Irvine Welsh grew up in Leith, Scotland. The son of working class parents, he spent his childhood in government housing, a milieu he gave voice to in his hugely popular novel and subsequent film, Trainspotting. The book was an international success and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 1993. Welsh moved to London in his twenties and played in local punk bands but returned to Edinburgh in the late-80s. Drawing inspiration from the the rave culture there, he began writing seriously and submitting to literary journals. After Trainspotting, he published Ecstasy, Glue, Porno, The Acid House and The Bedroom Secrets of Master Chefs. His books’ themes range from the Scottish identity, sectarianism, classism, immigration, unemployment, AIDS and drug use. Recent works are The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs (2006), a play, Babylon Heights (2006), written with Dean Cavanagh, and If You Liked School You'll Love Work (2007). His latest novel, Crime, was published in 2008. He has taught undergraduate creative writing at Columbia College in Chicago and currently divides his time between Miami, Chicago, Dublin and London.
Irvine Welsh: I think both success and failure have come quite easily. It’s like, it’s weird because I think when you… because I’ve been very successful with the writing and just because the first book sort of got, there’s a… the first book was the first thing I’ve written, “Trainspotting,” and it got published by the first publisher I sent it to, and it got and it became a bestseller, it became a successful play. It got made into a huge film and it kind of went around the world.
So it’s almost like the kind of the dream model to kind of to launch kind of a writing career, really. So, it has been successful. But it’s like it’s only… most of the things I’ve done I’ve been a failure at, too. So it’s like, I think, from the outside, people would see it as being successful, but I’ve only I see the failures I’ve had in life. I’ve failed at music. I’ve not been able to do that, to the extent I wanted to. I’ve been a failure in a lot of things, like kind of, like jobs I’ve had.
I’ve always been able to act like somebody who was successful doing that job with that, but it’s always been fun, basically and it has always been, I’ve always felt like it’s just that much away from kind of being sort of outed or discovered as as a sort of ways to it basically and that kind of thing. So, I felt a lot of failure in the past. [In other way] I felt I’ve been successful, it’s been the right and it’s just been by a series of, kind of a default thing, really, having failed everything else.
Recorded on: September 8, 2008