ALAN Parks is an amiable bear of a man who these days spends his time wandering around Glasgow thinking up ways to murder people. No, don’t worry. His criminal activities are purely fictional. Parks is that not-so-rare thing these days, a Scottish crime writer.
His first novel Bloody January is out now. It is set in the city in which he lives and takes place over the course of a few weeks at the start of the year (the title might have given that away). The year in question is 1973.
This is crime fiction as time travel, then.  Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep on the radio, The Magic Roundabout on the telly, feather cut hairstyles, pints in Sammy Dow’s and the Muscular Arms. All in the company of Parks’s fictional policeman, Detective Harry McCoy.
It starts, more or less, with a bang. Or a shooting in the Buchanan Street bus station at any rate. “I wanted to get the crime out of the way as quickly as possible,” Parks says when we meet in Glasgow’s city centre. “I’m terrible at whodunnits. I can’t think up these things. So, it’s more of a whydunnit.”
We are sitting in the Cup Tea Lounge in Renfield Street. It used to be De     Quincy’s pub, he reminds me. He spent his 21st birthday here. He has thrown up in this very room, he says. Glasgow was his manor when he was younger. And after years in London it is again.
At 54 he has left it late to become an author. But then he had a perfectly good career in the music industry for the best part of 30 years, so we can maybe forgive him his tardiness. The question is why now?
It’s related to his return Glasgow, he says. Not that he ever totally left. He moved to London in the 1980s, but he always had ties to the city and four, five years ago (he’s a little vague on dates), he decided to move back.
When he did so he started taking night classes on the 20th-century history of the city. He found himself in parts of the city that he hadn’t visited since he was a child. Some of the Glasgow he knew was still there, but much had disappeared. It made him think that it was time for someone to write a history of 20th-century Glasgow.
And then he realised he wasn’t the right person to do that but maybe he could write a crime novel. And that’s what he’s done. It’s a very readable one too.
The Glasgow of Bloody January is the Glasgow of his childhood. Although he grew up in Paisley, his parents were from the city. “My mum was exiled in Paisley much to her horror.”
As a result, he was constantly getting dragged on the bus back to visit family. His great aunt lived on the 23rd floor in the high flats of Dobbies Loan. “It literally looked over the bus station,” he recalls. “It looked like a big toy set, watching these buses coming and going.”
The city, he remembers, was a dark place. Physically dark. He’d wait for the bus at the back of the St Enoch Hotel. “Down there you’d see a lot of homeless people and you’d see a lot of people dressed up to go out on the town. And so, it was a bit of an adventure to come here. I remember it as an exciting and frightening place.”
It is that fear and excitement he tries to tap into in Bloody January. “I always think Glasgow gets represented as a bit one-dimensional in fiction. It all tends to be hard men and battered women, which, I’m sure, sadly, is a lot of people’s experience. But I always remember we used to go to Pettigrew’s and Frasers. Big department stores which seemed really rich.
“And Sir Hugh Fraser was always in the paper, someone who seemed glamorous in a way, and I thought there was more to Glasgow than people suffering under poverty.”
These days Edinburgh is hoaching with fictional detectives. Glasgow a little less so. With the honourable exception of Alex Gray’s Detective Lorimer and Denise Mina’s Alex Morrow, Glasgow crime fiction is still dominated by the memories of Taggart and William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw novels.
Did the shadow of either weigh on him when he was writing Bloody January? “McIlvanney does because I really, really like those books. They’re more like modern European literature than hardboiled Glasgow.”
Comparisons with McIlvanney would terrify him, he says. “Mine isn’t anything near as good.” But he hopes, like McIlvanney, he is writing about a real place; that his Glasgow will be recognisable to those who lived through those times.
He even writes things that happened in the city in January 1973 into the book. And so, Harry McCoy gets to go backstage during a David Bowie gig at Green’s Playhouse. In the sequel currently being written and set a few weeks after Bloody January, Scotland play England at Hampden. England won 5-0, but he is including it because that’s what people in Glasgow would have been talking about. 
If the books take off, he says, he’ll happily take McCoy through the 1970s. But not beyond 1980, he thinks. That’s not of  interest to him. But then maybe that’s because by the 1980s his own life had gone in another direction.
When he was a student studying moral philosophy at Glasgow University Alan Parks met another student, called Lloyd. Lloyd was a wannabe musician. Another mutual friend, Derek, offered to manage Lloyd.
When Parks graduated he couldn’t get a job and sat at home watching videos all day. Lloyd, meanwhile, got himself a band and become a pop star. In 1984 Lloyd Cole and the Commotions became the sound of young Scotland (Lloyd came from Derbyshire, but never mind).
He and his manager were suddenly in demand and they needed someone to answer their office phone in Glasgow when they were in London. They thought of their mate Alan. And that’s how Parks’s musical career started.
After working for the Commotions management company, Parks became creative director at London Records in the 1990s, working with the likes of New Order and All Saints.
“I commissioned the artwork and the videos and the photography. Basically, you were trying to put the visual identity of the band together. And sometimes that came 100 per cent from the band and I facilitated it and sometimes they went: ‘I don’t know. What do you think?’”
He loved the job. And it was a time when visuals mattered. It was the age of The Face magazine and I-D magazine. “People cared about videos and record sleeves, so it was kind of a dream job, faffing around with bands all days on photoshoots.

Some bands he really liked. Others could be “an absolute pain in the arse,” he admits. Then again, he says, the record company would work them hard. “Pop bands literally have no time from when they get up until they go to bed.
“Especially if it’s girls. They get up at 4 o’clock in the morning to get their hair and make-up done. They were really ratty, but I’d be f****** ratty if I had to get up at 4 o’clock to go to Belgium every day.”
He saw the best days of the music industry. “There was a lot of money floating about, a lot of largesse.”
But with the arrival of Spotify and internet streaming the gravy train was about to come off the tracks.
“Oh God, yeah. You could see it coming. We got downsized about four times. We stopped replacing people. And it was stupidly overpaid, the music industry. It really was. There just wasn’t the money to sustain it and of course the first thing to go was the stuff I do.”
He wasn’t surprised when he was offered a redundancy.
 “I still do bits and bobs but I’m too old and there’s not enough money. I’m 54 and when bands are young enough to be your children, it’s not a good look when you’re trying to tell them what to do. So now I tend to only do the weird ones, the odds and sods.”
The redundancy led him to spending more time in Glasgow again. And that’s when the idea of the book first came up. He wrote a lot of it on the train to and from London.
Now he’s 70,000 words into the second novel. “Writing’s the most unsociable thing. I live by myself. I sit at the kitchen table and work. So, I’ve started writing outside the house because it’s driving me nuts. I’ll sit at McDonald’s and do it there, do it on the bus or train. It’s a lonely pursuit.”
Maybe that’s why thoughts turn to crime.  Alan Parks is an amiable bear of a man with murder on his mind. Lucky for us.

CAREER HIGH
I think working on The Streets’ first album. It was a huge commercial and critical success. He was great, the visuals worked, and the music was great. It was a good thing to be involved with. And a record that means something is very rare.

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CAREER LOW
I shouldn’t say this … Chas and Dave. I was sure they would be amiable cockney chaps. One of them was really nice …

BEST ADVICE RECEIVED
Laurie Cokell was the boss of London Records. Everything there was a drama. It was just a constant level of stupid, unnecessary hysteria. He once said: ‘You know what? Sometimes don’t do anything. Just sit back and let things happen.’
FAVOURITE MUSIC
The Velvet Underground. I still listen to them, which, I suppose, is the main thing.

FAVOURITE WRITER
I like James Ellroy. His books are books about Los Angeles that happen to have crime in them. They’re the history of post-war Los Angeles. In my deluded state I thought: ‘I’ll try and do the same thing for Glasgow.’

IDEAL DINNER PARTY
I once went to dinner and Malcolm McLaren was there. This was not long after the Sex Pistols and I thought: ‘If he asks me what I do I’m going to have to kill myself.’ “I manage Lloyd Cole and the Commotions.” It’s not really the cutting edge of anarchy. And he asked and he was really gracious. So I’d like him. And Germaine Greer. She’d be interesting to listen to.

Bloody January, by Alan Parks, is published by Canongate,  £12.99.