Hillsborough-based novelist Albert (A.L.) McAuley will launch the must-read supernatural thriller series of 2016, the Eighty Eight trilogy, at the Linen Hall Library in Belfast on Saturday (January 16).
Amulet and Empire follow the author’s debut best-selling Eighty Eight novel to complete a breath-taking adventure that is already receiving interest from the film industry.
Described as “a fast-paced, intelligent and engaging thriller”, the Eighty Eight story begins in the quiet waters of Strangford Lough when marine biologist Doctor Eva Ballantine makes an astonishing discovery that will shake humanity to its very core.
An explosive story of miracles, espionage and mayhem unfolds, still allowing for breathing pauses to connect to the humanity of each character.
Albert took the unusual path to novelist via engineering and admits he never had the overwhelming desire to write a book.
“Engineering is methodical and you have to be disciplined to write a book. A lot of people have this image of a writer with an old typewriter and a wicker basket overflowing with paper but for me it was important to be ritualistic about it. To sit down at the same time every day. The routine is important and you need to make sure you follow it religiously.
“The most daunting thing every night was to get up from the sofa to walk the 20 feet to the next room to write.”
Albert was disciplined in his writing but he didn’t have the books all planned out, rather he let the characters develop and meander their way to the dramatic conclusion.
“It is completely organic,” he explained. “The characters begin to take on personalities and lives of their own.
“I go to great lengths not to describe the characters in too much detail because then you form an image of the character and everyone has a different perspective.”
The trilogy developed naturally after the success of Eighty Eight but Albert confesses it wasn’t something he planned. “I didn’t intend for it to be a trilogy,” he continued, “I didn’t even really intend for it to be a book.
“At the end of the first book I asked myself if there was somewhere else I could take it.”
Eighty Eight has already proved to be so popular that Albert has been asked to write a screenplay for it, with the hope that it will be made into a film. “I need to take the book from 150,000 words down to 10,000 so you have to focus on what you want to keep in. That is the next step.”
As well as working on the screenplay, Albert has also started into his next book.
He is keeping the details a closely guarded secret but he did admit that it centres around twin sisters with a decidedly nasty streak.
The Eighty Eight trilogy will be launched at the Linenhall Library on Saturday January 16 from 12noon until 2pm and everyone will be made very welcome.