Alan graduated from the University of Stirling in 1998 with a First Class Honours degree in English literature and education. He then worked briefly as a secondary school teacher before returning to Stirling and achieving a Masters degree in English. It was during his time here that Alan and published his debut novel, and began earning recognition and awards for his short stories.
In 2012 Alan was named Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Writer of the Year and in 2013 was shortlisted for the Creative Scotland/Daily Record Literature Award, the same year his play Ban This Filth! was shortlisted for an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award.
In 2010 his play Turbo Folk was shortlisted for Best New Play at the CATs Awards, and two of his novels Death of a Ladies' Man and Pack Men were shortlisted for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Fiction of the Year Prize. Alan was shortlisted or longlisted for the Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Short Story Competition four years running between 1999 and 2002. The short film which he wrote and narrated, The Shutdown (2009) also won numerous awards at international and domestic film festivals.
Alan has lectured in Creative Writing at the Universities of Leeds and Glasgow and has performed his work at numerous international festivals, including Toronto, New York, Beijing, Melbourne, The Hague and Lagos. In 2016 Alan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Stirling in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Scottish literary culture.
My years at the University of Stirling were among the happiest and most productive of my life. Not only did I learn a great deal about literature and train to be a teacher there, but my extra-curricular involvement in the Musicals Society helped kick off my career in theatre. My first novel was also published while I was still a postgraduate student, so Stirling is where everything started for me really. I have such fond memories of the place and always experience a shot of nostalgia whenever I visit that gorgeous campus.
BA English Studies with Education, 1998
MLitt English Studies, 2002 and Honorary Doctorate, 2016