Right now, it describes the Scottish novelist’s Dublin dilemma. He went to live in the city four years ago because his then girlfriend Beth Quinn was studying history at UCD. The couple, who’ve since married, have stayed longer than originally planned. “I’ve got used to being there,” said Welsh, who turned 50 on Sept 27.
He was talking at a Midtown Manhattan bar at 6 p.m. on the first day of a recent U.S. tour promoting “Crime,” his latest novel. The venue was chosen because it was showing the U.S. Open Men’s Final featuring the young Scot Andy Murray, playing for his first Grand Slam title, and Roger Federer.
Welsh, who is tall and thin and bald, would stand out in any random gathering of people. There’s nothing to suggest, though, he’d be more likely than anyone else to cause offense. In fact, he’s soft-spoken and charming in person. Yet this is the author of “Trainspotting,” which along with its film adaptation, was condemned in 1996 by presidential candidate Bob Dole as morally depraved.
He has developed strong ties to this country in the intervening 12 years. He spends a couple of months annually in Miami and is a regular visitor to Chicago where Quinn grew up in an Irish-American family. (The Quinns and the Whelans, on her mother’s side, trace their roots to Monaghan and Clare.) Indeed the Edinburgh native lived for a year in the Midwest, and he’s considering settling back there. He also spent a year in San Francisco and 18 months in Amsterdam.
“I like the look of these towns and I just think: ‘I’ve got to go.’
“After about 18 months, you get into networks and relationships, and after that it’s very difficult to leave a place,” he said.
“We were supposed to move last year, but we stayed another year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we stayed another year again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I enjoy it. I just think it’s a big world,” Welsh said.
In Dublin, he’s become friends with fellow writers Roddy Doyle and Emer Martin. He also struck up a close working relationship via the Attic Studio with directors Graham Cantwell and Rachel Rath and actor Joe McKinney.
“Attic is a forum for screenwriters, producers and actors to get together to work on scripts and to read each others’ stuff,” Welsh said.
One advantage of relocating to London, his other short-listed option, rather than Chicago, is that he’d be much closer to Ireland and his collaborators in film projects.
“It’s been good creatively for me, very good,” he said of Dublin generally.
Being in the city even influenced a central theme of the Miami-set “Crime,” which has Edinburgh Detective Inspective Ray Lennox on the trail of the pedophile gang that abused him as a child.
“I don’t think that it would have been written if hadn’t been living in Ireland,” Welsh said. “Every time you picked the Irish Times or the Irish Independent or the Evening Herald, there just seemed to another priest pedophile thing being unearthed,” he said.
“One of the things about writing about pedophilia is that you can’t really write about it. There’s no moral ambiguity to it. It’s just a nasty. Horrible.
“It’s more interesting to write how people respond to it.
“I wanted to focus on people’s recovery,” Welsh said of the novel that he labeled an “existential thriller.”
After investigating a particularly brutal child-murder case, Lennox suffered a nervous breakdown. So “Crime” has him going to Florida with his fianc