Thursday, April 8, 2010

Q&A with Sonya Bateman & Contest for MASTER OF NONE

"If Reservoir Dogs and Aladdin had a baby with Alice in Wonderland, it would look something like Master of None...Sonya Bateman writes Urban Fantasy at its best." "Master of None? More like Master of FUN! A terrific debut."

Sometimes blogs are fabulous. Like last week when I noticed the release of Sonya Bateman's Master of None and said how I hoped she might visit Vampire Wire and then she wrote and said she would.

So I'm delighted to have Sonya here to talk about her debut novel, especially since she puts a refreshing twist on urban fantasy with a type of being that is much beloved in our youth, but often ignored in adulthood: the djinn. I had lots of questions for Sonya, so let's get right to her answers.

Also, Sonya's giving away a copy of this fast-paced, funny and gritty urban fantasy. Read to the end of the post for information on how to enter the contest.


MARTA: Welcome, Sonya, and congratulations on the release of your debut novel, Master of None. Will you tell us a little about the book?

SONYA: Thank you, Marta, and thanks for having me! I love the tagline they came up with for me for describing the book briefly: One unlucky thief. One unlikely genie. One very odd couple.

Basically, the main character, Gavyn Donatti (the world’s unluckiest professional thief) loses something he was hired to steal, and the guy who hired him (Trevor) gets lethally pissed off. A djinn named Ian (grudgingly) saves Donatti’s life, and then (grudgingly) says he’s bound to help him, and then informs him that Trevor isn’t the only one out to kill him – there’s a few djinn out there who have cemetery plots with Donatti’s name on them, and are kind of intent on taking over the world. And Ian needs Donatti to stop them.

So Donatti and Ian – who fall in hate at first sight – have to work together to save the world. Sort of.

MARTA: Like all thinking people, I’m an admirer of “I Dream of Jeanie,” and not just because Jeanie had a wicked cool bottle-hangout. How you come up with a curveball like a djinn plotline?

SONYA: I’ve always been interested in the djinn. And there’s this one line in Disney’s “Aladdin” that sparked some questions in my mind: “Phenomenal cosmic power...itty-bitty living space.” The questions went something like – if genies are so powerful, why are they stuffed in lamps? Why do they bother grant wishes? What if they didn’t? What if that whole wish-granting thing was just another way for them to mess with humans? Why wouldn’t they just rule the world? What’s stopping them? Most of my djinn worldbuilding came from answering these questions.

Plus, it was just plain FUN! *G*

MARTA: Genies are notoriously tricky and sneaky. What mythology about djinn did you incorporate into Ian?

SONYA: Mostly the tricky and sneaky parts. I also added a liberal dash of grumpy – for instance, Ian hates the word genie. Some of the mythology ideas I adopted into my world for the djinn: the ability to shape-shift (my djinn belong to clans, each clan is an animal, and they can shift into their clan’s animal form) and become invisible; the idea that the djinn realm exists alongside the human realm; and most of all, their unerring knack for “granting” wishes in ways no one intended to make them.

MARTA: All the characters in your book are at cross-purposes, which sounds like great fun. How challenging was it for you to plot this, and what do you think action says about character?

SONYA: When I started this book, I had the beginning, and I had the (sort of) end – but very little in the way of middle. I’m big on developing characters, so I like to think that my plot arises organically from character development. I also like to think I have super powers, so I could be wrong about that. :-)

I also write linearly. I don’t skip ahead and write later scenes, so when something wasn’t working, I’d have to go back and figure out where I got off track, rip out a page or a scene or a chapter – or (gulp) several chapters – and nudge certain stubborn characters in a different direction. Eventually, everything came together. I think.

MARTA: Is Master of None part of a series, and, if so, have you lined up a bunch of clever titles to go with the sequels?

SONYA: It’s definitely part of a series, with at least one sequel for sure (keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to publish more!). The second book is currently titled Djinn’s Apprentice. I had this idea, after we settled on Master of None for the first one, that I’d go through the progression stages – but after apprentice, there’s journeyman, and then we’re back to master. So I may run out of clever titles after the third book.

MARTA: I read that you were writing for ten years before you wrote an urban fantasy, which is not uncommon to writers of genre fiction. If you had to tattoo your head with your writerly description, what would that tattoo say? Is your writing mystery-driven, are you a humorist, does romance rock your boat, etc.?

SONYA: My tattoo would probably say: WHOOPS. I have a tendency to blur the lines when it comes to genre. I’m definitely into black humor, I like a good dash of romance, lots and lots of action – and I love the unexpected. Especially when it works, and I manage to get in a plot twist or two that readers actually didn’t expect. I love having my mind blown (like "Fight Club" or "The Sixth Sense" kind of blown), so I always try to keep something cool back for the end.

MARTA: Who are a few of your favorite writers?

SONYA: Ah, the Big Question! Of course, if I listed all of my favorites, you’d run out of bandwidth trying to upload this post. Let’s see... I adore Terry Pratchett. The man is a genius. I grew up on Stephen King (yes, I was a disturbed child). Dean Koontz occasionally makes me drool with writerly jealousy. I like Erica Spindler and Meljean Brook. Newer authors I enjoy: Mark Henry, Jaye Wells, J. F. Lewis (and not just because they blurbed me!), Stacia Kane, and Kelly Meding. I believe I’ll be adding Marta Acosta to that list. :-)

MARTA: This is a vampire blog, so who’s your favorite vampire? Yes, it can be the Count on “Sesame Street” who is totally awesome.

SONYA: I do love me some Count! But my favorite vampire is probably Santiago (as portrayed by Stephen Rea) from “Interview with the Vampire.”

MARTA: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about publishing since you got the deal? What’s the most useful?

SONYA: I was surprised to find out how much book covers really matter, which in turn made me even happier that I was designed a super-awesome cover (thank you, Pocket design people!) that, in my opinion, makes the book noticeable on a shelf. Of course, that could just be the stars in my eyes from seeing it in real bookstores (what a rush!).

The most useful thing (which is not necessarily the happiest thing) is that the Great Machine O’ Publishing moves veeeeery slooooowly. I’ve accepted the necessity of taking time with books and all associated things, like reviews and reader responses and word-of-mouth, to ensure everything is as good as it can be. Now, I just need to work on the patience part... *G*

MARTA: Obligatory inane question. If you had a robot assistant, what would it be called and would it be your best friend or secretly evil, and if you wrote a memoir about you and the robot, what would it be called?

SONYA: I would name him George, and he would be my little bunny rabbit – er, robot, my little bunny robot, and I would hug him and pet him and squeeze him and stroke his circuitry. George is a good robot. He fetches my slippers and oils my joints. I’d probably end up calling the memoir “Curious George Gets Dismantled (After Accidentally Erasing The Hard Drive And Jumping Up And Down On The Laptop To Cover His Crimes)”.

MARTA: Thanks for your time, Sonya! Where can readers find out more about you and your book?

SONYA: Thanks again, Marta – you rock! There’s more information on my website, including a preview of the first chapter, and on the Simon & Schuster website.

For more information about Sonya and her road to publication, read Tia Nevitt's interview with Sonya at Debuts & Reviews.

To Enter the Contest for a copy of Master of None: Just leave a comment for Sonya or a comment telling us what one (or two, or three) wishes you'd ask a genie. I mean a djinn! Yes, you can wish for your very own Henry Fitzroy vampire, but be careful! A wish given by a djinn can go wrong in all sorts of ways. The contest runs through Sunday, April 18, and a winner will be selected in a random draw.


The GVDs are in honor of our guest and her answers to my questions. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Okay, because it's a tradition on Fridays, right? Gotta have a Richard Armitage GVD because I haven't posted one all week.


Zita said...

I wish, I wish, I wish I knew what to wish for. No, wait! That wasn't my wish! Oh, dammit.

I think one of my favourite episodes from X-Files was when Mulder found the genie in the rug and he wished for world peace and she granted his wish by removing everyone else from the planet except him. Brilliant!

I wish you would enter me in the contest. =)

SandyG265 said...

Hi Sonya,

I don't think I'd ask for a wish. It seems that somehow djinn always manage to grant your wish in a way that you wind up being sorry for.

LSUReader said...

Congratulations on the release of your book. It sounds fabulous and I'm adding it to my TBR list. I'm impressed (and somewhat tickled) by the eclectic mix of inspirations for your work. Glad to see you enjoy author Erica Spindler. I just finished reading Blood Vines. Have you read it yet? You are a new author for me, so thank you Marta, for the intro.

kittyism said...

Ack... I wish I wasn't too paranoid to make a wish.


I love the idea of djinn being able to shift!

Barb P said...

Hi Sonya & Marta! I prefer to go on the thought that the Genie/Djinn is on the up and up. With that in mind, my son has a disability, so my wish would be that he has a full and happy life! (you notice I said would be.) Great interview! Thanks for the contest.

Sonya Bateman said...

Thanks again, Marta - this looks fantastic! I love the pictures (and the videos!) - and thanks for catching my little actor slip-up. In my defense, he does look like Geoffrey Rush. *G*

Hi everybody! Zita - wish granted! LOL

Sandy, that's probably a smart thing to do. :-)

Thanks, LSU! I haven't read Blood Vines yet. I just finished Copy Cat a few days ago, and enjoyed that one!

Kitty, I've been surprised that so many people are interested in the shifter aspect. It never occurred to me to mention that in any blurbs or copy or anything... whoops. :-)

Sonya Bateman said...

Aaand I missed Barb while I was typing that long-a** comment. *G* I love your wish!

Marta said...

Zita, now I've got to rent the X-Files dvds just to see that episode again!

SandyG, that's way people say, "Be careful what you wish for, you might get it."

LSU,I hadn't heard of Erica Spindler before and I'll try to find info on her to post here at Vampire Wire.

Barb P, it would be wonderful if your wish came true.

Kittyism, thanks for bringing up the shifting angle when I'd focused on the wish angle!

Sonya, I corrected the actor's name after being utterly confused and wondering how I'd missed Geoffrey Rush in "Interview with the Vampire"! Okay, both men have sad hound dog faces, I'll give you that.

Giada M said...

Thank you for the interview! And for the awesome giveaway!
My wish would be...true happiness for me and those I love!
I can't wait to read Master of None!>_<

Giada M

fabgiada @

Anna Dougherty said...

Wishes are too dangerous for me! Sounds similar to asking a demon for information. Wow, maybe I read too much:) The key is being really really specific. So I asked my brother and he said he would wish for a pair of new unwashed socks to wear everyday. Hmm. I'll settle for entering the contest. I've heard so many great things about this book- Derek really sold me on it- and the shifter aspect really has me intrigued.

Great interview!

Sonya Bateman said...

Thanks, Giada! I love giveaways. :-)

Anna, there's no such thing as too much reading. *G* Thank you!

pixie13 said...

A djinn is a dangerous, dangerous thing. Not sure I'd want a wish or two o three. It's bound to go wrong. I think I'll just settle for wishing I had this book :)

Marta said...

Pixie, great answer!

Anna, I still think unwashed socks could hold danger.

Gianda, but what is true happiness? I can't even imagine.

Honolulu Girl from Trueblood Twilight said...

OMG! I would love to win a copy. I just recently bought One Thousand and One Arabian Nights and started reading the short stories. Really hard, btw, but very entertaining and the whole jinni vibe is pratically seen in every story. Soo that's why I'm interested in your book.

Anyway, I'd ask for the gift of writing. I mean I love to write, but I want it to be flawless and thought provoking... So yeah, sounds boring but whatever, my wish, right? :)

donnas said...

Sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing.

I know its not unusual but assuming I have the good, honest genie type. I would want health and happiness for my family. If not the good and honest genie type, I would have to figure out a way to word that to get what I wanted anyway!

Andrea I said...

My wishes would be for my youngest child and oldest grandson.
They are both bipolar I.

elaing8 said...

Great interview.

My wish would be for 100 more wishes..maybe 10 million dollars..or maybe a gorgeous hunk of a man to do whatever I told him to...or..or..wait if I had the 100 wishes I could wish for them all :)
I'd take my chances with the djinn :)

Sandy Jay said...

Sonya, this sounds like a really fun book. I have to read it.

I wouldn't wish for anything. That darn djinn would most certainly turn it into something nasty. Best to just keep my mouth shut around him.

Jen said...

Ohh, this looks like a really great book. I would love to get my hands on a copy.

What about if I wish that the djinn wasn't tricky when granting my other wishes? Of course I'd have to be very specific, and maybe I'd have to have a lawyer draw up my exact wish because even that could probably be interpreted a million different ways. xD

Dot S. said...

I would wish for just an ooch of the imagination that creates such an interesting and exotic world like Sonja's in this book.

angeleyesak said...

hmm...I would wish to be financially secure for the rest of my life & to leave my son secure. Without changing my life right now lol...I grew up on Dean Koontz & Stephen King too. The first Dean Koontz book I read was Door to December and my first King book was It.

Marianna said...

Yay! This book looks good! I wanna read!

Anyway, if there is a catch, for the wish to go crazy, I probably wouldn't risk it. But if I did wish for anything it would be for fearlessness, creativity and wisdom.

patronus89013 at yahoo dot com

Roxanne Rhoads said...

I would wish for a major book deal, a NYT bestselling book and a long career as a repeated NYT bestseeling author

yes I am single minded today

please enter me this book sounds awesome

RoxanneRhoads @ aol. com

Elizabeth said...

I finish High school now :)I wish to go to Baylor University!! I wish for a car

Sonya Bateman said...

Wow... I'm a little behind here!

Hello to Pixie, Honolulu Girl, Donna, Andrea, Elaing, Sandy, Jen, Dot, Angeleyes, Marianna, Roxanne, and Elizabeth (hope I didn't miss anybody!).

May all your wishes come true. And thanks so much for the awesome comments and congrats and compliments! You guys are great!

van_pham said...

I would wish for good health, happiness, and financial stability for my family.

looking forward to reading Master of None :).


Pamk said...

not sure i'd wish either. maybe i'd try and an aladdin and wish he djinn was free and human so he couldn't use his powers against me lol. Book sounds great.

Marta said...

I wish for a glass of wine. Oooh, one is magically appearing! Everyone have a fantastic weekend!

Martha Lawson said...

Well, I'd wish for a trip to New Orleans and enough money to spend there! Then I'd wish for enough money to pay our house off!

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

mariska said...

I wish that every one in this planet has enough money to live happily ever after !
hey, i hope that the djinn can fulfill that wishes :)

uniquas at ymail dot com

Lisa B. said...

This book sounds great. If I had one wish, I'd wish for the perfect literary agent to represent me (and my awesome writing) :-)

-Lisa B.
angel28140 (AT) yahoo (DOT) com

Sheere said...

I'd wish to have all the whises I wanted? Well, I think thats cheating so I'd for money and for all the books that I want to read and that haven't been published yet!

Marta said...

Hi, everyone, next time I'm going to say that you can't wish for money since we all need and want it.

Sheere, you made me think of something I'd wish for -- finding dozens of undiscovered Jane Austen novels!

Pam, good luck with that! I think a djinn is always going to bring trouble, no matter how you try to outsmart it.

Sonya Bateman said...

Agreed - money is cheating! And be careful wishing for more wishes, lest you end up like Shel Silverstein's Lester and die with piles of shiny, unused wishes around you. :-)

Melsymo said...

I'd wish I had more time to read all the fab books out there including Master of None....but knowing my luck the djinn wouls arrange it so I'd loose my job or something :-s
Oh,, well....


Sonya Bateman said...

Mel, that's a perfect example of what they might do with a wish like that. *G*

Tara said...

I would wish for "Underpants on the Outside Day" to be a REAL holiday!
Sonya, The book was AMAZING!!! Why do we have to wait SOOOO long for the next one?

Debuts & Reviews said...

Don't enter me in the contest; just wanted to thank you for the link. I'm so glad everyone's enjoying MASTER OF NONE as much as I did!

Sonya Bateman said...

Thank you, Tia!

(Oh, and Tara doesn't want to be entered in the contest either. She already bought the book twice. LOL)

throuthehaze said...

I would probably wish that I was a billionaire or something but I would probably be a little scared to ask since they can be devious.
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

CrystalGB said...

I would wish that I could have a baby, for good health for me and my family, and for enough money to support a worry free lifestyle.

Froggy said...

wow..what a question!

hmm..well i would wish for a month long vacation for me and my family to go see our family out of country..

the house to be paid off

and for the economy to rebound already!


Stella (Ex Libris) said...

Congratulations Sonya on the release of Master of None! The premise sounds exciting, added it to my TBR list!

What would I sih for? Hm.. some special powers! 1) I would like to able to heal. 2) I would like to be able to beam (think of a place I want to be and then appear there! pouf!) 3) To be able to understand and speak all languages. These 3 came to my mind right now :-)

Thanks for this interview and the contest!!

stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

Christa Holland said...

Okay. I would wish for 1 of 2 things: 1 to free the djinn or 2 that I not have to make any wishes. Lame, right? Well, hear me out. : ) If the djinn was the kind from Aladdin (okay, please not blue and probably not singing) but if the djinn were friendly & kind-hearted, but cursed into the lamp/urn/jar/etc. then I'd free him/her. If the djinn was a jerk, I'd just want him/her to leave me alone. Because those wishes never go right, so I'd make a wish, have to fix it with my 2nd wish and have to return everything to the way it was with my 3rd & I've decided it's just easier to skip the entire process. : )

However, if I was in a book (or writing a book) I'd have my character wish wonderful things that went horribly wrong... which I'm secretly hoping is part of the plot in Master of None. lol.

Thanks for the interview, contest & fun question.
ambience.of.rain {at}

kisah said...

i'd probably have to go with financial security. i don't know what i'd do for the other two wishes....

Marta said...

Hi, everyone! Let's see, I'd ask for a robot maid, a better haircut, discovering dozens of unknown books by favorite authors, and the old Blogger which didn't suck like new Blogger.

jellybelly82158 said...

I would have to wish for myself and my family members to be in good health

Julie said...

Hmm... I'll wish for the cliche million bucks. I mean, then I can settle all our debts and even have more money to take care of us better, right? heh
This book sounds really fascinating, hope to have a chance to read it.

mbreakfield said...

I wish for a good health for myself, my family, and my friends.

Yesenia said...

"If Reservoir Dogs and Aladdin had a baby with Alice in Wonderland..." count there be any higher praise? lol Those are 3 of my faves!
I'd wish for good health for myself and the family, the ability to learn things quickly, and to win the next IL lottery. :D
Thanks for hosting!
Yesenia, Silly Little Game Called Life
yeseniah23 at gmail com

Spav said...

I would wish that my family had good health and I don't know what else. I would have to think about it.