Saturday, 9 September 2017

Diana talks to Jane Risdon

Hello Jane. I love reading your Facebook posts about  your life in the music industry. Thank you for sharing so much of that time with us. 

I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!

Is there life on other planets? I think there must be and they’ve sent a few of their eccentrics to earth.

What is the genre you are best known for?

If your latest book (Only One Woman – to be published November 2017) was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?

Having worked in Hollywood I would be concerned about who would play the parts. If the movie was to be International (made in the USA, distributed globally) they’d want to have an American lead. It is the way it works - I’ve been involved with movies there. Only One Woman is written from two POV (both female) and the object of their desire is a lead guitarist. It is set in 1968/69 and I cannot think of a present day actress or actor I’d like for the roles. Also, I am terrible in that I don’t have a clue who any of the present day actor/actresses are. And an author never gets any say in any choices, not even famous authors. Hollywood does not work like that.

What made you choose this genre?
I normally write Crime as mentioned earlier, but for some years Christina Jones and I have wanted to write together, about our experiences in the music business in the late sixties. Fashion, music and world events. When we found we both shared the same publisher, we decided to get on with it. Only One Woman was born. It is going to be marketed as Women’s Fiction.

How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
When I am writing (mostly but not limited to Crime) I often get my ideas from my experiences in the International Music Business which has been the greatest part of my life, and also from my time at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before then. Overheard conversations or a title will pop into my head, or as I mentioned, something which happened to me or others I know in Music, might set the little grey cells off.  If you know Hollywood (music and movies) you will know there is never a shortage of characters from which to draw upon.

Favourite picture or work of art?
I don’t have one. I am not a fan of modern art, preferring the old masters.

If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!)  you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
Not really. I write pretty much what I want and I go where a story takes me. It may well end up as something other than crime as with Only One Woman. I have also written what I call observational humour based on overheard conversations at a bus stop…come to think of it I have dabbled in most genres apart from Sci-fi and Fantasy which leave me cold. At the time of writing I have four novels on the go and about 30 short stories most of which are crime, a couple are ghost stories and also humorous.

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
I have written since I was very young but upon leaving school I ended up in the Diplomatic service. Way back then writing would never have been practical – it was all about earning a living. I married a professional musician and we had a child young and so with his touring and our lifestyle it was all we could do to find five minutes to ourselves. Later we went into management of singers, songwriters, record producers, and musicians and we were constantly touring, recording, or working so time was an issue.  I kept telling myself ‘one day I would write…’ One day came when we both semi-retired, passed our artists and business on and I found the time at last.

Marmite? Love it or hate it?
Love it and especially in sandwiches with sliced bananas. Yummy.

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
Nope. Not one for that. I do like to nibble liquorice and drink tea sometimes if I can’t get on with a difficult section. I had enough of rituals with my artiste’s in the recording studio or before going on stage, to last a lifetime. Music – well having lived it 24/7 for almost 48 years it is nice to have some peace and quiet. I might (rarely) have the radio or TV on in the background whilst writing, and sometimes my husband is playing his guitars and song-writing, if that counts.

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
Our only son is grown up and long gone, and my husband spends his life writing and playing music so we are quite happy working alongside each other – often sitting beside each other - but completely absorbed in our tasks. It does not arise. Whoever is hungry makes food and whoever is not busy does the chores. Always been that way.

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
I used to think it was being a War Correspondent on a Newspaper but seeing how reporting has gone downhill, I am glad I didn’t go that route. I wanted to be Doris Day as a child but there is only one. A writer is what I have always really wanted to do, though having studied Forensic Science and Archaeology of late, I could be tempted into either career. Had I known back then, or had there been opportunities, I might have taken a completely different life path – but…

Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Only Tea and Red wine – but only good stuff. If I drink anything else it has to be Crystal Champagne.

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
I write by the seat of my pants. I sit and it comes out, much like song-writing, as if from space. I don’t make notes and I have no idea how a story will end, let alone where it’s going. It flows eventually as if from somewhere else.

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
I never think about it. The publisher has to worry about this. I had enough worries years ago about production and promotion of records and artists, so I am pleased I don’t have to worry about such things. I would say that as I am short-sighted a really clear text suits me.

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
Having an interest in espionage and some experience of working in situations where spies were part of every- day life, I would like to get my hands on debriefing documentation relating to any of the big spying cases in the 20th century – Burgess, McLean and so forth, from the Cold War.

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?
All the time. I read back what they’ve said and done and wonder…where did that come from? I like it. I hate anything contrived - be it music, fashion or comedy, so love it when my story goes off in its own direction. I cope, it’s a blast!

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?
I rely upon past experiences for a lot of my writing, but having said that I have never killed or trafficked anyone so I have to do research. I discovered early on that as a crime writer it is easy to come unstuck using old or inaccurate information or procedures (Police/Forensics etc) and I know that a writer loses all credibility if ‘found out.’ Yes, we write fiction and there is some poetic license allowed, but it is not good to be shown up for ignorance.

I’ve studied; taking (to date) seven courses in Forensic Science, Criminal Justice and Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology, so that I at least have some idea of what happens to the dead, how to identify someone from a skeleton, and the way the Justice system works from Police Investigations, Witness Interrogations to Miscarriages of Justice and also which Agencies are involved in Criminal Investigations. 

My series Ms Birdsong Investigates – in with my publisher – features a former MI5 Officer and so I have had to study the workings of our Intelligence Agencies and those overseas. I worked for the FCO and can use some of my experiences from my time there.

Only One Woman – both Christina Jones and I have backgrounds in music. She was a rock journalist and my husband’s (band) fan-club secretary in the late 1960s and so we both called upon our experiences back then. Music, fashion and world events and the way ‘teenage’ culture was emerging. We had to compare notes, research the Music Charts and so on…so much fun.
For my music themed stories I can fall back on life in the International Music Business, Hollywood and more…fact in my business was always stranger than fiction and a great pool of inspiration for my writing. The world of ‘wise guys’ and ‘family’ is never far away.

I do a lot of walking and photography and from day one I have taken photos as visual notes for my writing if I come across a location I think might work in a story. I put the photos aside until I am writing and need a location and a little ‘ping’ goes off in my head.

Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
Not yet, but give me time. I do try to keep my characters to a minimum as I am told readers find it hard to keep track of a lot of characters. I never find it a problem when reading, but if we have to abide by rules as writers, I don’t mind this one.

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
Of course, I write fiction. I try to keep the basics ‘real’ and then embroider around them. I try to disguise anything factual with something fictional and blur the edges if I can.

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?
Our memories of events are very unreliable and after a period of time our brains fill in any gaps and tend to change our perception of the facts. I studied this in Witness Investigations (Police witnesses) and it is known that two witnesses to the same event see it and recall it in very different ways. The longer the time between an event and the telling of it can make the facts blur into what our subconscious thinks we saw/heard or experienced. That is why Police try to interview witnesses as fast as possible after an event and on their own, so two witnesses cannot influence each other by what they say.

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
No I cannot say I have. I know authors do, but not me.

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
Crime, Thrillers, Mystery, Espionage and Political Thrillers.

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
For OOW I suggest a Babycham, Vodka and lime, Rye and Dry or a Snowball.

For Ms Birdsong Investigates (when she comes out – be prepared) I suggest Scotch, Crystal Champagne or a really decent Red wine.

Last but not least... favourite author?
Gosh, I have so many from Agatha Christie, Daphne Du Maurier and Robert Louis Stevenson to John Le Carre, Peter James, Michael Connolly, Kathy Reichs, Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter. Oh and let’s not forget Stella Rimington (former Director General of MI5) – I cannot decide.
Diana, thanks so much for allowing me to be your guest and thanks for such interesting and thought-provoking questions. It has been a blast.

About Jane and her work

Jane Risdon began writing over six years ago having had a successful career in the International Music Industry which has taken her all over the world working with everything from Rock, Thrash Metal, and R&B/Pop to Chinese Opera. Her work has taken her to North America, Europe, and Singapore: even to Taiwan.
She's been involved in Music Production, Television, Radio, and the Movies around the world.

Travelling extensively and living overseas she draws upon her life experiences when writing Crime/Mystery novels, short stories in all genres - including humour, and she has dabbled in flash fiction.

Some of these experiences have found their way into her short stories about the Music Business, and she is presently working on a novel which will bring a lot of her more crazy 'rock 'n roll' experiences into one tome.

Her main focus remains crime however, and she is working on a series of novels called 'Ms Birdsong Investigates' centered around a glamorous ex MI5 Officer forced into early retirement, who is trying to keep a low profile in a rural village in Oxfordshire. Her past experiences come to the fore when she finds herself investigating murder. Soon she finds herself back on old territory with Russian Mafia, Ukrainian People Traffickers and an old flame to deal with.

Jane hopes that this series of novels will be ready for publication in 2018.

In 2014 Jane signed a publishing contract with Accent Press Ltd.

Jane's co-written novel with award-winning author Christina Jones is entitled 'Only One Woman' and is due for publication by Accent Press Ltd November 2017. One lead guitarist, two girls and a journey through the heady, mad rock 'n' roll 1960s.

Her short story 'The Haunting of Anne Chambers' is included in Accent Press Ltd Halloween collection published in October 2014 called Shiver: a collection of horror stories published by Accent Press Ltd 9th Oct 2014.

Wishing on a Star: a collection of Christmas themed stories by Accent Press Ltd. published Dec 2015 includes Jane's story - Merry Christmas Everybody - which is set in a recording studio and is based on actual events one Christmas not long ago.

Jane has a short story in Ghostly Writes Valentines Anthology 2017 - called Eternal Lovers and this is via may outlets including Amazon and in e-book and printed versions Feb 2017.

In A Word: Murder available in Paperback and for Kindle via and - her stories are: 'Dreamer' and 'Hollywood Cover Up'. Published by Margot Kinberg

In addition to her books and short stories for publication by Accent, Jane has also published many short stories in paperbacks, e-books and online with other publishers.

Another short story which is included in the anthology, Madame Movara's Tales of Terror, and entitled 'Haunting Melody.' This anthology was published 20th Oct 2016 in Hardback and paperback. Available via for a limited period only.

Jane has contributed towards is Ghostly Writes Anthology 2016 for Plaisted Publishing House and is published in paperback and for Kindle 31st October 2016. Her story is called The Beneficiaries of Secret Cottage. Available via and and other sites.

She is also included in an anthology published May 2017: A Stab in the Dark: Cons, Dames and G-Men and her story is called Cue Murder. Available via and other sites.

Previous publications with her stories are:

Telling Tales Anthology published by Moon Works Ltd in Hardback, Paperback, and for Kindle via 'The Debt Collector' and 'The Ghost in the Privy' are her contributions.

I Am Woman Vol 1 published by FCN Publishing, available via and for Kindle only. Her story is called 'The Look'.

Jane has published and had pod-cast many of her short stories and pieces of flash fiction and links to these are available via her blog, Jane Risdon Author at Voice Over actor, Elijah Lucien has recorded several of her short stories which are available on YouTube.

In addition to being a regular blogger,, with a considerable following, she has an author page on Facebook with many dedicated followers there as well. You can find her at @Jane Risdon on Facebook and @Jane_Risdon on Twitter. She also has an amazon author page and an Accent Press Ltd page and on GoodReads too.

She continues to work on Ms Birdsong Investigates as well as several other novels including The White Haired Man set in Bollywood and based on true events.

Jane is a keen photographer and enjoys the countryside and visiting old buildings and historical locations and often uses photos as visual notes for her writing. She loves history and archaeology and is loves anything to do with science and astronomy.

With a background (early on in her career) in the Diplomatic Service in Whitehall, London, followed by a long career in International music, Jane has a wealth of experience and a huge pool from which to craft her stories.

Author Jane Risdon

© Diana Milne January 2017 © Jane Risdon 2017


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me Diana, it was fun doing this and I really appreciate it. I hope your readers enjoy it. Have a fab week. :)

  2. Wow now it is back with the cover. It goes really well with the green background too. Thanks so much Diana. I shall begin tweets and so on. Thanks again. :)

  3. Diana, shared on FB and Twitter. How do I reblogg?

  4. Marvelous interview. I feel I know you a little better now and you sound like a busy woman, lol. Having worked in many fields myself and now being retired, my books often draw from those experiences, although my dark and twisted stories come purely from my, sometimes, dark and twisted brain, lol. If you haven't already checked out my website you would get to know me a little better

  5. I shall pop over Sandy. Thanks for the heads up. Yes we cannot all gain experience from bumping folk off, robbing banks and doing twisted stuff - our imaginations are frightening enough thankfully. Glad you enjoyed this. Appreciated. xx