This Q&A is with author Tiffany McDaniel in the lead about to the release of her debut novel The Summer That Melted Everything.
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 temperatures 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 wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.
Hi Tiffany, welcome to gemsbooknook. Lets get started and let readers get to know you and your new book.
Where can we buy your book?
I encourage readers to support their local indie bookstores. You can find your nearest location as well as the larger retailer links to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other US and UK locations on my website at:
There you can also learn where to purchase the audiobook and foreign editions of the novel based on your location.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
The narrator of The Summer that Melted Everything is eighty-four year old Fielding Bliss. He’s looking back on his life and the summer of 1984 when he was thirteen-years-old. What makes him and that summer special is that was the summer Fielding’s father, Autopsy Bliss, put an invitation in the local newspaper inviting the devil to their town of Breathed, Ohio. The one come to answer the invitation is a thirteen-year-old boy who arrives with the start of a hell-hot heat-wave. The events that unfold that summer will haunt Fielding his whole life. Across the waters of melt, Fielding is ferried back to answer to his ghosts.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character/s from this book?
I would love to see Anthony Hopkins or Jack Nicholson take over the role of older Fielding. For the role of the mother I’d love to see Kate Winslet play her. The father could be anyone from Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, or a straight-faced Jim Carrey. As far as the younger characters, those will probably have to be new comers to the Hollywood scene that fit that age range.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I never decided to become a writer. Writing was the first thing I remember doing as a kid outside of any external influence or direction. I had an innate desire to read story, create story, to live with story. I’m lost without it.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I spent my childhood and adolescent writing shorter pieces like plays, poetry, and short stories. I was eighteen when I wrote my first full-length novel. It was the right time to write a novel for the first time. I was no longer a child and I needed to prove that to myself. I needed to prove I could be a proper writer. Plus eighteen is really that time in life when you fit yourself for those wings you hope will fly you to your dream.
Do you have a special time or place where you like to write?
I just have a small space in my bedroom where I write at a desk. Nothing fancy, though I dream about that perfect writer nook amidst shelves of books. Sometimes I think a desk balanced by the sea would be perfect. Other times, in the middle of a tall grass field. But as of now it’s the corner of my bedroom. I don’t have a specific time I write. I have eight completed novels. Working on my ninth. For the most part, the novels have been written during the day. But one novel I wrote mostly in the night hours from midnight on. Sometimes the moon is my partner. Sometimes the sun is.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
I don’t set a certain amount of words or pages per day. I feel like doing that forces the writing out, and in that it can feel strangled on the page. So I just sit down and type. Sometimes there’s a lot there that day. Other times not. But I like the natural flow of allowing the characters and scenes to come out on their own. That way I’m not putting a hook in the fish and yanking, so to speak. I’m just opening the door between myself and the sea and letting the fish swim in on its own good time.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
I write on a laptop. I’ve always wanted to use a typewriter, I think they’re so beautiful, but technology has ruined me for that medium. But there’s nothing better than feeling closer to literary greats than sitting in front of a typewriter and hearing that clank of the keys. You feel like you’re calling Hemmingway to your side.
Where do your ideas come from?
From the elements that make me. Somewhere in the thread of my DNA and my soul, the ideas exist. I’m not really sure where else to say they come from. I just know it’s out of reach, existing as fragile as a cloud, as strong as iron.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I never outline or pre-plan the story. What you read on the page is what was in my head that moment I sat in front of the laptop, typing away. I just see where the idea takes me, as you say. Let the cave lead me into the darkness. Let the stars lead me into the light.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me writing isn’t hard. It’s the getting published that’s the hard part.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Falling in love with my characters.
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
I’m pretty superstitious, so I don’t even mention it. It feels like ‘Bloody Mary’ to me, as if you call its name it’ll appear. It’s my boogeyman, so I just avoid saying its name.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Shhh…can’t speak its name.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I’m reading Alice Munro’s collection of short stories, Family Furnishings.
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
I don’t have social media. My only online presence being my author website: www.tiffanymcdaniel.com So I’m afraid I can’t speak to the benefits of social media for marketing. But I think the obvious benefits are reaching that wider online community of readers and fellow authors.
How do you relax?
Reading is a big relaxer. But also watching TV and movies. Sometimes you just want a bag of BBQ potato chips and a good movie.
What is your favourite book and why?
There’s so many. I’d say Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I want to be buried with this book. It’s Bradbury so the prose is beautiful and one of things he does so well is that subtle melancholy. It’s a book that speaks to all those fleeting moments in life. All those moments that will never come again.
Which writers inspire you?
I came around to the literary heavyweights late in life, having spent my childhood and adolescent glued to R.L. Stine books. So I can’t say any one author inspired me, but I will say my favorite authors include Ray Bradbury, Donna Tartt, Toni Morrison, Shirley Jackson, Poet James Wright, Agatha Christie, and Kazuo Ishiguro.
What is your favourite quote?
There are so many. I can’t say my absolute favorite, but F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote magic when he penned this ever so beautiful last line:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Is there anything more breath-taking than that? He’s gotten us all beat.
What is your favourite film and why?
Oh, gosh, that’s difficult. I love Beetlejuice, Misery, Little Shop of Horrors, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Don’t ask me to decide. We’ll be here for eternity. But I will say my favorite films are simply my favorite because they have something that speaks to me, that keeps me wanting more, that flaps like a trapped bird against my soul until I open my eyes to see it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To not grow up so fast. It all goes by in an instant.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
There are so many I’d love to meet, but because I’m in a literary state of mind at the moment I’d love to hang around with Ray Bradbury. We could talk about Martians and dinosaurs and how paper burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
There are so many books I love. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. But what makes these books, and every book special is the fact that they were written by these very people. Every book has its true author. The stories and characters belong to them. There’s no book I wish I would have written, because their true author has already written it so much better than I ever could.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
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. So it was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published. It’s a hard journey to get a foot in the publishing door. Especially when you write literary fiction, like I do. Publishers don’t want to take risks on literary fiction because it could be a financial loss as it’s not as lucrative as say genre or commercial fiction. I really believed I’d never get published. I know I’m so fortunate, about to see my book on the shelf for the first time. I feel for those writers still on the journey to publication. To them I say never, ever give up. Never turn your back on your dreams. You owe it to yourself to stay the course. It will happen for you. You will get that rocket ship ride into the stars one day. Believe it.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
I think you’ve covered it.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
A 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.
A huge thank you to Tiffany for giving me her time for this Q&A. Please check out Tiffany’s debut novel The Summer that Melted Everything out on the 26th of July. I look forward to reading many more novels from Tiffany in the future.