Jane Fallon is the author of 9 novels, all Sunday Times bestsellers, including Getting Rid of Matthew, Strictly Between Us, Faking Friends and most recently, Tell Me A Secret. She is a former TV producer responsible for shows such as This Life and Teachers.
1. Describe a typical day for you?
I get up early (as early as 5 in the spring and summer, when I typically am writing a first draft). I hate lying in bed in the mornings, the minute I wake up I want to get up. I think it comes from a lifetime of insomnia, lying in bed is synonymous with trying, and failing to sleep. My brain works best in the morning anyway, so I tend to work then, to get in a couple of hours before there are any distractions. Then, ideally the rest of the day will include a long walk, a workout and a nap (I swear by the afternoon nap). I wind down in the evenings by cooking. I love cooking.
2. What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Having a novel published seemed like an impossible dream to the young me, so to now be writing my tenth is incredible. I’m very proud of the fact that I always stood up for myself in my TV career (I was a producer for about 11 years, and before that a script editor) and fought back furiously against the pressure to always cast from the same tiny pool of actors and make dramas that were pastiches of previous successful shows. It was exhausting, and all the commissioners thought I was a pain in the arse, but I’m proud of the shows I made.
3. What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
I only ever carry a bag when I go out in the evenings, and then it’s the smallest I can find that will fit my phone, money, keys and lipgloss. During the day I stuff all those things in my pockets. I’m often to be seen with my phone tucked into my waistband. I hate carrying a bag.
4. What are your ambitions in life?
To be able to keep writing (and getting published) and to run and live on a small animal sanctuary. I have no particular desire to live to a great age, just as long as I’m healthy and still enjoying life.
5. What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
That you really don’t have to worry about what anyone else is doing. Just do your thing the best way you can. There’s nothing to be gained by comparing yourself to others.
6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Still writing, only now surrounded by animals. Hopefully with my now 15 year old cat, Ollie, still going strong.
7. What advice would you give a budding author?
Keep plugging away. Find a voice that works for you (this took me till I was 45!) and don’t worry about what people tell you is hot or not right now. Don’t try to write a crime thriller just because you think it’ll sell when your natural strengths lie in romance or sci fi. When you’re thinking of a story, think what you have to bring to it that’s unique. I find it helpful to plough on through a first draft without revising anything and then go back and start the rewrites. That way you don’t get stuck in a loop of polishing the first chapter over and over again and never progressing. Also you learn so much about your characters and story while you write the first draft and that will help you reshape the whole thing. Never submit a true first draft unless you’re some kind of genius. The first drafts I hand in have been worked on until I can’t see the wood for the trees and need some outside input. They’re third drafts at least.
8. If relevant, can you share any parenting advice?
I don’t have kids so yes, I am full of judgemental parenting advice. All of which I should keep to myself.
9. Finally, happiness is… being at home with my boyfriend, my cat, a bottle of wine and a Scandi boxset.
Tell Me a Secret is out now. You can buy it on Amazon here.