Survival, resurgence and renewal: everything to play for in 2018

Greetings from Leith at the turn of the year. For several years now I have been saying that publication of my book should happen in the year ahead; although it has become slightly embarrassing to be wrong so often, I don’t mind the delay so much because the whole thing has matured in the process. I have never done anything like this before, and I don’t know how the publishing process goes.

Meanwhile, I have been pleased to meet so many people who have come on the tour this year. A highlight was the flurry of interest in February, with the release of T2. And I have been working towards presenting the draft to a publisher, with the help of an agent. Can’t say more than that just now. It would be nice to have good news early in the New Year, and less nice to have disappointing news. I’ll be published in one form or another, and since 2018 is the 25th anniversary of the publication of Trainspotting, I’m certainly aiming for next year.

In addition to the anniversary, it is also becoming clear that there is a resurgence of interest in the 1980s heroin scene. This is led by survivors. One I pick out is Graham MacIndoe, from West Lothian, just outside Edinburgh, who got into heroin in New York. He recorded his downward spiral in photographs, which formed an exhibition recently at the Portait Gallery here in Edinburgh. He also wrote an account, together with his partner Susan Stellin, in Chancers (Ballantine Books, and not cheap).

Then look at David France’s How to Survive a Plague, subtitled The story of how activists and scientists tamed AIDS (Picador), this year’s Baillie Gifford Prize winner. Again from the USA, it deals mainly with the gay scene and HIV/AIDS, both closely associated with the smack scene here in Leith and not overlooked in Trainspotting. France was told ten years ago that the AIDS cannon was complete, and there was no market for this. He not only proved them wrong, but also pioneered a history of these interlinked subjects that has been ignored by mainstream histories. No more.

With this longer view of the 1980s scene, we can see that Welsh was very quick and early to tell the story, in all its chaos, danger, pathos and, ultimately, survival. But Trainspotting is in urgent need of a re-appraisal. This is where my book comes in.