Blogoversary Day 26: Mitzi Szereto

Jen: We are happy to have Mitzi Szereto stop by the blog today. Mitzi, will you please share a short bio with us?

Mitzi: I’m an author and anthology editor of erotic and multi-genre fiction and non-fiction, I have my own blog “Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog”, and I have a web TV channel “Mitzi TV,” which covers “quirky” London. I’m originally from the USA and live in Greater London. I’m individualistic, eccentric, and a workaholic. I enjoy the countryside and prefer a quiet life to lots of noise and people. I guess you could say I’m a closet hermit!

And I’d like to thank Deane Thomas for my publicity photo seen here.

Jen: Tell us about Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lust and where it can be purchased.
Mitzi: P&P is my raunchy and wickedly satiric homage to the Jane Austen classic. Of course I took matters a bit further than our dear Jane had, though she might well have been tempted to do likewise had she lived in more liberal literary times. The novel features the entire cast of characters, and take my word for it, they get up to some pretty outrageous antics. The book is available worldwide and can be purchased most everywhere, from the big guys such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and Waterstones, to the smaller independents.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When were you first published? Tell us your call story.

Mitzi: I wrote from an early age. My teachers in elementary school were always impressed by my short stories and poems, so clearly the calling was there from way back. I actually wrote my first novel when I was 10 years old – a very gory murder mystery, replete with my own grisly illustrations. I sort of hung up my writing hat during my teen years, getting more involved in art. I actually thought I’d end up with a career as an artist, but I switched my university studies to journalism (as a matter of “practicality”). The minute I got my degree I started to write fiction. I think the course reawakened my writing bug, though it took awhile before I got published. I’d had three failed novels written – by failed I mean they didn’t get published. I was close, with agents expressing interest and even some publishers, but nothing came of it. Then by chance I fell into erotic writing, and the first publisher I queried grabbed me up, leading to a handful of rather hair-raising erotic novels written under the pen name M. S. Valentine. I then decided to take things to another level by doing work that would sit comfortably on both the mainstream and the erotica shelves. Ever since then I’ve been playing with genres by blending them together and trying to produce books that are just a bit different from what you might expect.

Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?

Mitzi: Nope, it’s just me.

Jen: Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?

Mitzi: Other than a PC or laptop and a constant internet connection, not especially. Unless you want to count my electric kettle so I can make my usual 4pm cuppa.

Jen: What are your biggest motivations to write? What keeps you going?

Mitzi: What keeps me going is twofold: the need to create and the need to avoid conforming to “normal life.” I’ve always been very creative, so it was inevitable I’d turn it into a profession. Writing isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s a whole lot of no fun, but there’s nothing else I’d rather do. Plus I like the solitude of it; it suits me.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?

Mitzi: I pretty much ate, slept and breathed Jane Austen from the moment I started. First of all, I had to carefully examine the original Pride and Prejudice in order to select from it what I wished to use in my version, so there was a lot of meticulous filtering going on. I also re-familiarized myself with the BBC TV series (the one with Colin Firth and all those other wonderful actors). I feel this series captured Jane Austen’s novel and characters the best, particularly the satiric elements, and it probably influenced me the most. I really had to develop an ear for the dialogue and language of the day, since I needed to write my version in Jane’s voice, therefore authenticity of voice was a key factor. I researched the clothing of the period so as not to make any mistakes, particularly regarding undergarments. Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts has a lot of sex in it, so undergarments (or lack of) do play a key role! I also paid a visit to Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, Hampshire. I wanted to get a sense of her life, and a sense of time and place. Seeing where she lived and reading about her life gave me an insight into what it was like back then for young women of her class living off the good graces of a male relative – women whose only hope at a future was through marriage. When you think about it, Jane was an early feminist; she never married and she had a profession, that being her writing. I suspect she patterned the character of Elizabeth Bennet on herself, though Elizabeth did land a husband – and what a husband! However, unlike many women of her day, Elizabeth refused to compromise and accept someone she felt was beneath her (such as Mr. Collins) or someone she didn’t love. She had her own mind, and she wasn’t afraid to let others know it.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?

Mitzi: For me the most challenging aspect is actually finding the time to do it. Social media and promotion take up a lot of my time. It’s no longer practical for a writer to just hide away from the world and write, unless they’re such literary megastars they don’t need to tweet their news or interact with people on Facebook or give interviews. As for what’s rewarding, you might think it’s when I have the finished product in my hand, but that’s actually an anti-climax. What gives me a buzz is getting a message or comment from somebody saying that they really love my work. I genuinely appreciate when someone takes time out to do that. It’s nice to hear good things from the people who actually purchase your books!

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? If you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?

Mitzi: I wouldn’t mind living in Jane Austen’s day, but only as a woman of standing and income. I think it would be quite pleasant to spend one’s evenings singing and playing the pianoforte or listening to others doing so (unless it’s Mary Bennet). It’s the overall civility of the period that appeals to me, especially regarding men and their gentlemanly conduct toward women (with the exception of Mr. Wickham). It would have to be in England, perhaps Hampshire or Derbyshire, both very lovely counties. As for three things I’d take, well… I’d have to be accompanied by my beloved sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo; I wouldn’t time travel without him. I’d also need internet access and my laptop.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?

Mitzi: I’m reading all over the place at the moment, bouncing between crime thrillers and paranormal fiction, depending on my mood. Some authors I’ve read consistently over the years are Ruth Rendell and Margaret Atwood. Favorite books include The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and The Road to Wellville by T. C. Boyle. I have varied taste in literature, and I do read with a critical eye.

Jen: What’s next for you?

Mitzi: I have a new book coming out in the autumn entitled Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance. It’s an anthology of short stories inspired by the Gothic tradition and it features a number of authors, myself included. I’m really excited about the book, particularly since it’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’ve always loved Gothic novels and the paranormal in literature and also film, so I’m pleased to be doing something in this area. I’m also working on a couple of novels, one of which is a quirky crime novel, the other in the paranormal realm. I definitely keep busy.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Mitzi: Why, everywhere! My blog “Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog” can be found at http://mitziszereto.com/blog and my web TV channel “Mitzi TV” at http://mitziszereto.com/tv. I’m very active on Facebook with an author fan page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mitzi-Szereto/24537936152?ref=ts) and fan pages for my blog and Mitzi TV, and even my books, including Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pride-and-Prejudice-Hidden-Lusts/114597078611842). I’m also on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/mitziszereto), MySpace and all the usual haunts.

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