Today I truly honored to be interviewing the lovely Tiffany McDaniel author of The Summer that Melted Everything. According to her Goodreads Authors Profile, Tiffany McDaniel is an Ohio native, whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills of the Buckeye woods, (not to be confused with the Buckeye Candy!). McDaniel is a fully talented playwright, poet, screenwriter, and artist. Her debuting novel is evident of her multi-talented writing as an author.
“A foolish mistake, it is, to expect the beast, because sometimes, sometimes, it is the flower’s turn to own the name.”
― Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer That Melted Everything
I was given the pleasure to read an advance copy of The Summer that Melted Everything, and I had a hard time not containing all my questions in this interview. So let’s dive right in . . .
Hi, Tiffany McDaniel, thank you so much for giving me the chance to interview you. O. M. G. I just want you to know that I am obsessed with you, and as you can see from the name of my blog this is an on-going scenario for me. I love your book John Milton Quotes + Ohio + Lucifer = Lia’s obsessive love for Tiffany McDaniel! Please, I need to learn all I can about you and so do your readers!
So please tell us about your background:
What were you like in school? What advice would you give to your younger school-ish self?
First off, let me say I’m so undeserving of your reader-love, but so thankful for it. It’s strange to be in the position of author, when as a reader I too have that same intense emotion, passion, and obsession with my favorite authors. So again I thank you for really being a champion for The Summer that Melted Everything. To a debut novel, that show of affection means the world. As an author there’s no greater feeling than knowing you’ve written a novel someone has enjoyed reading. That’s all I hope for. Really, when you think about all the books in this world that someone can choose to read and spend their time on, it’s an incredible honor for me to know someone has chosen my book to read. I doubt I’ll ever feel deserving of your praise, or any reader-praise for that matter, but know I’m very grateful for it.
So to answer your question, I was a quiet and shy kid for the most part, a child obsessed with R.L. Stine and his Goosebumps and Fear Street series. I always tried my best at school work itself, be a hard-worker as my parents taught me to be and to be kind to my fellow classmates, but I did like being by myself best. Day-dreaming about flying on the backs of dragons, hitching rides on the calves of giants, being on a rocket ship propelled toward Mars and beyond. I didn’t care for parties, though now I think I didn’t dance enough when I was younger. Perhaps that’s the advice I would give to my younger self. To dance like the whole world is music.
You have such a talent for writing, which writers inspired you to write?
Writing has always been what I’ve done. As a child and as an adult now, creating story was and is as natural to me as breathing. Writing is my path through the jungle, my lifeboat in the ocean, my map out of the desert. I’m lost without it, stranded and gone to bone without. It’s what I’m wired to do. So I can’t say any author inspired me to write, but I will say some of my favorite authors are Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Toni Morrison, Donna Tartt, Poet James Wright. I’m forever in awe at these true authors. Compared to them, I’m an idiot with words. They are verse in its most beautiful form, and with them I close their books as happily as any reader can.
How did the concept for The Summer That Melted Everything come about?
The Summer that Melted Everything started out as a title. It was one of those Ohio summers I felt like I was melting into a puddle of myself at my feet. I always start writing a novel with two things: the title and the first line. These things lead me into the direction the story will become. They’re the first seeds in the barren field and if all goes well, these seeds sprout until the field is ripe for harvest.
Do you let the concept of the book stew before writing?
I don’t let it stew. Outlining or pre-planning isn’t the best way for me. If I let an idea sit too long, it just loses its appeal to me. It loses its essence. I become bored with it. It’s like a bright blue sky graying over until all that is there is a bright, white I just want to close my eyes to.
Do you have a writing schedule? (Write every day/ aim for word count etc)
I don’t have a schedule or routine. Kind of like chaos. It’s just things banging together at any given time, creation happening in that explosion and impact. I never aim for a page or word count. I just like to let the characters and the story come out in its own good time. It’s like turning on the porch light and waiting for the moths to come chatter. I listen to that chatter, capture it, and translate it best I can.
What famous celebrity do you feel your characters look the most like?
I love film and I do hope I’m fortunate enough one day to have my novels translated to the screen. I have several actors in mind I’d love to see play the role of the characters, but the characters themselves don’t look like the celebrity. It’s the celebrity who would have to morph into the character. My characters feel very real to me. They are their own people with their own appearance and characteristics. They exist with their eye color, their hair color, their own flesh tone—the way we all do. They have their own fingerprints and in that their own identity.
Who’s you’re favorite character and why?
I love them all. It’s hard to say a favorite character, but I will say one of my favorite characters to write was Grand. He’s Fielding’s older brother and he’s the older brother we all would love to have. Kind, intelligent, and heroic. But there’s fragility to Grand, a tenderness that to me makes him like a ribbon blown off into the wind, flapping and flying about, never able to be caught and held, no matter how hard we try. He is always out of reach. Always escaping, fleeing even, while we give chase, helpless in love, hopeless in that very thing.
What is your process on writing?
I don’t really have a process. I’m very boring in the way I just sit there and type what’s in my head that moment. I don’t outline. I hate synopses. I’m terrible at describing what I’m writing. The best thing really is just be with the story. Nurture it, love it, give it the best beginning, middle, and end I can, and hope that readers enjoy it. That they can come away reading the novel with a sense of satisfaction at having spent their hard-earned money and time on a book by me. That’s the real reward to being an author.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors, on dealing with WRITERS BLOCK!
I actually don’t talk about that which is mentioned above. I’m very superstitious, and to me that’s like ‘Bloody Mary.’ You know the woman you can call in the bathroom mirror by saying her name. That’s what it feels like to me. A boogeyman that if I say its name it will appear, so I just don’t talk about it. But I do have a tip for aspiring authors and that is to never give up. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen-years-old and didn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine. It was eleven, long years of heart-ache and rejection and doors closed in my face. I honestly never believed I would be published and I didn’t really know what I was going to do with my life. I know this is the same despair many authors still on the journey to publication face. There were so many times I just wanted to give up, and if I had, I wouldn’t be here where I am now about to see my book on the shelf for the first-time. So to you aspiring authors out there, hang in there. Shed the tears you have to shed, but dry your face. Stand up when rejection knocks you down, and fight. Fight for your dream of being a published author. It will happen for you one day. Believe that your name is meant to be on a book and never lose that faith that it will be.
Was it difficult writing about your home state?
Not at all. I write from the land I know. The fictional town of Breathed, Ohio in the novel is based on my childhood summers and school-year weekends spent in southern Ohio on the hilly acreage my father was left by his parents. Having spent that time there has shaped me as writer. It’s put me in a state of mind that is fueled by lightning bugs, bullfrog songs, and grapevine twang.
Did it make researching for the novel easier or harder?
When you write from a place you know, it’s easier, at least to me. The research I did for this novel was focused on the 1980s. Especially the beginning of AIDS awareness and the fear associated with the disease.
Who designed your book cover?
As most debut authors can attest, we have no say in the book cover. That’s up to the publisher to decide. To be honest and risk the publishers’ wrath, I’m still coming to terms with my US book cover. For me, it’s not representative of the story itself. But I always think it’s best not to judge a book by its cover…
When writing The Summer That Melted Everything, where there any other works that inspired you during your writing process?
Not any works in particular. It’s really the characters themselves that inspire me to write the best story I can. There are sources of inspiration from nature to art, music and film. It’s all about taking those beautiful creations in the world and embracing them, and through that creating something of your own.
What is your favorite book and why?
I have so many books I love. I can’t say my absolute favorite, but one of them is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. First of all, it’s Bradbury’s verse which is that of a true master. Beautiful and infinite. Bradbury was exactly who he was meant to be in this world. A writer worthy of every reader in the world. Dandelion Wine is one of my favorite books of his because it’s the beauty of what Bradbury did so well. Taking that subtle melancholy and hiding behind what is seemingly a story about a boy coming-of-age one summer in the 1920s. But really this story transcends all time periods and speaks to that balance of aging for all of us. That realization that we can’t hold on to those moments in our lives. That everything is fleeting, even ourselves.
What book are reading at present?
Currently I’m reading and switching between Alice Munro’s collection of short stories Family Furnishings, Shirley Jackson’s novel The Sundial and R.L. Stine’s new Fear Street novel, Can you Keep a Secret?
How can readers stay connected to you and discover more about you? (Only what you feel comfortable sharing)
I’m not on social media, but anyone can jump on to my website at www.tiffanymcdaniel.com
Readers can also connect with me directly through my website. That connection to readers is very important to me. As I’ve said, they’re the ones who determine an author’s entire career. How can I not give them some of my time, when they’ve given me some of their time reading my book?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Tiffany-McDaniel/e/B01DAN905O/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
As always I would like to thank Tiffany McDaniel for writing such an amazing story. It takes true courage to tell the story that not only needs to be told but also be to voice to tell it. Normally I tend to read YA books because, life as activity military spouse comes with it’s own prepaid card filled with epic stress/drama that makes any contemporary novel seems trivial. However I am so glad that The Summer That Melted Everything walked into my life. It’s a wonderful story. Tiffany McDaniel writes with such emotions that it’s truly hard for readers not be emotional invested in the characters themselves. It’s taken me a long time to get narrator Fielding, out of my head! You guys it’s a well-written novel, that’s emotional touching, hitting serious social topics that stem not only from the 1980s but also today. I am truly honored to be able apart of Tiffany McDaniels debuting, yet promising career as an author. I know the book community will love her as much as I do!
Make sure to pre-order
Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.
Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town.
When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.
Happy Reading Ya’ll!