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Barbarella Talks With Best-Selling Author ADELE PARKS About THE IMAGE OF YOU!

Hey, friends! Barbarella here. The Image of You, starring Sasha Pieterse (Pretty Little Liars), Parker Young (Imposters), Nestor Carbonell (The Dark Knight Rises), and Academy Award® winner Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), tells the story of twins Anna and Zoe, who find their bond tested when one of them falls in love. Skeptical Zoe digs for the dirt on Anna’s love interest, leading them into a web of deceit and desire.

Sasha Pieterse as “Zoe” in the thriller, THE IMAGE OF YOU. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures (a Paramount Pictures label).    

I had an opportunity to speak to best-selling author Adele Parks about her novel-turned-movie, and I have to tell you, I loved talking with her. She’s the kind of person I could spend days just absorbing the stories that she tells with passion, energy, and humor. I found her so engaging. I hope you will, too. Check it out. 

I want to start with a little icebreaker. What's the weirdest experience you've had while dating?

“Oh. I don’t know if I've had that many weird things. I think I've got quite a high threshold of what weird would be. Yeah, I have. Also, I'm a serial monogamist, and I've been married twice. I was married for seven years, and the very first night I went out after the divorce – which was quite a long time after the divorce – I met my second husband, so I haven't really done much dating. I should have done a lot more. No, I honestly, I'm absolutely stumped. So unlike me. I think the only quote from that is, I have a very high threshold of weird.”

You know, writers, you're creative, so you're probably making up stuff in your head that's way crazier than anything you've had to deal with.

“I think that is it. Even when I was going through my head, I was thinking, "No, that's not real; that's something I've made up.” Oh, I've got one! I wasn't even dating this guy, but it is pretty weird. This Italian guy took me to see the Pompeii Ruins, and his great uncle worked there, so he showed me side places, like things that the rest of the public hadn't seen. I turned around, and he dropped down on one knee and proposed. We hadn't even held hands. We had never kissed. We were not dating! It was really weird. His great uncle was there clapping, and I was like, "No, I'm not saying yes." I didn't know if it was cultural or what. It was like thirty-three years ago.”

Oh, wow. What gave you the idea for this story?

“I’m really interested in duality, what we choose to be, and what, if anything, is lurking elsewhere in our heads that we would like to be. I describe myself as somebody who colors within the lines. I follow all the rules. I'll sit at a red traffic light, even though it's at midnight, and there's literally nobody else around. There’s no traffic, and there hasn't been for fifteen minutes. I will still wait until it goes to green. I'm that girl. Part of me is always interested in girls who are not that girl, and they're pretty wild. I think it's really interesting, that dynamic when opposites attract. You might have a friend who's a bit more of a party animal and that sort of thing.

[L-R] Nestor Carbonell as “David” and Sasha Pieterse as “Anna” in the thriller, THE IMAGE OF YOU. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures (a Paramount Pictures label).

“In the book and now in the film, The Image Of You, we have Anna, who is over-sweet, I mean, much sweeter than I would ever say I was. She's really innocent. She's really naïve, a little bit to the point where you want to shake her and say, "You know what? The real world isn't like that." Her sister Zoe absolutely wants to shake her because Zoe is a bad girl, and she only sees the evil, the horror in the world, and she thinks the only way to meet that is to punch it back in the face. She’s a bad girl, too. They both control each other in a certain way. Anna is affected and infected by Zoe. I thought that was really interesting because I think we've all been in relationships where somebody is either leading you astray or teasing because you're a bit square. There’s nearly always a dynamic. You're rarely equally matched.

"I thought, how much more extreme would that be if the person who's pushing and pulling you looks identical to you? They are literally the image of you, but they're nothing like you. How does the world treat the pair of you? Do men treat you differently? Do men treat a sweet woman that looks one way differently from a racy, sexy woman who looks the same way but behaves very differently? Is she approached in a different way? I thought there was a lot to explore there. I look at duality in a number of my psychological thrillers. I seem somewhat obsessed by it. I've usually got a bigamist or an adulteress. There's always something going on. There's always a disruptive woman.”

[L-R] Parker Young as “Nick” and Sasha Pieterse as “Zoe” in the thriller, THE IMAGE OF YOU. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures (a Paramount Pictures label).

Would you walk us through how this went from a novel to a film? 

“Yes. It's such a fun story. I was introduced to a chap called Brad Krevoy from MPCA, who is a very experienced producer, and I was immediately terrified – not because he's terrifying, but because I have no experience whatsoever of film. – and he just said, "Oh, look, I've heard you write good books," to which I was like, "Yes, thank you." I've done twenty-three novels, twenty-three years; they've all been [London] Times top ten bestsellers. I'm pretty confident about my writing. 

“He said, "Tell me a story; pitch it to me." I was a bit taken on the back foot because I wasn't expecting to pitch. I quickly told him The Image Of You, and he went, "Right," but he didn't look that impressed. He said, "Anything else?" I gave him a second one, and he went, "Okay, anything else?" And I thought, "What's he looking for?" Gave him a third, I gave him a fourth, and then I just was at the point where I was thinking, “I'm leaving; this is hopeless. It's embarrassing everybody.” He just said, "Wow, you're a really good storyteller. I'll have them all."

"Sorry?" [I asked.] He said, "Yeah, I'm going to option them all." And I literally was like, "Thank you,” almost sneaking out the room, me thinking this man's going to change his mind. I didn't quite believe it. The negotiations went through, and the contracts were signed and all the rest of it. Then unfortunately, for the entire globe, COVID hit, and it all just went to sleep, and everything seemed really quiet. I was so bitterly disappointed, after years and years of saying I wasn't interested in doing any film or TV adaptations.

[L-R] Parker Young as “Nick” and Nestor Carbonell as “David” in the thriller, THE IMAGE OF YOU. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures (a Paramount Pictures label).

“I rang Brad and said, "What can I do?" And he said, "You know what, Adele? At this stage, no one is going to care as much as you. I have hundreds of things in options. There are thousands of things out there being pitched to studios. If you want this to happen, make it happen." He introduced me to this guy, Chris Sivertson, who is the screenplay writer, and it was locked down. Chris is out in LA, and I'm here in London. We’ve still never met. Via Zoom and during lockdown, we decided we would crack on. Hey, it was something to do. He was so generous with his experience and talking to me about what would or wouldn't work from a novel to film and how much action there would need to be. I remember having the book in front of me and crossing out pages thinking, "Well, that's all internal. That won't work [because] Chris said that wouldn't work." We started knocking ideas together and discussing the ending. We even changed the ending quite dramatically.

"He then wrote the screenplay, and sent it to me. I would make notes and send it back. We just had such fun. It all seemed exciting, and we sent it off to Brad. Brad loved it, and lots of people loved it, and I thought, "Okay, this is when it happens." No, this is when you get another pause for about a year, maybe longer, while all of the producers started putting the bricks together. Hats off to those people and the patience that's required, because it is like a jigsaw. 

“We knew we were on our way, but even then, I didn't really believe it until Brad rang me one day and said, "Okay Adele, we're shooting next week." The ticket arrived asking me to come over for the shoot, and even then, I was like, "Well, we'll see." Sometimes these films are made, and they still don't get distribution. I was vaguely cynical. That's why I'm not like Anna. I'm not like Zoe, but I'm not like Anna because I'm much more cynical about the world.

[L-R] Sasha Pieterse as “Anna” and Parker Young as “Nick” in the thriller, THE IMAGE OF YOU. Photo courtesy of Republic Pictures (a Paramount Pictures label).

"But in fact, this amazing thing happened, and it was relatively trouble free. I mean, I'm obviously glossing, there were obviously days where we thought we had somebody attached, and then it was disappointing because we didn't. Or there were days we thought we had budgets, and then we didn't. Or there were days we thought we were shooting, and then the weather would change. There have been challenges. I'm not going to pretend anything's super easy, but it's been such an extraordinary learning curve and really great fun. And indeed the same team -  the director, screenwriter, and myself – have got another one that's currently being filmed now."

Oh, that's exciting. Can you talk about that one at all?

"Only to say it's another psychological thriller. I can't even tell you which one of them it is. But yeah, and the cast is amazing. Last time I went throughout the entire shoot, which was fantastic. I'm not there this time, because they were doing this, and also I'm off to Tokyo, which is lovely. I'm looking at the dailies every night, and it's like my new obsession, watching hours and hours going, "That angle. Oh no, maybe a bit closer." Just the fun of that, it's extraordinary.”

So you're going to transition to directing at some point, right?

“I don't know. I mean, it's a really lovely idea, but it's a lot of work. It's not as easy as people imagine. I loved being part of the producing team. I love putting a team together. I love making things happen. I love greasing wheels and seeing other people shine and often do their thing. But actually, I think in my core, I adore sitting down in my own office, writing my words and having my world. I'm super excited to see how other people take my work. Perhaps I would like to do a screenplay. I think that would be the next stage if I were to do another stage.”

Knowing that the book is quite different from the movie, I’m eager to get my hands on it and read it, just to see what changes were made. If you are, too, we are giving away a couple signed copies of the book.  Check out the contest rules and how to enter here.

The film, The Image of You, is available today in select theaters and for purchase on Digital. Check out the trailer. 

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