I’m really fortunate that in my work for purpleTV I get to tell stories in a visual format, building narratives using testimony, archive and various other creative mediums. In the course of this work I’ve met some amazing people and this week was no different. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Irvine Welsh in Chicago. A prolific writer, I’ve always been inspired by his use of language. He uses dialect to create strong authentic characters that are of the place, sitting comfortably alongside another great skill he has, using the city as a supporting cast, the sense of surroundings moulding and changing shape like a river ebbing and flowing as the narrative builds in his writing.
I love this technique and in my novel The Birds That Never Flew my characters are very much of the place in the sense that they sound like the city, their dialect strong and pure, and mixed, reflecting the different uses of language in Glasgow. The city too is important, its river the sea of change that shapes the path Elizabeth and Mary forge later in the narrative.
Anyway, back to Irvine! Given all I’ve just said it was fantastic to meet him in Chicago and to interview him for Famous Five, a documentary film I am making for BBC ALBA. I don’t want to sit and recount ‘he said, I said’ stuff as that’s a bit weird but suffice to say he is one cool dude and I am delighted and centred to have spent some time in his company. You will be able to see the fruits of my labour (and my camera op Neil and presenter Alex’s) when the film is completed.
My last sight of Mr Welsh was of him walking along Lake Shore Drive flicking through his signed copy of The Birds That Never Flew. I hope he enjoys my city and its people as much as his own…