Today I welcome author Robert Masello to ScienceThrillers.com. Robert’s new thriller The Romanov Cross came out this month and stars an epidemiologist hunting the 1918 Spanish flu. But there’s much more to this book than science thrills. Read my review, and enter the giveaway to win a copy.
Here, the author shares with us a bit about the science aspects of The Romanov Cross.
For me, every book begins with some little item I read or see or hear about, something that snares my attention in some way. It’s the grain of sand that becomes the proverbial pearl.
In the case of this new book, it was an article on global warming and its multifarious effects, including the fact that up near the Arctic Circle roadways were cracking and telephone poles tilting and the foundations of houses shifting in the now unstable soil. I wondered what might have happened to the graves of the Spanish flu victims in those far northern climes — were they, too, being disturbed? And if so, could the deadly flu epidemic of 1918 — the virus having been perfectly frozen and preserved in their corpses for all these years– be unleashed again?
From there, I went straight to the image of a dripping coffin being hauled up in the net of an Alaskan crabbing boat — and I was off to the races.
I do most of my research on the web — God bless you, Google — and I never fail to be amazed at how many answers to my questions I can find there. Sometimes it’s very arcane stuff. I also buy and read dozens of books, and I do my best to get the science — in this case the nature of the flu strains — right. That’s not to say I always do. I’ve got an autopsy scene in this book that I’m sure will draw me a comment or two from a coroner somewhere, who will tell me I described some procedure all wrong. I feel that I’ve done my part if I get it as correct as a layman can, and correct enough that the vast majority of my readers were not thrown out of the story by some egregious mistake.
But as I’m an even bigger history buff than I am a science geek, I always look for a way to wed some history to the scientific element; in this book, I had the fall of the Romanov dynasty in Russia coinciding with the rise of the worst pandemic the world has ever known. To me, it seemed like a match made in Heaven — or Hell — and for better or worse, The Romanov Cross came out of it.