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Dear Reader: a letter from John Marrs

Author John Marrs shares his inspiration for his gripping psychological thriller The One, coming to Netflix in 2020.

Dear Reader,

In December 2015, my partner and I began planning our wedding in New York for the following September.

I was walking towards the Northern Line of the London Underground one evening after work when I caught myself looking at the many faces on the opposite escalator. I thought how fortunate I was to have found ‘the one’ and fleetingly wondered how many of those strangers passing me had also found their ‘one’.

Finding a date, particularly in a large city, has never been easier than it is nowadays. Just a swipe of the finger and you could be enjoying a coffee with a total stranger within the hour. But modern dating can also make people greedy, wondering if the next date could be better than the last and always striving to see if the grass is greener on the other side.

As I hopped on the tube, I got to thinking how much easier life would be if there was concrete evidence that there was definitely one person out there for us all: one man or woman who we were guaranteed to fall in love with within moments, should we ever meet. Maybe the attraction could be something to do with our DNA and that we all have a link to just one other person out there in the world – our soul mate.

Then it dawned on me: this could make for an interesting concept for a novel. At the time I was around 35,000 words through my third book but I cast it aside to start plotting out this new idea.

I set it in the present, but an alternative present: ten years after the DNA test had been discovered and been developed into a matchmaking business. More than a billion people had registered to find their match. And to make things more interesting, I made it so that a match could be of any age, location, sexuality, appearance or religion.

I knew I wanted to focus on five characters but keep their stories separate rather than forcing each to be linked to one another. So their only connection is the test itself.

I didn’t want to get bogged down with the science part but I did get help from a DNA expert to find a way of explaining how the gene in my story was discovered. It was more important to me to focus on the relationships of these characters and the problems incurred with falling in love with a complete stranger.

I’ve always wanted to write a story involving a serial killer and The One was the perfect opportunity to let my imagination run riot. Christopher is a psychopath whose aim is to kill 30 women in London one summer. But when he meets his DNA match, he has to rethink his plans as his feelings for her overpower his true nature. It doesn’t help that his match is a policewoman. The twists and turns of their story were my favourite to write.

Four months later and my first draft of the story was complete. Five months after that, I married my ‘one’. Readers keep asking me if such a test existed, would I take it? But having considered all the pros and cons when writing my book, it’s a definite no from me. I’m quite happy with how green the grass is on my side.

John Marrs

Dive into the first chapter of The One by John Marrs.

John Marrs

John Marrs is a freelance journalist based in London, 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.

Follow John on Twitter.

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