My short bio: Irvine Welsh here to talk about anything from writing, to the Miami gym scene, to EDM. Oh, and my new book, THE SEX LIVES OF SIAMESE TWINS. Learn more here: http://knopfdoubleday.com/book/237742/the-sex-lives-of-siamese-twins/
My mate Kenny says he went to Electric Picnic with you and some guy called John a few years ago. Is this true or is he at it?
Yes, it’s true. It would John Graham from Musselburgh. Give Kenny my best. Top lad.
What was your inspiration for Filth?
I worked in Edinburgh Council and there was a crazy guy who hated the world. He hated his bosses, and his subordinates. I thought: make him a cop, then he can do some real damage. There is always a lot of stuff in the papers about dodgy coppers, because its far damaging than dodgy council workers.
Do you still do drugs?
I can’t really handle them now. You spend so much of your life fucked up that being sober feels quite trippy. If something new and mind-blowing came on the market though…
How much Chocolate was used while filming Trainspotting’s “worst toilet in scotland” scene?
There was quite a few Yorkie bars melting in the Glasgow heat that summer.
What do you think of the gentrification of London?
It’s shit and it’s driving people out of the communities they’ve lived in for years. Much of it is driven by megarich overseas buyers getting big second homes they live in for two weeks a year. Of course, UKIP seek to blame Polish cleaners.
How come Second Prize was on so many pages of Trainspotting and then he never made it into the movie?
You always have to make tough choices when you adapt a book. If everything in the book was in the movie, it would play for about 12 hours.
How do you come up with them? Are they based on stories that you hear from people in Scotland? Is Sick Boy a real person?
Sick Boy is probably an amalgamation of about 2-3 people. I think all characters are also a little bit a part of the author, or a younger version.
How do you physically write? Do you have a word count target? Do you listen to anything? How long do you take per day, and how many days a week? How many drafts do you do? How do you edit?
It all depends on what’s going on in my life and what stage of a project I’m at. Sometimes you can tinker around for a bit with a couple of hours a day, then it hits critical mass and you just have to go for it – all hands on deck till you drop.
Do most conjoined twins share the same sexuaility/ any cases where they did not share the same sexuailty?
I don’t think they would necessarily share the same sexuality, any more than they would necessarily share the same tastes in music or drinks.
Do you have any writing advice?
Finish the story. Sounds simple, but a lot of people get hung up on how the first sentence, paragraph or chapter reads. It’s not important at the early stages. The beginning, middle and end of the story is. Your first draft is just a rough road map for your eyes only.
When you were writing some of the scenes in TRAINSPOTTING did you ever think they were a bit fucked up?
Not at the time. But you look back and think, what will people think of you, family, close friends etc. Now I won’t write anything unless I get that uncomfortable feeling.
Were you worried that your Scottish slang would be difficult for some readers to understand?
Yes. It looked a mess on the page. Couldn’t understand it myself at first.
What are your thoughts on the film adaptations of your novels?
Win-win. Crap movie – they fucked up my lovely book. Great movie – they had the material to work with.
How do you feel about Scottish independance not coming through?
I felt very positive about the whole process. I never really put that much stock in the vote, it was a kind of snapshot, whereas the march to independence is more of a moving picture. I think it’s been a when rather than an if for a while.
Do you think you will see Hibs win the big cup in your lifetime?
This would have been an ideal time to stop…I never got the SC as a big cup, it’s been toytown for years since we all became League crazy. I think it would kill part of the last remaining romance of the tournament if Hibs won it, because that jinx is the only really interesting SC story. Ta for the continued support.
What’s your favourite album and artist?
I would say Station to Station by David Bowie is my favourite album, but there are so many great ones, and so many artists I like and admire.
Your twitter commentary on the Murray game in the Aus Open was top notch, is this something you would be willing to go into full-time?
They couldn’t afford me at the BBC, and I’m not on the sex offenders register so probably wouldn’t qualify.
If you had one “holy crap!” fact about the sex lives of Siamese twins to sell me on the book, what would it be?
I can’t really do that without paradoxically giving out a spoiler, which would make you less inclined to read the book.
What are your favourite films?
Fitzcarraldo, Double Indemnity, White Christmas
Do you think the meaning of ‘choosing life’ has changed from when you wrote Trainspotting to now? How do you think it has?
I think it has many meanings, and means different things to different people.
You have the ability to talk to your 21-year-old self. What do you say?
Don’t listen to anybody over 26.
What was it like working with Danny Boyle?
When you work with him you’re aware that you are privileged to be working with a major talent. He glows in the dark.
What went into writing the character of Ray Lennox in Crime versus writing him in Filth?
I thought Lennox seemed secretive in Filth, and it appeared from his limited air time that there was more to him. So I brought him back for Crime.
Talks of a Porno movie were happening around last year with even original cast members of Trainspotting talking about willing to come back for it, any that starts to pick up more?
Well, we’ve been talking about it for a while. It’s like all film and TV projects, it can take time if you’re doing it right.
What were your inspirations for some of the characters from Trainspotting, as well as the story itself? Have you had experience before with addiction?
Trainspotting was partly, but not totally, inspired by my own experiences. It’s very difficult to be objective about your own life. I always felt I was just dabbling in drugs but I suppose when you are trying to tear your mum’s purse out her hands you need to re-evaluate.
How do you feel the translations hold out? Being translated into a generic accent do you think they lose some charm?
I think they might lose something, but they also gain too. The translator is often a second writer.
I once read an interview with you online, I think it was with Kevin Williamson and you were both pilled off your nut, talking about Billy The Fish playing in goal while on one, and you said how free you felt to write anything you liked. Do you remember this interview, and if so, do you know what happened to it? It was hilarious.
Yes. I was a bit of an evangelist for ecstasy and it was Kev’s first pill. Practically had to force it down his neck. Of course, it was like he invented the drug himself about two days later. The interview is in Rebel Inc mag.
What books/authors have inspired and motivated you?
They all do. A writer has to read. Even ones I dislike make me think: I could do better than that shite. Great ones, you go: well that’s something to aim for.
What are your thoughts on EDM?
Dance music has become very widespread in the USA. However the term EDM is more commonly used in the sunbelt. It’s interesting how many dance people in the Northern cities still use ‘house’ and ‘rave’. At the last Miami Winter music Conference, my mate Dave Beer from Back to Basics started stopping people in the street asking them what EDM was. Few understood the term compared to dance music, house and rave. But I think its great that the USA now has its own dance music stars.
How much do you like the film adaptation of Filth? Was there anything you wished was possible with the picture that was missed from the book?
I love Filth. James McAvoy gave a mind blowing performance and Jon Baird put a fantastic movie together.
Ever since the Bergkamp mention in Filth I thought you had a soft spot for the Arsenal, but from Twitter I gathered you’re more of a Hammers fan, what’s the reasoning behind this?
Yes, always lived near the Arsenal, but followed West Ham. Used to go out with girl who’s bro was a big fan and he and his mates adopted me when I first came to London. Always seemed to meet happy Hammers at key points in my life there.
What you watching/reading/doing these days? Want to start something new but at a loss at the moment as to what so on my arse scrolling Netflix like a zombie.
Speaking of zombies, I’ve come late to the Walking Dead party but I’m enjoying it. I also think the new series of Girls is the best one so far, they’ve moved from simply showing something to satirizing it more.
What is your favorite pizza topping and how would you best utilize that in your writing career?
I like cheese, salami and black olives, probably for the visual clash. It would make a nice book cover for a story called DEEP FIRED PIZZA and OTHER TAKEAWAYS
How did the narration/explanation of music in driving passages come about?
I think this might be a reference to Siamese Twins…I tend to make a playlist for every character I write. It helps get into their skin.
You seem to have lived in a lot of different cities. Is there any particular reason you move around so much? Do you think you’ll ever live in Edinburgh again?
I’ve always been Nomadic. Wanted to travel from an early age. I’d like to move back at some point, but I still have a place there and spend about 2-3 months a year there, so I don’t feel as if I’ve lost touch. Will move again at some point, but not sure where.
What was it like working with Jon Baird?
A nightmare. I’m still working with him, and he’s a tough taskmaster. No, it’s pretty amazing. Jon has a terrific eye for story and a fabulous work ethic and great sense of fun. Any writer or actor is fortunate if they get to work with the FEMBA kid.
After the book of “The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins” are you planning to “come back” to Scotland or are you thinking in something different, more in the line of this last book?
Yes, coming back to Edinburgh, with my next book, which is called A Decent Ride, and features Juice Terry from Glue and Porno as a cab driver.
You are my favourite author. I have just binged six of your books. It is a bit dark, but I always wondered what happened in the woods in Marabou stork nightmares, right before the uncle gets blown up near the jeep? You seem to have an excellent knack for writing about absolute bastards, sickboy has been my favourite so far. Have you had a lot of experience with absolute bastards? Also homophobia seems to be a big theme in your books, have you much experience with that also?
You can’t have grown up in the seventies and eighties UK and not experienced the bad things in life; misogyny, racism, homophobia, sectarianism etc. In some ways my writing is about trying to understand the power of these things over people and the consequences of succumbing to them.
What are your favorite bars in Miami / South Beach, and which one is the bar that you depict at the beginning of Crime? I always thought it was the Tavern, on 16th and Alton i think, but could never confirm.
A favourite of mine, and one that shows in Crime and other books, in Macs Club Deuce on 14th between Washington and Collins.
Is Beth still riding horses?
What was it like directing your first film?
I directed a TV movie called Good Arrows. It’s fun, but it means long hours concentrating on just one thing. You finish it on your knees. Would I do it again? Probably yes.
Do you usually talk to the translators about the book and the intentions of specific expressions?
Some of them you have stronger relationships with than others. But I’m not great on languages, a bit of Dutch and French, but certainly not enough to give any helpful advice.