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Author Adele Parks and publisher Kate Mills discuss their working relationship

PUBLISHED: 16:06 15 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:14 15 October 2018

Adele and Kate at Harper Collins HQ in London

Adele and Kate at Harper Collins HQ in London

Archant

With friendship as the central theme in Adele Parks’ new book, Zoe Richards met up with the bestselling author and her publisher, Kate Mills, to find out how these two Surrey dwellers have discovered a successful working relationship, and become firm friends too

Adele Parks is a self-confessed Guildford girl – it’s the place she’s called home for 14 years, and if the tourist office is ever in need of a spare pair of hands, she could do a pretty nifty job of selling its virtues. Today though, we meet in the uber-smart offices of Harper Collins, a bustling hub of creative talents, which sits under the shadows of one of London’s most iconic landmarks, The Shard. Adele breezes in straight from the train station, all bouncy hair and big smiles, much like one of the glamorous characters from her multi-million-selling books.

Waiting to greet us is Kate Mills, Adele’s publisher at Harper Collins, and fellow Surrey resident. It’s clear from the warm and easy manner the two have together that this is not just a business relationship, but a friendship, formed through a mutual affinity for the literary world they’ve both made careers from.

Friendship – in all its various guises – is a thread that has run through all of Adele’s books, and it’s most certainly the basis for her latest novel, I Invited Her In. “I find it quite fascinating how much we invest in friendship nowadays,” explains Adele. “We often hear the phrase that friends are the new family and I suppose I wanted to test that theory. Most of us gather all kinds of friends from all stages of our life – from our own school, to the people we meet at our children’s school gates. And because we’re not linked unconditionally in the same way as family, I wanted to pose the question of what happens when it all goes wrong.”

Billed as a dark, unsettling tale of jealousy, betrayal and revenge, this may be Adele’s 18th book, but it’s the first in collaboration with Kate as her publisher. A lifelong Surrey dweller herself, and born in Epsom, Kate is now settled in Carshalton with her husband – a retired firefighter – and their two girls.

“I love my slice of Surrey,” she says, “we’re literally one of the last houses as London borders Surrey and we look out over the Woodcote Park Estate, used as a military training camp for new recruits during the First World War and then ploughed up and used agriculturally to grow food during the Second World War.”

It wasn’t just geography which brought the two together though. “I’d always read Adele’s books since I started in this field 16 years ago,” says Kate. “Then, when we finally met we got on brilliantly and I was determined we would work together.” The actual process of getting Adele on board at Harper Collins took some time, but the two knew they had a great basis for a working relationship. “I love Kate’s business acumen and the fact she is a can-do person,” enthuses Adele. While Kate, with the same obvious admiration, says about Adele: “She’s very honest and really straightforward, and she’s also extremely pragmatic. There’s a lot of working out what’s worthwhile and lots of things to discuss in the publishing process. Adele doesn’t linger, she makes quick decisions and moves on.”

For two women in such a creative field they clearly have very smart minds, something Adele puts down to her background. “I was a business consultant, which I think has made me disciplined, and very focused,” she says. Even today she sets herself goals with her writing – a minimum of 1,000 to 2,000 words every day. “Yes, she’s a publisher’s dream,” laughs Kate.

While Kate does the daily commute to London, the two do try to catch up at Adele’s Guildford home whenever they can. It’s here that Adele has her own light, bright office, complete with inspirational mood-board on the wall and views out over the downs. It all sounds totally idyllic, but Adele is very aware of how time can get eaten up when you work from home. “It does give me flexibility, and has been an amazing benefit while bringing up my son,” she admits. Yet, there’s no doubting Adele has the discipline needed to knuckle down – 18 books and counting is the undeniable proof of that!

The two friends are also obviously united by their love of books. But with Adele so consumed with writing every day, does she actually get time to read much? “Oh yes,” she exclaims, “I love reading, I read every single day.” And Kate? “Well, of course I have to read so much for work, but I definitely read for enjoyment too. I like exploring different genres – a non-fiction read, for instance, can act as a ‘palate cleanser’ and a bit of a change of pace,” she says. The two swap copies, summaries – and the odd professional critique – of their latest reads between themselves. With Adele’s next title already in the pipeline, it’s a constant process. “I always have something bubbling under when I’m launching a new book,” she explains.” It looks like Adele and Kate have plenty more of those catch-ups to plan in the diary!


My Favourite Surrey

Pub or restaurant

• Kate: I’ve just discovered The Barley Mow at The Sands. We combined a trip here with a tour and tasting at nearby Thundry Hills gin distillery. Their PM gin – pear, with a twist of mango – is amazing!

• Adele: You can’t beat The Ivy – either at Cobham, or the new one in Guildford with its spectacular views of the castle. I spent my wedding anniversary here, and it’s my go-to now for special occasions.

Walk

• Kate: Friday Street is our favourite place to set off with a picnic. There are so many unique little glades – we never follow the same path and somehow seem to discover a new spot each time.

• Adele: I don’t believe in driving to a ‘walk’, so my favourite is to set off from my house, taking in the downs, through the top of Guildford, Newlands Corner, past Silent Pool and maybe a little wander around Shere on the way back.

Shopping

• Kate: I haven’t been there yet, but I really want to explore ‘The Holly & Laurel Emporium’ in Dorking.

• Adele: Oooh, Packhouse in Farnham for me. So much to see, I can’t help buying something for my house every time I go there!

Beauty secret

• Adele: I’m slightly reluctant to reveal this, but it has to be Galina at Mary-Ann Weeks in Guildford. She is incredible, in fact, everyone I know who has good hair goes to her to get it done!

• Kate: I’m not much of a pampering person, but the last time I went to a spa it was Pennyhill Park, and it was lovely. 


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