Failed music bid pushed me to write Trainspotting, says Irvine Welsh

Welsh says a failed music bid led him to create one of the 20th century's most acclaimed examples of literature. Picture: TSPL
Welsh says a failed music bid led him to create one of the 20th century's most acclaimed examples of literature. Picture: TSPL
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Author Irvine Welsh says he started writing hits such as Trainspotting as a result of not being able to play an instrument properly and being kicked out of a succession of bands.

In an exclusive interview with auction house Sotheby's, which currently has a rare original Trainspotting movie poster for sale, the Leith-born writer revealed how he came to pen one of the 20th century's most acclaimed novels, which, in turn, inspired one of the most successful British films of all time.

READ MORE: Rare Trainspotting movie poster could fetch four-figure sum at Sotheby's auction

The 60-year-old says early works, Trainspotting included, were a result of his lack of music ability and that he turned to the pen after being kicked out of several groups.

Welsh said: "I started writing because I wasn't very good at doing music. I wrote ballads but couldn't play an instrument properly.

"I was fed up of getting kicked out of fledgling bands, so I decided to dispense with the music and carry on with the storytelling."

Influenced by the likes of Beat Generation writer William Burroughs, Welsh revealed Trainspotting wasn't the only book he was working on when he first started out.

He added: "I was writing a lot of stuff at the time. The Acid House was finished around the same time as Trainspotting. If you're a proper writer you will never run out of stories to tell.

"The problem is getting genuinely relevant ones and telling them well. You want to entertain, but I'm primarily a confrontational writer – I like to challenge, not just reinforce my own certainties of the world."

To date Welsh has written a dozen novels, the latest being the fifth Trainspotting-related novel Dead Men's Trousers, but despite its hard-hitting content, Welsh claims that and the original which spawned it were the most fun to write.

He continued: "The books that are most difficult to write have been Marabou Stork Nightmare and Filth, where the main character is despicable and does terrible things.

"It's hard to have that voice in your head. The Trainspotting/Porno/Dead Men's trilogy has its harrowing moments but overall these books are mainly fun to write."

After having previously stated that Trainspotting character Mark Renton is perhaps most like himself, Welsh was also asked if the characters that feature in his books are fictional representations of people he knows in real life.

He commented: "I think every character you write is probably some representation of yourself. They are clusters of behaviour and emotions.

"Obviously, we pick and choose what we express but we are all familiar with this emotional range – it's a human thing."

An rare 1996 movie poster for Trainspotting is currently up for auction at Sotheby's.

An initial £200-£300 estimate has already been smashed with the auction due to end on 5 September.

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