My first guest of 2020 is Jane Risdon. I’ve long been fascinated by Jane’s tantalising glimpses into her past, via her social media posts. I knew that she was connected to the music world, and had met many famous musicians. I’ve wanted to know more about her life for a long time now, so I was delighted when she agreed to write this blog post, which details not only something of her hectic lifestyle back then, but also her friendship with the talented romance writer Christina Jones. Christina and Jane teamed up to write Only One Woman, a book which has been talked about all over social media. I’m pleased to hand over to Jane to tell us more about it.
Sharon, thanks so much for having me on your blog to talk about writing Only One Woman with my life-long friend, best-selling, and award-winning author, Christina Jones.
We were Children of the Revolution, Children of the Sixties; those fortunate enough to enjoy our teen years surrounded by arguably the best, most dynamic, music and fashions of any decade of the 20th century. We were path-finders, innovators, and we tested the establishment to the limit. We didn’t want to look and behave like our parents. We wanted to explore, branch out, rebel and change the world.
It was the decade of the Summer of Love, Woodstock, the Vietnam War, and the Moon Landings – it was the Swingin’ Sixties, and we were there. The adage if you can remember the Sixties you weren’t there, couldn’t be further from the truth; we were there, we witnessed it, took part in it, and we remember it all.
Christina and I met when she became the fan-club secretary for my husband- then boyfriend’s – band, who had arrived in England from the Channel Island of Jersey to record and tour in the late 1960s. We shared a love of music, fashion, and writing. At this time Christina was already published – since the age of 14 when she wrote her first short stories – and she was a rock/pop journalist interviewing the bands and singers whose posters graced most teenage girl’s bedroom walls. You can see why the band’s manager wanted to employ her. With so much in common it can be no surprise that we both wanted to write together one day, but eventually our lives took different paths and it seemed an impossible ambition.
Christina went on to become a successful romantic novelist and I married my guitarist. I still held the dream of wanting to write, but not romance. I wanted to write crime and thrillers and although we often discussed it, my friend and I couldn’t see how we could possibly write together.
Life with my husband took us all over the world, it was exciting and glamorous, but everything has its day and eventually we went into the international music business on the management side. We’d learned so much living the dream with his band we felt it was time to branch into a different area of the business, so we took on the management of recording artists, singer-songwriters, record producers, and a few actors. We also facilitated the placement of music on to movie and television soundtracks. We worked and lived in many countries and our artists’ performed in many languages and genres of music, but mostly Rock, R&B/pop and even Chinese Opera.
With all the experiences in my youth as the girlfriend of a guitarist touring and performing all over Britain, Europe, and elsewhere, and later in partnership with my husband living and working in the USA/Canada, SE Asia including Taiwan and Singapore, and elsewhere – and garnering an insight into the workings of the entertainment in Hollywood and Bollywood for example – I had a wealth of information at my finger-tips just waiting for an outlet in my writing.
However, time was never on my side. When you’re constantly touring and never in the same country for any length of time, when you are on a tour bus or in a plane or limo travelling for hours on end, confined with a number of other people, it isn’t conducive to writing. Collecting experiences, yes, but physically writing – no. Not for me anyway. I tried writing in recording studios, hotel rooms and it never worked. So years went by whilst I dreamed and stored things in my subconscious, ready for ‘one day,’ when I’d get to write.
Fast forward many years and eventually the time came. My husband and I returned to England and I began to write. During this time Christina and I got chatting about our memories of the 1960s and life in the UK music scene. And suddenly we found that perhaps our shared experiences might be the answer as to how we could write together.
I started to look through my diaries from my teens and the years spent living with my husband and his band – life on the road. I’ve kept diaries all my life so these proved invaluable. I found old fan letters, photos, tour schedules, posters, and even booking forms from venues and other items of memorabilia, and I began to make notes.
Our latter career as managers helped too and my insights into the ‘other’ side of the business has proven really worthwhile and now I am writing the sequel to Only One Woman, taking the characters into the 1970s and beyond I know there are diaries and memorabilia I can use for the story.
Only One Woman is centred on the lives of two young women at the end of the 1960s who fall in love with the same guitarist. Renza is 16 and meets Scott first. It is love at first sight for them both, however, she soon has to leave him and move overseas with her family and they face years apart. They become secretly engaged and promised to marry as soon as Scott’s band, Narnia’s Children, are successful. They part, promising undying love and that they’ll stay in touch any way they can.
Stella meets Scott on what she believes is her last night on this earth. She is facing a major operation and is convinced she’ll die under the knife. Her best friend, Vix, decides to cheer her up and they go to a local dance where there is a reasonably well-known band playing. Stella spots Scott as he is playing on stage and after a while their eyes meet; the chemistry is immediate and intense. Stella falls in love. Scott falls for her too, but he loves Renza, and so begins a complex love triangle set against the backdrop of social change, huge world events such as The Cold War.
Only One Woman is told in diary form, each girl telling her story as she records her life in her diary. The locations for the gigs and tours will be well-known to any musicians touring in the 1960s and so are the boutiques and well known night-spots in Carnaby Street and the West End of London. The food, the drink, the hair-sprays, perfumes and clothing lines which the young were ‘into’ back then will be so familiar to female readers and the guys will find lots to remind them of a special era, when anything was possible, when Top of The Pops and presenters like Samantha Juste and Cathy McGowan were icons and both boys and girls aspired to be like their favourite rock and pop stars.
We follow Renza, Stella, and Narnia’s Children across Britain, through Europe, and on a Mediterranean cruise then on to the exotic holiday island of Jersey. Renza experiences post-war Germany. All the time Scott is faced with having to make a decision at some point – for him there can be Only One Woman, but which one will he choose?
Christina and I used our experiences of young love, the magic of the era and the excitement of being in the midst of seismic cultural change to write with authenticity and accuracy.
Only One Woman is named for a hit song performed by The Marbles in 1968 and written for them by the Bee Gees. The singer of the Marbles, Graham Bonnet, is an icon and legend in rock circles. He went on to sing with Rainbow, Alcatraz and Michael Schenker as well as Ritchie Blackmore’s and others.
Graham very kindly agreed to read Only One Woman and to write the foreword to our novel for us. In it he tells about how The Bee Gees wrote for him and his cousin, Trevor Gordon, and how their hit launched his career which is still going strong today. Graham is being inducted into the Metal Hall of Fame in January 2020 around the time he is undergoing spinal surgery, so we are all hoping he will recover in time to attend.
According to Graham, Only One Woman is an accurate description of the UK music scene in the late 1960s, authentically reflecting the vibes and times. What more could two authors hope!
Two women, one love story.
June 1968. Renza falls head over heels for heartthrob guitarist Scott. But, after a romantic summer together, they are torn apart when Renza’s family moves away.
December 1968. On the night she believes to be her last, Stella meets Scott at a local dance. He’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and if this one night is all they have, she’ll take it.
As the colourful and final year of the sixties dawns, the question is: can there be only one woman for Scott?
Jane Risdon Bio:
Jane Risdon has spent most of her life working in the International Music Business rubbing shoulders with the powerful and famous, especially in Hollywood.
Married to a musician and later working alongside him managing singers, musicians, songwriters, and record producers, she’s also facilitated the placement of music on successful television series and movie soundtracks.
Her experiences have provided her with a unique insight into the business and her writing often has a music related theme.
With long-term friend, award-winning, best-selling author, Christina Jones – one time fan-club secretary for Jane’s husband’s band – Jane has co-authored Only One Woman (Headline Accent) which is set in the UK music scene of 1968/69.
Recently Jane completed her first collection of short crime stories – Undercover: Crime Shorts – published in both eBook and Paperback 2019 (Plaisted Publishing House Ltd).
Jane is working on the sequel to Only One Woman as well as a series of crime novels – Ms Birdsong Investigates – featuring former MI5 Officer Lavinia Birdsong – which she plans to complete in 2019. Her experience of working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in her pre-music days has given her plenty of material for her crime/thrillers.
Jane writes for online and print magazines and has contributed to 16 anthologies. She also has a blog and often hosts guest authors. She is a regular guest on blogs and on internet radio shows broadcasting with a global reach, including UK, USA and Australia.
Her books are available in Waterstones and all good book stores as well as via various digital platforms.
Jane Risdon Links:
Follow Jane on Amazon
On her website
And on Goodreads
Find out more about Christina on her website.