Tiffany McDaniel: The Summer That Melted Everything

posted in: Awards, Writing | 0

In recognition of the five finalists in fiction for the Ohioana Book Award, we’re featuring a question and answer with each author over the next few weeks.

This week’s post features Tiffany McDaniel. Tiffany  is an Ohio native whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. A poet and artist, she is the winner of The Guardian’s 2016 “Not-the-Booker Prize” for her debut novel, The Summer that Melted Everything. The novel was also a Goodreads Choice Award double nominee in both fiction and debut categories, is a current nominee for the Lillian Smith Book Award, and has recently been announced as a finalist for the Ohioana Literary Award and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award for Outstanding Debut.

Ohioana: What inspired you to write your novel?

Tiffany McDaniel: The Summer that Melted Everything started as a title.  It was one of those hot Ohio summers that I felt like I was melting to a puddle on the green grass and dandelion ground.  A little arranging of words and the title was born.  I always say what inspires me are the characters.  I’m inspired by their very presence, to do right by them and to write their truths to the best of my ability.

O: How does a sense of place inform your work? If that place happens to be Ohio, would love your thoughts on that.

TMcD: I have eight completed novels (yet to be published) and so far they’ve all taken place in Breathed, Ohio, a fictional town based on my childhood summers and school-year weekends I spent on the hilly acreage my father was left by his parents.  The acreage is in the southeastern portion of Ohio, in the foothills of the Appalachians where the nights are mythical and starred while the hills sing you to sleep.  It is a landscape that has shaped me as an author.  I always say cut me open and fireflies will fly out of me in a moonshine madness.

O: Can you tell us about your writing process?

TMcD: I never outline. I think planning a story too much can domesticate it, and I like to preserve the story’s wild soul so it can beat on with the thunder.  I like for the story to evolve with each new word and page that I write.  It’s like turning on a faucet.  Sometimes you only have a drop of water.  Others times you have a flood.  The thing about writing is that you just have to be present and ready with a big ol’ bowl to catch whatever comes out of that big ol’ faucet.

O: What would you like to tell us about the publishing process?

TMcD: While The Summer that Melted Everything is my first published novel, it’s actually my fifth or sixth novel written.  I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen and wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything.  For me, it was a long eleven-year journey full of lots of rejection and perseverance.  I was told my writing was too dark and too risky.  For the most part, publishing has been an uphill battle, but the struggle has made me the author I am today.  An author who knows the value of determination and the value of each and every reader.

O: What would you tell anyone who wants to write a novel?

TMcD: To never give up.  Like I said, it took me eleven years to get a publisher.  If you’re really serious about being a published author, be willing to put in the hard work and have plenty of patience should it come to that.  The biggest thing is to never get discouraged.  Don’t let rejection destroy you.  Let it empower you.

O: What are you currently working on?

TMcD: I’ve returned to that very first novel I wrote when I was eighteen.  It’s inspired by my mother’s coming-of-age in southern Ohio from the 1950s to the early 1970s.  It feels like a good time to return to this story and to these characters.

O: Any inspirational quotes from other writers that you enjoy?

“Don’t talk about it; write.” Ray Bradbury, author of Dandelion Wine, one of my favorite books

“If you don’t like my peaches, don’t shake my tree.”-Shirley Jackson, author of We Have Always Lived in the Castle, another favorite book of mine.

My last quote isn’t from the author speaking outside of a work, but rather from a poet speaking within his work.  From Ohio poet James Wright.  From his poem, “To a Blossoming Pear Tree”:

“For if you could only listen,
I would tell you something,
Something human.”

It’s a beautiful quote because something human is the best thing we can hope to tell each other.

Make YOUR voice heard for Ohioana!

posted in: News | 0

This is not a drill: Ohioana’s operating support has been eliminated from the state budget, or at least the version passed May 2 in the Ohio House of Representatives. I’m sure you’re as surprised and shocked as we are.

Ohioana promotes and celebrates our great state and is one of the nation’s leading literary centers. It directly serves 150,000 Ohioans every year and serves ALL Ohioans as the caretaker of our state’s rich literary heritage.

Eleven Ohio Governors and 34 consecutive General Assemblies since 1949 have recognized the public value of Ohioana’s work by providing it with operating support. This support is even a part of state law under the Ohio Revised Code.

Of course, you already know that Ohioana has value because you love books, reading, and storytelling. Perhaps you were at the 11th annual Ohioana Book Festival on April 8 in Columbus and you had a chance to meet one of 120 authors and attended a festival panel. You read the Ohioana Quarterly for book reviews and articles about literary Ohio. Maybe you follow the Ohioana Awards and cheer for your favorite authors when they are nominated.

So today we’re asking for your help. Will you call your state senator and ask them to restore funding? Here are just a few of the reasons to keep Ohioana, reasons that you can mention when you call:


  • The Ohioana Library Association directly serves 150,000 Ohioans each year.
  • It serves ALL Ohioans as the caretaker of our state’s literary heritage.
  • It costs the state a penny-and-half per Ohioan to support Ohioana.
  • Ohioana generates more than $1 for every $1 provided by the State.

Just go to this link and under “Find Your Senator” enter your zip code + 4.

Yes, state revenues are tight. Yes, the state has many priorities. But Ohioana’s history proves it has yielded major dividends for a modest investment. Don’t just take our word for it – ask the eleven Ohio Governors and 34 General Assemblies that have supported us since 1949.
Ohioana has always worked hard to be a good steward of both public and private money. And we have faced shortages before. But removal from the budget could not just hinder our ability to serve the people. It could, if not halted, ultimately jeopardize our very existence. So please help and make your voice heard – it has never been as important before as it is now! Take a moment and call your state senator before May 10.

After all, what is any place without its stories and its storytellers?




Ohioana’s First Virtual Exhibit

posted in: Collection Highlights | 0

This year marks Ohioana’s 88th year in operation, and during that time Ohioana has had plenty of time to grow, adapt and, of course, collect literature from Ohio authors. Ohioana’s collection now includes more than 45,000 books, 10,000 pieces of sheet music, and approximately 20,000 biographical files on Ohio writers, musicians, and artists. The best news? Any of these items can be requested to be viewed in our library, by anyone!

While this is wonderful for everyone who is able to make it to visit Ohioana’s collection in person in downtown Columbus, some may live too far away or simply may not be able to visit us. However, we think it’s very important to highlight interesting and culturally significant pieces in our collection, and to show them to you even if you can’t make it here to see them. That’s why Ohioana is happy to present our very first virtural exhibit!

This exhibit features the entirety of a scrapbook from Ohioana’s collection, created by the Junior-Juvenile division of the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs during 1935-1937. The Ohio Federation of Music Clubs (OFMC) is part of the National Federation of Music Clubs, which is dedicated to the love and study of music, and just celebrated their cenntinial year. Click here to visit the OFMC’s Website and learn more about the history of the organization, as well as current events.

The scrapbook is composed of 98 pages, with each page decorated by members of music-focused clubs from 30 towns and cities located across Ohio. Pages include articles and programs, as well as photographs, illustrations and handpainted, hand-drawn and handwritten components. This exhibit includes images of all of the pages of the scrapbook, as well as images of every program and fold-out featured on the individual pages.

This scrapbook is a proud part of Ohioana’s collection, and we are very happy to have the opportunity to share it with you! Click here to visit it, or navigate from our homepage by clicking on the link under “Resources”. Enjoy, and check back for more virtual exhibits featuring items from Ohioana’s collection in the future!