Heaven or Hell by a Roll of the Dice; BOOKS Fancy a Game of Chance with the Grim Reaper? Kimberley's Capital Punishment, a Playful New Novel by Richard Milward Puts the Heroine's Fate into the Hands of the Reader, as Tamzin Lewis Reveals

Article excerpt

Richard Milward was too young to be blown away by the accomplishments of Renton, Sick Boy and Spud in the cinema. So instead of seeing the Danny Boyle movie, Richard begged his mum to get him the seminal Irvine Welsh novel.

Reading it made him, 'want to be a writer.' "I was about 11 when the film of Trainspotting came out and it is an 18 certificate," he says. "I hadn't read adult literature before and it seemed worlds apart from books I had been told to read in school. It was incredible: I'd never seen anything like the structure or the mad Scots dialect."

Soon after reading Trainspotting, Richard started writing and it all came full circle when Welsh praised his debut 2007 novel Apples, set in a warped Garden of Eden. The novel was followed by a successful stage adaptation of Apples and a second book Ten Storey Love Song, written so each page of text resembles a tower block.

I try and as I can a feast for { His third novel Kimberley's Capital Punishment is equally as imaginative and even more surreal than his first two. Richard, 27, says: "It's about a girl who moves to London with her boyfriend. The relationship is sputtering out and she is as vile as possible to dampen his love for her. She doesn''t want to break his heart but it culminates in his death.

try and colourful "Kimberley feels responsible, so she goes about being as nice as possible. She tries to right all her wrongs but because she is over-the-top nice she starts to be exploited. It's a novel about karma."

Hopefully it's not too much of a spoiler to reveal that the confused Kimberley dies half way through the book,so the second half is set in the hereafter. Following her death the reader can roll a dice (you'll have to find your own) to choose one of the six endings which Richard has written.

"I kill off my heroine so we see what happens to her in the afterlife," Richard explains. "When she dies it is a case of mistaken identity and she is in limbo for a chapter. The Grim Reaper doesn't want to decide what to do so he invites the reader to choose the ending."

Depending on the roll, Kimberley finds herself either resting in peace, in heaven, hell, as a reincarnation, a resurrection or as a ghost.

Richard says: "There are so many different religions and different ideas of what happens when you die. If you don't have a dice you can read my endings in whichever order you want, or from start to finish. People might just read one or rattle all the way through."

Richard grew up in Middlesbrough and graduated from a Fine Art degree at London's Central St Martin's College three years ago. …