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A year later, he was convicted on six counts of rape, robbery and assault.But the determined author refused to abandon her criminal lover and the couple were married in prison.The facts of her life are certainly stranger than her fiction and include marriages to two convicts and the death of one of her seven children from a drugs overdose.The suicide of her son Nicky Traina at the age of 19 was to leave the writer a pained, reclusive character.Traina was 49 when they met and, like Steel, already married and a father of two, but he quickly dumped his wife and, after their divorces, they married in 1981.Steel immediately took Toth's name off Nicky's birth certificate and replaced it with Traina's.
On his release in 1979, he went straight to Steel's mansion home in San Francisco and told her: "I want money." Zugelder believed that Steel had based some of his characters on him. She was a rich girl living in a mansion and I had just got out of prison.
Steel begged for a job as a copywriter for a local advertising agency and it was there that she began to experiment with her writing, first submitting an article for the magazine Cosmopolitan and then writing her debut novel, Going Home.
After her split from Lazard in 1972, Steel moved to San Francisco.
Steel and Toth's marriage in 1976 came shortly after the purchase of yet another of her novels, Passion's Promise, by the publisher Dell.
Any moment she could spare from raising her children, she used to write - but at the same time, Toth's heroin addiction was spiralling out of control.