Novelist Jane Fallon recalls the holidays of her youth in Devon, and how she and her partner, Ricky Gervais, gravitate to the coast when travelling

Interview: Alex Reece

Even though I spend a lot of time in the Brighton area, which I love, the place that evokes loads of memories for me is the North Devon coast. My parents had a real affinity with the area, because Dad was stationed at Braunton in the war and Mum used to sneak down and see him. So they started taking us there when I was an early teenager.

We would always go out of season, and that’s my favourite time to go anywhere like that. We used to go down to Braunton or Saunton, which is on the coast. My parents were big walkers and I remember me and one of my sisters slightly grumpily huffing along the beach in our big coats with the wind blowing. It was very rare that my parents would take time off together, because we had a shop, so it was a really nice time for them. We would do lots of walks and eat nice food.

I’m not really keen on sunny seaside holidays when it’s busy and you lie around. When I used to go down and visit my mum in Brighton, where she was living for the last 30 years of her life, again I used to love it when it was out of season. I think there’s nothing like the coastal air when it’s windy and blowy and the weather’s not amazing. It just clears your head so beautifully.

The last time Ricky and I took a holiday that was just a holiday was in 2005 – that was in Venice. It’s partly because we’re both quite bad at holidays and also because we travel so much with work. For example, he’s been on tour the last couple of years, so I wrote my new novel, Tell Me A Secret, mostly in hotel rooms all over the world. The book is about workplace jealousy and discovering that the person you thought had your back really doesn’t. I do like to write about toxic friendships!

Wherever we go, we always gravitate to boatyards and marinas and places like that. I just think they’re fascinating. I find it very inspiring walking along the coast, thinking of ideas.

Tell Me A Secret by Jane Fallon is out now in paperback (£7.99, Michael Joseph).

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