A lot of things happened in my life since I started blogging – A completely and totally new experience to me. I’ve met so many nice people, read so many things that I enjoyed reading.
Some of the things I read were sad, others funny, others profound. Yet others have been thought provoking, mind boggling.
One of the things that I’ve read that incorporates all of the above in one is James’s book, Watching Glass Shatter.
A complex read about a family drama that, despite James’s assurance of the contrary, felt so real (that’s how good his writing is).
It’s amazing how this complex debut novel was created inside one mind. How one person could create such scenes with so much vitality, all the realistic dialogues and all the hard questions and harsher aspects of life.
Have you ever read a book like that? No? If you’re looking for a family drama that will keep you at the edge of your seat, leafing through page after page with the world nothing but a dim background surrounding you, this is the book for you.
To read my review on Watching Glass Shatter, check out my post here, and subscribe to enter a chance to win an e-copy of the book.
So, a month or two back when James J. Cudney IV announced on his blog that he was going on a tour, I hurried to sign up for a chance.
I feel like I have been privileged, not only am I participating in this tour, but I also got an interview!
My interview with James J. Cudney IV – author of Watching Glass Shatter
1) When you began writing ‘Watching Glass Shatter’ did you expect it to be published? Or was this story just something you considered a hobby?
J: You’ve asked a very interesting question. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I was too nervous to take the risk when I finished school. I dove into the business world and climbed up the corporate ladder in the technology industry. About 1 ½ years ago, I realized I missed my passion too much and decided to take a risk. I left my job and began two things: (1) a daily blog and (2) writing a book. I have always wanted to be published, and when I started with this book, I thought the idea was a good one but I was probably 50/50 on whether it would be as a hobby or a career. I know now I want it to be my career.
2) What influenced you to write this book?
J: It began as a dream. I woke up thinking about five brothers, wondering how they’d each be different yet the same. I’m an only child, so I have no real-life experience to relate to, other than cousins, friends or other people’s stories. Then I started attributing secrets to them. Before I knew it, I had a plot and family built in my head. I jumped out of bed, wrote it all in a rough outline and kept re-working it until I felt like it was time to begin writing a first draft.
3) How long did it take you to write Watching Glass Shatter?
J: I drafted the outline in the first month, followed by two months of solid writing. I spent about three months editing and reviewing it with three or four beta readers who helped me figure out the best path for the story. I began sharing it with agents and publishers after about 6 months in total.
4) Did you have any trouble querying an agent, and were you surprised when one offered you a contract?
J: Yes! Once I finished a solid draft, I realized I actually had an opportunity to make my dream come true. I drafted a query letter, author bio, synopsis and summary, then made lists of agents to consider contacting. For ten weeks, I sent out ten queries per week. I knew it would be difficult, but if you don’t try, it won’t happen. For every 10 I sent out, 5 would not reply, 4 would say “not for them” and 1 would respond. I had one agent very interested, but she ultimately decided it wasn’t the right book for her. Suddenly, a published author I chatted with regularly on my blog reached out to me. She wanted to introduce me directly to her publisher after reading my first few chapters, which I had offered as free teaser on the blog. After a few weeks of discussions, the publisher read the novel and offered me a contract. It was all very unexpected but exciting.
5) Was any character in Watching Glass Shatter influenced by anyone from your life?
J: Yes, but I’ll never tell! There are definitely a few cases of some real-life situations or personality traits sneaking into different characters. I am definitely a combination of all five of the sons; both their good and their bad traits, I must admit. I didn’t purposely incorporate anyone into the book, but certain aspects of people were good jumping off points to build an entirely different character around.
6) Are you planning to write a second book, a prequel or a sequel to Watching Glass Shatter?
J: Yes, I am planning one. I’m waiting to see the general reaction to this novel before committing to writing a prequel or sequel. I have two plots worked out, but I’m also considering something else to provide new content on a regular basis for readers. I’ll share more on that in a few weeks once I see how the book sells and the reviews sound!
7) Which scene did you love writing the most?
J: One of my favorite scenes to write was the reading of the will. I knew it would be difficult, as I had ten people in a room, each having a reaction to the words being delivered by the attorney. I didn’t want to hop from head to head, so I tried to keep all the reactions physical in the hopes it would convey there was more going on under the surface. Every character does or says something that should become more clear later on. That’s probably revealing too much, but it’s also a fun game to see who picks up on what I’m saying! I re-wrote it at least ten times, often going back to older versions, but in the end, I am very happy with it.
8) Which scene gave you the most trouble writing? Or did the story just flow in your mind, one scene after the other?
J: For the most part, it flowed. There were some difficult scenes due to the subject matter, e.g. the romance scenes were hard for me to write, the death scene was difficult… but the one I had trouble with ‘writing’ in terms of the tone or the style was the last chapter. I knew how I wanted it to end, but with the thought of a sequel in mind, I had to have a fair balance of open and closed arcs. I did my best to tie everything together but also leave a few suggestions of ‘oh, what’s gonna happen there…’ surprises for many of the characters.
9) The story features in six points of views – the five sons and the mother, which one was the most complex? Which one was the one you like best?
J: Yes, it has many points of view. It’s actually written with a basic repeated formula by chapter. The opening scene is the death of the patriarch and subsequent funeral. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the reading of the will and Olivia’s reaction to her late husband’s secret. From that point on, each chapter changes among Olivia and the five sons. You hear each distinct voice, but you also see snippets or episodes over the course of many days in their lives within each individual chapter. It’s built more as an ensemble where you hear and learn from each member of the family, allowing readers to choose or decide how to feel who is right and who is wrong in each situation.
Olivia is my favorite character only because I had to feel every pain she felt as she learned what her sons had been keeping from her over the years. That’s where the complexity comes into play for me as an author and a reader; she does things that makes you want to slap her. But at the same time, she’s just lost her husband, been told a very painful truth she couldn’t have expected and is afraid of losing more. She’s holding on to the past by a very thin grip and as each chapter unfolds, she starts to lose it a little more. When you corner an animal, there’s a good chance it will attack or bite you. A grieving widow who has everything turned upside down is no different. I’m the complete opposite of her in real-life, so finding her voice was definitely one of the more difficult experiences I’ve had.
10) Usually authors wait until they have established a successful writing career to quit their 8 to 4 jobs. Were those around you supportive of your decision when you left your managerial position to write full time?
J: Yes, I was lucky to get support from everyone around me, as they’ve known how important this opportunity was to me. I worked 17 years in a tough industry, at least 60 to 70 hours each week. Although I enjoyed the job, it was time to move on to something different. My significant other and I discussed the best approach, settling on an amount of time to focus on my passion before I would need to take on either a full-time or a part-time job. I’ve also always been a saver and investor, as I knew this day would come where I needed to focus on writing as much as possible. I kept this in mind so I was able to support myself during this break from a normal daytime job. I will do my best to keep writing great novels and marketing my work. Hopefully it takes off and I am able to maintain this as a primary career. If not, I’ll figure out a compromise!
11) You have a second book cooking already called ‘Father Figure’. Will we see any of the glass family there?
J: Father Figure will be released in early 2018. It is an entirely different set of characters with no tie-in connection to Watching Glass Shatter, mostly because it takes place in a different location and a generation beforehand… but I’m still editing for another 4 weeks, so you never know what little nuggets I might incorporate!
- Who are three of your favorite writers?
J: my 3 or 4 favorite authors are Agatha Christie, Kate Morton and Ken Follett, followed by Henry James.
James is running a favorite character pole here, and if you’ve read this book, let us know which character was your favorite!
I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I spent 15 years in a technology career in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel” but I was so focused on my career that writing became a hobby. After leaving my position in 2016, I directed all my energies towards re-invigorating a focus on reading, writing and publishing.
The background of the author:
Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current genres include family drama / saga, contemporary and mystery fiction. My first novel, Watching Glass Shatter, was published in October 2017. I am currently in the process of writing my second novel, ‘Father Figure,’ which will be released in early 2018.
The reader and a reviewer:
Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.
The blogger and thinker:
I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share book reviews, write a blog and publish fiction: In the blog, I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.
The Genealogist & Researcher
I want to be a researcher or historian. I want to reach back into the past to figure out why someone made the choice he or she did and what the consequences were. I want to feel the pressures and culture of hundreds of years ago. I want to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I want to watch my ancestors from a secret place to know how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll learn why I do things the way I do them.
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