1. How did you come up with the title?
Normal for Norfolk is a common expression in some parts of the United Kingdom used to signify those who are somewhat, shall we say, intellectually challenged. Therefore if someone from Norfolk behaves or does something a bit odd from what’s considered the “norm” in other places, it’s considered “normal for Norfolk.” There’s a longer explanation for the origin of the expression and it’s included in the book. Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) is actually a quirky and humorous crime novel/cozy mystery that I’ve co-authored with my famous bear, Teddy Tedaloo (https://www.facebook.com/teddytedaloo.fanpage). It’s the first in a series featuring the hapless ursine protagonist Thelonious T. Bear, who definitely gets a lesson when it comes to what’s normal for Norfolk!
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There wasn’t a specific message when I began, but I will say that as the book continued to develop, I discovered that it was tackling issues beyond the usual scope of a humorous cozy mystery/quirky crime novel. The protagonist has spent his entire life being made to feel as if there’s something wrong with him because he’s different. And yes, Thelonious is different—he’s a bear living among humans in human society! This is not an easy life, especially when you live in the big city (in this case London) and have to deal with all the complexities and aggravations that go along with it. In a way Thelonious becomes a metaphor for those who don’t fit into society because of how they look or because of a disability or physical limitation. I’m not sure there’s a message here, but perhaps by reading the novel and experiencing events from Thelonious’s unique perspective, people can understand what life is like for someone who’s very different from the so-called norm.
3. How much of the book is realistic?
I think you need to look at the book in the context of magic realism, in that the protagonist happens to be a small bear who’s a photojournalist by profession and drives a Mini Cooper, wears a deerstalker hat, and enjoys having a pint down the pub! These somewhat fantastical elements co-exist quite naturally in the “real” world, therefore you come to accept them. There are quite a few elements in the book that came from our own experiences and were inspired by people we met while staying in Norfolk. The scene with Thelonious at the pub full of Londoners was spot on, even down to the high prices, Cuban cigars and snooty barmaid!
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Probably not. Though I’m sure if I read it in two years’ time, I’d probably think of things I wish we’d done, but I’m sure every author experiences that—and you can’t beat yourself over the head about it. To be honest, Teddy and I can hardly wait to write the next book in the series. We’ve already chosen the location and have the plotline in place, but I’m not giving out any details!
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Because this was the first book in the series, we needed to do a lot of setting up in order to introduce Thelonious T. Bear to the reader as well as anticipate any questions that might pop into a reader’s mind, providing a ready answer so that Thelonious’s world made sense to them. Trying to second guess an unidentified reader is not an easy talk. I hope we’ve managed to accomplish that with some success.
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think you always learn something new with each book you do. With Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles), the main character was the key to the entire book, so it was literally like climbing inside Thelonious and living life through him. In fact, it was a bit like method acting, but for writers!
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve written ever since childhood. Even in school I was always writing stories and poetry, and I’m certain my teachers saw the spark in me that signified writing might be the direction I was headed in. Having said that, I was also very interested and occupied with art and music, so I suppose it’s fair to say that I could have gone in one of those directions too. Perhaps if I’d ended up in the music business, my eyesight wouldn’t be so bad from being on the computer day and night!
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I can’t really name one specific author. There are many whose work I enjoy for one reason or another, and I’m sure I’ll leave some out. But we can start with Vladimir Nabokov, Hanif Kureishi, Ruth Rendell, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood, Dean Koontz; I’m all over the literary spectrum. I’ve always loved multi-cultural literature, particularly novels by and about British Asians (the same goes for film). I also enjoy a good psychological thriller. Depends on my mood really.
9. Tell us your latest news.
I have a fantasy-themed anthology of short stories coming out in September 2012 called Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire. Obviously you can tell by the title that it features some steamy fare! If you’re a fan of the HBO television series “Game of Thrones” (or the George R.R. Martin books from which the series is based), you’ll enjoy this book. I’m also working on another novel, which I need to deliver around the new year. It’s a sequel to a classic work of literature and will contain elements of the Gothic in it as well as being erotic. Once that is finished, I plan to get back with my writing partner Teddy Tedaloo and pen the second book in The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles series. I also have a paranormal-themed novel I’m co-writing with another author and hopefully it will reach fruition in 2013.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d like to thank them for their continued support and interest in my work. I hope they’ll enjoy reading Normal for Norfolk (The Thelonious T. Bear Chronicles) and my other books!
About the Book
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!
Price: $10.99 (paperback); $4.99 (Kindle and Nook e-book)
Genre: Crime, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Thelonious T. Bear Books
Release date: July 2012
Buy links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes and Noble, Borders Australia
About the Author
Mitzi Szereto (mitziszereto.com) is an author and anthology editor of multi-genre fiction and nonfiction. She has her own blog, Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto’s Weblog (mitziszereto.com/blog) and a Web TV channel, Mitzi TV (mitziszereto.com/tv), which covers “quirky” London. Her books include the Jane Austen parody Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts; Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire; Red Velvet and Absinthe: Paranormal Erotic Romance; In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales; Getting Even: Revenge Stories; Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers; Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death; the Erotic Travel Tales anthologies and many other titles. A popular social media personality and frequent interviewee, she has pioneered erotic writing workshops in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe and lectured in creative writing at several British universities. 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 England and the United States.
Teddy Tedaloo is a celebrity teddy bear, trendsetter, world traveler, and the production assistant extraordinaire/co-star of the web TV channel Mitzi TV. Widely popular in social media circles such as Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/teddytedaloo.fanpage) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/teddytedaloo), he’s known for his entertaining commentary as well as being an advocate for animal welfare. He lives (and goes) wherever Mitzi lives (and goes). Normal for Norfolk is his first novel.
Links to connect with Mitzi: