I’m thrilled to part of the launch celebrations for The Good Samaritan by John Marrs. I was lucky enough to read and review here another of John’s books, The One, which has become an enormous success and to interview John too here. When I was asked if I’d like to participate this time, I was desperate to know what John might tell himself with hindsight and luckily he agreed to write a letter to himself to tell me!
The Good Samaritan is available for purchase here.
The Good Samaritan
The people who call End of the Line need hope. They need reassurance that life is worth living. But some are unlucky enough to get through to Laura. Laura doesn’t want them to hope. She wants them to die.
Laura hasn’t had it easy: she’s survived sickness and a difficult marriage only to find herself heading for forty, unsettled and angry. She doesn’t love talking to people worse off than she is. She craves it.
But now someone’s on to her—Ryan, whose world falls apart when his pregnant wife ends her life, hand in hand with a stranger. Who was this man, and why did they choose to die together?
The sinister truth is within Ryan’s grasp, but he has no idea of the desperate lengths Laura will go to…
Because the best thing about being a Good Samaritan is that you can get away with murder.
A letter to myself, ten years ago.
A Guest Post by John Marrs
That makes it sound like I’m about to break up with you, doesn’t it? Well I’m not, so don’t worry. You and I are in this together, God willing, for the long haul.
You might be surprised to learn I’m actually writing this letter to you from ten years in the future. The year is 2017 and Donald Trump is president of America, Britain is leaving Europe, your musical heroes Prince, George Michael and Michael Jackson are all dead and the world’s most popular TV show is about dragons. No, really.
But I digress. John, you’ve been a journalist since you were 18 and you’re, what, 36 now? You’re living in London and you’ve made a career out of interviewing celebrities for the News Of The World (oh, that’s dead too.) That teenager who wore green dungarees and worked in Homebase during his school holidays is feeling more and more like a stranger to you now, isn’t he?
Well, you know how you’ve always had a hankering to write a book? Guess what? Ten years from now, it’s become a second job.
I know you don’t have any ideas in mind yet, only that the story might have something to do with traveling, like when you and your best friend Sean backpacked around America when you were 21. That’ll be book two.
At the moment, you lack the motivation to write. It’s been three years since your dad died and you’ve thrown yourself into your relationship and your work rather than dwell on how a terminal cancer ravaged his brain and turned that big, strong, warm giant into a shadow of his former self.
It seems hard to believe right now, but you’ll use his awful experience in your first book. It’ll be almost cathartic to give a character you love the same disease, but through the power of your pen, allow her to live the time your dad was robbed of. It’ll only be years later when you realise that writing is how you came to terms with his loss.
When you do finally get your arse into gear and write your book, it’ll be during the break-up of your marriage. Christ, I sound the harbinger of doom, don’t I? Well I’m sorry to be the barer of more bad tidings, but after being with your partner for eight years, you’ll have a civil partnership surrounded by all your friends and family only to split up 18 months later. It’ll break your heart and it’ll humiliate you. But writing will be the one good thing to come out of that whole sorry experience. It will help to divert your negative energies into something positive.
It’ll take you two years to finish that book, and then, proud as punch of it, you’ll send it out to 80 or so agents and they’ll be falling at your feet to take you on as the next big thing in literature. Well, that’s what’ll happen in your imagination. Because in reality, they won’t give a stuff. A handful of them will express a brief amount of interest in it, but it won’t amount to anything. You’ll have 110,000 words sitting in a file on your desktop with no-one to read it but you and your friends.
At this point John, and I can’t emphasise this enough, do not give up. Because someone will suggest self-publishing your book on Amazon, something you are unfamiliar with, but it’ll spark a kernel of interest inside you and will make you want to investigate the possibilities. You’ll wait a few more months first in the vain hope an agent might have been delayed in reading your book. But when it becomes obvious there’s nobody at the door, you’ll think sod it, and do it yourself.
Sales will trickle in at first, and then dry up. Don’t panic! Because they’ll start trickling in again and build up into a steady stream.
The journey will be a long one, and it’ll be an interesting one. And ultimately, it will alter many aspects of your life.
The book will prove to be a self-published success and generate enough of an audience for you to write a second book and then a third. And that’s when it’ll all start going crazy for you with two book deals and a TV option. I’m not going to ruin any more of the surprises to come, but let’s just say not having one of those 80 agents you wrote to won’t hamper you.
You’ll have some incredible times in the next decade John. You’ll hug your dog and cry your eyes out until the tears mat his fur; you’ll twice be made redundant, you’ll meet Mister Right, buy your dream home, you’ll marry again and be happier than you ever thought possible. You’ll read messages from strangers from around the world who want to reach out and you to tell you how much your books have touched them. You’ll wander into Waterstones and slyly rearrange their bookshelves, slipping yours to the front, and then wonder if it will ever sink in that you have written a book and that shops want to stock it.
And you’ll use all of these experiences, John, all of these emotions that have been good, bad, ugly and beautiful, in whatever you continue to write.
It’ll be the making of you, my friend, and I look forward to being with you for the ride.
With my very best wishes,
PS: Buy The Guardian on October 17, 2009. Trust me. It’ll change everything.
(Thank you so much John for a fabulous insight into your life.)
About John Marrs
John Marrs is a freelance journalist based in London, England, who has spent the last 20 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines. He has written for publications including The Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online; OK!Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World’s Sunday Magazine.
His debut novel The Wronged Sons, was released in 2013 and in May 2015, he released his second book, Welcome To Wherever You Are.