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Karen M. McManus
Karen M. McManusHandout

Cambridge author Karen M. McManus can trace her best-selling novel to John Hughes and, more specifically, Simple Minds.

She was in the car when she heard the ’80s hit “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” the centerpiece of the soundtrack for Hughes’s classic film, “The Breakfast Club.” That gave her an idea: What if she wrote a young adult novel inspired by the movie?

“But with murder,” she said.

McManus had already written two YA novels, what she calls “practice books,” but they remained drafts on a shelf.

But this new idea for a thriller turned out to be a big hit. The book, “One of Us Is Lying,” which she started in 2015, was released by Delacorte Press in May. Her debut has been on The New York Times bestsellers list for six weeks, where it now sits at No. 2, second to Angie Thomas’s wildly popular tale about a police shooting, “The Hate U Give.” According to Publishers Weekly, “One of Us Is Lying” has 120,000 copies in print and has been sold to 20 territories.

“One of Us Is Lying” is No. 2 on The New York Times bestsellers list.
“One of Us Is Lying” is No. 2 on The New York Times bestsellers list.“One of Us Is Lying” is No. 2 on The New York Times bestsellers list.

McManus said she heard she’d become a New York Times bestseller from someone who congratulated her via Twitter. She celebrated by hanging out with friends in Charlestown.

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She’s grown used to being asked about the book’s potential for film — not just because it’s a bestseller, but because the story was inspired by a movie to begin with. At the moment, though, she has no news to share.

“My agent is certainly exploring all options,” she said.

McManus — who also works for Monotype in Woburn — said her 11-year-old son has yet to read the book because he’s a little young for it. “But he’s very proud and excited.”

At the moment, he has other stories to keep him busy.

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“He loves Harry Potter. He loves Rick Riordan.”