-PH: So lets dive right into it. Your latest book ‘Florida Gothic’ was just released. What’s it about, and what can readers expect from it?
-Mitzi: Readers can expect the unexpected—I wouldn’t be doing my job otherwise! The protagonist (and “hero” of sorts) in Florida Gothic is Ernesto Martinez, a retired Cuban-American fellow who lives in the Little Havana section of Miami. Ernesto has experienced a lot of unfairness and injustice in his life. One evening while walking home from his local watering hole he gets run over by a Hummer, then partially eaten by an alligator. Despite all this, he isn’t quite dead. Instead he ends up in a limbo state. Technically speaking, he’s a zombie, though I hesitate to classify him as such since the novel is so unusual and not a typical “zombie story.” As we learn about Ernesto, we also learn about the people who have affected his life and caused him so much pain—and they’re not a very nice bunch either. The steadily decomposing Ernesto eventually decides to get back out in the world—and that’s when we see some action! Expect plenty of guest appearances from maggots and cockroaches or, as they’re known in Spanish, cucarachas. Be prepared for plenty of good creepy fun!
-PH: From reading the description I gathered this story is about revenge for injustices. Are horror fans looking at bloody, or psychological revenge?
-Mitzi: It’s more a bloody form of revenge, though the psychological is definitely present as victims struggle to comprehend what’s happening to them. They can’t believe what their eyes are telling them, both regarding their attacker and the physical nature of what’s being done to their bodies. There’s a bit of macabre humor that underlies it all as we see into their minds as events unfold.
-PH: This is part of what you’re calling the “Gothic” series. I know this is the first book, but is there anything you can tell us about what you have in store for the series?
-Mitzi: I came up with the concept during a marathon road trip in the spring of 2016. I chalked up about 10,000 miles, traveling from east to west and north to south across the USA and western Canada. I kept getting ideas as I passed through various states, general plot lines, that sort of thing. Oddly, Florida wasn’t even on my radar as far as locations (though I’ve lived in Florida and was actually staying there temporarily when I set off on my road trip). My goal is to hopefully release two books a year in the series, each set in a different American state and each independent of the other—meaning the stories will be different, the characters will be different, and the locations will be different (obviously!). The novels will be standalones and can be read in any order. But the overlying theme is the Gothic and the very strong sense of place. Since each location is unique and has its own kind of creepiness, this will give each novel its own distinct Gothic flavor. Think of the classic painting “American Gothic” by Grant Wood—the stern-looking man and woman standing outside a house, with the man holding a pitchfork. It’s an iconic image—and I’m creating an iconic story that draws on location and local culture. I’m really excited about The “Gothic” Series and hope my readers will be too.
-PH: Now a question I always like asking… what drew you into becoming a horror fan?
-Mitzi: I’ve been a horror fan since early childhood. I was always watching horror movies, especially the classics with the greats like Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. As an avid reader I read a lot of horror novels too, many I was likely too young to be reading at the time. In fact, I still enjoy a good horror novel. The supernatural and spooky make great entertainment. It was probably inevitable that I’d end up working in the genre. I’m just surprised it’s taken me this long to finally get around to it.
-PH: Besides writing horror, you’ve also written a lot of erotic stories. How did you come to writing in multiple genres?
-Mitzi: I think the “erotic” aspect has been overplayed a bit, especially in the last few years. Granted, some of my books do feature the erotic as a main theme. However, this isn’t true for all of my titles. As for writing in multiple genres, that comes very easily to me. I’ve been working in multiple genres for years. People have often commented that I’m very versatile as an author, and that’s something I pride myself on. I’ve written in a lot of areas, including sci-fi/fantasy, satire and parody, and even cozy mystery with my series The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles, co-written with my celebrity author bear Teddy Tedaloo. You can find out more about Teddy at his website (http://teddytedaloo.com). I don’t really give much thought to genre when I’m writing. Sometimes I have no idea what I’ll come up with. I’ve often had publishers struggle when trying to figure out how to market my work.
-PH: You’ve also mixed some genres together. Looking through your titles, I noticed your book ‘Love, Lust, and Zombies.’ I’m curious, how did you manage to make sexy zombies?
-Mitzi: It’s not that the zombies are necessarily sexy, but more so the situations they’re in. Though in some cases, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Love, Lust and Zombies is an anthology of short stories featuring several writers, each of whom has approached the task in a different way. So you get a variety of takes on the whole zombie thing.
-PH: Do you have any other stories where you combine bring a little erotica to horror, or how about the other way around? Ever throw in a touch of horror in any of your erotic stories?
-Mitzi: Yes, I have. My short story “My Zombie, My Lover” is probably the best example of blending zombie horror with the erotic. My zombie protagonist is sexy in his own peculiar way—or at least he is to the woman in the story. It’s definitely one of my personal favorites. The story appears in my “best of” collection Oysters and Pearls: Collected Stories as well as in Love, Lust and Zombies. As for Florida Gothic, it does contain some sexual situations, but they’re there to give insight into the characters and take them in a specific direction. The sex is definitely gritty, not cerebral or romantic.
-PH: Here’s your chance to promote anything we haven’t talked. Let us know about any of your other books, your blog, or anything else you would like to mention.
-Mitzi: I hope readers will continue to follow The “Gothic” Series as it evolves, since the next book (New Mexico Gothic) is already on the horizon. Pretty much all my books are listed on my website, so I invite everyone to pop on over and have a look. And please do sign up for my quarterly newsletter while you’re there. I have a very neglected blog called “Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog.” It’s a collection of humorous personal essays on whatever topic strikes my fancy—travel, the publishing business, social media, etc. I also have a Web TV channel called “Mitzi TV,” which covers the quirky side of London, England. In closing, I’d like to say how much I appreciate all the support I’m getting from the horror community. Everyone has made me feel very welcome!
Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog: http://mitziszereto.com/blog
Mitzi TV: http://mitziszereto.com/tv
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MitziSzereto.FanPage/
Florida Gothic book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxCPZ7MffcM
Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Florida-Gothic-Book-1-ebook/dp/B06ZZ6QCXN/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Florida-Gothic-Book-1-ebook/dp/B06ZZ6QCXN/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06ZZ6QCXN/
Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B06ZZ6QCXN/
FLORIDA GOTHIC book description:
Stuck in a twilight world between life and death…
A hit-and-run driver leaves Ernesto Martinez to die by a Miami canal. Then an alligator comes along to finish the job.
Being dead gives Ernesto plenty of time to think. He thinks about his wife, taken from him too soon by illness. He thinks about his daughter, the victim of a drunk driver. He thinks about his death as he watches his body slowly decompose.
Most of all, he thinks about injustice.
The meth head ex-con living in the Everglades. The judge enjoying retirement on the Gulf Coast. The son of a Colombian drug kingpin partying in South Beach. These men care nothing for the pain they’ve caused. But they’ll soon know what it is to feel pain.
Set against the sweltering bug-infested backdrop of South Florida, Florida Gothic weaves a darkly unnerving and visceral tale of sex, drugs, crime and vengeance.
Mitzi Szereto is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and non-fiction. She has her own blog of humorous essays at Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog and the web TV channel Mitzi TV, which covers the “quirky” side of London, England. Her books include Oysters and Pearls: Collected Stories; Phantom: The Immortal (co-authored with Ashley Lister); Rotten Peaches (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) and Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)—the cozy mystery series co-authored with Teddy Tedaloo; Love, Lust and Zombies; The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray; Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Dying for It: Tales of Sex and Death; Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire and Getting Even: Revenge Stories. 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 Pacific Northwest and the UK.