Monday, 25 March 2013

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Barbara Custer

1. Tell me about your book, Steel Rose, and where you got your inspiration for it? 

Steel Rose features the Kryszka aliens capturing humans and turning them into zombie-like creatures. Alexis becomes a target. Scarred by a nasty marriage that almost killed her, she refuses to trust anyone, including doctors who would save her life. Pain from a disabling illness leaves her feeling vulnerable. When the Kryszka soldiers and later, the zombies, come after her, she is forced to cope or die. Where did I get my inspiration? Around 2000 to 2008, I had severe osteoarthritis in both wrists, necessitating joint reconstruction surgeries. Although I embellished a lot, many of the physical difficulties Alexis had on her job happened in real life. That said, other inspirations were seasoned into Steel Rose. Tom Johnson and I co-authored Alien Worlds, where aliens and humans interacted on a daily basis. City of Brotherly Death came next with its zombies. I got to wondering how an alien doctor would handle my condition. What would I do if zombies broke into my home?

2. If you could interview anyone from your life, living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why? 

I’d like to interview my college instructor, Anne Kaler, the college instructor who inspired my writing. She was great as a teacher. She used to invite students to her home and allowed me to audit a couple of courses. She did a writing group for a while, too.

3. Do you have a writing process? If so describe it.  

I’m at my best when I don’t have an outline. If I try to use an outline, I go character background, and let the character tell me how his or her story should go.

4. What is usually your first thought in the morning? 

Usually, my first thought is that I’d love more sleep. I’m not an early morning person. After I have my breakfast, then I think about my writing projects and what I need to get them done.

5. You’re given one million pounds/dollars/euros, what would you spend it on? 

I’d probably put most of it toward retirement, but I’d also treat myself to a Coach purse. I’d take a writer’s retreat on a beach. A portion would go to my favourite charity. I’d probably take a couple computer courses to be more savvy with certain Web programs.

6. Are you mostly a clean or messy person? 

I cannot tell a lie. Messy. Too much time spent cleaning means less time spent on writing.

7. If someone came up to you and wanted to tell you about an idea or a book they were writing, what would you do? Or what advice would you give? 

If it were horror / thriller / science fantasy, I’d ask that author to pitch the book to me. If their idea was undeveloped, I would steer them to Jonathan Maberry’s Writing a Novel in Nine Months class or a writer’s group. If they had a good idea, but not a genre that I’d want to publish, I’d steer them to or Duotrope where they could find markets.

8. How would you describe yourself in three words? 

Compassionate, imaginative, humorous.

9. How do you react to a bad interview of one of your books? 

I’ve never had a bad interview, but if I did, I’d thank the person who interviewed me and not say anything about it.

10. Are the names of characters in your novels important? 

I think so because the person’s name should connote something about their character. For example, Johnny and Shively are good names for wise guys. Both men with these names in Steel Rose are tough. Mary or Matilda connotes someone who’s pure at heart, like Alexis’s mother.

11. Would you rather write for children or adults? 

I feel more comfortable writing for adults because with juvenile fiction, you have to censor your language and certain scenes. A lot of my stories have horrific scenes (like zombies), and are not always the kind of thing someone might want their 16 year old to read.

12. Have you ever killed someone in a novel and regretted it later? 

No, but if someone made me mad in real life, I have written then into my stories and killed them off via zombies or other means.

13. Which do you find more embarrassing to write, violence or sex? 

I’d have to say sex. Basically, I have to put myself in my character’s head and put aside the conservative me.

14. Who would play you in a film about your life?

Sigourney Weaver. She’s played in a variety of SF and H films

15. What are the most important attributes to staying sane as a writer? 

Go to a critique group. Writing is a lonely profession, so the writers’ meetings are healthy. I also enjoy Jonathan Maberry’s Writers’ Coffeehouse because you can get the skinny on the publishing industry.

16. Do you research your novels? 

All the time. Just tonight, I wrote a scene involving a Jeep, so I had to look up the specs of a Jeep to see if my character would be able to do what she did in her car.

17. What is one of your favourite traditions from your childhood that you would like to pass on to your child? 

The Christmas and Easter baking. I don’t have any children, but if I did, I’d definitely teach them the recipes I learned from my mom. I bake the way my mother did every Christmas and Easter.

18. Say you’re dead but are a ghost? You can’t be seen, can make objects float and walk through walls. What would you do? 

I’d float each relative a Mylar balloon that says, “I love you.”

19. What three things would you save from a fire at your house? (assume that all your family get out safe.)

1. I’d get my safe that contains important papers. 2. A bag of all my medicines. 3. My flash drive, the one that contains all my writing material.

20. How did you come up with the title for your latest book? 

As her lover Yeron sums it up, Alexis is fragile as a rose because of her health problems, but she has the will of steel. So he nicknames her Steel Rose.

21. What are your current projects? 

The Night to Dawn Magazine issue 23 is coming up, and I’m working on the sequel of Steel Rose, in which Alexis does serious battle with zombies and other monsters. I expect to release a couple of books for other authors through the NTD imprint.

22. If you couldn’t be an author, what career would you chose? 

I’d send in the first team with editing / publishing. It might mean taking a few more English courses.

23. If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 

If I could go back to my early twenties when I write for a couple of years, I’d tell myself not to stop. I’d tell myself not to worry about money, and keep writing and submitting.

24. Someday I want to...? 

Take a ride on a hot air balloon. I’d try a tethered balloon first to see if I really like it, but the hot air balloon is on my bucket list.

25. Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcovers? 

I used to like paperback, but now that I have a Samsung Galaxy, I prefer eBooks. The print in them is spaced differently and easier on the eyes.


Sometimes they come back. At least the Kryszka aliens do. Their leader injects captured humans with a drug, turning them into zombies. Yeron escapes the Kryszka colony, hoping to practice medicine on the humans that fear him. Alexis, a patient, is afraid, too, until his seductive attentions arouse her. Despite his experimental drug, severe arthritis leaves her too weak to handle most guns. The Kryszka troops and zombies who break into the hospital are hungry. Very hungry. How will she fight them?

Silence. Her splints flashed white against the gloom. The footsteps started again, outside the window. Kneeling beside her mother’s bed, she shone her light toward the window. A tunic-clad woman stood outside, silhouetted against the moonlit night. The flashlight kicked too much reflection off the windows to see her face, but the intruder was too short and thin to be Laurel.
The footsteps stopped. The glass shivered. Alexis could hear so much now: the quivering window, the house creaking the way her joints did in the early morning, Robin’s soft weeping from the living room.
She gazed into the ominous night and then the window shattered inward, showering the bed and Alexis with glass slivers. A look up close and personal revealed the intruder’s fiery red eyes, needle-sharp teeth, and crooked snarl of hate. No, not hate...hunger.
“Oh, my God!” she hollered, and her cry betrayed her. Her ankle buckled when she tried to stand and run. She dropped her knife. The Kryszka grabbed her arm and flung her onto the bed.

About Barbara

Barbara lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she works full time as a respiratory therapist. When she’s not working with her patients, she’s enjoying a fright flick or working on horror and science fiction tales. Many of her short stories have appeared in numerous small press magazines. In 2004, Barbara became the publisher of Night to Dawn magazine.
Other books by Barbara include Twilight Healer and City of Brotherly Death. She’s also coauthored Alien Worlds and Starship Invasions with Tom Johnson. She enjoys bringing her medical background to the printed page, and then blending it with supernatural horror. She maintains a presence on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and The Writers Coffeehouse forum. Look for the photos with the Mylar balloons, and you’ll find her.
To contact her, e-mail her at Visit her at:


  1. Sonnet, thank you for posting the interview. I appreciate the showcasing you did with my book.

  2. Popple, very nice interview with Sonnet. Great answers to all her questions. But, hey, you would never get me up in a hot air balloon (lol).

  3. Great interview, Barbara! You answered the questions beautifully! You have some interesting projects in the works. I'd be afraid to go up in a balloon. I always see them in Ocean City and wonder how people have the courage to do it. I saw two grandsons go up once, and they loved it.

  4. Sonnet, interesting questions, as always. Barbara, great answers. I'm just the opposite of you though, in that writing violent scenes makes me uncomfortable, but I can do an erotic scene easily. I guess we all need to find our comfort zone.