Adele Parks has written 15 books in 15 years - and every single one has been a bestseller in this country.

How does she do it? Well, there is a unique opportunity to spend the evening in the company of the author in Worthing this month when she will be sharing the secrets of her success with an audience in aid of St Barnabas House, the Worthing hospice that provides palliative care for people with life-limiting illnesses.

“I couldn’t resist the chance to help such a great charity,” Adele tells Simply Worthing. “The request that came was so polite! I’ve had a writing career for 15 years and during that time I have worked out a way of doing good things like this several times a year.

“The evening will be fun – it’s not a lecture,” she stresses. “I’ll be talking about how I first got published, which will be very informative for budding writers, and there will be a Q&A – the last time I did one of those I was asked where I bought my shoes! But seriously, I’ll answer any questions. People love hearing about your working day as a writer so I’ll be talking about that too.”

Adele, 47, who lives in Surrey with her husband and son, will also be talking about her latest novel, If You Go Away, which was published last November. It follows her 2014 novel Spare Brides, set in 1920 after the end of the First World War and focussing on the stories of three women whose lives were irrevocably changed in its aftermath.

If You Go Away is set at the beginning of the Second World War, an epic love story of two rebels, a brilliant young playwright who becomes a conscientious objector and a disappointed wife who is relieved when her traditionalist husband enlists.

“Writing historical novels is quite different to contemporary ones,” says Adele. “It’s very satisfying and exciting. The research took me years and you also don’t want the story to read like a history lesson. I did my research in primary sources such as the hundreds of diaries and letters from the First World War held at the Imperial War Museum.

“The story for If You Go Away was inspired by the research I carried out for Spare Brides, when I discovered that 16 conscientious objectors were held in prison cells at Richmond Castle in Yorkshire and drew graffiti on the walls.

“They were treated appallingly – they weren’t allowed to talk or sing. It was a horribly scandalous thing at the time to be a conscientious objector and I became fascinated by their stories. Some conscientious objectors were willing to take some role in the war, such as administrative positions or as stretcher-bearers, but others objected so strongly on religious or other moral grounds they would not take any part at all. I wanted my fictional objector to be a rebel but to be less extreme – after all, If You Go Away is a love story – and my story follows what happens to him when he refuses to sign up when conscription became law in 1916.

“It’s about a generation that faced unbearable choices – the women who could easily become ostracised by society if they followed their hearts and the men who had to decide whether to become a killer or be killed, or to face the consequences if they chose not to go to war.”

If You Go Away and Spare Brides are Adele’s first historical novels, her first 13 all contemporary love stories. She has been described as “one of the most-loved and biggest-selling women’s fiction writers in the UK”, selling more than three million copies in the UK alone, and says the description is “pretty flattering”.

“All my novels examine issues that are important to us all,” says Adele. “I like to scrutinize our concepts of family, our theories on love, parenting and fidelity with, I hope, honesty and humour. Whatever period I set my novels, I’m known for examining the thorny issues of the lives people lead with my trademark, up-front, tell-it-as-it-is style.”

Adele was born in Teesside, enjoying “a traditional 1970s/80s childhood watching too much TV and eating convenience food because nobody minded if kids did that in those days”. She studied English Language and Literature at Leicester University and worked in advertising.

But she had dreamed of being a writer since childhood and spent most of her 20s writing. She sent three chapters of her first novel to an agent, who initially liked it and then rejected it. “I had spent two years writing it,” recalls Adele. “I gave up my social life, everything, and that’s a big deal in your 20s! I sent it to the agent and he got back to me and said he liked it. But when I sent him the rest of it, he said no. For the next six months, I worked on it and sent it back – and this time he accepted it. It was an amazing moment when I heard. I was in Paris with my friend and she took a picture of me with tears of happiness streaking down my face, which was covered in a white face mask. I still have the picture...”

Adele’s first novel Playing Away, a “candid passionate tale of infidelity written through the eyes of an adulteress”, was published in 2000 and her romantic comedy Husbands in 2005 sold a quarter of a million copies.

Describing herself as “very chatty and fairly opinionated”, she often appears on radio and television talking about her work and writes articles and short stories for national newspapers and magazines. She was a judge for the Costa Book Awards in 2010, and her next book, a contemporary novel, is due to be published at the end of this year or the beginning of 2017.

“I think it's true to say once I get going, it’s quite hard to shut me up,” she laughs. “But seriously, people who want to be a writer should come to see me at this event. I can tell them that if they are writing, keep at it because if their stories are original, they will be found.”

• An Evening with Adele Parks, when she shares her experiences as a writer, runs a fun literary quiz and takes questions, is at The Denton, Worthing Pier, at 7pm on Wednesday March 2. Tickets £10, including a glass of Prosecco. The event, which also includes a raffle and art and craft stalls, is in aid of St Barnabas Hospice and run in conjunction with Northbrook Friends of St Barnabas. For tickets, phone 07790 527787. For more details about St Barnabas, phone 01903 706300 or visit