Dodd, Quentin 1972-

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DODD, Quentin 1972-

PERSONAL: Born June 7, 1972, in Durham, NC; son of Robert (a wildlife biologist) and Suzanne (a teacher; maiden name, Hevron) Dodd; married Paula Myers (a physical therapist), May 28, 1994; children: one son. Education: Wabash College (Crawfordsville, IN), A.B., 1994. Hobbies and other interests: Ice hockey, antiques, B-movies, bonsai trees.

ADDRESSES: Home—1101 Danville Ave., Crawfordsville, IN 47933. Office—Wabash College, P.O. Box 352, Crawfordsville, IN 47933. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Management Consulting and Research, Inc., Dayton, OH, programmer, 1994–99; Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN, network administrator, 1999–. Writer, 1998–.

AWARDS, HONORS: Eleanor Cameron Award for best middle-grades book, Golden Duck Awards, 2002, and Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, 2002, both for Beatnik Rutabagas from beyond the Stars.

WRITINGS:

Beatnik Rutabagas from beyond the Stars (juvenile novel), Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2001.

The Princess of Neptune (juvenile novel), Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: Quentin Dodd combines a day job as a computer network administrator with a night career of creating seriously funny and outlandish books for young readers. His 2001 title, Beatnik Rutabagas from beyond the Stars, is the tale of two teens who are spirited away in alien spaceships to lead competing intergalactic armies. Walter Nutria, a freshman in high school, is something of a video junkie, as is his sometimes girlfriend, Yselle Meridian. Together, they spend hours watching old science-fiction movies. One day, while skipping school, Walter is recruited by aliens to head the one-spaceship-strong Lirgonian fleet in its efforts to best their space enemies, the Wotwots. He jumps at the chance, but one thing Walter does not know is that Yselle has meanwhile been recruited to lead the Wotwots. Ultimately these two unlikely generals convince the warring sides that their real enemies are the Space Mice and the wicked Doctoral Candidate X.

Dodd's first novel earned mostly positive reviews. While Saleena L. Davidson, writing in School Library Journal, felt that the author "tries too hard to be funny and neglects character and plot development," other reviewers were more praiseworthy. A critic for Publishers Weekly noted similarities between Dodd's work and Douglas Adams's "Hitchhiker's Guide" series, dubbing the novel a "spunky debut," and further noting that Dodd's "agenda is laughs, and his extravagant imagination matches well with his flippant writing style." Similarly, a Kirkus Reviews contributor applauded this "freewheeling debut," and commented that it "will draw chortles from readers who prefer their SF well-larded with surreal silliness." Greg Hurrell added to the praise in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, calling the book a "laugh-a-minute romp across the universe" and an "excellent first novel."

"I'm not much for trying to deliver a message," Dodd once told CA. "A lot of books for kids, in my opinion, have a tendency to moralize excessively, and I think this can give the impression that reading is Serious Business, something that can't be done lightly or for enjoyment. My goal is to be the chocolate sundae of kids' literature: nutty, messy, and fun."

Dodd further commented to CA: "In writing, what I find most exciting is taking unrelated ideas and combining them in surprising ways. When I'm working on something, I rarely use traditional outlines, but instead cover my desk and my computer monitor with sticky notes that I can move and arrange into different patterns as the story takes shape. This means that I tend to research a lot of things that seem like good ideas at the time, but never end up on the page. I never throw anything away, though, and what doesn't fit in one story is sometimes the perfect ingredient for another."

Dodd continues the intergalactic high-jinx in his The Princess of Neptune, in which siblings Theora and Verbert find themselves traveling very far from their placid hometown—transported to Neptune, in fact—in order to judge a beauty contest there. Theora, a junior high student and drummer for a punk rock band, manages to use her skills not only for the pageant, but also to battle the manipulative intentions of her science teacher. Jennifer Mattson, writing in Booklist, called the juvenile novel a "screwball sf comedy," and added that "epic frivolity is the main attraction here." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly also had praise for this second novel, noting that Dodd "continues his spirited exploration of the places where science fiction and high comedy intersect." The same reviewer also praised Dodd for serving up "silliness without sarcasm." Kathleen Isaacs, writing in School Library Journal, observed that characters and plot are hardly believable; rather it is "the sheer ridiculousness [that] will appeal to readers who like their humor over the top." A critic for Kirkus Reviews added to the praise, calling The Princess of Neptune a "feather-light sci-fi comedy."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Princess of Neptune, p. 482.

Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, IN), January 27, 2002, Steven Penhollow, "Writer Creates Far-out Aliens Kids Have Never Eyed Before," pp. E1, E6.

Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, March, 2002, Greg Hurrell, review of Beatnik Rutabagas from beyond the Stars, p. 550.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of Beatnik Rutabagas from beyond the Stars, p. 1120; August 15, 2004, review of The Princess of Neptune, p. 805.

Kliatt, September, 2004, Michelle Winship, review of The Princess of Neptune, p. 7.

Publishers Weekly, August 20, 2001, review of Beatnik Rutabagas from beyond the Stars, p. 81; October 11, 2004, review of The Princess of Neptune, p. 80.

School Library Journal, October, 2001, Saleena L. Davidson, review of Beatnik Rutabagas from beyond the Stars, p. 152; October, 2004, Kathleen Isaacs, review of The Princess of Neptune, p. 161.

ONLINE

Quentin Dodd Home Page, http://www.quentindodd.com (August 19, 2005).