Have you been writing for a long time?
I’ve been writing in earnest since the summer of 1990, after my mother’s death. Around 2004, I became the owner of Night to Dawn Magazine and later converted it into a micro-press for other authors.
What inspired you to start a writing career?
I took my mother’s death hard, and my college instructor suggested that try journalizing and writing short stories to work past the grief. I decided to try horror. At the time, I was making an avocation of reading Stephen King books, and I began asking myself and speculating: could I write something like that? So I began with short stories and migrated onto books. In most of my works, the protag has had to struggle with grief over the loss of a parent.
Is this book a stand-alone, or part of a series?
When Blood Reigns is the second book in a series. Steel Rose is the first, which starts out with Alexis and Yeron working at Jackson Hospital. Yeron, a Kryszka refugee, is hoping to practice medicine on humans that fear him. The break-ins by zombies and Kryszka renegades are getting underway, but severe arthritis leaves Alexis too weak to handle most guns. Yeron works on a formula to help contain her symptoms and becomes attracted to her. Meantime the zombies that finally break into their hospital are hungry. Very hungry. Alexis wonders how she will fight them.
I am drafting a third book for the series, but I’m keeping the plotline under wraps until I have it more developed.
Why did you choose this genre?
Stephen King aside, my background led me to choose horror / dark fantasy/science fiction. Back in high school in the 1970s, as I’ve told people, I weaned on Dracula and Dark Shadows, and enjoyed a good horror or science fiction flick. However, my dance with horror began in 1964, during a trip to Atlantic City, when I faced a billboard that read, “See live 1000-year-old woman.” I didn’t understand until after I’d been badly frightened that the pavilion housed a mummified skeleton. The mummy’s parchment dry skin hugged her bones. Not a shred of fat or muscle. Afterward, my skeleton terror accompanied me everywhere I went. I told my instructor who helped me work through my grief about the mummy incident, and she encouraged me to channel my fear into a horror fiction tale. You’ll find plenty of skeletons in Steel Rose and When Blood Reigns.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I would encourage them to find a good writers’ group. It could be one that offers critiques by other members or one where you get an opportunity to discuss the business side of writing. Preferably both kinds. If doable, a new author should consider a class in creative writing and engage the services of a developmental editor before sending work to a publisher or self-publishing. If there are any holes in the plotline, a good editor will catch them, and you can apply the things you learn to future works.
About the Book
Title: When Blood Reigns
Author: Barbara Custer
Genre: Horror / Science Fiction
Marked for death, Alexis accompanies her lover, Yeron, and four survivors of a zombie invasion on a search for the renegades who created a chemical that induces a zombie-like state. On the way, ravenous flesh-eaters attack Alexis’s team; one survivor turns on her. She realizes too late that the renegades have been tracking her every move. When officials capture her, she becomes deathly ill. Can DNA splicing save her? Will Yeron’s attempts at rescue jeopardize all their lives?
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. She’s published Night to Dawn magazine since 2004.
Other books by Barbara include Twilight Healer, City of Brotherly Death, Infinite Sight, and Steel Rose; also novellas Close Liaisons and Life Raft: Earth. 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 email@example.com.
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