Author Interview: Daniel Cubias

Welcome to our Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life, where I have the pleasure of chatting with authors across genres. Today I am pleased to welcome Daniel Cubias, and zombies.

Daniel Cubias is a writer whose award-winning fiction has been published in numerous literary journals. He is also the author of the novel “Barrio Imbroglio,” and he contributes frequently to the Huffington Post.

Daniel’s latest novel, “Zombie President,” is a black comedy about the twisted conflux of politics, journalism, and American culture.

Cubias author pic

Welcome, Daniel.

What is your book’s genre?


Please describe what your black comedy Zombie President is about.

A defeated presidential candidate comes back from the dead to take the White House by force — and to win the country’s heart in the process.

Samuel Tilden never won the presidency when he was alive, but now that he’s a rampaging ghoul, the American people are enthralled with the power and tenacity of his undead army. Fawning media coverage ensures that the zombies’ bloody march to Washington D.C. goes unchecked. Meanwhile, an ambitious television reporter, a small-town sheriff, and a scientist with a dark secret join forces with a trio of backbiting teenagers to fight for their country.


Sounds like a intriguing, wild ride. How did you come up with the title?

Let’s just say that the title lent itself.

What inspired you to write this book?

My co-author, Kristan Ginther, asked me, “Has there every been a story about a zombie running for president?” I had to admit that, no, there had never been a story quite like that.

Does your main character resemble you?

I am not a zombie, so I’m going to say no.

Good point. What do you hope readers will gain from Zombie President?

First, my hope is that readers find it funny. But there are more than a few references to our political process, which will provoke, enlighten or infuriate the reader, depending on his/her viewpoint.

It sounds intriguing and timely.

What is your favorite part of writing?

The second draft. The tyranny of the blank page (i.e., the first draft) is behind you, and now you can concentrate on what the story is really about. Successive drafts aren’t as enjoyable because you begin seeing the flaws that eat away at your very soul.

Great description of successive drafts. I’m at that point with my second book–the eating away at my soul part–where I have to battle doubt.

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

If you don’t rewrite a passage, it most likely is not as good as it could be. If you rewrite it too much, you most likely sap all its energy and kill whatever made it interesting in the first place. Finding that balance is crucial.

What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?

“The Langoliers” by Stephen King. I’m a big King fan, but I had missed that one. I’m very happy that I dug it out, because it has all the elements of what he does best.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Leyner, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Leyner, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King. Each possesses a unique voice, which I find inspiring.

Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?

I write in one place (at my computer) and read everywhere. So favoritism doesn’t come into it.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I stopped listening to the radio years ago. That’s because my phone’s music library contains almost 8,000 songs, so I just listen to that.

Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

The writing process is a constant surprise, and not always in a good way, because every story is different. As for the publishing process, this is only my second novel, so I’m still learning, and as such, everything about it surprises me.

Daniel, looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

My best choice was working with my co-author. She’s brilliant.

What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?

I gave myself an overly aggressive deadline. This didn’t inspire me to write faster. All it did was stress me out. So I’m going to lighten up on the self-imposed timelines in the future.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

At some point in your writing career, you need third-party validation. If you’re convinced that you’re a genius, but the only people who agree with you are your spouse and your mom, you might be overestimating yourself. Get feedback from impartial readers, fellow writers, and editors. It’s the best way to learn what’s working and what’s not.

Good advice. Website and social media links?

I’m at:

Twitter: @DanCubias


Where can we find your book?

“Zombie President” is now available:

Daniel, what’s next for you?

I’m working on the sequel to my first novel “Barrio Imbroglio.” So far I have a title, a basic plot, and the first sentence. That’s a good place to start.

Indeed it is. I wish you the best with your books and work in progress. Thanks for chatting with me today, David.

About Eleanor:


Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1920 Puerto Rico.

Eleanor’s book, A Decent Woman:
Please visit Eleanor at her website:


Author Interview, JT Twissel


CSIt is a great pleasure to welcome JT Twissel, author of the novels, FLIPKA and THE GRADUATION PRESENT. Some of Jan’s blog posts have me laughing out loud in quiet public places, and I loved FLIPKA. Jan is a wonderful storyteller and a people watcher which shows in her unique characters. I’m looking forward to reading THE GRADUATION PRESENT.

JT Twissel (Jan) was born in a small town in Massachusetts and raised primarily in Reno, Nevada, leaving home at eighteen to see the world.  Eventually she more or less settled down, living with her first husband in Chicago and then in the San Francisco bay area where she obtained a degree in English from UC Berkeley.  She worked as a newsletter editor, a secretary, a process analyst, project manager and technical documentation manager before becoming a full time writer.

Aside from her children, she’s most proud of the years she spent as a Make-A-Wish volunteer, interviewing children with life-threatening conditions and helping arrange their wishes.  Her later experience as a CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocate for at-risk foster children, inspired her to write FLIPKA. The necessity to take several long trips across the great state of Nevada – where wackiness is a virtue – created the setting and characters.


Welcome, Jan!

What is your book’s genre/category?

THE GRADUATION PRESENT is a coming of age, adventure, travel with some comedy and romance.  I believe it’s categorized on Amazon as coming of age.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

This review (which I love) pretty much sums up what the book is about: “A hapless hopeless romantic American girl called Riley O’Tannen heads for Europe to get a taste of the old world and instead encounters her drunken uncle who keeps a mistress, her randy aunt who keeps a gigolo, and a dead CIA man whose boss is a raving homosexual. On top of this she becomes an accidental fugitive hunted by the Swiss police. Oh, and she also finds love.”

How did you come up with the title?

The protagonist’s trip to Europe was a belated graduation present from an uncle she doesn’t really know very well.  To tell you the truth, we tried to come up with another title but just couldn’t think of anything.  I found out after the book came out that there’s another book with the same title.  Guess what genre?  Porn.  Whoops!

What is the reason you wrote this book?

I have so many memories of my time in Europe that I knew I had to get them down on paper in some form or another before they were all lost to time (or senility).   The hardest part was getting into the skin of a clueless, naive and overly imaginative girl.  I struggled with it for a long time, certain I’d never be able to do it.  And then a very special friend of mine was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  The last thing she said to me was “finish Oncle Boob!  The world needs to laugh” and that did it for me.  (Oncle Boob was one of the first titles the book had)

What is your favorite part of writing?

When a character really talks to me. Particularly if the person I based the character on has passed away.  I will often break down into tears over my keyboard.  It’s a miracle I haven’t been electrocuted!

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

For me, it’s plot development, time-line stuff.  The characters and scenes pop up without a lot of effort but where I put them on any particular timeline doesn’t always make sense – particularly for my editor!

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I studied Victorian lit in college so I would say: Austen, Dickens, the Brontes, Trollope.  I’ve read and enjoyed so many contemporary writers that it would take all day to list them.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

The most influential person in my life was a lady by the name of Joellen Hawkins.  She was the model for the Fi Butters character in FLIPKA.  She opened my mind to so many things.

Favorite place to write?

I write in a slide rocker next to a window from where I can see the foggy, coastal hills.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I was once a department store living mannequin.

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

Oh golly, everything has been a big surprise and learning lesson!  I guess the importance of social media was the biggest surprise.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

Luckily I was already familiar with blogging and web designer.  Having that knowledge saved me a lot of work, agony and probably money.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

A lot of writers I know who tried, but couldn’t find a traditional publisher have begun self-publishing and it seems to working out well for them.  One of them has even won a couple of awards!  Often they will self-publish a first book and then it is picked up by one of the hybrid publishers. Another piece of advice – don’t expect to become an overnight hit!


Where can we find your book?

The usual places!

What’s next for you?

I just finished a third book, as yet untitled, and sent it to my editor.  So I’ll probably take a break and then begin on Flipka 2.

Thanks for a great interview, Jan! Best of luck with all your books!CS