Grit and love in north England with Richard Milward

Wed May 27, 2009 7:01am EDT
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By Michael Taylor

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Richard Milward began writing when he was only 12 years old and wrote his first published novel at the grand old age of 19.

Published in 2007, "Apples" went onto receive huge critical acclaim and propel a young lad from the northeastern English town of Middlesbrough into one of Britain's hottest literary talents.

Recently graduated from Central St Martin's Art College with a fine art degree, Milward spoke to Reuters about his new book "Ten Storey Love Song," growing up in the north of England and the future.

Q: Your novels often tackle hard-hitting topics and describe grim realities of life -- like drug-abuse and violence. How was your own childhood?

A: My childhood was grand. But I often use a lot of observations growing up in Teesside (an urban area of northeastern England). It's not the worst place in the world but it's a very wild place. When I started going out in pubs, it was the first time I'd experienced a different kind of life -- people getting into proper fights and not just school yard brawls. At 15 I was quite a lot like Adam (from first novel Apples) because I was writing and half the week I was a recluse staying in my bedroom scribbling away. But I was beginning to get this taste for going out and getting drunk and what have you. It was a bit like a double life.

Q: Why do your novels veer toward the darker side of life?

A: The main reason for the depressing scenes in Apples was just the idea of slagging off the hyper-masculine male. All the distressing and disturbing bits of the book are the cause of a boy being aggressive toward men or women - it was just getting out my anger. I saw a little pocket of certain lads that I wanted to stick the knife into.

Q: Do you have a love hate relationship with Middlesbrough?   Continued...