Jane Fallon—Books by my bedside

Eva Mackevic

Jane Fallon talks about the books that inspired her, why she always has a book to read and her latest novel, Faking Friends

What’s currently on your bedside table (and why)?

Ruth Jones’ Never Greener, which I’ve been sent to read and am enjoying hugely, along with a travel guide to Berlin as I’m off there for the first time this week and I like to plan exhaustively before I visit anywhere new. I studied it so much I could probably give directions round the city centre if anyone asked. And there’s a huge pile of “To be read next” that includes The Image of You by Adele Parks and The Good Father by Noah Hawley.

Which books would you recommend to your closest friend right now, and why?

That’s a hard one—it depends which friend, and whether they’re looking for a light holiday read or something to get their teeth into. But I’ve recommended Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman to quite a few people this year, along with Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land, The Break by Marian Keyes, The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel, Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple and He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly.

Which book/s are you planning to take on your next journey, and why?

Like I said, I’m going away this week and I’m planning on taking Fiona Neill’s The Betrayals. I’ve loved her other books and I’ve heard this one’s really good. She’s fantastic at writing messy families. I’ll also trawl the iBook charts and load my phone up with a few random things in case of being caught out anywhere without a paperback on me.

I can’t bear to be without a book to read. So long as I have one—in any format—I’m happy anywhere. And, while I still prefer to have a physical book in my hands I love the idea that on the phone you can read a sizeable sample before you commit to buy. I try everything and I’ve found so many great books I might never have bought otherwise that way, like Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon and Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin.

Tell us about your latest book

Faking Friends is about a toxic friendship. I think we’ve all had one along the line. Amy and Mel have been best mates since they were 11, but when Amy discovers Mel has been sleeping with her fiancé, Jack, while she’s been working away she decides to exact her revenge while not telling Mel or Jack she knows their secret. I love revenge stories. There’s something so satisfying about watching someone regain the upper hand but also in seeing how that changes them.

Do you discuss your own work-in-progress with anyone?

Not really. I find, with a novel, that by the time I’ve filled someone in on the whole plot so I can pick their brains about something, I’ve forgotten what I was going to ask them.

 

Which book made you want to write?

I always wanted to write but the book that made me feel I might be able to give it a go was Praxis by Fay Weldon. I was about 15 and up till then, since I’d grown out of The Famous Five and Malory Towers I’d mainly been reading classics. I was trying to find a style of writing that spoke to me and I was poking round my older sister Clare’s bookshelves when I came across this.

It was so unlike anything I’d ever read. The style was much looser, much more relaxed. It was the point at which I realised that engaging people with the story was the point; it wasn’t about trying to impress someone with your extensive vocabulary. Having said that it was another 30 years before I really found my own personal style. A way to write that felt true to me.

 

If you weren’t writing you’d be...?

Going quietly insane while still producing TV drama. Not that I didn’t enjoy it while I was doing it. I’m incredibly proud of some of the work I did. But TV is all about compromise. It’s a very collaborative art form—which is great, but that can sometimes be quite wearing. And often result in the end product being a bland blend of too many people’s ideas. I love that for eight or nine months of the year I’m in a bubble. It’s just me. I have tunnel vision. Nothing goes into my book that I don’t want in there. And then I hand it over and my editor will make a couple of devastating, brilliant suggestions that make all the loose ends fall into place. I love the editing process.