Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Master of None"

Sonya Bateman lives in upstate New York, where there are two seasons: winter, and construction. Her home is shared with a husband, a son, three very strange cats, and a gerbil with half a tail. She enjoys reading and swimming, and wishes there were some feasible way to combine the two.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Master of None, and reported the following:
“Tension on every page” – that’s what I learned at Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel seminar many years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since. When I’m writing, I try to keep things moving constantly. I don’t believe in breaks. I love reading a story that keeps me breathless until the end, so that’s the type of story I try to tell.

I was pleased to see that the Page 69 Test bears out my intentions. Things are definitely moving.

By page 69, my protagonist, an unlucky thief named Gavyn Donatti, has already discovered the existence of the djinn, been shot at, threatened with guns (twice), learned he has a two-year-old son he’s never met, gotten pulled over by a dirty cop, betrayed by his ex-girlfriend, and watched a friend die. At this point, he’s been brought to the basement-slash-torture-dungeon of Trevor, the man he was supposed to steal a certain item for, that he has since inexplicably lost.

It only gets worse from here:
I was so dead.

Trevor stopped in front of me. “Mr. Donatti.”


He jammed the Taser against my thigh and pulled the trigger.

I went limp. Fortunately, the rope held me up. He kept the jolt short, and when he pulled back, I gasped, “Jesus Christ. Aren’t you supposed to ask me a question first?”

Trevor shook his head as if he was disappointed. This time, the damned thing juiced the side of my neck.

The charge exploded in my head, blinding me. My mouth opened. No sound emerged. I figured smoke would start billowing out, but saliva foamed over my lip and dribbled down my chin instead.

This was Trevor’s subtle way of telling me to shut up. It worked. Couldn’t speak if I wanted to.

“If you had my item, Mr. Donatti, you would have given it to me by now.” His voice wavered and splintered against my pounding eardrums. “Eventually, you will explain what happened. I’m not ready to question you yet. At this point, your job is to listen.”

“Listenin’,” I slurred, slopping more drool onto the floor.

Trevor zapped me again. I screamed.

“You believe if you don’t cooperate, I’ll kill you. I won’t. You believe if I leave you alone long enough, you’ll find a way out. You can’t. You believe torture is the worst thing that can happen to you, and death is preferable.” He moved in and brought his face inches from mine. “It isn’t.”

I believed that.
Read Chapter One of Master of None, and learn more about the book and author at Sonya Bateman's website.

Watch the Master of None teaser trailer.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue