Stephenson, Denise R.: Isolation
Publisher: Mill City Press (April 15, 2014)
Category: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Political Thriller, Medical Thriller
ISBN: 13: 978-1-62652-760-7
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.
This book would be rated PG.
Advance Praise for Isolation:
“I was fortunate enough to read a preview copy of Isolation and I have to say it is a timely and thought provoking, if not haunting, look into the future. I can’t imagine simple day-to-day tasks like getting food at the market being either impossible or dangerous. Written from a variety of perspectives and far-reaching communities, it kept the reader wondering, “Could this really happen to me? Could this be part of my world?” This book made me look into the foods I eat, the lifestyle I live and the value of my friends and family. To what extent would I go to keep those I love safe? Looking for answers kept me turning the pages.”- Michelle Keeton
“Denise Stephenson’s novel Isolation is situated in a not-too-distant future, one we can all imagine, in which bacterial diseases decimate human populations world-wide. Though other novelists and filmmakers have relied on viruses to frighten us with tales of pandemic diseases, Stephenson makes bacteria seem much, much more dangerous-in part, because the vast majority of bacteria we come in contact with are necessary for our survival. For one thing, we can’t digest food without the help of bacteria in our stomachs.
In Isolation, government agencies struggle with the question of how to isolate the dangerous bacteria from the life-saving sort. Eventually, hospitals are turned into Anti-Bacterial Centers, robots are used to cleanse individuals who are exposed, touching one’s face is banned, then touching others is banned, and finally everyone is quarantined inside their own homes in a final, desperate attempt to stop the spread of the lethal bacteria. It’s a frightening vision, but each step, each decision, makes perfect sense in light of the threat of contagion.
It’s a gripping tale, at once outrageous and yet plausible. Through news articles, a scientific report and a press release inserted throughout the novel, Stephenson reveals how woefully unprepared American society is for this sort of calamity.
In spite of the doomsday vision the book presents, it remains hopeful and optimistic by focusing on the lives of individuals. In the direst of circumstances, their humanity, their compassion, and their hope shines through.”- Bob Mayberry
“Isolation” paints a bleak picture. In order to keep humankind safe, the government imposes increasingly stricter bans on touching. From Do-not-touch one’s own nose and eyes to, in the end, the Total-Touch-Ban. People live in ever more isolation; at times, confined to their homes like prisoners.
While the prospect of living in, or even reading, about such a world may not sound appealing to everyone, Stephenson’s lovingly created characters, who accompany the reader from the present to a future two to three generations away, confirm that our species can adapt and survive.
Stephenson’s care to give each of her main characters a distinctive voice makes, in turn, the reader care about them; and that is what makes “Isolation” a pleasure to read.”- Irene Gerold
“Isolation gripped me. It’s a mesmerizing dystopia about the quiet and deadly menaces in our lives. These dangers may be hidden in the jargon of the latest government health report, lurking under the frilly curl of a romaine lettuce leaf, or triggered by a minor cut to a finger while using an ordinary kitchen knife. The characters in Isolation are people I know. It was easy to imagine myself as a sister, friend, or neighbor to any of them – or most of them.
I was in the story wondering, “What would I crave? What would I do for my family and my friends? Isolated, what could I do to fight back?” These questions linger.
The story is well paced, well written, and scary. Stephenson’s research is excellent. It provides a persuasive foundation for explaining why the home-bound isolation of the population becomes the awful solution for stopping the spread of disease. The story compelled me to mull my complacency about the safety of our food, drugs, and government promises to always protect our freedom.”- Karen Baum
It is my pleasure to feature Denise R. Stephenson, author of Isolation, on Room With Books. Thank you for agreeing to the interview and welcome to Room With Books, Denise.
Please tell us about Isolation and what inspired you to write it?
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. As the book progresses the government imposes various bans on behavior: first, face-touching is outlawed, then touching others, and finally a outdoor ban moves everyone into quarantine. Isolation is epic in proportion, happening over roughly 70 years and across the entire US. It is told through the stories of people living ordinary lives, but with deep fears that cannot be quelled and a growing death rate that cannot be stopped.
In terms of inspiration, three experiences came together and wouldn’t leave me. The first was the fear of a global flu epidemic in the fall of 2009. The second, the massive campaigns created by the fearful CDC and WHO to teach people to sleeve the sneeze, catch the cough, and wash hands frequently with anti-bacterial sanitizers. I knew we had some good bacteria and thought such products were over-kill, literally and figuratively. And third, as so often happens for a writer, a line came into my head, “And laying a finger aside of his nose,” from the Night Before Christmas. I imagined a small boy finding a copy in his mother’s old toys. For him, it was like pornography because he lived in a world where touching his face was taboo. Those three ideas circled around inside my head for a couple of years before I found the entrance to the novel.
When you start writing do you have the story outlined or do your characters dictate what will happen?
My characters reveal their lives to me. Sometimes they do so in excruciating detail that I have to sift through, discovering which aspects are important to a particular story. Other times characters show me only a swipe of the convas and I need to imagine what fills the rest of it. Either way, I don’t plan or outline. I find myself sitting in a coffee shop, walking along a beach, or reading for pleasure and suddenly needing to take notes or capture a line of dialog. Once I have an opening, I’m at the computer drawing the characters actions in words, making sure to capture the emotional tone of the details.
Have you ever had arguments with your characters and if yes, who usually wins?
There’s no question, if the story is going to go anywhere—the character wins. Otherwise, it becomes lifeless. Characters aren’t arguments, as any of my academic colleagues will attest.
What is one thing about you your readers would be surprised to know?
Readers of Isolation would be surprised that I’m an optimist. I’ve read sections of the novel for students in many classes at my college. Someone often comments on how dark it is or asks how I slept while writing it. I find that dystopic writing exorcizes demons; it keeps me positive.
If you could write with any other author who would it be any why?
I’d love to collaborate with Margaret Atwood. Her dystopic visions led me into reading. She’s brilliant. However, though I love to collaborate, I doubt she does, so it might not be the experience I would wish for. Nor she.
What do you remember that you wanted to be when you grew up, besides a writer?
I really wanted to be Batman.
What is your favorite breakfast? Home made granola, Greek yogurt, and a mug of Cameroon black tea.
What is your favorite color? A deep rusty, orange. If you’ve looked at any of my social media, you likely know this since it’s often the color I’m wearing.
What is your favorite movie? Limbo. I love both the character development of this set of misfit Alaskans, but more than that I love the ending.
How can readers find you?
I appreciate the time you have taken to answer these questions and for allowing Room With Book to be part of your tour.
About Denise R. Stephenson:
Denise R. Stephenson resides in Oceanside, CA, but she has lived in all the remote locales of her first novel, Isolation. Staying inside of boxes, forms, and genres has never been her strength. She’s published over 20 academic articles and book chapters, many of which stray from traditional conventions. As a member of Attention Deficit Drama, she has written and produced monologs and short plays. She hopes to one day see on stage, Hibakusha, her most recent play about nuclear disasters, co-authored with Bob Mayberry. Stephenson is a book artist as well as a writer and has had her letterpress book What She Said in several national shows.
There are two Giveaways:
Denise R. Stephenson is giving away 5 print copies of Isolation during the tour. This giveaway is open to the U.S. only and ends on July 31, 2014. Please use Rafflecopter to enter.
Also, Thanks to Denise R. Stephenson, I am giving away one ebook of Isolation. This giveaway is open internationally and ends on July 31, 2014. Please use Rafflecopter to enter.