Author Spotlight: Kalena Miller
Sept. 17, 2021
We are excited to feature author Kalena Miller and her debut young adult novel, THE NIGHT WHEN NO ONE HAD SEX (AW Teen), coming out on Oct. 12. Enter to win a copy! (U.S. residents only, please!)
|cover art by Suzanne Dias; book design by Valerie Hernandez|
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.
Hello! My name is Kalena Miller, and I’m a writer of middle grade and young adult fiction from Minnesota. I’ve enjoyed creative writing throughout my life, but I realized that writing for teenagers was the perfect fit for me when I never wanted to “graduate” to reading grown-up books. YA fiction has always been my favorite genre, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning how to write for this age demographic.
Congrats on your debut YA novel, The Night When No One Had Sex! Tell us about the story & what inspired you.
Thank you so much! The Night When No One Had Sex is a sex-positive, multiple POV, all-in-one-night comedy featuring a group of friends who all agreed to have sex the night of their senior prom. The inspiration for this story came during a writing workshop when one of my mentors told me I was skilled at writing sex scenes. I was so excited that I really ran with that compliment and started writing a book comprised entirely of sex scenes (as a joke). Well, it turns out that I enjoyed the characters and stories I was creating, so I backtracked to work on necessities like plot and momentum. The rest is history!
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Something in between, for sure! It felt long to me, but I also know that I’ve been relatively lucky compared to many writers who’ve been on this journey for decades. I’m certainly not an overnight success story—I didn’t find an agent with the first project I queried, and I didn’t get a publishing contract with the first book that went on submission. However, I truly believe those unpublished manuscripts helped me develop as a writer and led me to creating this story. And I could not be happier that The Night When No One Had Sex is my debut!
Did you have a playlist when you wrote this story?
I need to have zero distractions while I’m writing, so I’m not much of a music person. Instead, my soundtrack was hour-long YouTube videos of white noise or rain sounds to drown out the sound of my dog barking at the neighborhood squirrels.
What projects are you working on?
I’m currently working on revisions for a middle-grade book I have coming out in Spring 2023 with Delacorte. The story is about a middle schooler living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who’s thrust into the spotlight during a theatrical production of The Sound of Music. There’s friendship drama, family angst, and so many musical theatre references.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?
I would tell my younger self and other young writers to take their craft seriously! As a kid, I absolutely adored writing—specifically creative writing—but I was always looking for a “practical” way to use that skill. After college, I applied for jobs in education and communications before realizing that being a novelist was what I truly desired. Wanting to pursue a creative career may not be the easiest or most stable path, but it’s a perfectly legitimate one. Don’t sell yourself short!
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I love dancing! I grew up doing ballet, tap, and jazz at a couple different neighborhood dance studios. In college, I was on a ballroom and Latin dance team (where I met my husband!). I’ve even taken belly dance lessons while doing research on a study abroad trip. (Granted, most people know this about me, but I’m struggling to come up with something I haven’t rambled on about on Twitter.)
Where can people find you online?
My website is kalenamiller.com, and I can be found on almost all the social media sites at @itskalenamiller! My favorite is Instagram, so find me there for sure!
Kalena Miller is a writer, teacher, editor, and scone enthusiast. She currently lives in Maple Grove, Minnesota with her husband and lovable, if slightly neurotic, dog. When she isn't writing, Kalena enjoys tap dancing, scrapbooking, and watching an embarrassing amount of reality television. Her debut YA novel, THE NIGHT WHEN NO ONE HAD SEX, will be published on September 7th, 2021. Her first middle-grade novel is forthcoming in the spring of 2023.
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