Hello, and welcome to the VERY VERY FIRST author interview ever hosted by yours truly, Princess Penguin!
Today, I welcome Tiffany McDaniel to my little corner of the Bookish Block–thank you SO MUCH for taking time out of your schedule to sit down and chat with me a bit, Tiffany!
Penguins, can we get a HUGE flipper hello to the author?!
About the Book:
The Summer that Melted Everything
by Tiffany McDaniel
St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: July 26th, 2016
Magical Realism / Literary Fiction
Get a copy here!
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.
About the Author:
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” 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 has recently been announced as a finalist for the Ohioana Literary Award and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award for Outstanding Debut.
“Sometimes this world is like red fences in the snow. There ain’t no hiding who we really are.”—THE SUMMER THAT MELTED EVERYTHING
The Interview of EPIC
1. If you could talk to any animal for a day, which animal would you pick and what would you talk about/ask?
I would have loved to have had a conversation with my cat Fancy. She recently passed on May 22nd. She was twenty-one years old, so we came-of-age and lived a long time together. I would have loved to have been able to talk to her and hear her side of those twenty-one years.
2. The Summer that Melted Everything is your debut–congratulations! Tell us a little bit about the book? (non spoilery, of course!)
Thank you so much for the congratulations. 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.
3. You wake up to find you’re suddenly a mythical creature! What form have you taken, and what do you spend the day doing?
I would say a winged horse, or some other mythical-winged creature. I’ve always wanted wings and the ability to fly over all the land. Imagine flying above jungles, close enough to run your fingers through the foliage of the treetops. To fly over the oceans, just above the whales, and onward to the highest mountaintop, steering clear of Icarus’ sun. And then, come nightfall, to be able to fly all the way up to the stars. I doubt there would be a better way to spend a day.
4. Do you have any weird or interesting writing rituals, such as yo-yoing when “stuck” or writing for one hour at 2 am once a week?
I wish I could say I do something really weird or interesting when writing, but I’m pretty boring in that I just sit there and type. In my downtime, I garden, paint and draw, bake, watch movies, and spend time with all the animals in my life. These things really prove to be great ways to step away from writing, and come back to it, re-energized.
5. What advice would you give aspiring writers/authors about publishing/the world?
To never give up. 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. My writing is dark, and I was often told I was risky to publish, which is something I think female literary fiction writers often encounter in contrast to their male counterparts. But if I had given up, I wouldn’t be where I am today with a book on the shelf. So to all the writers out there on the journey to publication, I say, don’t let rejection destroy you. Let rejection empower you.
6. What piece of advice has most helped you with publishing/the world?
I have to go back to my answer in the previous question because the biggest piece of advice is to never give up. That’s not only true in publishing, but in everything we do in this world.
7. If you could make a scarf out of words, what type of words would you use: your favorites, to hold close, or your least favorites, to remind you how to be strong?
I would make a scarf out of my favorite words. Names of people and of animals I have loved, and of words that give me comfort. To be clothed in the words that make me the happiest, that would be an ideal world.
8. Give us a few words from your word-scarf? What do these words mean TO YOU if they’re your favorites / why don’t you like them if they’re not?
The words I would use are words that would remind me of my favorite things. My favorite seasons, favorite colors, and words that have to do with nature and plants, because I love gardening. There would also be the names and words of artists and authors I enjoy. But also, the names of the people and animals I have loved in this lifetime. A scarf that would ultimately be the story of my life, a story I could hold close and hold dear for all of time.
9. Anything nifty tucked up your sleeve for your next project you want to give us a “sneak peak” into?
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.
10. If you could sit down with any writer, alive or dead, who would you pick? What would you talk about? What do you expect they’ll choose for dinner?
There are a few authors like Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson that I would like to chat with. Agatha Christie, too. My answer seems to change each time I’m asked this, but today I would say Sylvia Plath. I think we would talk about all the things we keep under the bell jar, in one way or another. For dinner, I think she would choose a cake she’d made the day before. Sometimes cake itself is the perfect dinner.
HUGE thanks, once again, to Tiffany McDaniel for sitting down and sharing these awesome answers with me–I had so much fun asking these questions, and hope all you Penguins out there had fun READING them and getting to know this author a little!
You can find out more about Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer that Melted Everything, and MOAR by visiting her website (just click the flowers, Penguins–CLICK IIIIIT!):
Until next time, and as always, happy book-ing!