AUTHOR: Mitzi Szereto and Teddy Tedaloo
BOOK TITLE: Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles)
PUBLISHER: Thelonious T. Bear Books
Tell me a little about your book.
Mitzi: Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) is the first in a new series I’ve co-authored with my celebrity sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo. It’s a quirky crime novel slash cozy mystery featuring Thelonious T. Bear, a photojournalist who happens to be a bear. However, he’s not like others in his species. Thelonious drives a Mini Cooper, wears a deerstalker hat, and even uses cologne. He’s also a big fan of jazz musician Charlie Parker. In this debut novel, we find Thelonious leaving behind life in the big city (in this case London) to take a photojournalism assignment in the Norfolk countryside, where he hopes to make a new life for himself. He just wants peace and quiet, a simple life. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get it. Instead he stumbles upon a series of brutal murders of village pub landlords. He ends up becoming the sole suspect, thanks to the inept Detective Chief Inspector Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk Constabulary CID. While all this is happening, we have a side story running featuring Vinnie and Desmond Clark, a pair of thugs from London’s East End who fancy themselves the modern-day Kray Brothers. How they inevitably connect to Thelonious is something you’ll have to find out for yourself. The novel contains a slew of quirky characters such as Fag-stain Man, Zimmer-frame Granny, a beekeeper, a frisky B&B landlady, a grumpy vicar, and a pub owner who serves up pheasant road kill.
What gave you the idea for this particular story?
Mitzi: The idea for the protagonist Thelonious T. Bear was already in mind, inspired by Teddy Tedaloo, of course! The actual storyline came about during a stay in rural Norfolk. In fact, almost the entire plot took shape while we were in a village pub drinking some local ale and chatting with a vicar at the next table. He found his way into the book, albeit with a grumpy personality!
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Mitzi: I am a full-time writer, yes, though that also includes being a marketer and promoter and manager and administrative assistant. These days you have to wear a lot of hats if you hope to tread water. If you’re really lucky, you won’t sink! It’s impossible to organize my writing time. I constantly struggle to find blocks of time in which to write, since there’s always so much else to get done. That isn’t even including the normal tasks and annoyances of daily life!
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Mitzi: I’m not sure I knew specifically that I wanted to be a writer, but I did know that I wanted to be a creative artist of some sort. Although I’ve always been good at writing, professionally I could have gone into writing, art or music. As a child I was juggling all three and could have taken any of these directions, but the writing is the thing that eventually took off. So I took off along with it.
What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
Mitz: I would like to hope that they find themselves transported to another world through the protagonist, who is a unique entity unto himself, being a bear and all. Although the book is a cozy mystery/quirky crime novel, there’s quite a bit of social commentary in it too, not to mention humor. Maybe it will get readers to see the world from another perspective—albeit one much nearer to the ground!
Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Mitzi: I work in many areas and am continually expanding into new genres and blending together genres I’ve already worked in. For instance, my other recent release Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire is epic-style fantasy spiced with the erotic. It’s not the first time I’ve delved into fantasy; my short story collection In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales is another example, but utilizing the fairy tale motif. I’ve ventured into parody—in this case sex parody—with Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts. Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance is Gothic fiction, paranormal romance and sensuality all rolled into one. Getting Even: Revenge Stories is in the crime area and Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers is speculative fiction with an erotic twist. As for favorite genres, I’d have to say Gothic and quirky crime, which is probably a good thing, since the plan is to write more novels in The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles series. As for the Gothic, I’m working right now on a new anthology with a Gothic theme.
What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Mitzi: Trying to make a living! And there’s no way to get past it—you just try not to think about it too much, because if you do, you’ll end up accomplishing nothing.
Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Mitzi: Not so much an actual event, but more so little vignettes that actually happened to us during our stay in Norfolk. I already mentioned the vicar, but there are also scenes in the book that played out very close to reality, such as the scene with the show-off patrons and snooty barmaid in the gastro-pub and the scene with the amorously minded dog at yet another pub. An awful lot in Norfolk seems to happen in pubs. Mind you, that’s probably true of Britain in general.
How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Mitzi: The protagonist Thelonious T. Bear is very much like my co-author, Teddy Tedaloo. Aside from the obvious (both of them being bears), they both have little patience for fools and foolish behavior. They also tend to grumble a lot, though that’s because they see things for what they really are rather than go through life with blinders on like most people seem to do. There’s a lot to be said for bears. They just aren’t into all the pretense and nonsense that humans are.
Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Mitzi: I write all kinds of scenes, and many of my books do have a lot of sexual content in them. I am a writer, so it’s my job to create all kinds of scenes, therefore it doesn’t bother me per se, providing there’s a legitimate reason for them to be there. But I’m not a huge fan of inserting violence or sex just for the hell of it. They should be there for a reason and for the development and advancement of the storyline and characters. We see this sort of thing overdone in film – ie lots of extreme violence that doesn’t really need to be there. The same goes for sex. It’s all been contrived for no reason other than to shock and grab attention; it really doesn’t advance the art form at all.
What about your book makes it special?
Mitzi: The main character is just so one-of-a-kind. I mean, how many professional photojournalist bears have you heard of—especially ones that drive Mini Coopers, drink real ale, and listen to Charlie Parker? I’ll wager not a lot! The fact that Thelonious seems to have consistent bad luck (being a murder suspect isn’t exactly “lucky”) is something many can identify with—such as always being in the wrong place at the wrong time, not necessarily the murder part!
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Mitzi: I’d suggest checking out my various websites and social media profiles. I have quite a lot going on, including my blog Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog and even a Web TV channel, Mitzi TV, which covers the quirky side of London. Links can be found beneath this interview.
What’s in the future for you?
Mitzi: I’m working on three books as we speak! The first is an edgy and steamy Gothic-themed novel that’s a sequel to a classic work of literature. It’s called Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray, and it will be out in autumn 2013. I’m also doing two short story anthologies: Love, Lust and Zombies and Darker Edge of Desire, the latter being the one with the Gothic theme. If you have any short story writers out there who might be interested in submitting material to me, they can find the specs at http://mitziszereto.com/call-for-submissions. Once I’ve got these projects delivered, I hope to get cracking with Teddy on the next novel in The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles. We already have the setting and plotline all worked out and we can’t wait to get started!
Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles): http://mitziszereto.com/normalfornorfolk/
Mitzi Szereto website: http://mitziszereto.com
Mitzi Szereto on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mitziszereto
Teddy Tedaloo on Twitter: https://twitter.com/teddytedaloo
Mitzi Szereto Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/mitziszereto.fanpage
Teddy Tedaloo Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/teddytedaloo.fanpage
Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog: http://mitziszereto.com/blog
Mitzi TV: http://mitziszereto.com/tv
Mitzi Szereto Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/72445.Mitzi_Szereto
Mitzi Szereto Google+ official page: https://plus.google.com/b/105002950509883985630/105002950509883985630/posts
Mitzi Szereto MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/mitzi_szereto
Normal for Norfolk
Pub landlords are being murdered in Norfolk! Thelonious T. Bear, ursine photojournalist, leaves behind the big city life of London to take an assignment in the Norfolk countryside, where he hopes to find the real England. Instead he stumbles upon gastro-pubs, crazed Audi drivers and murder. As the hapless Thelonious keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, he attracts the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Horatio Sidebottom of Norfolk Constabulary CID, who's determined to tie Thelonious to the crimes. Add in a pair of hoods from London's East End, celebrity TV chef Paolo Louis Black, and plenty of oddball local characters and it all adds up to a madcap journey through England's most quirky county, where everything is normal for Norfolk!