JOHN Niven is on top the world.

His new novel The Sunshine Cruise Company is going down a storm, the film adaptation of his cult classic breakthrough Kill Your Friends will be released this year and more novels are on the way.

We could have spent a whole day talking about his literary exploits and silver-screen foray.

But with Niven being a born and bred Irvinite, there was one question I was just dying to ask.

“What do you think of the greasy pole?”.

To the uninitiated that question would have been met with utter bemusement.

Niven didn’t need a second to think of a response, he’s witnessed the often unfathomable majesty of Marymass first hand.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that nearly 25 years living and working down south, mixing with the rich and famous of the entertainment world, that his humble hometown would be a mere afterthought in his mind.

Not the case. Niven’s sentimentality for his old stomping ground is genuine.

His place of birth was essentially the ground that grew his ideas. But like many earnest young folk from a small town, the author had to move on to move up.

“At the time I really couldn’t wait to get out, get to Glasgow, and then on to London,” he said.

“When I look back now I look back with affection. The arts scene in Irvine in the 1980s was amazing.

“Me and my friends were all in bands and really made our own little scene, it was a really creative time.” Niven, 49, now lives in Buckinghamshire but his mother still lives in Livingstone Terrace.

The former Ravenspark Academy pupil’s nostalgia for his hometown has not been limited to the odd daydream.

His second novel The Amateurs, released in 2009, is set in a fictitious version of Irvine and was inspired by his late brother Gary.

Irvine’s a town in the midst of a makeover, things are changing quickly. But it’s still rich in character, something John savours whenever he visits.

He added: “Whenever I’m back seeing my mum we always end up down The Turf!

“Irvine has been much in my mind recently. My book The Amateurs is a fictionalised version of Irvine and I’ve been wanting the BBC to develop it for a series and hopefully if that happens it would be fantastic.

“I’d be pushing for the filming to take place in Irvine and Ayrshire.

Watch the trailer for Kill Your Friends here! “Unfortunately I’m normally back home for funerals but whenever I get the chance I go and play a round of golf at Ravenspark.

“Irvine’s changed a lot recen but there’s bits of it that are still sentimental to me.

“When I’m back I like walking across the Moor, then up the river bank towards Bogside. I actually tried to get to Marymass this year but it clashed with the Edinburgh Book Festival so unfortunately I couldn’t make it!” In The Sunshine Cruise Company, Niven turns his attention to late middle-aged women focusing on a trio involved in a Thelma & Louise-style chase from the police.

And it didn’t take long for the book to attract Hollywood interest.

Donna Gigliotti, producer of Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love and 2012 nominee Silver Linings Playbook, recently snapped up the film rights to the book.

Niven believes the older generation are becoming more hardened than they once were and hoped the book could appeal to punk-era grannies.

“I wanted to have a fun caper, my mum is 72 and I wanted to write something that would appeal to her.

“The way I see it that these days people in their 60s are still quite young because a lot of them will have lived through the punk era.

“Older people can take a lot more than they used to take and the whole idea was to write a really fun caper.

“Donna Gigliotti loved it and she said there’s so few good roles for women that age, it’s great to have her on board.

“Ethel is the character that really steals the show, she’s 87-years-old and she was so easy to write for. She’s a real bad girl.” Niven’s recent work has brought him resounding success but Kill Your Friends is what made his name.

The novel is inspired by his time as an A&R man for record companies in London, a profession he quit in 2002 to focus solely on writing.

He famously passed on the opportunity to sign Muse and Coldplay.

The film version of Kill Your Friends, directed by Owen Harris, will be released in December and stars Nicholas Hoult in the lead role as megalomaniacal anti-hero Steven Stelfox.

Niven, who wrote the screenplay for the film, has been thrilled with the reactions to its early screenings including the recent European premiere in Berlin.

He added: “They loved it in Berlin, I’ve seen it many times now and there’s nothing like seeing it live.

“They laughed, they cheered, it was great. I knew Owen Harris before, I saw his TV movie about Monty Python Holy Flying Circus.

“I was at the Q Awards and I got talking to him there and he asked ‘have you got a director for Kill Your Friends yet?’ “I said I saw this brilliant TV movie the previous night and told me it was him who directed it! So we took it from there and Owen got on board.

“Owen was brilliant and he really pushed everyone really hard, the film only had a £2million budget so it was difficult but we managed it.

“James Corden is fantastic in it, people think he’s just this talk show host in America.

“Craig Roberts who was in Submarine is just fantastic, Nicholas Hoult is just brilliant as Stelfox which was a tough job to do.

“Georgia King and Moritz Bliebtrau are ones to watch out for too.” The last year has been a whirlwind for Niven and that won’t be ending any time soon.

The projects are piling up, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Three of my new books are at various stages it’s been a very busy time. I’m also working with Jon Baird on an adaptation of Straight White Male so I’m very excited about that.”