Author Interviews

Author Interview with Tiffany McDaniel / The Summer that Melted Everything


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Welcome to Port Jericho! Today we are interviewing Tiffany McDaniel, Author of The Summer that Melted Everything,available-July 26, 2016

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Getting to Know You
*Tiffany, where are you from?
**I’m from the buckeye state of Ohio.
*Tell us a little about yourself: education, family life, etc.
**A little about me…outside of my writing, I’m pretty boring. I’d like to say I’ve lived an Indiana Jones type of life, wrestled alligators, and gone to Mars and back, though Ray Bradbury has taken me pretty close.
*What hobbies do you have, other than writing?
**Reading of course. I love film. Gardening. I hope to have a greenhouse one day I can stalk like a jaguar. I like baking. Creating art in all mediums whether it be watercolors, oils, pastels, charcoals. As long as I can draw or paint with it, I’ll use it.
*What are your favourite TV shows/films?
**Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Little Shop of Horrors, Beetlejuice, Death at a Funeral, Misery, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, To Kill a Mockingbird, Rebecca, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Odd Couple, Rosemary’s Baby. There are others but this is a short list. As far as TV shows I like the X-Files’ early seasons, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Seinfeld.
*Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?
**There’s quite a few I’d like to meet but because I’m in a literary state-of-mind at the moment, I’d say Ray Bradbury. He could teach me how to make Dandelion Wine.
*Are you a pirate or a ninja?
**Pirate. If only to have a ship to sail the seas and have some mythic encounters with sea monsters and mermaids.
Book Love
*Who is your favorite author? What is it that really strikes you about their work?
**It’s difficult to say my favorite author. I love Agatha Christie, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Harper Lee, Donna Tartt, Poet James Wright, Flannery O’ Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Toni Morrison. At the top of the list are Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury. Their words ripple my soul and put a billion more stars in the sky.
*What book(s) are you reading now?
**With so much to do leading up to publication, I’ve had to put off reading. But I’ll probably pick up an Agatha Christie book to relax after all of this. Her books are like visiting an old friend.
*What new authors have captured your attention, or captivated your heart?
**Most of what I read has been the older authors. I haven’t found any new authors that speak to me the way Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury does. Though I do really love Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and The Little Friend.
*What’s your favourite word? Why?
**I haven’t ever thought of this before. Thinking now, maybe the word freedom because of what it means. As an author, where would I be without freedom to write what I want?
*Are there any words you absolutely loathe? Why?
**Haven’t ever thought of this either. I don’t think there’s a word I hate so much I wouldn’t use, because even ugly words or words that mean something ugly can be used in order to create a positive message.
The Write Life
*What books or authors have most influenced you?
**It’s hard to say any one author or authors influenced me because I’ve been writing since I was kid and writing quite a bit by the time I came around to read the literary heavy-weights, having spent my childhood and adolescent reading R.L. Stine. But I’ve always been drawn to the southern gothic genre like what is found in the writings of Flannery O’ Connor, Shirley Jackson, Harper Lee, and even in the firefly speak of Ray Bradbury.
*Do you have a mentor who has shepherded or encouraged your creativity?
**I do not.
*Who has been your strongest support for your writing?
**I’d say my family. My mom, Betty, and sister, Jennifer, have read all my writing.
*When, and how, did you discover your love of writing?
** As a child, writing is the first thing I remember doing without any external influence or direction. Just picking up those crayons and scribbling what was in my head. I knew I wanted to read story, live with it, create it. Writing is as natural to me as breathing. Without it I am lost. I simply don’t exist.
*Tell us a bit about your writing style?
**My genre is literary fiction. I’m not too into nailing down the style. I suppose it could be described as southern gothic.
*What challenges do you face in your writing?
**For me, writing isn’t the challenge. It’s the getting published that can be challenging. It took me eleven years to get a foot in the publishing door. And even with the contract from the publishing house I was surprised to learn how long it takes to actually publish a book. On average two years. In this fast-paced world, traditional publishing still moves at a snail’s pace unfortunately. So with all the years added up, I’ve been waiting thirteen years to see a book on the shelf. The wait is definitely challenging.
*What is your ideal writing time?
**I don’t have an ideal time. Really it’s when my life schedule allows it. One book I wrote only at night. For my most recent novels, I’ve written them during the day. As long as the story is there, the time of day or night doesn’t matter.
*Do you have a special place to write? Tell us a bit about it.
**For many years I didn’t even have a desk or chair. I wrote on my bed with the laptop on my lap in a room with three broken windows that wouldn’t open. It was pretty miserable, but I got writing done. Now I work in the corner of my bedroom. I have a desk and a chair finally. There’s nothing special about it really. I suppose like most authors I dream of that great room full of books in which to write. Or maybe write in some derelict mansion by the seaside, crows flying outside and the sea raging on. You know, something mythical and gothic like that…
*What writing tools do you prefer?
**Laptop. I wish I used a typewriter but technology has ruined me for that medium. There’s beauty in a typewriter. That clanking of keys is the summoning of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Shirley Jackson. The typewriter is the Ouija board for dead authors.
*Do you have any writing superstitions, or good luck charms?
**No charms. There is one superstition, but part of the superstition is that I can’t talk about…
*What advice can you offer to other writers?
**To never give up. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen years old and wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine. It was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published. It’s a narrative that so many authors have. The road to publication is difficult. I don’t say this to discourage writers still on the journey, but rather I say this so they don’t get discouraged. Do not give up. Believe your name is meant to be on a book. It will happen for you.
*What writingcraft books are your most treasured resources?
**I had to Google writingcraft books. I’m not too familiar with the topic and I don’t have any such books. For me, writing isn’t something you can learn in a book. Your own creativity is the best resource.
Current Work
*How did you come up with the title The Summer that Melted Everything?
**It was one of those Ohio summers that I felt like I was melting and thus the title was born. Titles just come upon me like that. I do always have to have the title before I start writing. The title helps determine the story.
*What, if any, message would you like your readers to take away from this book?
**That we are only as godly as the love we give. We are only as devilish as the hate we spread.
*Who designed the cover for it?
**As a debut author, I get no say in the cover. That’s all up to the publisher. I wasn’t part of the process and don’t know who designed it actually.
*Did you learn anything from writing The Summer that Melted Everything?
**One of the things about writing The Summer that Melted Everything was that I had to write about the heat in a way that didn’t get repetitive. I think that’s one of the things this book taught me. How to write a particular subject over and over again but each time write it in a new way.
*What are your current works in progress?
** 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.
*Would you be willing to share a little of this current work in progress with us?
**Aside from the little summary given, I’m afraid there’s no excerpt available just yet.
*Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
** I would like to say to readers that without you, there are no novelists to be had. Readers give meaning to an author’s words. So if you like a book, tell everyone you know. Be that book’s champion because if you do, you’re being a champion for the author herself. My only hope is that readers like what I’ve written. That they can count on me to deliver a story that is worth both their time and their hard-earned money. Nothing would make me happier than to know a reader has finished one of my books with the pleasure of having read it. That’s what I strive for as an author. To be someone’s favorite author as so many authors have been mine.
I’m not on social media, but readers can jump on to my website at
Readers can connect with me directly through my website. That connection to readers is very important to me. As I’ve said, they’re 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?
Connect with This Author
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