I’m honored and delighted to have Tiffany McDaniel, the author of The Summer That Melted Everything here for a Q & A today. In case you missed it, here is my review.
1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.
My typical writing day is pretty simple. I never outline or plan ahead. For me, making notes or directing the story beforehand can domesticate it in a way that gives the story permission to lose its natural essence. My stories evolve with each new word and page that I write. I never know who the characters will ultimately become, what decisions they will make, or how the final page will come to a close, but I like that element of surprise. Sometimes I write during the day, others times during the night. It’s all about fitting it in with the rest of life around it. My writing environment now is I just write at the desk in the corner of my bedroom. For many years I didn’t have a desk or a chair, so I wrote on my bed with the laptop on my lap. I suppose my perfect writing environment is somewhere peaceful and quite. Perhaps a place of the same Gothic landscape and Gothic comforts that are in my mind.
2. How did you get started writing? Is it something you’ve always loved?
Writing is something I have always loved. I remember as a child having that desire to pick up the crayon and write what was in my head. I would make homemade books out of notebook paper and my mother’s crochet yarn if I wanted to be fancy. It was notebook paper and the stapler if I didn’t have anything else. I started out writing poems, plays, and short stories. It wouldn’t be until I was eighteen that I wrote my first novel. I wouldn’t get a contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything, which is my fifth or sixth novel written. Getting published wasn’t an easy feat, at least not for me. It was eleven years of rejection and perseverance. But through all the frustration and heartbreak, I never lost my love of writing.
3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?
I grew up reading R.L. Stine. His Goosebumps and Fear Street series were the perfect partner to my coming of age. I still love his books to this day. I didn’t read the literary heavyweights until I was much older. I was in my late twenties before I read Shirley Jackson, who is one of my favorite authors. As is Ray Bradbury, Donna Tartt, and the poet James Wright, who was from my land of Ohio.
4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?
I have eight completed novels. Marketing The Summer that Melted Everything has meant I haven’t had much time to write, but my favorite of the novels I have written is When Lions Stood as Men. It’s about a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany, flee across the Atlantic Ocean, and end up in Breathed, Ohio. While there they build their own camp of judgment up in the hills where they must try to survive not only their guilt but also survive each other.
5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.
I try to keep the process really simple. I don’t draft the characters out beforehand or outline them. Really their development comes with each new word I type. The Summer that Melted Everything deals with some heavy issues like racism and homophobia, but these were things that rose naturally as the characters developed. With issues like these it’s important to not force them into the story, but rather allow the issues to naturally exist, if they are to exist at all. Starting out I see the characters in my mind pretty clearly, but aside from their physical appearance, who they are is something I have yet to find out. The plot develops the same way the characters do. One word and one page at a time.
6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?
That’s difficult to say a favorite because I love them all, but one of my favorite characters to write was Grand. He’s Fielding’s older brother and he’s one of those characters that I instantly fell for. Grand’s struggle as a character is universal. I think many of us, if not all of us, at some point in our lives struggle with knowing who we are. These sorts of characters that deal with things we can all relate to are characters we can all recognize, and in that recognition, it’s easy to understand and love them.
7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?
I don’t have social media, but readers can visit my author website at:
I do personally respond to the emails I receive through my website. Having that connection to readers is important. We’re not authors on our own, nor do we have careers by ourselves. We are authors because readers buy and read our books and the least an author can do is to give the reader some of your time when the reader has given you their time reading your book.
8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
For the eight novels I have written thus far they took a month to write. I wrote one of those in eight days. I doubt that will happen again. I spent a lot of years trying to get the first book published and when I realized that first book wasn’t going to be my first published novel, I got to work writing all the novels I should have been writing during the course of those years devoted to the first novel. So within two years I wrote the eight novels and it was out of that batch that The Summer that Melted Everything came.
10. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?
I think a little bit of the author is in each of the characters. Hopefully there’s more of me in the heroes than there is in the villains.
11. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?
I’ve always been interested in archaeology and wanted to run around the world with Indiana Jones. It would have been great to have been there with Howard Carter, curse or not, when he opened King Tutankhamen’s tomb. I also love the workings of the universe of the stars. If I weren’t afraid of the rocket ship ride into space I think being an astronaut wouldn’t be a bad life. If I were better with numbers and figures perhaps a cosmologist or astrophysicist. There’s also marine biology and studying the ocean depths. What I love about writing is that I can be all these things within a story.
12. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?
I’ve been fortunate to receive so many undeserving compliments for sure, but it’s always a compliment when a reader says they love the book. It’s a simple phrase but really that’s all you need to hear right there.
About the author:
(Photo credit JENNIFER MCDANIEL 2016)
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.
Huge thanks to Tiffany for joining me today!