Hi everyone! A few days ago, you may have read my review of Tiffany McDaniel’s debut novel The Summer That Melted Everything, which documents the arrival of the devil in the sleepy town of Breathed, Ohio in the 1980s and the terrible events that follow. It’s dark, twisted, and unsettling, just how I like my books, and I highly recommend getting your butt down to Waterstones to pre-order a copy. If you’re still not convinced, the lovely author herself graciously allowed me to pick her brains a little.
The Summer That Melted Everything is very different from anything I’ve ever read before. How did you come up with such an individual concept?
Tiffany McDaniel: The novel started as a title. It was one of those Ohio summers that was so hot I felt like I was just melting, bones and all, into a puddle of myself. I never outline or fully craft the idea before I write. The story evolves with each new word and page written. I always say I’m surprised myself by the characters and how their story turns out. I never know how the story is going to end until the last word is typed. So it’s hard to answer how I came up with something, because creativity is hard to bring down to a science. But it really did start one hot summer day…
The novel is set in your home state of Ohio. How did your own experiences shape the setting of the novel, and did you draw inspiration from any other aspects of your own life?
TD: While the story itself is not based on personal experience, the landscape certainly is. The story takes place in the fictional land of Breathed, Ohio, which is a landscape very much 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 wildflower song, front porch chatter, and southern twang has shaped me as a writer. I definitely drew inspiration from the land. Having spent my childhood summers down-home was like being one of the rolling hills, forever rooted in rust and dirt and moon-shine magic.
What were you trying to convey with The Summer That Melted Everything? Is there a moral message the reader should take from it?
TD: I think there are a few morals to be taken from the novel. Perhaps most of all is that we are only as godly as the love we give. We are only as devilish as the hate we spread.
You’re already prolific in other written mediums; when and why did you decide you wanted to be an author? Were you ever tempted to throw in the towel?
TD: As a child, writing was the first thing I remember doing without any external influence or direction. I didn’t ever decide to write. It has always been something I’m drawn to do. 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 were older. Writing was just so wonderful to me I didn’t think you could get paid to do 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 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. With that being said, I was often tempted to throw in the towel because getting published is no easy feat. It’s a lot of hard work and perseverance.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers like myself?
TD: To never give up. 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 rejection and fear I’d never get published. This is the narrative so many authors have. The road to publication can be painful. It can be heart-breaking. But don’t get discouraged. Believe that you will see your name on a book one day. Never lose faith that the rocket ship to the stars is waiting for you.
Finally, if advanced reviews are anything to go by, The Summer That Melted Everything is set to bee a great success. What should we expect from you in the future?
TD: First off, to address the reviews — If there’s any success to the novel it will certainly come down to you book bloggers who have generously given of your time to read and review the novel. More than that, to spread the word of the novel. I have to say I doubt I’ll ever feel deserving of the advanced reviews. Eleven years of rejection can strip an author of her confidence. But I do hope you reviewers know how grateful I am to you for spending time with my novel and giving your honest opinions of it. Now, to answer your question, 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,
Exciting stuff, right? A big thank you goes to Tiffany McDaniel, who is one of the loveliest and most gracious collaborators I have had the pleasure to work with on this blog, for answering my questions and introducing me to her wonderful debut novel, The Summer That Melted Everything.
If you want to read it for yourself (note: you definitely should), it’s out now in the U.S., I believe, and available for pre-order in the U.K., to be released on the 11th August. Have a look at these links for more info:
Thank you so much for reading as usual, my lovelies. Until next time!