Author: Denise R. Stephenson
Publisher: Mill City Press
Release Date: 1st April 2013
BLURB from Goodreads
"Isolation" depicts a bleak but recognizable future in which the fear of contagion reaches a fever pitch as a bacterial epidemic catapults the US into an apocalyptic crisis. Touch is outlawed. Mothers like Maggie bind their infants' hands, terrified they might slip fingers into mouths. Gary, a Sterilizer, uses robots to scour the infected, avoiding all contact with human flesh. Trevor, the Chief Enforcer, watches, eager to report any and all infractions. One inadvertent touch will change all of their lives.
Why is Isolation on a blog tour?
Every writer wants to travel the country
giving readings. Well, maybe not, but I’d love to. I enjoy public readings a
great deal; it’s something I’m good at. My undergraduate degree is in Radio/TV Communications.
When I prepared to publish Isolation,
I was told in multiple ways, by multiple sources, human and otherwise, that I
would need to build a platform including Facebook, Twitter, and other internet
outlets to spread the word. For months I considered how to best spend my
limited publicity dollars. When I found Virtual Author Book Tours, the idea of
a blog tour wove those threads together. While I don’t get to actually read, I
get exposure to a variety of readers and settings. This is my last stop and
it’s been an interesting and exciting ride.
Do you work another job as well as your
Writing is my life, but my primary job
is running a writing center at a college. I’ve done that for more than 20
years. I’m not sure I’d have written a novel if I didn’t want to challenge
myself to encounter the same fear that my students face everyday when they have
to write the 3-, 5-, or 10-page paper for any number of classes.
Do you have anybody read your books and
give you reviews before you officially release them? ie. Your partner,
children, friends, reviewers you know?
My partner reads everything! He gives better
feedback than anyone I know because he’s encouraging and curious. I also belong
to a writing group and have a variety of friends and colleagues who are willing
to read my work. I invited many to read my novel before publishing it.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?
What/Who is your inspiration?
I don’t plot. Ideas develop. They start as small,
character-centered seeds and grow. Isolation’s
inspiration came from the flu epidemic of 2009 and the surrounding changes of
behavior, like the ubiquity of hand sanitizer. But it’s when lines get stuck in
my head that I know I have to follow a lead. With this novel, that was: “And
laying a finger aside of his nose.” The familiar line came with the idea of
face-touching being outlawed. That set the stage.
How do you come up with Cover Designs for your
book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
I’ve had two designs for the cover. The first was
used for my Kickstarter camaign. For that, I talked with a couple of different
aritsts to brainstorm possible cover ideas. Then I developed one of those ideas
in collaboration with others; one of my staff took photos with me in a
laboratory on campus and another designed the cover.
The second cover was designed by Alan Pranke at
Mill City Press, my publisher. The concept didn’t change, but
the color palate was reduced and refined to increase the sense of doom.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then
choose the title?
The title emerged in the midst of the process. A
friend asked what my working title was. At the time, I was walking on a beach
in Kauai and with only a brief hesitation, I said, “Isolation.” It was a
subconscious force that brought that name to mind. In the coming months and now
years, I can see multiple reverberations in the novel of how that title fits.
I’m always pleased when my subconscious steps up and does the heavy lifting.
How do you come up with characters names and place
names in your books?
Many ways. I see names on signs that I like. That
happened for at least three characters, though the signs were in disparate
places: Iowa, Honolulu, San Diego. Other times I search for a name with a
particular ethnic or national flare. And still other times, the names appear as
I write and I don’t question it. Most characters names remain stable, though I
have changed a few on occasion. For example, my character with OCD, Trevor, the
Enforcer, was named Numerovsky. When his OCD developed into a counting tick, I
decided the name was too metaphoric, so I searched Russian names and changed it
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet,
tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
Mostly my characters evolve. So I don’t consciously
give them traits. Sometimes, a trait emerges and I do research, as I did with
Trevor. As a teenager, he was a tattle-tale. As an adult he clearly had OCD. I
didn’t want him to be too stereotyped and I mostly know OCD as a kind of
light-hearted joke used among friends who like things neat. So I read up on the
disorder and watched a documentary to learn some of the complex ways it
manifests as well as how those afflicted feel about it as opposed to those who
live with them. That gave me what I hoped was enough detail to give him traits
that would ring true for readers.
What genre would you place your books into?
Genre is harder than one might think. I don’t
follow a formula and therefore, this novel doesn’t fit neatly into the larger
established categories. Isolation is
definitely a dystopia, but it’s also a bit sci-fi, apocalyptic, and medical
think that writing a dystopia must be depressing, yet I have found it anything
but. I’ve loved creating this world and during this tour appreciated how many
bloggers have enjoyed it as well. When readers ask for another book, especially
more from these characters, it’s extremely encouraging.
readers find you?
This Blog Tour was organised by: