Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Adele Parks ‘In Conversation With…’

(The Demon)

Women’s fiction writer Adele Parks attended De Montfort University’s Cultural Exchanges week to give students an insight into the world of publishing.

Adele Parks, 40, has written eight bestselling novels, all together selling one million copies in the UK and having been translated into 15 different languages.

In conversation with DMU English lecturer Imelda Wheelehan, Adele gave a short reading of her latest novel, Tell Me Something, before sharing her own views on her writing, the term ‘chick-lit’ in general, and her experience of getting published.

Of her eighth novel, Tell Me Something, Adele explained the different direction she took in her first attempt to create a romantic heroine.

She said: “I always write about strong characters and for a change I created Elizabeth, a hopeless romantic and utter dreamer who has this belief that you can write a list about your perfect man, ticking them off as you go along.

“She had such a perfect man on paper but no idea of how to make it work. She lives in stereotypes and is so romantic that she can’t see the reality of it all.”

Asked if this new direction led onto her being classic ultimately as a ‘chick-lit’ writer, Adele explained how she felt to be put into the much debated about genre.

“At first I didn’t notice I was part of it, because I’ve always just written the books I wanted to write. I am very mixed towards the term, and I think the problem with ‘chick-lit’ is that it cuts off as many people as it includes.

“It’s great that we’ve come to an age where women get the same opportunity for book deals as men, but then after that all we see women write about is clingy, clumsy women who are forever seeking a man to feel complete in their lives.

“’Chick-lit’ is generally so nice, and a lot of it is a little bit like living in a 1950s movie where they will all get their happy endings – and I realise we only live there half of the time, not all of the time, so even though I’ve created Elizabeth my heroines don’t always get their happy ever after.”

Adele, who studied English Literature at Leicester University, also warned that the idea of a book deal is not always what it is made out to be.

She said: “You put yourself out there as a novelist, much more than I anticipated. I had no idea of the impact it would have on my private life and my family’s private life.

“But there does seem to be an idea of ‘chick-lit’ writers having these high advances for their books and leading glamorous lives. But your advance is almost buying you in, it isn’t what you continue to be paid for the whole of your contract. It’s very misleading. My advice would be to not write a book for that reason.

“I’m finding it harder to maintain a glamorous identity. I’m not naturally glamorous, I don’t wear skirts. However, people always check out my shoes because of the shoes on every cover of my book!

Asked if she would consider writing for other genres in the future, Adele said: “I would, but I would have to start over again and probably write under a pseudonym. However, my experiences have changed so much throughout the years that on comparing my first and latest novel, you would think they were by two completely different authors anyway.”

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