When Tiff first contacted me about reading her book, I had no idea what to expect
from her story. I clearly did not consider it would be in my Top 10 reads of 2016, quite possibly in my adult reading lifetime. This debut novel stole my breath and ripped out a piece of my heart that I wasn’t sure was there to begin with. In case you missed it, you can
catch my glowing review HERE; I cannot recommend this one highly enough! If there is one book you buy this year in the genre of literary fiction, let this be it! This story has true heart and soul that you won’t find many other places, along with a shocking
conclusion that I honestly didn’t see coming. Below are some of the questions I had for Tiff and she graciously contributed; completely spoiler free for those who haven’t (most likely) read the book yet. While you’re reading, don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of The Summer That Melted Everything HERE!
Tiffany McDaniel Q&A:
1) Tell us a little about yourself. Have you always wanted to be a writer? What was your journey like getting to where you are now?
Writing is the first thing I remember doing as a child. I would take a crayon and scribble what was in my head, realizing later I was creating story. I went from that to making home-made books out of notebook paper. Using cardboard box flaps as the cover, putting little holes in the cardboard to line with the paper holes, and tying it all together with my mother’s crochet yarn. I wouldn’t realize writing was a career to be had until much later when I was in middle school and the guidance counselor came to our class to talk about what we wanted to do with our futures. My parents had jobs. Very hard jobs that made them tired and not a lot of money. So I thought that was what I would have to do with my life. Realizing writing was a career I could have was being told I could spend infinity in love. I could spend infinity being loved back.
As far as my journey, I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine. It was eleven years of trying to get an agent and trying to get a publishing house. Eleven years of rejection, despair, and fear I’d never get published. I came to believe I never would be. Even after getting the publishing contract, publishing moves at a snail’s pace unfortunately, so in total it’s been thirteen years waiting to see one of my books on the shelf. July 26th is going to be a very special day. I doubt I’ll stop smiling.
2) Even though “The Summer That Melted Everything” is your debut published novel, you mentioned you actually wrote another book when you were 18. Could you tell us about it?
Yes, even though The Summer that Melted Everything is my first published novel, it’s the fifth or sixth book I’ve written. I have eight completed novels and am working on my ninth. The first novel I wrote at eighteen was titled, South of Heaven, and was inspired by my mother’s life growing up in southern Ohio. It was in essence a story exploring the chaos of youth and the chaos of being a daughter in a large family. It saw a girl coming-of-age amidst trying to come-of-mind, and in that she became a woman able to go forth into the rest of her life.
3) Where did your plot inspiration come from for TSTME? Your setting is a fictional town in Ohio; was Breathed based on actual landmarks or completely imagined from scratch?
I’d like to say the plot was all a planned design, but I do really feel like the characters live their truth in this novel. This is their summer. There’s no other way it could have begun, happened, or ended. Nothing is planned when I write. It’s evolved with each new word typed, and each page written.
As far as my setting—I’d spend my childhood summers and school-year weekends down home, on the hilly acreage and in the cinderblock house my father was left by his parents in southern Ohio. It was a front-porch type of place, and a place very southern for being in a northern state. Spending that time in southern Ohio shaped me as an author. I rise and roll with the hills. I quietly stride with the creek. I rust with the metal. I wild with the flowers in the fields. It’s the land I write from. And it’s crickets and bullfrogs and moon-shine magic.
4) All of your characters in TSTME were so complex and developed; was any particular character based on people you have come across in your own life experiences?
I always say I feel like my characters are real people. That they have existed before I wrote them, and they continue to exist past the last page of my book. All their hopes, dreams, ideas, they belong to them. In the afterlife of every author I think we all hope to go to a place where our characters do exist in ways we can talk to them, engage with them, have friendship and love toward them in ways the page doesn’t allow us to.
5) Your story had a singular POV but a jumping timeline; how were you able to keep your story flowing properly in the correct order? Did you have any particular methods in planning, brainstorming, or charting your progress?
I’m not sure why, but I’m always been attracted to writing stories that take place at different times of one’s life. It’s a very natural pacing for me, and I’m not a structured person by nature so I don’t plan or brainstorm or chart the progress. I never outline or pre-plan my stories. I don’t like to know the entire story before I write it. Instead, I like the story to evolve with each day I sit and type it out on the laptop. I’ve said before it’s like setting a light out on a porch and waiting for the moths to come chatter around the light. I quietly sit by and listen to the moths chatter. I capture that chatter. I write that chatter. When all is said and done, I even surprise myself as the author at how the characters or events come out the way they do. I try to give the characters their truth. The beginning, middle, and end they deserve. That’s the best method for me. To just listen to the characters. They guide me down the path.
6) I know it is early days, but do you have any plans or ideas in motion for your next book? If so, can you share any details?
The novel I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is my newest completed novel, When Lions Stood as Men. It’s about a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany. They flee to my land of Ohio. Struggling with their survivor’s guilt, they create their own camp of judgment where they serve as both the guards and the prisoners. Together they must come to terms with the things they’ve done, the things they will do. They must learn to survive not only their guilt, but each other as well and the time when lions truly did stand as men.
7) Could you share one little known fact about yourself? (Preferably random and/or embarrassing/weird)
Growing up all my book boyfriends were all the boys in R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series. I had such big crushes on them that I would do as all girls do with their crushes and that is to draw little hearts with our names inside. In reality they were fictional boys that made up Stine’s universe, but as a girl, they were my dream dates. How’s that for embarrassing or weird?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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 purchase it at AMAZON and BARNES AND NOBLE. Tiffany can be reached via her website HERE.