Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Interview with debut novelist Tiffany McDaniel

Debut novelist Tiffany McDaniel joins me today to chat about her work of literary fiction, The Summer that Melted Everything.

Tiffany McDaniel is an Ohio native whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. Also a poet and artist, she is the winner of The Guardian's 2016 "Not-the-Booker Prize" and the winner of Ohioana Library Readers Choice Award for her debut novel, The Summer that Melted Everything. The novel was also a Goodreads Choice Award double nominee in both fiction and debut categories, is a current nominee for the Lillian Smith Book Award, and a finalist for the Women's Fiction Writers Association Star Award for Outstanding Debut.

Welcome, Tiffany. Please tell us about your current release.
Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperature as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestle with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

What inspired you to write this book?
The novel started first as a title. It was one of those hot Ohio summers that I felt like I was melting. Out of true heat, the title was born. I always say I’m inspired by the characters, to write their story, to the best of my ability.

You can use this link to read an excerpt from the publisher’s site:

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve returned to that very first novel I wrote when I was eighteen. It’s titled, The Chaos We’ve Come From. I have eight completed novels, and just like in all of them, in The Chaos We’ve Come From, the fictional town of Breathed, Ohio will be the setting. Ohio is a land that has shaped me as an author. The Chaos We’ve Come From in particular is inspired by my mother’s coming-of-age in southern Ohio, in those foothills of the Appalachians, from the 1950s to the death of her father in the early 1970s. It feels like a good time to return to these characters and to this story.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It was when The Summer that Melted Everything was published. I should say that while The Summer that Melted Everything is my first published novel, it’s actually my fifth or sixth novel written. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen, and wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything. It was a long eleven-year journey to publication, full of rejection and perseverance. After such an uphill battle, seeing one of my books finally on the shelf certainly made me feel as if I was an author.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
For the most part, I just sit there and type. It’s boring, but out of that, comes story.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I wrote short stories, poetry, and made little homemade books out of notebook paper and cardboard. I certainly always wanted to write, but as a kid I never associated writing with a job because I never considered it work. My parents had jobs. Hard jobs that made them tired and not a lot of money. I thought that’s what I would have to do with my life, too. Have a job I hated. I wouldn’t have that distinction between a job and a career until I was in middle school. I started on the journey to a writing career when I was eighteen, when I wrote my first novel.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I don’t have social media, but readers can always reach me direct through my website.

I personally answer every email. I also Skype with book clubs. Having that connection with readers is important to me.


Thanks for being here today, Tiffany!

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