I am very excited to welcome author, Jane Risdon, to Robbie’s Inspiration today to tell us a bit about her writing and her books.
Welcome Jane Risdon
Robbie, thanks so much for hosting me on your lovely blog, I am so happy to be here.
For those who may not know me or know of me, I thought I’d tell you something about my background.
I am an author, a dream come true for me having spent the best part of my life living in silent despair of ever being able to achieve my life’s ambition. After years of living another life — well, two really — I have managed to become a published author and one represented by an agent. Something I had never imagined.
My early life was spent working for various (British) government departments. I worked for the Ministry of Defence in Germany, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, and later for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Intervention Board), and later for the Atomic Research Establishment at Harwell. Most of it was boring. But it has stood me in good stead where material for my writing is concerned.
Whilst working for government I yearned to write but it was not to be. My musician husband and his band were constantly on tour and in those early days a regular income was not possible, so someone (me), had to hold down a ‘proper’ job.
Later, when we’d had enough of our crazy life we decided to do something even more daft by going into the international music business together, managing recording artists, songwriters, musicians, record producers and facilitating the placement of music onto soundtracks for movies and television. We did not get a quiet life — just the opposite, and once more constant touring, recording, and living overseas was not conducive to writing. Babysitting testosterone-fuelled young musicians and PMT-stricken female artists can become extremely tiresome after a while.
Eventually we both called it a day and decided to settle down to a ‘normal’ existence in England, and so we moved back. I found I had time to write at last.
Our adventures in the music business, especially in Hollywood, and my experiences working for government, especially the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall at the time of the Cold War and IRA ‘troubles,’ has provided a wealth of material for my stories. Most of it heavily disguised of course.
About Only One Woman
Robbie asks where I got the inspiration for Only One Woman which I’ve co-written with the best-selling, award-winning romance author, Christina Jones.
Christina and I go back a long way together. She was recruited as fan-club secretary to my then boyfriend and now husband’s band back in the late 1960s. We got to know each other through her newsletters on behalf of the band, which one of my sister’s subscribed to. She was a rock/pop journalist at the time, and she wrote short stories too. We shared a love of writing and reading, and we often talked about writing together one day. But our lives were such that we never got the chance until Only One Woman.
I was looking through old diaries, fan letters, tour schedules, and photos — general memorabilia — following a house move and down-sizing and I was making notes so that my husband could decide if he wanted to keep anything prior to me throwing stuff out.
The notes started to give me the idea for a book based on the 1960s and at first I thought I’d write a crime story based around a rock band, but as I began to write it I realised it would make a fab love story too. For the life of me I could not fit a murder in and when I had almost completed it I realised it was more suited to a love story and a brilliant opportunity for Christina — by this time, a successful romance author — to join me in writing the story.
I put the idea to her, and she was thrilled. After-all, it is ‘our’ story in so many ways. She agreed to weave her characters, mainly that of Stella, into the book and we sent it to our publisher, Accent Press. The rest is history, as they say. So, Robbie, the inspiration for Only One Woman is our lives — Christina and I — and our experiences during the late 1960s when my boyfriend was in an up-and-coming band and she was their fan-club secretary, with lots of poetic license, many disguised situations and real-life characters.
Undercover: Crime Shorts had been on the cards for a long time. I have about 100 short stories, mostly crime/mystery/thriller, on my computer and my publisher basically sees me as a Women’s Fiction author following Only One Woman. I decided to ask Plaisted Publishing to put a collection of these stories into a book and publish it for me. And Undercover: Crime Shorts is the first of several planned collections I hope to share with readers over time.
My inspiration for these stories and most of my writing is drawn from my life. Working at the FCO was special, I had some amazing experiences during the Cold War years. Russian spies expelled from their London Embassy for spying on Britain whilst under the guise of being Diplomats meant the Russians expelled our diplomats too.
Our ambassador to Montevideo was kidnapped by Tupamaros guerrillas, and the negotiations to get him released took months. I loved it.
The Commander from Special Branch who had to periodically Positive Vet (PV) me, had been instrumental in the tracking and arrest of the Krogers — husband and wife Soviet Spies who were part of the infamous Portland Spy Ring in 1961. I learned a lot from his stories about them and others he’d been involve with during his long career. All this sparked a flame and lifelong interest in all thing’s espionage and consequently many of my stories have an espionage or organised crime element to them.
WIP – Ms. Birdsong Investigates
My latest series, Ms. Birdsong Investigates (out with publishers via my agent now) features a former MI5 Intelligence Officer who was forced to take ‘voluntary’ retirement or lose her pension when a joint operation with MI6 goes wrong. There is a taster at the end of Undercover: Crime Shorts called Undercover, which gives a flavour of what is to come when she is eventually published.
Coupled with my experiences in Hollywood at the heart of the music and movie business, I soon realised that where there is power and wealth, there is often crime. The Hollywood scene is notorious for corruption and crime. I’ve tapped into this often when writing and many stories also feature music-themed plots.
I hate to disappoint you Robbie, but the cover for Only One Woman was designed in-house at our publishers, then Accent Press (now part of the Hachette family) and known as Headline Accent. A young lady called Zoe designed it and I cannot recall her surname. The only input I had was to ask for the group van to be added to the cover. Publishers often decide covers with little or no input from the author. I do, however, feel the cover gives a taste of what is to come. People love it so they tell me.
My cover for Undercover: Crime Shorts is my choice. I found it after trawling through various pieces of art-work, and a young lady called Mara Reitsma put the book cover together with the text for me. I wanted something striking and which implied spying, undercover, not out in the open. The stories feature female protagonists, and each title has a direct relationship to the story content.
Yes, both books are different genres. Only One Woman is Women’s Fiction and Undercover: Crime Shorts is crime/mystery/thriller.
I don’t really aim or target markets. I write and whatever comes out, comes out. I never know when I sit at the computer what is going to happen, I don’t plot. My stories tend to write themselves.
Even with a traditional publisher authors must spend most of their time marketing, I am no exception. I use social media a lot. I belong to Facebook Groups, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, BookBub, GoodReads, LinkedIn, and I have an Amazon Author Page as well as an Author Page on Facebook, and a group for Ms. Birdsong Investigates. Only One Woman has a Facebook Page and a WordPress blog, which I need to update, now I think of it. I run my own website/blog with posts about my writing, photos, and my ‘jollies,’ which are visits I make to places of interest. I host Guest Authors too.
I write for print and online magazines and have a regular series in The Writers’ and Readers’ magazine. I am a regular on internet radio – global networks – and have given interviews on video and for podcasts, so I am pretty active. Publishers like to see this when an author is under consideration. I try to make video trailers and come up with new ideas for promotion, but it is hard work and takes time away from writing. Unfortunately it must be done.
Yes, I’ve contributed to 18 anthologies since 2012, each has had a different spec and I find I can write almost in any genre, although I have not tried Sci-fi or Horror. Many anthologies have been in aid of charities, and I enjoy doing them. They can be challenging. I am not a romance author by nature, crime is my thing, but I have written romance, pirate stories, time-shift, and ghost stories and the odd humorous tale too. I prefer to write crime/mystery/thrillers but as I said, my stories write themselves, I just hit the keys.
Thank you, Jane, for visiting Robbie’s Inspiration and sharing about your books, writing process and marketing.
About Jane Risdon
Jane Risdon is the co-author of ‘Only One Woman,’ with Christina Jones (Headline Accent) and ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies and writing for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine and The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine.
Undercover: Crime Shorts was the February 2020 Free Book of the Month on the virtual library and festival site, MYVLF.com, and her live video interview features in their theatre. She is a regular guest on international internet radio shows such as theauthorsshow.com, chatandspinradio.com and The Brian Hammer Jackson Radio Show.
Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers. They also facilitated the placement of music in movies and television series.
Find Jane Risdon
Ms Birdsong has a hidden group if anyone wants to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/msbirdsonginvestigates
Jane is represented by:
Linda Langton of Langton’s Literary Agency in New York City, New York USA. You can contact Jane via Linda at: www.langtonsinternational.com