Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mitzi Szereto ~ Pride And Prejudice: Hidden Lusts

Madame Perry:  Mitzi, you look so young, lovely, cute dimples, hang out with Teddy Tedaloo (who, like you, has a deceptively innocent visage ) and you write erotica that makes the pages too hot to turn and too sizzling not to play with that fire! How, and when, did you recognize your brilliant skills in that genre?

Mitzi Szereto:  Thanks for your use of the adjective “brilliant”! Actually, I’ve written poetry and stories since childhood; my first piece of long-form fiction was a gory murder mystery replete with deadly poisons and buried corpses. I’d been writing a variety of things, genre-wise, once I decided to seriously pursue writing as a profession, but it was quite by accident that I started working in the area of erotic literature.
Mitzi and Teddy
Photo: Eric Schneider

From my readings in the genre, I didn’t have much patience for the contemporary works, preferring the more refined prose of the classics. Obviously, that affected my approach to some degree. I come from a fine art background as well, so I’ve always applied myself to my writing as an artist would, using words as my medium rather than paint.

When dealing with material that is more erotic in nature, I think it’s important to incorporate a bit of artistry and lyricism into the prose or else you end up with something that has as much elegance and sensuality as what you find scrawled inside a toilet stall.

MP  When Pride And Prejudice: Hidden Lusts was launched, you had several events scheduled, and some included readings. How was that? I mean, details – please! Were extra fans necessary?

MS  It’s all a blur! I did a ton of interviews; in fact, I don’t think a day went by when I wasn’t doing an interview or being scheduled for one. I was also doing a lot of international traveling during that summer (which resulted in yet more interviews), plus I had an appearance at the Warwick Words literature festival not long after I returned to the UK. My Red Velvet and Absinthe anthology came out not even three months after P&P, so it was a manic time for me. Mind you, it’s always a manic time for me!

MP  According to Wikipedia you’ve written thirteen books as Mitzi Szereto, and six as M. S. Valentine, plus countless other stories in magazines. In your spare time you are a blogger, anthology editor, web TV entrepreneur and public speaker.

Obviously a prolific writer – you must have, in addition to talent, a style, technique or discipline to enable you to do so much and do it so fabulously well. Please share some tips for the rest of us.

MS  I suppose my biggest tip would be to find a research facility that will clone you so that you can do all the things you need to do to keep yourself out there and keep creating new and interesting content. I don’t have a particular technique; I just file away inside my head all the things that I need to do and I try to get as much of it done as possible, always finding that I’m at least two or three months behind on where I want to be.
I suppose as far as discipline, it’s down to this: I know I need to do what I need to do, and somehow or other I do it. It’s an endless trial of frustration to keep up. I think you’ve got to be very committed to your goals and willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve them. This isn’t a nine to five job that ends when you get home from the office—it’s day and night, seven days a week. You’re lucky, indeed, if you can manage to take off an entire 24-hour period without attending to something pertaining to work.

MP  What music do you listen to when you write?

MS  I never listen to music when I write. I need silence. Music is too distracting, as is the presence of people. I’m lucky that Teddy is relatively quiet when I’m working and doesn’t create problems and disruptions. The only downside is, he’s not too cooperative when it comes to making cups of tea. To be fair, it’s a bit difficult for him to reach the kitchen counter without assistance.

MP  What do you enjoy best about your web TV show? Can you talk about your favorite guest?

MS  It’s hard to choose, as I’ve met so many interesting and amusing people for the Mitzi TV segments. I probably had the most fun in “Knees Up Mother Brown,” which was a musical pub night in London. The place was filled with so many colorful characters, both the performers and the audience. For “Baby You Can Drive My Car” I did enjoy flirting with Formula 1 racecar driver and “Top Gear” presenter Tiff Needell, not to mention teasing shoe designer Jimmy Choo. Oh, and Fred Flintstone and I were getting pretty cozy in his log-mobile, too.

Having Teddy co-host with me on the “Bear Necessities” video was also very rewarding, as we covered the Hugglets Teddy Bear festival in London. We met a lot of exhibitors who are actively involved in charities, especially those pertaining to bears. I’d like to hope that I helped spread the word about a lot of great causes with this segment. I should say that not all guests are planned; in the majority of cases they just happen along. Other than the Morris Dancing segment, which I’d pre-arranged with the chaps from the Westminster Morris Men, I usually have no idea who I’ll be interviewing until I actually get out there with my mike.

MP  An American by birth, how did you become a resident, and citizen of the UK ? Has this been a strong influence on your work?

MS  I think I’ve always been British in my heart and soul. Britain is known for being a land of eccentrics, so I fit right in! I moved to the UK in 2001, and quickly became established there. Aside from doing a post-graduate degree, I became a creative writing lecturer at university within a year of having relocated. You have to be resourceful to make your situation work, which is true of most anything, really. I’m not going to say it was easy. Anyone who deals with immigration departments can tell you what a headache it is, not to mention expense. But when it was all over and I found myself being sworn in as a British citizen, I breathed a proverbial sign of relief. So yes, Britain has been a strong influence on my work, even from way before I’d arrived.

MP  Mitzi, when you wrote Pride And Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, is there one character above all others that you fantasized about? And in those lusty fantasies – what well known person would they resemble?

MS  For the purposes of P&P, I will say that Mr. Darcy is the character that appealed to me the most—and we can give credit to Colin Firth’s marvelous and sexy portrayal of Darcy in the BBC TV series as being a strong influence. He embodied Darcy in a way no other actor has and, I believe, ever will. But generally speaking, I don’t make a practice of putting personal fantasies into my work or patterning characters on people I might necessarily fancy or lust after. I’ve done it so rarely that the only time it immediately springs to mind is with my recent short story “The Blood Moon Kiss” in Red Velvet and Absinthe. I patterned the male protagonist after Ian Somerhalder (and yes, I do fancy him!), also using the setting of a popular television series about vampires as a backdrop.

I’ve noticed over the years that many people like to assume that if your content is erotic in nature, then it must reflect upon your own sexuality and proclivities and, as you’ve already referenced, lusty fantasies. I’m not entirely sure why this assumption came about (perhaps it’s been aided by the writers themselves!), but it isn’t an area I exploit. Besides, I write a variety of material that crosses into and blends many genres, so lusty fantasies don’t necessarily have any bearing on the content. Can you imagine if every author of a blood-and-guts crime novel claimed to be inspired by his or her lusty fantasies? We’d have a swarm of literary serial killers on the loose! For me, writing is all about imagination and creativity. It’s our job as writers to create—and I’m just doing my job.

MP You and Teddy are so fabulously busy, I’m delighted you could visit Madame Perry’s Salon. This has been an absolute pleasure, and Teddy, rest assured your required gift basket is on its way.

MS  A gift basket for Teddy? Goodness!

MP  What? You didn't know? You may want to check Teddy's phone bill. It's quite allright, as he'll share with you.

If you are not already living in the exciting world of Mitzi and Teddy, here are some very useful links. You can follow Mitzi on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and MySpace, and visit her Errant Ramblings blog,  website or go straight to MitziTV . Buy Mitzi's books on Amazon USA, or Amazon UK, Teddy invites everyone to follow him on facebook and twitter, too!