Irvine Welsh hits Hastings – An exclusive HIP interview
Ahead of ‘An Evening with Irvine Welsh’, local promoters Simone Brookes & Rossana Leal caught up with the internationally acclaimed Edinburgh author for an intimate chat about Hastings, music and writing.
“We are really excited to be bringing one of the UK’s favourite and coolest authors to Hastings. Trainspotting captures a side of Edinburgh not too dissociative to Hastings around the same time. Welsh’s new novel The Blade Artist catches up with one of the original and some might say most popular characters, bringing Franco Begbie back to life as only Irvine Welsh could do.”
HIP: Is this the first time you have visited Hastings?
IW: No. I was down on a day trip years ago. I also shot a video for the band Keane very close to there in Battle.
HIP: You’ve heard all about Hastings – 1066 and all that – but what do you expect to find on your first visit here?
IW: I expect it’ll be a lively and interesting town. The Crowley connection, the South London diaspora etc.
HIP: Who or what influenced you to pick up a pen and start writing?
IW: I came to writing as I had failed at other creative pursuits, like music and painting. I loved them but wasn’t any good. With music I wrote ballads, which were just stories set to song. The answer was staring me in the face.
HIP: Music is obviously a big influence on you. What tunes are in your top 5 and why?
IW: Bowie: Width of a Circle. Love the epic, swashbuckling camp of it.
Zeppelin: Immigrant Song. Everything a Zep song should be. Robert Plant’s vocals make me want to go ah ah ah ah ah ah!
Alabama 3: Mansion on the Hill. Every time some chancellor has a budget I always think of that song.
Peter Tosh: Africa. Always thought that Peter Tosh’s ‘Equal Rights’ album was better than anything Bob Marley did. That’s my favourite track from it.
Primal Scream: Swastika Eyes. In the patriarchy most female leaders are token men with swastika eyes.
HIP: If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
IW: I think chance encounters are the most beautiful thing in life. The person I want to meet the most is the next interesting stranger.
HIP: This year we celebrate 20 years since the making of the film Trainspotting, a film which truly captured the essence of a generation as described in your novel of the same name. What made you begin to write this book? Did you have a soundtrack in your head as you wrote it?
IW: I wrote Trainspotting in order to make sense of a chaotic time I had/was living through. It’s a book about transitions from one type of a world to another, that’s why it’s been so durable. Drugs are just a symptom of that transition. I have a soundtrack for everything I write. This was a lot of Bowie, Iggy, Lou Reed, UK punk and jazz like Art Pepper, Miles Davis etc.
HIP: What is your advice to anyone who wants to write novels?
IW: Go to the pub for five hours, sit at the bar drinking, and tell everyone about all the great stuff you’re going to write. Then go home and sit on your own in a room for five hours and start writing them. If you like the last five hours better than the first, you’re a writer. If not, you’re probably wasting your time.
Celebrating 20 years since the making of the film Trainspotting ‘An Evening with Irvine Welsh’ will see the best-selling and prolific author reading from his latest novel The Blade Artist followed by a Q&A session hosted by the acclaimed writer and local resident David Quantick.
The event will also find legendary Hastings-based music video director Richard Heslop showing films with artists he has worked with such as New Order, The Cure and Happy Mondays, while writer and film maker Michael Smith will premier his short film Stranger on the Shore and read from his own work with musical accompaniment by Simon & the Pope.
For a HIP chance to win 2 free tickets and a signed copy of Blade Artist tell us: Who played the character Renton in the film Trainspotting? Email your answer to [email protected]
‘An Evening with Irvine Welsh’ is on Tuesday 30th August, 7pm at St. Mary in The Castle, Pelham Crescent, Hastings, TN34 2AF.
Tickets available from: https://www.musicglue.com/stmaryinthecastle