After my review this morning of his latest novel, The Good Samaritan, I welcome author John Marrs to my blog to discuss A Life in Books.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I live in Northamptonshire with my partner (also called John) and our dog, and I commute to London each day where I work as a journalist for Express newspapers. I write film and television interviews for S Magazine, TV Life, Big TV and I’ve previously written for Q Magazine, Total Film, The Independent, Guardian and Now. Writing books began as a but of fun. I started almost five years ago, but now it’s become a parallel career.
What was you favourite book from childhood?
I didn’t have just one, it was anything written by Franklin W Dixon, the creator of the Hardy Boys series of books. I was obsessed with them and when I grew up I wanted to be him. It was only when I got older that I learned he didn’t exist – it was a conglomerate of writers writing under than name! It explained why he managed to rattle out 190 full-length novels…
What type of books did you read as a teenager?
I was more about the comedies at that point. Like everyone my age, we devoured the Adrian Mole series and I remember loving Tom Sharpe’s novels like Blott On The Landscape. They seemed a bit saucy back then, but if I was to re-read them I bet they’d be quite tame now. I was also really into The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
When you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?
The Catcher in the Rye. That really spoke to me, a book that’d been written some 35 years earlier (when I first read it for my GCSE English class). I haven’t read it for some years but I plan on reading it again before the year is out.
What is your favourite classic book?
I’m going to refer you to the answer above. This book will never date. Each time I go to New York, I still smile when I think about Holden Caufield.
What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years?
There are few which have made an impression on me. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (who I’ve had the pleasure to interview a couple of times) or The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson stand out. I also adored Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker. I’d say my favourite of late has been The Circle by Dave Eggers. I wish I had written that book.
What book to you think you should read but never get round to?
There are two on my bookshelf – Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. They’ve been there for ages but I’ve never had the time to pick them up and dive in.
What do you consider to be your favourite book ?
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S must be up there, I read this when I was backpacking around the US for a year when I was 21. I also adore The Beach by Alex Garland. From start to finish, this book never let me down. I think it’s brilliant.
Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?
There are a few that if I don’t enjoy, I’ll stop reading. I can’t continue with a book if it’s just not resonating with me. Most recently it’s been The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and Paula Hawkins’ Into The Water.
If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with you
I’d take Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts as I’d like something to sink my teeth into, and the complete set of the Hardy Boys adventures – just for old time’s sake.
Kindle or Book?
Considering I started writing for eBooks, it should be the former. But as I don’t actually own one (only the App on my iPad), it’s books all the way for me. It would make more sense to love the Kindle but I like looking at a book on a shelf – and most recently my own, something I never thought would happen.