Saturday, August 6, 2016

Interview with Author Tiffany McDaniel

Hello! I was lucky enough to interview Tiffany McDaniel, the author of the amazing novel, The Summer That Melted Everything. I gave this book five stars- so be sure to check out my review! I hope you enjoy getting to know Tiffany McDaniel.

Hello and welcome to The Tree of Books! Could you introduce yourself? 
I’m an Ohio poet and novelist who gets really excited (too excited really) by a hot fudge sundae and a good Saturday night movie.  

Your novel, The Summer That Melted Everything, is about to be published. What is it about?
The Summer that Melted Everything is about an eighty-four-year-old man named Fielding Bliss, who 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.  That is what this story 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 inspired you to write this novel?
I always say what inspires me are the characters themselves.  To me, my characters feel as real as any of us, so I’m inspired by my characters.  To do right by them.  I only hope I tell their truths as honestly as I can.  That I’ve given them their authentic life and the legs to stand on their own two feet.    

What genre(s) do you typically write/read. 
I typically write literary fiction.  But I read all kinds of genres from literary fiction to mystery, horror, short stories, poetry, non-fiction, YA, picture books.  I like my books like wildflowers.  Of all colors and mix.  

Why do you like this/these genre(s)? 
For literary fiction I love that the story is more about the characters.  You get to dive deep into the ocean with the characters and really uncover who they are and what lies on the sea-bed floor.  As far as other genres, they all have something special to offer.  Whether it’s a murder mystery or the brief flicker of a short story.  To me a book is beautiful on its own.  Its genre doesn’t matter to me, as long as the story and the writing is something I want to hoard in my soul.

Why do you write? 
Writing is the first thing I remember doing as a child outside of any external influence or direction.  As a child I was driven by that internal gear, and as I got older I realized I was writing story.  I wouldn’t realize writing was a profession I could have until much older, when 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 that I didn’t think I could make a life out of it.  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.  Though it took me eleven long, hard years to get a publishing contract, 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.  Writing is my compass.  My lighthouse safely guiding my ship to shore.  I’m lost without it.

What do you do when you get writer's block? 
I’m pretty superstitious, so I don’t even mention it.  It feels like ‘Bloody Mary’ to me, as if you call its name it’ll appear.  It’s my boogeyman, so I just avoid saying its name.

What authors/books have impacted you as both a reader and a writer?
I came around to the literary heavyweights late in life, having spent my childhood and adolescent glued to R.L. Stine books.  So I can’t say any one author inspired me, but I will say my favorite authors include Ray Bradbury, Donna Tartt, Toni Morrison, Shirley Jackson, Poet James Wright, Agatha Christie, and Kazuo Ishiguro.  They all write magic.

What’s your favorite things about being an author?
Being introduced to the characters and falling in love with them.

Do you have any writing quirks?
I have one quirk, but it’s just too weird to say.

What are some things you wish you’d known when you first started writing seriously? 
That the journey to publication is long and difficult.  I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen.  I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine.  So it was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published.  It’s a hard journey to get a foot in the publishing door.  Especially when you write literary fiction, like I do.  Publishers don’t want to take risks on literary fiction because it could be a financial loss as it’s not as lucrative as say genre or commercial fiction.  I really believed I’d never get published.

What are some of the most interesting things you’ve learned through writing?
I’d say the process of getting a book published itself.  Writing the book is the easy part.  Getting it published is the hard part.  That to me is interesting.  Unfortunate, but interesting.  

What advice can you offer aspiring authors?
I feel for those writers still on the journey to publication.  To them I say never, ever give up.  Never turn your back on your dreams.  You owe it to yourself to stay the course.  It will happen for you.  You will get that rocket ship ride into the stars one day. Believe it.

Describe your routine to get in the writing mood. 
I don’t really have a routine.  I’m pretty boring in that I just sit there and type.  As long as I have story, I’m in the mood to tell it.

Do you listen to music as you write? 
Sometimes.  Never anything upbeat.  It’s usually sad instrumental music.  Rarely do I listen to anything with lyrics because I find them distracting.  Unless they’re lyrics that would make me want to paint my walls black.

What did you want to be when you were younger? 
A writer.  A witch most definitely, like one of the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus or the cartoon witch from the Bugs Bunny cartoon.  I’m still waiting on my flying broom.  And yes, I still very much want to be a witch.  At least Halloween lets me pretend I can be.  Perhaps one day I’ll write a spell book…


It was such a pleasure getting to talk to Tiffany McDaniel, and I hope you pick up her new novel, The Summer That Melted Everything, when it's released on July 26th! 

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