Last week Only One Woman by Christina Jones and Jane Risdon was in the spotlight here on Rainne’s Ramblings.
Today I have Jane Risdon here with me and she has agreed to answer a few questions.
Hi Jane, thank you for joining us.
Hi Rainne, thanks so much for asking me here today, it’s wonderful to chat with you and your readers.
Would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself and your background, please?
Where to begin? I met my husband back in the late 1960s when his band arrived in England to record and tour and we’ve been together ever since. We have one son who lives in California with his wife and their three children.
Married to a musician my life has never been what you call normal I guess. He recorded and toured and I held down a ‘proper’ job in the early years – I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall, and in various other government departments until we decided to go into the ‘talent’ side of the music business.
We built an International Music Management company together, managing and producing singer-songwriters, record producers, musicians and bands of all musical genres, as well as working on TV and Movie soundtracks – and on some other areas of movie and TV production too – and most things music related. We lived mostly in the USA, Taiwan, Singapore, and of course England. We’ve had some interesting adventures.
How did your journey as a writer begin?
I’ve always wanted to write but with our lifestyle it was never practical. Babysitting testosterone fuelled young men and hormone crazed young female singers never allowed for time to ourselves. We lived life in the fast lane, to quote the Eagles.
Back in the 1960s my husband’s fan-club secretary, Christina Jones, was also a rock journalist and short story writer for teen magazines and she knew I wanted to write and we always said we would write together one day. Trouble is I had an eye on writing crime thrillers. She went on to become a successful best-selling, award-winning author of what she calls Bucolic Frolics, so how we’d ever write together was a conundrum.
Fast forward many years and I found time to write and started – on the quiet – writing crime stories for anthologies and I began work on a few novels. She asked to read what I’d written and after some discussion we decided to get on with it and write together. By this time I was already signed with Accent Press – oddly she was also signed with them by then as she’d ended her former publishing contracts with the ‘big’ boys.
I have never written anything remotely classed as ‘romantic’ so it has been a journey for me writing Only One Woman with Christina. There aren’t any dead bodies, crimes to solve, just a rollicking good tale of two girls in love with the same musician back in the late 1960s. I cannot tell you how I itched to find somewhere to stick a corpse.
What inspired Only One Woman, and how did you come up with the title?
Inspiration for OOW (as we call it) was something that came from the ether. Christina and I wanted to write together but as I said before, she and I write in completely different genres. Finding something we could write about together seemed a distant fantasy. In 2012 I moved house and as I was going through some boxes I came across my husband’s old tour schedules, posters, fan letters, and some of our old diaries and I began to make notes. These soon became little chapters under diary date headings and before I knew it I’d written Renza’s story and it cried out for another voice. I sent it via email to Christina and she loved it and started writing her parts which turned into Stella’s story. This went on until 2014 when it went into our publisher who wanted to publish it later that summer. We wrote by email, text and Facebook messages – very 21st century! Due to various comings and goings at our publisher it has taken until November 2017 or it to be published. I learned patience in the recording studio making records and working with young musicians – just as well!
Only One Woman is the title of a single written by The Bee Gees which was a massive hit for The Marbles – lead singer Graham Bonnett went on to be a super-star with Rainbow and many other bands. In fact Graham and his girlfriend are reading OOW and he is going to write a foreword for the main Paper-back (for stores worldwide and audio) publication 24th May 2018. He just needs to find time as he is recording and touring at the moment. Fingers crossed. OOW is peppered with songs and musical references. It is about the blossoming UK music scene late 1968/69. We have our own YouTube playlists.
What is your favourite scene from Only One Woman? Can you give us a peek?
Gosh, now there is a question. I don’t really have a favourite scene – I love them all but how about when 16 year old convent girl, Renza, is taken by her new boyfriend, lead guitarist Scott, to a gig on Salisbury Plain with Narnia’s Children for the first time and she experiences ‘the swinging sixties’ full on. This is part way through a chapter. Renza is at an after-gig party with some weird and wonderful hippies and musicians….
Renza’s Diary from Only One Woman:
June 29th 1968 – later
…A girl in a tight fitting bolero top and hipster trousers came over to us and flung her arms round Scott, kissing him on the mouth, a bit too long and hard for my liking. Scott didn’t seem in too much of a hurry to push her away, and she melted into him as if she was trying to come out the other side.
‘Scott lover, how’s it hanging?’ She sounded just like Fenella Fielding, all breathy and wanton.
‘Yeah Scott, just how is it hanging?’ I snapped and flounced off to where I could see Rich sitting on his own, hugging a beer.
‘Hi Renza, babe, what’s up?’ Rich held the glass up to me in greeting and took another drag on his ciggy.
‘Who’s that girl talking to Scott?’ I asked plonking myself down next to him on the huge bean bag. We both nearly fell off as it settled itself with my extra weight.
‘Hey, don’t waste good beer babe.’ Rich held his glass away from me as I wriggled to get comfy.
‘Rich, who is she?’ I asked again as I saw her drape herself all over Scott and nestle into his shoulder. The bitch! Scott didn’t seem too bothered.
‘She used to help Stephan – he’s the band’s manager I told you about earlier – in the office in Jersey and then she came to the mainland with her boyfriend. She’s no one important, she sometimes hangs with the band when we’re over.’
I watched her like a hawk. Scott looked over and waved. The nerve!
Rich took a few gulps of beer and patted my leg. ‘Don’t fret about Scott, he’s mad about you. She’ll get the message after tonight.
I looked round the grubby room with its crates and boxes, and fake Greek Taverna decorations hanging from the walls, the fake fishing nets, glass baubles attached, and wine bottles with candles burning in them. And the couples seething in a mass on the floor, in the shadows, and on the cushions, doing goodness knows what, and I wanted to go home.
Actually, I wanted to get Scott to myself. Back home. In the village. Where things were normal.
‘Magical Mystery Tour’ came on and I suddenly thought about having to miss The Beatles at the Hammersmith Odeon, because I was ‘Mrs Spoffington’ in the school play, and couldn’t get out of it. Instead of The Beatles giving me the thrill of my life I was stuck on stage singing ‘Oh I do like to be beside the sodding sea-side,’ to a hall full of boring parents. Not that mine bothered to go.
‘Rich, mate, hi. Good gig. Stephan about tonight?’ A huge man of about thirty came up to us and nodded at me. ‘Want to sort some stuff out with him.’
He was wearing beads and a kaftan with an orange and green squiggly pattern on it, and had his ears pierced. His long black hair hung in tight curls around his shoulders. Mum would just love him.
‘Oh Renza, this is Psychedelic Smith,’ Rich said. ‘Remember we told you about him, he’s our fixer.’ I remembered. Apparently he was helping Stephan get Narnia’s Children a record deal. Everyone had to kiss up to him I was told. Well, thankfully, I don’t.
Psychedelic Smith dismissed me with a brief smile before turning back to Rich.
‘Stephan’s back in the smoke mate, got Top of the Pops with The White Knights, so he’s gotta be there for that.’ Rich drained his glass and put it on the floor next to him.
‘Right, yeah, going up the charts fast. That’s cool, I’ll ring him later. I’m in town tomorrow and want to arrange some record company auditions for the guys. Got some label interest.’
‘Do I need to re-organise anything for the boys?’ Rich asked.
‘Nope, I’ll sort some dates out with Stephan, he’ll let you know in good time. I’ve got some songs lined up for the guys to hear, so we’ll sort some dates for visiting publishers in town, too.’
I couldn’t help wondering what mum and Mrs Digby would say if Psychedelic Smith turned up in the village to visit the band. I giggled quietly.
Psychedelic Smith began to roll a ciggy and offered one to Rich. .
Rich shook his head and got to his feet. ‘Nah, mate, gotta drive back soon or her Mum’ll kill me if she’s not home on time, won’t she, babe?’ Rich smiled at me and looked at his watch, then went off to round up the band.
Psychedelic Smith took a few more drags and offered me one. I shook my head. I could just see me floating in the front door with Mum waiting up to look me over and make sure I hadn’t ‘been up to anything’.
The Demis Russos look-alike shrugged and headed for the kitchen. Dad would have a blue fit if he knew I was ‘fraternizing,’ with blokes in dresses.
I knew the only reason I’d been allowed out so late with the band was because Mum quite liked Rich and he’d sweet-talked her into letting me go to the gig. God! If she could see me now, in this horrible house with everyone stoned, she’d have a migraine for a week worrying in case the village found out.
I looked at my watch. If we didn’t leave soon I was going to be seriously late and that would mean all hell breaking loose. Scott was nowhere to be seen now and Rich was chatting to ‘The Bitch’ by the food. I know it is horrid calling her that but she’s got right up my nose, wall-papering herself all over Scott.
People were still wrestling on the floor which meant I had to watch where I looked: I didn’t want to appear a Peeping Tom, though it was hard not to cast a sly glance now and again. I mean, seriously, some were actually ‘at it’ in full view. Anyone would look, wouldn’t they?
Thinking about it, how do you ‘do it’ in public without all your bits and stuff being on show? I couldn’t see anything, you know, rude or anything, but they were definitely ‘doing it’, I just couldn’t fathom how.
‘You look deep in thought,’ Scott made me jump, ‘what’re you looking at?’
Before I could answer he followed my gaze to the nearest couple. He threw his head back and laughed loudly. I blushed as if I’d been caught out doing something naughty.
‘Ah!’ he said, ‘I see.’
I felt really stupid. I could feel the heat rising up my neck to my face, thank goodness it was so gloomy.
‘Bit of an education eh?’ He grabbed my arm and led me through to what could only be called an apology for a kitchen. ‘Can you wait here while I get the others? We should leave now. Don’t move. I won’t be long.’
And off he went again….
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
I have to say Stella, as she is the sophisticated, worldly, gorgeous babe Renza would love to be and she has the best scenes I think. I am sure everyone is routing for her throughout the book. She seems to have the most fun with Scott.
What do you enjoy most about writing…?
Reading the finished product back to myself and thinking I’ve gone as far as I can with the story and then getting feedback from my husband – poor man has to read it all.
And what motivates you to write?
I love chatting and relating stories, writing them is just a step further. I spent a lonely childhood – eldest of a large family with siblings a lot younger than I – reading and writing kept me sane. I find writing helps turn the pressure cooker off inside my head when something is giving me grief. Also, living the life we’ve led there are so many stories to tell, so many characters we’ve met who did the most outrageous things – all fodder for a writer. How could I not write about some of it! Hollywood is stranger than fiction for starters.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
No I cannot do that. I can write to a deadline and word count if told to but I don’t break it up into hours or days. I just write until I get tired, or other things call for my attention.
Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?
Well, I guess so, who doesn’t? Indirectly, subconsciously, we all must. There are some events which I’ve experienced which would be criminal not to include in my stories, however, I am always conscious of not stepping too far out of line and waking up with a horse’s head in the bed or concrete boots on! One has to be very careful.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Names are important to me but funnily enough names just pop into my head and they are usually very pertinent to the character I am writing. Sometimes it is a name which gives me inspiration for the book.
Your stories have appeared in a few anthologies, did this experience help move you to writing your novel?
I’ve had several novels on the go simultaneously as well as writing short stories and flash fiction at the same time, so it has not helped or hindered me really. Short stories and flash fiction are great for concentrating the mind, making every word and sentence count. I tend not to go in for long sentences or chapters when I can help it. Keeping the pace up.
Could you give us a brief synopsis of one (your favourite) of the stories?
Wow this is difficult. I love all my stories – I can’t help it. As it is Christmas (as I write this it is, anyway**) I will tell you a little about ‘Merry Christmas Everybody,’ published by Accent Press in the anthology ‘Wishing on a Star.’ The title is from The Slade hit.
It is based on true events one Christmas when we were recording in a studio in the North of the UK, owned by a super-star guitarist. We were working with a now deceased producer and I have exaggerated events a lot, and of course indulged in poetic license.
Twister is in the studio recording their follow-up album to their last massive hit and tensions are rising as the band work day and night to keep to their recording schedule and budget. Time is money. Their new producer obviously doesn’t like them and there’s no love lost on Twister’s side either. Daily they meet to review the previous night’s work but something’s wrong with the previous two night’s recordings – there’s keyboards all over the track and no-one in the rock band has played keyboards on the tracks and won’t be either. They are not bloody Night Ranger for goodness sakes. The producer is furious and accuses the band of sabotage and the band accuse him, but it soon becomes clear that other forces are at work…soon the atmosphere erupts and violence ensues…
**My apologies for the delay in getting this interview posted
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am an avid reader, I love photography and can be found with my camera photographing the countryside, wild-life and ancient churches, cathedrals and villages – some of which are later locations for my stories. I do family history research, I love astronomy and science and I am a history buff. Actually I’m curious about everything so keep my mind active with all manner of activities. I have undertaken 7 university courses since 2015, mostly studying Forensic Science and Criminal Justice so that I can have a basic understanding and knowledge for my crime writing.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I first wanted to be Doris Day and then I decided I’d love to dance with Fred Astaire so you can see a theatrical streak appearing. As a teen I wanted to be a writer and had hoped to work as an apprentice journalist on the Sunday Times with a dream of being a War Correspondent – the school careers officer soon put paid to that idea. I ended up working for the government for years until the theatrical side was satisfied when I managed bands etc.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
Oh cripes I read and read…I love reading. I love so many authors, but here are a few: Kathy Reichs, Tess Gerritsen, Karin Slaughter, Michael Connolly, Peter James, Steall Rimington, Frederick Forsythe, John le Carre, Roger A Price, and so many more. Anyone writing crime and espionage basically.
You’re stranded on a desert island and you can take three people who would they be and why?
My husband, my son, and Professor Brian Cox because we can all talk about music and science and argue about UFO’s and so on.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
That is a huge ask. I would love your readers to seek out my writing – I have a wide and diverse range of work from crime to ghost stories (not too scary) to basic fiction, and therefore I hope to have something for everyone. Only On Woman has been an epic undertaking second only to my Ms Birdsong Investigates series – in with my publisher still. Like all writers we need readers who review and are happy to share their thoughts on Amazon and GoodReads. For some reason it makes the publishers happy and any agents looking at an author. I have stories in two anthologies last December: Ghostly Writes Anthology 2017, and Stab in the Dark: Christmas Capers 2017 – both best-sellers on Amazon.
Oh! And if you want a giggle….Only One Woman was put in the wrong category on amazon and we had a little wait for them to put it elsewhere (still not right but better). They put it in BDSM and Erotica – it went to #33 in their chart. Hilarious but actually, not very helpful for us. It is Women’s Fiction and Saga but we are not holding our breath.
And finally, a few quick-fire questions if you don’t mind…
When was the last time you walked for more than an hour?
I walked in the lake district for a whole day.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
I’d love to Time Travel.
Are you an early riser or a night owl?
I am an owl and a lark. Working in the music business you learn to operate on little sleep and cannot afford to stay in bed and we mostly work at night anyway.
When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
I sing often and sometimes my husband and I sing duets and harmonise. It has to be done and we cannot help ourselves. It is in our blood.
Thank you for spending this time with us, Jane. If you wouldn’t mind leaving us some links before you get back to your busy schedule!
Thanks so much Raine. I loved doing this.
Here are my links. Not all my books are on amazon but my blog should provide links.
Only One Woman