NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A former clerk in a bookstore was inspired to write his own novels, and now, Adrian McKinty's bestsellers are prominently displayed in the same Upper West Side Barnes & Noble where the author spent two years helping customers choose what to read and organizing book events.
Success didn't come overnight for McKinty, far from it. Just three years ago, the novelist couldn't make a living from writing.
In fact, he and his family were evicted from their home and barely had enough to eat.
Since then, he has seen a remarkable and most welcome reversal of fortune. He finished his first bestseller, and the movie rights to "The Chain" sold for more than $1 million.
His new one, "The Island," is set to be made into a limited series for Hulu.
It's a very happy ending to a story that began almost 30 years ago right in New York City.
"The author came through here, and I was usually the person that handed them the microphone," McKinty said at that same Barnes & Nobel. "In the 1990s, anyone who was anyone with a book to sell would come to this stage and sell their books."
He met and spoke with the likes of Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Carly Simon.
A long and challenging road led him back to the Big Apple after a decade spent in Australia with his wife and two daughters.
After writing and publishing a dozen books to approval from the critics, he couldn't make a decent living from his writing.
"In 2019, we were literally broke and homeless," he said. "But then I wrote this novel called, 'The Chain,' which took off and was a bestseller throughout the world."
His time Down Under with his family led to his latest novel, "The Island." It's a thriller inspired by a real McKinty trip to what turned out to be a very scary place: an island off the coast of Australia.
"The vibe was very strange and a little bit unpleasant," he said.
Like his earlier blockbuster, this book features a family in peril with a strong woman at its heart. That is a scenario with deep roots in McKinty's own Irish past.
His father was a merchant seaman who was often away.
"I was raised by basically my mother and my two older sisters in Belfast," he said. "And these strong women in an apocalyptic time held the family together."
It was the same time shown in the movie "Belfast," a time known as "The Troubles." That's when Protestants and Catholics fought each other in the streets, and mothers did their best to keep their kids safe.
"That was my experience, and so I've always want to do this story about a strong woman who doesn't realize how strong she is holding her family together," he said. "And then when the challenge comes, no one expects her to rise to the occasion, but she does."
Speaking of rising to the occasion, McKinty's wife is a professor at Hunter College, and their two daughters are enjoying all New York City has to offer.
But success hasn't spoiled their dad in any way, and you'll find the best-selling author writing his latest book at local coffee shops near his home.
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