Talking Thrillers with Nolan Cubero: Shadow Drive

Nolan Cubero

Nolan Cubero is a writer and director originally from Louisville, Kentucky. He studied linguistics at Brooklyn College and is currently a law student at UCLA School of Law. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son. Shadow Drive, his first novel, is a twisty tale about a landlord's worst nightmare. It's dark. It's unsettling. And it's an absolute must-read!

Read on for our interview with Nolan as we talk all things Shadow Drive.

TFx: Where did you come up with the idea for this book, and what can you tell us about the plot?

Cubero: Someone once told me a story about how she rented her house to a guy, and immediately after he moved in, he covered all the windows of the house with newspaper. I always found that story strange. I couldn’t understand why someone would cover their windows with newspaper. It seemed like they had to be hiding something. As I began to sit around and wonder what a tenant could possibly be hiding, I started to come up with the idea for Shadow Drive.

Shadow Drive is about a landlord in a similar predicament. He rents a house to a woman who seems normal and friendly, but once he hands over the keys, she locks him out of the house, covers the windows with newspapers, and starts tearing apart the house. He also realizes she specifically targeted him and this house specifically. So he decides to figure out why, and then gets sucked into a bigger mystery.

TFx: What was the hardest scene to write in this book?

Cubero: Definitely the first few chapters. I knew there was going to be big, tense, suspenseful moments throughout the book, and the first few chapters definitely don’t key the reader in on what to expect. They are much quieter than the rest of the book. And I was often afraid that someone would just think the book was only about a simple landlord-tenant dispute and not this much bigger mystery thriller with twists and turns. Ultimately, though, I think, or I hope, I found the right tone for the beginning and that readers will get the sense of this impending doom in the first few chapters.

TFx: What draws you to writing in the thriller genre?

Cubero: I like the confusion you feel when something is not quite like you suspected. When I was a kid, this thing would happen occasionally at family events or parties. I would be drinking a can of soda and then place it down on a table after only a few sips. Seconds later, I’d go to pick it back up but accidentally grab someone else’s empty, discarded can. It was shocking to expect a full can and instead get an empty one. I would pick up the can with way too much force and my hand, and the can, would shoot towards my face way faster than I expected.

But I kind of liked it. The surprise, the momentary confusion, the instant relief when I realized what had happened. And I’ve always liked seeing that similar kind of surprise on other people’s faces. This is goofy, I guess, but I really like watching prank television shows, because I love seeing people being blown away by something. And I love when I experience it myself.
That’s why I like writing thrillers, I think, because it allows me to try to give people reading experiences that are unexpected, surprising, and hopefully fun.

TFx: How did you choose the setting?

Cubero: I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and I thought it would be the perfect setting for the book because it’s a city where people are really friendly and trusting. And that’s really who the main character, Gabe, is. Someone who believes in the good of other people. Someone who’s gone through tough situations but still has a cheery, favorable attitude toward humanity. I’m not that kind of person, but I’m always struck by how kind strangers are to me whenever I’m in Louisville. And I guess, partially, it’s the cynic in me, but I wanted to put a character who had an optimistic point of view like that up against someone who actually had animosity towards him and see how he dealt with it.

Get Nolan Cubero’s latest release, Shadow Drive, out now on Amazon

Shadow Drive

In this thrilling debut from award-winning filmmaker Nolan Cubero, a young father must investigate his mysterious new tenant and discover what secrets she’s hiding—while trying to keep his own.

Landlord Gabriel Angueira is trying to put his life back together. His teenage daughter, Megan, was seriously injured in a car accident caused by her own drunk driving, though Gabe blames himself. Since the accident he has spent every day taking care of her, reflecting on his failures as a father, and trying to rebuild his relationship with his ex-wife, Anya.

So, when a woman wants to rent the house on Shadow Drive, Gabe hands her the keys without a second thought—or doing a background check. Once she moves in, he discovers everything she told him was a lie: her name, her story, her previous address. Gabe knows nothing about this mysterious woman, but she knows a lot about him—and quickly begins destroying the house from the inside out. Gabe soon realizes she’s specifically targeted him and the house on Shadow Drive but has no idea why.

Now Gabe must figure out who this woman is before she unearths his family’s secrets and takes down the house—along with his entire life as he knows it.

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