Why did you decide to write Trumpicana II?

The original Trumpicana focused on the possibility of a Trump Presidency and what type of things could theoretically happen were he to be elected.  The collection was intended as a warning, as a wake-up call about the deteriorating quality of our election process and the ratings driven discourse around it.  We wanted to point out the ridiculousness of the process, and most of all, of the candidate, Trump.  Honestly, neither one of us expected the outcome we now have.

Trumpicana II represents our digging in for the long haul.  We’ve got work to do!  We now live in the world where Donald Trump is President.  We think it’s very dangerous and will have long lasting, negative consequences for the nation and the world.  Ironically, if it gets bad enough, it might catalyze positive change but only time will tell.  We still feel obliged to point out the ridiculousness of the President’s words and actions and through our stories, we want to keep people from accepting all this as a kind of “new normal”, by wielding the knife edge of political satire.  It’s our best weapon.

In Trumpicana II, you doubled the number of stories. Why?

We simply had more time to work and there’s no shortage of source material. The original Trumpicana was brainstormed in late May and we went to press in less than two months. We wanted to reward our fans with more material, and we’re pleased with the results. We think readers will be too.

What are some of the overall themes in the sequel?

Trumpicana II offers a nice mix of fantasy, humor but also some points anchored in reality. You’ll find an alien first contact story in which President Trump is offered a deal he can’t refuse.  In another story, an international crisis is in the process of being hotly bungled by the President, forcing military commanders to send the President on an unexpected vacation.  Then there’s a Dickens inspired story in which, on the night before Inauguration Day, a gloating Trump prepares for bed in the steam filled bathroom of his Trump Tower Suite when suddenly a voice from the past speaks from out of the mists, only to be challenged by a voice from the future!  Lastly, there’s a story centered on Trump’s draconian trade policies and the alarming consequences that unfold when the suppliers of one particular import decide to take matters into their own hands!

What made Trumpicana Vol 1 unique at the time it came to market?

Trump had been on the campaign trail for nearly a year by the time the original Trumpicana was published. I don’t think anyone seriously believed he would actually make it to the White House, but even as a remote possibility, it was on everyone’s minds and the center of public discourse. We wanted to do what we could to influence that public conversation so we worked diligently to bring it to market in a timely manner.  We also wanted to stake the claim that our book was one of the first satirical works centered on what a Trump presidency might look like. Trumpicana, Vol. 1was the very first satirical short story collection centered on possible outcomes of a Trump Presidency.  The creation of the second installment, Trumpicana II, makes Trumpicana the only Trump centered satirical short story series on the market today.

Where did the orange Trump image come from?

We hired renowned illustrator, Jason Seiler, whose work has been featured in Time Magazine, Rolling Stone and many other political-themed magazines. His eye for detail and ability to espouse humor through caricatures makes him one of the best illustrators in the country. He visualized exactly what we needed and was professional from the first exchange to our most recent. We hope to work with him again on future projects.

How was it received in the market, how were sales?

Better than expected and more than enough to warrant a sequel. Ratings on Amazon/Kindle were solid, and the book remains rated at 5-stars. We were pleased with the results.

So, it is safe to assume you’re not pleased with how the Trump Presidency is going so far?

We have yet to see Donald Trump act Presidential. His rants on Twitter, the firing of FBI Director Comey, his miscues overseas and the growing evidence of his possible collusion with the Russians – what’s not to love? He is taking aim at core institutions meant to protect the environment and American society.  He is dismantling strategic alliances and ripping up global accords.  More recently his backing of the GOP’s bald faced attempt to replace the ACA with what is essentially a tax cut for the rich is the epitome of callousness or worst yet, carelessness on the President’s part.  It’s quite alarming.  He’s breaking the promises he made to his base, and rigging the system to better serve the rich.

What else can we expect from Percussion Publishing and Trumpicana? Perhaps a third installment in the series?

Our hunch is Trump won’t last that long, but as long as he is in office, you can expect further installments of Trumpicana.   The world needs satire, and comedic break now more than ever.  Our fans and readers will let us know if we continue to hit a nerve.  If we break ground on Trumpicana III, it will be bigger and better, of course.

What other projects do the two of you have going on at present? Anything outside of Trumpicana?

Kendall Smith:  I’m wrapping up a project about fatherhood, with a core theme that is both personal to my experience growing up as well as millions of other men. I’m referring to it as a, ‘playbook’ for new dads rather than a self-help book and it will offer advice on a wide range of subjects. I’ll be sharing more as I start to prep the work to publish professionally and the aim is centered on advising men who are brand new to the fatherhood experience.

Presley Acuna:  My next short story collection, titled, Driving to Distraction, is slated to be released by the end of the year.  It’s a diverse set of short fictions ranging across the genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers and of course, humor.  It will be a highly entertaining read.

Lastly, where would you like to see the country go if and when Trump is either tossed out of office or fails to be re-elected in the 2020 Presidential campaign?

Presley Acuna:  If we want to address our Democracy's endemic problems, we must begin with fixing the framework.  First things first – redraw electoral districts and make them fair and balanced again.  Second – eliminate private financing of elections and require all candidates to accept public financing only.  Third – repair or resume the Affordable Care Act and take the profit motive out of health care.  It should be a human right, not a product.  Fourth – make it super easy to vote: by mail, on weekends, at more locations, with a national holiday set aside just for voting.  If we started with just these things, it would be a big step towards actually making America Great Again.

Kendall Smith:  I’d like to see a third party emerge from the chaos, one with a centralist message that reassembles the best parts of the original Democratic and Republican parties. At present, you have the Democrats being driven to the far left by liberal politicians like Bernie Sanders, who promises free college education but provides no viable way to pay for it. On the right, the GOP is being driven into the grave by a narcissist President who operates on whims rather than principals.  The Republican Party used to be centered on fiscal responsibility. That’s off the table nowadays, and a large number of these Republican officials need to be run out on a rail from politics, especially those kowtowing to Donald Trump. We need a fresh perspective that balances personal liberty with the needs of business, a party that hammers home the value of personal responsibility and inclusiveness but most importantly… a focus on getting money out of politics.