Talking Counterculture With Irvine Welsh, Author Of ‘Skagboys’ And ‘Trainspotting’
E. Nusgart: What made you want to write, Skagboys, a prequel to the acclaimed movie and novel, Trainspotting?
I. Welsh: I had material that was left over from the original stories from Trainspotting before it was published. In order to establish character development within the prequel, I had to go back to the original. I went back to the original series to find they were quite delightful stories in themselves.
E. Nusgart: What character can you relate to the most?
I. Welsh: I can relate to them all. I can empathize with each character because each of them is a part of my persona. I’ve been able to walk in each one of their shoes. But if I had to choose, it would be Mark Renton because he’s the character I write most about.
Much more from Irving Welch.
E. Nusgart: Just as we see Renton struggle with life in Scotland in his early twenties, was it difficult for you to find a place and direction in life when you were younger?
I. Welsh: Yes, it was difficult to sort the day out. When you are young, it’s hard to choose what will benefit you the most. With all of the financial and emotional restraints, it was difficult for me to pick and choose what would lead me to the greatest satisfaction.
E. Nusgart: Since Mark Renton is somewhat of a self-destructive character not just to himself but to those around him, do you see him as a protagonist or antagonist?
I. Welsh: I guess a little bit of both. He is very idealistic but still awfully cynical. This is what makes him so vulnerable to drug abuse. He tries to attain basic human desires, yet when they aren’t met he reverts to his negative thinking.
E. Nusgart: How do you feel about conformity?
I. Welsh: I think that the mainstream is a result of ideas that are politically correct. Still, when things get difficult in culture it becomes easier to turn to rebellion and anarchy.
E. Nusgart: How is Scotland different than the United States in terms of counterculture and drug use?
I. Welsh: In America, a lot of people save their partying for the weekend. In Scotland, there aren’t as many opportunities so the use of drugs is more prevalent. In the states, people take drugs as a weekend item to have fun.
E. Nusgart: Why do you think people gravitate so much to the dark comedy that’s interwoven within your book series?
I. Welsh: I think it’s the characters more than anything, they can relate to the characters I’ve created because of their flawed nature and imperfections.
E. Nusgart: From the infamous scene at the beginning of cult-like film, Trainspotting, how do you personally, “Choose Life,” on a day-to-day basis?
I. Welsh: Life is a beautiful thing, there are many gifts. You have to do the best you can. That’s part of the mission in life; you can’t give into all of the things that make you feel miserable. You need to absorb yourself in things that make you feel good. At some point of your life you have to get along with things and move forward.
Choose your future.