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: S. E. Rise

The Writing Life is pleased to welcome S.E. Rise, author of the erotic thriller, Simmering.

Dale Reierson

S.E. Rise is an author who enjoys writing in multiple genres: horror, thriller and erotica. He was raised as an Army brat and attended Austin Peay State University on a track and cross country scholarship in Clarksville, Tennessee. In 1991, he enlisted in the United States Air Force as a firefighter. He became a Department of Defense civilian Firefighter/Captain of an ALS ambulance in 1996.

S.E. Rise wrote his first horror novel in 2006 and self published with Createspace in 2007. He has written ten novels and one novella. He is now with Booktrope Editions under the imprints, Forsaken, Entice and Edge.

S.E. enjoys adventuring and doing the impossible. He lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife and two children.

What is your book’s genre/category?

Simmering is an Erotic Thriller. 

Dale Reierson book

S.E., please describe what Simmering is about.

Here is the back cover blurb. I think that best describes Simmering.

Who would you rather find in your bedroom, a steamy hose-wielding fireman or a dangerously obsessed ex-boyfriend? What if you found both? Romance writer Allison Fairchild is growing frustrated with her first attempt at erotica until she reads a well-timed magazine article. What working man makes the best lover? The article sparks an idea and her eyes are irresistibly drawn to the top-ranked firemen just across the street. It might be coincidence or driven by fate, but it is all the motivation she needs.

Ali has herself assigned to a firehouse and is committed to doing her job; getting incredible sex stories from actual firefighters and, in the process, trying not to become one. At least that’s her intention until she meets the Captain, a by-the-rules professional with an enticing off-duty wild streak. Ali and the Captain put their wills to the test to resist the chemistry heating up between them. But unbeknownst to Ali, her cheating ex-boyfriend has set his eyes upon her again and if he can’t have her, no one can.

How did you come up with the title?

I wanted something subtle yet sexy. I thought the best way to describe the barely held- in-check feeling of desire was with a cooking metaphor. Like a pot of water slowly building up to boil. Even if you set it to simmer, it is eventually going to boil.

What inspired you to write this book?

I have been writing horror and thrillers for many years. I realized along the way that I can write some pretty steamy sex scenes. So, I figured why not. I did some research on how to write erotica, read some erotica, and came up with plot outline.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I love creating worlds from my imagination. I love to create worlds that people can envision just by reading my words.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Learning and researching the things you write about. I do extensive research and never try to “BS” the reader.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Stephen King, Erik Stevenson, Glen Cook to name a few. I have a few favorites that I actually know, as well. I can’t name them all but here are a  few. Duncan Ralston, JG Clay, Scarlet Darkwood, and Sheri Williams.

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

My biggest influences have been Stephen King, Erik Stevenson and Glen Cook. By reading their works I learned an incredible amount about world building. As well as storytelling.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I usually write at night in my room at the fire station. I only sleep four hours a night and that leaves me a lot of time between emergency responses.

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

I am a Captain on an Advanced Life Support Ambulance. I work at a fire department in Anchorage, Alaska.

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

That an author should always have their work edited by a professional Editor. I will never go without one, but some of us had to learn the hard way. I wrote my first book in 2007….it took me awhile to learn a hard lesson. All good now though.

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

I just started writing it. I ignored the naysayers and my own apprehension about switching genres. I ignored my own self doubts and just wrote it. I guess you can say I believed in myself and that’s all I needed.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Just write it. Don’t get caught up in whether it’s well written or good enough. That’s why we have editors. Write the story for you. If you are happy with the story then that’s all that matters. Write it for you.

You can’t publish something that isn’t written. There are plenty of avenues nowadays for writers to get published. but as I said you can’t publish it if it isn’t written.


Where can we find your book?

You can find my books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as iTunes.

What’s next for you, S. E. Rise? 

I am finishing up Sizzling Book 3 in the Simmering series.  I am currently writing and publishing books in both the erotica genre and the horror genre.

He can be found on Facebook at

He twitters as well under the handle  @s_e_rise13

Great having you at The Writing Life, S.E. Rise. Best of luck with your books.

About Eleanor Parker Sapia

elliePuerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, and Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s best selling, debut historical novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club. Book club members across the United States have enjoyed the story, as well. Eleanor is featured in the newly published anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. She is the mother of two awesome adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.

Author Interview with JD Byrne

Me 2Today, The Writing Life is pleased to interview fantasy and science fiction author, JD Byrne.

JD Byrne was born and raised around Charleston, West Virginia, before spending seven years in Morgantown getting degrees in history and law from West Virginia University.  He has practiced law for more than 15 years, writing briefs where he has to stick to real facts and real law.  In his fiction, he gets to make up the facts, take or leave the law, and let his imagination run wild.  He lives outside Charleston with his wife, a one-eyed dog, and a black cat.

The Last Ereph and Other Stories is his first book.

Ereph Cover (KDP) (1) What is your book’s genre/category?

The stories in The Last Ereph . . . are fantasy and science fiction, with a couple that probably snuggle up close with horror.  The science fiction stories are all set in times close to our own, while the fantasy ones tend to take place in very strange locations.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

The Last Ereph and Other Stories, as the title suggests, is a short story collection.  There are ten stories without any common theme, aside from the fact that I wrote them.  Here are some specifics about a few of those stories.

“To Watch the Storms” was inspired by a thunderstorm that rolled through Richmond, Virginia, where I was staying at a hotel, getting ready to go to court. Even the average summer thunderstorm can hold untold wonders, if you’re patient enough to see them.

“The Dragon of the Bailey” is about a dragon who is being held captive, and who seizes help when it comes to him from an unlikely source.  I wrote it after I read about the ravens kept in the Tower of London.  Legend says so long as they stay there the kingdom will thrive, but they clip their wings so they can’t fly away.  Seems like a stacked deck, to me.

“The Mask” is a flash fiction story about a creepy-looking artifact that turns out to be more than it appears.

“Jury Duty” is the only story that ties somewhat into my legal life.  It’s about a guy who gets called for jury duty, finds a stumbling block, and runs with it.  He gets dragged into court, required to be there, then finds out he isn’t modern enough to be a part of the trial.  It was fun to be able to play around with a courtroom setting, given my day job.

In “the Missing Legion” a hunter in pursuit of big game stumbles into a ritual he was not supposed to see.  This is set in the world of The Water Road, a fantasy trilogy I’m working on.  Book one should be out early in 2016.

Finally, “The Last Ereph” is about a thief in a distant land. After stealing a precious gem, he seeks sanctuary and finds a treasure of an entirely different sort.

How did you come up with the title?

The title of the book is the title of the final story, the title track if you will. It’s an older story, one that I started writing between sets at a music festival in North Carolina. I thought it was a good encapsulation of what I do. Also, it allowed me to put a made up word – “ereph” – on the book cover, which I hope will resonate with readers of fantasy and the like, make them want to find out what it means.

Several of the other story titles come from songs, although most people probably have never heard them – “To Watch the Storms” (Steve Hackett), “Memory of Water” (Marillion), and “Elephant Talk” (King Crimson).

What is the reason you wrote this book?

Short stories are where I started writing seriously, since they are, in a way, easier to manage than novels.  I slid over into working on longer things (some of which will be coming out soon), but always had these stories that I wanted to share with readers.  When I decided to jump into independent publishing, that was a great chance to go back to them, revisit a few, and send them out to the world.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I think my favorite part is when things don’t go as planned.  I try to lay things out fairly well before I start something, so I’m not flying completely by the seat of my pants.  Nonetheless, times come when I find I need to add a new character or a new scene to get something accomplished.  Those moments, when I’m really creating on the fly, are really fun. I had that happen with a story that should come out next year.  I needed someone for the main character to interact with in a particular scene and wound up creating this completely new character that I fell in love with.  She might get a spin off!

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Getting started, I think.  It’s one thing to plan, it’s one thing to think about all you want to do with a project, but it’s really another to sit down and start writing.  Once I get started, I tend to get on a roll, but sometimes the initial phase of spilling (virtual) ink onto the page can be daunting. It’s a cliché, but there is something daunting about the blank page.  Once something has started, it’s easy to sit down, pick up where you left off, and keep going. There’s a momentum that develops.  But when you’re just starting there’s nothing like that to ease you into it.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

With the caveat that favorite doesn’t necessarily mean I wind up writing anything like them, one of my first favorites was Douglas Adams.  My brother introduced me to him.  I had no idea that science fiction could be so funny, yet still get at deep truths about what makes humans tick.

More recently, I’ve come to love Neil Gaiman (to whom I was introduced by my wife).  The worlds he creates, even in his short fiction, are so rich and alive.  I also appreciate his desire and ability to skip across genres without any real care about whether readers follow him. Other favorites are John Scalzi (for his non-Old Mans War stuff), Margaret Atwood (glad she’s finally come around on admitting that she’s written science fiction),  Kurt Vonnegut (what needs to be said?), and George RR Martin (made me rethink what epic fantasy could be).

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Outside of any author of any book I’ve ever read, I’ve always drawn a lot of inspiration from music.  I admire musicians like Frank Zappa or Brian Eno, who have been determined to do their own thing, critical and popular reception be damned, and wind up breaking through anyway. I also draw a lot of inspiration and have a lot of respect, for musicians I’ve listened to for years who aren’t big names, and can only do what they do because they love doing it (such as 3rDegree, echolyn, Thinking Plague, and The Tangent).  As an independent author, that determination rings very true.

Favorite place to write?

I don’t really have one.  I can’t write legible longhand to save my life (ask my coworkers!), so I generally have to do it at a computer.  I do most of my work on the computer in my studio, which also serves as the hub of a music production setup. So I write surrounded by synthesizers.  It’s kind of surreal, at times.

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

Before I met my wife I was not an animal person.  Never had pets, had even developed a dislike of dogs from days delivering newspapers.  But she had a dog and two cats and that was that.  I’ve gone so far the other direction that on our recent trip to Cambodia, I took more pictures of critters than of people!

Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?

Since this is my first book and I published it independently, the entire process has been a learning experience.  I’d never really played around with issues like layout or cover design before.  I think my biggest surprise was how many little issues come up along the way, from the proper running order for the stories, to getting all the formatting details right across the various platforms.

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

I think the biggest thing that helped me was making the decision to do it myself and stick with it.  Before that I felt like I was in this kind of literary limbo, producing this material that wasn’t going to have a home anywhere.  Now if feels like I can see the end of the process for each project and that helps keep things moving.

Any advice for writers looking to get published?

Do it yourself! No, actually, do your research and think long and hard about how you want to publish, and what you want to get out of publishing.  In the end, the most important parts for me were keeping control of the material and being able to set and keep my own deadlines.  But every writer is different and what works for me might not work for others.  Listen, learn, think.  Always good advice, I hope.


My website is  There you can find my blog, info on The Last Ereph . . . (and future books), and links to my homes on Facebook, Twitter, Librarything, and Goodreads.

Where can we find your book?

The Last Ereph . . . is available online in paperback and Kindle versions from Amazon and in eBook format from Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Inktera.  It’s also available at select independent bookstores, like Empire Books & News.

What’s next for you?

Up next is a novel that I’m finishing called Moore Hollow.  It’s about a disgraced English journalist who is sent to the West Virginia coal fields to investigate reports that a politician back in the early 20th Century raised the dead so they could vote for him.  It plays off a bit of West Virginia’s reputation for less than savory politics and “dead people voting” in some spots. I hope to have it out by the fall.

Beyond that, I have a three-volume fantasy series, The Water Road, that is about an uprising of an oppressed people and the ramifications of that.  I hope to have it out, at least the first two volumes, by 2016.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m giving away a free copy of The Last Ereph and Other Stories in paperback or ebook forms.  For paperback, visit Goodreads and enter the giveaway, running March 27 to March 30.  For ebooks (Kindle, ePub, or PDF) visit Librarything and enter the giveaway, running until April 6.

Thanks for visiting today, JD. Best of luck with the books!

About Eleanor

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is her debut historical novel. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children, and she currently lives in West Virginia.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon 

Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa.

Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.