I recently had the pleasure of reading The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel after she contacted me and provided me with an ARC in return for an honest review. If you haven’t read my review yet, you can find it here. Just know that I absolutely loved this wonderfully dark novel and I highly recommend it!
I also had the pleasure of asking Tiffany a few questions about herself and her debut novel, The Summer That Melted Everything! Hopefully these questions and answers further encourage you to pick up this beautiful novel!
Q. What has your experience been like as a debut author?
A. My experience has been similar to a lot of authors who set out on the publishing journey. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine. It’s the narrative so many authors have. The road to publication can be heartbreaking and discouraging. For me it was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never get published. With all the heartbreak and rejection, I really never believed I would be published, at least not in my lifetime. So while The Summer that Melted Everything is my debut, and my first published novel, it’s actually the fifth or sixth novel I’ve written. For me the experience of becoming a published author has been one of hard work in getting to where I am today. I still think I’m dreaming. That I’ll wake from this dream of being published and find myself back in the abyss, which is home to the unpublished author. I feel for those still on the journey. To them I say never give up.
Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A. I didn’t ever decide to become a writer. Writing is something I’ve done since I was a kid and was old enough to pick up a crayon and scribble what was in my head. I knew I wanted to live with story, but I wouldn’t know writing was a career I could have until I was much older, when I was in middle school and the guidance counselor came to my class to talk to us about what we wanted to be when we got older. Writing was just so wonderful to me I didn’t think you could get paid to do it. My parents had jobs, very hard jobs that made them tired and not a lot of money. So I thought that’s what I would have to do. Have a job I didn’t like. Though it took me eleven long years to get a publishing contract, realizing I could have writing as a career, was as wonderful as if I was just told I could pocket all the stars and have light with me forever.
Q. Do you have any authors that inspire and influence you?
A. I came late to the literary heavyweights, having spent my childhood and adolescent reading R.L. Stine. Being a kid of the 1990s I was in love with his Goosebumps and Fear Street series. Authors I read after him and fell in love with also was Ray Bradbury, Harper Lee, Shirley Jackson, Donna Tartt, Toni Morrison, Poet James Wright, Flannery O’ Connor.
Q. Are you currently working on any new novels?
A. 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.
Q. I have come across the devil portrayed in many ways through pop culture, but never as a young child before, where did this unique idea for The Summer That Melted Everything come from?
A. When I first started The Summer that Melted Everything, I had no idea how this story was going to end. The devil developed with each new word and page I wrote. I didn’t plan as making him a thirteen-year-old boy, but that’s how Sal presented himself to me. I should say while Sal calls himself the devil, it’s not for certain that he is the true devil. Readers can discover for themselves their own opinion once reading the novel, but even I don’t know who Sal truly is. I will say that I didn’t want to write the stereotypical devil of red-flesh, horns, cloven feet, and a pitchfork. We’ve already had that devil and over time he’s become like a cartoon character. It’s time we see a different devil. Perhaps even the devil within ourselves.
Q. A lot of these characters have unique and interesting names. Do your choices in their names have any deeper meanings?
A. I always say my characters know their names before I do. My job as the author is to listen to the characters. Take their hints and name them their truth. Most people ask how I came about with the name ‘Autopsy.’ It’s really quite simple. I had seen the word for that day and when I looked up the origin of the word and discovered its deeper meaning, there was no other name to give this man who one day invites the devil to town to see for himself.
Q. Each chapter of The Summer That Melted Everything starts with a quote. What is your favourite quote, either from The Summer That Melted Everything or elsewhere?
A. I have so many lines from books and poems that I just want to tattoo on my soul. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to narrow it down. A line I really love is the last line from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The line:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
That one line sums up his entire novel. We can all learn from Fitzgerald. He’s gotten us all beat by that beauty.
Q. Give us an interesting fun fact about The Summer That Melted Everything!
A. I wrote the novel in a month. People seem to find that interesting, but on average that’s how long it takes me to write a novel.
Q. How can readers discover more about you and you work?
A. As far as where readers can find me, I’m not on social media, but they can jump on to my website here at: www.tiffanymcdaniel.com
Readers can also 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?
And there you have it! I would like to thank Tiffany McDaniel for giving me the opportunity to read and review The Summer That Melted Everything as well as taking the time to answer some of my questions! I hope this Q&A has sparked your interest in The Summer That Melted Everything! I cannot recommend this book enough!!