Richard Milward: ‘I hid my writing like a secret vice’
The novelist on his latest book, a Charles Manson-inspired work written in slang, his love of the band Mogwai and the trials of sorting post for Royal Mail
Richard Milward, 38, grew up in Middlesbrough and lives in London. He is the author of three previous novels: Apples, published when he was 22; Ten Storey Love Song, told in the form of a single 300-page paragraph; and Kimberly’s Capital Punishment (2012), which has six alternative endings. His new novel, Man-Eating Typewriter, a book within a book, is written in Polari and presents an anarchist’s memoir with commentary by an editor at a pulp press in 1970s Soho. The writer Michael Bracewell has called it “extraordinary: as if Mervyn Peake and Kenneth Williams wrote a book with William Burroughs”.
This isn’t the book you’ve previously spoken about working on…
No, for three years I was occupied with a different novel rooted in the experience of spending time with young boxers for a magazine feature I wrote about an East End boxing club. My novels had been getting more surreal and I wanted to do something different – almost to be more experimental by doing something less dreamlike. There’s a novel there and I’ll return to it, but it was more of a struggle to write, maybe because it was outside my surrealistic comfort zone.