Friday, June 8, 2018

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Derek Milman


"Derek Milman was born in New York City, and studied English, Theater, and Creative Writing at Northwestern University. He started off as a playwright and screenwriter–his first play was produced in New York City right after he graduated college–and went on to receive an MFA in acting at the Yale School of Drama. As a classically trained thespian (Derek’s favorite word), Derek has performed on stages across the country, and appeared in numerous TV shows and films, working with two Academy Award winning film directors. [...] Derek currently lives in Brooklyn, where he writes fiction full time, wanders the waterfront staring at the Manhattan skyline, plays video games, and buys lime green hoodies made out of locally-sourced hemp."

This author bio was taken from Derek's website, which you can find here. I reviewed his upcoming debut novel, Scream All Night, and now have had the pleasure of interviewing him. Scream All Night is a dark comedy with a backdrop of schlocky horror movies, and it's out July 24, 2018. Don't miss it. You can find my review here.

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Did you always want to be a writer? What made you decide to peruse it as a career?

I've always been writing stuff--short stories, plays, screenplays--even if I took long breaks and didn't write much at all. But it was only about 2013 or so where I think the YA marketplace reached a certain point where I saw a way in, and thought, with my specific voice, I might find success. It was very much about the timing, and where I was creatively.

This is your debut novel. How long did it take, from the start of the writing process to finding out you were going to be a published author?

I got my agent with an earlier YA manuscript I wrote. I've stated this in numerous interviews and panels, so sorry if I'm repeating myself here, but I wrote SCREAM ALL NIGHT while that first manuscript was on submission. That first manuscript got very close--twice!--but didn't sell. SCREAM sold fairly quickly, so looking at just the window of SCREAM, I would say maybe a year. But my relationship with HarperCollins began about three years before that.

What was it like when you found out you were going to be published?

Wonderful relief. Some fear. Lots of excitement. A little bit of disbelief too.

What made you decide to write Scream All Night?

When I broke into the publishing world, people ask you if you have other ideas, and I had had this vague idea about a kid who inherits a horror studio from many years back. People reacted very strongly to it, whenever I told them. Then "life" happened. One of my best friends passed away very suddenly. I had to speak at her funeral. I wound up moving from Manhattan's Upper West Side, where I'd been living for a decade, to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which was like moving to a different planet. All of this happened in like...a span of two weeks. There's a vivid dreaminess to Brooklyn that absolutely 100% went in to the writing of SCREAM. I can't pretend the whirlwind screwball tone, especially in the funeral scene from the first chapter, that I get asked about a lot, wasn't actually influenced by genuine loss, and is me dealing with that in my own weird way.

Scream All Night is heavily influenced by classic Hammer horror films. What's your favorite Hammer horror?

I listed it on my website, but I have to say Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. It's a vampire movie crossed with a kung-fu movie. I mean, aren't you comforted we live in a world where that exists?

What are your top three horror movies, Hammer or not?

Rosemary's Baby. The Shining. The Exorcist. They just freak me out every time.

Who is your favorite character in Scream All Night and why?

Oren was a lot of fun to write, because he is so pernicious, yet childlike, self-destructive, yet naïve. Delusional, stubborn, but he's deeply flawed, damaged, but has a good heart. All his absurdities and his unique darkness proved a great challenge. He's one of my favorite creations.

Do you outline? Why or why not?

I do and I don't. I tend to take loose notes, sketch out ideas by hand in a notebook, sitting in a café. Then a lot of it gets filled out, comes alive, at home in front of the computer. The notes just prevent the blinking-mocking-cursor-on-a-white-blank-bright screen thing, that writers fear. I don't formally outline. It feels too regimented to me, like it's academic, not creative. But that's just me. I have a Master's Degree. I wrote a lot of papers in my life. I don't want to be reminded of homework.

If you could choose any three authors in history, living or dead, to have lunch with, who would you choose and why?

Arthur Rimbaud, because I know he would order Absinthe in the middle of the day and spout Symbolist poetry. Donna Tartt, because she's just so cool, and an absolute genius. And Hemingway, so he could take me to a bullfight and I could watch his reactions and how he forms thoughts. Although, I actually went to a bullfight when I was sixteen, in a small French town that bordered Spain. It was so violent and upsetting.

What's your advice for new authors?

Write as much as you can, whenever you can. Write when you feel inspired, and always take notes--on your phone's notes app, a notepad, whatever. Compile those ideas. They'll lead to something one day. No one path is the same. Just because you do something your own way doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. Do what feels best, and works best for you. That can include not writing every single day. You don't have to write every single day to be a real writer. Go see a movie sometimes.

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You can follow Derek on Twitter and Instagram, and you can find his website here. You can pre-order Scream All Night here.

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Thanks a million to Derek for agreeing to this interview! I can't wait for his first book to officially hit the shelves, and I look forward to his next work.

Thank you so much for reading this interview. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute! Even if you can't donate, you can feel free to follow me on social media; the links are in the top-right corner.



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