Author Name: Mila McWarren
Book Name: The Luckiest
Release Date: July 7, 2015
When New York-based memoirist Aaron Wilkinson gathers with his high school friends to marry off two of their own, he is forced to spend a week with Nik, the boy who broke his heart.
As they settle into the Texas beach house where the nuptials will be performed, Nik quickly makes his intentions clear: he wants Aaron back. “He’s coming hard, baby,” a friend warns, setting the tone for a week of transition where Aaron and Nik must decide if they are playing for keeps.
Pages or Words: 256 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Gay fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult, Romance
Aaron finishes the song and Stephanie snatches the mic out of his hand, crooks her finger at Nik and launches them into a reprise of their performance of “Dancing on My Own” from the homecoming weekend they all spent here at the house back in senior year. Stephanie still has questionable rhythm and tragic pitch—she loves to sing, which is why they have a karaoke machine in this house, but it’s one thing she will admit she doesn’t have much of a gift for—but there’s a reason Nik majored in music at The University of Texas, and his voice has come a long way.
Somehow, this deliberate throwback to a memory that was never anything but happy seems different than what Aaron has just done. He sits on the sofa, flanked by Alex and Jasmine, hating them both a little for participating in it even while he smiles. Nik dances—how can you not, with this song—but he still watches Aaron, gives him a little head-tilt during the chorus, and it’s charming and devastating and infuriating.
Jasmine leans to murmur, “Oh, I see how it is.”
“Oh, shut up.”
“You might not be desperate, but I’m not sure about him. He’s coming hard, baby.”
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Mila McWarren, author of The Luckiest.
Chris: Hi Mila, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Mila: I usually start with one central image – a pivotal moment or a well-delivered line – and then everything else is about (a) how we got there and (b) what happens next. Those little images usually come with characters pretty fully developed, but anything that doesn’t come immediately usually grows pretty naturally and directly from there. Characters are very easy for me; plot is harder, especially in terms of “a series of events”. I’m much more interested in watching characters grow, and sometimes what I’m most interested in is pretty internal, so the biggest challenge is always making those internal character moments have external causes and payoffs – which is generally how I think of plot.
Chris: Who doesn’t love a good hero? Tell us about your protagonist. Was there a real life inspiration behind them?
Mila: Aaron is a budding memoirist; he’s just finished his undergrad training and we’re catching him in the summer before he starts his MFA program. He fled the suburbs of Houston like his ass was on fire and landed in New York under a cloud that becomes clear within the first few pages of the book. (Spoiler: the cloud’s name is Nik.) He’s very driven, very self-possessed, and very skilled – he wants to be able to do things, because it helps him feel like he’s a little more in control.
There’s a fair bit of me in Aaron – that pursuit of self is mine, as is a need to get away from a place that didn’t feel quite right as “home”. But Aaron also grows out of a string of undergrads I’ve taught over the years. Most of my students are typically pretty happy, which in people in their early 20s frequently translates to something like “aimless”. Which is no bad thing, and I wish them their joy, but you can see the ones who come in to a classroom like it’s going to be the thing to save them, and those kids are just different – they’re running off of something different than those around them. Interestingly enough, most of them have been young women and gay young men. I’ll leave it to your blog readers to speculate about why that might be, although I have some idea.
Chris: What real-life inspirations do you use when world building?
Mila: Anything I can get! I usually try to sneak in some travel – even if it’s just an afternoon driving around and taking pictures on my phone, there’s some great value to being in that space and seeing what it feels like, what it smells like, what the traffic is like. For this book I spent a few days driving around, walking around – I visited all of the relevant schools, went to the house where the action is set, mapped out some of the little trips the characters take. I did some internet research from home, but mostly I just like listening to people and watching them interact in the world, because that’s where I think most of the good stuff is.
Chris: Did you learn anything from this book and what was it?
Mila: Heh. So what I learned most from this book was to never, ever try this thing again.
Let me explain. Part of what I was really focused on for this book was an attempt to write a romance novel that was so focused on this small group of characters that all of the plot really was driven by decisions they made. There is no real external actor, there’s no love triangle or crisis. There’s just the various hells they make for themselves. I wanted to do that because I really believe in that story; that’s how most of us live, after all.
But oh my GOD, it was hard! Pacing was tough; keeping the plot tight was difficult. I’m pretty pleased with how it turns out, but next time I write a book, a meteor is striking the Earth or SOMETHING, because never again. J
Chris: It’s your last meal on earth. What do you choose?
Mila: I’m getting on a plane and headed to Luling, Texas, where I will eat my fill at the City Market of brisket, ribs, sausage, and their addictive mustardy sauce, with a few dill pickles, one big slab of an undefinable yellow cheese (it’s kind of gross, actually, a little sweaty in a piece of plastic wrap, but it helps cut the spice a little), and a bottle (or two; this is salty, slightly spicy work) of Big Red soda. We should all be so lucky to go out this way.
Thanks for having me – this was fun!
Thank you for the interview!
About the author:
Mila McWarren grew up in Texas, but has happily made her home on the East Coast for the last decade. In her day job she works as a social scientist and has spent the last 10 years developing her fiction writing online. She lives with her husband and their two kids. When she isn’t using working, writing, or hanging out with her family, she likes knitting and watching television, because they go together like peanut butter and chocolate, two of her other great loves.
Where to find the author:
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25446714-the-luckiest
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer
Tour Dates & Stops: July 7 – July 20, 2015
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Rafflecopter Prize: One $25 Interlude Press gift card. Five e-book copies of ‘The Luckiest’