Tiffany McDaniel, a 2007 graduate of Capital, published her first novel, The Summer that Melted Everything, this July and has received a great deal of praise for it.
The novel is based in a fictional Ohio town called Breathed, where two young boys, Fielding and Sal, meet and become friends. Sal, who claims to be the devil himself, is new to the town, and the townspeople become wary of him when strange events begin to occur.
Breathed was inspired by McDaniel’s summers at her father’s house in southern Ohio.
“It was just so hot that I felt like I was melting,” she said of those summers. This is where the idea for the title came from, and where her inspiration began.
McDaniel said that the title of a story and the first line are always the starting point for anything she writes, and then the characters take over.
“Once they get to a certain point in their development,” she said, “the characters urge me, demand even, that I write them the best beginning, middle and end that I can.”
She also said she feels a certain obligation to the story that the characters want her to write, as well as an obligation to the future readers of the piece.
Publishing, McDaniel said, is the hard part. Writing has always been something that she loved, so The Summer That Melted Everything was not the first piece she tried to publish. The process of finally seeing a novel of hers in print came with an extremely long wait.
“For me, it was 11 years working toward publication plus two years getting published, so, all told, it was 13 long years waiting to see one of my novels on the shelf,” she said.
Through this experience, she wants young students and writers to know that rejection is okay and common.
“You never get used to rejection,” she said, “but I think, especially for young writers starting out, it’s easy to let rejection discourage you. Instead, allow the rejection to make you stronger. I wouldn’t be the author I am today without the journey it’s taken for me to get here.”
She also encourages students to keep trying and never give up. McDaniel wrote her first novel at 18 and didn’t get a publishing contract until the age of 29.
“I began to believe I would never be published, but if I’d given up, I wouldn’t be here with a book published today.” she said.
Each chapter of her novel begins with a quote from Paradise Lost, which she read in Professor David Summers’s class here at Capital, and she wonders if she would have ever read this poem, a larger inspiration for her work, without having been in his class.
McDaniel also keeps in touch with Kevin Griffith, a professor of creative writing at Capital.
“Every place we’ve been and every person we know has an impact on our lives in both big and small ways,” McDaniel stated, when asked about her alma mater.
McDaniel said that she has eight completed novels and is currently working on a ninth, and she would love to eventually publish all of them. The next novel she hopes to publish, When Lions Stood as Men, is also set in the fictional town of Breathed, but instead centers around two Jewish children who escaped Nazi Germany and ended up in Ohio.
Currently, she is doing book tours across the U.S., meeting fans of her writing and doing signings. On Oct. 15, she will be in Cincinnati, attending a book festival called Books By The Banks, where she will be selling signed, first edition copies of The Summer That Melted Everything.
More information about Tiffany McDaniel, her novel, and other work can be found on her website.
The Summer That Melted Everything is available through most book retailers and on Amazon.
Learn more about Books By The Banks here.