A FORMER firefighter is starting a dramatic new chapter in his life after trying his hand at crime writing.

Johnstone man John Coughlan, 72, drew on 30 years of experience in the fire service as he wrote Retribution Road.

Set in the Renfrewshire crime scene of the 1970s, it is planned as the first in a trilogy of ‘tartan noir’ thrillers.

John, whose wife Linda is a recipient of the Queen’s Fire Service Medal and still works in the Johnstone control room, said some of the content was inspired by things he witnessed during his career in the emergency services.

He told The Gazette: “Joining the fire service was one of my better life decisions. I stayed there for the next 30 years.

“My time in the fire service was me gathering material – although I didn’t know it at the time – and that really kick-started my writing.

“A lot of the dialogue is fire service craic and the characters really jump out from the pages.”

John, who enlisted in the Marines as a young man, said readers from Johnstone are sure to recognise some of the locations in the thriller.

“It focuses heavily on the drug scene and crime in the 70s and 80s,” he added. “I think a lot of people are interested in that time period.

“There’s a lot of reference to how the town was in the 70s and there’s a lot of dark humour.”

John also told how being part of a Johnstone-based writers’ group helped him to hone his literary skills, although he admits the process of penning a novel can be “tortuous” at times.

“They do say that the book you first have in your head is not the one that appears on the pages,” he added. “It develops – it’s like a child, it has to be guided.

“You have to let the characters run you, in a sense.

“The group really developed me. Caro Ramsay, who writes the Anderson and Costello series, is also part of the group. There are some really good people in the Scottish crime genre.

“It’s important to remember that feedback isn’t criticism.

“I’m very happy if everyone at the writers’ group and everyone who helped me with the book along the way are happy with it.”

Retribution Road is available from selected book stores, priced £8.99, and can also be ordered via Amazon at https://amzn.to/3DNgEdI.