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Teen Scene is very lucky to have this exclusive interview with award-winning writer S. A. Bodeen, author of The Compound, one of the books selected for Morton High School’s Freshmen Summer Reading Project.
The story centers on 9-year-old Eli Yanakakis and his family who escape nuclear war by fleeing to their underground bunker with no time to save his Grandmother and his twin, Eddie.
Now six years later, he’s fifteen years old with only his parents and two little sisters to talk to about his fears of their food supply running out and worries about the outside world. After Eli is able to briefly connect to the internet after his father told him that all communication with the outside world was destroyed in the war, he begins to question his father’s strange behavior and many lies and wonders whether there even was a war at all. He dreams of escaping and finding out the truth but only his father knows the code to the door, and they are three stories underground in a cement compound.
Teen Scene: Stephanie thank you so much for talking to Teen Scene! Please tell us a little bit about The Compound, how you got the great idea for the story?
SA Bodeen: I’ve always been pretty intrigued by the subject of nuclear war and what survivors might have to go through. I also had been reading about the ultra-rich who supposedly had fallout shelters, and the two just kind of came together into the story.
Teen Scene: I was pulled in immediately into the story and reading about daily life in The Compound-the details are so vivid. How did you research and plan that world?
SA Bodeen: As for planning the setting, I just thought about what I would want in an underground space, if I had unlimited resources.
Teen Scene: The story is so suspenseful I was not able to stop reading because I had to know what was going to happen because I loved Eli. How did you balance writing both a thrilling suspenseful book and also great characters whom readers care about?
SA Bodeen: I’d like to say I had the whole thing planned, but I didn’t. The characters became more real through revision after revision. and it took me a long time to get the plot to work. It all worked out in the end, luckily.
Teen Scene: What is the most important thing you’d like readers to remember about The Compound?
SA Bodeen: I guess the one thing is that people can change and redeem themselves. Everyone deserves a second chance, which is something I truly believe.
Teen Scene: What does your writing space look like? Do you write for a set time each day?
SA Bodeen: I just write at the kitchen table. One day I hope to have an actual office. I do try to write each day. I don’t have a set time, more like it’s on a list of things and I tend to get to them in order.
Teen Scene: What are your favorite books?
SA Bodeen: I have a lot of favorite books. I love Stephen King, so I read all of his. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving is a fave, as is Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Teen Scene: What do you like to do for fun?
SA Bodeen: For fun I like to watch movies and hang out with my family. I like to travel, which I don’t do enough of.
Teen Scene: Can you tell us what you are working on now?
SA Bodeen: Right now I am working on finishing u the sequel to The Compound, which is currently called The Fallout and will be out in 2013. After that I’ll be working on the first book of my new middle grade series which is a reboot of The Swiss Family Robinson, and I’m looking forward to August, when my new YA novel, The Raft, comes out.
Thank you so much for talking with us, Stephanie. I’m looking forward to all of your new books and I’ll be sure to check them out!