The Big Thrill Discusses THE ONE with Edward Miller and J.B. Manas
After the loss of his wife and daughter to a madman’s violent act, Navy Chaplain Luke Remington encounters a crisis of faith, reinventing himself as an elite sniper in the Navy SEALs.
When his team’s first mission—a top-secret assignment to thwart a rumored attack at a major UN summit—is disrupted by an all-powerful figure claiming to be Jesus, it seems Luke got more than he bargained for. Especially after people start disappearing.
But it isn’t until a peculiar nine-year-old girl steps forward to defy the false messiah and motions to Luke to come find her, that he begins a mind-blowing and dangerous adventure that will challenge his sense of trust and determine the fate of the planet.
Author J.B. Manas stopped by The Big Thrill to discuss his latest science thriller, THE ONE, co-written with Edward Miller.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
When Ed first posed the story idea to me, I wasn’t sure if certain elements would offend people and I had a lot of questions about character motivations. I wasn’t quite sold up front, and then, after a number of iterations and as we fleshed it out and addressed the issues, I really fell in love with the story. I felt there was also a bigger message we were telling that’s quite relevant today.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
Ed came up with the idea for this during one of our regular conversations about story concepts, and then we riffed off of it. His initial idea was about an alien posing as Jesus in order to abduct millions without warfare, and an equally mysterious young girl who opposes him. The big question of course is who this girl is and whether she’s friend or foe. So we worked together fleshing out the characters and motivational drivers for each. It took quite a few iterations until we knew we had something that was solid and compelling.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
Well, we had the basic premise of an alien posing as the Messiah, so it made logical sense to have a pastor as the protagonist. And then we got the idea that he had lost his faith when his family was killed by the act of a madman. And so, as a former naval chaplain, he reinvents himself and trains over several years to become a Navy SEAL. He’s given up on life by then, so it’s a combination of a death wish, a touch of guilt over not being able to save his wife and daughter, a complete loss of faith, and a desire to take assertive action to stop evil. Then he sees this miraculous act, people disappearing, and the mass chaos that follows, and meets this special, and possibly dangerous, young girl who will challenge his thinking about everything.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
The first reference for me, oddly enough, was Ben Hur. The idea of a man who’d lost his family, set out of a journey of revenge (in a sense), and ultimately found something more profound really resonated with me. And of course, when I think of a young girl with special powers, the first thing that comes to mind is Eleven from Stranger Things or Charlie from Stephen King’s Firestarter, so we took pains to differentiate this as much as we could. The story of course, and the journey, is completely different. I was joking with Ed that, with an alien posing as the Messiah, it was like King of Kings meets The Day the Earth Stood Still meets Firestarter.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
First and foremost, we want readers to have a fun journey, guessing where the story is headed. To say more about the themes might spoil the story, but I would say the arc of the protagonist, Luke, carries the story’s primary theme and should resonate with most readers.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I’m working on a sequel to my last book, The Mirror Man, and have two more standalone thrillers outlined: Starstruck, a Hitchcockian thriller in which a rising actress must rely on her nemesis paparazzo when she’s forced by a crime syndicate to escort a trained assassin into the Academy Awards, and The Girl in the Water, a paranormal thriller in which an art student under the care of a stranger who rescued her from a sinking car begins to suspect he may be a ghost with a connection to her past.
Plus, Ed and I were talking about doing a few more books together, possibly a sequel to THE ONE, a third entry in his YA space opera Cadets series, and a sequel to our first book, The Kronos Interference. We get a lot of emails asking for that last one.
Edward Miller and J.B. Manas are the authors of the critically-acclaimed The Kronos Interference, which Kirkus Reviews named to their Best of 2012, calling the book “impressively original” and “[a] tour de force.” Miller is also the author of the bestselling YA space opera Cadets series, and Manas is the author of the sci-fi thriller Atticus and the award-winning, twisty suspense thriller, The Mirror Man.
To learn more about the author, please visit his website.
THE ONE with Edward Miller and J.B. Manas