As most of you already know, our fellow awesome blogger, James@This Is My Truth Now published his debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter on October 8th!
As you can read in my review, this is a stunning debut novel and has got a lot of intrigues in there and I can’t stress enough how touched and moved I was while reading this beautiful piece. I shed lots of tears from all the feels that this book gave me. If you haven’t already, go check it out!
As part of this blog tour, Jay kindly spared some time to answer the questions I had sent to him and I would love to share them with you 🙂
Thank you for sparing your time for this interview and congratulations on your debut novel, “Watching Glass Shatter.” Could you please briefly tell us about yourself and your background?
You are welcome, but I should be the one to thank you. I am very appreciative of everyone’s support in the last few months. I am very lucky to have met such wonderful people from all over the world, who are willing to share a friendship with me.
It’s never easy to describe yourself, is it? I have always referred to myself as the truly typical average guy who finds connections with everyone. Yet, I’m quite shy and always more comfortable chatting behind a computer screen than in person or on the phone. Once I get comfortable, I’m very open about who I am and able to relax, but beforehand, I’m a bundle of nerves.
I’m one of those mix-match personality types where I’m super strong at math, yet I want to be a writer. I sometimes know the strangest facts and stories, yet I am missing all sorts of common sense about things everyone else seems to know. I think it stems from spending so much time inside my own head as an only-child, I often forget how to interact in person with others. Even my dog Ryder has an easier time than I do!
What exactly inspired you to write “Watching Glass Shatter”? Where did this idea come from?
I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about these five brothers who in a way each represent some hidden part of me. And if anyone reading the book has met me, or talked to me enough times, you’ll notice a few bits and pieces popping up along the way. It’s not that I intentionally thought about my own personality; subconsciously, it snuck into my character voices. I bet you’re wondering which of the sons I am most like, huh? Like I’ll ever actually tell you!!!
I am a big mystery reader fan and I love coming up with surprises and/or something different in my writing. Although the premise of this story has occurred in other books, the way the plot becomes less about the secret and more about the family relationships is what kept inspiring me to build a realistic family who are trying to sort out their identities apart from one another. Once I knew all the secrets, it was about building the relationships between each of the characters so it was relatable to everyone.
There are a lot of emotions and events going on in this book which makes this book really moving and haunting in a pleasant way. What part/scene in the book did you have the hardest time writing, and why?
There were two scenes I completely struggled with writing. Ethan’s proposal to Emma, given everything going on in his world. Since I can’t give away spoilers, all I’ll say is that finding the words for an engagement scene knowing everything that’s going on, and not wanting it to sound ‘cheesy,’ was difficult. The other one I kept re-writing was the confrontation towards the end, when the entire family begins learning about what’s been going on behind their back. I had a room of 12 distinct characters, but I desperately needed to avoid head-hopping and still had to convey each person’s emotions through their physical reactions. The ‘narrator’ in that scene had to be consistent yet removed, so readers could connect however they wanted to with each character. Some you love. Some you hate. I cut and re-wrote so much in that scene because I wanted it to echo the similar scene in the first few chapters when the attorney reads Ben’s will. If you go back and compare the two chapters, they are almost like mirror images but with very different content. It took days to perfect, and ultimately left me quite emotionally exhausted.
I personally found the greatest strength of this book is how strong your characters are. I could tell you carefully and meticulously crafted your character arcs. How did you come up with the characters? Did you have them in mind right from the beginning? And what aspect of character building do you pay the closest attention to?
I start with an outline and character bio; it usually contains a few high-level physical and emotional traits. Then I write the first few scenes to see what flows from my imagination to the paper. Once I hear the way they speak, the feelings that they take on during the scene, I update the bio and constantly reference it for future chapters. After the first draft, I added things, such as Sarah being from the south. Teddy rushed into marriage, it needed to be someone very different from him, and I added to her persona so she would stand out, but still only be a secondary character.
How long did it take you to complete this epic, emotional and beautiful story?
Now this is an easy question. After the dream first came to me in August, 2016, it took 1 month to develop the outline, 2 months to write the first version and 3 months to edit it with input from a team of beta readers. It took just under 6 months from the first idea to sending it to publishers.
What is your favorite scene? or what part/scene in the book would you want your readers to appreciate the most?
Am I allowed to pick only 1? Since this is about readers, it would be the scene between Olivia and Rowena. It was critical to stay in Olivia’s POV in that chapter because it was all about how the secret impacted her, yet Rowena had to deliver the explanation and readers will want to know how she feels about what happened. Olivia is my favorite character because of the journey she goes through. I want readers to dislike her in the beginning but become her biggest supporter by the time the book ends.
Now, let’s move on to some questions for you as an author. Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, exactly when and what first sparked your passion to be an author?
Yes, since I was a small child, I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I was too afraid to take the risk and went a different route for a couple of years. Then I went to a reputable psychic and asked the question many years ago: ‘will I ever become a published author?’ He said I would have many books within the next ten years. So far, he’s on track and I hope it stays that way!
Do you have any particular writing method? For example, which do you prefer – pen or computer? How do you keep track of, and organize your ideas?
I am blessed with an incredibly good memory for some things. Not for others. When it comes to writing, I draft an outline with chapter by chapter bullet points of what should happen. I assign chapters to days and keep very closely aligned with my plan. I come from a business and project management background, so it’s almost like I’m the organized creativist! I only use pen and paper when I am re-reading the first draft and make numbered notes as the basis for my revised editing plan.
Who are your favorite authors? and who do you think influenced you the most in your writing style?
Skipping as I’m not sure they influenced my writing all that much.
What are your normal days like?
A constant feeling of being behind? Worry that I’m never going to get everything done that is brewing inside my head. In reality, I split my day in half: Before & After lunch. In the morning, I focus on my blog and social media. Then I go to the gym and eat lunch. In the afternoon, I write and edit. By about 7 pm, I think about dinner and relax with my other half and our shiba, Ryder. Ryder really runs my life.
What are your go-to methods when you want to unwind?
Oh, this will say a lot: (1) A glass of wine or a Jack Daniels & Ginger Ale, (2) Chocolate and (3) funny TV show that will make me laugh and forget about everything but what I’m doing at exactly those moments.
Is there anything you’re working at the moment?
Yes, I have a draft of my second novel completed. It’s been a very fun process as I let my blog followers select the premise of the book. I shared 6 to 8 ideas, conducted a poll over a two-week period, and they chose ‘Father Figure.’ It’s a very early draft and was sent to several beta readers just last month. I am currently incorporating their feedback into my plan and beginning the editing process. I hope to share it with the beta reader team in November and publish in early 2018.
What process in writing do you enjoy the most?
Skipping this one… I don’t have a very good answer!
This might not be a very appropriate question, but What is your approach to negative reviews/feedback, if any?
Feedback is always a two-way process. Readers need to understand how/why a writer chose to do something. Writers need to understand the perspective of the reader. I always find something in the negative review or feedback because there is truth in the words; it may be different than what they said or wrote, but it will show me where I may need to focus my edits or future books.
Do you think you will ever write a sequel to “Watching Glass Shatter?”
Yes. I was talking about it with someone recently who suggested I share short stories on each character, focused on their life before the book opens. I may do 1 for each major character in the coming months and use them as teaser for new readers, as I absolutely adore this family. Can you imagine a story about how Olivia and Ben met? Or their first fight? Or what happened the night of the big secret? I have an entire plot worked out for a sequel, but I’ll only write it if fans really feel it’s warranted. I am always disappointed when an author writes a sequel to earn more money, rather than because there is a story that must be told. I’ve purposely ended WGS with a lot of options for what else ‘could happen.’
I know you read a lot, too. How many books do you currently have on your TBR? and how many books on average do you read in a month?
My TBR is scary, and I don’t frighten easily. I have 1270 as of today, which is why I created my ‘Book Bucket List’ to narrow down the top 12 books I must read, rotating a new one on the list each month as I read one from it. Before writing became my full-time job, I read 12 each month, but I’m now hovering around 6.
You are also a blogger and have a huge blogging presence; how many followers/subscribers do you have at the moment?
I believe I have 3K followers as of earlier this week; it all started on my blog, ThisIsMyTruthNow, and I’m wondering how I will be able to complete that 365 Daily Challenge. I might run out of words to keep everyone’s interest!
You post a lot of book reviews on various social media, such as Goodreads, on your blog… how many book reviews have you written so far?
I have just over 500 book reviews published on Goodreads. In my spare time, I’m copying them over to Amazon.
Now that you are a published author, you are going to be pretty busy with writing, how do you think you’re going to manage your time?
A good friend tells me all the time I must have hidden clones. So obviously I need to give them a raise to keep this a secret. I need to find a balance between writing and marketing. I work best within rules and guidelines, so I will probably devote mornings to one task and afternoons to another. Or possibly alter days… it’s a work-in-progress. Have any suggestions? 😊
As an author, what genre do you think you’re going to write specifically?
I am interested in writing across many genres, but it will always have some element of mystery or suspense. I never thought I could write romance fiction, but I’ve found a way that works for me in the two books I’ve drafted to date, so perhaps I will have something in the romance field one day. I would also love to write a mystery series focusing on a male protagonist who deals with his crazy family in a small suburban town, constantly finding dead bodies or missing people.
What is your work ethic as an author?
Hard one to answer… I think I’ll skip this one for now.
Finally, do you have any message to your readers?
Feedback is so helpful. Authors are told not to read all their reviews or interact too much with fans, but I think differently. I want to hear from everyone on what they want me to write about, which characters they love, what plots they are interested in. When I build my world, it’s not just about me but also about you!
Photos courtesy of the author. With his adorable 10 year-old Shiba, Ryder 🙂
Bailey, a 10 year-old Shiba that appears in the book is modeled after him!
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 B.A. in English and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a technology company during Y2K. 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. After leaving my position in 2016, I directed all my energies towards re-invigorating a focus on 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.
Contact the Author
For those of you who haven’t read this book, a great news – this book is currently on a VERY SPECIAL OFFER and you can download it for free!! Now, what have you got to lose? This offer will end on November 14th, so go check it out while you can! 🙂
Thank you for stopping by for this ‘Watching Glass Shatter’ blog post. Hope you enjoyed this and don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour! The blog tour will last until November 20th, you have another week of entertainment and juicy topics behind ‘Watching Glass Shatter!’ Check out the blog tour schedule here.
Thank you so much for reading as always, and I’ll see you in my next post!
My long-anticipated paperback copy arrived today!! Isn’t it gorgeous??
It’s got a very smooth, velvety texture and the print is neat, I love the font, oh my gosh, it’s lovely ❤