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.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview and good for you to pack up and head to the UK. Brave for sure.



Creative Commons License
This work by H.E. Saunders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.