Isolation By Denise

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Denise Stephenson

Isolation grew out of my concerns not only with the increasing death tolls from tainted crops-spinach, eggs, tomatoes, cantaloupe-and from the decreased effectiveness of antibiotics, but from the 99% bacteria killing soaps and hand sanitizers springing up everywhere. Even before the release of the findings by the Human Microbiome Project last spring, I knew that we wanted to hang on to friendly and protective bacteria and wondered what might happen if the balances shifted in the human/bacteria equation of life and death.

In my completed 95,500-word dystopian novel Isolation, as bacteria kills larger and larger numbers of people across the country, the government imposes bans on various kinds of human touching. Like Stephen King's The Stand, Isolation confronts readers with the demise of America through the perspectives of multiple principal characters while bacteria kill growing numbers across the US over years rather than days, allowing the imposition of a new social order รก la Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale.

As a college Writing Center Director and a PhD in American Studies, my publishing history has included over 20 academic articles and book chapters. Most of these have focused on writing and giving feedback on writing, though cultural critique, albeit often academic, is also a frequent topic of my work.

I've also been active in theatre, producing a dozen monologues and short plays in Michigan as part of Attention Deficit Drama and more recently at CSU Channel Islands. I've had a few pieces of short fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction published in university-level literary journals. This is my first novel.For over a decade I've also been a book artist. I love paper and sculpting shapes out of it, especially in the forms of books and boxes. Most of my books have not carried my words. Though I love to collaborate with other writers and artists, getting my own text and book forms to collaborate has been challenging. My one venture onto the letterpress yielded a wonderful triangle book which has been in three juried national shows and will soon be published in a collection of artists' books by Lark Press.