Behind The Scenes Of ‘Steel Rose’

Before I wrote Steel Rose, I had severe arthritis in both wrists and needed surgery. I wished that science could invent an easy operation or drug to rebuild my cartilage. Well, I got my surgery, and it worked, though it wasn’t easy. Although I embellished a lot, many of the physical difficulties protagonist Alexis had on her job happened in real life.

Other inspirations were seasoned into Steel Rose; Tom Johnson and I had coauthored Starship Invasions, where aliens and humans interacted on a daily basis. City of Brotherly Death came next with its zombies and revenants, creatures invented by my nightmares. My job as a respiratory therapist provided grist for my book, too. Alexis, Steel Rose’s main character, is a respiratory therapist.

Steel Rose Barbara CusterA hospital makes a great seedbed to plant the germs and chemicals that can cause a zombie-like state. It provides lots of windows and entrances for the villains. Granted, hospitals have surveillance cameras and computerized locks—you need your badge to get into the building. Computerized safety measures can prevent child kidnappings and medication errors. Ah, but the Kryszka aliens of Steel Rose are an advanced race, and our best security measures will prove no challenge to the Kryszka villains. What would I do if hostile aliens or zombies broke into the hospital during my shift?

I could run if the zombies make an appearance, but what if more of them come from the opposite direction? If I’m lucky, I could bash the zombie’s head in with an oxygen tank. If I go that route, I’d better strike true. What if the Kryszka renegades (as Alexis calls them) broke into my home while I was sick? It happens to Alexis while she’s caring for her younger sister. Pulling Steel Rose together came down to playing “what if?”

Finally, when I sketched my characters and gave them a voice, they told me how the story should go. I didn’t plan for any romance, but during my first draft, sparks started to fly between Alexis and the Kryszka doctor, Yeron.

Romantic or not, Alexis will be kicking serious zombie butt in Steel Rose and the sequel. How she does it, given her health challenges – well… you’ll have to read the book.

Barbara Custer is the author of several books, all of which, including Steel Rose, are available on Amazon.