Today’s perfect 10 interview session is with author Jane Risdon. The questions in these interviews are designed to gain more insight into the inspiration, background and strategy of the authors that stop by.
Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10 and look for an exciting announcement regarding all of the participating authors for 2018.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I think it depends on what is going on in my life. Sometimes I cannot wait to sit down and write and other times it can be a real slog. If I have a list of ‘to do’ things which is nagging me I find it hard to concentrate and write so then it becomes exhausting. Mostly it is very uplifting and exciting so I guess I am mostly energized.
Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?
Actually, this is something I have been thinking about a lot. But it is too late, I think, for the projects I had in mind. I’d already started both books. I wish I had known earlier that I would write short stories in different genres – after I’d started my crime/thriller writing – and that I would also write a novel which is in the Women’s Fiction genre. I might have used a pseudonym for the latter especially. However, I wrote both my Crime novel and Women’s Fiction novel at the same time – crazy, I know, having two on the go at the same time, and actually I had four in progress – there are two more to be completed yet. By the time I got round to wondering about writing under a different name, it was too late. My name was out there.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?
Oh cripes. Now there is a question. I think to do anything in life where you expose yourself to an audience you need to have some self-belief and perhaps ego. I know putting my work on public display has – for me – been excruciating. I feel naked every time I allow someone else to read what I have written. I’ve worked in an industry – the music business – where I’ve dealt with massive egos on a daily basis, and not just those of the recording artists I managed. They needed an ego to get up on stage and perform, but funnily enough quite a few were painfully shy off stage. Some used to be physically ill before going on stage. Those whose ego was out of control and was massive, were often really disliked and hard to work with. Whatever talent they possessed ‘supposedly’ made up for their over-sized and really trying ego and behaviour. I’d hate to be thought of in the way some artists are. It can be very counter-productive. I think it depends on how much of an ego the folk around you are prepared to tolerate. I think I have learned enough, through experience, to not have a massive ego and to be grateful for having the opportunity to share my writing and to allow that do my talking for me.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
In the hope that my crime writing will be more authentic and accurate I have invested in various University courses to better educate myself. I’ve taken seven courses in Forensic Science and Criminal Justice and one course in general Archaeology. I consider this as money well spent. I don’t write Police Procedurals but a background knowledge in Forensics and how the Criminal Justice system work has been invaluable to me.
What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?
Oh cripes, another hard one. To me success has been writing something that others have been happy to read and enjoy. I didn’t really have an ambition to become a major success as an author, when I started writing in earnest. I just wanted to write and was thrilled to be included in several anthologies (about 10 to date) and was happy with this achievement – and I still am. Later when I signed with my publisher – Accent Press Ltd. – I had a little ‘tingle ‘moment of delight and a feeling of accomplishment. But I am not stupid enough to think of it as success. Let the book buying public judge that. I am content but if I –by magic – become a Best-selling author, I guess I’d have to consider that success. I’ll let you know if that happens.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?
I get an idea for a story, often from an over-heard conversation, a news item, or an experience I’ve had, and I sit down and write. It comes as if from nowhere. However, as I mentioned before, I mainly write crime stories and thrillers and so it often happens that I find myself in need of some technical information relating to decomposition of a corpse for example, or how to identify a skeleton in a shallow grave devoid of any identifying items in or around the grave. That is when the Forensic courses and Archaeology course I have undertaken come in handy.
I never know what I am going to need by way of research until I am writing the story and as I said, my stories tend to write themselves so I have no idea where it will take me or what research I might need until I reach that part of the story.
If I cannot find what I want from my studies then I am an avid fan of Google and other search engines. I am also very privileged in that I know a couple of former detectives who have been very generous with their advice, experience and knowledge which has helped me with my series Ms. Birdsong Investigates, and I am deeply in their debt. I have researched the Secret Intelligence Services for Ms. B. – she is a former MI5 Officer and her adventures have an element of espionage and organised crime through-out.
With Only One Woman – co-authored with best-seller and award-winning author, Christina Jones – my own research was undertaken by going through old diaries, tour posters, postcards, and letters from my life-time in the international music business. I used them as a rough guide for dates of chart songs, and venues on the live circuit back in 1968/69 when the book is set. The work is fiction but events are factual – the book is not only about music during that era, but there is a lot of fashion and of course, world events taking place which take place during the story, therefore I needed to be accurate when portraying life back then.
How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?
Names just pop into my head, as if from nowhere. Sometimes it is a name which gives me the idea for a story. Ms. Birdsong just appeared as if from nowhere and I just knew she was a former MI5 Officer.
The title Only One Woman was inspired by the hit song of that name recorded by The Marbles in the late 60s. As soon as I got the song in my head I realised it would fit the story – almost completed at that time – perfectly. Plus Graham Bonnet (Marbles and Rainbow etc) is one of my all-time favourite lead singers so any excuse to play his material…if you know anything about me you’ll know I am a huge rock fan and his is one of the most iconic rock voices on the planet.
I have not regretted any names I have used in my stories. I try to fit the name I pick to the personality of my character. I am a fan of Time Team – an archaeology programme on British TV which sadly has ended after 21 years. When I was contemplating one of the lead characters – there are two – for Only One Woman I immediately thought of one of the main archaeologists on the show, Carenza Lewis. My character became Carenza – Renza for short.
What is the hardest type of scene to write?
Oh my goodness! I don’t so sex – well, not in my books. I cringe reading about it and I’d never stop blushing long enough to be able to write a sex scene. I am a convent girl after-all. I get ‘around’ it in my stories – stop laughing! It is hard to write about a grown-up relationship without doing the sex in detail.
I don’t write graphic violence or bloody, gory scenes in detail either. I read books with it in but I don’t want to have it in my books. I do have death and murder most foul, of course, but I find a way to write it without glorifying it or being explicit and brutal. It can prove challenging but I think I manage it well…so far.
If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan would be absolute musts.
I’d love to ask Einstein about his research and what he thinks of the world today and the threats of nuclear war.
I would love to just chat with Carl Sagan, about the Cosmos and all things to do with the Universe and beyond.
I adored the late Sir Patrick Moore and The Sky at Night was one of the very first programs on TV I watched as a small child, and have ever since. I would love to ask him about mapping the lunar surface with his telescope and how the Apollo missions used them when NASA put the first man on the Moon. So much I’d ask him.
The last guest has been difficult to pick. Professor Stephen Hawking or Professor Brian Cox? You notice there aren’t any music stars or writers listed…I need more guests!
I think I would ask Professor Brian Cox because he is not only a theoretical physicist but he was the keyboard player in a band, D-Ream. We could chat about music as well as The Large Hadron Collider at Cern in Switzerland, and The Higgs Bosun Particle.
I’m not saying that I’d understand even 5 percent of what they’d be chatting about, but just imagine it…
What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?
This is a hard one as I haven’t as yet, been involved with outright marketing of anything I have written. My publisher is a great believer in Social Media and I have lots of followers on both Facebook, Twitter and on my WordPress Author Blog, and so far the word is being spread far and wide regarding Only One Woman using these platforms. I am yet to dabble in Instagram. Which is the most successful platform to date, I cannot say.
Only One Woman is published 23rd November 2017 on Amazon to begin and on 24th May 2018 in Paperback and Audio in UK/USA/Australia and other territories to be announced.
The two main characters – Renza and Stella – in Only One Woman have their very own YouTube Playlists of favourite songs from the book:
Only One Woman has a Facebook Page:
Connect with Jane:
My Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00I3GJ2Y8
My Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2
My Author Blog: https://janerisdon.wordpress.com/
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jane_Risdon
Christina Jones: https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaJonesAuthor/