Gordon FerrisI was born in the small industrial town of Kilmarnock, in the West of Scotland, on Rabbie Burns' day. My mother took it as a sign of impending literary fortune. But it took the best part of half a century and a number of false paths to bring about her prophecy.

Until the age of 12, my ‘hoose’ was distinguished by what it lacked: inside toilet, bath, central heating, electric lighting, telephone and hot water boiler. Lighting was gas with tiny fragile mantles – it gave a romantic glow, but made it pretty hard to read. The mantles crumbled at a touch and were forever disintegrating. Heating was a coal fire in the front room where my parents slept. I used to be sent down to the outside coal cellar with a hammer and a bucket to smash up lumps small enough to go on the fire. Where were the Health and Safety men when you needed them?

Hot water came from an ‘immerser’ in the scullery – a tiny galley kitchen - off the front room. I remember as a wee boy, sitting with my feet in the sink while my mother dug into my ears with a flannel. Meantime, the porridge bubbled on the hob. If we wanted a bath, we hauled a zinc tub up from the outside wash house and filled it - actually ‘filled’ is an exaggeration – with kettles of hot water. We were forever being plunged into darkness as the money ran out in the gas meter. There were times when my mother counted on getting a ten bob rebate when the ‘gas man’ emptied the meter and totted up the sums.

Washing took place in the outside wash house in a big metal washing tub – a ‘bine’ - heated by a coal fire underneath. My mother scrubbed the sheets clean with a bar of carbolic soap against the ridges of the washing board. I helped her turn the big handle of the mangle as we hauled the dripping sheets through the rollers.

Ours was one of the two upstairs flats, sharing an outside toilet on the landing. My earliest memory of reading material was torn-up copies of the Mirror hanging on a nail in the toilet. We took it in turns to clean the entry and stairs and had rows with the old woman downstairs over whose turn it was and how well the mopping had been done. The trail of black dust from the coal delivery only added spice to the neighbourly disputes.

Excitement in the ‘close’ was the delivery of coal. The horse and cart would pull up, the shout would go up - ‘Coooaal’ - and big, dusty men with leather jackets would parade through the entry with bulging sacks on their backs to dump into the outside coal cellar. Less dirty but much smellier was the fish cart bringing boxes of shining herring to be soused and grilled for tea. And once a year a man pitched up on a bicycle laden with strings of onions. Did he really wear a beret? Did he really cycle all the way from France? Or from just down the road in Troon?

If this all sounds like a Monty Python sketch of competitive deprivation, it was nothing of the kind. No-one was any better off. There was nothing to envy. We were a young family clawing our way out of rationing, and building lives for ourselves. The crowded Saturday night parties were memorable for bad singing and huge laughter. The door stood open at Hogmanay for First Footers. It was a happy home.

Gordon Ferris Roots I do remember ration books [just!] and the taste of NHS bottled orange juice. But instead of air raid sirens I grew up to the sound of the Beatles and Dylan and the warnings from the Government on our black and white TV about what do if we had 4 minutes left before the first Russian atom bombs rained down. Something to do with kitchen tables and wet blankets, and nothing about how to avoid dying a virgin. 

After school, where writing and rugby came easy, but nothing else [and certainly not the women], journalism was the obvious career choice. So I became a computer programmer for the RAF (it sounded sexier than Civil Servant). A few steps later I'd resprayed myself as a management consultant working for a blue chip accountancy firm. I sustained the illusion long enough to be accepted as a minor guru in the banking industry. My firm, Price Waterhouse, even made me a partner. 

But something inside was calling me back to my first love. When I found myself with a laptop and hours to kill on long haul flights, I began the internal journey that led to Truth Dare Kill and its sequel The Unquiet Heart. With the launch in the first 'Brodie' book - The Hanging Shed - and the next three in the Glasgow Quartet, I began to believe my Mum had a point.

I’ve been called the ‘New Ian Rankin’ which is lovely. But the position isn’t vacant and I wanted to write some different stuff with new heroes fighting the good fight in the modern era. My contemporary ‘Indian’ books are the start, and I’m pleased at the reception to Money Tree. I'm hoping ONLY HUMAN earns similar plaudits.