Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney–Book Review and Author Interview

Watching-Glass-Shatter-Main-FileWatching Glass Shatter is one of the best literary books I’ve read. I often get impatient with lit fic–I typically find it long on character and short on plot. This book fits into that mold, but in this case the characters were compelling enough to hold my interest, and that’s not often the case. If I never read Catcher in the Rye again, it will be too soon.

Specifically, this novel follows the Glass family after the death of its patriarch and the revelation that one of his five sons was secretly adopted into the family. Exposing one secret brings a host of others to life, and each member of the Glass family has to struggle to decide what their future role will be. James Cudney weaves each character’s concerns together skillfully, leaving the reader in a state of high anticipation for the final denouement.

If you are a lover of literary fiction, you will likely find this a satisfying read.

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The author is an interesting sort as well. What can you tell us about yourself, Mr. Cudney?

thumbnailJames is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I spent ~15 years focused on building a career in technology & business operations 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 in technology and business that writing became a hobby. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter.’
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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. I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews and publish tons of content on my 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.
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Literary fiction is known for being “edgy” sometimes. Have you done any projects that took you way out of your comfort zone?
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I am not a big romance reader, so I often don’t know what’s included and not included in those scenes. In my first novel, Watching Glass Shatter, there are a few small scenes which made me uncomfortable to share with friends and family. Undoubtedly, people think you’re writing about yourself, so it feels like there’s so much exposure. But in my second novel, Father Figure, there are several more of these types of scenes, given the scope of the book. I’m scared to show them to anyone!
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Who’s your favorite character you’ve written so far and why?
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I’m going to stick to published work and say Olivia Glass, the primary character in my debut novel. There is so much to love and hate about this woman; she’s complex and does everything you don’t want her to do, but then she finds a way to make you feel bad for her.
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Where do you come up with ideas for new characters or stories?
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Usually I wake up in the middle of the night with the beginnings of a story in my head. I cannot fall back asleep, instead choosing to lay there and work out all the plot points in my head. Morning arrives, I feverishly write the outline and go back to sleep so I’m able to function again.
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How do you come up with character names?
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I’m an avid genealogist who has researched about two-thousand of my ancestors, going back to the 1700s in Germany and Scotland. I try to use surnames from all the main branches for my main or primary characters; for instance, ‘Glass’ is an important family name for me. ‘Graeme’ in the second novel is also one I know a lot about and wanted to see in print. First names are usually random based on personality traits or names that I find interesting or literary. If I had sons, some of them would be the five sons from the Glass family. I love the names Caleb, Zachary and Ethan.
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How do you manage world-building? Is it all thought out ahead of time, or do you make it up as you go?
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Definitely part of an outline in the beginning. I work in groups of five as it’s easy to keep focused. Each character has the 5 main locations I want them to be present in for the course of the book. They can cross into each other’s worlds or have more places, but I flesh out the top five until I can picture them standing in the location looking at me. Then I only incorporate about 20% of the details, just enough to let readers use their own imaginations. 
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How much do you structure your stories before you write them?
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Put it this way… my biggest strengths when I worked in Corporate Technology were my project management and organizational skills. No one can write a plan better than me… and it’s snuck its way into my writing. I have 40-page outlines with key plots points, character development, themes and locations for every chapter.
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Do you find it more difficult to write your first draft or to revise?
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First drafts are harder! Don’t misunderstand, I think revisions are painful because you have to go slowly. But in a revision, I have structure already established, so I’m mostly running the book through different funnels: Grammar, Spelling, Voice, Distinction, Perspective, Facts, etc. It’s easily broken down, but when I’m writing the first draft, there are so many ideas floating in my head, words to use, scenes to swap around based on how the day is flowing. Edit days I’m good with coffee and water. Writing days, I almost always end up with reaching for a glass of wine by mid-afternoon.
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Do you have any revision tips to share?
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Yes! Structure them. Choose a day to focus on specific goals; never focus on multiple items at once as you will definitely miss 10% of the required edits; you can’t divide your attention the other way. When I focus on character consistency, I won’t let myself correct grammar or spelling. If it’s big, I’ll highlight the section. If it’s small, I trust I’ll find it the next day. Concentration is important to really get into the crux of what needs to change to turn something from good to amazing.
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What has been the hardest thing about publishing for you?
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My personal philosophy in life is never to be pushy and never to tell someone how to do something, rather let them know their options so they can choose. When you are trying to find fans and readers, it feels a bit like selling your soul to get people to like you. I’ll put it out there, ask for help, but I just can’t beg someone to do a review.
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It’s just as well. In my experience, begging rarely helps anyway, and then you’ve gone and humbled yourself for nothing. That’s my advice for the day–do you have any advice to give aspiring authors?
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Know why you are writing. If you are writing for yourself, and it’s not your primary income, then relax and let it develop as you find your style. If you are writing to earn a living, connecting with people is just as important as the quality of your writing. You can have the best book out there, but if people don’t know who you are, or you don’t find ways to bond and develop relationships, your chances of success are minimal. I thrive on all the wonderful people I’ve met through my blog. If writing doesn’t work out for me, then I’ve still met people around the world who make my days even better.
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What is the single most important quality in a novel–what must an author do to win you over?
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If I can’t get excited by the plot, I won’t read the book. It must leave me following along in the action to see what happens at each and every turn. If there’s nothing clear, no purpose, I have a hard time connecting.
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If you have a blog, how did that start?
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I do! I have a 365 Daily Challenge on the blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com where I pick a word each day and discuss how it relates to me as a person. Some days, I reveal embarrassing things. Others, I offer inspirational advice. My dog Ryder has a weekly segment too, where he complains about me to followers. And I’ve started up a new “Author Alert” segment on Fridays where I share new authors with my fans.
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Thanks so much, Jay. Be sure to check out Jay’s blog and find out more about Watching Glass Shatter.
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Ben Camera

 

Avid writer and reader, especially of fantasy. Learning about social networking and always interested in honing my writing skills. Contact me at cathleentownsend.com.

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Posted in Author Interviews, Book Reviews
24 comments on “Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney–Book Review and Author Interview
  1. Cathleen,

    Thank you so much for posting our wonderful interview and for reading & rating the book. I appreciate your comments on literary fiction; it can be tough sometimes. I try to strike the right balance in my writing, hopefully I can keep that up.

    I forgot to mention, one of the names most likely in my family tree, but not proven yet, is Townsend. I know it’s a popular name, but it was 1 of 20 in my ancestor’s hometown on Long Island in the 1800s… I am missing a few maiden names on marriages, but I suspect two come from the Townsend family.

    Many thanks again for putting this together — I’m excited to hear from everyone. Have a great day.

    J

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m totally with you on the romance scenes. And it’s funny because violent or nasty scenes don’t garner the same “oh that must be you” thoughts. They think “wow you’re so creative.” LOL

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. […] via Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney–Book Review and Author Interview […]

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  4. I completely agree with the embarrassment factor. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on e. michael helms and commented:
    WATCHING GLASS SHATTER — Interview & Review by Cathleen Townsend

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  6. Really great interview, Cathleen! It’s always a treat to get insights into the creative process of other writers, and James’ candor on that front is much appreciated!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Great interview and bookreview, Cathleen!I love literary fiction and am adding this one to my TBR. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  8. shalini says:

    Cathleen, very well thought of questions. I guess only an author can ask another such questions. I loved it
    Jay, as usual you are my favorite and will always be. Your honesty is something I am amazed at and sometimes envious about. I liked how candid you were in your answers. It makes me appreciate you all over again, a very kind human being.
    As usual you are ‘brief’ in your answers. Pun intended 😜😜💗💗

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Fantastic Review!!!!💖💛💜📚🙌🙌💯

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How awesome! Jay sent me to send his novel to review and I just loved this!😍 Now I’m even more excited to read this book!!!! Yay!🙌🙌🙌

    Like

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