Welcome, welcome, welcome! I am delighted to have crime writer Jane Risdon join me today on damppebbles. Welcome to my little blog Jane, I’m thrilled that you were able to stop by.
Emma, thanks so much for the opportunity to post on your blog today. I am thrilled to bits to be here.
For those who have not come across me before here is a little information about how I came to be here:
My name is Jane Risdon and I am a Crime writer. As far as I am aware there isn’t any cure.
I began writing seriously some 5-6 years ago having worked in the International Music Business for most of my adult life, with short spells early on in my career at the Ministry of Defence, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Atomic Energy Research Establishment and Social Services – not as a Social Worker I should add.
Having married a Rock musician whilst very young and having a son early on, we’ve led a crazy life as you might imagine. With the way the music business was back in the early days of our marriage someone had to earn a regular salary; me. Later on when his successful band split-up he and I ventured into Recording Artist and Producer management, with the management of Songwriters, Singers and Musicians all over the world, but mainly in the USA and Asia as well as Europe. Our artists all had American Recording Contracts and some wrote music for Television series and Movie soundtracks, and therefore we worked with varied genres of music.
As you can imagine life on the road constantly touring and performing, or doing personal appearances, Press events etc., or being stuck in an aeroplane travelling thousands of miles a week, recording or working in various countries on projects which took up our time, day and night, for months, was pretty full-on. Time off was a distant dream. Tiredness, jet-lag and unrelenting pressure from Record Companies to have our acts write, record and tour – ‘give us the hits.’ – were our constant companions, as well as mainly young men in their late teens early twenties, with all that brings to the table. Although we managed females too and boy, what a handful they could be. Anyway the point I am making is that there was little time off and certainly limited time for anything other than sleep when not in meetings in Hollywood, London, Taipei or Singapore. Writing was a distant dream for me; something I would get round to doing ‘one day when I get time.’
Once life had slowed down somewhat and I had time to take stock, I allowed myself to dream of writing full time, something I’ve wanted to do since I was very small when I always had a book or a note pad and pencil in hand. I lived in an imaginary world growing up, the eldest of six children – all my siblings were much younger – with little time for myself or privacy. I read mostly action and adventure stories and loved Enid Blyton, Robert Louis Stevenson and Biggles, and later writers like Agatha Christie, Daphne Du Maurier, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and John Le Carre, whose writing was magical for me. These authors fuelled my imagination and I desperately wanted to be them. I also wanted to act like Katharine Hepburn, dance with Fred Astaire, and sing like Doris Day or Sarah Vaughan. We all have our dreams.
My writing career – if you can call it that – began modestly. I wrote on the computer for my own amusement and the only time in the early days I allowed a friend to read what I’d written, put me off having a go again for years. She said I didn’t write like me. I had no idea what she meant but it stopped me trying again. Later an old friend of my husband’s – and mine – who had been his band’s Fan-club secretary and a successful Rock journalist, got chatting to me about writing. By this time she was an award winning author. Once she heard I was dabbling she offered to read my work. Cripes! I nearly passed away in horror. However, after a while I plucked up courage and she got to read lots of pieces I’d written, which varied from full on Crime to Humour and what I call Observational stories. I won’t bore you with the details, but she loved what I’d written and encouraged me to continue writing and to get serious about it.
Eventually I tried my hand at Flash Fiction which was published online and well received, and later several of my Short stories were included in various Anthologies – in print and eBooks – published by various publishers. In 2014 I signed a contract with Accent Press and was included in two of their anthologies. Sometime in late 2016 or early 2017 a novel, ‘Only One Woman,’ which I have co-authored with our life-long friend, Christina Jones, will be published by Accent Press.
I am deeply into writing a series of novels about a former MI5 Officer, Ms Lavinia Birdsong, who is ‘voluntarily’ retired from the Security Services and moves to a rural Oxfordshire village to lick her wounds. In the first novel ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates’ she finds herself embroiled in the search for a missing woman which brings her into contact with Russian Mafia, People Traffickers, Ukrainian Gun-runners, and someone she thought she’d well and truly left behind in her former life.
This book has, so far, taken me four years to write. Apart from taking a tumble down the stairs soon after I started it which left me unable to dress myself, let alone write, due to a messily broken shoulder and collar bone, I have started to re-write it after attending a family wedding at a huge stately home. Until the wedding ‘The Divine Ms B’ – as I call her – was a sort of 21st century Miss Marple with attitude, but events at the wedding changed all that and I was inspired to write a completely new story; well two more actually. This meant that my original book had to be re-written to encompass the two new books and their story-lines and the way Ms B was portrayed. Her back story changed somewhat. She’d become tougher, more physical and cleverer; her role at MI5 had become more important. So that is where I am at the moment with her. Writing book one all over again.
Since I started Ms B all that time ago my writing has improved, so I think, and so has my confidence. I’ve even started to Blog and to use Twitter. It’s funny, but as the manager of recording artists and so on, doing huge deals with some of the most important companies in the world, working with the Movers and Shakers in Hollywood and bashing heads with some of the most infamous Music and Movie business legends, you’d think I would find writing a breeze, after all I have managed Rock and Thrash bands well known for their ‘challenging’ behaviour. But it is the hardest thing I have ever done. When I’ve been working with songwriters or with record producers in the studio it wasn’t me actually having to come up with the lyrics or the music or the bravura productions, although I have contributed on all fronts, but ultimately I didn’t have to perform the material and front it. Writing is so much harder. It is up to me, alone; no-one is going to conjure up a story or character for me or slog it out at the computer. No-one is going to do the difficult research for me, and although I have an editor and proof-reader to call upon at my publishers, it is down to me ultimately. I won’t have a ‘me,’ a manager, guiding my career, promoting me, working themselves ragged twenty-four seven, year in year out, pushing only me and my talents. The publisher can only do so much. I have to come up with the goods all on my own. It is terrifying. It is the biggest challenge I’ve ever had.
Having said all that, I am having a blast. The best time. I am my own boss. I don’t have to babysit testosterone laden young men, or stroppy females with PMT, and I don’t have to sit and negotiate contracts with a guy well known for having ‘Family’ ties (think about it) or sit opposite attorneys with guns and baseball bats on their desks, ready to deal with pushy managers who won’t take no for an answer. I have avoided the concrete boots, the horses head in the bed and the foundations of the latest Los Angeles freeway. I have survived earthquakes, mud-slides and floods, fires, tornadoes and riots and, so far, touch wood, the plague of locusts. See, I told you writing was the biggest challenge I’ve ever had.
In October 2016 I have a Short story in an anthology ‘Madame Movara’s Tales of Terror.’ In aid of Save the Children my story is called ‘Haunting Melody’ and is music-themed. Some, but not all of my stories have their origins in music – not a surprise really, considering – I have so much experience to call upon. Indeed many of my Crime stories are music-based or have a touch of Espionage about them.
If I have whetted your curiosity you can find more about me and my books on amazon:
Madame Movara’s Tales of Terrorpublication Oct 2016 featuring
Haunting Melody by Jane Risdon
Wishing on a Star
Published by Accent Press featuring
Merry Christmas Everybody by Jane Risdon.
published by Accent Press featuring
The Haunting of Anne Chambers by Jane Risdon
In A Word: Murder
published by Margot Kinberg featuring
and Hollywood Cover Up by Jane Risdon
I Am Woman (vol 1)
published by FCN featuring
The Look by Jane Risdon
published by MoonWorks featuring
The Debt Collector and The Ghost in the Privy by Jane Risdon
And to come 2016/2017
Only One Woman
By Christina Jones and Jane Risdon
Published by Accent Press
Thank you so much for joining me today Jane and for telling us about your exciting journey to writing. I can’t wait to read your Ms Birdsong Investigates book as it’s set in my home county! I live just down the road from The White Horse. I’ve also added the Madame Movara anthology to my wish list as I do love a bit of horror.
All of Jane’s books are available on Amazon so pop on over to her author page and have a look.