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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Interview with Mitzi Szereto, author of Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts

Remember a couple of days ago, when I said the interview with Regina Jeffers was the last interview of this years Jane in June?  Yeah, that was a lie.  Got a little ahead of myself, because this is actually the last interview for this year.  (I think. Guess I shouldn't speak in absolutes, because Janeness has eaten my brain.)
Anywho... here's my interview with Mitzi Szereto, author of Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts.

Mitzi at Jane's house!

Why Jane? What is it that draws readers and authors to her works again and again?
Mitzi: Jane Austen was a social chronicler of her time, and also a very clever satirist. These are the aspects of her work that appeal to me in particular, both as a reader and as an author. The verbal sparring that takes place between her characters in Pride and Prejudice is the stuff of genius, especially the exchanges between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and also between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The cleverness of the dialogue, the subtly worded insults – fabulous! On a slightly different note, the glimpses Austen gives us of a more, shall we say, refined past also draw us in, appealing to our romantic sensibilities, especially when you consider that there’s very little in the way of refinement around these days, particularly regarding the social interactions between men and women.

What are some of the difficulties in writing a story using established (and beloved) material? And is anything sacred, or is it all fair game?
Mitzi: The trick is not to do a hatchet job on it. Of course, a purist might say that anything done to a pre-existing literary work is going to be a hatchet job. Obviously, I disagree. The key for me while working with Pride and Prejudice was to create something unique from it, to give it my own stamp, but still have the story, setting and tone remain intact. Where some writers using pre-existing works have gone wrong is that they’ve not managed to carry off the voice and tone of the original work, yet they’ve attempted to keep the work in its original form and set in the same period. Unless you’re doing a modernized version, you’ve got to be consistent and authentic. I was extremely conscious at all times to write in the voice of Jane Austen. I wanted Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts to be seamless, with nothing marring the Austen feel and story-telling style or, I should add, her use of language. As for all this being fair game, writers have always been influenced and inspired by other works and even incorporated them into their own; it’s nothing new. The same goes for visual artists. So those purists out there might be wise to study a bit of literary history before casting their stones at authors such as myself.

If you could completely rework any Austen character, who would it be and what would you make of them?
Mitzi: I’ve already done it, and you’ll have to read Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts to find out! Let’s just that say no one (and nothing) is sacrosanct. Even Hill, the Bennet’s housekeeper, gets her day in the sun. As for the toady Mr. Collins, my, oh my… my countenance is heightened just thinking about it!

Jane has inspired an entire genre, which few authors can boast. What do you make of it, especially the mash-up craze? Are you a purist, modernist or mash-up-ist?
Mitzi: I think it’s all good fun! Having said that, you’re always going to get the purists’ knickers in a twist, no matter what you do or how well you do it. I’m not entirely sure which category I fit into; I suppose I should create my own, so how about mash-up purist? However, technically speaking, I actually rewrote Pride and Prejudice, developing the characters in ways readers would least expect, integrating additional storylines/subplots and a whole heap of outrageousness, but leaving intact the framework of the original story. I approached P&P much as I did my book In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales, in that I kept the fairy tales recognizable, but also created something new and unexpected from them – and, of course, fun!

What's your favorite scene you've ever written?
Mitzi: That’s a tough one. If we’re talking about Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, there are just too many to choose from!

What's next for you?
Mitzi: I’ve recently completed an anthology of short stories entitled Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance. It pays homage to all the Gothic literary greats of the past, as well as the present, with plenty of paranormal thrills and chills, and a wealth of atmosphere and sensuality. The book features a number of authors, myself included. It will be out in the autumn, but is already available for pre-order at booksellers worldwide. I also have about four other books in various stages of development. Other than that, I do the occasional literary event, continue to keep things going at my blog Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog and on Mitzi TV, and try to get my ironing done (the latter with little success, I might add).

Quickfire Silly Stuff:

Your favorite Austen character?
Mitzi: Do you even need to ask? Mr. Darcy, of course!

Character you most want to shake?
Mitzi: Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She definitely needs a good slap.

Character you'd least like to be related to?
Mitzi: I’d probably have to say Lydia Bennet. Let’s face it – she’s such an embarrassment!

Would you rather:
-- be stranded on an island with Lady Catherine or Mr Collins?
-- attempt to "reform" bad boy Henry Crawford or bad boy George Wickham?
-- have Lady Catherine or Mrs Bennet as a mother-in-law?

Mitzi: Stranded on an island with Mr. Collins would probably be preferable to Lady Catherine. He’s such a buffoon that at least I’d be entertained. Reforming bad boys, now that sounds interesting! I’d have to go with Mr. Wickham, since I know him so well from having written about him. Mrs. Bennet seems the least horrific mother-in-law related fate. At least she’s not an acid-tongued witch like Lady Catherine de Bourgh. As for her nerves, well… perhaps she just needs a good slap as well. Oh, come to think of it, she already got one in my version!

There you have it, my Janeites.  Are you intrigued by the idea of P&P: Hidden Lusts, or do you like your Jane chaste?  Can't make up your mind?  I'll have a teaser for you tomorrow, to help you decide.  (You *may* get to see this Irish-blooded gal blush...)  ;D

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  1. I have been known to enjoy some naughtiness and shmexy times in my P&P, but I have to say that, in Regency pieces, which I'm assuming this is, I hate the idea of Darcy being with anyone but Lizzy. I know it may be unrealistic and as long as they end up together eventually, I can usually get over it, but it goes against the grain for me. This looks like it will be both steamy and funny so it's pretty likely I will read it.

  2. fun interview! and i like the sounds of Red Velvet and Absinthe, too.


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