The chain of events

Adrian McKinty shares his struggle to make a living from writing

July 25, 2019 03:50 pm | Updated 03:50 pm IST

That it is difficult for writers to make a living with the income from the sale of their books is well known. Of course, there are exceptions. Adrian McKinty did not belong to the category of exceptions, “To all the world, it looked like I was this successful writer. But just no one was buying the books. And so my income was just gradually drying up.” His wife had a teaching job but that was not enough.

And then one day, McKinty was evicted from his home, “And I just remember all our stuff being dumped on the sidewalk in front of our house and my little girls looking up at me and going, is everything going to be alright? – and me thinking, I don't know…And that’s kind of the moment when I realised that I was going to stop this writing business and do something else with my life.”

Odd jobs

Soon he started working as a bartender and Uber driver. Before making this career move, McKinty, who lived in Australia, had, however, written about his fate as a writer on his blog. Best-selling thriller writer Don Winslow happened to read it and felt he had to help for he felt, “I had six or seven published novels but couldn’t make a living at it. At one point, I think I had $37 in the checking account… McKinty was too good to stop writing.”

So Winslow introduced McKinty to his agent, Shane Salerno. One day when McKinty had just dropped a passenger to the airport and returned home, close to midnight, his telephone rang. McKinty was in half a mind not to take the call because he was hosing down his car…his passenger had thrown up on the side. Finally, he did answer the call and appreciated Salerno’s willingness to help, thanked him and hung up. But Salerno was persistent. “Do you have a story set in America?” he asked.

New book

McKinty was drawn into conversation and told him a story. A story which was called “The Chain”. Salerno paid him an advance on an advance and today as the new book has just been released, McKinty says, “This is the story of a woman whose child is kidnapped by this evil entity, this organisation known as The Chain. And to get her child back, she has to pay the ransom…. she has to kidnap someone else’s child to replace hers on The Chain. And then it goes on forever. This is someone who crosses the line and does bad things. But I knew that I wanted the readers still to be on board with her, to have them think to themselves, well, what would I do for my kids…you'd pretty much do anything if your kid was in jeopardy or in harm. You'd do anything to get your kid back.” After all McKinty even gave up writing the day he saw his daughters looking at him on the sidewalk...

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