Today, I am thrilled to present you my very first author interview. Tiffany McDaniel stops on the blog to talk about herself and her debut novel, The Summer That Melted Everything, which gets released today. Happy publication day, Tiffany!
(The grey silliness under Tiffany’s answers is all from me!)
nosy curious, could you tell us a little about Tiffany McDaniel?
I’m an Ohio poet and novelist who knows no summer is complete without ice cream. I like to garden. Maybe one day I’ll get a greenhouse, turn it into a jungle and stalk it like a jaguar. I love everything to do with this star-dust that surrounds us out there in the universe. I have yet to go all the way to Mars, but Ray Bradbury has taken me pretty close.
How’s this for a little about me?
I think it will satisfy the nosiest readers, thank you!
The Adjective Test! Give us three adjectives that best describe you; qualities or flaws, we accept them all.
I’ll describe myself as a clear sky turned to rain:
– Stormy with thunder and a chance of lightning strike.
Tell us something about you that your readers would be surprised to hear.
I wouldn’t turn down an invitation to chase a tornado. Or maybe I would.
I am too much of a wuss to chase a tornado. I might chase a fly. Or a gnat.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I was a child of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Fear Street series. They were by far my favorite reads. I still re-read and buy the new books in the series today. I very much want to live on Fear Street, with R.L. Stine as a neighbor. We could collect spider webs and stories.
I still possess every Goosebumps book I read as a child! They were my favorites. I used to reread them all the time until I reached 12 and came across Pet Sematary by Stephen King. This book scared me so much that I have stayed away from anything that could even spark the slightest fear in me ever since.
On the list: give the name of three fictional characters you would like to invite to a party.
Willy Wonka so we can have plenty of chocolate for party guests.
Hercule Poirot so we can solve the murder that will definitely happen at this said party.
And of course Beetlejuice would have to be invited because it’s not a party until Beetlejuice shows up with ZagNut bars.
It’s not a party before Beetlejuice shows up!
What are you reading at the moment?
Shirley Jackson’s LET ME TELL YOU: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings.
Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite authors. To me she walks on water without so much as small splashes beneath her heels.
The thought of sitting down at a desk (or anywhere for that matter) with a clear number of words to write per day scares me even more than an appointment with the dentist. So much pressure! Do you have a writing routine and a place dedicated to it?
I don’t have a writing routine. I never have a set number of words or pages to get through. I like to let it come on its own. You can’t enjoy the ocean if you’re always driving the ship. Sometimes you have to let the waters carry you home.
As far as where I write, for many years I didn’t even have a desk or chair, so I just wrote with the laptop on my lap on the bed. Now I have a desk in the corner of my bedroom. I dream of writing in a derelict mansion with moth-eaten velvet drapes the color of old moss. The sea raging just outside. The ghosts raging inside. My desk full of random knives either used in carving pumpkins or in carving bones. I have a gothic mind and Halloween soul…
How long did it take you to write The Summer That Melted Everything? (writer’s block days, special sales days, sick days, they all count!)
It took me a month to write The Summer that Melted Everything. I have eight completed novels and am currently working on my ninth. On average my novels take a month. I wrote one in eight days. Still not sure how I did that.
Okay, this is quite impressive. I was under the impression it had taken at least a couple of years to write this story. How mistaken was I…
The P word: what has your journey to publication been like?
I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen and didn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine. It was eleven long years of rejection and fear I’d never be published. In that despair and heart-ache, I really never believed I would be published. I know I’m very fortunate to be where I am now, about to see my book published for the first time. Since getting the offer it’s taken two years of publishing itself. Publishing moves at a snail’s pace unfortunately, so I’ve been waiting thirteen years total to see one of my books on the shelf for the first time. July 26th is going to be a very special day indeed. I just might sprout wings and fly the highest mountain peaks.
Putting The Summer That Melted Everything into one category seems impossible to me. How would you describe your story?
For category purposes I’d say it’s literary fiction. For descriptive purposes, I’d say a man puts an invitation in the newspaper one day, inviting the devil to town. The one come to answer the invitation is a thirteen-year-old boy in overalls and with bruises. The story unfolds during the course of one summer and a hell-hot heat-wave that does indeed melt everything.
What inspired you to write it?
I always say the characters themselves inspire me. My characters feel like real people to me. Maybe in some other dimension of the universe or in the afterlife, I’ll be able to meet these characters. Be able to run through a field with Fielding. Climb a spire with Sal. Shoot the breeze with Autopsy. Plant cannas with Stella. Toss a ball back and forth with Grand. Spend a summer with them where the sun doesn’t melt us. A summer we can all exist happily and infinitely.
You decided to portray The Devil as a child, can you tell us why? Were there other options considered?
When I was thinking of the devil, Sal came into my mind so clear in his overalls. I always feel like my characters are real people, and in that they have existed even before they have come into my mind. There’s no one else Sal could ever be. There’s no one else the devil could come to be called.
Was there a part that was more difficult to write than the others?
Writing is the easy part. Getting published is the hard part.
Reading the book, I found the vision of Hell and its representation in the story extremely convincing and spot-on, just like the struggles faced by Breathed and its inhabitants throughout the summer. How much research did it take to recreate this 80s atmosphere and imagine your take on what’s expecting human beings in the afterlife?
When I think of the 1980s I think of a decade long summer with its neon colors, big hair, and big ambitions. This may be a stereotype of the decade. I was born in 1985, so I can’t say how the 1980s really were. I can only base my thinking of how it was on how the music recorded then makes me feel, and how movies and television from then capture that moment. I did do further research of clothing, culture, and just educating myself on the major milestones and events of the decade. I also had to research the AIDS epidemic, because when you talk about the 1980s, you are almost forced to talk about AIDS. The disease and the decade go hand-in-hand.
I didn’t do research in what’s expecting human beings in the afterlife. I think we all already know of the stereotypical heaven and hell, so I wanted to present a hell to be something we haven’t heard of before. We have enough of the demons and fire. It’s time we have another version of punishment.
I was born in 1990, so I missed all the fun. I keep hearing about how awesome those days were, so it was a total contrast to read about the issues you dealt with in The Summer That Melted Everything. It made the decade more realistic to me.
Before I let you off the hook, what is next for you?
I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with my newest novel, When Lions Stood as Men. It’s a story about a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany, cross the Atlantic and end up in my land of Ohio. Suffering from survivor’s guilt, this brother and sister isolate themselves and create their own camp of judgment where they act as both the guards and the prisoners. It’s a story of love above all else. The things we do for love. The things we lose to love itself.
Thank you so much for taking part in my first author interview. I hope you had as much fun answering as I had coming up with the questions.
It was indeed a blast to be interviewed by you. And I am beyond honored to be your first author interview.
If you want to know more about The Summer That Melted Everything, you can check out my review here
Get the book on Amazon
About Tiffany McDaniel
An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.
You can find Tiffany on her website : tiffanymcdaniel.com