Wednesday 30 July 2014


Title: Isolation
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 work?
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 to Kashnikov.

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 thriller.
Many people 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.

Where can readers find you?

This Blog Tour was organised by:
Teddy Rose Blog Tours

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the interview! It's a great way to be ending the tour.