IF in 20 years’ time children are asking their parents “Mum, what was a podcast?” then crime writer Denise Mina has a problem – at least she does if she’s concerned enough about her literary legacy to regret filling her books with the technologies and concerns of the moment.

Turns out she isn’t concerned and has no regrets, as she makes abundantly clear when we meet in a café in Glasgow’s West End ahead of the publication of her new novel, Conviction. Let others “write for the ages” (her phrase). She’s quite happy doing what she does, writing for the here and the now.

“I think it’s really freeing as a woman writer that you probably will not be particularly remembered or lauded and if you are it’ll be by the feminist department,” she says, settling into a seat by the window and beaming at me from under her coolly angular haircut. “And as a crime writer you’re not writing for the ages either because it’s a low art form … But I like low art forms because the reader comes to them with their defences down. So if you’re writing about politics, what you want is for the reader to consume your book for fun and see a different perspective rather than feel they’re being lectured to. Chekhov tried to write a crime novel, did you know that?”

I didn’t, so she puts me right. It’s called The Shooting Party, it was written in 1884, is the Russian’s only full-length novel and is generally considered to be pretty awful.

To Mina’s mind, in fact, novels “should be ephemeral because you have no say in whether or not your work is going to survive or whether or not the ephemeral stuff which is going to change will be of interest to people in the future … Crime writers are always trying to dodge mobile phones. They’re always breaking down or whatever. But why not use it, because they’re so interesting?”

So podcasts, Twitter feeds, Instagram, live streaming, smartphones? Bring ’em on. And in Conviction, that’s exactly what Mina does.

The plot turns on what happens when Anna McDonald, a well-heeled mother-of two living in Glasgow’s West End, realises that the victim in her new favourite true crime podcast is known to her – but known to her in another life, when she had a different name and was on the run from a past which, over the course of the novel, she will end up returning to as she tries to solve the mystery outlined in the podcast. That her husband Hamish chooses the same day to announce he’s leaving her for her best friend only adds to the sense of confusion – and then the best friend’s mopey husband Fin, a former rock star with an eating disorder, turns up on her doorstep wanting to talk.

Rug pulled swiftly from under her characters’ feet, Mina installs Anna and Fin in Hamish’s car, hands them a wad of cash and sets them running – first to the Highlands, then to St Martin, an up-market village resort on the west coast of France, and finally to Italy. Along the way Mina tackles everything from anorexia and the pernicious effect of social media on mental health to the murky world of football finance and the shock-value of live streaming. (“When I wrote this book I didn’t know if most people would know what live streaming is,” she notes. “Because of the Christchurch shootings, now everybody knows”.)

In Anna’s back story, meanwhile, Mina also throws herself into the issues surrounding the #MeToo movement and, in what I think could be a literary first, she presents chunks of the novel as if they were episodes of a podcast. She laughs when I mention the accolade I’ve bestowed on her.

“Shall I make grandiose claims about challenging the form? Shall I do that?” she muses. “No, in 10 years’ time someone who went to Oxbridge and has a penis will do it and then it will be claimed by them.”

Like Anna, Mina is a podcast addict. “It feels like a whole new art form which is being created,” she says. “I’ve been listening obsessively for about two-and-a-half years.”

At one point she even whips out her phone to check the name of a podcast she’s particularly enthusiastic about and inadvertently sets it playing. A stentorian male voice booms across the café for a second or two before she can hit the off button.

As we talk she reels off the names of others she likes – current favourites are Shreds, about the so-called Cardiff Three, and Last Podcast On The Left, which she calls “the Chuck Berry of podcasts” – but she admits her “gateway drug” was 2014 true crime podcast Serial. It was also the one which gave her the idea for Conviction, albeit in a round-about way.

A breakout hit which did more than any other podcast to popularise the form, Serial investigated the 1999 murder of 18-year-old Baltimore schoolgirl Hae Min Lee. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was tried and sentenced to life for the killing but in examining the case the podcast theorised that there may have been a miscarriage of justice. New evidence was uncovered as a result and on the back of it Syed won an appeal, though he remains in prison as one after another the American courts rule on his case.

What caught Mina’s eye, though, were the other things that happened around Serial. A second podcast started which took issue with some of Serial’s findings. Then subgroups devoted to the case began to form on Reddit, an internet forum. Then people actually started travelling to Baltimore to investigate for themselves. Now, says Mina, “there are Reddit groups which are solely for solving cold case crimes, and some of the stuff they have come up with has solved crimes. But why would anyone stop what they’re doing and go off and try to solve a cold case crime which has nothing to do with them? I find that really interesting".

With its absurd episodes and sudden switches from violence to humour, I tell Mina that moments in Conviction remind me of Killing Eve, the BAFTA-winning black comedy about a female assassin written by Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Unsurprisingly Mina is fan of both shows and can even quote chunks of the second. “‘Hair is everything, Anthony!’,” she booms in a nod to one of season two’s most celebrated scenes. Then, more quietly: “I agree. Hair is everything”.

As for Waller-Bridge’s decision to follow Fleabag with a crime caper, Mina thinks it a “a perfect fit”. Likewise Waller-Bridge’s new job writing for the next James Bond film. “If you think about it, Killing Eve is kind of a feminised Bond: Villanelle’s an action hero. She’s sly. She wants to f*** everybody. How’s that not Bond?”

ONE subject that doesn’t feature much in Conviction – odd, perhaps, given the sense of place which so suffuses Mina’s work – is Glasgow itself. The novel starts there but when Anna slams the door on her old life, that’s it. Was it a relief to be away from the city for once?

“Not really,” says Mina, “but it was just after Trump got in, there was so much going on and it was really just an expression of that thing that so many people felt which was ‘I’ve got to get the f*** out of here but there’s nowhere to go’. And it’s a story form in itself, the chase around Europe, so I wanted to include that, and when you’re writing something it’s a way of revisiting places that you’ve been to. But I wasn’t particularly conscious of it [not putting Glasgow in the book]. I think my publishers in America were disappointed there wasn’t more Glasgow in it, but the next book is all about Glasgow so they’ll be sick of it by the end of that.”

That next book sees Mina return to the genre of true crime she first explored in 2017’s The Long Drop. It was a fictionalised account of the crimes of notorious 1950s serial killer Peter Manuel who was hanged at Barlinnie Prison in 1958. This time it’s an account of the so-called Glasgow Prostitute murders, a spate of killings which began in 1991 and which made many fear there was another serial killer loose in the city. Seven women were murdered in the 1990s, and in May 2005 27-year-old sex worker Emma Caldwell became victim number eight. She had been missing from Glasgow for five weeks when her naked body was found in woodland near Biggar. She had been strangled.

Until last month, only one conviction had ever been secured. Four other men were charged and tried but were acquitted with either not-guilty or not-proven verdicts. In April, however, 44-year-old takeaway worker Zhi Min Chen pleaded guilty to the 1997 murder of another of the women, Tracey Wylde. Mina was in court for the guilty plea. Accompanying her was retired DCI Nanette Pollock, who had been involved in policing the sex industry in the 1990s and who had worked on the cases.

Mina’s title for the book is The Less Dead. “It’s about the prioritisation of different types of victims,” she says. “It’s really all about the murders in the 1990s and how no-one really cared until it was Emma Caldwell, who was the perfect victim because she’s blonde, she’s pretty, she’s vulnerable and she comes from a really lovely family.”

The problem as Mina sees it is that nobody in the city felt ownership of the victims and, because of that, there wasn’t the necessary public empathy to move the case forward.

“If you can’t empathise with someone’s situation it’s very hard to imagine yourself in that situation. A lot of the discourse around that time was that they’re doing it for drugs, right? And if you read stuff about Victorian prostitution it was saying they’re doing it for drink and they’re drinking to do it. It’s like this circular unwillingness to engage with people leading chaotic lives, because they’re so obviously not you.”

Another aspect of the case which struck Mina was that the counter-narrative to the public obsession with a serial killer – that the perpetrators “were just lots of ordinary men” – was one nobody wanted to hear.

“Everybody wants it to be a monster,” she says. “We always want killers, particularly serial killers, to be monsters. And we’re always surprised when they turn out to be the quiet guy who lives in a semi-detached house. Always. We’re trying to distance ourselves from it but it is part of a continuum of behaviour and it doesn’t come out of nowhere.” Aberrant sexual behaviour, she thinks, is “not as distant from normal sexual behaviour as we are comfortable believing it is”.

But if Glasgow is more or less a constant in her work, Mina’s personal relationship with the city and with Scotland is less fixed. She was born in Lanarkshire and has lived most of her life in Glasgow, and the city is home to her, her husband and her son. But a peripatetic childhood with her oil company engineer father took her to 15 schools in cities as far apart as Paris, London, Amsterdam and Bergen in Norway. She left the last school when she was 16 and says she couldn’t even read until she was nine.

“I just winged it,” she says when I ask how she got away with it. “I remember being asked to read to a class because the teacher hadn’t come and just making up a story. I was too embarrassed to admit I couldn’t read. But I think the biggest effect it had was that I didn’t have a lot of respect for authority. I just thought the teachers were dicks.”

By background, then, she’s an internationalist. By inclination too, I’d venture. By her own admission she feels “not intrinsically Scottish” and said so once to her agent when he tried to persuade her to attend a Tartan Week event in New York. “He said: ‘You were born there, you live there and you have the accent so let’s just lie and you’ll get a free trip to New York’.” In the end she went, but she keeps herself at one remove from flag-waving and anything that smacks of jingoism. “Everybody straddles multiple identities. I honestly don’t understand people with monolithic national identities,” she says.

Perhaps with that in mind, she has another project in the offing too, one which will take her about as far from Glasgow as it’s possible to go – Buenos Aires in Argentina.

The subject is Alberto Nisman, a lawyer-turned-whistleblower who was found shot dead the day before he was due to provide incriminating evidence against high-ranking Argentine government officials. That was in 2015. The official version was suicide, but few in Argentina believed it and many cried murder instead. Proving foul play and conspiracy, however, means solving a genuine locked-door mystery: Nisman’s body was found where it fell, blocking the door in the bathroom of his hotel room.

Mina, however, means to try. She’ll fly down and ferret around. “A 52-year-old Miss Marple!” she laughs, excited at the prospect of adventure. And who knows, maybe she’ll turn it into a podcast one day.

Conviction is out now (Harvill Secker, £14.99)