Orsayor: Hi Tiffany, Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
McDaniel: I’m an Ohio poet and novelist. I wish I had something really cool and interesting to say about myself like I have trekked the jungles of South America and sailed the high seas, but outside of my writing, I’m pretty boring and quiet with a background to match.
Orsayor: What inspired you to write The Summer that Melted Everything?
McDaniel: The inspiration question is always a little hard to answer just because creativity is hard to pin down to a science. I always say what inspires me are the characters themselves. They hover around me and inspire, demand even, that I write them the best beginning, middle, and end of a story that I can. I owe that to the characters. I owe that to the readers.
Orsayor: Do you work with an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
McDaniel: I never outline or plan where the story is going to go. The story evolves with each new word and page that I write. For me, outlining a story domesticates it, and I want to preserve the wild soul of the story.
Orsayor: Was there a scene in The Summer that Melted Everything that was hard for you to write?
McDaniel: As the author, I have to be prepared to write humor as much as tragedy, sadness just as much as happiness. I tend to write darker literary fiction, so there’s always bound to be emotional scenes within the text and my job as the author is to be brave with those scenes and not turn away from them, but rather tell them as honestly as I can.
Orsayor: Give readers an insight into one of your main characters from the book.
McDaniel: 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. Fielding trying to survive ferrying these puddles, which to him have become oceans he must cross to once again find the bliss of his name.
Orsayor: What sort of readers/audience do you believe will find The Summer that Melted Everything interesting and enjoyable to read?
McDaniel: I think the novel will appeal to a wide range of readers. I’m always hesitant to name a specific audience because I think we are all capable of reading and enjoying every genre. As long as a reader has enjoyed their time with the novel, that’s really the most important thing, and genre comes in second to that.
Orsayor: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your book?
McDaniel: For the role of older Fielding perhaps Anthony Hopkins, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Bridges, or Sam Shepherd. Someone with life etched into their skin.
Orsayor: What’s one valuable piece of advice you were given that helped your career?
McDaniel: 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. This is a narrative so many authors have. The road to publication is heart-breaking and discouraging. For me, it was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published. I give the same advice to authors who are still on the journey to publication. Never give up. You owe that to your characters, and you owe that to yourself.
Orsayor: Can you tell readers about any upcoming projects?
McDaniel: 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.
Orsayor: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
McDaniel: I’m not on social media, but readers can jump on to my website at www.tiffanymcdaniel.com
Readers can also connect with me directly through my website. That connection to readers is very important to me. Readers are the ones who determine an author’s entire career. How can I not give them some of my time, when they’ve given me some of their time reading my book?
An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.