1. What prompted you to become an author?
Nothing really prompted me to become an author. Writing is the first thing I remember doing as a child outside of any external direction or influence. It’s just something inside me, as it is inside every author, that internal gear that drives us to put words on the page. I’ve always known I have to have story around me. Reading it, creating it, living with it. Writing is my bliss. It is my chaos. It is my perfect and imperfect everything. It is the thing that makes me. Without writing, I don’t exist.
2. How did you become an author?
How I became a published author was after an eleven year struggle to get published. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine. The road to publication for me was full of heart-ache and fear I’d never be published. I was told I never would be. I was told The Summer that Melted Everything would never sell. I know I’m so fortunate to be in the position I am now, about to see my book on the shelf for the first time. I feel for those authors still on the publishing journey. To them I say never give up. You will be published one day. Believe it. That rocket ship to the stars is waiting on you. Never give up.
3. How did you come up with this idea?
The novel started first as a title. It was one of those Ohio summers that I felt like I was melting. I always start writing a new novel with two things. The title and the first line. These two things lead the rest of the story. I never outline or pre-plan, so the idea is never fully-formed when I began writing. As the author, I even surprise myself where the story goes.
4. Are the views of main characters in your story a representation of your views?
I always like to keep my views out of it, just because I think that could start to compete with the characters and their views. You can always find something of the author in what has been written, but for me my characters feel like real people of their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
5. If you have to pick your favourite character, who would it be and why?
I love all of them, so I can’t pick my favorite, but I will say one of my favorite characters to write was Sal. He’s the one come to answer the invitation to the devil. He was so interesting to write because I was in essence writing dialogue for the fallen angel himself. I had to get a Lucifer twang and a Satan speak. It’s not often you get to do that.
6. What future books do you have planned?
I have eight completed novels, and am currently working on my ninth. The novel I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is When Lions Stood as Men. It’s about a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany, cross the Atlantic, and end up in my land of Ohio. While here, they struggle to survive their guilt of escaping Germany so they create their own camp of judgment where they serve as both the guards and the inmates. It’s an unusual story of love and how guilt can imprison us until it feels like we can never escape.
7. What is your schedule for writing?
I don’t have a schedule for writing. It really does depend on life itself. Sometimes I write during the day. Sometimes I write during the night. I never aim for a specific word count or page number. I like to just allow the story to come on its own. I’ve said before it’s like turning on the porch light and waiting for the moths to come. It’s about being quiet enough to listen to the chatter of the moths, to translate that chatter, but never intrude upon it or force more of it.
8. What does your family think of your writing?
My mother, Betty, and my older sister, Jennifer, have read every draft of The Summer that Melted Everything from the beginning. In fact they’ve read everything I’ve ever written. They’re biased in their opinion because I’m their daughter and sister, but I like to think they would like my writing even if I wasn’t related to them.
9. If you have to pick a favorite book, which book would it be?
That’s hard because there are so many beautiful books out there. I will say I love Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. Anything written by Bradbury has stunning verse, and this is a story in which his talents as an author are truly showcased. The story itself is one I immediately fell in love with. I’ve re-read it several times. I want to be buried with this novel so I may carry it into the afterlife and find a nice spot on a cloud and read it all over again.
10. What was your motivation for writing this story?
I always say I’m inspired by the characters themselves. I’m inspired by them to tell their story as honestly as I can. To give them the best beginning, middle, and end as possible. I owe that to the characters. I owe it to the readers to write a story they can feel good about spending their time and hard-earned money on.
11. Is Sal really the devil?
I think this a question readers themselves will ask after reading the novel. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say the devil in The Summer that Melted Everything is not the stereotypical red-flesh, horned devil found in our nightmares. We have to open our eyes to see for ourselves who the true devils are among us.
12. What would you say to someone who would to live in Ohio? What is the best thing about it?
Well, I was born and raised in Ohio. In every way, my writing is shaped by the landscape I come from. I would be a completely different author if I had come from a different land. That’s true for every author. Our origins carve our verse in deep ways we will never truly know. I’d say for me the best thing about Ohio is that it is where my family and my memories are. It is the land that has molded me. I have risen with its hills and rolled with its waters. Perhaps in another life I stalked beneath the buckeye trees as a true native. Perhaps not. But I feel that connection to the land, as only someone who is born from it can. I’m not saying I’ll never leave Ohio. But even if I do, I will still have never left.
Thank you Tiffany McDaniel for doing this amazing interview! Remember to check out her new book The Summer That Melted Everything which is being released today. I highly recommend it to anyone!