• Jeffrey Delannoy
  • Irvine Welsh

Scottish writer Irvine Welsh, who lives part-time in Chicago, has a new novel out. Skagboys (Norton) is a prequel to his best-selling 1993 debut, Trainspotting. Here’s an edited transcript of a recent phone chat.

JL: About Skagboys: Why revisit these characters 20 years later? Were they just kind of stuck in your head? They had more to say?

IW: Yeah, I mean there was a lot of mileage in them. It’s a sort of first love kind of thing. They’re the first characters I wrote, really, and I kind of identify strongly with them, personally. I wanted to do something with it for a long time, but I just kept putting it off and going to other things and thinking about, you know, the 100,000 words at the beginning of it, which I thought was just a kind of a way of finding my way into the characters and all that. And I thought that it’d be interesting, and it never seemed the right time to do it, and then I thought, ‘Well, if I don’t do it now, I never will.” And I just got this idea of doing the prequel, but making it about what happened to them in Trainspotting. You can’t make a kind of “what happened,” you have to kind of make it into a kind of “why did it happen?” You know, what happened to them, to make them into heroin addicts, what happened in their community, what happened in the families, what happened within them, you know, in the relationships that they had. So the question is about trying to find the answers, from the individuals looking outward in concentric zones to the families and the communities and the kind of society they were living in and the sort of changes they were experiencing.