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Archived / Author Q & A's > Spoiler Free Q & A / John Marrs author of The Passengers, The One & What Lies Between Us

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message 1: by Norma (last edited Apr 18, 2020 03:20PM) (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
We are so excited to have John Marrs join us for an upcoming Q & A discussion. Who else loves John Marrs? The Passengers was one of our favourite books from 2019!

You can find John Marrs author page/profile here:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show...

Here is a link to The Passengers:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4...

Please add your comments or questions to John below.


message 2: by Norma (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
Welcome, John! Thank you so much for joining us! I am so excited to be able to chat with you about your books! The Passengers was a favourite 2019 book for a lot of us!


message 3: by Debra (last edited Apr 20, 2020 01:49PM) (new)

Debra  | 27 comments Hi John! Thank you so much for joining us! I just read an ARC of What Lies Between Us and loved it.

I know you were a journalist for twenty-five years, during that time did you want to write books, was that always a thought in the back of your mind or a natural progression?

How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Who are some of your favorite Authors?

I loved the twists, turns and reveals in What Lies Between Us. Are these easy to come up with? Do you know what they are going to be before you begin writing your books or do they come naturally as your writing progresses?

Again, Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us!!!


message 4: by DeAnn (new)

DeAnn | 19 comments Hi John! I'm excited that you are joining us. One thing I thought with "Passengers" that I wanted to ask you about -- my teenage son didn't really want to learn how to drive. He thought there would be self-driving cars here soon so why bother. What do you think the future of this will be? Will youth still need to learn how to drive before being allowed to operate a self-driving car?

Your book certainly opened my eyes that there is so much more to this!


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Hi John! Thank you so much for joining us and answering our questions!!

What does your writing day look like to you? How has it changed for you?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
I loved that your stories are unique and different from each other as well as your characters.

In The One and The Passengers, there are a few characters. How did you go about creating your characters and capturing their voices? How did you keep their character traits straight and their storylines especially with The One?

I thought you did a great job there as I often get confused keeping track of who is who and their storyline.


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
What research did you do for The Passengers? What were some challenges you faced there with the tech side of it while creating an entertaining read?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Of course, we have to talk about the social media side of the story. I thought you did a brilliant job there. You had me horrified at the thought of voting for the characters live on social media yet I found myself caught up in tension you created there and I was rooting for the characters. As I learned more about each character I changed who I was rooting and that was entertaining for me. Your pacing was spot on there!!

How did you pull that all off? lol, Why did you use social media to create that tension? How did you go about maintaining that tension throughout the story?


message 9: by Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (last edited May 02, 2020 11:53AM) (new)

Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
How did you come up with the idea of Maggie and Nina in What Lies Between Us? Did the idea of them come first or did the plot?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
How did you go about capturing Maggie and Nina's voices? Was there one that you enjoyed creating more than the other or you struggled with?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
This is my favourite question to ask and I think it's such a fun one.

In the voice of your characters Maggie and Nina can you tell us a bit about them in a couple of sentences?


message 12: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! wrote: "Welcome, John! Thank you so much for joining us! I am so excited to be able to chat with you about your books! The Passengers was a favourite 2019 book for a lot of us!"

Thank you so much for saying that. And I’m honoured that you have invited me to take part!


message 13: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "This is my favourite question to ask and I think it's such a fun one.

In the voice of your characters Maggie and Nina can you tell us a bit about them in a couple of sentences?"


Maggie: My daughter is a complex character, but one whom I love dearly. Her decisions are questionable but I know that deep down, the beautiful child I raised and loved still exists inside her.

Nina: She is never going to leave this house after what she has done to me. If it’s the last thing I do, she will spend the rest of her solitary life paying dearly for robbing me of the life I deserved.


message 14: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "How did you go about capturing Maggie and Nina's voices? Was there one that you enjoyed creating more than the other or you struggled with?"

I enjoyed writing them both equally. Maggie is a little more wistful, the voice of experience but is thrown into a situation that she has no frame of reference for. Whereas Nina is just full of anger, spite and self satisfaction. Now I think about it, I probably enjoyed writing Nina more as she gets to be callous and cruel and we all know it’s more fun to write from the perspective of a baddie!


message 15: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments DeAnn wrote: "Hi John! I'm excited that you are joining us. One thing I thought with "Passengers" that I wanted to ask you about -- my teenage son didn't really want to learn how to drive. He thought there would..."

Thank you! I think that we we still have to learn to drive for the foreseeable future - sorry, son of DeAnn! When driverless cars become the norm, it will be more about learning how to operate them rather than how to drive them. Experts cannot predict whether we will still be using licences or need car insurance, but it’s likely there will be taxes required for owners. It’s all very exciting, but then I’m quite lazy and am looking forward to being driven everywhere by the car itself which will give me more time to read or write. Or more likely, to sleep!


message 16: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Hi John! Thank you so much for joining us and answering our questions!!

What does your writing day look like to you? How has it changed for you?"


My first four books were written on trains as I commuted to London from my home an hour and a half away. When I gave up journalism two years ago, I write from 10am until 6pm most days in my office at home. It took quite some getting used to being in the quiet compared to what it was like being on a train.
Since our son was born last year, I now grab the hours when I can and they are usually in the evenings and at weekends. I have to be flexible and work around him for now.


message 17: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "What research did you do for The Passengers? What were some challenges you faced there with the tech side of it while creating an entertaining read?"

I knew nothing at all about driverless cars when I started to plot this book. So I basically read everything I could about them, watched a lot of YouTube videos and traveled to the Geneva motor show in Switzerland to see first hand what these cars were about. Once I learned how they operated and had a factual knowledge, then I slipped into gear and started using my imagination to come up with the scenarios in which I could use them to tell my story.


message 18: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "How did you come up with the idea of Maggie and Nina in What Lies Between Us? Did the idea of them come first or did the plot?"

After The Passengers I wanted to go back to writing a character led story and had an idea about two women who shared a house but who hated each other. I wanted to write something that felt claustrophobic , that was twisty and turny and in which the reader never knew whose side to be on. This was one of those books that kind of wrote itself, I really enjoyed the process. It brought out my devious side and I’m not sure I’ve been able to bury it since... lol


message 19: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Of course, we have to talk about the social media side of the story. I thought you did a brilliant job there. You had me horrified at the thought of voting for the characters live on social media y..."

That’s really kind of you to say. I love social media, I waste many an hour getting lost in rabbit holes on Facebook, instagram and Twitter. But I know a lot of it can be toxic and it seems like it is getting worse. So for this book I decided to capitalise on it, to show social media at its bleakest and to use the public and their inability sometimes to realise the people they are bullying are still human beings. Like I say in the book, it’s pack mentality and it’s a disturbing trend.


message 20: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "I loved that your stories are unique and different from each other as well as your characters.

In The One and The Passengers, there are a few characters. How did you go about creating your charac..."


There is a lot going on in my head when I’m writing multiple characters at any one time! It doesn’t help that I tend not to write methodically. I’ll do bits here and there and then tie everything up at a later date. I don’t keep loads of notes on each character, I store them in my head and I prefer to work organically and let the characters alter and shift as the story goes on. The One was easier because they are five separate stories under the umbrella of one book. But in The Passengers, their stories or at least the situation the characters fine themselves in, are linked so it was more complex remembering who was doing what in which chapter and linking them together.


message 21: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Debra wrote: "Hi John! Thank you so much for joining us! I just read an ARC of What Lies Between Us and loved it.

I know you were a journalist for twenty-five years, during that time did you want to write books..."


No, I never had any plans to be an author, I just came up with an idea for a book and thought of it as a fun project. I wanted to know if I could write a book that people should enjoy. Two years later, When You Disappeared was complete and it’s gone on to sell more than I could have ever imagined.

Ideas vary. One came from a conversation with a friend whose partner was a helpline phone operator, another was based on a newspaper article, one was a dream I had, and another appeared one night as I was on the train going home. They can come from anywhere at any time!

Author wise, I’m a fan of John Boyne, Gillian Flynn, Cara Hunter, Peter Swanson and John Niven.

As for twists, I have some ideas ahead of writing, but often, the best twists are those that come to you when you’ve already started writing. In What Lies Between Us, the very ending came after I’d finished the original ending. It was a sudden flash of inspiration.


message 22: by Norma (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
Hi John,

I have just finished reading What Lies Between Us by John Marrs and I must say you sure know how to write 'em!

That was quite the impressive, twisty and gripping read. I absolutely loved both characters and their voices.

The title of this book is absolutely brilliant, clever and such a fitting representation to the storyline. Did the title come first or after?


message 23: by Norma (last edited May 03, 2020 05:12PM) (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
I've been learning that authors sometimes don't have much say on their book covers. Would you mind giving us a little bit of insight into how your covers come about? The cover for The Passengers is probably one of my favourites. As an author it must be such a proud moment to see the end result in your hands.


message 24: by Norma (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
Okay, I need to know what makes an author write thriller novels. Is it a little bit scary or satisfying to write something so dark and twisty? Do you have to distance yourself from the content or do you totally embrace what you are writing and let it take you to that dark place?


message 25: by Norma (last edited May 03, 2020 05:17PM) (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
I noticed on Social Media that you were asked a question and I think it such a great one that I'm going to ask something similar here for you to comment on.

What does it feel like to hurt a character in your book? Do you know a characters destiny before you start writing or does the flow of the narrative guide you there? Have you ever hurt a character that you absolutely loved? Was it hard for you to do or you accepted it as it was written? :)


message 26: by Norma (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
Have you ever had any backlash from readers for a characters fate? Or do you find them all extremely receptive and trusting of you and your decisions for a character?


message 27: by Norma (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
I wish you all the success with The Lies Between Us and look forward to your next release. Do you have anything in mind yet that you are able to share with us? A little tidbit....LOL


message 28: by Norma (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions and give that precious little boy of yours a big hug from us!


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
What do you want readers to get from your book?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Thank you so much for joining us! It has been such a pleasure!!


message 31: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! wrote: "Hi John,

I have just finished reading What Lies Between Us by John Marrs and I must say you sure know how to write 'em!

That was quite the impressive, twisty and gripping read. I absolutel..."


Thank you! For a long time the working title was The Woman Upstairs, even though variations of that have been done to death. I met with my editor for lunch and we brainstormed ideas but came up with nothing. The next day this title came to me in a flash. I love it as it’s so fitting.


message 32: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "What do you want readers to get from your book?"

I hope they get the same thing from all my books, that they are entertained for the few hours it takes them to read it. If they’re not then I haven’t done my job!


message 33: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! wrote: "Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions and give that precious little boy of yours a big hug from us!"

I will do. He is currently lying on his play mat in front of me with a vibrating toy octopus tentacle in his mouth giggling his head off. It’s quite surreal!


message 34: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! wrote: "I wish you all the success with The Lies Between Us and look forward to your next release. Do you have anything in mind yet that you are able to share with us? A little tidbit....LOL"

It’s all been written and comes out in the uk this July and probably next year in the US and Canada. It’s called The Minders and is in the same universe as The One and The Passengers, a five minutes in the future style thriller. It’s very different to What Lies.


message 35: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! wrote: "Have you ever had any backlash from readers for a characters fate? Or do you find them all extremely receptive and trusting of you and your decisions for a character?"

Laura in The Good Samaritan was my most divisive character to date. She works as a volunteer helpline operator for vulnerable people but instead of talking people out of ending their lives, she encourages some of them to go ahead with it. The subject of suicide is always a risky one to tackle but while some people loved the book, others couldn’t get to grips with it.


message 36: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! wrote: "I've been learning that authors sometimes don't have much say on their book covers. Would you mind giving us a little bit of insight into how your covers come about? The cover for The Passengers is..."

They vary from country to country. The US version is totally different to the UK cover wise. I can offer my opinion on the British version and tweaks can be made but in the end, the publisher knows what sells better than I do so I have to trust them. There is only cover of my eight books that I hate and I wish I’d pushed back and said no to. I learned to be more pushy after that. I have no say in any of the translated versions of my book and how the covers look around the world.


message 37: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!! wrote: "I noticed on Social Media that you were asked a question and I think it such a great one that I'm going to ask something similar here for you to comment on.

What does it feel like to hurt a charac..."


Have no guilt or qualms about hurting a character, making their lives miserable or killing them off! I have killed off a fair few leading characters in my time and it always keeps readers on their toes. Sometimes I know their destiny from the start but much of the time, I will just start writing and see where the words take me. It’s more fun and spontaneous like that.


message 38: by John (new)

John Marrs (johnnox) | 18 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Thank you so much for joining us! It has been such a pleasure!!"

Thank you very much, it’s been fun. I really appreciate your enthusiasm and your support!


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