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Former soldier David begins new chapter with hit novel at age of 77

First-time author pens gritty thriller that draws on personal experiences

By Claire McNeilly

A Northern Ireland man is planning to be a best-selling author - at the age of 77.

David Magee can already claim to be a big hit because Waterstones has invited him in three times to sign copies of his first novel, Closure - but on each occasion the book has been sold out.

His thriller - which hit the shelves two months ago - is about a British military operative turned private investigator whose missing person case takes him into the republican heartland of north Belfast.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Magee, a retired Army officer with 31 years' service who now lives in Bushmills, said it's not about the money.

"I don't want to be rich, it's about being a success," he said.

"I always wanted to write a book. I didn't get much of an education at school but I educated myself in the Army.

"When I retired I decided I was going to be a writer and now I'm a writer. It's a bit late in life, but there you go."

The Belfast native's debut thriller, in which hero Jack Brennan is hired to find a woman's husband who vanished without trace, has garnered rave reviews from readers.

He said his wife Jaqueline (73) is also thrilled with his writing success, as are their children Dawn (46), 45-year-old Billy, Margaret (42) and 34-year-old twins Herbert and David.

He said that Closure draws on his own personal experience of living and working in Belfast for 16 years during the Troubles from 1969 onwards.

"The book gives an insight into the way things worked in the world of rackateers and terrorism," he said.

Mr Magee said that when he left the Army in 1985 he took a job as a sales manager with a Belfast office equipment company that he later co-owned.

The grandfather-of-five, who also has four great-grandchildren, said that he dedicated himself to his novel when he retired to the north coast four years ago.

"I started my book eight years ago and then set it aside until I retired and moved to Bushmills and got to grips with it again," he said.

"In 2014, I initially put it up on CreateSpace, a self-publishing platform that belongs to Amazon, to some very good reviews.

"I then found a local publisher, a Ballygowan-based company called Spinetinglers Publishing, gave it a new cover and had it re-edited and Waterstones snapped it up.

"That was two months ago. It's selling very well. They keep asking me to come in and sign some copies but when I go in they're out of stock. That has happened three times so far."

He added: "I don't have the actual sales figures but it's not about money with me, it's about success."

Even more success appears to be on the cards for Mr Magee, as he already has a taker for his second offering.

"Waterstones have said they'll take my next book, Jokerman, which is about a serial killer in New York," he revealed.

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