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The Chain: Universal acquires movie rights for NI author Adrian McKinty's best-selling novel

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Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty

A Northern Ireland author's latest thriller has been snapped up by Universal Pictures in a seven-figure movie deal.

Uber driver turned award-winning writer Adrian McKinty (52) will see The Chain, which tells the story of a mother's quest to track down her kidnapped daughter, adapted for the silver screen.

Baby Driver director Edgar Wright will direct, while Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Golden Circle and X-Men: First Class) is writing the script.

Working Title’s Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan will produce alongside Complete Fiction’s Nira Park and Wright, and The Story Factory’s Shane Salerno.

Paramount had also been interested in the novel and had been in talks before it was published last July by LittleBrown/Mulholland, but the deal never crossed the finish line.

Shipyard worker's son McKinty was born in Belfast and grew up in Carrickfergus during the Troubles before going on to Warwick and Oxford universities.

The Chain was celebrate by legendary horror writer Stephen King.

"This nightmarish story is incredibly propulsive and original. You won't shake it for a long time," he said.

It has been published in 41 countries and became a bestseller in 20 of them, as well as making 25 'best of the year' lists. The paperback has yet to drop as the hardback is continuing to sell well.

McKinty's 2003 debut novel, Dead I Well May Be, won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award 2004.

He wrote several more books over two decades while working in various jobs including as an Uber driver to make ends meet.

After falling on hard times and getting evicted, McKinty wrote a forlorn letter to Don Winslow, author of bestsellers including The Cartel and The Force, saying how much of a fan he was and expressing his regret at not hitting the big time as a writer.

A one-time struggling author himself, Winslow replied and referred McKinty to American screenwriter and producer Shane Salerno who had helped him become a success.

New York city-based McKinty was persuaded by both Salerno and Winslow not to abandon his literary career.

The resulting book is The Chain which Winslow dubbed "Jaws for parents".

He added: "It belongs in the elite company of world-class thrillers like Gone Girl and The Silence of the Lambs."

At the time of the best-selling novel’s publication, McKinty said: "My story is a story of never giving up, It's a story about writers helping fellow writers.

"I hope it inspires other writers who may be thinking about quitting, to never give up.

"I never imagined any of this could happen, but I hoped it would. I had hope. I am so grateful and I hope my story inspires others."

Belfast Telegraph