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Former Uber driver’s thriller bought by Paramount for seven figures

Side hustle
Author Adam McKinty wrote to Don Winslow about giving up writing. Then Winslow connected him to producer Shane Salerno, who will adapt McKinty’s book, “The Chain.”
(Dreamstime / TNS)

Not long ago, Adrian McKinty was a frustrated author who was evicted from his home because the money he made from his side gig as an Uber driver wasn’t enough to pay the bills.

Now Paramount Pictures has signed a seven-figure deal with the New York writer for an adaptation of his new novel, “The Chain,” which hasn’t even been published yet.

The studio is set to adapt the thriller by McKinty, a Belfast-raised, Oxford-educated author who says he never made much money from the almost 20 books he’s published, Deadline reports.

The film will be produced by Shane Salerno, a screenwriter whose credits include “Armageddon” and “Shaft.” Salerno met McKinty through the author Don Winslow, to whom McKinty wrote a fan letter in which he admitted he was considering giving up writing altogether.

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Winslow and Salerno convinced McKinty to keep at it after learning of the British author’s eviction. So he did, and ended up selling the novel that followed, “The Chain,” to Mulholland Books, an imprint of Little, Brown.

The press is set to publish the novel on July 9. The book bears blurbs from authors Tana French (“sharply observant, intelligent and shot through with black humor”), Attica Locke (“a grade-A-first-rate-edge-of-your-seat thriller”) and Stephen King (“incredibly propulsive and original”). It also earned starred pre-publication reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

The novel follows a Massachusetts woman named Rachel O’Neill whose daughter is kidnapped, and who is ordered to kidnap another child to secure her own child’s release. Rachel, a cancer survivor who’s not afraid to do battle with the criminals, decides to fight back against the kidnappers’ scheme.

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McKinty gained critical acclaim for his previous books, especially his series of noir novels featuring the character Sean Duffy. The seven books in that series, all of which are named after Tom Waits lyrics and titles (“The Cold Cold Ground,” “Gun Street Girl”), were published in the U.S. by Seventh Street Books.

McKinty told the Sydney Morning Herald that he was wary when his agent told him he was pitching “The Chain” to film studios.

“I’ve had too many false dawns,” he said. “I’ve got real gun-shy about anything to do with Hollywood. But [my agent] called me this morning and I was completely taken aback. He said get your wife and talk it over. But what do you think? It’s Paramount. It’s ‘The Godfather,’ it’s ‘The Conversation,’ it’s ‘Chinatown’ — all my favorite films.”

In a statement to Deadline, McKinty said his story was “a story of never giving up.”

“It’s a story about writers helping fellow writers,” he said. “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.”


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