths along the wall to soak up the water that was trickling down. After all that wine, the situation was the stuff of slapstick comedy. Though I suspect the bill Arnold eventually received from his roofer probably wasn’t a laughing matter. Those thatched roofs are an absolute bitch to maintain.

The next morning after breakfast, I sobered up by watching one of his “kitchen sink” dramas—a televised play that had been done for Welsh television. Then it was time for us to get the train. Arnold got us packed into his car to take us to the station, though not without first giving me an introduction to living in the Welsh countryside. I was assigned the task of opening and closing of gate, which provided me with my first encounter with stinging nettles. How he managed to deal with that gate every time he came and went I’ve no idea, but a gauntlet would have definitely come in handy.

I found this man to be warm, funny and truly delightful company—and he genuinely liked Teddy! I will always remember our visit with fondness.

RIP, Sir Arnold Wesker.

 

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Do You Know the Way to Santa Fe

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Teddy Tedaloo arrives in New Mexico

I’ve crisscrossed North America so many times they might as well invite me to join the cast of Top Gear! Even on a bad day, I’m a damned sight better looking than Chris Evans. But has the BBC been chasing after me to offer me a shed-load of dosh to be on the programme? Despite the fact that Mr. Evans has up and quit on them, no, they have not.

So where exactly does that leave me?

To embark upon my peregrinations with my trusty celebrity sidekick author bear, Teddy Tedaloo (who’s also a damned sight better looking than Chris Evans on ANY day)!

Checking out the local real estate

Checking out the local real estate

Our latest road trip was initially supposed to be a visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico for fun, food, friends and relaxation, along with an author appearance thrown in to promote Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)the latest novel in our cosy mystery series The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles. But you know how things can snowball, especially when you figure that since you’re driving all that distance anyway, what’s another err… few thousand miles? So like a rock band on tour, off we went, minus the drugs!

And it’s a good thing we didn’t have any questionable substances with us, especially after what they did to us at the Canadian border crossing.

Hanging out with Teddy Tedaloo in Vancouver

Hanging out with Teddy Tedaloo in Vancouver

Of course, we expected to have a few adventures on our road trip, but being detained and cross-examined at Canadian border patrol for more than two hours and having the car (along with all our luggage) searched wasn’t exactly high up on the list. The only thing missing from the scenario was the snap of a latex glove. The huge haul of contraband they were able to come up with included a note with the address of a Squamish bank written on it (so I could withdraw money from the ATM, like duh); a pair of paper booties; a pillow; and one of those thermal cover things I keep in the boot for an emergency in case I run into Chuck, Jimmy McGill’s (aka Saul Goodman) brother, who suffers from a case of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. The border control officers grudgingly let us leave when they ran out of excuses to keep us there (apparently I’d even been Googled, along with Teddy), causing us to get caught up in late afternoon Vancouver traffic and missing lunch. Good thing I don’t suffer from hypoglycemia or I’d have been a goner.

Can you imagine – no more books written by yours truly? Do you even want to imagine it?

Okay, don’t answer that.

In case you didn’t make it to our Santa Fe gig or else were too cheap to spring for the airfare, here’s a filmed highlight from it. See how much money I’ve saved you? I hope you remember that next time you’re shopping for a book to read from Amazon or your other favourite bookseller!

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Vin Diesel Can’t Compare to Thelonious T. Bear!

Thursday, September 24th, 2015
Proud authors Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo with their new book Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)

Proud authors Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo with their new book Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)

 

We keep hearing all this talk about entertainment “franchises” these days. Seems like every time you turn around Vin Diesel is on the telly, telling reporters about his “Fast and Furious” film franchise. Well, I’m here to tell you that when it comes to entertainment franchises, baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Proud author Teddy Tedaloo with Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)

Proud author Teddy Tedaloo with Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)

For those of you in the know (and you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you weren’t), my celebrity sidekick bear and handsome co-author Teddy Tedaloo and I are here to announce the publication of the latest installment in OUR franchise: namely The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles.

Now we’re not talking motion pictures (at least not yet, though lucrative film and TV offers are welcome!). But we are talking novels – in this case the second book in our quirky and satiric cosy mystery/crime series – Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles). And like that other franchise starring that baritone-voiced bald geezer with a fondness for speeding cars, our book also comes with some high-octane chase scenes!

If you’ve read the first novel Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles), you’ll already be familiar with Thelonious T. Bear, our hapless protagonist from ol’ Blighty. Thelonious is a photojournalist by trade. He also happens to be a small bear. He drives a specially modified Mini Cooper with a Union Jack on the roof, wears a deerstalker hat, loves jazz music and drinks real ale. He even uses cologne (he’s quite meticulous about his personal hygiene).

In this latest installment in the series, Thelonious’s assignment takes him and his camera to the rural American South – or more specifically, Georgia, a state famous for its red clay and Southern hospitality as well as guns, Jesus, dodgy traffic tickets, Confederate flags, pickup trucks and, of course, peaches!

Our ursine “hero” has a knack for running into trouble wherever he goes. This time that trouble arrives courtesy of a gang of bank-robbing little people wearing animal-mask disguises and armed with Tommy Guns. Everyone wants to catch these Dillinger-wannabes, especially a rural sheriff from the sticks and an eager young small-town newspaper reporter. An adventure chock-full of grits and culture shock, Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) has enough local flavour to make that fried chicken go down real good, providing you chase it with a great big glass of sweet tea! Crooked cops, fire-and-brimstone preachers, psychotic farmers, stalkers in pickup trucks and reality TV shows, it’s all happening right here. Rotten Peaches will have you hankering for a fried pie in no time.

Vin Diesel concedes that The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles franchise is definitely faster and furiouser!

Vin Diesel concedes that The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles franchise is definitely faster and furiouser!

Working with Teddy has been great so far. At least we haven’t had any artistic flare-ups yet. We’ve been soaking up plenty of local colour while on location writing this novel (just as we did for Normal for Norfolk), but that’s all part of the fun. We want our readers to feel as if they’ve actually been to these places and met the characters just as we ourselves have. You might even call us the “method actors” of literature – we definitely aren’t shy when it comes to immersing ourselves in our art. Just take a look at some of these “on location” photos if you don’t believe me.

So keep an eye out. You never know where we might turn up next! As for Mr. Vin Diesel, big-shot Hollywood movie star, y’all better watch out, because if things go according to plan, Thelonious T. Bear will be coming to your neighbourhood cinema soon!

 

Visit the Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) website:

mitziszereto.com/rottenpeaches

Check us out on Facebook: 

facebook.com/rottenpeaches

 

 

Why, lookee here! Even that good ol’ boy Elton John is singing about our book!

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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.

 

 

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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

 

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Mitzi and Teddy Hit Montreal, Eh?

Sunday, October 20th, 2013
Teddy Tedaloo tries the famous smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's

Teddy Tedaloo tries the famous smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s

Right, that’s it – I’m moving! I’ve been to a lot of cities (and I’ve lived in a lot of cities), and I will say this: if you like food – good food – and food from every conceivable place on the planet, you’ve got to be in Montreal. If you want someone to cook it, you’ll find a restaurant that has it. If you want to cook it yourself, you’ll find a supermarket that has anything you’d ever want or need – and you don’t have to go broke to get it either.

Alas, poor Yorick!

Alas, poor Yorick!

After all this high praise, I’ll be polite and not discuss the Quebec drivers. I think someone must’ve really got on the wrong side of these guys.

I’ll also be polite and not bang on about the traffic jams or the endless road construction or the collapsing overpasses. (You didn’t hear any of this from me, you got it?)

But hey, Montreal has mayoral candidate Richard Bergeron! In fact, we even ran into him (though not with our car). It felt as if we were meeting an old mate, what with his mug being plastered on every street corner in the city. Oy, and what a mug! Now I ask you – would you buy a used Chevy from this man?

Dodgy mayoral candidate for Montreal

Dodgy mayoral candidate for Montreal

Mind you, I’m thinking I should have a chat avec Monsieur Bergeron about the complete load of bollocks I was given crossing the Canadian border. I must have been saddled with a seriously bored border control agent, since he appeared to want to hang about and chew the fat with me all afternoon, grilling me about everything from who my friends in Montreal were to who owned the vehicle I was driving. (You’d have thought I was the driver who had an arm dangling from the rear of the car!) Heck, I’m surprised the guy didn’t ask what brand of antiperspirant I use! I notice he didn’t ask my famous bear Teddy Tedaloo any questions. Like, what’s up with that, eh?

It was all I could do to keep our Ted from biting him. (I have no idea what the penalty is in Canada for bears biting border service agents, and I didn’t wish to find out.) All I can say is, if you lot want tourist dollars to be spent in your country (or province), this is definitely not the way to go about it. And here I thought it was the American border agents who go all John Wayne on you when it comes to entering the country. Oddly enough, I had a very warm welcome on the way back when crossing into New York. Maybe the fellow was a fan of mine. He did address me by my first name as if he knew me.

I guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t heading up to Canada for the book launch of my new novel The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray. Can you imagine the panic that would have ensued at the border crossing? I mean, the book hasn’t even been published yet! (That doesn’t mean you can’t pre-order it from Amazon – so what are you waiting for?) I’d have been taking my life in my hands if I hadn’t come armed (maybe “armed” isn’t the right word to use in this context) with an autographed copy for the border services agent. Hey, maybe that was his problem – I didn’t give him a free book! You’d be amazed by how weird people can get when they meet an author and aren’t given freebies.

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo high above Montreal

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo high above Montreal

Anyway, it’s not me who’s important here.

Teddy Tedaloo at Musee des Beaux Arts

Teddy Tedaloo at Musee des Beaux Arts

The official star of the show was Teddy Tedaloo, whom everyone was expecting. Our official Quebec hosts in the section of Montreal known as “Peter’s Bottom” (I’m not even going to try to explain this) were initially his friends, not mine. In fact, our host was a fluffy white cockapoo with a penchant for raising his hind leg whenever it suited him. He and Teddy got on like a house on fire. Mind you, everyone gets on with Teddy like a house on fire. Even a trip to the Musee des Beaux Arts was filled with members of the Teddy Tedaloo Admiration Society. One of the security guards insisted upon a formal introduction, offering Ted a hearty handshake along with the compliment that it was good to see a bear who appreciated fine art.

As for me, no one was really that bothered save for my new best friend at border control. Having said that, if he’s reading this, he’d better not be expecting a free autographed copy of my new book any time soon!

As for Montreal, I can’t wait to return and get cracking with some serious eating!

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Visiting the King(s) in Memphis

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo visit Graceland

Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo visit Graceland

It’s pretty much impossible to visit the American South without at least stopping by to see the King. Celebrity bear and bestselling author Teddy Tedaloo of Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) fame just had to pop over to Graceland to pay his respects to the man who sang with such affection about teddy bears – and he took me along for the ride.

Ted had a blast checking out the home and the life of Elvis Presley. Being a creative artist and famous entertainer himself, I must say he was a tad envious of all those accolades “Elvis the Pelvis” received for his work. As for me, I think the writing was on the wall when I ended up having chocolate sauce spilled all over my trousers and shoes as we took a break for some ice cream in the Graceland ice cream parlour. So much for all my published books and fame (not fortune)….

I spent the rest of the day feeling…well…sticky. And on a hot summer’s day in a southern state with ants, this is not a good thing.

Hanging out on Beale (Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo)

Hanging out on Beale (Mitzi Szereto with Teddy Tedaloo)

I had considerably better luck the following evening when we decided to visit the other king: namely B.B. King. Unfortunately he was out of town (he was probably out searching for that thrill that’s gone), but his nightclub was up and running for business on busy Beale Street, where I fared far better with an order of barbecued ribs than I did with Elvis’ soft serve. It was also Hog Night, so the bikers were out in force, showing off their nifty two-wheelers (and occasionally three). We even saw a werewolf biker.

Teddy Tedaloo gets down with the blues at B.B. King's

Teddy Tedaloo gets down with the blues at B.B. King’s

Or at least I think it was a werewolf. Perhaps that microbrew I drank was stronger than I thought.

I should tell you that Memphis is not exactly a town full of shrinking Southern violets. On the contrary, some of the ladies are quite, shall we say, forward. One afternoon as we were leaving a downtown parking garage, my friend was asked by the female parking attendant in a very no-nonsense soulful drawl: “Is that a tongue ring?” – followed by the demand: “What’s that for? Let me see it!” When my friend complied by sticking out her tongue, she was then asked: “Is that for sex?”

Only in Memphis.

Unfortunately Memphis has a very high crime rate. And unfortunately yours truly became yet another statistic of it. Was I robbed at gunpoint? No. Was I carjacked? No. In fact, I was safely sequestered (or so I believed) inside the living room of my friend’s house when the crime was committed. As I was chilling out with a glass of wine, little did I know that only a few feet away just down the hall my bath poof was being murdered by a dodgy local character who goes by the name of Udo. I mean, you only need to look at him to see the word CRIMINAL written all over his furry face. Talk about being caught in the act!

Wanted by Memphis Police Department

Wanted by Memphis Police Department

Out of respect for our lovely hostess, I didn’t bother telephoning the police. (However, she doesn’t know that I plan to sue for compensation.)

I suppose there’s a bright side to all of this: at least I didn’t take my bath brush with me. I dread to think of its fate had Herr Udo got hold of it.

As the locals can be heard say, Lord have mercy!

 

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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!

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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)!

 

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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!)

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