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the write stuff Jane Fallon reveals how Twitter trolls inspired her new novel and why she's proud of her Irish heritage

The best-selling author and award-winning television producer tells Kevin Palmer she no longer feels the need to shy away from talking about partner Ricky Gervais

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THE WRITE STUFF: Jane Fallon

THE WRITE STUFF: Jane Fallon

Jane Fallon with partner Ricky Gervais when they were younger

Jane Fallon with partner Ricky Gervais when they were younger

Her new book Worst Idea Ever

Her new book Worst Idea Ever

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THE WRITE STUFF: Jane Fallon

She could have been the back seat driver behind one of the world's most powerful comedic forces, yet Jane Fallon has long since become a star in her own right.

A best-selling author and award-winning television producer, Fallon's eagerness to remain in the shadows while her partner Ricky Gervais became a global superstar initially ensured that her face was rarely thrust into the spotlight.

Yet after her latest novel added to her list of entries on The Sunday Times best-seller list, Jane no longer feels the need to shy away from talking about Ricky or a life that was transformed from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

As she told Magazine+ in an exclusive interview to promote her latest gripping novel, Worst Idea Ever, Fallon believes she has succeeded in carving out her own plinth in a star-studded household.

"I've got used to publicity now, though I would never say I enjoy it," begins the scribe, whose father hails from Dublin - but more of that later.

"When my first book came out and I started doing publicity, I was worried that every question would be people asking me about Ricky and I was keen to get away from that and carve out my own niche. Now that I'm on book number 11, I think I have done that."

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Jane Fallon with partner Ricky Gervais when they were younger

Jane Fallon with partner Ricky Gervais when they were younger

Jane Fallon with partner Ricky Gervais when they were younger

Jane was a success story in television long before the partner she met in their university days hit the big-time courtesy of his breakthrough show The Office in 2001, with her role as a scriptwriter and producer on BBC soap EastEnders introducing her to a world of celebrity years before the curious phenomenon ever landed on her own doorstep.

She admits her style of writing has some echoes to her days working with the regulars at The Queen Vic in Albert Square, with short paragraphs and chapters that end with cliffhanger storylines an echo of her past life.

"The primary reason I got into TV was I wanted to be a writer and I started writing my own little novels when I was five," she says.

"My mum and dad had a newspaper shop and we had a paperback book stand. I used to write tiny books and asked them whether they would sell them in the shop because, clearly, I believed 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.

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"So I went into TV and scripts, as I felt that could satisfy my desire to be a writer.

"Working on EastEnders was fantastic, but in my heart of hearts I always wanted to write novels and now that I'm doing it, I love it.

"You can still see aspects of my EastEnders background in the books I am writing, as each chapter ends on something of a cliffhanger, as the show does."

Her latest novel sees lead character Georgia dip her toe in the murky world of burner social media accounts, as she sets up a Twitter page under the fake name of Patricia to compliment her friend Lydia as she struggles to believe she can make it as an artist.

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Her new book Worst Idea Ever

Her new book Worst Idea Ever

Her new book Worst Idea Ever

What follows is a dismantling of her own life as she lives through Patricia, with Fallon revealing the idea was spawned through personal experience.

"There was an incident a couple of years ago where someone was viciously trolling my followers on Twitter," she explains.

"Other accounts then started to join 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 made it obvious that it was the same person.

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

"It got 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?

"That is where the idea came from and social media is such an interesting world to tap into. I'm really glad Twitter 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.

"But social media can have its positive side as well. During the pandemic, it has been a lifeline for a lot of people, but you have to remember that it is not real life."

Fallon's Irish heritage has become precious to her in recent years and especially since Britain's exit from the EU, which has inspired her to take it to the next level.

"My dad was Irish, from Dublin, and his family were originally from Athlone," she says. "Now I have Irish citizenship and I'm just applying for my passport. You are still in the EU and it's such a gorgeous place. I've always had a lot of love for the Irish.

"Getting my Irish passport is important to me and I can't wait to get hold of it. My sister lives in Italy and if I want to go and visit, it will be much simpler to use now that Britain has left the EU.

"I would love to look into my family history and have a journey around Ireland. Hopefully we can all start to look at travelling again very soon."

Life has certainly changed for Jane and Ricky since their days struggling to pay the heating bills in a dingy flat perched above a seedy sauna in London's King's Cross, yet theirs is a success story worthy of celebration.

Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon is out now

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