Welcome to my den! You now have your third novel up for pre-order, John. Can you tell us about your writing journey to date?
I’ve been working as a journalist since I was 18-years-old, starting on local newspapers in Northamptonshire and working my way up to national publications in London. Now I work for Express newspapers across their magazine titles where I interview celebrities for a living. Four years ago, I had an idea for a novel and after around eighteen months of going back and forth with it, it became The Wronged Sons. After seventy rejections from agents and publishers (I’ve kept all their responses!) I decided I had nothing to lose by self-publishing it on Amazon. My target was to get 100 downloads from people I didn’t know. It’s now approaching the 30,000 mark. Its success inspired me to write a second novel, Welcome To Wherever You Are, based loosely on my year as a 21-year-old, backpacking around the USA. It’s also been a consistent seller since I published it in 2015, but I’m completely aware that nothing I write again will top The Wronged Sons in terms of appeal. And I can live with that!
I'd suggest that your new novel is in the running!
You are one of the many indie authors who don’t stick to a single genre. Where do your ideas come from?
I don’t read books in just one genre either… some of my favourites of late are The Kind Worth Killing, A Spool Of Blue Thread, Golden Son, The Last Of Us and Everyone Is Watching – five very different styles. So I don’t want to write the same kind of book over and over again. I’d like to think the three of mine are quite different. The Wronged Sons was inspired by a piece in The Guardian’s magazine about a woman whose husband vanished many years earlier and I began to wonder how tough her life must have been not knowing where he went. (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/17/letter-to-exhusband) As I mentioned, Welcome… was inspired by a backpacking trip and the new book, A Thousand Small Explosions was an idea that came to me while I was writing another novel. I wondered what life would be like if there was just one person out there in the world who was designed for us biologically, then I began to think of the different ways it could affect one’s life. I abandoned the book I was writing 35,000 words in and ran with this new idea instead. I gave myself a minimum of 1,000 words a day to write and completed it before Easter, my fastest turn-around yet.
Your latest book, A Thousand Small Explosions, could be called speculative fiction. Do you ever see yourself going off into science fiction proper?
No. It’s not a subject I read enough of or know enough about to do it justice. Sci-fi readers would see though my inexperience in a heartbeat!
I do read science fiction but it's a field in which there are so many - dare I say geeks? Hey, I said it! - that one slip and they've got you!
Can you imagine any genre you wouldn’t write in? Any no-nos for you?
The aforementioned sci-fi, chick-lit, romance and comedy. I’ve tried comedy a few times and if I can’t make myself laugh, I doubt I’ll make a reader laugh either. I shy away from detailed sex scenes too, I just can’t pull it off (so to speak.)
I feel the same way. Everyone knows how it's done!
Is there a book you wish you’d written and why?
I like a book with twists and turns, an unpredictable ending and that misdirects a reader. I’m a fan of commercial fiction, so I’d love to have written Gone Girl, A Kind Worth Killing and The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair.
And although the fantastic A Thousand Small Explosions hasn’t even hit the Amazon shop yet, have you got the next idea ready to go or are you having a little rest?
For the first time since I began writing ebooks, I do have a fully mapped out idea. It’s a 3,000 word treatment of a story and I know where it’s going to start and finish. I have my characters, their arcs, their motivation and the plot. Although I don’t like to repeat myself, I think it has more in common with The Wronged Sons than anything else I’ve written. Finding the time to actually sit down and put finger to keyboard is a tough one though. I don’t know how writers find the time to write book after book. One every 18 months is hard enough for me!
Thanks, John, and I wish you the best of luck with A Thousand Small Explosions, a fantastic story (which I’ve read, readers!) published on July 15th. Mark your calendars or pre-order now!
You can find John’s Amazon page at http://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Marrs/e/B00F1CRG9U/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1467622503&sr=8-1