Welcome to another Guest Author Thursday. Today is release day for James J. Cudney’s newest novel, Hiding Cracked Glass (Perceptions of Glass book 2). To celebrate, Jay is offering a GIVEAWAY to two lucky winners! Just CLICK TO ENTER.
I read the first in this series, Watching Glass Shatter and was enthralled by the depth of character development Jay brought to each member of the Glass family. You can find my review for Watching Glass Shatter HERE.
I asked Jay for a post that would address family dynamics and how they factor into his books, and boy did he deliver. I hope you enjoy his post today as much as I did—then don’t forget to grab your copy of Hiding Cracked Glass and ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
Some of us are obsessed with good plots. Others connect with strong characters. When you combine the two, and you toss in the family dynamic, it’s almost as if a book explodes with boundless drama. As readers, we often search for ourselves or those we know in the characters of our favorite books. Even when it’s a science-fiction or fantasy novel, and the story is not at all realistic, it is still a place where we want to be. To me, perhaps since I grew up surrounded by family, I find myself drawn to the core relationships in our lives.
I’ll begin with saying I am an only child; however, I have ~15 first cousins who basically spent a lot of time together while growing up. I am probably best as an only child, but at the same time, it has always made me sad too. I often feel so unique and independent that no other person shares the same set of parents as me… that when they are gone, because I don’t have children, I am thoroughly alone in this world. That said… I’m not at all looking for someone to make me feel better. But what this did in my childhood was force me to be creative and imaginative with how I developed relationships. I closely monitored characters on TV and in books. I wrote stories about the relationships. I asked a lot of questions of all my friends and cousins who had siblings.
In the end, this experience helped cultivate my ability to write books with extreme family situations… in both my Perceptions of Glass and Braxton Campus Mysteries series, there are five siblings, lots of extended family members, and a focus on people’s connections with one another. All those nicknames the Glass brothers share for one another? All the competition among the Ayrwick siblings? Then consider my stand-alone novel, Father Figure: Brianna is desperately searching for her father because she only has her secretive mother and no other family. Amalia wants to escape her abusive family and finds herself ending up in a situation she intentionally tried to avoid.
These are the destinies people face in my dreams, and so they become the stories of my characters. When I began writing the outline for Hiding Cracked Glass (HCG), I knew it had to be very similar to Watching Glass Shatter (WGS), but it also had to be very different. In WGS, Teddy (the eldest) deals with the betrayal of a loved one and a desire to quit his job. In HCG, he’s facing the result of his decision but he’s had to battle something far worse he never expected to happen. In WGS, Matt tried to dig himself out of a serious life-and-death situation. In HCG, we learn that he’s likely brought a major impact on his family that he never knew happened. In WGS, Caleb finally tells his family the truth. In HCG, we learn that he might’ve done something very bad and hurt his relationship. In WGS, Zach dazzled us with his attitude toward the others. In HCG, he’s now the one who’s changed the most after what happened at the end of the first book. In WGS, Ethan suffered a devastating loss. In HCG, his wife is learning how to deal with the aftermath of so many secrets.
I haven’t even shared much about Olivia, the matriarch of these five boys. She’s rude. Abrasive. Distant. Aloof. But she’s also smart and learns the biggest lessons of all. So why is it that she can make a complete change between books? When she receives the blackmail threat in Hiding Cracked Glass, a series of events is kicked off that challenges everything she thought she’d fixed recently. My own mother is nothing like Olivia, but as you dig deeper, you realize Olivia is a compilation of so many strong women who often get a bad rap for being tough and direct… while a man in her position would be considered powerful and a strong father figure. When my mother read Watching Glass Shatter, besides squirming over two scenes that I included (who wants to know their son / mother is aware of sex or curse words!), the first thing she said to me: “Wow! You put a piece of your personality in each of the 5 brothers. It’s like you selected a trait about yourself that we’ve always talked about and made it a big piece of each brother’s life.”
Yep, go ahead and try to guess those characteristics! Those who’ve met me can easily figure it out. 🙂
I love taking personalities and flipping them around, mostly to show how we all have a perception of ourselves that is a bit like looking through glass. It’s shiny but distorted. It’s smooth but once it cracks, the repairs are almost impossible without professional help. Families are kinda like that too. Relationships are brittle, and they change at the slightest pressure once people communicate poorly. Imagine a father dying in a car accident and leaving behind a will that changes everything. Then imagine hiding that secret and it being found out 9 months later by someone you never thought would’ve been involved. While I have no personal experience with this… and my family wasn’t very big on keeping secrets… there is one that I hardly tell anyone. Now, I think it’s kind of amusing though, and it actually is another family drama story I’m playing around with as a future book.
When I was fifteen, my grandfather passed away. During the planning of his funeral, I learned that one of my parents had another sibling I’d never met. Then I learned this sibling living in our same small town (under 3,000 people). Then I learned this sibling had two children who were just a couple of years older than me. Then I learned I went to high school with both of them. First, you’re probably thinking “OMG, that’s so weird and scary!.” You’d be right… but then here’s where my mind went next at fifteen in a conversation with some friends: At fifteen with two slightly older cousins… what would’ve happened if one of those cousins and I had met and gone out on a date or hooked up! We don’t always tell our parents the name of a guy or girl we go on a date with. Our last names were different. Could you imagine the drama if something had happened between us? Yikes, I could almost be the subject of my next book.
Secrets. Lies. Family Drama. Broken Relationships. These are the events of our daily lives. We all have a bit of a soap opera / daytime drama running around in our families. I love exploring the psychological and physical impacts of these connections, and that’s why my books will almost always have the elements of family–past, present, and future–woven into its binding. And perhaps now you might know a little bit about me that you never thought you’d learn. NO, I never actually connected much with my cousins other than the funeral… thought we did socialize for a few years… but then the family fell apart again. Now you can see how I incorporate reality into my literary world! Any crazy stories in your family you’d like to share?
Wow! Did that blow you away? I actually met cousins I never knew I had roughly seven years ago. They’re scattered over the map, but now we hold a family reunion every year. It’s a long story, but I can so relate to Jay’s tale.
And speaking of tales, I’ve got my copy of Hiding Cracked Glass. If you aren’t intrigued from that fabulous post, I know you will be after reading the blurb:
ABOUT THE BOOK:
An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?
In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?
Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.
Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James 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, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years 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. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.
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 focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.
Reader & 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.
Blogger & Thinker
I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. 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 dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain 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.
Genealogist & Researcher
I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.
Genres, Formats & Languages
I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.
All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.
Braxton Campus Mysteries
- Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)
- Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)
- Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)
- Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)
- Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)
- Frozen Stiff Drink – #6 (March 2020)