John Marrs

The exceptionally talented John Marrs has stepped away from his writing cave for just a few moments to join us today at The Glass House. John, who is the author of the best selling novel The One (soon to be a Netflix show), talks to us about his latest book Her Last Move, as well as revealing his biggest fears and the writers who have inspired him over the years.

  1. Latest Book: Her Last Move
  2. Can you give us the ‘elevator pitch’ version of your latest book.
    Two detectives are on the hunt for a serial killer in London. One cop is a young mum struggling with a work life balance, the other has an uncanny memory for faces and a tormented past. Neither know the killer is watching their every move
  3. Tell us something about yourself that we likely don’t know! The more obscure the better!
    Until last year, I used to work as a journalist interviewing celebrities for a living. Everyone from A-listers like the late Amy Winehouse to Will Smith and Angelina Jolie right down the alphabet to the cast of Big Brother and The Only Way Is Essex.  At the beginning of their career, I turned down the chance to interview a then unknown band because I thought their debut single was so bad it would never be a hit. They were called the Spice Girls. D’oh!
  4. Do you write in silence, or with music? If you write to music, give us the top three songs on your writers’ playlist this week.
    When I write from scratch, I’ll listen to moody albums like Solomon Grey, Boxer Rebellion, Cigarettes After Sex, Massive Attack or Sigur Ros. When I’m proofreading or on re-writes, I work in silence.
  5. Are you a Plotter or Pantser?
    I’ll know the basic story from start to finish and will keep writing it over and over again in a notebook until I’m happy with it. Then I start typing and see where the words take me. I don’t write methodically either. The first draft will be a bit here and a bit there. I’ll go back and forth in all directions until it’s complete.
  6. Have your characters ever ‘gone off script’ – hijacked your story and taken it in a direction you didn’t expect?
    Often. Which is why I don’t want to plot in intricate detail and take the spontaneity away from it. However, it often means the character in the first few chapters bears little resemblance to the one at the end of the book and draft two can be quite extensive.
  7. If you could spend time with any character from any of your books, who would it be and what would you do?
    I wouldn’t. I spend enough time with them in my head in the run up to writing, then through the process itself, right up until I hear the audiobook version. At that point, I don’t want to think about them ever again. It’s why I’ve yet to write a sequel.
  8. Which of your characters can you say you would least get along with in real life?
    A lot of them! I like writing quite dark characters, so someone like Laura from The Good Samaritan or Simon from When You Disappeared, I’d hate in real life. But to write them is great fun. I like seeing how far I can push them.
  9. Do you read your reviews?
    I read them on NetGalley and Goodreads but only in the run up to a release so that I can get an idea of what people think. After that, I’ll keep an eye on the average rating but I have stopped reading them anywhere, including Amazon. Reviews are a message from one reader to another. They are none of my business.
  10. What has been the toughest criticism you have been given since becoming a published author?
    Being a journalist for so many years has given me a thick skin so I don’t let criticism get to me. And because I don’t really read positive or negative reviews once the book is out there, they could be calling for me to be burned at the stake as far as know.
  11. What is the best compliment you have received?
    A reader DM’d me on Twitter to say that it was only when she finished When You Disappeared that she realised I was male, not female. A few people have since said that I write equally well for both sexes. That’s very flattering.
  12. Do you have a day job when you are not writing? If so, what do you do?
    I was a journalist for 25 years until I gave it up in December last year to write full time.
  13. Can you name three authors who have inspired your writing?
    Gillian Flynn showed me you can never get too dark with your characters; Tom Rob Smith showed me how to think cinematically and Stephen King demonstrated you shouldn’t be afraid to mix up your genres.
  14. What was your favourite book as a child?
    I was obsessed by the Hardy Boys mysteries. It was only when I was an adult that I realised author Franklin W Dixon didn’t exist and that he was a conglomerate of authors writing under the umbrella of that name. It would also explain why he wrote 190 books over 80 years…
  15. What scene in your latest book was the hardest scene to write (without giving away too many spoilers!)
    I had grown quite attached to a particular character and killing them off in an unpleasant way was not enjoyable to write. But before I even started on the book, I decided they would not make it to the final pages. I even argued with my editor over it. He tried and failed to talk me out killing this person off.
  16. Do you have any other author friends? If so, can you name a few and have any of them given you a piece of advice you would consider invaluable on your publishing journey?
    A couple. I love Louise Beech, I think she is an incredible writer and I would love even an ounce of her talent. Darren O’Sullivan and I have become friends over the last year and we meet up for coffee every few months. I’ve chatted to the wonderful Claire Allen, CJ Skuse and Cara Hunter many times online and would like to meet them in person one day. I interviewed Tom Rob Smith a few times when I was a journalist and while I wouldn’t say we were friends, I’d like to think we were more than just interviewer and subject now!

For Bonus Brownie Reader Points – Answer our four fabulous frivolous questions:

  1. What is your biggest fear?
    Heights, deep water, dying on the toilet. Sit me on a tall toilet with a deep pan and that’d probably kill me off.
  2. If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?
    To predict the future. Just a year or so, not too far ahead as I don’t want to ruin the surprise.
  3. If you could write one line to be etched into your tombstone, what would it read?
    You’re Next.
  4. If you could give your younger self ONE piece of advice, what would it be?
    Get off your fat, lazy arse and start writing sooner. Leaving it until you were 42 was ridiculous.

    You can purchase John’s latest book: Her Last Move here on Amazon.

What did you think?

    chat 2 Comments

  1. Avril Watson ● January 14, 2019 at 2:57 pmReply

    Great questions, interesting answers, and Simon, would also nit be in my friends list, goosebumps just thinking of him.

  2. Diane Bravo Chakim ● January 14, 2019 at 6:24 pmReply

    Great interview. Have read them all. Love his work

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