Irvine Welsh is a Scottish novelist, playwright and short story writer. He is recognised for his novel Trainspotting, which was later made into a critically acclaimed film of the same name. His work is characterised by a raw Scots dialect, and brutal depiction of Edinburgh life. He has also written plays and screenplays, and directed several short films.
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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/
EDIT: Thanks so much for joining, you are all top shaggers who deserve to get spectacularly laid tonight. I'm sorry I could only answer the tip of the iceberg, but did them in order, and apos to those I didn't get to. Big love x
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.
Greetings from the West of Scotland, Irvine! Here are my questions:
When you were writing some of the scenes in TRAINSPOTTING did you ever think they were a bit fucked up?
Were you worried that your Scottish slang would be difficult for some readers to understand?
What are your thoughts on the film adaptations of your novels?
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.
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 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.
How do you feel about Scottish independance not coming through?
''Some people hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers''
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.
Good morning Mr. Welsh.
I am a huge fan. Thank you for all of your work.
I have a question that fans have probably asked you a lot already; How come Second Prize was on so many pages of Trainspotting and then he never made it into the movie? Somehow it is just like him not to make the cut.
My next question is about all of your characters in general. 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?
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.
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.
Do you think you will see Hibs win the big cup in your lifetime?
P.S. Not all trolling, actually a big fan...FILTH has been my favourite book since I read it in high school 12 years ago and I loved the film adaptation! Big fan of all your work.
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.
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.
Hello from the Philippines, Mr. Welsh! I’ve been a huge fan since high school and your work has deeply influenced me. I’m kind of freaking out right now. My questions are:
Thank you greatly for this AMA! I hope this finds yeh well!
Thanks for the AMA. I only got round to finally reading and watching Trainspotting late last year, and I was amazed that I'd never seen them before. You, sir, are a genius.
What were your inspirations for some of the characters from Trainspotting, as well as the story itself? Have you had experience before with addiction? And please suggest one of your favourite pieces that I can read haha.
Sorry for the interrogation, cheers :)
Thanks. 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. Read Sex Lives of Siamese Twins.
What's your favourite album and artist?
Love your work.
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.
How long before the BBC get you onboard for your tennis commentary skills at Wimbledon ?
EDIT : "why are you such a cunt ?"
I don't think Sue Barker will be having sleepless nights. Still unsure of the second one...
Some writers questions -
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.
What went into writing the character of Ray Lennox in Crime versus writing him in Filth?
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?
Love you and your shinny head.
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.
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.
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.
Hi Irvine - massive fan here. Have loved you since reading Trainspotting back in 94. 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.
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.
Hi Mr. Welsh
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.
Evening shagger, 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 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 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
Filth is probably my favourite book and I've started to read Marabou Stork Nightmares, and I got a couple of questions:
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? (McAvoy was amazing in it)
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?
Cheers from East London
I'm planing to read some of your novels in spanish as i now live in South America.
How do you ffeel 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.
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.
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.
Any word on Porno?
Well, I think you jinx a project by talking about it. In film/TV you are very much a team, so it doesn't help one person making statements without running past the rest of the gang first!
Hi Mr. Welsh
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.
First at all, I just want to say that I'm a huge fan of your work.
I read a couple of interviews so I know a little bit about how much do you put about yourself and about your life in your books. My question is, 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???
A lot of love from a spanish fan! (and Sláinte!)
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.
Hello Irvene! 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.
Hi Mr Welsh, 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.
Evening Mr Welsh, what is your favourite type of pie?
I like Key Lime Pie, which is a Floridian desert?
Hi Mr. Welsh. Huge fan here. 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. Thanks for doing this AMA, you rock.
Thanks. 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.