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Q&A: 10 Questions With The Author Of ‘Trainspotting’, ‘Ecstasy’, & ‘Skagboys’ Irvine Welsh
October 29, 2012
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Author Irvine Welsh rose to fame nearly 20 years ago with his first novel 'Trainspotting', which was later made into a film starring Ewan MacGregor.

Well now, another of Welsh's books - 'Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance' - has been made into a film called 'ecstasy', directed by Canada's Rob Heydon.

The film is about two lovers who are addicted on drugs and carry out their romance on a chemical high.

It opens in Toronto November 23 and will go on to screen in Montreal, Vancouver and other Canadian cities.

As well, Welsh has a new book called 'Skagboys', which is a prequel to 'Trainspotting' and its 2002 sequel 'Porno'.

'Skagboys' follows the lives of characters Renton and Sick Boy as they first get hooked on heroin.

Irvine Welsh was in Toronto this past weekend, for a special advance screening of the film 'ecstasy'.

While he was here, we asked him to do The Strombo Q & A.

1. 'Trainspotting' and its new prequel 'Skagboys' both deal with the issue of drugs and addiction. What are your thoughts on the so-called war on drugs?

IW: It's an insincere construct by politicians who never take drugs to skew the opinions of members of the public who also never take drugs, to make them believe that something is being done about the drug issue when the reverse is true.

2. 'Skagboys' is set in the 1980s in Margaret Thatcher's Britain. What do you think is her legacy?

IW: A massive underemployed underclass of people in Britain, a fearful, debt-ridden middle class and an upper class of 1% of people who have raped the country in the last 30 years. The Labour government went to the IMF in 1978 with monetarist economic policies. So from then, through to Thatcher to Blair and Cameron, it has been 30 odd years of unbroken neo-liberalism, which has crippled and divided the country.

3. 'Ecstacy' has been made into a movie by the Canadian director Rob Heydon. People have drawn comparisons between the necrophiliac character in the original book and the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, now accused of being a child-sex abuser. Do you feel the two are connected?

IW: Well, when you write fiction, it's always best to keep fictional characters fictional, but then again, if the cap fits, wear it.

4. What's better: 'Ecstacy' the book, 'Ecstacy' the film, ecstacy the drug or ecstacy the feeling?

IW: They all have their merits, everybody should find their own path to ecstasy. I will not be too prescriptive about it.

5. What makes a good apology?

IW: If it's heartfelt and sincere, something rarely seen in public life, especially with politicians and wealthy businessman. When caught in sex or financial scandals, their only motivation is to draw a line under it and move on. In reality, it is just a statement done by their PR which completely discredits the whole idea of apologizing.

6. What's the best lie you ever told?

IW: Told a few whoppers in my time. When I was young I used to go to nightclubs and pretend to be gay. There were always really good looking girls who were very vain and who would try to get you to the other side. (Laughs) I was pretending to be this innocent gay guy that just came down from Scotland.

7. Is a life without sin worth living?

IW: I think we should all strive to be saints and sinners at some point in our lives. You have to do bad things and good things occasionally. But as you grow up your conscience develops and hopefully you improve as a person, you become a better version of yourself. You could say it is your moral compass that develops... it does not always happen, but hopefully...

8. Trainspotting is famous for the lines 'Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family.' What's the hardest choice you've ever had to make?

IW: It's always hard when you have to give up on a friendship or relationship because you realize it is not doing you any good. You can have a friendship with a good friend and you realize you are bad for each other. When I quit heroin, I had to give up a lot of people from that era, a lot of them were actually good people but going through a difficult time in their lives.

It is funny when you see them on the streets all cleaned up and have moved on in life. Then, you want to be friends but cannot really. It is almost about the mutual embarrassment thing. You have done so much bad stuff and it's almost like you have tainted each other. You don't feel there is anything left in terms of a friendship or relationship.

9. A movie, or movie scene, that always makes you cry?

IW: 'White Christmas' with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. That scene when they go to the room in the back of the hotel, convinced the general to try on the army uniform. It makes me cry just thinking about it. Every year I watch it.

10. Do your old-school friends keep you in check?

IW: Painfully. Way too much. I am going home in a few weeks. I know I am going to walk into a pub and they will all be there. For the first hour, they will be ripping the piss out of me, almost like a test to see if I can take it. After that, they will pat me in the back and high-five me. I think they're waiting to see if I am still rolling with it or being affected by it. They can also be as pretentions as f*** themselves though, but if I try that shit I get slaughtered. Usually until we are relaxed, which is normally after three beers, I am taken apart. It is all in good fun though.

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