NEW YORK (Reuters) - The topic of Scottish author Irvine Welsh's latest novel -- pedophilia -- is so harrowing that he worked on a spoof documentary film about a darts player while writing the book just to lighten his mood.
And yet Welsh insists that "Crime" is his most uplifting novel to date.
"Most of my books have been about people who (mess) up," said Welsh, best known for the drug-fueled mayhem of his debut novel "Trainspotting," which was made into a hit movie.
"This one is different, it's about how people heal."
While researching "Crime," published this month by W.W. Norton, Welsh met survivors of sexual abuse and said he was moved by their resilience.
"It was great to see people rising above all of that," Welsh told Reuters in an interview. "Instead of trying to find darkness in the light, I'm trying to find light in the darkness."
Still, the troubling subject matter of "Crime" prompted him to work concurrently on a more comic project -- "Good Arrows," a "mockumentary" set in Wales about a professional darts player with health problems who loses his winning touch.
Welsh calls the spoof "a parable about cheap celebrity and fame."
Welsh has made short films and music videos but "Good Arrows," which he co-wrote and co-directed, is his first full-length film. He hopes to show a version on British television in January and take it to the Cannes Film Festival next year.
"Crime" tells the story of a troubled Edinburgh policeman, scarred from working a child murder case and abusing drink and drugs, who flies to Miami with his fiancee to recuperate.
But his deepest demons come along for the ride and he gets mixed up with Florida's seedy underbelly. The police officer, Ray Lennox, first appeared in Welsh's 1998 novel "Filth" and Publishers Weekly called "Crime" Welsh's best work since then.
"Welsh's most coherent and satisfying novel in a decade showcases the Scottish author's inimitable combination of dark realism, satire and psychological insight," Publishers Weekly wrote in its review of "Crime."
Welsh's characters are often drawn from his experience growing up in public housing in north Edinburgh, far from the Scottish capital's cultural and architectural attractions, and he said he would find it hard to write about people outside his working class experience.
"It's very difficult for me to write across class lines," he said, but added that me might well try in future books.
Welsh splits his time between Dublin and Miami with regular jaunts to Edinburgh to see family, friends and his beloved soccer team Hibernian FC.
But at 49, he admits he is now too old to party like the characters in his books, as he once did. "The recovery time is longer," he said, quickly adding, "I do like a big blow out occasionally."
Editing by David Storey