Hi there everybody,
Today I’m talking to author Jane Risdon who 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.
Trish: Hi, Jane. It’s great to talk to you today.
Jane: Hi Trish, many thanks for asking me here, it is going to be great fun I know.
Trish: First of all, how long have you been writing?
Jane: Believe it or not I started writing many years ago whilst still a child at school. I read a lot and I suppose writing was a natural progression.
Since then I have written for a couple of music magazines - in my past incarnation - but never got around to writing a book due to the constraints of working in the international music business and never getting a spare moment. I tried writing back in the mid-1990s and a friend saw I was busy on my laptop and wanted to read what I’d written. She hated it, said I wrote nothing ‘like me,’ and quite honestly it stopped me in my tracks. I put the story away and decided to forget writing, even though it was my life-long dream.
Wind on almost 30 years and I began to mess around with some short stories and showed them to my lifelong friend and award-winning, best-selling author, Christina Jones, who encouraged me to carry on. We’d always wanted to write together by the way, but she is a romance author and what I’d written was mostly crime. I couldn’t see how we could write anything together. It’s a long story which you can read about in my various online interviews, if interested, but we eventually got to write together and in May 2018 our novel, Only One Woman, was published by Accent Press.
Once I started writing again, I found I couldn’t stop. At last I had more time on my hands, having retired from actively touring with bands and musicians. If something grabs my imagination, I have to write the story which pops into my head.
Trish: What kind of books do you write?
Jane: As I mentioned I am first and foremost a crime writer. I read crime, watch crime on TV and in movies and love anything crime related. This also applies to Espionage. I love the thrill of an investigation, I guess.
I thought I’d never write anything else but the stories I sent to Christina to read were not all crime. I wrote what I called observational humour, as well as adventure stories and then, with Christina, I wrote Only One Woman which, when I started writing it, was intended to be a crime sorry but half-way through I realised it would make a better Women’s Fiction story, and so Christina was able to write with me at last. In actuality, I think I could describe myself as multi-genre.
Trish: How do you collect ideas for your novels?
Jane: Most ideas are in my head and that is where they are filed. I am not a planner, a thinker, and plotter. If I get an idea I just start to write. The story then goes where it wants to go and I follow. I never know my middle and endings. Hence, sometimes a story ends up in a totally different genre and direction than I think it is going when I begin writing. I get ideas from the News, things I overhear and my own past experiences and knowledge. Even a name, as in Birdsong – came into my head along with the firsts few chapters of Ms Birdsong Investigates.
Trish: Do you identify with your main characters? Is there something of you in them?
Jane: I guess there is something of every writer in their characters, but that is a little scary. Is there a murderer in me? Good question. I have no idea. I do add little personality quirks to my characters - for example in Only One Woman 16 year old Renza blushes constantly, right to the roots of her hair and I did that and still do. Horrid.
Lavinia Birdsong in Ms Birdsong Investigates (unpublished as yet) was an MI5 intelligence officer and loves rock music and wine – so do I.
Trish: What about settings? Are they places you are familiar with? Or are they created in your imagination?
Jane: I have lived all over the world and so many settings for my stories are set in places I spent time, such as Los Angeles and Hollywood. I worked there for years and it is inspirational for so many reasons. Some of my stories definitely reflect these experiences. I may change aspects of a location and create a name for somewhere which exists, it depends.
Undercover: Crime Shorts such as Sweet Sable: The Red Siren, is set in Hollywood, late 1939s, which I had to research when writing another story for one of the 15 anthologies I contributed to some time ago. An aunt (husband’s side) was a Hollywood movie actress and starred with many leading men such as Cary Grant and John Wayne, and I used parts of her backstory for the story I was writing called, Cue Murder. The same research helped me with Sweet Sable.
Other stories are set in England, New York, and in an unnamed former Eastern Bloc country.
Only One Woman is set in the late 1960s in the UK music scene which I know very well, having had a boyfriend, now husband, who was a musician at that time – still is – and everything was easy to recall and the locations are real; we used to live in the countries and locations where the novel is set.
The sequel I am writing will be set in additional locations mostly overseas and again, I know them well.
Ms Birdsong Investigates is mostly set in the Vale of the White Horse, Oxfordshire, and in an area where I lived for 36 years. I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when young – at the height of The Cold War – and so my experiences have helped me no end. Later books in the series may well be set in Whitehall.
Trish: Your lifestyle certainly gave you a wide variety of setting to choose from! Do you want your novels to get people thinking or are they for pure enjoyment?
Jane: I have been told, many times, that Only One Woman takes our readers back to their teens in the 1960s, the music, fashions, and even the food and drink we mention as well as the storyline has had a profound impact on some readers, even guys have read it and love it. Many say they cannot stop thinking about it.
Some of my crime stories have unsettled readers and they have not been able to let them go. They tell me they get them thinking. Which cannot be bad. My crimes are not blood-thirsty, however.
I write to entertain and for people to enjoy, and so most have music and humour at the heart of the plots. If I can get people thinking or nostalgia for their youth takes them back to a happier time, I am happy too. I read for entertainment, not for moral lectures or to be given ‘messages’ about causes and so forth; just for entertainment, and I hope I provide that for my readers.
Trish: Do you have a particular writing routine?
Jane: I write in my office at an antique desk – Georgian – which belonged to my late mother-in-law and is now my husband’s. I have a wall in front of me with some Arthur Rackham first edition prints gazing down upon me.
I write when the urge takes me. Most days I spend the morning doing social media, answering emails, doing promotion for my books, interviews, and writing my blog. Afternoons I usually write but sometimes I will write in the mornings too, if I cannot wait. Evenings are flexible.
I don’t have a ‘routine’ I think I would die if I had to do this or that at such and such a time. Believe me, I had my fill of having to be in a certain place at a certain time when touring with my recording artists, or recording to a strict time-table dictated by cost – record companies are notoriously mean and want everything done for nothing and yesterday. I am a free agent and I please myself now.
Trish: Are you a keen reader yourself? Do you think a writer must also be a reader?
Jane: I have been an avid reader since I first read Janet and John, Dick and Dora, and Enid Blyton. I am a book worm and love everything about books: the feel, the smell, the look of them on a bookshelf – I am an addict. Although I do use Kindle on my phone.
I think a writer who doesn’t read cannot write. How can they? Why would they want to write if they don’t read and enjoy the written word? I love reading as I said and it broadens your vocabulary, your understanding of the world and the people sharing our planet. I cannot imagine never reading.
Since an early age I have been a fan of crime/thrillers, adventure and anything to do with espionage and spies. I love Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, Robert Louise Stevenson, James Fennymore Cooper and similar writers not only as a child and young adult. I adore John Le Carre, Frederick Forsyth, Andy McNabb and Stella Rimington.
Kathy Reichs got me into Forensics, and to enable my writing to be more accurate I’ve studied Forensic Science and Criminal Justice (and some basic Archaeology), to a level which is aimed at crime writers. I used to enjoy Patricia Cornwell, but not of late. Michael Connolly, Peter James, David Baldacci, Linda Fairstein are favourites and, of late, so are Roger A Price, RC Bridgestock and David Videcette. The list is long.
Trish: I’m a fan of many of these writers myself. Now you’ve inspired me to revisit some of my old favourites! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us today, Jane. It's been very interesting talking to you.
Jane: Trish, thanks so much for asking me to chat with you and your readers. I’ve enjoyed it no end and I hope they have too.
You can find Jane at:
Undercover: Crime Shorts Universal links: https://books2read.com/b/4jD0wo
Only One Woman: Universal Buy links: books2read.com/u/mlegkP
Here are some of the writers that Jane recommends: