Interview with Gordana in Macedonia

Since the release of Trainspotting in 1996, you were proclaimed as a controversial figure, whose novels, stage and screenplays, novellas and short stories have proved difficult for literary critics to assimilate. One simple question: why does everyone think that you are controversial?

I’m not entirely sure. I think because I was writing about drugs and youth culture when nobody else was, or at least not in working-class voices.

Do you feel like that?

No, not really. It sounds boring but I was just doing what other writers did; focus on story, theme and character.

What is actually controversy? It is only way to express yourself, to be honest...?

I think as an artist nowadays, you have to push out. We live in extreme, uncertain times, but you never know this through the politicians, mainstream media, business and corporate culture and the majority of the entertainment industries. It’s all about bland escapism, fiddling while Rome burns. You need to entertain, but you need to kick society in the balls too.

In one interview, one journalist described you as: “But he is not the bad-boy that his reputation might suggest. He's smooth as a con man -- witty, wise, sarcastic, and cunning. He's a great guy, an honorable man”... So, from where did all your stories come? If they are stories of some friends or people that you meet, then what is really yours in the words that you write?

You’re looking at this from a journalists rather than novelists point of view. Journalists look for the person behind the story. They think if they find what makes the writer tick they’ll understand the story more. Yes, every writer uses personal experience in their stories, but a lot of being a decent writer is about getting over yourself – giving yourself permission to just make up shit as well as just record what happened.

I suppose that you enjoy in writing... Why? How will you describe the process of writing stories? How do you live, breathe and think during that time...?

You black out the rest of the world and sit there typing. It’s the most boring thing in the world to watch somebody doing, but when you get into the zone it’s totally exhilarating and the best time ever. You aren’t aware of where you are, whether or not you’re hungry, cold, hot, or need to go to the toilet.

In 2005 you married for the second time, even through you promised that you will never do it again. What enchanted you in her?

When I saw her, I thought, ‘Wow! She’s so cool, smart, sexy and tough’. I needed a tough person who can reign me in a bit. If left to my own devices I tend to fuck up.

In your books women are not put in good light... But, how is your relationship and understanding of woman in the real life?

I think they put women in a lot better light than men! Back in Edinburgh, most of my close friends would probably be described as tough, working-class men. In London, most of my close friends are career-minded, middle-class arty women. I was drawn to a totally different social circle when I moved down there in my youth. Most of the women I like are pretty cool and sorted out, they would never be with the guys I write about, who, well, let’s say, are working through certain issues with varied degrees of success. Fucked up guys tend to attract fucked-up women, (or none at all) so you have to show that dynamic.

How do you feel about the time that passes, how to you look at the past?

It goes too quick, but I’m usually too busy working to notice. I’m not very big on reflection; hopefully just enough not to make the same mistakes, but enough to give me scope to make new ones. I’m in search of new mistakes.

You have very beautiful name. To me like a Macedonian it sounds very strong and powerful... What does it mean, the name Irvine Welsh?

Thank you! I haven’t heard that said before. When I was growing up I was a bit self-conscious of it as it was very rare. When I was born, my parents threw a dart on the map of Scotland, so I’m called after a town in Ayrshire. I’ve grown into it now.

In the past few years, you have been involved in films and stage plays... What kind of pleasure did you get from these 2 mediums?

It’s great to work with other people, as you get stuck in your own head as a novelist. I need to be able to mix up the two.

Tell me about your ordinary day... because you are surrounded non-stop by stories? How do you love to spend your time? Which things do you enjoy?

There’s no real average day for me. It’s pretty much governed by the projects I’m working on and whether they’re at the genesis, mainstream, completion or promotion stage. Right now I’m enjoying some down time as I finished a book. I spent a lot of time hanging out in bars and watching bands the last two weeks, now I’ve come out of that phase and I’m going the gym a lot, reading and trying to relax at home as I’ve a grueling year of travel and promotion next year.

The things about you write in your books, and which has happen 20 and more years ago... now is happening to us... What is next book you are working on? Do you feel like a futurist?

I’m researching my next book, which is a kind of twisted Sapphic love story between a crazy personal trainer and a needy overweight artist.