On writing

John Marrs on how modern dating inspired his thriller, The One

In December 2015, my partner and I were planning our wedding for the following year in New York. One evening, I was walking down an escalator on the London Underground, glancing at the anonymous faces of the other commuters passing me by and thinking how lucky I was to have found the person I considered ‘the one.’

I wondered how many of the strangers surrounding me were also in happy relationships, and how many were still looking for Mister or Miss Right?

After all, with the advent of dating websites and apps, it’s never been easier to find a date. But what are the chances of finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with through a simple swipe left or right? 

As I boarded the tube, I started thinking about how much easier and convenient it would be for us all if we knew that there was somebody designed just for us; if somewhere a soul mate was waiting to connect with us, but didn’t know who or where we were.

So how would they find us?

That’s when I came up with Match Your DNA, a fictitious science-based dating agency that uses a swab of your saliva to identify a gene that’s only receptive to the person you are ‘made’ for. It would also prove responsible for ensuring two Matches were put in touch with each other.

However it could also throw up many other dilemmas. What if you were on the other side of the world from your match? What would happen if you were different ages, religions or sexualities? What if you were already married? How would you overcome these obstacles and more?

By the time I arrived home later that night, I had several pages worth of notes typed into my phone with potential characters, issues they’d face, their outcomes, and with plenty of dark twists and turns thrown in too. Eventually I narrowed them down to the five strongest couples who I hoped readers could identify with or root for.

I started work on The One that weekend, and four months later, the first draft was complete.
There are some elements that needed research as varied as DNA, genetics, the Australian outback, sociopaths, comas, the workings of a dairy farm, the dark web, body decomposition and how to clean up a murder scene. And in each and every case after an appeal to readers of my previous books, I found experts in all of these fields!

I hope that readers will ask themselves the same question posed to my characters – if such a test existed that guaranteed true love with your soul mate, would you take it?  

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