Irvine Welsh to revive Sick Boy and Renton in 'Trainspotting' prequel

How did they get like that, some of literature's most drug-fuelled characters – Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and the rest of their gang in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting? We're about to find out, because 15 years after his celebrated novel, the Scottish author intends to write a prequel.

The ultra-realistic chronicler of heroin addiction in mid-1980s Edinburgh is to go back a couple of years in his new book, to chart the decline of the Trainspotting crew from young guys looking for a good time, to the full-on smackheads so memorably brought to life in the novel (and even more in the 1996 film where Ewan McGregor's portrayal of Mark Renton launched his movie career).

Welsh has been prompted to write their beginnings by finding in his attic earlier material for Trainspotting, gathered but not used – much of it from his own years on Edinburgh's housing schemes. "The thing is basically a prequel and will be about how Renton and Sick Boy went from being daft, young guys just out for the buzz to total junkies," he said. "It focuses on them when they are a couple of years younger, and shows how their attitudes and behaviour start to change as they become more defined by the drug and the culture around it."

Besides six other novels, Welsh has already written a Trainspotting sequel, Porno (2002), where both Renton and Sick Boy are shown turning their hands to making adult movies. He says that the decision to portray them earlier as well as later came about because of a chance find.

"I had a great deal of material that, for various reasons, namely pace and because it didn't fit the time frame, wasn't suitable for the previous books," he said. "There's a particular section about Renton and Sick Boy's first visit to London to stay with their friend Nicksy in Hackney that I always wanted to publish, but it was just a bit too long.

"The others are first and second drafts from 1991 based on the same diaries and notes as the original Trainspotting. I only found them as I've been looking through boxes that have been in the attic for years – and I thought they'd been slung out ages ago."

The book became a major literary success after its original publication in 1993. The grittily, not to say unflinchingly realistic, portrayal of heroin addiction as a part of Scottish working-class culture, with casual and extreme violence often a characteristic of degraded lives, repelled and even outraged some people but also drew enormous critical admiration. A particular feature of it was that the speech of the main characters was recorded in Scottish dialect, written down phonetically.

After selling more than one million copies in the UK, the novel spawned the Bafta-winning, Oscar-nominated film of the same name directed by Danny Boyle, which became a worldwide success. Besides launching McGregor's career, the firm was a launchpad for Jonny Lee Miller who played Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson, Ewen Bremner, who played Spud, and especially for Robert Carlyle, who played the violent psychopath Begbie.

Dr Aaron Kelly, a lecturer in English at Edinburgh University and an expert on the author, said there would be a huge demand for the prequel. He said: "It sounds like a great idea to me."

Himself a former addict, who wrote Trainspotting while working in Edinburgh council's housing department, Welsh now divides his time between homes in Miami and Dublin. Last year, he published the short story collection, If You Liked School, You'll Love Work, and the novel, The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs. His next novel, Crime, will be published in July and he is also compiling an anthology of short stories for publication next year.

Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea

film

In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops

film

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game