It’s almost Christmas, and I have a total gift of a guest for you today! The wonderful Mitzi Szereto has kindly taken time to answer a few questions about her fantastic new book- The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray…Oscar Wilde was never like this when I was at school…
What inspired you to write The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray?
Mitzi: I actually had the idea to write this book several years ago, though I hadn’t planned on how I would develop it or that it would end up as a sequel to Oscar Wilde’s classic novel. I’ve loved The Picture of Dorian Gray since the first time I read it at the age of 10. I was captivated by Dorian – his beauty, his perfection, the way others saw him and reacted to him. He’s an iconic character and represents a lot about our society that isn’t particularly good: its superficiality, its obsession with youth and beauty, its shallowness, its selfishness. The themes explored in the original novel are as timeless and relevant today as when Oscar Wilde wrote about them more than a hundred years ago, if not more so! But it isn’t only these things that are fascinating to read and write about. It’s also the Gothic horror element. I’ve always enjoyed this area of literature, so to have an opportunity to work in this area was something I just couldn’t pass up.
This is not the first classic you have rewritten into an erotic format. Do you do a lot of research before you start writing beyond reading the original texts?
Mitzi: I didn’t actually approach this book via an erotic format and as I mentioned, it is not a rewrite or re-imagining, but a sequel. However, there is without doubt a great deal of erotic content in the book – some quite extreme, in fact! Having said that, the published work by Oscar Wilde contained implied erotic content, particularly of a homoerotic nature. In my research I discovered that he was forced to do a lot of cutting before it was finally published. One can only wonder what The Picture of Dorian Gray might have been like had Wilde written it today without any censorship issues or literary hindrances or concerns about being put in prison (though he was put in prison anyway, but not as a result of his work). Perhaps it might have turned out as hair-raising and shocking as my book!
With regard to actual research, I did do quite a lot for The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray – far more than I needed to for say, Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts. The latter was a sex parody of the novel by Jane Austen, therefore I mostly just needed my twisted imagination and the original text of the book to work from, with the occasional foray into checking out a fact pertaining to costuming or something else related to the time period. For The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray, I had to deal with several geographical locations and several time periods, requiring me to conduct a considerable amount of research to get the facts right, be they historical or geographical or whatever. I don’t want to give too much away, but you’ll find references to many famous people from the literary and art worlds in the section of the book set in Paris, though none of them are ever mentioned by name. The places mentioned are also authentic, such as the jazz clubs and brothels Dorian and his glitterati friends frequented. I had a lot of fun inserting famous people into the Paris segment and chronicling their adventures with Dorian. I sometimes think I should create a quiz to see who guesses correctly as to their identities!
What other authors/books do you like to read?
Mitzi: I read all over the literary spectrum and much of it depends on my mood as to what I might read. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of crime novels. Other times I’ll be combing the shelves for ethnic literary fiction. Then still others I’ll be on a horror or paranormal binge. I love a good psychological thriller and I love books that transport me somewhere different from my own sphere of experience or reference. There are books that have become my die-hard favorites and which I will never forget, such as Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov; The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy; The Color Purple by Alice Walker; The Jungle by Upton Sinclair; and An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. These are books I’d be happy to read more than once; in fact, some I already have. Examples of authors whom I’ve read consistently over the years include Ruth Rendell and Margaret Atwood as well as Dean Koontz and Stephen King.
How do you write? Pen and Paper? Computer?
Mitzi: Computer, and always on a laptop. I could never write longhand. I doubt I’ll ever be a Dame Barbara Cartland dictating her books to her minion either (not that I can afford one!). I need to have my fingertips working those keys and my eyes seeing on the screen what they produce.
I love the idea of a minion to dictate to!! (Especially if I could have one of those cute yellow ones from Despicable Me!) Thank you ever so much for visiting today- would you like to tempt us with a short extract from your new book?
Dorian remained as flawless as ever. He knew that no matter where he went, the situation would repeat itself, therefore he adopted a more primitive form of existence, neither mingling in society nor engaging with others save for acquiring the basic necessities of life. He passed nearly two decades in this fashion, reaching places as far-flung as India and, eventually, the southernmost end of Peru, where he decided to remain for a while. The years had gone by slowly, and he felt the tedium of each one, not to mention the anguish of tamping down his desires like a fire doused by a torrent of cold water. There were no more salacious reports following him from country to country and continent to continent, leading to his whereabouts like a trail of breadcrumbs. Since fleeing Marrakesh Dorian had avoided establishments catering to the more debauched members of society, knowing that even a small taste of such delights would propel him back into his old life. Instead he fought the urge for fleshly sensation until he believed he would go mad, finding a perverse enjoyment in his self-deprivation that added to his repertoire of sensations.
The war raging in Europe had ended, leaving behind ravaged landscapes and countless casualties. But his native England had endured. Dorian wondered if he would ever step foot upon its shores again. Was there anyone left alive whom he had once known? He thought of Lord Henry and the last time he’d seen him. It had been that evening he’d relayed with such naïve pride his sparing of Hettie Merton’s chastity.
“Play me a nocturne, Dorian, and, as you play, tell me, in a low voice, how you have kept your youth,” Lord Henry had said. “You must have some secret. I am only ten years older than you are, and I am wrinkled, and bald, and yellow.”
Only ten years older.
Even back then it was difficult to imagine so small a number separating them in age when the eye declared otherwise. Could dear Harry still be alive somewhere in the world at this very moment? Dorian hoped it to be so. The man had been like a father, a lover, a god. Although at the end he had disappointed him, Lord Henry was the closest Dorian had ever been to another human being—and this had given him a curious sense of belonging, which he’d never experienced since.
Dorian settled for a time in a quiet valley located in the shadow of a volcano in the south of Peru. To anyone in the village who asked—and with a population comprised exclusively of Quechuas there were enough who overcame their shyness to speak to him—Dorian claimed to be a man of faith who had come seeking spiritual enlightenment so that he might pass on his knowledge to others. This was how he’d first learned of a monastery located high up in the mountains. Its presence proved to be an unexpected bonus, since everyone believed this was why he’d chosen to come here. To add further credence to his tale, Dorian purchased a battered old typewriter from a shopkeeper in a nearby town, which he kept out on the scarred wooden table beneath the dusty window of his room in the event the old woman from whom he rented his lodgings called in when he was absent. He quite enjoyed his new persona and even spent some time typing away on the decrepit instrument, finding that his random entries would, indeed, make a fine book after he was finished, particularly since they pertained mostly to the hedonistic philosophies Lord Henry had instructed him in.
Had Dorian been anyone else he might have been content with his new existence. Life had been pared down to a beautiful kind of simplicity, and for some it might have been enough. For Dorian it was not. The pressure of his lust had been building like the pressure inside the volcano that hovered over the valley; an explosion was imminent. The catalyst that finally triggered it would need to be masterfully executed, for he had many arid years of self-denial to make up for.
Donning the humble garb of a peasant that had become his daily attire, Dorian set forth on foot for the mountains, looking like a man with nothing but the clothing on his back and his wits to guide him. When he first set out he had no purpose or destination in mind, yet his feet seemed to be leading him somewhere. The first night he slept rough, awakening dusty and dirty and resembling the impoverished beggars that occasionally traveled through the towns and villages. His shabby appearance combined with a few words of Quechua aided him well enough to locate a bed on the second night. The fact that it was located inside the monastery he’d been told about gave rise to a plan that would be his masterwork of corruption. It came to him the moment he saw the young priest working in the vineyards. The frank purity in his broad brown face cried out to Dorian to sully it.
At the monastery he was given a tiny cell-like room in which to sleep. The little cot that served as a bed proved as hard and unwelcoming as a boulder, but it inspired within Dorian thoughts of martyrdom, re-invigorating his former fascination with the Roman Catholic Church and men who lived lives devoid of fleshly pleasure. He spent a fitful first night, though this didn’t stem from discomfort in his accommodations, but rather his mounting excitement over his intention to commit an act of sacrilege so hellishly divine he could smell the brimstone in his nostrils.
Book description for:
The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray – a novel by Mitzi Szereto
What if Dorian Gray Faked His Death and Led a Secret Life?
Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Mitzi Szereto’s The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray continues where Wilde left off, bringing Dorian Gray back from the dead in this Faustian tale of a man of eternal youth and great physical beauty who lives a life of corruption, decadence, and hedonism. The story begins in the bordellos of Jazz-Age Paris, moving to the opium dens of Marrakesh and the alluring anonymity of South America. In his pursuit of sensation and carnal thrills, Dorian’s desires turn increasingly extreme as he leaves behind yet more devastation and death. He ultimately settles in present-day New Orleans, joining forces with a group of like-minded beings known as the Night People. They inadvertently return to Dorian his humanity when he falls in love with a young woman he rescues from becoming their victim. Will she be his redemption? Or will she be his final curse?
Mitzi Szereto (http://mitziszereto.com) is a bestselling multi-genre author and anthology editor, has her own blog “Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog” (http://mitziszereto.com/blog), and is the creator/presenter of the Web channel “Mitzi TV” (http://mitziszereto.com/tv), which covers “quirky” London. Her books include Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire; Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles); Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance; Getting Even: Revenge Stories; and In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales. Mitzi has pioneered erotic writing workshops in the UK and mainland Europe, teaching them from the Cheltenham Festival of Literature to the Greek islands. She’s also lectured in creative writing at several British universities and performed readings of her work in several countries. Her anthology Erotic Travel Tales 2 is the first anthology of erotica to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She divides her time between the UK and USA.
Mitzi Szereto website: http://mitziszereto.com
Mitzi Szereto on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mitziszereto
Mitzi Szereto Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/mitziszereto.fanpage
Mitzi TV: http://mitziszereto.com/tv
Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog: http://mitziszereto.com/blog
Mitzi Szereto Google+ Fan Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105002950509883985630/+Mitziszereto/posts
Mitzi Szereto on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/72445.Mitzi_Szereto
Mitzi Szereto on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mitzi-Szereto/e/B001JS3YLE/
The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray website: http://mitziszereto.com/wildepassionsofdoriangray/
Many thanks Mitzi for taking the time out for me to interview you today!
Have a very Happy Christmas,
Happy Reading Everyone!