The Writing Life of: Jane Risdon
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Jane Risdon. Jane will be sharing with us detail of her writing life, telling us all about her book ‘Only One Woman‘, which was released on 24th May 2018 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
Jane Risdon is the co-author of Only One Woman with Christina Jones (Accent Press) and Undercover: Crime Shorts (Plaisted Publishing) as well as being included in 15 anthologies and numerous online magazines and newsletters.
Before turning her hand to writing she was in the International Music Business working with singer/songwriters, musicians, record producers and she placed music soundtracks on movies and television series internationally.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
As a child I was an avid reader and I wanted to become a writer like Robert Louis Stevenson or Enid Blyton but I also harboured a desire to sing, dance, and act like Doris Day and Ginger Rogers. Actually I got my dream job on both counts. Firstly I worked in the entertainment business – the international music business – and in latter years realised my dream to write full-time as well.
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
My favourite childhood authors were Enid Blyton and a host of adventure writers, including Robert Louis Stevenson and James Fenimore Cooper.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
I’m not sure when I realised I wanted to be a writer. I think it has always been my desire but I recall receiving prizes at school for English literature and English language and thinking that I enjoyed writing the stories which were considered by the school for the award, won aged about 13, I think.
My English master, Mr Kilner, was a former actor and found my writing worthy enough to be put forward for the award without telling me. He made our lessons so exciting and interesting.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
My average day. Let me think. Well, my average day is certainly very different to my average day for almost 50 years when working with musicians; nothing average about those days. I guess my day starts whenever I feel like it. I answer emails and messages, deal with social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MeWe, and so on, before spending a couple of hours on book promotion. I may have written interviews to conjure up or blog posts for my own blog, or for other blogs to write.
Unless I decide to write in the morning – quite possible – I spend the afternoon writing, reviewing, or editing my stories. Some evenings I carry on unless I’ve driven myself nuts and have called it a day to watch a thriller or documentary on TV. Not wildly exciting I know, but I’ve been there, done that, on the road with rock bands. For me, it’s a quiet life. I think I’ve earned it.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
Cripes I’ve written loads of books. I have about 5 novels, including a sequel to Only One Woman, lounging on my computer alongside about 100 short stories. Most completed but in need of some TLC before I put them out to my publisher.
I’ve contributed towards 15 published anthologies and written for online newsletter and magazines which have some of my short stories. However, although I thought I’d have my crime series, Ms Birdsong Investigates, published first – book one is still in with my publisher – a novel I’d co-written with Christina Jones, life-long friend, and successful romance author – Only One Woman – beat Ms B to publication.
I recently went over to the dark side and self-published Undercover: Crime Shorts, my first collection of short stories. My publisher doesn’t publish collections for solo authors so I am free to publish my shorts wherever I want. I thought I’d try self-publishing.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I do not plot. I don’t know if I should or not. Many successful authors including Peter James do not plot so I understand. I never know what is going to come out of my head until I start to type.
I have a name for the book or for a character, or a vague idea of a story, but nope, I cannot plot. If I did I’d become impatient to get to the ending and it would lose excitement for me. I am a pantser and proud.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher -Accent Press
Pages – 490
Release Date – 24th May 2018
ISBN 13 – 978-1783757312
Format – ebook, paperback
Two women, one love story.
June 1968. Renza falls head over heels for heartthrob guitarist Scott. But after a romantic summer together they are torn apart when Renza’s family moves away.
December 1968. On the night she believes to be her last, Stella meets Scott at a local dance. He’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and if this one night is all they have, she’ll take it.
As the final colourful year of the sixties dawns, the question is: can there be only one woman for Scott?
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
Only One Woman is set in the UK music scene of 1968/69 and both Christina and I know that era well. I was 16 and she was 19. My husband (then boyfriend) is a musician and the music scene was magical and new and vibrant during the sixties and I learned so much, met so many exciting people, that I kept diaries and still do, of all our exploits. Later we went into business together managing recording artists, songwriters, record producers, and placing music on TV and movie soundtracks so my understanding of the business is extensive – the diaries were a god-send. So were old posters, tour schedules, photos and the fan-mail his band received. I’d kept so much and often considered throwing it all out. Thankfully I didn’t.
Christina was employed as fan club secretary to my husband’s band because she was a rock/pop journalist and a short story writer, well placed to produce Newsletters, do PR etc for the band and because she’d interviewed so many stars her knowledge of that era is as good as mine. We both love the music and fashions of the sixties. It was a doddle really.
We didn’t need to do too much research, we had memories and experiences, but I know I double checked events, music charts, world events, and daily life, fashions, and food to ensure I didn’t make any mistakes. I’m sure Christina did too.
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
Do not laugh. I started Only One Woman in January 2012 and thought I’d completed it by the summer but then I wondered if something was missing. Christina and I have always wanted to write together, but she writes romance and I write crime so I didn’t think this was one we could write together. When I started the book I had an idea there’d be a murder somewhere but as it progressed I realised it wasn’t a crime story, but a romance of sorts. Cripes! Me writing a romance – I’d never even read one, so that came as a shock.
I sent the book – about 65,000 words – to Christina in 2012 and she agreed it needed another point of view and so she said she’d write another character, Stella, into the story. Christina was busy with other commitments and so it wasn’t until 2014 that she completed Stella. By the time she’d finished her parts the book had turned into a bit of a ménage et trois. She was incredibly clever to have written her characters into a plot already written by me, and with other characters in place.
It went into our publisher in 2014. I won’t go into the laborious details but various dates were set for publication and passed, and during this time we went through a few editors. One asked that we write more chapters each and so by the time we had finished Only One Woman, it came in at about 160,000 words. 500 pages. That was in the summer of 2017. Publication was set for 2018. Only One Woman from the first word written to the last took 6 years.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
The title of the book is taken from the hit single in 1968 written by The Bee Gees for The Marbles. The Marbles’ singer is now the iconic rock vocalist, Graham Bonnet, and because the song is featured in the story I asked Graham if he’d like to write the foreword to the book for us. He agreed and has written a wonderful detailed explanation of how he came to meet The Bee Gees with his now late cousin, Trevor Gordon, and how they helped to launch his musical career. I’m sure you’ve heard of Rainbow, Alcatraz, Richie Blackmore, and Michael Schenker, to name a few of his bands.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
Only One Woman is about a young teenage girl growing up with a controlling mother, who has to take care of her five siblings and therefore has little time to herself or for making friends. She is lonely and dreams of a life away from the lot of them. Renza is shy and not very sure of herself. She is actually very beautiful but totally unaware of her looks. Her mother makes her feel ugly, fat and stupid.
When rock band, Narnia’s Children, arrive in her village from The Channel Islands she is the last to know they have moved in nearby. The lead guitarist, Scott, sees her and instantly falls in love with her. I won’t ruin the story but they have a few dates before Renza moves overseas with her family for three years. Scott is bereft. Renza is his dream girl. They plan to marry one day. He comes from a broken home and to him Renza is everything.
Lonely, Renza continues with her drudgery in Germany, missing Scott and wondering if he is being faithful or not. Scott is miserable and touring and recording takes his mind off Renza – until he locks eyes with Stella across the stage one night.
Stella has a major operation coming up and thinks she’s going to die under the knife and is out with her best friend, Vix, for one night of fun before her life ends. Then she meets Scott and all caution is thrown to the wind. Stella is an only child and her home life is completely different from Renza’s.
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
Publication was strange really. I’d signed with Accent Press in 2014 when they’d taken short stories I’d written for two anthologies they were publishing. They signed me for everything I write. I’d just submitted a crime novel – first in a series called Ms Birdsong Investigates – about a former MI5 intelligence officer and my mind was focused on that book before Only One Woman ever went near them. I planned to submit Ms B first.
Unknown to me Christina was out of her contract with one of the major publishers and had also signed with Accent.
When I first sent Christina Only One Woman – the summer of 2012 – she really loved it.
In 2014 she sent a short chapter and synopsis to Accent to test the water, and they loved it too. Only One Woman was signed without the rest of the book having been read, until edits began. So it was painless really. Ms Birdsong Investigates was to be put on hold until Only One Woman was published.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
My next writing project other than the recent publication of Undercover: Crime Shorts and promotion of it, is writing the sequel to Only One Woman which takes the story into the 1970s and to more exotic locations with Narnia’s Children and whichever woman Scott ends up with – if at all.
I have Ms Birdsong Investigates – book one – ready for publication – not sure if I’ll get it out through Accent or if I’ll look elsewhere. I’ve had to revamp it because so much time has passed since it was finished, and the other two books in the series are in various stages of completion too.
I guess I will complete the series whilst deciding what to do about the first book.
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
Super power, wow! I think I’d like to be able to make anything I wanted badly enough to happen but if it didn’t turn out the way I wanted, I could reverse things.
2) Do you have any pets?
I don’t have pets. With our former lifestyle it would not have been possible or kind to have kept any.
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
Autobiography? I guess in many respects Only One Woman comes close. It is fiction with lots of fact from the era included to make it more authentic…lots of world events, social changes and The Cold War are all covered as they shaped my life and those of the characters we created.
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
A movie of Only One Woman, now that would be fun. I think I’d take the role of Scott’s mother Eva who lives in Jersey, has lots of money and a life of Riley. Renza’s mother is tempting as it is meaty but I would get too upset acting that role.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Believe it or not I have never had a proper holiday. Since I left school I have worked non-stop and being married to a musician and later managing musicians, my life has been one long recording, concert and travel schedule: planes, cars, buses, limos – you name it. All over the world with never much time for a Kodak moment, a proper night’s sleep or anything else.
We’ve always had a few hours off here and there, but never long enough to play tourist or properly relax. Now that I write, we are still waiting for the time to take one.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
‘who gave you permission to wear my feather boa?’
I would like to say a big thank you to Jane Risdon for sharing with us details of her writing life and for a wonderful interview.