Good morning Jo, thanks so much for inviting me to natter with you this lovely Tuesday morning. Go ahead, ask me whatever you like
Lovely to have you here for a chat Jane. Can I start as I usually do by asking you a little about yourself?
Let’s see, I’ve been married to the same person, a musician (lead guitarist), for the last 45 years and we’ve been together 48. Which to us doesn’t seem possible. Where has all the time gone? We’ve been having way too much fun. We are both still 20 in our heads. We met when his band came to live near my home. He was over from Jersey (Channel Isles) on tour in support of their first record. It was insanity at first sight. I was still at school and suddenly the most popular girl there once my class mates realised there was a band living next door. Typically it took me a while to register the fact. Actually, once they did appear on my radar, the tall bronzed blonde one took my fancy, but being a good convent girl I viewed them (mostly him) from afar and from under my very long fringe. Little did I know I’d end up with the tall dark haired one, with turquoise eyes. It was touch and go, not that the tall blonde one had a clue. The one with the turquoise eyes only found this out recently – he took it well. The guitar is still in tune.
We have one son named after Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues. When we got married we didn’t have a fancy wedding as the chosen one had to go off on tour (Switzerland) right after the Registry Office ceremony, which I recall cost me £7.50 – typically the band were broke a lot of the time and I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to keep him, and a lot of his band – mostly the lead singer – in the manner to which they were rapidly becoming accustomed. We didn’t have any wedding guests – family disapproval – and although it was June, it rained. A school friend was a witness and another friend was our Best Woman, and the taxi driver attempted to take some photos most of which didn’t come out. Oh happy day.
Yes Jo, eventually the long-haired, unwashed, lay-about (family opinion, but rest assured so far from the truth) and I went into business together managing recording artists, record producers, song-writers and the occasional actor…the insanity continued for the majority of our ‘grown-up’ life together, and still does. Once a musician, always a musician, and with it comes a certain ‘mentality.’ I am sure any of your readers involved with one knows exactly what I mean!
You’ve spent a lot of your life in the music industry which means you’ve probably met a lot of very famous artists. Who was your favourite and why?
I’m always asked about meeting famous people, and who was my favourite, but it is hard to recall them all off the top of my head – there have been so many. I could write a long list of those not my favourites but most are still upright and breathing and that’s how I’d like to remain for the foreseeable future, so it would be unwise to list any of them. Let me think. Well, there’s Gloria Estefan, a lovely lady, very professional and polite, but friendly too. One of our artists made an album with David Cassidy and he was a sweetheart and I hate reading about his problems. I think he’s had quite a sad life actually. Alice Cooper was a laugh and such a gentleman – some of our musicians auditioned for his touring band and we got to spend a lot of time with him. Stevie Nicks, was very Stevie Nicks – we did a gig on Alcatraz with her and many others signed to the same record label which was far out. Actually, there’s no way we could’ve swum back to shore from there. The Olsen Twins were also there as I recall, already on their way to their billions. Faith Hill was a sweetie. Weird Al Yankowitz was especially kind to a Chinese artist we managed and gave her a signed copy of his hand-written lyrics to ‘Eat it,’ his take on Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat it.’ Oh, I spoke to Michael Jackson on the phone one day, does that count? He rang one of his songwriters with whom we were working, and the phone was handed to me to say ‘hello Michael.’ So I did. We made some records with Roger Taylor from Queen – my lips are sealed. We were involved with music for Baywatch and some of our artists appeared in the series so meeting David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson was something we did regularly. I have to admit I did wash where they’d kissed me. There have been so many, I could write a book…
When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer and how did you begin that journey?
I’ve always wanted to write. I used to write little stories as a child, just for me to read. Being the eldest of 6 kids, I was actually very lonely. They are all much younger than I and they related to me as another adult – another mum. And my parents thought I was their Au Pair. Reading was my escape and writing was a way to deal with not actually having friends of my own age. Plus we moved around a lot, living overseas. My father was in the Army so making friends was difficult when we didn’t stay anywhere very long.
I decided that one day when I had time to myself I would write, however, whilst working with our artists touring, recording, and everything else which goes with babysitting the little darlings, it was impossible. I tried it. But it didn’t happen. Once we’d decided to take a backward step from the business, I found time. It was not easy, I didn’t know what to write. Suddenly all the ideas I thought I had before, had disappeared. I messed around with ideas and started to put some life events down on paper and during a conversation with a friend, an award-winning writer, who had also been fan-club secretary to my husband’s band as well as a Rock journalist, she suggested I carry on. She thought I could write. So for a while she and my husband were the only people to read what I wrote. Once my confidence had increased I decided to write short stories and eventually full length novels. The short stories have been well received so far. My novels are still being written, except one which is due out soon.
How would you describe your writing process? Do you plan everything thoroughly or start with an idea and see where it takes you?
Oh Jo, you’d think I could organise a booze-up in a brewery. I can organise musicians and believe me that takes some doing, especially some of the metal and rock bands I’ve managed, but to get myself organised to write, please, I wish! I supposed I start with an idea garnered from a news headline, something someone says or triggered by a memory of an experience we’ve had or someone we know has had. A title pops into my head and then the whole story usually comes. Mind you, it alters as I go along and I believe that the ‘entity’ responsible for writing songs, creating great works of art or whatever, gets into my head and takes over. Where does this stuff come from? You tell me. I walk a lot and often have my camera with me and so something I photograph might set me off with the location for a story or I’ll go out looking for locations where I can set my story, using the photos as visual notes.
I’ll sit down at the computer and then do my best not to have to start writing. I need cups of tea and if I have a supply of liquorice I am happy as a sand boy. I might stretch to making a map or listing the characters names and salient points about them in a notebook, as I often forget what they are called or look like – it’s because my brain is running all over the show and I can’t type fast enough. Sometimes I start early in the day and keep going until I nearly drop off my perch, other times I go at it in fits and starts and don’t get going until quite late. I’m not a creature of habit.
Can you tell us something about your current WIP?
Works in Progress. Ah now, there’s a question. I have several on the go ranging from a series of ‘observational humour’ stories, based on my experiences staying in a village with ‘she who must be obeyed,’ better known as The Mater. When she was ill I spent a long time with her and waiting for the bus every week, to go shopping, was an education. All her old school mates (she was 80+ at the time) and people she’d known all her life would often wait with us. I soon became an expert on the aches and pains, the bowel habits and digestion challenges for the elderly. It was like listening to an audio copy of the Obits column of the local rag; all the hatch, match and despatches. I quickly learned who had recently popped their clogs, whose medication caused flatulence and various reactions, who couldn’t wait for the bus any longer because they’d fallen, had a stroke or some such. Not to mention who’d had babies during WW2 whilst their husband was in Germany or Japan for the period of the war and still had the village gossips tongue-wagging 75 years after; ooer missus. God’s Waiting Room was born and the antics of Old Ma Hedges, Faney and Cinderella Green, Johnny the Rag and Bone man and others, started to take shape. I was particularly taken by a certain middle-aged couple who used to ‘misconduct’ themselves in the garden hedge opposite the pub on their way back from a few bevvies, much to the disgust of the doctor’s wife. You get my drift.
I have several crime stories on the go including a series called Ms Birdsong Investigates about a former MI5 officer who is ‘voluntarily’ retired following a messed up mission involving MI6 and her now former lover. She’s living in rural Oxfordshire and is bored out of her skull when she becomes involved in the search for a missing woman. Soon Lavinia Birdsong is back in the world she loves and understands. Russian Oligarch’s with Mafia links, Ukrainian people traffickers and gun-runners – she’s loving it until a certain MI6 officer, Michael Dante, just happens to be running the investigation. This book started out as a modern day Miss Marple and has taken on a life all of its own ever since I attended a family wedding in 2013 at a grand house, miles from anywhere. I suddenly became aware that the house was not all it appeared to be and made my thoughts known to one of the staff there, who confirmed I was indeed staying in what is commonly known as A Safe House. The staff all being Foreign and Commonwealth Office employees. I can’t tell you what made me suspect the real purpose of the house – I’d have to kill you. But I was right. Ping! Ms B had a new identity and I have been rewriting books 1, 2 and 3 since then. I am getting there.
I mentioned co-writing a book with another writer, someone I am so proud to have had the opportunity to write with. Someone who encouraged me and has helped me no end, and has put up with my lack of confidence and belief. Christina Jones and I have long wanted to write together, as I said earlier we go back a long way to our teens when she was my husband’s fan-club secretary, and some time ago we started a book, before I was signed with Accent Press, about life in the late 1960s about two girls in love with the same musician. It’s full of music, fashion, the vibe of the times and world events which shaped our lives back then. It’s called Only One Woman and should be published in the summer. I usually write crime stories so this is a first for me. I really hope everyone will enjoy it. It has been a blast writing it together and has brought us both to tears and laughter along the way.
You have a great passion for photography. How did this come about?
Photography is something I’ve always loved. Thank god for digital cameras. Back in the day the cost of rolls of film and developing them put paid to any idea I had about snapping everything in sight, hence many tours went unrecorded and places we visited are imprinted upon our minds only. But now. Oh boy! I am as happy as a drunken prawn. I have no idea when I discovered this passion for recording events, countryside, people and the beauty of Planet Earth, I guess it happened just like the passion for recording events in my writing. It came out of the blue a long time ago.
If you’re invited out to dinner, what would be your ideal food?
Guess what. I don’t have a favourite food. I eat because I have to, if I’m hungry and feeling light headed. I suppose I enjoy salads and cheese more than anything, though you’ve got to agree with me surely when I say salads taste of nothing much these days. Now alcohol, that’s another story. I do enjoy a good bottle of wine or champagne and a nice glass of Scotch or JD or Jim Beam…then Twiglets have to be provided.
If you chose to get away from it all and live on a desert island, what four essentials would you take with you and why?
Cripes a desert island. I wouldn’t last five minutes with my fair skin. I can’t take the heat. I have to have AC – can I take that? I’d take a library of books, computer and flash drives with internet connection (I don’t do camping type living), and there would be my husband with his guitar so he could drive me nuts with yet another song he’s written or new rift he’s come up with. I couldn’t leave the poor bugger at home, he’d have peace and quiet and I know he wouldn’t cope without me doing his head in at least once a day.
Well Jo, you did ask. Thanks so much for asking me here today. I do hope you haven’t started another bottle without me. It’s been a blast. Really. I’ve had fun.
Thank you Jane, a fabulous interview and good luck with your writing.
If you would like to catch up with Jane on social media her links are below:
Accent Press: Accent Press | About Jane Risdon
Jane Risdon Amazon Author page.
http://wp.me/2dg55 Author blog
http://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2 Facebook Author Page.