Author: Tiffany McDaniel
Book: The Summer That Melted Everything
Published on: 26th July 2016
I had the opportunity to read Tiffany McDaniel’s debut novel “The Summer That Melted Everything” back in July and let me tell you, we can expect great things from her! For those of you who haven’t read it yet, you can see my spoiler-free review of her book right here.
Now let’s get down to business, shall we?
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Writing is the first thing I remember doing as a kid without being told to do so. There was that urge to write down what was in my head and an innate desire to create story from it. I wouldn’t realize writing was a profession I could have until I was in middle school and the guidance counselor came to my class to talk to us about what we wanted to be when we got older. Writing was just so wonderful to me I didn’t associate it with work. My parents had jobs, very hard jobs that made them tired and not a lot of money, so I thought that’s what I would have to do. Have a job I didn’t like. I’ve said before that realizing I could have writing as a career was like being told I could pocket all the stars in the night sky and have light with me forever.
How long did it take you to write this book?
I wrote The Summer that Melted Everything in a month. On average it takes me a month to write a novel. I don’t like the story to sit, so I work to get that beginning, middle, and end of the story down as soon as I can because when the story sits for too long it loses its essence.
“The Summer That Melted Everything” is set in Ohio, 1984. Why did you choose that specific setting for your book?
The fictional town in the novel, Breathed, Ohio, is a landscape reflective of my childhood summers and school-year weekends spent in southern Ohio, where the hills speak, the creek paces in its own good time, and the roads are dirt-laid and grass-lined. That land has shaped me as an author. I’ve said cut me open and fireflies will fly out. It was natural that the setting would be from the land I know. The reason I set the story in 1984 is because when I think about the 1980s I think of the decade’s neon colors, big hair, and even bigger ambitions. It seems like a decade-long summer and thus seemed like a natural fit for this hell-hot summer in the novel. The reason for 1984 specifically is because I wanted to draw parallels to George Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984.
We all need a hero! Tell us about your protagonist? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him?
For me, my characters feel very real so there’s no real-life inspiration for any of them. It’s important to allow the characters to be their own selves, at least for my writing process. As far as who the narrator is, he is eighty-four year old Fielding Bliss. He is looking back on his life during one summer in 1984 when he was thirteen-years-old and his father, Autopsy Bliss, invited the devil to their small town called Breathed, Ohio. Who answers the invitation ends up being a boy in overalls and bruises. This boy’s arrival comes the first day of a hell-hot heat-wave that carries through the entire course of the summer. This is not just a story about the heat, but a story of everything that melted in that heat. Family, friendships, innocence, and even lives. Puddles of all of these things melted down and Fielding is a man trying to survive ferrying these puddles, which to him have become oceans he must cross to once again find the bliss of his name.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned when creating your book?
I’d say one of the most surprising things wasn’t in creating the book, but rather in publishing it. When I got the book contract, I didn’t realize that on average it takes two years to move a book through a traditional publishing house. In this fast-paced world, publishing still moves at a snail’s pace, unfortunately. So with all the years added up of working to get published and then getting published I will have been waiting thirteen years to see one of my novels on the bookstore shelf.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Reading, of course. Gardening. Baking. I wish I could say I have hunted man-eating piranhas in South America and been to the moon and back, but aside from writing I’m pretty quiet and boring.
Do you have any advice for newbie writers?
To never give up. I wrote and completed my first novel when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything, which is my fifth or sixth novel written. It was eleven years of rejection and perseverance. This is the narrative so many authors have. The road to publication can be long and hard. I feel for those authors still on the publishing journey and to them I say fight for your writing dream and never, ever give up.
What do you like to read in your free time?
I love Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Donna Tartt, Harper Lee, and the poet James Wright. This is just a sampling of what I read. As long as it’s a story I want to hoard in my soul, the genre doesn’t matter. I read everything from literary to non-fiction, poetry, and mystery, speaking of which I love Agatha Christie as well. Reading her books is like visiting an old friend.
What are your plans for the future?
To hopefully continue writing and make a career out of it. I have eight completed novels and am working on my ninth. The novel I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is titled, When Lions Stood as Men. It’s the story of a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany, cross the Atlantic Ocean, and end up in my land of Ohio. Struggling with the guilt of surviving the Holocaust, they create their own camp of judgment. Being both the guards and the prisoners, they punish themselves not only for surviving, but for the sins they know they cannot help but commit.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you?
I’m not on social media, but readers 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. How can I not give readers some of my time, when they’ve given me some of their time reading my book?
Find out more about Tiffany McDaniel and her debut novel