Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday's special is...The Compound

The Compound by Stephanie Bodeen

Click here to order from Amazon.

Stephanie's website.

Stephanie Bodeen's eight picture books have garnered a list of awards and honors as long as my arm. (And I have a long arm.) Now her debut young adult novel The Compound is continuing the tradition. It has already been nominated for a pair of American Library Association awards, including Best Book.

Publishers Weekly gave it a coveted starred review:

Bodeen, acclaimed as the writer of such picture books as Elizabeti's Doll, turns out a high-wire act of a first novel, a thriller that exerts an ever-tighter grip on readers. Eli, the 15-year-old son of a billionaire techno-preneur, has spent the last six years with his family in the massive underground shelter his father has built, knowing that nuclear war has destroyed the world he knows—and killed his grandmother and his twin brother, who couldn't reach the compound in time. With nine years to go before the air outside will be safe to breathe again, the food supply shows signs of running out, but Eli's father has a solution—provided they jettison all morals and ethics . . .

PW went on to call the climax to The Compound "breathless." I don't see how it could be anything but, given how it begins:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

---T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot was wrong. My world ended with a bang the minute we entered the Compound and that silver door closed behind us.

The sound was brutal.

Final.

An echoing resounding boom that slashed my nine-year-old heart in two. My fists beat on the door. I bawled. The screaming had left me hoarse and my feet hurt.

Through my teary eyes, the bear and elk on my father’s shirt swam together. Beneath the chamois, Dad’s chest heaved. Most likely a result of the previous forty minutes. Finally, my gaze focused and went beyond him, searching. I gulped down a painful sob.

Had everyone made it?

Further down the corridor I saw my weeping mother, dressed in a burgundy robe, dark tendrils dangling from her once-careful braid. Mom clutched my six-year-old sister, Terese, a sobbing pig-tailed lump in pink flowered flannel. From one small hand drooped her beloved Winnie the Pooh.

Behind them stomped my eleven-year-old sister, Lexie, dark hair mussed, arms crossed over the front of her blue silk pajamas. Not being brother of the year material, I didn’t care if she made it or not.

But my grandmother wasn’t in sight.

“Where’s Gram?” I shouted.

Dad patted my head, hard and steady, like I was a dog. He spoke slowly, in the same tone he used to explain to the household help the exact amount of starch he required in his shirts. “Eli, listen to me. There wasn’t enough time. I waited as long as I could. It was imperative I get the rest of you to safety. We had to shut the door before it was too late.”

The door. Always, the door.

Another look. No sign of my twin brother. He was the person I needed the most. Where was he?

My pounding heart suggested I already knew the answer. “Eddy?” His name caught in my throat, stuck tight by the panic rising up from my belly.

Dad whirled around, his tone accusing. “I thought Eddy was with you.”

My head swung from side to side. Between sobs, the words barely eked out. “He went with Gram.”

Dad’s face clouded with indecision. Just for a moment. Had that moment lasted, it might have changed all of our futures. But Dad snapped back into control. “I still have one of you.” With just six words, my childhood ended, went away.

As did the rest of the world.



1. Stephanie was obviously locked in the closet once or twice as a kid. What did she do to deserve such punishment?

2. With what Hollywood actor would Stephanie most want to share six years in an underground bunker?

3. How did her characters in The Compound solve their dwindling food crisis?

Best set of answers wins a personalized copy of The Compound straight from Stephanie's shelf. Autographed books make great gifts.

92 comments:

ChrisEldin said...

Oh God, this is riveting. I ordered this book on Saturday, during one of my weekend binges. The trailer is awesome!!!

Jude Hardin said...

Sounds like a great book, Stephanie!

1. Stephanie was obviously locked in the closet once or twice as a kid. What did she do to deserve such punishment? She was caught looking at Mommie's "grown up" magazines.

2. With what Hollywood actor would Stephanie most want to share six years in an underground bunker? Johnny Bravo. Cartoons don't eat as much as real guys.

3. How did her characters in The Compound solve their dwindling food crisis? Jeez. They called Domino's, of course.

Stephanie said...

Morning all! My espresso machine is heating up, so my morning jolt will soon be in my hand. Isn't the trailer so fun? He sounds like that movie announcer guy.

And yes, Jude, you caught me. It was hard to stay away from Good Housekeeping, I was always staying up with a flashlight to read that puppy...

Stephanie said...

Okay, I have my latte and am settling in. It got down to 36 last night and is fairly nippy this morning. Not your typical Wisconsin August. So, I bring with me plenty of my usual breakfast:granola, strawberries, and yogurt mixed up together. My daughters call it "Ew."

Kim Stagliano said...

1) Locked in the closet because she refused to wear her family's signature solid black clothing and twice was spotted wearing pink. In public. Her parents are still stinging from the blog of that shame.

2) Stephanie would request Chris Farley at his fattest. He would have been entertaining while the getting was good. And then, as the food ran out....

3) See #2

Popped over from Stephens. Congrats on this book!

KIM

inherwritemind1 said...

Fabulous book trailer!

!. Stephanie freaked her family by speaking in the voice of James Earl Jones.

2. Anthony Hopkins, who played the cunning Hannibal Lecter. He had a way with recipes.

3. They prepared Grandma's old-fashioned stew. Heh heh heh.

Good luck, Stephanie!

Stephanie said...

Thanks, Kim, for the congrats. Hmmmm, is that why my daughter wears so much pink??

Anthony Hopkins AND Chris Farley, now that would make the 6 years fly by. "Let's have some fava beans... in a van, down by the river!!!!!"

Brian Jay Jones said...

Good lord, I've gotta give this to my 12-year-old! She'll have to fight me for it, though. With knives and clubs.

(1) She was locked in the closet for walking around talking to her finger, which kept saying REDRUM! REDRUM! Do you need a timeout, sister?

(2) Johnny Depp. Because who wouldn't? And I'm a guy.

(3)They ate Gram. And the other twin. (And if they really did that, then consider this a *SPOILER ALERT*. After the fact, of course.

Stephanie said...

Well, now you've totally given away the ending. But you've also given me Johnny Depp, so I'll get over it. Savvy?

Maggie Stiefvater said...

*shiver* What an opening! Must. Read.

1. It wasn't a closet, for the record. It was "the Bat Cave." And it wasn't punishment. It was "training." Sheesh. Media spin.

2. Jim Carrey. He's got so many different faces and personalities, it would feel like you'd brought a whole crowd.

3. Like the vampires in TWILIGHT, they hunted animals instead of humans. $%^&, those rats are tough.

Stephanie said...

Maggie, I just saw The Dark Knight on Friday, finally. What a ride. No rat stew though, please. Hate rats. SPOILER: there are no rats in The Compound.

Stephanie said...

So here's some insider info on this excerpt. It is the beginning of the book. But in my original manuscript, it was Page 37. It took me about six months to realize "Holy crap. The story starts on page 37." ( Yes, a heavenly choir was singing at the time.)

laughingwolf said...

great clip, stephanie!

yeah, i'm gonna get the book...

1. steph was ALWAYS a 'good girl', til it came to her siblings...

2. of course, she'd want to spend six years of her life with none other than rutger hauer, of 'blade runner' fame!

3. what food crisis? with 'food on the hoof', as it were? :O lol

Stephanie said...

Thanks Laughing Wolf... And, funny thing, I had this huge crush on Rutger Hauer. Until The Hitcher. Then he kinda freaked me out.

Charles Gramlich said...

It certainly is off to a bang of a start. Sounds compelling. Here are my answers:

1. Stephanie was obviously locked in the closet once or twice as a kid. What did she do to deserve such punishment?

Answer: she told...stories.

2. With what Hollywood actor would Stephanie most want to share six years in an underground bunker?

Answer: Christian Bale

3. How did her characters in The Compound solve their dwindling food crisis?

Answer: who needs both arms? And some of those toes can be sacrificed.

laughingwolf said...

yeah, hauer CAN be freaky... like chris walken ;) lol

jason evans said...

Holy smoke, that's a gut-wrenching opening. It's not even the grill getting nice and toasty. Dang dang dang. I'm sorry for the preceeding 36 pages, but the cut was well worth it.

Welcome Stephanie!! We've even got good weather today.

Stephanie said...

Charles, thank you thank you, I adore Christian Bale. Even with the anger management issues...

Stephanie said...

Jason, yeah, those 36 pages pretty much belonged on a grill somewhere...

Stephanie said...

Another tidbit: The Compound was my 2005 National Novel Writing Month project. It was my first attmept at NaNoWriMo and now I'm hooked. My forthcoming YA The Gardener was my 2006 project. Sensing a pattern here....

inherwritemind1 said...

No rat stew though, please. Hate rats. SPOILER: there are no rats in The Compound.

How about cats?

Stephen Parrish said...

It took me about six months to realize "Holy crap. The story starts on page 37."

A guy who critiqued my first book told me it didn't really take off until page 350. It was 349 pages long.

inherwritemind1 said...

A guy who critiqued my first book told me it didn't really take off until page 350. It was 349 pages long.

Didn't Vonnegut say to end the story as close to the beginning as possible?

Stephen Parrish said...

Didn't Vonnegut say to end the story as close to the beginning as possible?

Very funny. And as for whether there were any cats in the compound, dog meat tastes better.

inherwritemind1 said...

Like,say, Pomeranians?

Stephanie said...

There is a brief mention of a cat. At least there was at one time. It might have been in those 36 pages.

And Steve, ouch! Do you have a voodoo doll for critiquers like that? ( Not that I recommend or endorse in any way getting a voodoo doll to use on critique partners.)

Precie said...

Fascinating opening! Totally riveting!

And this was a nanowrimo?! I just recently told a blogfriend I can't do nanowrimo, but now I might have to re-think!! How inspiring!

1) She accidentally burned her mother's completed manuscript. Uh, twice.

2) Since Depp and Bale were already mentioned, I'll say Orlando Bloom.

3) Since eating gram and the twin wouldn't last them 9 years, I think the solution is...well, so horrific I have trouble even typing it...Dad suggests they all, uh, inter-breed at staggered times so that, after the initial 9 months, there's a constant...food supply. ew ew ew ew ew ew I think I might throw up.

Miss Savannah Spitfire: said...

Well, good morning, Miss Stephanie,

Please tell me no kitty cats were eaten. Perhaps that critiquer could be stewed instead?

And by the way, I already love that little Eli from only the opening, honey. Just had to say.

Stephen Parrish said...

And Steve, ouch! Do you have a voodoo doll for critiquers like that?

No, I use the real thing. More effective.

Precie, your solution is brilliant. If Stephanie didn't write it that way she should revise it accordingly before the paperback comes out.

Stephanie said...

precie, you simply must do NaNo! If I, the most devoted follower of procrastination walking the planet today, can do it, anyone can.

Stephanie said...

miss savannah spitfire, I can assure you no animals were harmed in the writing of this novel. and no kitty cats met their demise between the pages, but I can't say the rest of the animal population fared as well...

ChrisEldin said...

Precie's answer made me hungry, so now I'm eating a sandwich.

Stephanie said...

I won't ask what kind of sandwich...

Miss Savannah Spitfire: said...

Well, Miss Stephanie,

That sounds just fine to me.

And oh, Good Lord, Miss Chris, I do hope that sandwich of yours was a work of art, honey.

And I keep thinking about that six years in an underground bunker and which of those Hollywood-type actors I'd, I mean,
Miss Stephanie would want to spend her time in there with, and I keep subtracting and subtracting men from that list who seem set altogether too on themselves, and those who might be a little too needy in the hair product department, and then those who might not know anything about any type of cookin', you know...
and I only come up with dead actors. So I think she should bring Gary Cooper or Cary Grant back from the dead, back form when they were in their respective primes, you know, as with a prize piece of beef(cake),and then she'd have herself a nice six years of internal sunshine.

Plus, they're handsome, and I feel strongly - that's never not a benefit.

Precie said...

I didn't know Chris had Orlando Bloom to hand. Chris, I'm sure you're hungry, but didn't your mommy teach you to share?

Susan McBride said...

Stephanie, congrats on the starred review from PW. I'm in awe. And if a fellow Roastee is allowed to win a book, I'd like to submit the following answers to Stephen's insanely provocative (or maybe just insane) questions:

1. Stephanie was locked in the closet for sniffing Redi-Whip fumes. Or was it for licking the bottom of the Cool Whip bowl? Sometimes I get my whips confused.

2. The actor with whom she'd most like to share an underground bunker for six years: Johnny Depp. (Well, seriously, who wouldn't?)

3. Solving the dwindling food crisis was easy. They just followed the Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie/Olsen Twins Diet: they ate air.

Cheers,
Susan McBride
Thursday's Roastee

Stephanie said...

Oooo, I love Cary Grant:)

jason evans said...

Whew. Things are getting hot here. The little ice that's left is floating.

Stephanie said...

Susan, for me, it would be the Cool Whip. And yes, I would put Johnny Depp at the top of the heap.

mirtlemist said...

Fantastic book! I read it all in one evening. Riveting and horrifying at the same time. Who wouldn't want an evil mad-scientist billionaire dad? Great job!

Stephanie said...

Thanks Mirtlemist! Glad to hear you liked it:)

Laurel said...

1. I'm pretty sure Stephanie was locked in the closet because her mother believed that Narnia was nonfiction, and wanted to "expose her to magic."

2. Harry Connick Junior, for the purposes of singing to sleep.

3. They solved the food crisis by eating each other until babies could be made for further eating. Is there any other way?

xoL
http://laurelsnyder.com

Stephanie said...

Laurel, I still check all closets for Narnia. Doesn't everyone?

brian_ohio said...

1. Stephanie volunteered to go in the closet. Over and over and over. I think she still sleeps there once in a while.

2. Dom Deluise.

3. See Number 2

Stephanie said...

Eyeball, I hereby banish you to the closet. But you would probably like that.

Stephanie said...

So I'm getting the feeling people think I had a really odd childhood. Hmm. Truth is I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, and read a lot of books. I had a very overactive imagination, watched a lot of Star Trek, and truly believed I was going to be abducted by aliens. So my childhood wasn't odd, I was...

Word said...

In the spirit of roasting books - I'd say this one is on fire baby. A hot read!

Seriously - this is exactly the kind of thing I like to read ((and am trying to write...no worries, my near future dystopia is a completely different premise)) but I hope this one will get my creativity kick started again.

Chris - thank you for hosting this book and Stephanie - hats off to you! Can't wait to read your work!


1. Stephanie was obviously locked in the closet once or twice as a kid. What did she do to deserve such punishment?

If you ask Stephanie she'll say, "Nothing! I didn't do it!"

2. With what Hollywood actor would Stephanie most want to share six years in an underground bunker?

Stephanie is a George Clooney girl.


3. How did her characters in The Compound solve their dwindling food crisis?

Oh boy. God I hope they don't eat each other. No. She wouldn't do that. Um. They solve the dwindling food crisis by GETTING OUT OF THE COMPOUND!

Okay...I know I'm wrong on all three but damn, I really really want this book.

Word.

laughingwolf said...

so... you like kids, too?

wanna exchange recipes? :O lol

Stephanie said...

Word, I think there's enough dystopia to go around for all of us. And dang, I do find George very attractive.

Stephanie said...

Laughing Wolf, I'm really glad I'm not wearing my red riding hood.

Word said...

laughing wolf...

medium rare with just a touch of picante sauce.

Yeesh...

I just grossed myself out.

Glad to hear there's enough dystopia to go around...now if only there was enough George Clooney!

Stephanie said...

Well, now there's one good reason to support the cloning of humans...

Word said...

Hey Steph!

I see you grew up on a Dairy Farm in Wisconsin!

I'm from the Badger State! I'm from Sun Prairie.

Where did you grow up?

Word

Stephanie said...

Near Black River Falls, a little town called Humbird.

Word said...

Black River Falls - that's up north kinda by Eau Claire?

Will you be doing any book signings in the Madison, Wi area?

Word

Stephanie said...

I might be this fall. Funny, this week I'm heading to the Packer game on Thursday and we just got tickets for the Badger game on Saturday. How much more Wisconsin can you get?

Stephanie said...

And yes, we're about 40 miles from Eau Claire.

Word said...

Wow - you don't get much more WI than that.

Enjoy the game this weekend. We've had some beautiful weather. Have a beer and a brat for me!

Anyway - love to come to your booksigning if you have one out here. I'll try and keep an eye out for you.

Jeff Somers said...

Wow--that's a great opening. And i like to think of myself as a hard sell. I will now refuse to answer the three questions so that I may go out and purchase a copy of the book inorder to support a fellow writer. And also too because I'm hungover and can't think of anything clever to say. Which surprises no one.

Congrats, Stephanie!

(oh my head)

Stephanie said...

Thanks, Jeff! Oops sorry, meant to whisper...

Sarah Hina said...

What a beginning! The best I've seen in awhile.

1) She was reading TS Eliot when she should have been milking the cows.

2) Leonary Nimoy. The voice of reason amidst all those Kirks and Khans.

3) Cockroaches.

Mary Cunningham said...

Riveting, Stephanie! And, your reviews are awesome!

Can't answer questions, though. Never got past Johnny Depp.

Stephanie said...

Sarah, love that first one. Way too close to the truth:) But cockroaches. Ew! Double Ew. We lived on Midway Island and had cockroaches the size of small mice. In fact, I think the cockroaches ate the small mice. Not a cockroach fan....

Stephanie said...

Mary, glad you liked the beginning. Sorry you were so distracted by Johnny Depp.

Sarah Hina said...

They're an acquired taste, Stephanie. Dipped in chocolate, they're not half bad. ;)

Oh, there will be chocolate still, won't there? Because Johnny or no Johnny, life's not worth living otherwise...

laughingwolf said...

steph, as always, clothes are optional... with ALL wuffs :O lol

word, sounds like a plan! ;)

cindy said...

1. she tortured the cat!

2. david duchovny. oh wait, that's me. um... james macavoy!

3. pigeons.

Stephanie said...

Cindy, I am a huge Mulder fan, of course. And I would never torture the cat. I did give one a haircut once, but I was just determining whether or not cat groomer was a potential career path.

Whirlochre said...

1. She was too beautiful to be despoiled by a cruel future.

2. Yul Brynner. Even if he can't save the day, he can sing. And if the Oxygen supply should dwindle to a gasp, there's no blank slate better for your imaginary what-if hairdo fantasies than Ol' Mr Magnifecent 7.

3. They remembered the Ethiopian famine, eked out what that had in ever smaller palmfuls, and wondered, mirrored in the Compound's silver sheen, how they could possibly have engineered this death for themselves.

Stephanie said...

whirlochre, I think you need to write a book. Those are some very evocative answers.

Phoenix said...

You understood Whirlochre's answers, Stephanie? Maybe there's an audience for him yet! Mostly, the rest of us just nod and smile politely while he's got the floor, then shrug at each other once he's turned his back. Still, we love the incorrigible guy. And he does have a great reading voice. (Come to think of it, those answers from him were more lucid than most...)

Question: Was it hard to make the switch from picture books to YA dystopia?

Stephanie said...

phoenix, I'm not sure I did understand his answers, which is why I pulled a word out of my "big word" drawer. Nothing else I could do.

And I actually feel more at home writing the dystopian stuff. I've always been into the darker side of things, but I was totally into the swing of being a mom when I started writing stories, so picture books made the most sense at the time. I actually have written 9 novels in the past ten years, they were all just varying levels of lousy.

ChrisEldin said...

OOOO! Phoenix, She could write a follow-on picture book based on the Compound, and call it "Eating in the Cave."
hehehe

Stephanie said...

Are dystopian picture books on the upswing?

Phoenix said...

Dystopian picture books:

It's a whole new genre just waiting to happen.

What can you tell us about your next YA book, The Gardener?

That's my official sous-chef-type question, but I really want to know about A Small Brown Dog With a Wet Pink Nose. Point me toward the cute puppies any day!

Stephanie said...

The artwork for The Small Brown Dog With a Wet Pink nose has just been turned in, so I'm hoping to see it any day! This book has been a bit of a saga, lots of illustrator issues. Took them nearly 2 years to get the right one, then he ended having to quit. But now I love the illustrator they ended up choosing, I think her work is perfetc for the story. Which is about a little girl and her imaginary dog.

Stephanie said...

And The Gardener is another thriller, like The Compound, but with a tad more sci-fi. Still not full-blown sci-fi, just a few elements to lean that way.

Stephanie said...

OMG, I just got the title of my book wrong. It's "A" small brown dog... Yikes.Oh well, it's Monday. And I'm having Bob Costas withdrawal...

Stephanie said...

Almmost time to name the winner! Thanks to everyone here at Book Roast, and to my champion host Stephen. There were so many great answers, thanks to everyone who participated.

Robin S. said...

He Stehpanie,

Whirl IS writing a novel, but I think he's sleeping right now. (He lives in Britain.) Just didn't want you to think he was rude for not answering.

The man is never rude - he's a keeper!

Stephen Parrish said...

So now we get to find out the answer to the third question: cannibalism, perpetual reproduction, or cockroaches dipped in chocolate?

Stephanie said...

The questions were genius, I thought. But the most important one, of course, is which Hollywood actor you all would lock me up with for 6 years. Funny how many of my faves got mentioned! But Word hit the nail on the head with the words "Stephanie is a George Clooney girl.."
So I'm declaring Word the winner!

Stephanie said...

Oh man, I think you all have to read the book for the answer!

Stephanie said...

Robin, I knew he had to be a writer:)

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much everyone!

Stephen Parrish said...

Thanks for spending the day with us, Stephanie. Visit us again when your next book comes out.

ChrisEldin said...

Oh, this has been SOOO much fun!! Thanks for sharing so many tidbits about yourself and your writing.
I really hope and expect your book to fly off the shelves!
:-)

Phoenix said...

Yay Word!!

Thanks for dropping by so often, Stephanie, and making yourself right at home. So glad your illustrator worked out at last for A Small Brown Dog. Awwkk to have to have illustrations to worry over as well as everything else when it comes to publishing! But what a treat in the end, eh?!

Whirlochre said...

Dammit. Clooney again.

Precie said...

Yay, Word!

Stephanie, thanks for putting yourself up for roasting! Good luck with your books! My Amazon wish list just got larger.

laughingwolf said...

yay word!

thx to stephanie and the rest, was fun! :)

Word said...

Wooohooo!

I can't believe it!

Thanks for letting me play! It was great fun!

Word