Please say hello to Mila McWarren and
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.
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."
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We had the chance to ask Mila some questions...
Hi Mila, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Do you have pictures that you use for your characters? Can you share them with us?
I don't have a model for Aaron, my protagonist! I know – it's kind of wrong, but I never could find a good face model for him.
Nik was different – Aaron is so struck by him that I couldn't proceed without a face. And check out this face. That's Nakuul Mehta, and it's far from the only breathtaking photo of the guy. You should google him.
The rest of the cast is huge, frankly. For Alex I imagine a messier Catalina Sandino Merino, Stephanie is a younger Keke Palmer; and Jasmine is basically Rayanne Graf from My So-Called Life aged up a little.
What kind of book would you like to write that people would see as a huge departure for you?
Hmmm. Honestly? I like what I do – I don't want to do anything that would be a radical departure from that! What I'm into are naturalistic moments; I don't want to write big dramatic reveals, just little real conversations. I can't imagine doing anything else!
Have you ever killed a character? Was it traumatic for you? If you haven’t killed one, would you ever consider it?
I've never done it, but I'm pretty sure that one day I will. Big life events are just way too dramatic to rule them out altogether, aren't they? This time a wedding – maybe next time I'll shove in a funeral. (Has anybody said they'd never do it? Writers are a bunch of emotionally manipulative bastards; I can't believe anybody would leave it off the table altogether!)
Favorite location you’ve ever written about?
I had a great time writing about the Texas Gulf Coast this time out. It's a part of the world that is home for me, and although not all of my memories there are pleasant ones, there are some that I really loved pulling out and putting onto paper. There's a string of memories of Nik and Aaron on a little boat with an outboard motor, taking full advantage of some bayous, and that's a very fond and dear memory of my own that I decided to repurpose, and it's so built into the structure of the place.
What’s your favorite season and favorite activity for that season?
Oh, I love autumn. I LOVE it. Part of that is because I hate summer – I really can't stand being hot, and so when it's over I'm always eager to celebrate. My favorite thing to do in the autumn is to wake up early on the weekend, have a nice breakfast with the family, and then take a nice hike. We live in a part of the country where the leaves change color (I grew up in a part of the country that was green year-round, so I especially appreciate this little detail), and hiking through the woods on a crisp fall morning is really one of my favorite things ever.
This was fun – thanks for having me!
More 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.
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