Inside the Mind of Tiffany McDaniel: An Interview with the Author
The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel is a rare and eerie novel. When I recently had the opportunity to interview Tiffany, I was ecstatic to get inside the brain of someone so talented. She was the winner of The Guardian’s 2016 “Not-the-Booker Prize” for The Summer That Melted Everything and it’s obvious she is just getting started.
Hi Tiffany, I’m so happy to be chatting with you! It’s such a pleasure to have you on my blog. Your novel The Summer That Melted Everything is finally out in paperback on July 3, 2017! How are you feeling?
I am really happy because I know the journey to get to this point was one of hard work and perseverance. The Summer that Melted Everything is my first published novel, but it’s actually my fifth or sixth novel written. For me, it was an eleven-year journey to publication full of lots of rejections and perseverance. I write dark literary fiction, and I was always told I was risky to publish. So after such an uphill battle to publication, it feels nice to see the paperback coming out and to know that after all that struggle, my perseverance paid off.
How would you describe The Summer That Melted Everything?
The Summer that Melted Everything is about a man who one day puts an invitation in the newspaper, inviting the devil to town. A boy, claiming to be the devil, answers the invitation, only this boy is not your stereotypical devil of red flesh and horns. This so-called devil’s arrival coincides with the start of a heat-wave that threatens to destroy the town’s very sanity. As the summer unfolds, the boy’s presence has tragic consequences on the town and everyone in it. Who is the real devil? That is a question The Summer that Melted Everything sets out to answer.
Why do you write?
I write because writing is my compass. I’m lost without it.
I’ve always been an avid reader, but I know I never found enjoyment in writing until after I graduated college. Have you always enjoyed writing?
Writing is the first thing I remember doing as a child without being told to do so. There was an innate desire to write down what was in my head. I would write short stories, poetry, and then little books that I would bind up with my mother’s crochet yarn. Writing has always been what I love to do the most.
Where did you gather the inspiration for your debut novel?
The novel started first as a title. It was one of those hot Ohio summers and I felt like I was melting. Out of true heat, the novel was born. When I start writing a new novel, I always have the title and the first line. These two things lead the entire rest of the story. I always say what inspires me are the characters. I’m inspired by them to write them their truth to the best of my ability.
We, aspiring writers, are always looking for tips and tricks to getting over writer’s block! How do you continue to find inspiration?
I’m so superstitious, that I don’t even say those words. And…I’m knocking on wood right now. I will say that oftentimes it’s our own words that push us forward. Reading what we’ve already written, and in that, realizing we’ve done it once, we can certainly do it again.
Which books, authors, or poets inspire you?
I came late to reading the authors who I consider to be among my favorites now. I’ve always written more than I’ve read. For some authors, they read more than they write. Some of my favorite authors are Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Agatha Christie, and Donna Tartt. There is also the poet James Wright, who is from my land of Ohio. I can’t say these authors have inspired me, because by the time I came upon them, I already had a few novels written, but they are authors who I rank among my favorites thus far. I love Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as Agatha Christie’s entire collection.
When you’re not writing, what occupies your time?
I grew up with gardens in my life, and I’ve never lost that love for nature and for plants, so gardening is one of the things I love spending time doing. Also watching movies, reading, and being with all the animals in my life. I love art as well and I use all mediums from charcoal to watercolors. It’s important to keep the creative wheel spinning, so through it all, that’s what I always try to do.
Thank you again, Tiffany! To learn more about Tiffany McDaniel or The Summer That Melted Everything, visit www.tiffanymcdaniel.com.