Interview with Debut Young Adult Author Derek Milman
“Milman graces readers with a distinctive and immersive setting and an authentically hilarious voice. It’s the summer read you never knew you needed.” -Buzzfeed
“Derek Milman bursts onto the YA scene with a completely unique concept and a delightfully quirky setting. It has all of my favorite things: plenty of absurdity wrapped in undeniable heart. SCREAM ALL NIGHT is not to be missed.” -Goldy Moldavsky, New York Times bestselling author of Kill the Boy Band and No Good Deed
With less than two weeks until Derek Milman’s young adult debut SCREAM ALL NIGHT is published by Harper Collins/Balzer+Bray on July 24th, 2018, we asked the author to share some of his insights on getting published, the inspiration behind SCREAM ALL NIGHT, and what advice he has for aspiring kidlit authors.
Question: What are you most excited about SCREAM ALL NIGHT being published right now?
Derek Milman: It’s very surreal to think that a little piece of the inside of my mind will be up for public consumption, haha. I’ve been working on this book for years in my own little bubble, and now, finally, the rest of the world will get to meet these characters and enter the zany Moldavia castle, and there’s just something amazing and unbelievable about that.
Question: What’s been most challenging to you with publishing SCREAM ALL NIGHT?
Derek: The transition from the private joy of writing the book, to the anxiety of finishing it, sending it off, awaiting people’s reactions, and dealing with the commerce end of publishing. In a weird way, its similar to loving this band, listening to them alone on headphones for months before bed, but then going to their concert. Suddenly, there’s a gazillion people dancing to these songs you thought were just your own. Similarly, with publishing, there are a lot of books out there, and once your own book is done, it enters the fray, and it’s not your own anymore. It’s part of this larger bustle, so to speak, and everyone’s dancing to it now.
Question: How did you come to write this story?
Derek: Years of amassing tidbits of various things. Loving movies as a kid, then visiting Universal Studios, training as an actor at Yale Drama, working as an actor on movie sets. I had started off as a playwright, but what I wanted to accomplish as a writer wasn’t fitting into that structure. I was writing in the wrong medium. After I got attention for an early YA manuscript (this great sci-fi horror mash-up that I hope eventually sees the light of day) I got asked what else I was working on. (I had had this idea for years about a kid who inherits his eccentric family’s B-horror movie studio). Well, it floored anyone in publishing, whenever I talked about it. I was very much encouraged to write this book, which helped my confidence; research into Hammer Horror films and Troma films grounded the story, which made the rest possible.
Question: What’s the one thing you hope a reader would take away from reading SCREAM ALL NIGHT?
Derek: I would always hope a reader — especially a younger one — sees something of themselves in my book, and as a result has a better understanding that they’re not alone in the world. As fantastical as the world of SCREAM ALL NIGHT is, the characters, and the family dynamics, are kind of relatable, and I hope the story sucks them in and gives them a little shard of something they’ll hold on to forever. That’s happened to me with books I’ve loved over the years. They stay with me, I never let them go.
Question: Since your book is about horror movies, what is the most random, out-there horror movie you can recommend that no one’s heard of?
Derek: Mystics in Bali. There are Leyaks chasing people. I shall say no more!
Question: For kidlit writers just getting started, what is the single best piece of advice you could offer them?
Derek: If they’re literally just getting started: write the best manuscript you can; write at the top of your strengths, at the top of your intelligence, and focus on the fun of creating this amazing new thing. Then refine and polish, and get as much early feedback as you can. Refine, polish some more. Get the draft in tip-top shape before you send it out. A book is really shaped and sculpted in the revision phase.
Question: What’s one thing you wish you knew earlier in your writing career that you know now?
Derek: You’re going to laugh, but here goes: how to use Microsoft Excel, google docs, Canva, re-post on Instagram, pitch to media outlets, update a website on Wordpress, give a great phone interview: THERE IS SO MUCH I NEEDED TO LEARN IN THIS PAST YEAR. I could have saved some time if I had also trained as a graphics designer, PR specialist, media relations professional, website guru, printer, and marketing wunderkind.
Question: What’s up next on your publishing journey?
Derek: My second book, an LGBTQ Hitchcockian thriller, will be out in 2019 from James Patterson’s imprint at Little, Brown. I’ve just started editing it.
Derek Milman has worked as a playwright, screenwriter, film school teacher, DJ, and underground humor magazine publisher. A classically trained actor, he has performed on stages across the country and appeared in numerous TV shows, commercials, and films. Derek currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Scream All Night is his first novel. His second novel for young adults will be released by Little, Brown / Jimmy Patterson in 2019. You can find Derek online at https://www.derekmilman.com/.