Guest Leaguer: Sonya Bateman

Our guest blogger comes with three stamps of League approval (Jaye, Jeremy and I blurbed her awesome debut urban fantasy, MASTER OF NONE), so lend he an ear, bitches...or eyes. Whatever.


Yet Another Debut Writer Comes Out With a...Whimper (Sorry, My Roar’s in the Shop)

Hi there! My name is Sonya Bateman, I’m a brand new debut urban fantasy novelist, and I’m going to tell you all about my book (MASTER OF NONE – one unlucky thief, one unlikely genie, one very odd couple – now available everywhere books are sold, OMGZORZ *dies*), and about my fascinating, original, well-rounded characters, and where I got every last idea for every single scene, and check out this graph of my Amazon rank over the last 30 days, and here’s how I started writing when I was six months old – no, when I was still in the womb – and it’s always been my dream, and now I feel like Susan Boyle, and stars and rainbows and unicorns and are you bored to tears yet?

Good. Because what I actually want to talk about is torture.

Yes, I do love torture. Doesn’t everyone? The screams, the begging, the smell of blood and burning flesh...whoa, sorry. Channeling a little of the Six-Fingered Man there (how many points do I get for a Princess Bride reference? Do I get a bonus if I know his name’s Count Rugen, without even looking it up on IMDb?). Anyway, (I suppose) I’m not talking really-real-world torture here. Not even waterboarding. What I mean is the authorial right – nay, the obligation – to torture my characters.

Now, this is metaphorical torture, most of the time. My characters have to work their asses off for every victory. If some little thing’s going wrong, I turn it into a BIG wrong. When they take one step forward, I kick them ten steps back, and then preferably off a cliff. I made sure that the first sentence of my synopsis (“Gavyn Donatti is the world’s unluckiest thief”) was absolutely true. Nothing ever goes right for him. And the fun part is, he knows that. But he tries anyway.

Here’s a quick example. Donatti’s new “partner” (who hates his guts) has been shot and needs medical attention. A hospital’s out of the question – he’s a thief, and his partner isn’t even human. He calls his ex-girlfriend (collect from a payphone, because his cell’s been smashed and the motel operator doesn’t have change), who also hates him, because she’s close by and has some medical knowledge. She agrees, reluctantly, to come. Hooray! Help is on the way.

But when she shows up, it’s at the wrong end of a gun pointed in his face. Hooray? Yeah, maybe not.

When it comes to real torture*, sometimes I’ve got that covered, too. I’ve done some work that’s rather – er, not fit for commercial publication, in terms of screwed-up-edness. So, when I wrote this manuscript, I tried to tone down some of the graphic detail I might have otherwise included. While my agent and I were working on revisions, in the actual (as opposed to metaphorical) torture scene toward the end, she noted something like this: “Not that I’m advocating violence, but I think you should describe this torture more thoroughly.”

I replied (as I dreamed new and imaginative ways to hurt Donatti and describe his pain more thoroughly): “This pleases me greatly.”

And she answered: “I suspected it would.”

See? Even my agent knows I’m disturbed. This pleases me greatly.

But I’m really a nice person in real life. I only torture my creations. That’s not bad. I mean, they’re just fictional characters. Right?

Er. Put that gun down, Donatti. You’re not a murderer. And no, you can’t make an exception for me.

*The “real” torture’s in the fiction, folks. I don’t actually own a dungeon. I just rent.


Sonya's offering up a a signed copy of MASTER OF NONE to one lucky commenter. So get in there! Then check back next week at this time to see who won!


Zita said…
So what's dungeon rental going for these days? And do you have to bring in your own devices, or do they come with the rental? And where, exactly, are these rentals? In the strip mall? Do strip malls have basements? It is in a basement, right? Because otherwise, well, it's just wrong!
Sullivan McPig said…
I think you deserved extra points indeed with the Princess Bride reference!
And I like a bit of torturing from time to time in fiction. Can't have my heroes skip and whistle through life without a bit of hardship now and then.
lale said…
I love authors who thoroughly torture their characters. (Diana Peterfreund in 'Rampant' and especially Suzanne Collins in 'The Hunger Games' have been very cool- uh, I mean, cruel about this recently) It's what makes the difference between characters you care about and ones that you almost wish someone would come along and stab. Guess this means I'm going to have to check out Master of None, right? (I loved the Djinn in the Children of the Lamp series, so I may as well take it to the adult level.)
I'm not gonna lie, the tiny plyers (pliers? why can't I spell today? gah!!!!) almost made me cry.
Sonya Bateman said…
Zita - hourly rates rule. :-) I believe there may be a few places in NYC (and naturally, they're located in the basement *G*) Haven't seen any strip mall rent-a-dungeons yet...

Thank you, Sullivan! I'm racking up the points now - I've got, like, 5. *G*

Lale, I keep meaning to check out Hunger Games. Gonna have to do that now!

Jackie, I think I might've cried about the tiny pliers too...

(Note to me: do not enter self in drawing for book!)
donnas said…

Congrats on your release. Master of None sounds great. I am looking forward to reading it. Hope to see you around more. Make them let you post again. I hear bribes work well. :P

bacchus76 at myself dot com
Linda said…
Hey Sonya!

I think I have the same problem you do when it comes to torturing characters...sometimes you just can't help it!

Congrats on your release! Master of None looks fascinating and I'd love a chance to win!

Oh! Don't enter me, either, lol. I'd hate to be selfish.

Pliers...why can't I get that right? On a completely depressing note, someone actually used said pliers for aforementioned purpose (I love randomly throwing in big words. Do they fit? Probably not. But I'm okay with that.). So you weren't far off on the whole maniac aspect.

This is an AMAZING book, by the way, people. Even if you win, go buy it! Give it to friends! Co-workers! Strangers on the street who look like they need some good djinn action and maybe, just maybe, a little humor.
Sonya Bateman said…
Thanks, Linda! Sometimes they're just begging for it, aren't they? :-)

Jackie, you rock! *G* I've had visions of wandering the streets with handfuls of books, shoving them at strangers and saying, "Here, read this..." LOL
van_pham said…
Hi Ms. Bateman!

Congrats on your release! Master of None sounds awesome, looking forward to reading it :)
Robin K said…
I suppose it would be twisted to admit that I love a bit of pain and torture in the novels I read. It just holds me captivated and horrified at the same time. If someone asked me what I remembered most about the books I read, I could give a list of torture scenes. I guess I love the intensity, suspense and passion involve. Great post :)
Sonya Bateman said…
Somehow I always get the 13th comment. *G*

Thank you, van pham!

Robin - you're my kind of chick. Thank you... glad you liked the post!
Barbara E. said…
Judging from your blog post, which I found extremely entertaining, I believe I will thoroughly enjoy your book. I'm definitely going to be checking it out.
Sonya Bateman said…
Awesome! Thanks, Barbara!
Christine M. said…
Congrats on your release, this sounds like a great book!
Woo hoo, another author with a dark streak.
Spav said…
This sounds like a realy interesting book. Congrats on your book release.
Wait! You mean torture is *bad*? Oh dear...

I love the cover, and look forward to reading the book!
congrats on your debut!!!!!!!!
i love starting with a new author and follwing them

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