Author Interview & Review: The Scoop on Derek Milman

by Veronica Vivona
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Derek Milman is an up-and-coming young adult author who is ready to take on the world! This actor turned writer is now writing fiction full-time and not only has a novel coming out this July, but also another book coming out in 2019!

We were lucky enough to get a sneak peak of the novel coming out this summer, Scream All Night. You can check out what we thought about his debut novel below:

Review of Scream All Night by Derek Milman

Being absurd is quite a hard thing to pull off. Most of the time when someone is trying to be a bit out there, it’s without reason, usually meant to be an attention grabber. That being said, Scream All Night by Derek Milman is one of those gems that is not that. Instead, the craziness is purposeful and quite entertaining. It’s a bit wacky, funny, and all in all, a pretty great summer read.

Scream All Night is focused on relationships more than anything else. The novel follows Dario, the emancipated son of a somewhat acclaimed horror film director. Besides the relationships, the novel is very much focused on a specific location: Moldavia Studios, a castle that had regularly been used as a set for plenty of lower-level horror movies. Although Dario has promised himself to never return to Moldavia, he of course does in fact go back to the castle and is forced to revisit every part of his past that he’s trying so hard to move on from.

Derek Milman’s background as an actor is represented throughout the entire novel. With excerpts from scripts, to random background knowledge that the regular Joe Schmo wouldn’t really know about, this guy is writing from experience. Of course, he’s also writing from a place of creativity and humor.

This novel balances both real and not-so-real demons. While there are some very serious issues placed on the table, there’s also a lot of silliness. It’s one of those books that will make you understand and contemplate tough issues… and then cause you to burst out laughing.

Scream All Night is a novel that you won’t forget, nor a novel you’ll ever want to put down. All you will want to do is keep reading more and more. You’ll be sucked in during both the good moments and the bad. The book is kooky. It’s real and not-real all at the same time. So just be ready for a rollercoaster ride of emotions with this one because there’s just so much to it, your emotions will be all over the place once you’re done.

Q&A with Derek Milman

After reading Scream All Night, we were able to chat with the author himself: Derek Milman! We learned about his theater background, how his latest novel was conceptualized, and why he believes people shouldn’t be so hard on themselves. Check it out here:

Just to start, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Sure! I’m a classically trained actor, former playwright, Brooklynite, and a YA author.

Your debut novel, Scream All Night, will be released this July! Can you tell us about this novel and what inspired you to write it?

Many years ago I had the idea for a story about a kid who inherits a B-horror movie studio, but it seemed too fantastical. Over time, it began to marinate. I had to write other YA manuscripts first and develop my voice. When I started getting attention for my writing, and got the question from people in publishing: “What else are you working on?” I would tell them this idea, and people would freak out. So, I realized I had to write it. While certainly fantastical, many aspects of my own life (training at Yale Drama, growing up in a competitive suburban environment and not quite fitting in, spending time on movie sets…) as well as research (especially into Hammer Horror films, Troma films) grounded my ideas and further inspired the story. Everything coalesced, eventually a fuse got lit under this kooky, tremulous idea and the story just took off.

You are already hard at work at promoting your next novel, Night Flight, which will be released in 2019. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Sure, it’s a YA Hitchcockian thriller about a gay teenager who, through a case of mistaken identity, winds up getting chased by a pernicious terrorist organization, and government agents, who all want to exploit him to different degrees. It moves at a furious pace, is also very dark-humored, and I’m just wild about it.

You have degrees from both Northwestern and Yale which also led you to a career in acting. How were you able to transition from acting to writing?

While not every actor can write, it’s not as hard (or as shocking) a transition as you may think. As an actor, especially at Yale, I worked closely with writers, worked with language, developed an ear for dialogue, an understanding of a character’s psychological profile, and a sense of emotional conflict, and stakes.

When did you first realize you had a passion for writing?

I wrote some stories in second grade about an alien who visits a kid and my classmates were rapt. When I was thirteen, I had a bunch of funny ideas, so I launched an underground humor magazine and sold it in local stores. Some people tell me now it was the world’s first “zine,” which it… obviously was not, but my mind is always whirring and writing is a way of keeping my mind stable. I’ve journaled since I was 18. I have a separate journal entry for every single day of my life since I was 18. I can go back, find the appropriate journal (most are in a stack, left behind at my parents’ house), and tell you what I was doing ten years ago today. It was a great writing exercise that I did for years, and still do: summing up every single day of my life.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? How do you like to create?

My writing is very visual, so I’m inspired by images. I will go to museums, galleries, buy books of photography and art. I like to take loose notes in a Postalco notebook in a coffee shop and then I will write at home on a computer. I immerse myself in a world, which is also a parallel to acting, in the method approach: read books, watch movies, look at images, saturating my own world with the world of the book and the characters so the lines get blurred.

Is there a fun fact about yourself that might surprise our readers if you were to share it with them?

I know how to sword fight.

Is there another fun fact about yourself that might surprise our readers if you were to share it with them? I have this strange feeling you might have more than just one interesting fun fact about yourself…

For a year or so, I had a night job as a DJ at a club in downtown New York. I started my own dance party, with a friend, and we would play indie rock, New Wave, post punk… It was fun, nicely distracting, but not my world at all! (*laughs.) I wanted to be in bed reading.

Who inspires you the most to write?

Other authors and their glorious creations, as well as my close-knit circle of family and friends who always want to read something new from me.

What is your 2nd favorite book and why? You’ve probably been asked about your overall favorite book a countless number of times, but has anyone asked about your 2nd favorite book before?

No, they haven’t! That’s a tough one. I think I’ll pick The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

What do you want teens (and anyone else who reads YA) to gain the most from your novels?

An insight into themselves, a sense that they are not alone in the world.

What advice would you give to struggling writers out there who are trying to accomplish their dreams?

Just write: there are no hard and fast rules. You don’t have to write every day OR YOU’RE A FAILURE; you don’t have to publish a book by a certain age or YOU’RE A FAILURE. Write because it makes you happy, the process itself, and you enjoy getting lost in your own creation, this world you’ve dreamed up… That’s such an amazing thing in its own right. Persistence is always key. And confidence.

Your career has just begun and you seem to already be thriving! Where do you see yourself going from here?

Thank you! I’m going to keep writing YA novels for the time being, while trying to challenge myself, and hope that people, and readers, keep enjoying what I do. People spend money, and invest a lot of time, in a book. I just don’t want to let anyone down.

Do you have any final words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers?

Go easy on yourselves! It’s a tough, brutal world. Find what you love and stick to it. Find the people you love and take care of them. Try to focus on the things that make you happy, not the things that enrage you.

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

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