Testing people’s assumptions about erotica will be aim of fiction writer Mitzi Szereto

Bringing something different to this year’s Wordplay Festival is writer Mitzi Szereto, who specialises in erotic fiction.

The American-born author began writing as a child, but had her first books published 10 years ago. She has written around 20 books, including novels and collections of short stories.

While she writes across the genres, the majority of her work is erotic fiction. However she is keen to reclassify the genre and change people’s assumptions of what it means.

Specifically, she works to put the “literature” back into erotic fiction. She said it is often thought of as the “black sheep” or “poor cousin” of the literary world, but that not all erotic fiction is smutty or sleazy, and that the writing should work on more than one level and ultimately, on a literary level.

She said that the content of her books touches on a wide range of themes, as any writing does: “I know I’m marketed as the ‘erotic fiction’ person, but actually a lot of it transcends different genres.”

As well being a published author, Ms Szereto has lectured on subjects such as erotic writing, women’s publishing, social media and creative writing at several British universities, and pioneered erotic writing workshops in Europe.

She also edited the first erotica anthology to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Her novels, which she began writing under the pseudonym M S Valentine, are gothic in style and can be traced back to her love of “master of the manor” classic gothic tales. A collection of short stories, In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed, features a re-telling of classic fairy tales taken from the point of view that historically, the tales were not always as innocent as they have now become, and feature an “earthy twist”.

Ms Szereto will be holding a reading and question and answer session as well as an erotic writing workshop. She said that people can expect a break from the norm at her workshops. She said: “I like to give them something different and get them to get rid of their preconceived notions of what the genre is.

“I get people comfortable with writing and exploring the genre, and break down the ‘inner censor’. It’s the inner censor that a lot of people have a problem with, even established writers.”

Ms Szereto said she was very much looking forward to coming to the isles for the festival as she has “never been that far north” before.

She will be giving a reading and taking part in a question and answer session at 3pm on Saturday as well as an erotic writing workshop, at 10am on Sunday at Islesburgh.

Louise Thomason


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