Monday, August 3, 2020

Adele Parks

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North East England. She has written twenty novels in twenty years; all hit the bestseller lists. She's been an ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa Book Awards, and is a keen supporter of The National Literary Trust. Parks lived in Italy, Botswana and London and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, son and cat.

Her latest book to hit the US is Lies, Lies, Lies.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Lies Lies Lies was without a title for the entire process of writing the book. That is unusual for me, and I think, for most writers. The book is about a marriage in freefall. Lies and deceptions pile almost as high as the empty spirit bottles that my character, Simon – an alcoholic - discards, I knew lies had to be in the title, to be er…truthful to the book.

My stumbling block was that there are so many books already in print with the word lies in the title. Every time I saw one on the bookstore shelf, my heart would sink a little, because I feared my novel would get lost. In the end my editor and I decided to take the bull by the horns. By bluntly entitling the work Lies Lies Lies, we own the concept of deception and drum home that there are going to be multiple twists and reveals.

Daisy and Simon who have been together for nearly twenty years; many of which were dominated by their yearning to start a family. We meet them when they have their longed-for daughter, and everything should be perfect now they are a happy family of three but because of the title the reader will doubt that concept from the get-go.

Simon is pushing for a second child, but Daisy is resistant to even trying for another. Again, the title will make readers question both his motivation and her resistance. Nothing is what it seems. Thwarted, Simon is drinking more than usual. One night at a party his drinking spirals out of control with horrific consequences. This little family can never be the same again, however the title forces the question: were they ever what was presented in the first place?

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenage self was desperate to be a writer. She was already a weird combination of moody moroseness and stunning ambition so I think she would be unsurprised by the fact she had published this particular book; a domestic noir that hit the number 1 spot in the UK Sunday Times Bestseller List. The domestic noir would appeal to her pretty firm belief that families were hotbeds of anger, frustration and deceit and she would have expected bestseller positions and international success, because she didn’t have much of a grasp on the real world!

My adult self is significantly more surprised. I have been writing novels for twenty years, one a year for all that time. This is my first number one hit and I’ve been blown away by that. Also, I’m much less morose than my teenage self and have a greater understanding of families, who are not as desperate as they appear when you are a teenager. Yes, this novel is about lies and deceit and I do look at addiction in all its glorious gore but it’s also a book that values redemption.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I love writing endings! Endings inevitably have showdowns, confrontations and shocking reveals which are great to write; incredibly satisfying. It is so exciting; galloping towards the close of a book, knowing it’s nearly ready to be shared – initially with my editor but then much further afield. Getting the book out there so people can read and relate, be entertained and challenged, is my main motivator.

As I am a planner, I always know how my books are going to end so it is not a daunting process writing the ending. The beginning of a novel can feel overwhelming or a fresh opportunity, depending on my mood when I first sit down to write. The end of a novel is more reliable in terms of delivering me emotional satisfaction.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I am not at all like Daisy. I actually find her a little sanctimonious, I’m not a judgey person and I think she is. She’s also long-suffering; a quasi- martyr, that’s not my personality type either. I enjoy writing characters that are dissimilar to my own. It’s a perk of being a writer, you get to try being someone else.

Daisy’s entire self-definition is based around being a mother and she struggled for 15 years to conceive. That is torturous, watching all your friends have families, envying them, feeling alone, is hard. I conceived my son very easily and years before many of my friends had children so again my situation is different to hers. However, we are both mothers of only-children; I understood her satisfaction with her little family and her belief that celebrating what she has, rather than pushing for more is the way to go.

I am not an addict and so am not like Simon in that way, but writing him did make me look closely at my relationship with alcohol, we all have one even if you abstain, avoidance is a relationship.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I like having a song that is the soundtrack to the life of my main characters which I sometimes play when I’m writing a particular scene. Simon is the embodiment of Panic! At The Disco - "Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time" ... If you are not familiar with the lyrics, go and listen. I honestly think the songwriter nailed that precarious bizarreness when a night out tips from hilarious to out-of-hand messy, and then plunges into the surreal, wide-eyed, hungover, morning-after feeling. The chorus “Champagne, cocaine, gasoline And most things in between” sums up in one line the fact that excessive drinking is marked out by a lack of inhibitions, a total loss of equanimity or composure and a disregard for safety. Music is very inspirational. It’s not just the lyrics, it’s the beat, the riff too. Transportive.
Visit Adele Parks's website.

--Marshal Zeringue