“It doesn’t help to hold on to everything.” -Tiffany McDaniel
And I got to interview the author behind the tragic but beautiful novel that is The Summer That Melted Everything. Here are 10 quick (non-spoiler) questions about her & her hot debut.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Summer That Melted Everything is about a boy named Fielding Bliss who 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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.
THR: What or Who inspired you to write The Summer that Melted Everything?
Tiffany: It’s always a little hard to answer the inspiration question just because it’s difficult to nail creativity down to a science, but one of the things that always encourages me to write the best story I can, are the characters themselves. They hover around me as I write, inspiring, demanding even, that I write their truths as honestly as I can. The characters themselves are an inspiration for the story.
THR: How long did it take you to write this book?
Tiffany: I wrote The Summer that Melted Everything in a month. I have eight completed novels and on average it has taken me a month to write them. For me, it’s important to get that beginning, middle, and end of the story down as soon as I can. I don’t like the story to sit for too long because when it does, it begins to lose its essence.
THR: Being an Ohio native, have you ever experienced a heat as bad as “The Summer of 1984” or at least close to it?
Tiffany: I grew up in a house without air conditioning or central air, so I’m familiar with the summer and its heat. That being said, I haven’t experienced a heat as bad as the heat in the novel. So far my summers have been good ol’ fashioned Ohio heat, but the heat in the novel is truly hell-hot.
THR: There are (a lot of) different backstories of characters in every chapter of your book. Each of them has a quirk that makes them unforgettable. Were these based on true stories of people you know/knew?
Tiffany: They aren’t based on anybody. For me, my characters feel very real so these are their true selves. Their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas. My job as the author is to make these characters feel just as real to the readers. To indeed make them unforgettable.
THR: The Summer that Melted Everything deals with a lot of sensitive issues; racism; sexualism; and most of all, beliefs and/or religion. Were you ever hesitant? In writing these sort of subjects?
Tiffany: As an author, it’s important to be brave. To not be fearful of tackling important issues and intense subject matter. When we start to become hesitant, then we’re writing with fear and when we do that, we are doing a disservice to the characters and to the reader.
THR: Which part of the book was the hardest to write?
Tiffany: For me, writing isn’t the hard part. It’s the getting published that’s hard. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine. It was eleven years of fear I’d never be published. This is the narrative so many authors have. The road to publication is discouraging and heartbreaking. Writing is the easy part. It’s the getting published that’s hard.
THR: Did an alternate ending for the book ever crossed your mind?
Tiffany: It didn’t. This ending is the characters’ truth. Any other ending would be a lie to their journey.
THR: If you were to collaborate with any author, who would it be and what would be the genre of your book? (3 authors)
Tiffany: Let’s see…I think the authors I would love to collaborate with are already passed from this world. Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe. The genre would be literary, southern Gothic, and in the case of Poe, full of ravens.
THR: What would you like to say to your readers who has experienced some, or at least one of the many tragedies that occurred in the small town of Breathed?
Tiffany: To not allow that tragedy to define the rest of your life. As we learn in the novel, it doesn’t help to hold on to everything.
THR: Lastly, if you can be any character in your book, who would you be and why?
Tiffany: I think Sal. He’s the one come to answer the invitation and he’s a character that is a mystery even to me. So I’d become him, if only to learn who he really is.