'Publishers wanted me to turn my mother into a man' - Tiffany McDaniel

Ohio author Tiffany McDaniel tells Sarah Gilmartin about the sexual abuse in her family that inspired her latest novel

Too risky, too female’: Tiffany McDaniel wrote Betty when she was 18 and it was initially rejected by publishers. Photo by Jennifer McDaniel

Sarah Gilmartin

There is a scene in Tiffany McDaniel's new novel Betty that stands out for its complex, nuanced portrayal of trauma. A mother, Alka, pins her nine-year-old daughter to a bed and re-enacts over the child's clothes the sensation of being raped by her father when she herself was a young girl. Reading the scene, we immediately identify with Betty, the book's narrator, as her damaged, depressed mother passes the legacy of abuse on to the next generation.