Author Interview: Dantiel W. Moniz

A live-wire debut from Dantiel W. Moniz, Milk Blood Heat depicts the sultry lives of Floridians in intergenerational tales that contemplate human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the elemental darkness in us all. We spoke with author Dantiel W. Moniz about the inspiration for Milk Blood Heat, writing about her hometown, and more!

Milk Blood Heat grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The prose blisters with a beauty so raw and intense it borders on horrifying. With widely differing characters, voices, and settings, each story makes its own unique contribution to the collection, yet each propels the reader onward in turn. Dantiel W. Moniz is a jaw-dropping new star on the literary stage.”

Audrey Beatty, River Bend Bookshop

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

I’ve always been drawn to what’s stigmatized in our society, what no one wants to admit they think about or feel, because it’s uncomfortable or they’ve been taught whatever they’re thinking and feeling is wrong. And then I had to think about those judgement words—good, bad, right, wrong—and wonder what they would be without their opposites. Who gets the power of defining them for everyone else?

My intention for this story collection was to capture the full range of human emotional experiences, and I hope readers will sit with that and find beauty where they least expect it.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

I don’t know what readers will be surprised by, but I was surprised to hear the stories that had been living in my head for so long read in someone else’s voice. It made them truly separate from me for the first time, and I like the idea of that—the book in the world on its own, finding its people.

What struck you about the audiobook’s narration?

I appreciated that the narrator gave each character their own, distinctive voice. There are places where I don’t use dialogue tags, but I was never confused about who was speaking. That’s special—to be able make the characters living.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I mostly read physical books, but I’ve enjoyed listening to audiobooks while on road trips. Notably, Roald Dahl’s The BFG was a great listening experience.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

My book is wholly an indie baby; I’m with independent publishers in the US and the UK—so I’m thrilled that indie bookstores and booksellers are loving and supporting Milk Blood Heat. The care with which they’ve read and written about my book is incredible. It’s a passion that can’t be bought and I’m grateful.

Anything else to share with us?

Most of these stories take place in my hometown of Jacksonville, FL. I don’t often see stories written about my home, or if so, they tend to lean heavily on stereotypes of the South, so I’m glad to contribute this book.

Header photo by Marissa Pilolli

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