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.
GRATUITOUS VIDEOS OF THE DAY
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.
Posted by Marta at 5:33 PM