an award-winning crime writer, Chris Brookmyre is well versed in the art of transporting his readers to dark places.

Now he has shed light on how growing up in Barrhead influenced his books and helped him take the literary world by storm.

Chris regularly uses people and incidents he remembers from his school days as inspiration when writing his thrilling prose.

In an exclusive interview with the Barrhead News, he said: “In one book in particular – One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night –it’s fairly clear that St Luke’s High School features in the storyline.

“Some of the books are very much based on weird stuff that happened at school.”

Chris said his passion for writing was nurtured during his days at St Luke’s High by one teacher in particular, Patricia Festorazzi, who would give the class writing tasks.

“Some of the suggested story titles were too dull,” he added. “They were titles like ‘On the Run,’ so I would come up with something a bit more exciting.

“I would always write 10 times the length of what was expected, so Patricia would keep mine to the last. She was quite indulgent and looked forward to reading it.”

Barrhead News: Chris and his wife Marisa write together under the pseudonym Ambrose ParryChris and his wife Marisa write together under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry

Patricia, who was principal teacher of English at the Barrhead school, is included in the dedications page on Chris’ first novel, Quite Ugly One Morning, which introduces Jack Parlabane, the writer’s most used character.

Published in 1996, it won the inaugural First Blood Award for the best first crime novel of the year.

Critical acclaim continues to be heaped on Chris, not only for his solo endeavours but also for novels written jointly with his wife Marisa Haetzman under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry.

Now living in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, 51-year-old Chris regularly returns to Barrhead to visit his dad Jack, a retired electrician, and mum Grace, a former teacher who was based at St Mark’s Primary for many years.

His links to the town go back to his paternal grandfather Jack, who was well known through his role as shop steward at Shanks’ ceramic sanitaryware factory.

Recalling happy memories of his childhood escapades with pals, Chris said: “When we were kids, we would play up at the Fereneze Braes and go exploring in the countryside.

“Barrhead is now far more expanded in terms of residential housing and there are not a lot of open spaces.

“The population has grown massively, so the demographics have changed.”

Chris, whose latest novel – Fallen Angel – centres on dark secrets surrounding a family’s holiday in Portugal, said that schoolkids in the 1980s were given books in class that had little relevance to their lives.

“They gave us 30-year-old books by authors who had been teenagers 30 years before that, from a time before the term teenager had been coined,” he added.

“It was a prescription to put you off reading.”

Instead, the young Chris delved into the worlds of Ian Fleming, best known for his James Bond spy novels, and American thriller writer Robert Ludlam, who created the Bourne trilogy.

He was also a fan of English writers JRR Tolkien and Douglas Adams.

“Nowadays, children are offered books at school that instantly reflect their lives and interests,” he said.

Barrhead News: Chris’ latest novel is Fallen AngelChris’ latest novel is Fallen Angel

Chris also asserts that people who get annoyed by the amount of time kids spend on their mobile phones should not make assumptions that it’s a bad thing.

“In fact, I believe it is a good thing because, by being on their phones, they are able to access vast amounts of information that, earlier, we could only have dreamed of,” he said.

“I know from my son Jack that youngsters are very capable of sifting through the information and knowing when something is wrong.

“They are sending texts multiple times a day and, in doing so, are involved in the evolution of language.

“They are using expressions which, in the future, people will wonder where the expressions came from.”

Chris and Marisa are currently writing a third book about fictional character Will Raven – an Edinburgh medical student who works in the dark shadows of the capital’s 19th-century underworld alongside the renowned Dr James Simpson, who was the first to work with chloroform on humans.

As a consultant anaesthetist, Marisa’s research for her Masters degree in the history of medicine uncovered the material on which the story is based.

The first in the series, The Way of All Flesh, was shortlisted for the 2019 McIlvanney Prize – the annual prize awarded to the best Scottish crime book of the year as part of the Bloody Scotland festival.

Although Manda Scott’s ‘A Treachery of Spies’ was selected as the winner, she chose to equally share the prize with the four shortlisters, including Ambrose Parry.

Despite his literary accolades, Chris says one of his biggest pleasures is that his mum Grace is his greatest cheerleader who delights on taking an advanced script of his latest books to read on holiday.

Looking back at his career to date, Chris takes most satisfaction not from awards – nice as they are – but from the pleasure of knowing he has been able to write for a living.

“It’s the things that happen at micro-level, when you pull a thought together that pushes the story line forward or when you are happy with 2,000 words you have just written,” he said.