Two years following its publication, A.M. Shine’s debut novel ‘The Watchers’ is on schedule for its global release in cinemas next summer. Under the guidance of Ishana Night Shyamalan as she makes her feature directorial debut, this is your sign to keep watching as The Watchers come to life.
Speaking with its creator, Galway literary horror author, Al Shine, the reality of seeing his fictional world come to life on set has yet to sink in. Upon visiting the cast - Dakota Fanning, Georgina Campbell, Olwen Fouéré and Oliver Finnegan - and crew on set in Ardmore Studios, Wicklow, Al tells us; “I got to stand in the coop and chat to Madeline, Mina and everyone. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life because these characters had lived in my head for so long.”
The book, The Watchers, was released on October 14th 2021, and it was shortly before Christmas of the same year when Al was alerted to the interest it was gathering. His book had made its way onto famed director M. Night Shyamalan’s desk who, within 48 hours of reading it, had already decided it needed to be made into a movie. “When I met Night the first thing that struck me was that he knew the book so well - the scenes, the characters and the mythology. He also knew how to fill in the grey areas, answering any questions that I’d left open to interpretation.” adding that “[Night] thought that would be a great fit for his daughter, Ishana, who was about to make her directorial debut. So even from the beginning it was really Ishana’s baby.” Al admits; “After having met Night in person you can see why he is like a creative force. It’s amazing really, his ideas are constantly coming, and Ishana shares that same gift.”
As anticipation for the movies grows, Al’s eagerness to see The Watchers on the big screen is infectious. While the story varies minimally between book and movie, Al gives credit to Ishana and crew for adding their ideas to his tale and making the horror far more visually unsettling. “I’m excited to see how they actually portray the watchers because in the novel it’s very ambiguous, I relied on the reader to make their own invention in their head of what they look like.” He adds; “I know for the movie they'll definitely show more than I described in the novel. I’ve seen their concept art and it’s terrifying. I want to see how they are brought to life because these artists are geniuses, they are top of their game.”
As Al takes in everything that has happened over the last few years, he confesses; “All I ever wanted was to write. That’s why I worked any job to keep a roof over my head, and I would spend every night and day off writing, putting in the hours in the hope of one day making it. The dream was to make enough money so I could write books full time because that’s always what I’ve loved doing. I never thought that 'The Watchers' would be adapted into a movie, that’s more than I ever asked for.”
‘The Watchers’ and ‘The Creeper’ are both available in Galway's Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop or online across all platforms. To stay up to date on Al Shine’s latest work, check out his website at www.amshinewriter.com.
All photos by Ciarán MacChoncarraige