Adele Parks: books give meaning to life

Adele Parks recalls how 'To Kill a Mockingbird' inspired her to become a writer when she was only 12 years old.

Best-selling author Adele Parks has sold over two million copies of her novels in the UK since publishing her first book Playing Away in 2000. Her latest, The State We’re In, is out now.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

The late 1990s were a period in my life when I was able to indulge my love of reading; I was commuting to work and didn’t yet have a family and I read voraciously. This was Kate Atkinson’s first book—I was dazzled by her amazingly intelligent writing and inspired when it won the Whitbread Book of the Year, ahead of Salmon Rushdie. Kate was portrayed as an ordinary woman from Yorkshire, and while I sat on the train to work, I thought, I’m an ordinary woman from Yorkshire too and I’ve always wanted to write. Maybe I can do it as well. I started writing Playing Away soon after that.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I’d always loved English lessons, but when we read this book in class I actually started to live for them. At 12 years old I was the ideal age to appreciate the humour, irony and adult hypocrisy so brilliantly portrayed in this astonishing novel. I can vividly remember where I sat in the classroom, the way the light came through the window, the sound of the teacher’s voice and who sat next to me—all these things were linked to my enjoyment of the book. I realised I felt more passionate about it than my friends and it affirmed what I’d felt as a child—I had to be a writer! Besides, flesh-and-blood books were, and still are, the most important thing to me because of the way they give meaning to life.

The Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford

When my son was born I was living in London, far from my parents in Teeside, and then I found myself a single mum. This book was the one thing that kept me sane. It mattered so much to me because it made me feel like I was getting something right—or at least not completely wrong. Knowing that my baby would definitely sleep at certain times of the day gave me the freedom to continue writing. Gina Ford gave me back some control, although once you get pregnant you never really have total control in your life ever again!