Author Interview & Review: The Scoop on Derek Milman (Again!)

by Veronica Vivona

Derek Milman is a YA author on the rise. We interviewed him last year and got a sneak peak of his debut novel, Scream All Night, which came out last summer. Now, his latest novel, Swipe Right for Murder is coming out later this year. Lucky for us, we got a sneak peek and had the opportunity to read it before it’s released to the general public! Check out what we thought of it below:

Review of Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman

This book has anything you would ever want in a YA novel: a bit of hooking up, a dash of mistaken identity, and a whole lot of drama. Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman follows seventeen-year-old Aidan who finds himself ready to mingle when he ends up by himself in a NYC hotel room for a night. After things go way wrong, Aidan finds himself on the run from a lot of different things.

It’s a story that will leave you guessing. You won’t want to stop reading once you start. It’s not that type of book. Don’t plan on taking breaks. Don’t start reading this book thirty minutes before bed (unless you want to stay up all night). You’ll try and tell yourself, “only one more chapter,” to find yourself two hundred pages deep hours later.

This is more than your classic mistaken-identity novel though. There are so many aspects to it as the story hits on many themes and notes such as LGBTQ sexual identity, self-worth, family values, and so much more. Beyond that, it’s simply an entertaining read. Not only is it well written, but SwipeRight for Murder by Derek Milman is dark, full of thrilling moments, and an all-around great book to read.

Q&A with Derek Milman

After reading Swipe Right for Murder, we had the opportunity to check in with Derek and interview him for a second time! This time, we learned more about his journey as an author, gained some insight on Swipe Right for Murder, and asked him yet another useless “fun fact” question. Read the interview below:

We’ve talked to you before! How have you been? To start, can you remind us about who you are and what you do?
It’s wonderful to be back, thank you for having me. My name is Derek Milman. I’m a classically-trained actor, and former playwright, turned young adult novelist! That’s what it seems like, anyway, from a quick glance at my email Inbox.

What have you been up to since we last talked?
I’ve been in post Scream All Night mode: doing the occasional bookstore signing, dealing with the upcoming Hollywood adaptation (more on this soon, promise!), editing and promoting my second YA novel, Swipe Right for Murder, while drafting a new YA that’s been in the planning stages for some time. I’ve been in the promotional/editing headspace for so long, it was important, from an artistic standpoint anyway, that I start writing something new again. And wow, I forgot how hard that part is.

What is Swipe Right for Murder about and why were you inspired to write it?
I’m in love with this book. I feel so lucky to have been inspired and encouraged to create this novel, and to have the opportunity to bring it into the world. It’s about a broken, funny kid named Aidan who gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity after a hookup (via gay app) goes wrong. Aidan goes on the run from a gay cyber terror group, as well as the Feds, but really, he’s running from himself, and his own troubled past. I wanted to have to have an openly gay teen be the Carey Grant-ish hero of an action-adventure caper; a story that speaks to the rage we’re all feeling about the world right now, as well as the anxiety and uncertainty about the consequences of the digital age, and how it’s evolved. There’s a good deal of darkness to the story, a good deal of comedy, and some serious emotional stakes. But it’s also a ton of fun. It was inspired by Hitchcock, growing up reading mystery books, watching classic movies, and coming of age in this beautiful, twisted world that never really makes any sense.

What do you want your readers to get the most from Swipe Right for Murder?
I hope they see some of themselves in Aidan, and empathize not only with his plight, his past, his pain, but all his flaws, and his deepening moral quandaries. I want the world to cheer on a gay kid who’s not a saint by any means, but someone who feels very real.

We asked you about your upcoming novel, Night Flight, last time we talked. That somehow turned into Swipe Right for Murder. Why the change in title?
WAIT, THEY CHANGED IT?! WTF!!!!!!
Kidding! I originally titled it Night Flight which allowed a lot of playful turns of phrase in the novel, since Aidan is on the run for much of the story, literally flying through the night (“another flight into the night”, “we’re going to put you on a night flight back to New York City”). But titles change after acquisition, it’s very common, because sales and marketing weigh in, and James Patterson (thankfully) is very much involved in the packaging of books under his imprint; he really cares, he’s actively involved, and all this is a VERY GOOD THING. The book’s original title was a sleek noir-ish title named after a drink I liked at a local cocktail bar I frequent. But other things had the same title (both books and TV), and I was advised that the title might also be a tad vague, and we could maybe do better. Plus, people were like: “are you going to have the word NIGHT in the title of everything you write?” I think Swipe Right for Murder—which the JP team came up with—really distills the book brilliantly into four words—cheeky and Hitchcockian, suffused with all that classic mystery and suspense. It speaks clearly to the world of the story.

And how are things going with your last novel, Scream All Night? Were you expecting all the love that came after you published your first novel?
I didn’t know what to expect, and it was lovely. So many people reached out to me about it, so many bloggers and readers listed it as among their favorite books of the year. It found its crowd, so to speak, and hearing some of the amazing things people had to say about it made me so happy! Seeing it faced out on Barnes & Noble bookshelves in cities I was barely even familiar with (and airports!), was such a joy. People I barely knew in high school were messaging me on Facebook, to tell me how much they enjoyed it. That was so awesome! The readers who really got it, the precarious balance of screwball comedy and dark emotional family drama, with this midnight madness sensibility, will always be close to my heart. And Hollywood really loved it (I mean, it is about movies!), so that was just awesome.

Any plans for another book in the near future?
YES! It’s a darkly comic (of course, right?) gay love story set against a secret society at an elite New England prep school. Based on a very real secret society at Yale.

Is there a fun fact (different from last time) about yourself that might surprise our readers if you were to share it with them?
I looked this up…and last time I told you I know how to sword fight, and that I used to DJ in a downtown NYC club. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?!
Okay, here’s something else that’s cool: I spent a summer, when I was 20 years old, studying Shakespeare at Balliol college in Oxford. When Harry Potter came out (Rowling partially based the setting on the English boarding school tradition in the UK, which is similar in look and style to Oxford) everyone was so entranced with Hogwarts, but I was like: oh yeah, I’ve been there, that was Balliol. Hogwarts actually brought back memories of that summer! Plus, several of our teachers there, or people we encountered—went on to act in the Harry Potter films including Fiona Shaw, Richard Harris, and Alan Rickman, whose hand I officially shook!

What inspires you the most to write?
When I have an idea all wound up in my head that I just want to unwind to see where it goes because it won’t let go, won’t let me sleep—that’s the best feeling ever. Except the sleepy part.

Where do you see yourself going from here?
I’ll either continue writing books if the structure of YA publishing has a place for me, and wants me, since it’s always morphing, or I’ll wind up in a writer’s room in Hollywood, helping to successfully execute an adaptation of one of my books, or some other cutting edge project. Honestly, one of those two things. Or both!

Do you have any final words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers?
Don’t ever let a defeated person talk you out of your dreams.

Swipe Right for Murder is available for pre-order now. It will be released to the general public on August 6th, 2019.

To learn more about Derek Milman, check out his website or follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Good Reads.

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