Jane Fallon discusses her new book release
Jane Fallon discusses her new book release

She has lived a life less ordinary alongside her long-time partner Ricky Gervais, but Jane Fallon is very much a star in her own right.

After her latest novel became her 11th to find a place on the Sunday Times Bestsellers List, this former EastEnders script writer and producer spoke exclusively to Female First about her latest compelling book, Worst Idea Ever, that taps into the darker side of Twitter.

When Georgia sets up a Twitter account under a fake name in an effort to boost the confidence of her friend Lydia, the consequences are devastating and as Jane told us, the perils of social media platforms have become part an ever-changing modern world.

In the first part of our interview here, we look at Jane's writing inspirations and the perils of social media...

Where did you get the idea for this latest book?

There was an incident a couple of years ago where someone was viciously trolling my followers, clearly in an effort to get at me. Other accounts then joined in, but it became clear when you looked at the way the tweets were written the punctuation that it was the same person running all the accounts. The quirks in the way they wrote that may it obvious that it was the same person.

I just thought how freakin' weird is it that someone gets pleasure from pretending to be multiple people that are piling abuse on someone on Twitter.

It did start me thinking that you have no idea who you are talking to and it gave me the idea for this book; what if you were talking to someone on Twitter that you know, yet you don't know it's them?

Is social media bad for us or can you see the positive aspects within it?

I keep my Twitter as a really happy place. I'm just not interested in getting into arguments with people I don't know as I just don't see the point in wasting my time on that. The hint of anyone saying anything negative and I just mute them. But social media can have its up sides!

During the pandemic, it has been a lifeline for a lot of people. For those who have been forced to isolate on their own, it has been an incredible way to stay in touch with the outside world and if it is used correctly, social media can be a force for good. I genuinely really enjoy it, but you have to remember that it is not real life.

What do you think of the 'cancel culture', when social media plays a role in bringing down the career of someone in double quick time?

These moments when people are taken down for something they say on social media are interesting. It tends to come in like a wave and sweep the person away, but sometimes they deserve a chance to fight back a bit and put their side across. But this is the gang mentality of something like this. Gangs are terrifying generally, but when everyone gets together on a social media platform and you are on the wrong side of it, I'd imagine its terrifying.

I'm really glad social media wasn't around when I was young because the idea of putting yourself on there when you are 14 and for whatever you did then, to come back to haunt you in years to come, is terrifying.

Did you always want to be a writer?

It kicked in at the age of five. All I did was read books and try and write my own little novels. My Mum and Dad has a newspaper shop and we had a paperback stand. I used to write little tiny books and asked them whether they would sell them in the shop because clearly I thought I was a genius!

I always thought that writing novels was something other people did or maybe you had to be born into a literary family. I just felt it was something other people did, something completely unattainable. That's the reason why I went into TV and scripts, as I felt I could satisfy my desire to be a writer in that world and I did for a while. Working on EastEnders was fantastic, but in my heart of hearts I always wanted to write novels.

Do the stories of your real life friends end up in your books?

You can't help but allow real life to creep in and friends are wary of telling me their juicy stories. They might say they are not going to use it, but it bubbles away at the back of your mind and it might come up again five years later. Now I get friends telling me stories about their other friends rather than themselves.

Real life stories are so juicy and always have twists and turns in them that you might not expect and that's one of things I have missed about going to coffee shops in the last year. Sitting there and listening to someone on the next table talking about the latest crisis they are encountering is one of the great fascinations in life. Everything is potential material for a book, that's how I see the world now.

Jane Fallon's new book Worst Idea Ever is available now.

Words by Kevin Palmer for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @RealKevinPalmer.

MORE FROM BOOKS: Seven things I'd like my readers to know about me, by Vicki Bradley