Pride and Prejudice and Fetishes

Pride and Prejudice:Hidden Lusts is the newest rewrite of a classic, from the pen of Mitzi Szereto. While other re-imaginings walk the line between genres and audiences, this book does not. It may seem obvious to some, but I want it to be understood at the forefront: this is erotica. It's a book more suited to between the bed sheets than between Tolstoy and Bradbury. Allow me to illustrate:

"A lively and sociable young woman, she had no trouble in keeping them all amused, often taking them three at a time, since she saw no point in possessing three openings if they could not all be applied to at once. Wearing only her short stays, she took to the bed with a trio of gentleman, one lying beneath her, another on top, and still another positioned at her face, their eager members conveniently located within their opening of choice."

As illustrated by the excerpt, this is not the soft-core porn that one would expect to be associated with Austen. There’s anal sex, S&M, a range of fetishes and a whole lot of blow jobs. Which is fine if that’s your thing. But I think this book is appealing to the wrong crowd without knowing it. Instead of a demure, loosely bound woman on the cover there should be a girl bending over baring her ass with a Regency era gown on. That would set the correct expectation.

There. Now diehard fans of the classic Austen work will know what to expect and perhaps arrive at the page better prepared. And here is where the kernel of discontent is found. The great divide between readers on whether this is the brilliant retelling of a classic or full-on explicit abuse of well-loved characters. It is my personal opinion that Austen would not be rolling over in her grave over Szereto's novel. In fact, she might laugh a little.

Szereto fleshed out her character's sexual proclivities in a manner which complimented their appearance in the original work. But it is there the similarities between the works end. While the original touches on societal, educational and feminist issues in a way that is very tongue-in-cheek, this version is mostly tongue-in-ass.

My advice: if you are a regular reader of erotica, you will love the dirty, witty jaunt through a classic. If you are a lover of classics, read some hard-core erotica as homework first or brace yourself. If you don't want to watch Austen's characters get sodomized (and like it) than don't pick up Pride and Prejudice:Hidden Lusts. This book is meant for the more adventurous spirit.

Mitzi Szereto Interview

Mitzi Szereto discusses her latest erotic novel Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, sci-fi erotica and why she left the U.S. for the U.K.

What would you tell fans of the original who are curious about Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts?

I would tell them that if they’re expecting just another sexed-up version of Jane Austen, they’re in for a big surprise. Oh, there’s definitely plenty of sex to be found, but the book offers far more than that. It’s historical parody as well as satire – and Jane Austen was definitely a satirist, so I’m definitely being true to her spirit. With characters such as Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Caroline Bingley, you can’t tell me Austen wasn’t poking fun at society. Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts is also a romance, in that there are those in my version who love greatly and with passion (and not necessarily the ones you expect either). It’s pretty much got it all: Regency prose, sexual mayhem, and a whole lot of fun. In a nutshell, if you want a book that’s different and doesn’t fit the mold, this is definitely it!

How is reinventing classics such as Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts and In Sleeping Beauty's Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales different than creating your own setting and characters?

To be honest, I do a lot of creating, despite these works being “pre-existing.” Taking plots and characters and making something new out of them is just as much work as creating something from scratch. For me, it was important to do justice to the original works, in that I wanted them to still be recognizable to the reader, yet be something fresh and new as well. It’s not as easy as some might think. In fact, it can be even more difficult, especially when you’re dealing with material that’s very well-known to people. In the case of Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, I wanted to turn readers’ expectations completely topsy-turvy and give them something they never expected or imagined. Same too, for In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed.

The character's sexual proclivities matched Austen's original presentation very well. Were they strongly inspired by Austen's view or did their erotic personalities change as you wrote them?

They were definitely inspired by Austen’s view. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, were she alive today, she’d have taken her characters a bit further in this realm – although perhaps not as far as I have! There seems to be this assumption by hardcore Jane-ites and literary purists that Jane Austen was some po-faced virginal spinster who’s probably turning in her grave at my “sacrilegious” re-interpretation of her work. I find this interesting, if not downright laughable. Have these people actually read Pride and Prejudice? There are some obvious references in Austen’s novel of sexual hijinks.

First of all, it’s alluded to that Mr. Bennet has strayed outside the marital bed. Then we have Lydia Bennet, who’s a serial flirt, which results in her running off with Mr. Wickham, with it likewise being alluded to that activities of a sexual nature are transpiring between them. I should also add that Mr. Wickham is technically a pedophile. Lydia Bennet is fifteen years old in the original novel. And before her he was involved in a situation of compromise with Mr. Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, who was also extremely young and, unlike Lydia, extremely innocent.

Yes, I realize that in Jane Austen’s day girls were married at a younger age, but let’s get real: an adult man with a girl of fifteen is very dodgy stuff. You’ll note that none of the other male characters in Austen’s novel had a habit of chasing after little girls, just Mr. Wickham. So Austen was definitely dropping us hints, but writing in a way that was considered “suitable” for a lady of her time and position.

Do you think Austen's world was as exciting as you illustrate, or is it a good-natured jab at Victorian era repression?

Well, technically it’s the Regency period, which came before the Victorians. Having said that, I think the Victorians’ repression vanished the moment the bedroom door shut, if you know what I mean! I suspect Austen’s world (at least for the ladies) was really quite dull. It seems there was little to do but visit people, have them visit you, and sit around at home waiting for yet more visiting to take place. Austen was rather unusual for women of that time and status, in that she aspired to do more than simply land a husband. In fact, she never married. It’s my opinion that she put a lot of herself into the character of Elizabeth Bennet.

Why did you decide to write erotica?

I didn’t actually set out to write erotica; it just happened. I thought I’d give it a go after having some difficulties with other fictional works I’d been trying to sell. By difficulties I mean getting close to placing the work with publishers or agents, then having it all fall apart. A chance meeting at a party in San Francisco with an aspiring writer of, if you can believe it, sci-fi erotica, may have planted the seed. This fellow pretty much took me hostage and made me read some of his work, which he conveniently had stored in the boot of his car. Well, I barely managed a couple of pages before I had to politely extricate myself from the situation; the stuff was pretty dreadful, to say the least.

Perhaps the experience took root in my subconscious, because a short time later I began to get bits and pieces of an erotic storyline happening inside my head until I finally had to sit down and start writing it. Ergo my first erotic novel was born: The Captivity of Celia. I published a handful more, writing as M. S. Valentine, then moved into a new direction, writing under my actual name and aiming for a more mainstream market. The M. S. Valentine novels did quite well and they’re still selling, but professionally it was time for me to move on to something new and broaden my literary reach.

Since then I’ve been doing a variety of works that cross genre as well as blending them. I always try to make each of my books stand out as separate and unique. I don’t see the point in producing work that’s like everyone else’s; nor do I want my next book to be exactly like the last one. In fact, my next release (Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance) is completely different from Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts. I’ve moved from raunchy historical parody to Gothic-themed sexy paranormal in the blink of an eye!

Why prompted your move to the United Kingdom and how is the literary culture there different from the United States?

I’d always wanted to live in England, so I finally decided to do something about it. Nothing in particular prompted it. I’m not sure I can adequately or accurately differentiate between the literary cultures of both countries, as my experience is mostly from a British perspective, in that the majority of my professional literary life has been spent over here. For instance, I’ve appeared at literature festivals, been a creative writing lecturer at universities, and met some very renowned authors, such as Baroness Ruth Rendell. I’ve even had some British publishers.

One thing I have noticed is that there seems to be a bit more support here toward the more literary side of literature, since there are so many authors of “literary fiction” in the UK. I’ve found that poetry too, is more supported in Britain. It’s alive and well in the literary sphere, and even encouraged as a course of study. I’ve met many “working” poets since I’ve been here. I don’t recall contemporary poetry being as popular a literary form in America.
Which of your novels was the most fun to write?

Definitely Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts. The characters are the stuff of genius, and having an opportunity to play with them and take them in new directions was the most fun I’ve ever had writing. Sometimes a random scene from the book will come to mind and I just start laughing, wondering how in hell I ever came up with such stuff. I hope readers will enjoy the book in the spirit in which it was written.

What is one fun random fact about you?

One? You only want one?

You can find Mitzi on Facebook, Twitter, catch a glimpse of her on Mitzi TV and find more info on Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts on her blog Errant Ramblings.

A Travel Memoir Without Skydiving

Michael Crichton has always been, and always will be, one of my favorite authors. Upon reading Travels, his travel memoir of his life, he's now one of the people I desperately wished I could have met. His views on life are unique and staggering; the mark of a brilliant individual. After closing the pages of Travels, I learned three life changing things.

One - I'm ridiculously jealous of his life. "By the time I graduated from high school," Crichton writes, "I had been to forty-eight states, to Canada and Mexico, and to five countries of Europe." Great, I thought, I'm already behind. But even beyond his travels, his life was fuller than most fictional characters. He went through med school, became a world renowned author, directed movies stars like Sean Connery, explored meditation and the mystical inner realm, scuba diving, mountain climbing, swimming with sharks, seeing auras, the list is positively endless. All of it made me determined to experience as much as I could.

Two - We can never know everything, not as a person, not as a race. Crichton was able to experience so much and have this vast list of accomplishments because he was open to it. He didn't feel too learned or "traveled" to gain value from anywhere he could. Even those who know everything about one aspect of life only know that aspect. Existence is endless and we can never discover it all. A wise person must have an open mind.

Three - All travel, whether internal or across endless borders, is done to discover yourself. Through the lens of a foreign place or state of mind, we are able to see ourselves more clearly. Crichton states this numerous times as he rediscovers it time and time again. Each new adventure leads to a new realization about himself. His travel caused him to end relationships, change career paths, huge and drastic measures that most of us are scared to even think of. And yet he did; each and every form of travel helped him learn about himself and reset his path.

Crichton is truly a wise man, because he admits that his knowledge is limited and minuscule in comparison to what he doesn't know. He admits that a person must test themselves to discover themselves. And that an opportunity should never be passed over, but embraced to it's fullest potential. His memoir left me excited and passionate about experiencing new things. And while I'm envious of what he's done, I can smile because as far as I know, I've got him beat in at least one thing; I've been sky diving.
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This work by H.E. Saunders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.