Q&A: Tiffany McDaniel

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The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

Published by: St. Martin’s Press/Pan Macmillan (July 26th 2016)

Goodreads summary: Fielding Bliss 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.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your debut novel! You’re also a poet and a screenwriter – was publishing your own novel always part of the plan?

First off, thank you for your congratulations. To answer your question, I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Short stories, poetry, plays, but I’ve always wanted to be a novelist. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything, which is my fifth or sixth novel I’ve written. Trying for eleven years to get a foot in the publishing door wasn’t part of the plan, but being a novelist always was.

Q: How long was the process, overall – from the moment you dreamed your characters to life to actually being able to hold a copy of your published work in your hands? 

I wrote The Summer that Melted Everything in a month when I was twenty-eight. I got the publishing offer when I was twenty-nine. I didn’t know this when I got the deal, but on average it takes a book to move through a publishing house about two years. In today’s fast-paced world, traditional publishing still moves at a snail’s pace, unfortunately. I’ve had two birthdays since getting the publishing offer, so I’m thirty-one now. With all the years added up from the time I wrote my first novel to now, it’s been thirteen years since I’ve been waiting to see one of my novels on the shelf. July 26th will be a very special day indeed.

Q: The Summer that Melted Everything is set in your hometown of Ohio – did you weave any personal experiences into the story? 

While the story itself is not based on personal experience, the landscape certainly is. The story takes place in the fictional town of Breathed, Ohio, which is a landscape very much reflective of my childhood summers and school-year weekends spent in southern Ohio, where the hills speak, the creek paces in its own good time, and the roads are dirt-laid and grass-lined. That wildflower song, front porch chatter, and southern twang has shaped me as a writer. Having spent my childhood summers down-home was like being one of the rolling hills, forever rooted in rust and dirt and moon-shine magic.

Q: Was there a reason that you chose to place your characters in 1984? 

When I was thinking of the time frame for the story, the 1980s came to mind because when I think of the 1980s I see a decade of neon colors, big hair, and even bigger ambitions. It seems like a decade-long summer. I don’t know how the decade really was. I was born in 1985, too young to be aware of the times around me. The reason I decided on 1984 was because of the parallels I was hoping to draw with George Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984, which of course is all about the loss of individual thought. Using 1984 as the year for the summer was a natural fit.

Q: “There is power in a name.” I know that when I used to write in high school, I struggled quite a lot to find names for my characters. Fielding Bliss and Sal are very unique names – how did you come up with them? 

I always say the characters know their names before I do. It’s my job as the author to take hints from the characters. To know my characters enough that I write their true name.

Q: Did you ever find it difficult to tap into the mind of a teenage boy and if so, how did you overcome this challenge? 

Surprisingly I didn’t find it difficult to write as a teenage boy. My job as an author is to become any gender, race, age. It’s all about allowing oneself to slip into that identity, and for the most part I find that to be one of the most exciting things about writing. To be able to become someone else and know life through their eyes.

Q: You mention that the Bliss family struggle with some personal demons in the novel – how important was the family dynamic in the novel? 

The family dynamic is very important. When I wrote the first line in the novel, I didn’t think family would end up being the heart of the story. I thought this is a story that is going to invite attachment from the town and beyond. I thought it was going to be a story where the events were shaping people at a national, if not worldly stage. But then it came back to the Bliss family. The story really doesn’t exist without them and their bond. The father, the mother, the sons, and Sal included in that. Family became the answer to the opposing side. Family became that which bore the brunt of the events, but it is also that which made the events matter. Family is the universal statement of love, after all.

Q: I noticed that you have a lot of original artwork on your website, representing characters and scenes in the novel – do you use artwork often as another medium for your creativity? 

I do. There’s an ease with art and for me it doesn’t come with the same pressure as writing the perfect sentence, because with art, perfection is thrown out the window. Art is made of crooked lines and errors even, and in these faults the beauty breathes. Art teaches me to let my writing breath as well.

Q: I’m so excited that The Summer that Melted Everything is now available from multiple outlets online and in store, and I’m sure many of your readers will be aspiring authors themselves. Do you have any tips or words of encouragement to share with them? 

I would encourage them to never give up. It took me years to get an agent, years to get a publishing contract. I’m not saying this to discourage authors still on the journey to publication.  I’m saying this so they know it can take a while and that the length of time it takes isn’t a reflection of your talent. Don’t get discouraged. You owe it to yourself to not turn your back on your dream. It will happen for you. Believe it. Dust yourself off after the rejections. Write more, write better, and write stronger. You owe it to yourself to never give up.

The Summer That Melted Everything is now available online and in-store from leading retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository and Dymocks. For more information, check out Tiffany’s website.

Happy reading!

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ACOMAF: Review + Discussion

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas (ACOTAR #2)

Pages: 640 (Kindle edition)

Published by: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (May 3rd 2016)

Genres: Action & Adventure, Fiction, Fairytale Retelling, High Fantasy, New Adult, Romance

Goodreads summary: Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

You’d think that I’d make my first blog review something a little less controversial – but I’ve always been honest with my opinions, even if it goes against the grain. And believe me, no one was more surprised than myself when I finished this book and couldn’t give it more than a 3.5 stars.

In short, my enjoyment of a book relies heavily on how I react to the characters – especially the MC. Unfortunately in this instance, I just couldn’t bring myself to accept Feyre, despite understanding that she has literally been through hell and back and that she’s trying to cope with it as best as she can.

Things I enjoyed:

  • Feyre’s character development
  • Rhysand
  • The secondary characters (namely Amren, Mor, Cassian, Azriel and Nesta)
  • Rhysand
  • The pacing, world building and the plot in general
  • The exploration of an abusive vs. healthy relationship
  • Rhysand

Aaaand things I didn’t enjoy quite so much:

  • Feyre
  • Feyre’s tantrums
  • Feyre’s personality in general (you’re probably seeing a theme here…)

RATING

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Most of the things I want to discuss are, at best, mildly spoilery, so I’ve hidden them behind a break. If you’ve read the book and are curious why I didn’t give it a raving 5 stars like everyone else, feel free to read ahead 😉

Continue reading

Fave videos/posts

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So basically this week’s T5W is just an excuse for #shamelessselfpromo , which is something I don’t usually do – so this will be fun! 😉 I’m relatively new to blogging, so this is mostly going to contain posts from my Instagrams (yes, the plural was intentional and you’ll see why!) and Booktube.

5. #iphoneonholiday

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So earlier this year I went to Queensland with my sister, and being the absolute numnut that I am (it’s a word – look it up) I left behind my professional camera and ended up having to take all my holiday photos using my iPhone. Turned out, it was a super fun challenge and I ended up loving some of the photos! You won’t see this photo on my Bookstagram because I have a separate Instagram for my non-bookish photography: ngoct.tran

4. Foodstagram represent

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I like to eat, and I like to take photos of what I’m eating. It’s a very legitimate hobby 😜

3. Bookish rainbow

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This is one of my earliest Bookstagram photos, but definitely one of my favourites! Bookish rainbows always make me happy 🙂

2. 24 things I’ve learned at 24

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This was quite a personal post, and I’m not afraid to say I’m really proud of it! 🙂

1. Playlist Book TAG

This is hands down my favourite Booktube video that I’ve ever done – it was SO much fun to film and edit! So much so, that I might rope my cousins into doing an encore with me later this year!

Thanks again for reading  ❤ (P.S. I know I haven’t had much variety on my blog so far, but I have some reviews coming up so please bear with me!)

Much Love,

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Father Figures

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I’m always drawn to books with good family dynamics in it and although YA is filled with lovely maternal figures, good father figures are harder to come by – in fact, I’d go as far as saying that the absentee/abusive dad is becoming as much of a trope as the mysterious bad boy.

Despite that, I have a few exemplary fictional fathers that I adore, and today I want to celebrate my top 5!

5. Mr. Bennet (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)

I LOVE Mr. Bennett – his witty remarks and good natured jabs at his wife are one of my favourite things about the book. Although he makes fun of his girls endlessly, you can tell there isn’t anything in the world he wouldn’t do for them.

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4. Luke Garroway (The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare)

Oh would you look at that – Cassandra Clare made it into another one of my blog posts xD Luke isn’t actually related to Clary or Simon, but he protects them fiercely and his relationship with them proves that family isn’t necessarily blood – it’s the people who will love and stand by you when you have nothing left.

3. Arthur Weasley (I don’t even think this needs a reference)

The HP series is FULL of wonderful father figures – Sirius, Professor Lupin, even Dumbledore (although that becomes a bit of a contentious issue once you get to Deathly Hallows.) If you asked me to explain why Arthur is my favourite, I honestly couldn’t tell you. Maybe it’s because re-reading the series last year made me want to be adopted by the Weasleys. Or because Arthur and Molly welcomed Harry into their family as if it was the most natural thing in the world. It could also be the fact that Arthur survives a few near death experiences, unlike many of Harry’s other father figures. 😱

2. Coach Wymack (All For The Game series by Nora Sakavic)

One of the things I really loved about this series was that Coach Wymack didn’t fit the ‘father figure for the misfits’ stereotype – he didn’t just round up a bunch of troubled teens in the hopes that he could fill some gaping hole for them. I think they looked up to him without ever really meaning to. He actually reminds me a little of Coach in Teen Wolf – Wymack’s non-pep-talk-pep-talks are THE BEST!

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1. Julian Blackthorn (Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare)

Let’s face it, Julian single handedly raised 4 kids from the age of 12. Sure, he had help from Emma and Diana – but anyone who’s read the book will agree that Jules’ siblings see him as more of a father than an older brother. He shoulders this burden without complaint or even a hint of bitterness, and he always puts everyone’s needs before his own. Throughout the entire book, all I wanted to do was wrap my arms around him and shelter him from the world. ❤

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Thanks again for reading and don’t forget to leave a link in the comments if you participate in T5W so I can check out your posts, too! 😀

Much Love,

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T5W is a Goodreads group created by Lainey and co-hosted by Samantha

Day Three

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Thank you to the lovely girls at Bibliophile Wanderlust and BookNerd Momo for tagging me to do the 3 days, 3 quotes tag! 🙂 Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Post a quote for 3 consecutive days
  3. Nominate 3 new bloggers each day

My final quote is actually one of my favourites of all time – not only do I like its meaning, I also think the the context in which it appeared in the book was very empowering.

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“You could rattle the stars. You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too.

That’s what scares you most.” 

– Sarah J Maas, Throne of Glass

My nominees for Day 3 are:

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my posts for this tag!

Much Love,

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Day Two

3d3qheaderThank you to the lovely girls at Bibliophile Wanderlust and BookNerd Momo for tagging me to do the 3 days, 3 quotes tag! 🙂 Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Post a quote for 3 consecutive days
  3. Nominate 3 new bloggers each day

For Day 2, I wanted to share a quote from a book I read a few years ago – I guess the fact that it has stayed with me all this time means that it resonated with me quite deeply.

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“Turns out, hell’s not so much a burning, scalding pit of fire and misery. It’s actually much, much worse than that. Hell is when the people you love the most reach right into your soul and rip it out of you. 

And they do it because they can.”

– Jess Rothenberg, The Catastrophic History of You and Me

My nominees for Day 2 are:

Don’t forget to share your own fave quotes with me in the comments! 😉

Much Love,

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Day One

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Thank you to the lovely girls at Bibliophile Wanderlust and BookNerd Momo for tagging me to do the 3 days, 3 quotes tag! 🙂 Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Post a quote for 3 consecutive days
  3. Nominate 3 new bloggers each day

I could give you an infinite list of Cassie Clare quotes, but here is one I recently fell in love with – straight from the mouth of everyone’s favourite little cinnamon roll, Julian.

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“When you love someone, they become a part of who you are. They’re in everything you do. They’re in the air you breathe and the water you drink and the blood in your veins. Their touch stays on your skin and their voice stays in your ears and their thoughts stay in your mind. You know their dreams because their nightmares pierce your heart and their good dreams are your dreams too. 

And you don’t think they’re perfect, but you know their flaws, the deep-down truth of them, and the shadows of all their secrets, and they don’t frighten you away; in fact you love them more for it, because you don’t want perfect. You want them.” 

BE STILL MY BEATING HEART.

My first 3 nominees are:

See you all tomorrow with a brand new quote! Don’t forget to share some of your own faves with me in the comments below 🙂

Much Love,

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