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The Minders By John Marrs

The Minders‘The Minders’ is the latest book by John Marrs and just like his previous novels, ‘The One’ and ‘Passengers’ it’s another fast paced, futuristic thriller.

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads. Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew. But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect.

The story is seen through the perspective of the 5 minders, all who feel that they have given a second go at life. Bruno is a single father to a disabled son who’s mother was tragically killed when the autonomous cars were hacked, Flick has lost her drive for life after discovering that her love match was a serial killer who was murdered, Sinead is stuck in an unhappy marriage with a controlling and manipulative husband, whilst Charlie had registered on Match Your DNA app but his counterpart had not done the same. So while Charlie’s friends were all settling down and after finding the one, he was alone and waiting whilst life passed him by. Finally, there’s Emilia who’s woke up in hospital with no memory but with a man claiming to be husband. All 5 of them find themselves guarding the government most contraversional and shocking secrets and setting up a new life for themselves, but 1 by 1 they are being killed off and are having to run for their lives.

I love John Marrs and every time that he announces a new book, I always look forward to reading it. I really enjoyed ‘The Minders’ which is another great spin and insightful look into how technology is changing the way of the world. One thing that I liked about this book was the references back to his previous novels ‘The One’ and ‘The Passengers’ and this latest book almost felt like the latest instalment in the series, even though each book is a standalone novel. Excitedly, my favourite book by John called ‘The One’ is now being adapted for a Netflix series.

The characters are a great mix of personalities with their own flaws and secrets that make for fascinating reading as they all eagerly accept this second chance at life and escape the ones that they left behind. Another thing that is quite interesting is even though the book is set in the present time, it has almost dystopian feel to the story.

An uniquely plotted story that makes for scarily realistic reading, this cyber crime thriller is perfect for fans of conspiracy theories and science fiction. Pulling you right in from the first page, ‘The Minders’ is another fast paced and meticulously crafted story with gore, suspense and tension riddled throughout.

If you’d like to know more about John Marrs and where he gets his ideas from, check out my interview with the author.

You can buy ‘The Minders’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

John Marrs

John MarrsJohn Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. ‘The Minders’ is his latest book.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing
    My name is John Marrs and I’m fortunate to be able to write for two publishers. For Thomas & Mercer, I write psychological thrillers and for Penguin’s Ebury, I write psychological thrillers with a futuristic twist. Before giving it up three years ago to write full-time, I used to be a celebrity journalist and wrote for publications including ‘OK Magazine’, ‘The Guardian’s Guide’, ‘Total Film’, ‘Q’ and ’S’ Magazine. Books started as a bit of fun – a challenge to myself – and it ended up becoming an entirely new career.
  2. Tell us about your new book called ‘The Minders’.
    The premise is simple – if you could know every secret our country has ever kept – good and bad – but can’t tell a single soul, would you want to know? In The Minders, five ordinary people give up their lives for five years to take part in an experimental Government programme to store all our top secret data inside them. But as they start their lives afresh under new identities, someone is hunting them down and picking them off one by one.
  3. Congratulations on the exciting news of ‘The One’ being adapted for Netflix. Are you involved with the adaption of the book or have you passed the reins onto someone else?
    Thank you! But no, I’ve had nothing to do with the adaptation. It is an eight-part series and I think it will be very different to the book, but I’ve not read the scripts or storylines. I can’t wait to see what they have done with it. For me, once my book is complete, I move on to the next one and I’ll never read it again. With the TV version, it is now up to someone else to take my story and turn it into their vision. I did get to go on set and watch it being filmed in January which was a great and very surreal experience.
  4. Your books have been compared to the Netflix series ‘Black Mirror’, as they are quite futuristic. Where do you get your ideas from?
    They can come from anywhere. ‘When You Disappeared’ came from an article I read in The Guardian, ‘The Good Samaritan’ came from a conversation with a friend who worked as a phone line operator for vulnerable people. I thought of ‘The One’ on an escalator in London’s Underground and a book I’ll be working on soon came to me in a dream. I woke myself up and had to dictate it into my phone before I forgot it.
  5. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    I’ve got to know a few since I’ve been writing, so I’d start with Cara Hunter, Claire Allen, Darren O’Sullivan, Louise Beech and Tom Rob Smith. Then I’d send out invitations to Peter Swanson, Gillian Flynn and John Boyne. They could rewrite the phone directory and I’d read it.
  6. Who’s your favourite villain or hero?
    Patrick Bateman in ‘American Psycho’. What a book, what a character.
  7. The Minders

  8. Can you tell me about your planning process from planning to first draft?
    I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, although I am trying to change that. My last book, The Minders, was the first I have properly planned and I quite enjoyed the process. For me, the first draft is all about getting those words and plotlines out of my head and onto the screen. It’s the second draft when the work really begins – trying to make it into something readable for someone other than myself. By the third draft, it’s really starting to take shape, by draft number four, I gain confidence in it. But by drafts five and six, I am sick to death of it and never want to read it again! Every year my writing process changes. I used to write for 90 minutes on the train to London in the morning, then for an hour at lunch time, and a further 90 minutes on the journey home. In fact, my first five books were written on trains. Then I gave up journalism in 2018 and started writing from home full-time. But since our son was born a year ago, it’s now a case of making the most of the rare free time I have. When I’m writing, it’s always in silence. I can’t do background music. I always print the book out to do my edits, makes notes in coloured pens I buy from a shop called Muji and when I make the on-screen corrections, that’s when I’ll listen to playlists on Apple Music.
  9. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.”JRR Tolkein was nothing if not straight to the point.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts has been sitting on my bookshelf for a decade and I’ve still yet to read it. I’m intimidated by its 900+ pages. Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’ would be my second choice because after a lull of a decade in the 1990s, that book got me back into reading again. And my last choice would be John Boyne’s ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’, a novel I loved so much that I’d only read a chapter at a time as I didn’t want it to end.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    I’m still way too early in my journey to ever think I could offer anybody advice of my own! I can share these tips though – I was told to read out loud whatever I write when I start the editing process – and it has really helped me with pacing, grammatical errors and sentence structure. I’ve also learned that research is key – if you want to write a commercially successful book, then pick a genre that people want to read. You might know everything there is to know about Himalayan snowdrops, but it doesn’t mean other people want to read a book about them. And just get on with it – so many writers waste time procrastinating or trying to come up with the perfect plot before they write. Sometimes you just need to put pen to paper and see where it takes you.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    I don’t need anything other than a computer. Writing my first few books on trains taught me that I need nothing but a laptop. And that gives me the ability to write wherever I like – a pub, a restaurant, a garden or in bed.
  13. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’m in the process of taking a year out, so I won’t be publishing anything new until probably 2022. It’s nice not having a deadline for once. It means I can write for pleasure again and at my own pace.

    Follow John Marrs on Twitter and follow his website

You can buy ‘The Minders’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Passengers By John Marrs

The Passengers‘The Passengers’ is the latest book by John Marrs and having read his previous novel ‘The One’ and absolutely devoured it which is now being adapted for Netflix. I was delighted to receive a copy of his newest offering.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course. The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

The story is set in a time where people drive autonomous cars and one day 8 people’s cars are hacked and it’s the job of the jury and the public to decide who will survive as all the cars are driving forwards each other, about to collide.

The members of the jury have the impossible task of trying to safe lives, whilst the hacker is always one step ahead. They all have strong personalities as well as beliefs and morals, particularly Libby, a strong willed woman who totally opposes autonomous cars and becomes an unlikely voice of the nation. As the jury members battle to choose who will survive, it is Libby who challenges not only the jury but also the hacker.

I read this book in two sittings, it’s cleverly written that made for fast paced reading. The characters are all interesting and complex that really do, make the reader battle with their conscience and their morals as they try to decide who should survive. But, as the story progresses, secrets and scandals are revealed.

Addictive from the fast page, John has written an incredibly original, thrilling and gripping story. Set in a time where anything is possible, ‘The Passengers’ is a compulsive and terrifying story that will keep you awake into the early hours.

You can buy ‘The Passengers’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from May 30th 2019.

Merry Christmas From Handwritten Girl

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Christmas is nearly upon us and I’ve found myself writing my annual sign off instead of wrapping presents that are still in their bags. Last minute as always!

This year was a great year for books and I’ve even listed my top ten books for 2017, just incase you are looking for a few last minute stocking fillers.

It was also a great year for Handwritten Girl, as I attended the Bord Gais Energy Book Awards for the first time and had an amazing time meeting some of Ireland’s finest literary talent ans well as spending Halloween weekend learning about the dark and interesting world of crime writing.

Before I sign off, I would like to say a huge thank you to all the lovely publishers and authors who introduced me to some of the most wonderful books this year, from intense thrillers to happy romances, there’s something for everyone to curl up with during the cold winter nights.

Most importantly, thank you to the readers of the website for taking the time to read a review, tweet, Favourite or Like a post, your support is appreciated tremendously. I hope you all have a safe and relaxing Christmas and receive loads of treats from Santa Claus, especially books as there are some great ones out there.

Have a Happy New Year and I shall see you in 2018.

Handwritten Girl’s Favourite Books of 2017.

1. The Break by Marian Keyes
2. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
3. Final Girls By Riley Sager
4. Bring Me Back By BA Paris
5. You, Me, Everything by Catherine Issac
6. The Summer of Impossible Things By Rowan Coleman
7. The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon
8. Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land
9. A Song For Tomorrow By Alice Peterson
10. The One By John Marrs