He is one of Britain’s best-selling authors, with book sales of more than two million, and his award-winning work is critically acclaimed.

However, for Chris Brookmyre, his home town of Barrhead remains his greatest inspiration and first love.

Born and brought up in the Auchenback area, he is a former pupil of St Luke’s High.

Now living in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, 52-year-old Chris regularly returns to Barrhead to visit his dad Jack, a retired electrician, and mum Grace, a former teacher at St Mark’s Primary.

They still remain his biggest supporters and fiercest critics.

So much so that both are sent rough drafts of his latest books to read on Kindle before they go to the publisher.

His grandfather Jack was well known in the town as a shop steward at the famous Shanks sanitaryware factory.

One of Chris’ best-sellers, A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil, was about growing up in Barrhead, while his 1999 novel One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night is based on life at St Luke’s.

Recalling his early years, he said: “Growing up in Barrhead definitely benefited my writing.

“I felt it was a microcosm of society in general. It wasn’t just an anonymous suburb but a proper town. Whereas I always feel that, if you live somewhere like Giffnock, everything looks the same.”

For Chris, the happiest childhood memories of Barrhead revolve around his school days and playing on the Fereneze Braes.

He is also encouraged by the improvements he sees in the town, through the various housebuilding developments.

“There is definitely more of Barrhead now,” said Chris. “At St Luke’s, you met people from all sorts of different backgrounds and that served me well as a writer.

“Barrhead was its own wee world because you have the Dams at one end and the Braes at the other.

“You got the sense of living in a special place, rather than somewhere that just blended into somewhere else.”

Chris is also proud of Barrhead’s industrial heritage, particularly Shanks.

He added: “Wherever you go in the world, you always see the name. It was the first time that I saw Barrhead in a global context.

“I am also proud of the fact that William Shanks invented the world’s first water purification system.”

Over the years, Chris has been asked back to St Luke’s to judge creative writing competitions and speak at prizegiving ceremonies.

He is also encouraged that more people, including teenagers, are now being bitten by the reading bug.

“Book sales are increasing all the time,” said Chris. “More and more bookshops are opening and the book trade was very resilient through the pandemic.”

His new book, The Cut, is about a make-up artist who wakes to find her lover dead in her bed.

A quarter of a century later, after serving time for murder, Millicent – now aged 71 – is ready to give up on life when she meets 18-year-old student Jerry.

Chris got the idea from Scandinavia, where young people looking for accommodation must also share it with an elderly person.

He added: “It means the generations retain a connection and do not have misconceptions about each other.

“In The Cut, you have someone who has been in jail. The next question is the challenges they face when they get out after all that time.”

Despite being busy writing, Chris has found time to campaign against restrictions on freedom of speech and has opposed the Scottish Government’s Hate Bill.

“You have more platforms to speak than ever before but you also have more people trying to police the contributions to the discourse,” he said. “Anonymity allows people to behave really badly and in a cowardly way on social media.

“On the other hand, that anonymity is empowering to people who would not be able to speak up. It’s always going to be a balancing act between the two.”

Chris says the Covid lockdown allowed him to focus on his work in what has been a productive period.

Not only did he complete The Cut but he has also been working on two other books.

Chris and his anaesthetist wife Marisa, who write together under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry, have also finished the next book in the series, called Corruption of Blood, which will be released in August.

One downside of lockdown, however, was a lack of contact with people, which meant fewer new ideas for books.

“I call it the Great Patter Drought,” said Chris. “Nobody has done anything, nothing is happening.

“As a writer, you are always looking for new experiences, whether they are your own or from other people.

“It became a bit of a grind at some points to think about what I was going to write next.”

Chris, however, has resisted the temptation to write a pandemic book.

“I don’t think anyone wants to relive this,” he said. “I think people are looking for a bit of escapism.

“People have responded to The Cut for that reason, which is gratifying.”

The one thing that the lifelong St Mirren fan has missed most during the last 15 months is going to matches with his pals.

He said: “Football is one of the few things which actually insulates me from thinking about work. It is very therapeutic in that respect.”

The Cut, published by Little, Brown Book Group, is available in hardback, priced £18.99.