Hello all you book lovers! Today I have the pleasure of presenting an interview I did with the lovely Tiffany McDaniel, the author of The Summer that Melted Everything. (You can read my review too!) I was able to ask her questions not only about the book, but also about writing and reading in general. These aren’t all the questions, because it was getting a little long, so I picked my favorites. So without ado, let’s get going.
Summer that Melted Everything Questions
It has definitely been an uphill battle, but the struggle has made me the author I am today. An author that takes no reader for granted.
1) What inspired you to write The Summer that Melted Everything?
The Summer that Melted Everything started first as a title. It was one of those hot Ohio summers and I felt like I was melting. A little arranging of words and the title was born. I’ve always been inspired by the characters themselves. To write them their truth to the best of my ability.
2) How do you begin a book, do you generally start with ideas for characters, that turn themselves into stories or a plot that brings characters to life?
I start with the title and the first line. These two things lead the entire rest of the story. My goal with the title and the first line is that if the rest of the story were taken away, the title and the first line would be able to stand on their own. I never outline or plan the story ahead. I like for the story to evolve naturally. If you plan it too much you domesticate the story and I like to preserve the story’s wild soul.
3) I have always wondered, when authors are composing a novel, if they think about the parallels or symbolic elements as they write or if they just sort of happen. Can you comment on your process?
For me it just happens. I’ve written poetry since I was a child, and one of the great things about poetry is working in that landscape of symbolism. For my writing, I don’t plan the symbolic elements ahead, and it’s a surprise to me even how they end up falling into place. But I like being just as surprised writing it the first time as the reader is reading it the first time. It’s that unmapped journey that leads to some pretty great destinations.
4) If you wanted to tell someone who had never read your book something, what would it be?
Give it a chance. I think that’s true with all us authors, we just want people to give our writing a chance. What I’ve found with The Summer that Melted Everything is that when some people hear that the devil is in the book, they wont read it because of the devil aspect. But the devil in the novel is not the stereotypical devil of red horns and flesh. It’s about exploring the devil within us all. It’s a very human story and a story that I think we can all relate to.
5) Which character is your favorite or which do you most identify with?
It’s always hard to say my favorite character, but one of my favorite characters to write was Grand. He’s a character that’s hard not to fall in love with. As far as who I identify with the most, I’d say there’s a little of me in all the characters. Hopefully more of me in the heroes than there are in the villains.
1) Have you always wanted to become an author?
Writing is the first thing I remember doing as a child without being told to do so. I was drawn to write down what was in my head. There are lots of other things I’ve always been interested in like archaeology, cosmology, marine biology, but the great thing about writing is that you get to wear lots of different hats. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, it’s something that I would be lost without.
2) What is the most influential book you’ve ever read and why?
One book that I have always remembered is a book I read as a child. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. It’s the story of a woman who travels the world, and makes her own way. There’s no male main character. As a child I got the sense of Miss Rumphius’ independence as a woman. Even the title of the book says this is a woman flying solo and having a wonderful, fulfilling life. It made a lasting impression on me. I still want to be Miss Rumphius making my own rules and my own way.
3) If you could interview any author, who would it be?
There are lots. The witty Mark Twain comes to mind. Sadly he’s passed so all there is left to interview is his ghost, but I think he’d be good to have a conversation with or run through the hills with. But rather than the author, I’d love to interview certain characters. Imagine sitting down to interview Jay Gatbsy or Merricat Blackwood.
4) What are your top three desert island reads?
My answer seems to change each time I’m asked this question. Today I think I’d say a book on the history of art, with lots of full-color photographs. On a desert island it can be nice to get away by yourself, but at other times you can feel quite alone. Art has the great power to make us feel as if we’re not that alone after all. Another read would probably be a big thick book of the collected myths, tragedies, humors, and the epic poetry of the ancient Greeks. A long book I could carry through the long haul of my time on the island. My other read would probably be a how to guide on living on a desert island. What to grow and how to build the best shelter because these are all important things to know if I am to survive, or at least survive happily with the palm trees and the sand.
Who would you interview?
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