On the release of Both of You, her twenty-first novel in as many years, the author of the Number 1 bestselling Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck reflects on keeping going during lockdown, some of her literary influences and heroes, and the routine and discipline that always underpin the creative process.

Where are you now?

Right now, I am at my desk, in my office at home in Surrey. I’ve been here for months!

How would you summarise your lockdown experience?

Thought-provoking. I’ve had more time than usual to take stock. Instead of constantly rushing about seeing people or doing things because I feel obligated, I’ve had much more time to be still and thoughtful. My thoughts are ultimately – I rather liked the rushing about! Joking aside, I think I personally have had a very fortuitous lockdown, my family and friends have stayed well which is the most important thing. I’ve continued to write and launch novels. I launched Just My Luck in hardback and paperback through lockdowns and both editions became Sunday Times Number 1 bestsellers – I really can’t complain! I feel it’s hardest on young adults who are missing out on vital life-forming opportunities and also on the isolated. It must also have been hellish to balance home schooling and work, and I feel for the many parents who had to tackle that. Goodness, there are so many tricky stories. I’ve been very lucky.

Where and when do you do most of your writing?

The vast majority of my writing happens Monday to Friday, on my PC in my office. Strangely, routine and discipline are a big part of a novelist’s life, which does not perhaps feed into the romantic notion we all have of the writing process. I mostly write during the daytime, and I like to reach a daily word count between 1,000–2,000 words when I am in the ‘creating’ part of my schedule.

If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?

I don’t have one. I just get on with it.

Full-time or part-time?

Full-time, in so much as if I’m not writing I’m promoting or thinking about my books. I love my work, and keeping busy is my raison d’être. I don’t have very clear lines between my work and my life. I’m not saying I live to work, more that my work (along with my family) gives me an important sense of purpose and meaning.

Pen or keyboard?


How do you relax when you’re writing?

I find writing very relaxing. If I am stressed about anything, the best thing for me to do is lock myself away in my office and create, so I don’t really feel I need something to help me relax when I am not writing. However, I do need something to do other than writing! I practice yoga most days, I love walking and I’m a big fan of eating and drinking with friends! That is something I’ve definitely missed during lockdown.

How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?

Thriller. Happy… married… missing. Two women vanish in a week, leaving devastated families and husbands. Where are they? What have they run from or towards?

Who do you write for?

Myself, anyone, everyone. I don’t think about it. I just write and then feel overwhelmed with pleasure and gratitude when other people read what I’ve written. If readers feel they can relate to my writing, or be entertained or challenged by it then I’ve been successful. It’s a great compliment that people give up their time to read my books. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the excitement of that.

Who do you share your work in progress with?

I read my WIP to my husband three times whilst I am writing. Once, when I’ve written 25% of the book, then at 75%, and finally when I’ve completed it. I like the process of reading aloud to him. He’s incredibly honest and transparent so I can see when I have a winner on my hands, equally I can see if he’s bored by what I’ve written and then I start scratching out paragraphs! Hearing the words said aloud also helps me self-edit and become aware of pace, repetitions or plot holes. Audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular, so I think it’s great that my novels are ‘voiced’ very early on in the process.

Which literary character do you wish you created?

There isn’t one I wish I’d created specifically, because had I done so it would take away the surprise and brilliance of the many characters that astound and amaze me. It is the ultimate reading treat to watch a character unfurl. I rather love to loathe Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Ripley is chosen by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf to retrieve Greenleaf’s son Dickie from his overlong sojourn in Italy. Tom insinuates himself into Dickie’s world and soon finds that his passion for a lifestyle of wealth and sophistication transcends all moral compunction. He’s utterly dreadful and all the more compelling for that!

Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.

Oh, there are so many, many beautiful, thought-provoking or funny things that have been written! An endless amount. How hard to have to choose. I think if I have to pick, then I must identify the lines from a Dorothy Parker poem ‘Inventory’, as lines that have always resonated with me.

“Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.”

Which book do you wish you’d written?

A little like my answer to which character do I wish I’d created, there isn’t one. Saying I’d wish I’d written a particular book would mean that I’d have lost out on the joy of discovering that brilliant book. I never feel a sense of envy when I read fantastic novels; I’m simply glad to have discovered them.

Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?

I’ve just read The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth. Hepworth writes with intelligence and compassion, the characters she draws are compelling, complex and charming. The Good Sister is twisty, thrilling and a bit dark in places, yet ultimately heartwarming, so satisfying! I really do recommend it.

What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?

I’m currently reading Lisa Jewell’s latest, The Night She Disappeared. I absolutely love Lisa Jewell’s books, always have. She has such a deft and particular style that is at once inviting and yet challenging. She welcomes her readers into beautiful but damaged communities, where mysteries need to be uncovered; her characters are refreshing and authentic, her descriptions are gorgeous. I read 200 pages of this book yesterday and didn’t want to stop.

Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?

My TBR pile is always towering. I am sent dozens of books per month from authors and publishing houses that would like me to review or endorse their books. Try as I might, I never get to the bottom of that teetering pile, so as a result there are an awful lot of books that I feel I ought to read! You know those lists which are bandied around every now and again – 100 Books to Read Before You Die, that sort of thing? Well, I find I’ve read many of the books on those lists because I did an English Literature degree, so have ticked off many of the classics. I now tend to read contemporary works more frequently. I don’t think people ought to feel they ought to read; we should want to read books because we are curious. It’s an important difference!

Which book/s do you treasure the most?

I treasure my childhood books. I keep those in a very lovely cabinet in my office. There are a lot of Enid Blyton books!

What is the last work you read in translation?

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein. An unsettling coming-of-age tale about Giovanna, a teenage girl growing up in a middle-class neighbourhood in Naples, struggling with her father’s rejection and encountering family secrets while cautiously steering her way to womanhood. I enjoyed it very much.

What will you read next?

I think I shall read, We Are Not Like Them co-written by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. It’s a book about a black girl and a white girl who grow up as best friends but struggle to maintain that friendship as they get older and outside factors draw attention to their diverse experiences and institutionalised prejudice. It sounds like a really interesting, important and innovative read.

What are you working on next?

I’m 90,000 words into my 2022 novel. I always have one on the go! I’ve written 21 books in 21 years and am not planning on slowing down anytime soon.

Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Jane Austen would have to come along, she wrote with such neat, sardonic wit that makes me laugh out loud, so would be a great guest. I’d also like Atticus Finch to be there, Harper Lee’s lawyer from To Kill a Mockingbird; he’s the ultimate in logic, reason and compassion so would make a great guest. Sherlock Holmes would be excellent, just brimming with intelligence and he’d have some great stories to tell. As would Gandalf, plus he’d literally have some magic party tricks! They’d all be great dinner party guests. Finally, I’d also want Virginia Woolf to come along. A fellow feminist and also a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device, which we take for granted now. Oh, this would be a marvellous dinner!

If you weren’t writing you’d be…?

A CEO of a publishing house. I love the industry I work in and it would be fun being on the other side.

If you were the last person on Earth, what would you write?

Thank you.

How can we make peace with our planet?

We can all do our bit. Lights off, cut down on plastic use, waste less food and other resources. It’s all helpful. Governments need to be responsible globally and ultimately we all need to think about the population explosion.


Adele Parks was born on Teesside. After graduating from Leicester University, she worked in advertising and as a management consultant. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she’s had twenty international bestsellers spanning romantic fiction, historical novels and thrillers, translated into thirty languages. In 2010 she was awarded an honorary doctorate of Letters from Teesside University. She’s an Ambassador for The National Literary Trust and The Reading Agency and has been a judge for the Costa Book Awards and The British Book Awards. She’s lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, son and cat. Both of You is published by HQ in hardback, eBook and audio download.
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Author portrait © Sekkides