Author, I Never: An Interview with Derek Milman

Derek Milman

author of Scream All Night

Author, I Never is a segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.

Question the first: Derek, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I was writing since I was in the 2nd grade.  I wrote these UFO stories, in serial form, and all my classmates were totally into it. I realized I liked telling stories, and I had a certain amount of power by creating them, especially when I could kill all the characters off and traumatize an entire class of children. That was wonderful.

At 14, I wrote and published an underground humor magazine and sold it in local stores. I’d ride around on my bike getting local businesses to advertise. I was really doing it. That’s probably when I knew I wanted to be a writer—just wasn’t sure what kind.

Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?

Oh, definitely the acquisition of my first novel, and the day I got to announce it, and all those people, from so many corners of my life, who were proud of me, happy about the news. That was nice.

Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?

Weirdly, it was early on in the process--a pretty scrappy version of my manuscript was passed to a major editor (by a movie producer friend) at HarperCollins, and she was like: “I think you have something here.” She was telling me I had a unique voice, and should take this seriously. I literally quit my teaching job, which was sucking the life out of me, to focus on writing just because she said that.

I love that! Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?

Yes, the editor as mentioned above.

Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?

Yes. During the first phase of rejections by agents, which were innumerable and went on for some time, and then when my first manuscript got repped, and two editors at two big houses TRIED to buy it, but got shut down by sales and marketing. I was like: did I make the right decision here? DO I UNDERSTAND HOW ALL THIS REALLY WORKS?

DO you? I still don't. But thank goodness we keep flailing around telling stories in the dark. Some of them stick. Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?

It’s always on the treadmill. Or worse: the elliptical.

Right. Or flailing on the elliptical machine. Question the seventh: Can you give us a hint to help us find an "easter egg" or hidden item to look for in one of your books? Maybe an obscure clue if there's a mystery thread, or a reference you threw in to a favorite book or song?

There are tons of references to horror classics and icons in Scream All Night. Each wing of the Moldavia castle is named after a horror movie impresario or lauded director.

That sounds so fun! Yay! Speaking of fun, it's time for the...


I Never Round


The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.

I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting.

We’ll see when I get my copy edits!

I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.

Sleep, for me, can be more important. Usually I’ll write it on the notes app on my phone. I did this during a long, raucous New Year’s Eve. The next day, I woke up, and I had written “gay skier!” on the notes app. To this day,  I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT WAS.

I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.

Yes! The waking up/mirror thing. I tried to convince myself I was “playing on this trope” but was I? Was I?

I watched the movie Adaptation last night, and now I want to crankily argue that everything is a trope: romance, and subplots, and happy endings, and conflicts, and I also feel compelled to write myself into the interview. Oh, look! 
I never worked on two manuscripts at once.

Not at literally the same time. But I’d re-visit other projects if the current ms was being reviewed for line edits, copy edits, etc. I like having projects ready to go.

I never went several days or even weeks without writing.

I do, yes, I have to rest my brain. I disagree that this is a “thing” that writers always have to be writing at every moment or they’re actively failing. NO! TAKE A BREAK!

I never wrote "for a long moment."

For a long moment I wondered about this. But I don’t think so.

Ha! I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.

I don’t cheat. I’m too busy orchestrating revenge on all my enemies.

Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?


Scream All Night is out July 24, 2018. It’s on Goodreads. Cover reveal should happen in the next few months. I’m on Facebook. Please follow me on Twitter and Instagram:

Update: Scream All Night is now up for preorder on Amazon and elsewhere

And thank you!

Bonus question: If Scream All Night had a theme song, what would it be?

So there isn't a song, per se...the MC listens to Miles Davis...but...you're going to like this... I listened to the very odd Suspiria soundtrack by Goblin, over and over, while writing the novel. It's incredibly creepy!

I do like it! DJ Spotify, can you handle it?