Mitzi Szereto is best known for writing which mixes classical elements with current trends. How does combining the past with the present inspire Mitzi's creative process? How does she see the erotic genre evolving in the future?

Mitzi Szereto is best known for writing which mixes classical elements with current trends. How does combining the past with the present inspire Mitzi's creative process? How does she see the erotic genre evolving in the future?

Interview with Author, Blogger, and Web TV Entrepreneur, Mitzi Szereto

April 6, 2010

Author/editor/social media expert Mitzi Szereto pens the popular blog: Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog She’s also creator and host of the Internet TV channel Mitzi TV, which covers all things quirky and London. Szereto has pioneered erotic writing workshops in literature festivals across Europe, taught creative writing at a number of British universities, and is sought out for her expertise by international press and media. She’s performed readings of her works from Los Angeles to Vienna, and lectured on such subjects as erotic writing, women’s publishing, and social media, where her outspoken views on the erotic literary scene have earned her a reputation as the author and editor who has put the “literature” back into erotica. “When people hear my name,” she says, “I want them to associate it with uniqueness and quality. I won’t compromise, and I refuse to pander to mediocrity.”

  • What do you say when people ask what you do for a living? What's the weirdest reaction you've ever received when it comes to learning what you do for a career?

    I say I'm a writer, since that is what I am! Although the category has been extended to blogger [] and web TV personality [] as well. When asked what I write, I say I am best known for erotic literature, but I'm also a writer of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction. I don't really get much in the way of weird reactions, but then, I don't come across as someone who would likely inspire weird reactions.
  • LicentiouslyYours LicentiouslyYours 1 user seconded this question.

    I am curious to know if you are a big fan of fairy tales in general or what particularly inspired you to use the fairy tale genre in your work?

    Interestingly, I didn't like fairy tales as a kid. I felt they were too childish. I sure found out when I wrote my own versions though! How I got the idea to do my own collection "In Sleeping Beauty's Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales" - it was totally random. That is usually how I get inspired. Let's just say that it seemed like a fun idea, so I went with it.
  • Judy Cole Judy Cole 3 users seconded this question.

    You seem to have one foot rooted in the past (classic literature) and one foot skating on the cutting edge of technology (social media, blogging, web TV). How does one inform the other?

    That's an interesting point, and I never really thought of it in this way. To me it's all just natural. I think really that I just have a lot of components, so what I do professionally is just an extension of my personality - ie multi-faceted, like a brilliant diamond! Winking
  • Victoria Victoria 2 users seconded this question.

    Who are your favorite authors? Who has influenced you the most?

    Always dangerous to play favourites, but okay, since you asked! Authors whose work I enjoy reading include Arundhati Roy, Theodore Dreiser, Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, Alice Walker, Vladimir Nabokov... It really depends on my mood. I'll read more commercial fiction as well, such as horror and psychological thrillers. I'm not sure I am directly influenced by any of these people, but perhaps I'd like to hope that reading them has improved and expanded my writing. I definitely subscribe to the theory that to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader.
  • MuffysPinguLove MuffysPinguLove 1 user seconded this question.

    I was wondering if you could give us any more info about your erotic re-interpretation of a classic due out in 2011? I personally love reading classics that have been altered, so I'm going to have to keep an eye open for it!

    I would love to, but I am a bit protective of new projects until they are on their way to the printers. I guess it's because this is such a competitive business, so I'd rather keep my cards close to my chest rather than be gazumped, so to speak. I think it will be a very hot title, and I'm having a fun time writing it. Let's just say that the classic I'm re-interpreting is one of the most popular of all time. If you want to ask me privately, send me an email - but you have to promise not to tell, under threat of death! Angel
  • Kayla Kayla 1 user seconded this question.

    Just wondering: How did you end up getting into all of this? Blogging and an internet TV channel along with everything else you do - it's impressive. Aside from that, how do you stay sane? It's amazing you can do so much. I don't know if I could.

    Err... who says I stay sane? I think I lost my sanity years ago. As for the blog [], someone who had once been very close to me encouraged me to give it a go - and I did, expanding it further by getting my own domain and becoming self-hosted. Mitzi TV [] came about as a random idea of mine. I'd heard that some people were doing this, and when I had a look at their content, I thought heck, I can do better. So I put my money where my mouth is, in a manner of speaking.
  • Victoria Victoria 1 user seconded this question.

    I have to ask... what is with the bear? Winking

    Nothing. He's my sidekick and guardian angel - we could never live without each other. We plan to grow old together and go off to live in the woods. He's quite famous in his own right, too. He even has his own fan group on Facebook. [] It has caused some friction, as there is only so much ego you can have in one household.
  • LicentiouslyYours LicentiouslyYours 1 user seconded this question.

    You've given lectures on erotica writing and women's publishing. What do you think the most important advice you can give to a erotic writer, looking to be published, would be?

    My advice is NOT to sound like everyone else. You need to develop your own voice and style - don't parrot other writers! One of the main problems with a lot of erotic writing is that the literary standard is still not high enough - a lot of stuff sounds exactly the same, as if it's been dumped out of the same soup tin. Oh, I'm not saying you can't be published if you write crap, You probably can. But my philosophy is, why would you want to be known for writing crap when you can be known for writing quality? If you approach your writing with the same seriousness and uniqueness of voice that you would approach, say, a literary novel, then maybe you'll actually be taken seriously as a writer - regardless of what you write, be it erotica, crime, sci-fi, etc etc. On a related note, if you are writing for a very specific market, then follow the guidelines provided by a publisher or editor. They are there for a reason. A lot of these publishers are quite strict in what they want, so if you want to be published by them, there is an element of conformity involved. But even so, you can still be and sound original.

    LicentiouslyYours (host): "This sounds like pretty good advice to me! But of course, sometimes finding your voice and being original is the biggest challenge of them all! :)"

  • Do you find being an expat gives you a little more leeway to embrace your "wilder" side?

    Not really. But it gives me more scope when it comes to seeing things from two sides!
  • Tucker Cummings Tucker Cummings 1 user seconded this question.

    In "Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers", you gathered a number of wonderful fantasy stories about sex icons, literary figures, and politicians throughout history. Are there any historical figures you wish you could have met and seduced (or been seduced by)?

    You know, that is probably my favourite of all my anthologies. I would love to do another volume; there are so many amazing characters that can be written about, and I was stunned by the fine work that was submitted to me - writers really engaged with this whole concept of speculating on the sex lives of famous historical figures, and they worked incredibly hard on their stories.

    As for famous historical characters I might personally consider as seduction material, that is an excellent question. However, I think there's a problem when we know a lot about famous people - we know things that can be rather off-putting, which tends to diminish their sex appeal, at least for me. (I'm very particular!) However, if I had to say someone, I'd guess I'd say Jim Morrison of The Doors. But again, knowing what I know about him, I very much doubt I'd have gone there!
  • Liz Langley Liz Langley 1 user seconded this question.

    Do you like the new books blending classics and horror, i.e. "Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters"?

    As someone who is writing a book along these lines herself (though not horror), I'd have to say yes!

    LicentiouslyYours (host): "I keep walking by that very book at the bookstore and wondering if I'd like it!"

  • I really enjoyed "It's All Right Ma, (I'm Only Bleeding)" in "Dying for It: Tales of Sex and Death" - funny, suspenseful and unblinking. The sex-and-death mix is so intriguing (the beginning and the end, after all) - what about that blend appealed to you? (and are you a Scorpio?)

    Thanks! Firstly, no, I'm not a Scorpio. I'm a Pisces. As for the mix and what appealed to me about it, it is again, one of those random ideas that came to me out of nowhere. I don't usually spend months or years considering an idea and letting it form - it just sort of hits me, and I run with it. Plus I wanted to do something more multi-genre, perhaps a bit dark. And you can't get much darker than death!
  • Currently your internet TV channel focuses on London. Is there any other city you'd like to explore the quirks of?

    I think it would be great to take Mitzi TV [] on the road. I'm sure I can dig out the quirk no matter where I go!
  • You mentioned Morrison of the Doors above. Are you a music person or even, I daresay, an audiophile?

    I grew up surrounded by music. My father was a professional musician from the age of 16, nearly till the day he died. My mother and stepfather played music semi-professionally, so there was always live music happening in my life, and even in my house. I also studied piano and guitar, and even took up the drums at one time. So I could easily have ended up in a musical career. That could perhaps explain my affinity to those who are musical artists. I "get" them.
  • Dangerous Lilly Dangerous Lilly 1 user seconded this question.

    What was your favorite episode of Mitzi TV and why?

    That's a tough one. I think the craziest video has to be "Knees Up Mother Brown" [] - you just couldn't invent that pub night singalong. It was hell going through the footage, there was so much brilliant stuff. I think that video has a great vibe to it. But I'd also have to vote on "Bear Necessities" []. It was fantastic having my beloved little bear working alongside me, and I was so pleased with the interviews and the stories people told - the video not only serves as entertainment, but it is enlightening and indeed, touching at times. "Bear Necessities" has even been picked up for broadcast by some TV stations in America, which I'm thrilled by.
  • Dangerous Lilly Dangerous Lilly 2 users seconded this question.

    Was becoming a social media diva a goal or just a happy accident? And did you have a party when Wikipedia dubbed you the Queen of Facebook? ( i think i would have! )

    Tucker Cummings Tucker Cummings 3 users seconded this question.

    As a social media diva, why do you think there are so many free and pay-to-view video porn sites, and comparatively few sites that specialize in written erotica? Is there any hope that the iPad, iPhone, or Kindle will bring about a resurgence in interest reading erotica?

    No, I didn't have a party, but I think it's a great addition to my many titles! And it is pretty accurate too, I have thousands of friends on Facebook, as well as several fan and group pages. I have a Mitzi Szereto fan page [], a Mitzi TV fan page [], a fan page for my "Errant Ramblings" blog [], a group page [], a fan page for "In Sleeping Beauty's Bed" [], and a fan page for "Getting Even: Revenge Stories" []. And by the way, I hereby deny all those rumours that I'm marrying Mark Zuckerberg. In fact, I'm growing quite weary of all his begging.

    Re the second query, I think it says a lot about our culture. Porn is like fast food, it's cheap, disposable, and once consumed, you forget all about it. Erotica works to engage the senses, as well as the brain, at least good quality erotica does. (My buzz phrase is, porn masturbates, erotica seduces.) Unfortunately our culture has become very removed from using the brain (or the imagination), especially when it pertains to the sexual. There is also a big money-making factor at work here. Porn is cheap to make these days, anyone can do it, so the cost is low to nil. Even if a site is free, you can bet there is some kind of advertising to pick your pocket when you visit the site. So money is a major factor, even if it doesn't appear to be. The quick buck. And yes, you can say a quick something else as well.

    It might be interesting to study the reading habits of regular consumers of porn - ie do they read anything more challenging or substantive than, say, Hustler or the TV Guide? The results might go some way toward answering your question. As for various forms of electronic readers increasing readership, I can only go by my own experience with my Kindle books, particularly my M. S. Valentine titles. I seem to have a pretty regular number of sales per month, with increases per, so yes, apparently it is going some way to, shall we say, rekindle an interest in erotic literature. Drink
  • MuffysPinguLove MuffysPinguLove 1 user seconded this question.

    If you had to chose a favorite book, what would it be?

    It's impossible to give just one title - but I can give you a handful: "Lolita", "The Picture of Dorian Gray", and "The God of Small Things."
  • KinkyShay KinkyShay 1 user seconded this question.

    What was the biggest obstacle in your past that almost made you give up your quest to become published?

    Probably the obvious, all the rejections. But I don't like to take no for an answer. So I didn't. I suppose I can add the lack of moral support I had - the naysaying. It teaches you to be very independent.
  • Tucker Cummings Tucker Cummings 3 users seconded this question.

    You've edited a couple of anthologies of erotic travel stories. What country/famous location do you personally find to be the most charged with erotic potential?

    I'm still looking...
  • Have you ever considered writing a book of short erotic stories. Just thinking to myself that a short story read to my honey as part of forplay would be soooo sexy. We both know how to let our imaginations go wild!

    I already have - "In Sleeping Beauty's Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales". Those are all my stories. And yes, I agree - reading a story to a partner can be very erotic. Go for it!
  • MuffysPinguLove MuffysPinguLove 1 user seconded this question.

    What's your writing process like? Do you approach writing like a normal job with set times where you sit down and work, or do you write when the mood strikes?

    I don't really have a process. I just sort of get to it, in between the zillion other things I need to do. I think the concept of a writer, at least in this day and age, who is locked away in a room being all writerly is a myth. When I hear that someone has spent say, 12 hours writing, I don't buy it. More likely 10 of those hours were spent chewing on pencils than doing any actual writing!
  • What or Who influenced you in becoming a writer? What influences your work?

    In actual fact, I could just as easily have been an artist or a musician. The writing is just the thing that finally took off. I was always highly creative, and I wrote stories from early childhood. My first novel I penned at age 10! But I was also involved with art and music. So really, I could have done any of these things! As for influences, there is nothing concrete. Or no one. It just happens, ideas come, and I get to it.
  • Jade Jade 1 user seconded this question.

    Do you think that all the new small e-publishers popping up that will publish all most anything are hurting the quality of books?With the new ipad and all the new e-readers coming out do you think we'll see a rise in e-publishers or a drop in print publishers?

    I think anything that gets people reading is a good thing. There is plenty of rubbish being put out by traditional print publishers, so I can't see that any small e-publisher will diminish the quality of literature any time soon. The big gods of print do a damned good job of that all on their own, without their help.
  • sbremer sbremer 1 user seconded this question.

    When did you know that this was what you wanted to do with your life? If you always wanted to be a writer, did you always want to specialize (so to speak) in erotica? What's the best advice you can give an aspiring writer?

    I always knew that I wanted to create, and I actually thought I'd end up being an artist, but the writing ended up being the thing that happened. As for erotica, I think this is being emphasized far more than it needs to be. I consider myself "a writer". The fact that a good portion of what I write (or in the case of my anthologies, edit) happens to be classified as "erotica" is incidental. I wish they would get rid of this classification altogether, as I feel it diminishes the work, and puts it into a ghetto. The work should stand on its own and be assessed for its quality, not its label.

    As for advice, distinguish yourself - create a unique voice, don't parrot other writers. Develop a thick skin, and don't take no for an answer.
  • What was your favorite school subject, and does that play a part in your career? If so, how?

    Well, probably English, in that we had to read books. I guess that explains it all!
  • Lorna D. Lorna D. 2 users seconded this question.

    You've done very well to carve your own, uncompromising niche into the publishing industry, which is rife with traditional "rules" and unspoken regulations that can compromise many a writer. What challenges did you face while building your erotic empire? And has the publishing industry aided or hindered you in getting your art out to the world?

    The main challenge, which still continues, is the way "erotic" writing is perceived. It is still the poor cousin to "legitimate" literature, which is a shame. Having said that, much of this is the fault of publishers and authors, who continue to dumb down to readers by offering little more than one handed reads rife with childish sex terminology. I have been on my soapbox for years about this, saying that unless we elevate the standard, there will continue to be this ghetto. I have worked really hard to get the genre to be taken more seriously in the literary world, but I am only one person. Having said that, if something has my name on it, I want it to stand for quality, for something unique that isn't just another regurgitation of what everyone else is doing. I would add that the publishing industry has been a challenge, in that they don't always welcome renegades, and prefer to play it safe by producing the same old same old. That is unfortunate, as it shortchanges not only authors, but readers as well.
  • Does your family support you in what you do? How did they initially react?

    No one reacted in any particular way, really. I mean, I'm a writer - so what is the big deal? I was always going to do something different, it was in the cards. But I feel I had to pretty much support myself when I first started out, and keep myself going, keep the momentum happening. Unfortunately, the one person (not family) from whom I should have had a lot of strong moral support at the beginning of my writing career didn't provide it. So over time, I have probably become a lot more independent and disinterested in what other people think.
  • What is your favorite vagina/penis/breast/ass word substitute? Big smile

    As an erotic writer, have you ever run out of words to use in place of vagina/penis/breast/ass? Big smile

    I tend to avoid using a lot of specific terms, I rely on descriptions more so. I have a real hate relationship with much of the terminology used in erotic writing. Too much of it is juvenile and moronic, and I refuse to use it.
  • You've said in other interviews that blogging and being a the queen of facebook has made you an official geek now. Do you think people approaching your work differently now that you're in a different niche?

    I don't think people approach my work all that much differently than before; I am just more widely known, and known in more sectors. I tend to be a rather intimidating character to some - at least those who have a misconception of what I actually write and do, or those who want to lump me into a category that isn't "me" (they are quickly put to rights!). I've always projected a very professional image, and have been extremely careful not to align myself with anything (or anyone) that I consider inappropriate to me either on a personal or professional basis. So in answer to your question, I think it's safe to say that I get taken very seriously! Angel
  • Carrie Ann Carrie Ann 1 user seconded this question.

    What's the weirdest place you've ever had a story idea? Do you stop, no matter what, and write things down?

    I honestly can't think of one. Ideas happen at any time, any place - often just before I go to bed or after I wake up. If I'm out, I may jot something down on a scrap of paper (if I have one), but more often than not, it gets filed away in my brain until I get home. I don't go about with a notepad. Never have!
  • Victoria Victoria 1 user seconded this question.

    When teaching Creative Writing, do your students know about your erotic books? Has this ever lead to interesting conversations in the classroom?

    Of course they do! In fact, some of my books are stocked in the libraries at the unis I've taught at. One uni has even put my fairy tales book on the suggested reading list. Some of my students have incorporated erotic content into their work. They say that I inspired them and made them feel more free to write what they wanted to, rather than what they thought someone else wanted them to write. I've even had students approach me with my books, asking me to sign them. To me, that's the ultimate compliment. Heart

    I should add that I have been profiled on two occasions in the Guardian's Education section, as well as in university publications where I've taught, so I was not maintaining a low profile about the erotic writing, or being asked to. My former supervisor has even mentioned me in a book he wrote about creative writing and teaching methods. So yeah, I wasn't exactly in hiding!
  • Arabella Eve Arabella Eve 2 users seconded this question.

    Twyla Tharp, among others, talks a lot about how structure and routine inform the otherwise chaotic waters of artistic process and creation. What does a typical day look like for you? Do you have any "must-do" rituals that help you stay grounded in your writing, blogging and creating?

    I probably have no structure! Because I'm always juggling so many things in a single day (not to mention the usual dreadful household tasks that must be done), I have to do everything in portions. Of course, if I have a really pressing deadline, which I do for the novel I'm currently writing, then I need to dole out a larger portion of my time toward it. I hate to admit it, but it seems I'm more productive when my back is against the wall. As for rituals, I have none, unless you count a cup of tea in the morning and another at about 4pm.
  • El-Jaro El-Jaro 1 user seconded this question.

    How did you end up on that side of the pond? Was it a hard move? How much planning did it take to get from the US to where you are now? How much of it was luck?

    I decided to come here to do postgraduate work, and I stayed. I got hired to lecture in creative writing at university only a year after I arrived, so that started me off on the "academic" end of things, and the erotic writing workshops happened right around the same time, quite by chance. I basically just bit the bullet and came over. I didn't really plan, other than making sure I could survive. You can't just up and move to another country (or anywhere) with an empty pocket, I had made provisions for this eventuality. I knew I would not live like a student in some student dive, that was not an option; I needed to be self sufficient and have my own flat. So the only serious planning I did was probably financial. As for luck, I think I made my own luck - I'm extremely resourceful.
  • I'm thinking of getting a second job as a adult movie clip description writer. Basically you watch a short porn clip and write a 10-20 word caption. Work output is ideally 30-60 clips an hour. Any tips for a starting erotic "writer"? Big smile

    Well, if you're reviewing porn, then that is porn, not erotic writing!
  • KinkyShay KinkyShay 2 users seconded this question.

    What underneath layers of yourself do you wish people saw, that aren't so obvious at first blush?

    Interesting question, and I'm not sure how to answer it. This might be a slightly different reply to what you are asking me, but I think I would say that I would like people to not make assumptions about either myself or my work based on the label attached to it. As they say, never assume...


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About Author, Blogger, and Web TV Entrepreneur, Mitzi Szereto

Occupation: Author/Blogger/Web TV Entrepreneur
Achievements: Author/edited numerous books of erotic-, multi-genre fiction, and non-fiction. Creator/host of Mitzi TV Social media diva dubbed “The Queen of Facebook” by Wikipedia.
Current Project: An erotic re-interpretation of a classic work of literature due out in spring 2011 from Cleis Press; expanding Mitzi TV, either with sponsorship or a switch into other forms of broadcast media.
Statement: I’m like baklava; I have a lot of layers.
Publications: In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed; Getting Even; The New Black Lace Book of Women’s Sexual Fantasies; Dying For It; Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers, the M. S. Valentine novels. Errant Ramblings.
Education: M.A., Sheffield Hallam University. B.A.,California State University
Age: 21+
Editor’s note: Mitzi has an amazing talent for combining classic fantasy with contemporary sensibilities, seamlessly intertwining the realm of fairy tales with the world of FaceBook.



Laurel is the Coordinator for Sexis Magazine, and manages the Sexis Twitter and Facebook. She’s also the Assistant Manager of the Review Program. She still finds time to review a toy or post an erotic story on her personal blog, when she's not chauffeuring her tween daughter.

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