Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Tag: Jane Risdon

Jane Risdon’s criminal mind

Today I’m delighted to welcome Jane Risdon back to my place- although I fear we should be wary.

She’s talking about her criminal mind!

Over to you Jane…

Jenny, many thanks for inviting me to share some of my experiences with you and your followers today. It is so generous of you and I really appreciate the opportunity.

I’ve a criminal mind. At least my readers must think I have. I must admit I wonder about myself. Where do all my murderous ideas come from when on the outside I seem quite normal? I think I’m normal but, hey, they say you’re the last to know if you’ve lost your marbles.

If you’re reading this and are of a delicate disposition go and make a cup of tea, swing from a chandelier or just pretend I’m not here. Things might get a little hairy because I am going to discuss murder. Just kidding. It’s sanitised.

Some of you may have come across me through the novel I co-wrote with Christina Jones, Only One Woman (Headline Accent), set in the 1968/69 UK music scene and at its heart there’s a love triangle. Forget love and all things nice. I’m not going there, although I’m sure you know that most murders are committed by a close relation or friend. Just saying – that cuppa seems tempting now, I bet.

Crime, thrillers, and espionage novels have always rung my bells, even from a very young age. I guess I love adventure and when young I read all the adventure stories such as ‘Kidnapped,’ ‘The Secret Seven,’ and books like that. Reading a ‘girlie,’ book never crossed my mind, although I admit to having read and loved ‘A Swish of the Curtain,’ by Pamela Brown. Somewhere deep down I knew I was going to be the next Prima Ballerina or an Oscar-winning actress – delusions of being a thespian have never left me. I imagine that is why I eventually worked in the international music business – those who can do, and those who can’t help others to achieve their dreams.

 

Capitol Records Building

The entertainment business is in my DNA, although whose DNA kicked started those ambitions I’ve no idea. My family is devoid of such rebels and subversives (the Mater’s viewpoint), and thespianism – still legal last time I looked – comes from my husband’s side – he’s a musician. His mother was quite a looker in her day and a member of an Aqua ballet (synchronised swimming) show. His father was a crooner (singer) and his brother is an actor. Actually ‘himself’ has acted a lot too, mostly in India where he’s appeared in many movies and television series alongside some of the Bollywood Superstars.  He has been known to be ‘recognised’ in the street by Indians who watch hours upon hours of cinema. His great aunt, Elizabeth Risdon, was a famous Hollywood actress and starred in over one hundred movies with stars such as John Wayne, Cary Grant, and Lupe Velez, the Mexican Spitfire, to name a few.  I guess thespianism has rubbed off on me. My husband says I’m a bit of a thespian at times. I cannot argue.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_Risdon

The chances of becoming an actress or a prima ballerina became ever more remote the older I got and eventually I settled for The Diplomatic Service – better known as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall. Although by then I was dreaming of being a writer. And, reading some of the archived files at the FCO really fed my imagination. Thespians are rife in the Service: all those spies pretending to be someone and something else. The files were a treasure-trove for a would-be writer.

To be accepted by the FCO (back then) one had to be Positively Vetted (PV) for security reasons. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say they turn you, your family, and friends inside out probing your lives and even the lives of distant long dead relatives. You get a thorough going-over. My then boyfriend – now husband – found the intrusion into his life and his family a bit much, especially being a musician and very anti-establishment back then.

Old New Scotland Yard

Now, what the heck has this to do with crime I can hear you yelling? I’m getting there, keep your hair on. At that time the Old Scotland Yard building on the Victoria Embankment was one of seventeen FCO buildings in London and I worked there in Personnel ‘looking after,’ the Ambassadors, various Embassy staff and families around the world. It was the height of The Cold War and the IRA were being a bloody nightmare.

MI5 Building- Thames House

Espionage and intrigue was everywhere. One hundred plus Russians were expelled for spying in a ‘tit-for-tat’ with The Soviet Union at the time. Oh the excitement. My department handled the ‘personal’ side of all this.

https://www.mi5.gov.uk/the-later-cold-war

One of those responsible for my PV was a Commander from Special Branch called Ferguson-Smith (see his info below) who was responsible for capturing Soviet spies, Peter and Helen Kroger (aka Morris and Lona Cohen) in 1961.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29985359

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/ferguson-smith-special-branch-brought-2296496

He told me about the Krogers and of course my imagination went wild. I was a great fan (still am) of John Le Carre and Frederick Forsyth so imagine my excitement; real life spies and I knew their spy-hunter.

As I said, I was allowed to read files from the archives and another infamous and possible spy scandal was what came to be known as ‘The Profumo Affair’. Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies were ‘good-time’ girls involved with a government minister, John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War. Imagine having all that sex and intrigue at your fingertips when still in your teens, being an avid reader and would-be author; all mentally filed away for a future time.

https://www.britannica.com/event/Profumo-affair

Geoffrey Jackson, Ambassador to Uruguay, was kidnapped by Tupamaros guerrillas in 1970 in Montevideo, and was held for eight months during which time I and my colleagues in my department were working the personnel side of things. At night I’d go home to my guitarist boyfriend and his band and I wasn’t allowed to tell him or anyone anything. I was fit to burst.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/9/newsid_3634000/3634352.stm

I won’t bore you with other government departments I’ve worked for, it is quite a list. In the early days of marriage to my musician husband someone had to be the steady earner and hold the fort whilst he trotted off to exotic locations on tour and mixed with the ‘jet set,’ as they were called back then. Mind you, the Red Shoes Ballroom in Elgin was hardly exotic although everyone who was anyone has played there. It was only one of many ‘must play,’ venues on the UK circuit.  Hanging out with Liz and Richard Taylor in Switzerland was a bit more like it, I admit.

Later, we went into the international management of recording artists, musicians, songwriters, record producers, and the odd actor (odd, yes some were definitely that) and we placed music into movie and TV soundtracks internationally. This took us to Taiwan, Singapore, all over Europe, Canada and the USA, and of course Hollywood. Ah! Now we are getting closer to the crime part of my piece. Patience.

By this time I was reading a lot. All those hours on the road and in recording studios had to be filled when not actually doing anything myself, so crime novels kept me out of mischief. I got hooked on Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs, as well as many others. Their knowledge of crime scene detection and forensic science fascinated me. It perked my curiosity.

There are many legends in the entertainment business and not just the artists. The managers, the heads of record companies, and movie studio supremos are just as interesting as the artists they work with, including Clive Davis and Tommy Mottola who signed and nurtured the careers of singers such as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, for example. Fascinating characters.

https://collider.com/clive-davis-documentary-interview-soundtrack-of-our-lives/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Mottola

And then there are those who are notorious for many other reasons. Those who were criminals or involved with the criminal underside of the music business. Their crimes are legendary and have been written about time and again. There were also ‘heavies’ in the business and you need look no further than Don Arden (father to Sharon Osborne) who managed so many of the huge artists in the UK music business throughout many decades, and also Peter Grant, manager of Led Zeppelin, who changed the way musicians got paid for their gigs. I’ve met both. Do follow the links and blow your mind.

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/music-nightlife-news/ozzy-osbourne-manager-dangled-robert-10688655

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Grant_(music_manager)

Working in the music business one soon realises that everyone does business with these people daily. The first time we met a ‘legend’ in the USA we were confronted by body guards and were ‘welcomed’ to their ‘family,’ when we signed some artists to their record company and there was a gun and a base-ball bat on the lawyer’s desk as we signed contracts. I won’t mention names in case we get the horses head in the bed or the concrete boots to swim with. But, there are some seriously dangerous dudes out there and I think we have met and done business with many of them. Several were in the Payola scandals of the late 1970s when Pink Floyd and others were kept off USA radio stations because their management wouldn’t pay for air-time. ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ nearly collapsed sales-wise.

Books have been written about many of these all powerful movers and shakers and so far no-one has been sued for what they’ve written. Many found themselves before Grand Juries and had to take ‘The Fifth’ to avoid incriminating themselves. Others disappeared off the face of the earth without a trace. Not guilty!

https://www.stereophile.com/news/080105sony/index.html

With all this experience and our amazing connections you can see why crime writing was and is what I want to do.

I soon discovered that an interest in all things crime is not enough. I needed some background knowledge to help me write authentic and – I hope – mistake-free stories. Kathy Reichs is an author who is also a Medical Examiner, a real-life pathologist, and I love her books. It rapidly became clear to me that I needed to inform myself better so I enrolled in seven online university courses taught by the best in their field – internationally recognised tutors. I undertook six Forensic Science and Criminal Justice courses and a basic course in Archaeology to help me with my crime scenes, victim identification (even from shallow graves and a few bones and no ID) through detection and prosecution of perpetrators. Fascinating stuff. I’m not an expert but I can see what sort of weapons make cut marks on bones, how blood splatter can give so much detail about how a victim was attacked by a knife, axe or gun. Bullet hole identification, finger-print and DNA analysis, and how police interviews should be conducted – just some of the knowledge I gained to help my writing. I also studied and followed investigations of famous miscarriages of justice. Vey unsettling.

I don’t write police procedurals so you won’t find details of how an investigation works in my books. I don’t put too much blood and guts into my stories – my writing is a little different. However, it’s good to know these things in-case I stray into writing a little more detail than usual. No-one wants emails from irate detectives or knowledgeable readers shouting ‘rubbish that could never happen,’ or worse.

I’ve also made friends with a few former murder detectives and a counter-terrorism expert which has been very helpful when writing my series, ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates,’ featuring a former MI5 Intelligence Officer (still to be published), hoping to find her way back into the fold having been ‘voluntarily’ retired from the Security Services. It’s also helped with various stories I’ve contributed to in anthologies, magazines, and newsletters.

Being able to bounce stuff off of them has been invaluable especially when writing ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing House), where my collection of short stories feature various methods of murder in everyday situations. Forensic knowledge was especially useful when devising methods of murder where I wanted the murderer to be long gone from the scene when my victims died.

You can come back now, get down from the chandelier and enjoy your tea once more without fear of reading something nasty. I’ve kept it clean. My road to writing has been an interesting one personally and my experiences have provided me with endless ideas for stories.

Every writer uses personal experiences at some point. I know Christina and I used those we shared in the 1960s when she was fan-club secretary to my boyfriend’s band, and writing ‘Only One Woman,’ was an amalgam of people, events and situations at that time. I am happy to say that murder is not something I have experienced first-hand, although as I mentioned earlier, crime and espionage has never been too far away during my various careers. Perhaps I’ve whetted your appetite and you’ll find your way to reading some of my work. That would be grand.

***

SWEET SABLE – The Red Siren 

From Undercover: Crime Shorts by Jane Risdon

Chapter One

Closing the safe door quietly and with an expert spin of the dial the black-clad woman straightened up, slinging the grip with her haul over her shoulder. She stood listening intently before moving towards the office door. Again she waited, her ears straining, before gently prising the door open and stepping silently into the corridor of darkened offices. She eased the door closed calculating she had barely two minutes before the night-watchman made his rounds, trying the doors and checking the building was secure.

The woman headed for the fire escape where she’d made her entrance to the three storey building some ten minutes earlier. Gently raising the window she climbed out on to the metal staircase with the athletic grace of a ballet dancer, giving the dark alley below a quick once-over to ensure no-one was around she hastily made her way down the rusting stairs. Her tar- toned unremarkable and unmemorable automobile was parked across the street, hidden in the gloom of another narrow alleyway. Glancing at her wrist-watch – an expensive pay-off from a married lover – she knew she’d better step on the gas. She’d less than fifteen minutes to get back to the night-club, park her car at the darkest end of the outside lot, and leg it back to her dressing-room with enough time to change into her gown for her last set of the evening. 

The red-head chuckled to herself as she repaired her lipstick pouting seductively at herself in the mirror, waiting for the stagehand to knock on her door with her final call. She was buzzing. She’d done it again, she’d pulled it off. It was better than any sex she’d ever had and that was saying something. She chuckled, puckered her ample lips and blew herself a huge wet kiss.

*****

As the spotlight found its mark the band-leader nodded to the scarlet-clad shapely figure who took up position in front of the microphone. Her hips swayed in time to the jazz trumpet and she took her cue. Her sultry sable-clad tones sucked her audience into her lair.

The figures outlined in the flickering candle-light adorning circular tables dotted around the smoke-hazed, expectant venue, stopped talking and turned their heads towards the elevated stage where Desi Garcia’s Syncopators went into full swing behind Sweet Sable – also known as the Red Siren – neither was her real name but no-one cared. When her song ended there was a moment’s silence before they pounded their tables shouting, ‘more, more.’

Sweet Sable wiggled her slender but shapely hips, leaned over the stage giving more than an eye-full of her full bosom on display in her tight-fitting, strapless gown and blew huge smackers into the air, aimed at no-one in particular but the full-blooded men in the audience got the message and so did their partners who silently seethed.

Her set over for the evening Sweet Sable made her way back to her dressing room, accepting compliments and congratulations on her ‘wonderful performance,’ smiling, blowing kisses and with a toss of her luxurious red mane, closed her dressing room door to keep the stage door Johnnies out. There was always a small stud congregated outside her door and gathered around the stage door following her shows. Sometimes she allowed a particularly handsome or obviously loaded guy inside who was good for a dinner or two – or for something else – if rich enough. They were ripe for the picking; such patsies.

This particular evening Sweet Sable was anxious not to have any company. She had plans and getting pawed by a fawning, slobbering man who felt ‘entitled’ after giving her dinner, was not part of them. She had to get her haul to a safe place so she could take a proper look at it before deciding what she had to do. Sweet Sable loved having options – and she had plenty. 

© Jane Risdon 2019

***

Jane with Only One Woman and Undercover: Crime Shorts

Jane’s Links:

https://janerisdon.com

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Risdon/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

https://wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShow2.html

https://twitter.com/Jane_Risdon

https://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2/

https://www.instagram.com/janerisdonwriter/

Buy Links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Risdon/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

Only One Woman: Christina Jones Jane Risdon (Headline Accent)

ISBN: (Waterstones and all good book stores) 9781783757312

ASIN: (Kindle, Tablet, Phone) BO75D88JBP

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Only-One-Woman-Christina-Jones/dp/1783757310/

Undercover: Crime Shorts  (Plaisted Publishing House)

ISBN: (Waterstones etc) 9780359397839

ASIN: (Kindle, Tablet, Phone etc) BO7RFRVL4P

https://books2read.com/b/4jD0wo 

***

Huge thanks Jane. What a great blog!

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny. xx

Opening Lines with Jane Risdon: Undercover Crime Shorts

For this week’s Opening Lines, I’m delighted to welcome a great friend to my blog, the fabulous author, Jane Risdon.

Over to you Jane…

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for asking me back to your fab Opening Lines which I enjoy reading so much and contributing towards.

My 500 Opening Lines come from the opening story in my very first collection of short crime stories under one cover for the first time: Undercover: Crime Shorts

Undercover: Crime Shorts features seven short stories which satisfy most fans of crime fiction and its sub-genres (not my words but those of a reviewer) and it was hard to put the collection together when you consider I have over one hundred short stories from which to choose.

These stories are designed to keep you on the edge of your seat and to be read during a train/bus journey perhaps or before bed. When you want read something you can finish in under an hour with more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

I was so pleasantly surprised when upon release the collection shot into the Amazon Best-seller ratings at #18 in the UK and #333 in the USA – the first day!  Sadly, it coincided with me being in Facebook jail for a week at the same time, so promoting was a nightmare. I have no idea of which crime I was being convicted, but they have their own rules.

I chose Sweet Sable – The Red Siren, as my opening chapter in the book. It is set in Hollywood in 1939 at the height of the night-club age, when clubs were where singers got to show off their talents and where they stood a chance of hooking a ‘Sugar Daddy,’ and ‘Stage Door Johnnies,’ were on the hunt for a conquest and a quick lay.

A Great Grandfather was a ‘Stage Door Johnnie,’ in London, back in the day – my inspiration comes from so many sources!

Back to my story: The Mafia has a hold on Las Vegas and Hollywood and nearly everyone is in hock to them one way and another, even politicians. Corruption is rife in 1939.

Sable is a nightclub singer with another string to her bow and she uses her good looks, her sexy voice, and diva performances to snare rich men whose egos need stroking – this is how she makes her ‘additional’ living; snaring, hooking, and then stinging her male lovers – enriching herself by blackmailing them and adding to her ‘retirement fund.’

If any play rough, well, she can play rough too…

Before she is about to go on stage with the nightclub’s resident band she has a visit to pay and we meet her as she breaks into the offices of one of her ‘marks,’ before rushing back to prepare for her performance.

I’ve used Hollywood for this story because it ties into some research I had to undertake a while back when writing another Hollywood-based story about the apparent suicide of an up-and-coming young starlet. It’s called Cue Murder, and features in an anthology I contributed towards – Cons, Dames and G-Men published by Stab in the Dark Crime Writers.

Elisabeth Risdon

I used my husband’s late, great aunt, movie actress Elizabeth Risdon, for my research into the era of the silver screen in the late 1930s and I was able to go back to this research for Sweet Sable. Elizabeth’s career was long and successful. She began on stage in England and then Broadway, moving with ease into the Silent Movie era and later starred with many screen greats such as John Wayne and Cary Grant in over 100 movies during the Golden Age of Hollywood, until her death in the mid-1950s.

Lupe Velez

It was her roles with Lupe Velez – The Mexican Spitfire – which inspired Cue Murder and subsequently Sweet SableThe Red Siren.

Elizabeth Risdon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_Risdon

Lupe Velez: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupe_V%C3%A9lez

FIRST 500 WORDS from the Opening Chapter:

Sweet Sable – The Red Siren

Closing the safe door quietly and with an expert spin of the dial the black-clad woman straightened up, slinging the grip with her haul over her shoulder. She stood listening intently before moving towards the office door. Again she waited, her ears straining, before gently prising the door open and stepping silently into the corridor of darkened offices; she eased the door closed calculating she had barely two minutes before the night-watchman made his rounds, trying the doors and checking the building was secure.

The woman headed for the fire escape where she’d made her entrance to the three storey building some ten minutes earlier. Gently raising the window she climbed out on to the metal staircase with the athletic grace of a ballet dancer, giving the dark alley below a quick once-over to ensure no-one was around she hastily made her way down the rusting stairs. Her tar- toned unremarkable and unmemorable automobile was parked across the street, hidden in the gloom of another narrow alleyway. Glancing at her wrist-watch – an expensive pay-off from a married lover – she knew she’d better step on the gas. She’d less than fifteen minutes to get back to the night-club, park her car at the darkest end of the outside lot, and leg it back to her dressing-room with enough time to change into her gown for her last set of the evening.

The red-head chuckled to herself as she repaired her lipstick pouting seductively at herself in the mirror, waiting for the stagehand to knock on her door with her final call. She was buzzing. She’d done it again, she’d pulled it off. It was better than any sex she’d ever had, and that was saying something. She chuckled, puckered her ample lips and blew herself a huge wet kiss.

*****

As the spotlight found its mark the band-leader nodded to the scarlet-clad shapely figure who took up position in front of the microphone. Her hips swayed in time to the jazz trumpet and she took her cue.  Her sultry sable-clad tones sucked her audience into her lair.

The figures outlined in the flickering candle-light adorning circular tables dotted around the smoke-hazed, expectant venue, stopped talking and turned their heads towards the elevated stage where Desi Garcia’s Syncopators went into full swing behind Sweet Sable, also known as the Red Siren – neither was her real name but no-one cared. When her song ended there was a moment’s silence before they pounded their tables shouting, ‘more, more.’

Sweet Sable wiggled her slender but shapely hips, leaned over the stage giving more than an eye-full of her full bosom on display in her tight-fitting strapless gown and blew huge smackers into the air, aimed at no-one in particular but the full-blooded men in the audience got the message and so did their partners who silently seethed.

Her set over for the evening Sweet Sable made her way back to her dressing room, accepting compliments and congratulations on her ‘wonderful performance,’ smiling, blowing kisses…

***

Undercover: Crime Shorts is available from Waterstones in Paperback: ISBN 9780359397839

And from most digital platforms including Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc for Kindle, Phone and Tablet and from Lulu in Paperback too.

Buy links:

https://books2read.com/b/4jD0wo

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-cover-crime-shorts-jane-risdon/1130007355

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RFRVL4P

http://www.lulu.com/…/under…/paperback/product-24082039.html

Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2/

https://janerisdon.com

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Risdon/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

https://accentpressbooks.com/collections/jane-risdon

https://twitter.com/Jane_Risdon

https://www.instagram.com/janerisdonwriter/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/janerisdon2/

mewe.com/i/janerisdon

Author Interview on The Authors Show.com:

https://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/ 

Many thanks for visiting today Jane,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: Jane Risdon’s Renza’s Diary (Only One Woman)

I am delighted to welcome the lovely Jane Risdon to my blog, with her ‘Opening Lines’ from Only One Woman.

Written in tandem with Christina Jones, Jane is sharing the first 500 words from her part of the story, Renza’s Diary.

Over to you Jane… 

It is 1968 and Renza is about to go to Germany with her family, joining her father who is working there with the MoD. She’s facing 3 years overseas and isn’t happy. Scott and his band, Narnia’s Children, move next door to her. They are over from the Channel Islands to tour and record their first single. It is love at first sight but it is short-lived. Vowing undying love and secretly becoming engaged, Renza leaves for Germany within weeks, Scott believes the band will be in Germany soon and they can meet up. Renza promises to come back to England as often as she can. Narnia’s Children tour up and down the country and one night they take the stage at St. Barnaby’s Hall where he sets eyes on Stella who has only days to live, she is convinced. Set in the UK music scene of the late 1960’s Only One Woman is sheer nostalgia: the music, fashions, the changing society of the Swinging Sixties, the Cold War, and so much more – a love triangle set in Europe, the Mediterranean, Jersey and England in the grooviest decade of the 20th century by Christina Jones and Jane Risdon.

First 500 words from Renza’s Diary (Only One Woman)

May 24th 1968 – late

What a flipping nightmare of an evening. I really thought I’d never get home in one piece. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Someone up there hates me I’m sure.

If only Selina hadn’t lost her handbag at the Top Rank, I’d have caught the last bus back from Reading and I would’ve been home on time. Instead I’d gone back with the others to look for it – thankfully it had been handed in at the cloakroom and nothing was missing. Luckily I had just enough money for the train, which I’d had to run for. Selina’s dad took the others home in his brand new car as arranged, and there wasn’t room for me as well. I reckon he could’ve taken me but Yvette refused to let me sit on her lap in the front, in case I ripped her Mary Quant stockings. Sometimes I really want to do her a mischief.

They’ve got to do something about our local station, it’s just too creepy for words. Steam from the train almost suffocated me as I crossed the bridge to the exit on the opposite platform; all very ‘Brief Encounter’ I remember thinking, in an effort to stop my mind wandering off into ‘Hitchcock-land.’ Talk about cough myself silly, and my eyes stung something rotten as I tried to find my way in the pitch black; the two over-head lamps didn’t help much, they should do something about those flipping lights, I could’ve broken my neck, or even worse, tripped over in my new pink kitten heels and broken one of them.

I slowly took the steps down to the lane beside the station, glancing around me all the while – I admit it, I was a little freaked out. It’s always deserted, and you can never be too careful. Not long ago a dangerous prisoner escaped from the nearby asylum and hid in the waiting room for days before being recaptured. Hardly anyone uses the station since the cut-backs by that old idiot, Beeching, and the trains are a bit hit and miss since they messed with the timetable, so the convict was able to wait for his twisted ankle to mend without much danger of discovery. For all I knew, another Jack the Ripper could’ve be lurking in there waiting for me to pass, that’d just be my flaming luck.

I was in so much trouble. Forty minutes later than agreed. She’d never believe me about the bag, but no other excuse came to mind as I walked down the lane. I was going to be so dead.

Oh God!

I had such a fright. Something or someone, made a noise behind me, so I stopped and listened, but I really felt like running. Some sort of night creature, silly girl, I decided as I walked on. But there it was again. Was someone behind me?

I turned and peered into the pitch dark – I’m still shaking as I write this…

***

Author Jane Risdon
 
 
 
Only One Woman Accent Press
Only One Woman Facebook

 

***

Many thanks Jane.

Don’t forget to come back next week for 500 words from Elizabeth Ducie.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

Only One Woman: Blog tour with Jane Risdon & Christina Jones

Today I’m welcoming the lovely Jane Risdon to my site to chat about ‘Only One Woman,’ a novel she co-wrote with the equally lovely Christina Jones. So grab a cuppa, settle down, and have a read of not just a great blog, but some fabulous excerpts from the book as well

Hi Jenny, thanks so much for allowing me to natter about Only One Woman with you and your readers. It is always good to talk, and boy I love to talk….ask anyone.

In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d actually manage to become a writer; it was something I’d put on the back-burner when work and family life occupied my every waking moment, and often my dreams and nightmares too. Spending my life working with testosterone fuelled young musicians and PMS stricken young singers didn’t allow for much time to myself and so thoughts of writing were put firmly aside until ‘one day.’

When at last I found time to write I was amazed to have my short stories published, and so I began writing novels – mostly crime and thrillers – and that is the box in which I thought I’d remain. Writing Women’s Fiction had never crossed my mind.

Christina Jones and I have been friends since the late 1960s when my boyfriend, a musician, first came to England with his band to tour and record and she was asked, by their manager, to be their fan-club secretary. She was a rock/pop journalist at the time, interviewing all the famous bands and singers whilst writing short stories for Teen magazines, and was a great find because she had some amazing contacts which their manager wanted to exploit. The three of us have remained firm friends since those days – I married my musician.

My husband and I went on to have a career in the international music business when he decided he’d had enough of touring and we decided to go into artist, musician, and record producer management. Silly! The recording and touring continued. During this time Christina became an award-winning, best-selling author of Bucolic Frolics and although we chatted often about writing together, it was something we’d do ‘one day,’ when we were in the same country at the same time, and I had that elusive luxury – time.

Once I began writing crime any thoughts of writing with her seemed even more of a distant dream. How could we write together when she wrote fluffy, feel good, humorous stories with loveable characters, and I murdered most of mine every which way and how – a dilemma indeed.

But we had a shared past. We’d both lived with music daily and knew the sixties music scene well. We’d both been ‘with the band.’ We decided we’d write about what we knew – always a good move writers are told. And so it was left – that elusive ‘one day,’ thing again.

Fast forward a few years and I moved country and house and whilst unpacking I came across lots of old group photos (hubby’s) and posters, tour schedules, and fan letters – general memorabilia – and I began to make note of dates and events; which groups were in the charts and so on. Thinking about it later I realised I could use all this in a story and I began to write about a young girl who lived in 1968/69 – Renza – who met and fell in love with a lead guitarist, Scott. Not a dead body in sight. As I wrote I kept thinking about Christina and we eventually chatted about the story and decided that this was ‘IT,’ this was ‘THE,’ story we could write together. Renza would not be the lone main character, Stella was going to join her and we’d write from the point of view of them both, in diary form.

Writing with another author is not something either of us has ever done before. We didn’t live near each other so getting together wasn’t an easy option, and Christina had deadlines for her publisher – who we realised soon afterwards – was my publisher too by this time. We agreed I’d get on with writing my parts and as soon as I was ready, I’d send it to her to add her parts – Stella’s story. Writing Only One Woman is very 21st century. We wrote together using text messages, Facebook messages and email.

Due to our various commitments and the numerous set-backs both of us suffered with ill health and accidents, it has taken longer than planned to reach where we are now – publication on 23rd November 2017. I started writing it in 2012 and in 2014 it was finished and taken up by our publisher, Accent Press Ltd., soon after. Publication was set for the end of 2014, then various dates in 2015, and then 2016, and we were beginning to despair. Editors came and went and so it went on. Publication was scheduled for May 2017 and we were asked by yet another editor to write additional chapters and publication was moved to November 2017. Considering we’d written over 120,000 words, we were taken aback but we dropped everything and worked ourselves silly to do as we were asked. We sent off our efforts and our editor left soon after. 160,000 plus words with no-one left to edit them, so Christina and I worked ourselves silly to knock the book into shape and there you have it – War and Peace for the 21st century – and two very exhausted authors.

If you lived through the heady days of the 1960s this book will bring back some wonderful memories of the music of the sixties – later known as ‘The British Invasion of America’ – and the vibe of the time; a time when every village hall had a Chart band playing Saturday nights and when the fashions were innovative, outrageous, and such fun. We wrote about the huge world events shaping the lives of Renza and Stella – both in love with Scott, the drop-dead-gorgeous lead guitarist with Narnia’s Children who in turn loves them both too – and who must make a choice because there can be Only One Woman.

Music fills the pages and for those who were not born back then, Only One Woman will give a great insight into the times and  lives of teenagers and musicians and the early birth of what has become ‘The Music Business,’ and made the careers of so many established, super-stars today. We thought the music so important, both Renza and Stella have their own YouTube Playlists to play when reading their story.

Writing together has been great fun, desperately frustrating, and so very uplifting too. We have cried and laughed as we’ve written and all the time we’ve sung along to the tunes which are still such a huge part of our lives. Christina and I suggest sitting down with a glass of wine, our playlists on in the back ground, and a man-sized box of Kleenex close by when you read Only One Woman.

***

Blurb for Only One Woman

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 final colourful year of the sixties dawns, the question is: can there be only one woman for Scott?

***

 

***

This blog forms the last day of Jane and Christina’s blog tour- make sure you haven’t missed nay of their stops!

Here are two delicious extracts to wet your appetite…

Renza’s Diary

June 29th 1968 – later

What a dump! The local band seemed to live in part of an old house which looked derelict from what I could see. There wasn’t any furniture to speak of, just old packing cases for tables, piles of cushions and beanbags on the red thread-bare carpet. At least, I think it was red but it was hard to tell in the candle light coming from the Mateus Rose bottles dotted round the room.

The light flickered on Che Guevara and ‘Ban the Bomb’ posters, giving them a bit of a sinister look. Very anti-establishment here – Dad would go nuts.

Distorted shadows fell on couples lying around, mostly snogging or smoking, and a few were standing swaying to the music from the Philips Cassette player in the corner. I was saving up for one I’d seen in Rumbelows. It was going to take another month to have enough and I hoped it wouldn’t be gone before we moved. I should never have got the Cathy McGowan mini with the zipped front like Twiggy, it was far too expensive, and had left me without any money until the end of the month.

I hadn’t had chance to wear it yet because I was trying to hide it from Mum until she was in a good mood – whenever that was going to be. I earned the money for my clothes, so I didn’t see why I couldn’t wear what I wanted. But no, she had to inspect me every time I left the house, lecturing about what I’m wearing: too short, too long, too much leg showing – moan, moan, moan. The dress is gorgeous though: paisley pink, sleeveless and with a fab mandarin collar – very sexy – and with my long white lace-up boots I am going to blow Scott’s mind when he sees me in it.

Scott had vanished into the gloom with the rest of the boys, and just as I was about to follow, someone lurched up to me and shoved a pile of home-taped cassettes into my hands. ‘Here, doll. Put some music on, there’s a love. Your choice but make it cool, right?’ And lurched off again.

Renza

I was just about to say I wasn’t the DJ and didn’t know how the cassette player worked when I noticed a couple heaving and groaning on a pile of grubby cushions almost by my feet. I tried to avert my eyes and not blush – but too late. They rolled over and nothing in the world could have prepared me for the shock of witnessing two bearded men coming up for air following a long, fierce, snogging session. I only just stopped myself shrieking out loud and tried not to look at the couple, both with long blond locks and tight bell-bottoms, as they got down and dirty again on the pile of cushions. I’d just assumed it was a guy and a girl. Well, I would. I mean, blokes kissing blokes? And they were groping each other.

I felt myself going scarlet as I had made eye contact with them. My mouth gaped open, and total confusion almost paralysed my brain. They were nearly having sex in front of everyone, including me – a convent girl – for goodness sake! They just grinned at me and then started groping each other again. I looked away confused and embarrassed, and tried to concentrate on the cassette tapes in my hand. But I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I watched them from underneath my long fringe, fascinated yet repelled at the same time.

Had anyone else noticed it was two blokes? Of course, I had heard about people like them, I mean, we got Sex Education at school, and hadn’t I been rescued from two girls trying to kiss me in the loos at Merry Hill for goodness sake. But actually seeing them, and watching them nearly ‘doing it’, well, that was something else. Part of me wanted to giggle. But I was cool, sophisticated, part of the ‘in crowd’.  Wouldn’t do to make too much of it, otherwise I might look as if I didn’t belong and I really did want to belong.

I was supposed to be picking tapes to play and that was hard enough. Working out which songs would be hip and which ones might not be was giving me a migraine. I gave up and put them with the pile on the floor, deciding to let someone else pick the music. I glanced round the gloomy room looking for Scott, or at least something to focus on and take my mind off the couple who were getting a bit too much for me to handle on my own. I eventually spotted Scott chatting to The Fulcrum’s drummer. Someone else had taken over the music and The Beatles, sang, ‘Girl,’ in the background, which made me want to laugh out loud. Not a hip thing to do. Wonder who chose that one? Someone else had seen the blokes, I bet.

I sat on the edge of a packing case and tried to catch Scott’s eye but he was too engrossed as he and the drummer poured another glass of Watney’s from the party tin. Typical, he’s having another beer and I haven’t had a thing to drink yet. When we’d arrived he’d told me not to drink or eat anything without showing him first. No explanation why, and that was ages ago. He’d gone off to the loo and hadn’t made it back to me yet. Clearly too many distractions, not just the beer.

Carnaby Street

Everyone else seemed to be getting seriously mellow. Why the hell couldn’t I at least have some food? It had been hours since I’d eaten and the sickly sweet smell in the room was making me feel a bit light-headed.

The Beatles’ ‘Lady Madonna’ repeated on the cassette player as if the tape had got stuck. It was their latest hit, I loved it. I looked over and saw a girl in a flowing kaftan re-insert the tape and it played again. She watched it for a moment and then started swaying to the music all on her own in the centre of the room, her arms raised over her head, which seemed to rotate. I’d get dizzy doing that. I waited, but she didn’t fall over. Several blokes watched her closely.

Trying not to look at the two bearded beauties again, I stood up, smoothed my new purple Samantha Juste hipsters, and tucked my pink skinny rib into them. I wandered towards the wallpaper table and what was left of the food: a few soft looking sausage rolls and a couple of scotch eggs which had probably been sitting out for hours, I didn’t fancy the look of them. A few packets of Smith’s crisps and some peanuts was the alternative. I grabbed a packet and a handful of nuts and tucked in whilst I studiously avoided the lovers on the cushions.

‘Hi babe, what’s your name?’ I turned to see a tall skinny bloke with long black hair and a pair of lime green bell-bottoms grinning at me, cigarette dangling from his rather thick lips. I peered hard at him and then realised he was one of The Fulcrum’s guitarists, so it must be his party.

‘Saw you at the gig tonight,’ he added, flicking his ash away.

‘Err, yeah,’ I said looking for Scott. I was trapped between the table and the guitarist, who kept blowing sweet smelling smoke at me. I felt sick from it.

‘How about you and me then, babe?’ he moved up close to me and put an arm round my waist. He smelled of Old Spice. I can’t stand Old Spice.

‘I’m with my boyfriend,’ I said lamely as I wriggled away from him.

‘Don’t look like it from here babe,’ he said as he grabbed me again. ‘Let’s go over there and get to know each other.’ He tried to pull me into the shadows.

‘No, please.’ I tried not to whine, it’s not cool to whine. The magazines all say boys hate whiney girls. ‘I really am with my boyfriend, he’s over there.’ I pointed to Scott still chatting to the drummer ‘Yeah, cool… Come on babe, don’t be like that.’ He tugged my arm again and held me tightly.

‘Please, leave me alone,’ I whispered through gritted teeth, ‘I don’t want to go over there with you!’

Someone changed the tape and Amen Corner’s ‘Bend Me, Shape Me’ got a lot more people on their feet, and I started to get a bit claustrophobic as they seemed to close in on me. My head was spinning.

‘Hey, man, what gives?’ I nearly fainted with relief as Scott came up to us and put his hand on the guitarist’s shoulder. He grinned at me and winked.

‘Scott! Hi man, nothing much.’ My captor let go of my arm and took a long drag on his roll-up. ‘Your chick?’ He nodded towards me and blew smoke into my face. I started to cough and my eyes streamed.

Scott said, ‘Yeah, she is,’ and took my arm and guided me over to the drinks. He opened a Pepsi and handed the bottle to me. I gulped it down, handed the bottle back to Scott, and fished in my new Mary Quant shoulder bag for a hanky to dab my eyes. It came away all black from my mascara and eyeliner, and I had to fish around some more to find my mirror.

‘Oh, now look at my eyes,’ I sniffed. ‘Is there a ladies where I can redo my face?’ I looked like a panda with two black smudges where my perfectly applied Dusty Springfield look had been.

‘You don’t want to go in that loo, babe, trust me.’ Scott held my Pepsi in one hand and stroked my hair with his other.

My legs went to jelly. I came over all unnecessary every time he touched me, and I felt myself getting all hot and bothered. Scott looked curiously at me for a few seconds and then laughed out loud.

‘Look at you, getting in a tizzy.’ He laughed and handed me my Pepsi. ‘Drink that up and I’ll hold your mirror so you can do your face. We can go over there by the candles. I’m sure you’ll be able to see well enough to put your war paint on again.’

He held the mirror whilst I tried my best to repair my face. I felt his eyes upon me the whole time, watching me with an amused expression. My hands shook as I tried to re-apply my eyeliner and mascara. Damn the plastic eyeliner liquid, it never goes on easily and dries so fast. I put some spit on the mascara cake and dabbed the brush over it, and applied several layers to my lashes.

‘The stuff chicks mess with,’ Scott watched me closely, ‘you don’t need any of that, Renza, you are way cool without it you know.’

I blushed – again.

‘Oh God – what time is it?’ I asked, as The Beach Boys started to sing, ‘Darlin’.

‘About midnight. We’ll go soon, don’t worry, you won’t be late.’ Scott put his arms round me and held me close, and we swayed in time to the music.

My legs did a good job holding me upright but my body felt in a state of collapse. So close, and held so tightly, it was heaven. Scott stroked my hair and I closed my eyes and wished that it would never end. It was too much. I came back to reality with a jolt when someone bellowed close to my ear.

‘Scott, man, great gig, hope you cats come and play with us again.’ The bass player with the local band held his hand out and they shook hands. He peered at me, giving me the once over.

‘No sweat,’ said Scott, ‘where’re you playing next?’ and he let go of me suddenly, so I had to struggle to support myself.

‘Back at Merryhill. We have three nights here before we go to Germany,’ the bass player said, tossing a peanut into the air and catching it in his mouth.

‘Oh, yeah of course. Well, we’re back here in about a month I think. We’re off to Scotland tomorrow, Elgin and Wick, and some other places I can’t think of,’ Scott told him.

Oh, yeah? It was news to me.

More couples were dancing now, swaying next to us as Scott dropped his bombshell.

‘Then we’re off on some cruises in the Med for a few weeks. It’s good money and our manager says it’s great exposure.’ ‘

My mind went blank for a few seconds: a few weeks, in the Med? He’d never told me any of this… A few weeks?

Scott must have seen how stricken I was as he put his arm round me and squeezed me tightly. ‘Sorry Renza, only found out earlier and was gonna tell you, but you know how it is,’ his voice trailed off when he saw this didn’t help.

I felt my whole world was coming to an end.

A girl in a tight fitting bolero top and hipster trousers came over to us and flung her arms round Scott, kissing him on the mouth, a bit too long and hard for my liking. Scott didn’t seem in too much of a hurry to push her away, and she melted into him as if she was trying to come out the other side.

‘Scott lover, how’s it hanging?’ She sounded just like Fenella Fielding, all breathy and wanton.

‘Yeah Scott, just how is it hanging?’ I snapped and flounced off to where I could see Rich sitting on his own, hugging a beer.

‘Hi Renza, babe, what’s up?’ Rich held the glass up to me in greeting and took another drag on his ciggy.

‘Who’s that girl talking to Scott?’ I asked plonking myself down next to him on the huge bean bag. We both nearly fell off as it settled itself with my extra weight.

‘Hey, don’t waste good beer babe.’ Rich held his glass away from me as I wriggled to get comfy.

‘Rich, who is she?’ I asked again as I saw her drape herself all over Scott and nestle into his shoulder. The bitch! Scott didn’t seem too bothered.

‘She used to help Stephan – he’s the band’s manager I told you about earlier – in the office in Jersey and then she came to the mainland with her boyfriend. She’s no one important, she sometimes hangs with the band when we’re over.’

‘Hmm!’

I watched her like a hawk. Scott looked over and waved. The nerve!

Rich took a few gulps of beer and patted my leg. ‘Don’t fret about Scott, he’s mad about you. She’ll get the message after tonight.

I looked round the grubby room with its crates and boxes, and fake Greek Taverna decorations hanging from the walls, the fake fishing nets, glass baubles attached, and wine bottles with candles burning in them. And the couples seething in a mass on the floor, in the shadows, and on the cushions, doing goodness knows what, and I wanted to go home.

Actually, I wanted to get Scott to myself. Back home. In the village. Where things were normal.

‘Magical Mystery Tour’ came on and I suddenly thought about having to miss The Beatles at the Hammersmith Odeon, because I was ‘Mrs Spoffington’ in the school play, and couldn’t get out of it. Instead of The Beatles giving me the thrill of my life I was stuck on stage singing ‘Oh I do like to be beside the sodding sea-side,’ to a hall full of boring parents. Not that mine bothered to go.

‘Rich, mate, hi. Good gig. Stephan about tonight?’ A huge man of about thirty came up to us and nodded at me. ‘Want to sort some stuff out with him.’

He was wearing beads and a kaftan with an orange and green squiggly pattern on it, and had his ears pierced. His long black hair hung in tight curls around his shoulders. Mum would just love him.

‘Oh Renza, this is Psychedelic Smith,’ Rich said. ‘Remember we told you about him, he’s our fixer.’ I remembered. Apparently he was helping Stephan get Narnia’s Children a record deal. Everyone had to kiss up to him I was told. Well, thankfully, I don’t.

Psychedelic Smith dismissed me with a brief smile before turning back to Rich.

‘Stephan’s back in the smoke mate, got Top of the Pops with The White Knights, so he’s gotta be there for that.’ Rich drained his glass and put it on the floor next to him.

‘Right, yeah, going up the charts fast. That’s cool, I’ll ring him later. I’m in town tomorrow and want to arrange some record company auditions for the guys. Got some label interest.’

‘Do I need to re-organise anything for the boys?’ Rich asked.

‘Nope, I’ll sort some dates out with Stephan, he’ll let you know in good time. I’ve got some songs lined up for the guys to hear, so we’ll sort some dates for visiting publishers in town, too.’ I couldn’t help wondering what mum and Mrs Digby would say if Psychedelic Smith turned up in the village to visit the band. I giggled quietly.

Psychedelic Smith began to roll a ciggy and offered one to Rich. .

Rich shook his head and got to his feet. ‘Nah, mate, gotta drive back soon or her Mum’ll kill me if she’s not home on time, won’t she, babe?’ Rich smiled at me and looked at his watch, then went off to round up the band.

Psychedelic Smith took a few more drags and offered me one. I shook my head. I could just see me floating in the front door with Mum waiting up to look me over and make sure I hadn’t ‘been up to anything’.

‘No thanks.’

The Demis Russos look-alike shrugged and headed for the kitchen. Dad would have a blue fit if he knew I was ‘fraternizing,’ with blokes in dresses.

I knew the only reason I’d been allowed out so late with the band was because Mum quite liked Rich and he’d sweet-talked her into letting me go to the gig. God! If she could see me now, in this horrible house with everyone stoned, she’d have a migraine for a week worrying in case the village found out.

I looked at my watch. If we didn’t leave soon I was going to be seriously late and that would mean all hell breaking loose. Scott was nowhere to be seen now and Rich was chatting to ‘The Bitch’ by the food. I know it is horrid calling her that but she’s got right up my nose, wall-papering herself all over Scott.

People were still wrestling on the floor which meant I had to watch where I looked: I didn’t want to appear a Peeping Tom, though it was hard not to cast a sly glance now and again. I mean, seriously, some were actually ‘at it’ in full view. Anyone would look, wouldn’t they?

Thinking about it, how do you ‘do it’ in public without all your bits and stuff being on show? I couldn’t see anything, you know, rude or anything, but they were definitely ‘doing it’, I just couldn’t fathom how.

‘You look deep in thought,’ Scott made me jump, ‘what’re you looking at?’

Before I could answer he followed my gaze to the nearest couple. He threw his head back and laughed loudly. I blushed as if I’d been caught out doing something naughty.

‘Ah!’ he said, ‘I see.’

I felt really stupid. I could feel the heat rising up my neck to my face, thank goodness it was so gloomy.

‘Bit of an education eh?’ He grabbed my arm and led me through to what could only be called an apology for a kitchen. ‘Can you wait here while I get the others? We should leave now. Don’t move. I won’t be long.’

And off he went again.

The room was horrid. The sink was all cracked with brown stains and the green larder door was hanging off. A few tins of baked beans and soup was all that I could see on the shelves. A dirty milk bottle was on the draining board with about a dozen tea cups and spoons, all in need of a good wash. Dirty dishes were piled next to them, some with food still on them. I screwed my face up in disgust. How could anyone live like this?

An old gingham curtain hung in tatters at the filthy window which had a crazy paving of cracks across the top. A pedal bin stood in the corner overflowing with baked bean tins and Woodbine packets. The room stank of mould and rotting food.

I waited and tried not to think of what was surrounding me. Even my boots were sticking to the linoleum. What the hell was keeping Scot ‘Watchcha.’

I looked round to see ‘The Bitch’ as I’ll always think of her, standing in the doorway. She must’ve followed me in.

‘Looking for Scott.’

‘Well, as you can see he isn’t here,’ I said frostily.

She laughed and leaned against the door jamb. Looking me up and down, she rummaged in her pink PVC bag and took a thin black cigarette out.

‘Light?’ she asked as she placed it between her full, pale lips.

‘Don’t smoke,’ I said, and then kicked myself. I shouldn’t have let her know I wasn’t that cool; too late.

She laughed, ‘What? Too good to do the dreaded weed, eh?’ and she rummaged a bit more and came up with a box of Swan Vestas. ‘You must do something, coz Scott wouldn’t waste his time otherwise.’

She smirked and winked knowingly at me. I glared back.

She had long dark hair, cut like Cher’s, and her eyes were deep blue, peering out from her panda black eye make-up. She had a spot of acne on her chin, and that made me feel great.

The room filled with a pungent odour as she lit up and exhaled, blowing the smoke upwards. She folded her arms and continued to appraise me with an amused look on her face. The Hollies’ ‘Jennifer Eccles’ drifted into the room and she tapped her foot to the beat.

‘You’re the kid from where they live now,’ she stated flatly. ‘Not what I expected.’

I couldn’t think what to say. She made me feel like a stupid school kid and all my newly assumed sophistication was fast evaporating under her scrutiny. I shifted from one foot to another and flicked my hair forward so that she couldn’t see my face. I watched her from under my fringe. She had a smile on her face as she smoked and watched me back.

Scott appeared in the doorway. He winked at The Bitch. She smirked.

‘Come on, Renza, we’re off,’ and he held his hand out.

‘See you soon,’ he said, and blew her a kiss. She pouted her full lips and blew one back with a loud smacking noise, raised her eyebrows as I passed, and whispered, ‘I can have him anytime I want.’

I said nothing, but my heart was in my boots and I wanted to cry. I was in way out of my depth: the sneering girl, obviously enjoying my discomfort, whose relationship with Scott was too free and easy for my liking, Scott going away for weeks without even mentioning it, and this awful, gruesome house party… I just wanted to go home. Yet Mo said Scott loved me – I tried to hold the thought – but he’d never actually told me, not properly. Perhaps he’s changed his mind now he’s been out with me a few times, especially now he’s seen this girl again. I wish I had the nerve to ask him. But Rich said she’d be history after tonight, so perhaps I’m just being silly.

And I’d forgotten how far out in the sticks we’d gone to party with the band. Sitting in Bessie Bedford we were encased in total darkness, with no street lamps or nearby houses to comfort me. The wind was howling across Salisbury Plain and there was more than a spot of rain in it.

Rich tried three times before the engine decided to kick into life.

Bessie back-fired several times before we set off down the overgrown lane to the road. Although it was summer, there was a chill in the air and Scott put his parka round my shoulders when I shivered.

‘Won’t take long, should be a clear run back,’ he said as I strained to see my watch in the gloom. I snuggled into his shoulder and he squeezed me tight.

‘I can’t be later than one,’ I said. ‘Mum will kill me.’

‘Stop yapping,’ murmured Zak from behind the back seat where he was settled in amongst the gear. ‘Some of us need a kip.’

‘You shut up,’ came the reply from the other side of the gear where Joss was propped against the wheel arch.

The seat behind Scott and me was occupied by two girls I had never seen before. They were already in the van when we got in and apart from a muttered hello, hadn’t said a word to anyone, though I think I heard them whispering to each other now and again.

Mo sat in the front with a girl on his lap and she looked fast asleep. I had never set eyes on her before either. Only Rich hadn’t pulled. He drove in silence, chewing gum and smoking now and again. Thankfully he wound the window down when he did. My head throbbed. Everyone was tired. I had so many things to think about, to worry about, to talk to Scott about – but I couldn’t do any of them right now. Not in front of everyone, and I was so, so tired…

I sleepily wondered what it would be like to be married to Scott – not that that was ever going to happen – and closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

***

Stella’s Diary

December 7th 1968 – continued…

After a short walk, we joined the queue outside St Barnabus’ hall door, chatting with friends, admiring – or otherwise – each other’s outfits – stamping our feet, our breath like smoky plumes in the icy air. After a few minutes of shuffling, we were in, and having paid our money, we dumped our coats in the cloakroom, bought the obligatory beaker of orange squash – there was a no alcohol rule at St B’s as it was school premises but it never mattered because everyone just got high on the noise and the music and the excitement – and headed for the hall.

The dusty green curtains were pulled closed across the stage in the gloomy, moody darkness. Tiny lights twinkled in the ceiling and from one of the deepest, darkest corners, the DJ was playing an early Monkees hit. St Barnabus always put on a good night, and certainly knew how to create an atmosphere.

Stella

The place was packed. Most people had nabbed one of the chairs that were lined up round the outside of the floor, claiming them with handbags and drinks. A few mini-skirted girls were dancing – always the same ones – in front of the stage. Vix and I grinned at each other. We called them the Dolly-Rockers and we knew they’d be the ones trying to get off with the group’s singer later – even if he looked like Quasimodo’s much uglier cousin.

Vix and I found a couple of vacant chairs right at the front to the left of the stage.

‘Sit,’ Vix said, balancing our beakers of squash. ‘We’ve got ringside seats for when the group – what are they called – oh, yes, Narnia’s Children – comes on. And as you’re not going to rush off to interview them you can camp here all night if you don’t feel up to dancing.’

I nodded. Vix made my journalism sound very grand. It wasn’t really. A couple of years ago, I’d been asked by the teenage magazines to contribute pop group interviews as well as my short stories. I loved it.

I’d met and interviewed a lot of really big names and famous chart groups – like the Rolling Stones and The Move and Marmalade, and Amen Corner and The Walker Brothers and Status Quo, and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and The Herd and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch – as well as several big-time club acts like The Alan Bown Set and Simon Dupree and The Big Sound and Argent, and many up-and-coming bands, too.

The magazines always bought my interviews and the extra money paid for my holidays, make-up, records, books and clothes. Vix always came along with me to these gigs – we’d had some really great adventures on our nights out, been to some top venues and met some fab people.

Of course, whatever Vix thought, the short stories and the pop interviews were really only my pin-money hobby. My proper job was still, and probably always would be – well, until I died on Monday of course – as a civil servant.

I’d been signed off from work indefinitely now, depending on the outcome of the operation and the length of my recuperation period, the personnel lady had said kindly. I could have three months off on full pay, and a further three months after that on half pay, if the hospital thought I needed it.

I hadn’t bothered to tell her that it didn’t matter too much as I wouldn’t be coming back to work when I was dead.

In St B’s hall, Vix was fussing round me like a mother hen. ‘Now, you don’t need to move all night, unless you need the lav of course, if you feel awful. Do you? Feel awful, I mean?’

‘No,’ I shook my head. ‘The pethidine has kicked in nicely – and honestly if this is my last night out I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. It’ll be just my luck that the group is rubbish tonight.’

‘They won’t be,’ Vix grinned. ‘Last time we were here, it was The Foundations, wasn’t it? And you got a really good interview with them – and they were amazing. This lot will be, too. You know they always have good groups here – even the ones we’ve never heard of like – um – Narnia’s Children.’

The DJ – who was actually Mr Fisk, St Barnabus’ science teacher, who always played records between the live acts and acted as Master of Ceremonies at the Saturday dances – had replaced the Monkees with the Tremeloes. The Dolly-Rocker girls in front of the stage all posed and pouted and pushed each other and danced a bit more wildly.

Then the music stopped, and Mr Fisk left his record deck, and scampered up on the stage, beaming in the spotlight, clapping his hands for silence.

‘He really thinks he’s Bruce Forsyth,’ I giggled. ‘And this is Sunday Night at the London Palladium.’

The girls pressed closer to the foot of the stage.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls!’ Mr Fisk yelled into his microphone. ‘Lovely to see a full house tonight!

Now, let’s give a big, big St Barnabus welcome to your sensational band for this evening! All the way from Jersey in the Channel Islands! Let’s hear it for – Narnia’s Children!!!’

Everyone clapped and cheered and whistled and stamped their feet.

‘Blimey,’ Vix said. ‘No wonder we’d never heard of them. They’re foreign.’

The green curtains swished back and the footlights mingled in a smoky haze with the overhead criss-crossing spot-beams; the towers of speakers, slender spikes of microphones and snakes of cables transformed the stage from a school hall to a full-blown rock show; and Narnia’s Children roared into ‘I Get Around’ by the Beach Boys.

‘Wow…’ Vix mouthed, looking at me, wide-eyed. ‘Just wow…’

Just wow, indeed…

It was too loud to speak, to say anything, so we just stared at them – and each other.

The four boys – Narnia’s Children – on stage weren’t just brilliant musicians and sexy movers – they were definitely four of the most devastatingly gorgeous blokes we’d ever seen.

Tall, lean, long-haired and out-of-this-world-stunning, wearing skin-tight, brightly coloured flared trousers, and black skinny-rib sweaters that didn’t even attempt to hide their incredible tanned bodies, they rocked into another belting Beach Boys hit, followed by early foot-stomping Beatles, and then The Hollies – all very loud, fast-paced and brilliantly close-harmonied. They could play and they could sing…

West-Coast rock-pop at its best.

The Dolly-Rockers were no longer dancing in front of the stage. Instead, they were pressed, three deep, against it. Just gazing up in total and complete adoration.

I laughed at Vix, leaning close, my mouth to her ear. ‘I think the Dolly-Rockers want to eat them.’

‘I don’t blame them,’ she yelled back. ‘They’re mega, mega cool, totally brilliant – oh, and not to mention the sexiest blokes Harbury Green has ever seen… I’m going to book a holiday in Jersey if that’s what the boys are like.’

Me too, I thought, if I wasn’t going to be annoyingly dead… because I’d just tumbled instantly and stupidly head-over-heels for the beautiful boy on the guitar; the boy with the long silky black hair falling into the amazingly turquoise eyes.

The most beautiful boy in the world…

‘Mine’s the singer!’ Vix howled in my ear. ‘I’ve always loved a tall blond boy!’

As Jeff, Vix’s childhood sweetheart boyfriend, was sort of squat with a lot of gingery hair and even more gingery freckles, I said nothing, just smiled happily to myself, drinking it all in. OK, mainly drinking in the beautiful boy on the guitar. I may not see another Saturday night, I thought, but this one was – so far at least – pretty damn near perfect.

After a couple more numbers, all of which had the St B’s crowd dancing and singing along, and the Dolly-Rocker girls still staring lustfully at the stage, being watched by their jealous-eyed boyfriends, Narnia’s Children stopped playing, and the blond god singer stepped forward.

Red Shoes Ballroom, Elgin, Scotland where Narnia’s Children played often

‘Thank you,’ he said huskily into the microphone. Golly – even his voice was sexy! ‘That’s a really great welcome. And before we go any further with our first set, let me introduce you to the boys…’

‘Glory be, he’s gorgeous…’ Vix sighed.

‘On drums,’ he indicated the fabulous, tall, tanned boy with the Marc Bolan curls, ‘we have Mo… And on bass guitar we have Joss…’ Joss, darkly, dangerously, gorgeous, looked exactly like a Caravaggio angel – I’d done Art at A level and had been very taken with Caravaggio. ‘And on guitar…’ Madly, I was holding my breath, ‘we have Scott…’

Scott… I rolled the name around in my head. Scott – oh, yes, it suited him…

‘And I’m Zak,’ he grinned, caressing the microphone. ‘And collectively we’re Narnia’s Children. And now you know who we are, we’d really like to get to know you – so don’t forget to come up and say hi when we take our first break…’

This was met by screams and shrieks from the crowd. Mostly the girls.

‘Try and stop me,’ Vix breathed as the lights dimmed some more, and the St B’s glitter-balls revolved and sparkled.

‘You’re joking? What about Jeff?’

Vix just grinned at me. I shook my head and looked back at the stage, gazing at Scott, as Narnia’s Children rocked into The Hollies’ ‘Just One Look’.

Scott and Zak shared the microphone, harmonising on this one.

The words of the song… Scott was singing the words of the song – ‘Just One Look, That’s All It Took’ – and looking straight at me…

Rubbish! Embarrassed by my own foolishness, I stared down at the floor in the darkness. He wouldn’t even be able to see me from the stage… And even if he could, he wouldn’t be interested, and no, of course he couldn’t see me, not with the gloom and all those dozens of people dancing and the entire hall only being lit by the shimmering glitter-balls…

Just one look – that’s all it took…

Oh, but The Hollies had never sung a truer word, I thought dolefully, realising that falling head over heels for a gorgeous stranger was possibly one of the most ridiculous things I’d ever done in my entire life.

Just one look…

When it ended there was the usual eruption of applause and screams. I just stared at the floor and hoped no one could see me blushing at my foolishness.

‘And this next song,’ Zak was laughing, ‘is for someone who can’t be here tonight but who is very special to someone in the band…The words mean a lot…’

The Beach Boys’ ‘Girl Don’t Tell Me’…

Please, please, please, I thought, don’t let the someone special be anything to do with Scott…

Again he and Zak were sharing the microphone and the close-harmony vocals: “I met her last summer….” and laughing at one another, sharing a secret joke.

Please, please let the song and the someone be special to Zak…

Then I shook my head at my own stupidity, instinctively knowing both the someone and the song belonged to Scott, and sighed.

Three more songs and Narnia’s Children took a break. Mr Fisk was back at his turntable and playing The Turtles.

‘You’re not really going to talk to him, are you?’ I asked as Vix scrambled to her feet and headed towards the curtained-off stage. ‘Zak. I mean, not seriously?’

‘Course I am. Come on, we’re out to have fun tonight, aren’t we?’

‘Yes, but…’ I nodded to the masses of Dolly-Rockers in their baby-doll smocks and their Bally button-up shoes, ‘look at them. They’re practically trampling on one another to get up the steps and round backstage. You don’t want to be counted as one of them, do you?’

‘No, course not. I’m not joining the groupie hordes. I’m going to use all my feminine wiles to stand out from the crowd… Come on… That Scott is dead dishy…’

Self-preservation kicked-in and I shook my head. ‘No, you go. I saw Debbie and Sally from work in the queue earlier. I’ll go and chat to them in the break… I’ll see you back here.’

‘Your loss,’ Vix grinned, and sashayed off towards the steps.

I found Debbie and Sally, bought another beaker of orange squash, chatted to some other friends and went to the loo. By the time I got back to our seats, Mr Fisk was playing something by The Shadows, a lot of people were trying to do the Hank Marvin walk and failing, and Vix was sitting on the edge of the stage with Zak on one side of her and Scott on the other.

Some of the Dolly-Rockers were standing in front of the stage looking murderous.

‘Stella!’ Vix beckoned me over. ‘Come here – quickly! We’ve just been talking about you.’

Hoping I wasn’t blushing, pretty sure that I was, and knowing that if I refused I was going to look very silly indeed, but cursing Vix silently and violently, I walked across, climbed the shallow steps and sat on the stage beside Scott.

Feeling like a complete fool, and almost unable to look at him because close-to he was even more devastatingly beautiful – if that was possible – I was totally convinced that he could hear my heart thundering under my ribs.

‘There,’ Vix grinned. ‘Stella, this is Zak and Scott, as you probably know if you were listening earlier. Zak and Scott, this is my best friend, Stella.’

We all smiled at one another. Scott’s smile was all lovely and wide and lop-sided. Oh my word, he was so gorgeous. All my poise and cool flew out of the window and I knew when I spoke my voice would come out in some sort of strangulated squeak.

‘Fab,’ Vix smiled. ‘Now I just need to powder my nose, so I’ll leave you to get to know each other.’

‘What?’ I glared at her.

‘I’ll only be a couple of minutes,’ she chuckled. Then she leaned forward and whispered. ‘Don’t waste the opportunity. The rest of the Dolly-Rockers are being entertained backstage by Mo and Joss, oh and apparently the roadie, who I think is called Rich. I’ve captured these two for you to make your evening really special.’

And she was gone.

Zak watched her go, and stood up. ‘She’s cool. Shame she’s spoken for – she told us about her boyfriend… I guess I’d better go and check out the talent backstage and leave you two to it. See you soon, Stella, lovely to meet you – and Scott, 5 minutes, ok?’

Scott nodded, then he smiled at me again. He really had a fabulous smile.

‘Hi, Stella.’ His voice was deep and warm and well-educated. It did nothing to calm my butterflies. He stared at me and nodded slowly. ‘I love the outfit and the sequins… but to be honest, it seems such a waste.’

‘Sorry?’ I frowned at him. ‘I’m not sure…’

‘Your operation. Your friend told us all about it.’

‘Did she?’

She’d told them – complete strangers – that I had major personal internal medical problems and was going to die? Oh – I knew I’d kill her.

‘Sorry, then. She really shouldn’t have. I’m sure you didn’t want to know all the gory details.’

‘She didn’t go into any details, just said you were having the operation on Monday. Aren’t you scared?’

‘Terrified.’

‘So don’t do it.’

‘I don’t have a choice.’

This was the most surreal conversation anyone could be having, surely? Especially with someone you’d only been introduced to 30 seconds earlier and who you knew you’d love for the rest of your – obviously – very short life, all played out to a background of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’s ‘I’m The Urban Spaceman’ blaring from Mr Fisk’s turntable.

‘Of course you have a choice. I mean, I don’t know you or anything about you, but you’re definitely a girl and you’re very pretty – so why do you want to be a man?’

‘What???’

‘The sex-change operation.’ Scott looked at me, his face serious. ‘Your friend said you were having a sex-change op and were going to be called Adrian.’

‘What????’ I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. ‘She said what??? Oh, God in heaven! I’m really going to kill her!!! I’m so, so sorry. That’s not why I’m going into hospital.’

‘Thank the lord for that,’ Scott grinned at me, the turquoise eyes dancing wickedly. ‘I was pretty sure she was lying, and I didn’t think you looked much like an Adrian, but she was very convincing and I didn’t want to insult you if it was true.’

‘No, it isn’t, and oh yes, she is very convincing. She can usually manage to pull the wool over most people’s eyes. And now I’m really going to throttle her! Anyway, I’m just so sorry – so, yes, I’m going into hospital, yes, I’m having an operation, yes, I’m petrified because I think I’ll die under the anaesthetic, and no, I’m definitely not having a sex change or going to be called Adrian. Ever.’

Scott laughed. ‘As opening conversations go, this will probably rank as one of the strangest I’ve ever had.’

‘I was just thinking the same thing.’

We smiled at each other. I swear there were fireworks and butterflies and bluebirds and rainbows and celestial trumpets.

‘I’d be scared, too,’ he said softly. ‘And I don’t know what you’re having done, but you’ll be ok. Promise. So was she lying about the other part too?’

‘Probably. Depends what it was.’

‘That you’re a music journalist.’

I laughed. ‘Only if she said I worked for Melody Maker or the NME. I do freelance part-time pop interviews for the teenage magazines – but my real grown-up boring job is as a civil servant.’

‘Teenage magazines sound perfect. Just right for us. Will you interview us, then? One day? Seriously?’

‘Scott!’ Mo, the fabulous Marc Bolan’d-haired drummer, suddenly poked his head through the curtains before I could answer. ‘Up here – now! We’re ready for the second set.’

Scott nodded. ‘Yeah, sure. OK.’

‘Now!’ Mo snapped, glaring down at me. ‘Come on!’

Scott scrambled to his feet and looked at me. ‘I hope you’ll enjoy the second set. And please – don’t run away at the end.’

‘Scott!!!!’ Mo roared. ‘Come on – we’re waiting for you!’

‘See you later,’ Scott smiled, and disappeared through the curtains.

Mo gave me another glare and followed him.

I floated back to my seat, completely and idiotically in love, and only vaguely wondering why Mo didn’t seem to like me. Not, I thought, as I sat down, any of it mattered because I’d never see any of them again.

Vix sauntered back and sat down again just as the lights dimmed.

‘I will kill you!’ I hissed. ‘How could you say that?’

‘It worked, though, didn’t it?’ she hugged me. ‘It was a great ice-breaker. I knew he’d talk to you because he was intrigued.’

‘Intrigued? He must have thought he’d wandered into a mad-house. Dear God, Vix – a sex change????Why on earth – ?’

‘Because I think he fancies you, and because I saw the way you were looking at him, and because this is going to be a night to remember for you – and I’m guessing that he gets the come-on, and the same boring old chat-up lines, from girls everywhere he goes – so I just used my ingenuity. No, it’s ok – no need to thank me. It’s what best-friends do.’

I laughed. ‘You’re crazy. Anyway, no of course he doesn’t fancy me and even if he did, which he doesn’t, what would be the point? He’s clearly got someone else, I’m going to die on Monday and he’s going to be in Jersey – with the someone else who couldn’t be here tonight.’

‘But you do fancy him?’

‘Yes.’

‘There then. Trust Auntie Vix.’

Narnia’s Children’s second set was just as mind- blowingly amazing as the first had been. Whether they were playing blasting rock’n’roll, full-on complex close harmony or pure bouncy pop, they were excellent. This time though, I did watch Scott. It didn’t matter that he had a special someone or that he’d be a million miles away by the morning and that I’d never see him again because I’d be dead. None of it mattered. I just wanted to soak up as much of him as possible and store it in my memory so that I could drag it out and it would be the last thing I’d see before the anaesthetic killed me.

And then they played The Hollies’ ‘Stay’. And Scott was singing.

And he was looking at me.

“… please stay… just a little bit longer…”

Vix jabbed me in the ribs. ‘Told you!’

And I just smiled. Because it was silly and futile and pointless, not to mention wrong, for so many reasons.

And then, all too soon it was over. To roars of approval and deafening applause and heartbroken screams from the Dolly-Rockers, Narnia’s Children finished their set with a flourish and the green curtains swished shut.

I actually felt bereft.

The lights in the hall blazed into life, and immediately the dark, smoochy atmosphere was bleached away. The packed hall no longer looked exciting – it just St B’s gym hall. Mr Fisk was busily packing away his records, the Dolly Rockers were still hanging around the stage steps and most other people, blinking blearily, were heading for the cloakroom. I stood up.

‘Whoa,’ Vix grabbed my arm. ‘Where are you going?’

‘To get my coat.’

‘Not before we’ve said goodbye to the boys in the band. C’mon…’

‘Vix! No! Let’s go home.’

But Vix wasn’t listening and she hauled me after her, cutting a swathe through the Dolly-Rockers, up the steps, and still with me in tow, barged through the curtains on to the stage.

Backstage, it was mayhem.

The boys and a slightly older bloke, presumably Rich the roadie, were winding miles of cables, hefting towers of speakers, packing away guitars, dismantling the drum kit, uncoupling microphone stands.

The stage was littered with discarded T-shirts, coats, drinks cans and bottles, towels and masses of other unrecognisable paraphernalia. Vix and I stood back and watched the organised chaos with fascination. It may have looked like pandemonium, but clearly Narnia’s Children, organised by Rich, knew exactly how to clear everything away with the minimum of fuss and in the shortest possible time.

Scott was carefully packing away his guitar on the far side of the stage and he looked up and smiled at me. Warily, I smiled back.

‘Go home,’ a voice said in my ear. ‘Leave him alone. He’s got a girlfriend.’

I turned and looked at Mo, his arms full of band gear, and frowned. ‘What?’

‘He’s got a girlfriend. She’s gorgeous. Back off. Ok?’

Surprise, surprise. I sighed. ‘Oh… er… that’s nice…’

‘It is. She is,’ Mo walked away. ‘She’s cool. He’s not into groupies like you, so clear off.’

‘He’s right,’ Rich, also loaded with band kit, paused beside me. ‘Renza’s very special to Scott – and to all of us. He’s going to marry her. Soon. He never looks at other women and he certainly won’t be interested in you. So, stop hanging around. Look, love, putting this very nicely – sod off.’

Renza… pretty name. Italian? She probably looked exactly like Gina Lollobrigida or Sophia Loren. Dark, glamorous, sultry and oh-so-sexy. My imagination went into overdrive as I pictured her and Scott together… Renza… I knew I hated her.

I also knew when I wasn’t wanted. You didn’t have to tell me twice. Picking my way through the group’s muddle, I headed for the gap in the stage curtains.

‘Stella!’ Scott had put down his guitar case and stepped in front of me. ‘Where are you going? You can’t just leave. You haven’t said goodbye.’

I just stared at him. The most gorgeous, flirty, beautiful, clever, sexy – and engaged-to-be-married – boy I’d ever meet. Then I noticed Mo and Rich, still watching me, glaring at me, standing there, side-by-side behind Scott, like twin Outraged Moral Guardians.

‘Go away,’ Mo mouthed silently. ‘He’s got Renza. He’s not interested. Go.’

Rich wasn’t quite so polite. ‘Bugger off!’

I didn’t stop to think. I turned back to look at Scott, and without taking my eyes from his, I took a deep breath, balled up my fist, and punched him in the stomach. Hard.

I heard him gasp, heard Vix shriek, but just turned and ran towards the gap in the curtains. Then looking triumphantly over my shoulder at Mo and Rich, I pushed my way through the curtains, slithered down the stairs off the stage and ran out of the hall.

 ***

If you like to buy Only One Woman…

Ebook pub date: 23rd November 2017
Print pub date: 24th May 2018

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2eBWhXm

***

Jane Risdon

Here’s little information about Jane Risdon…

Jane Risdon has spent most of her life in the international music business. Married to a musician she has experienced the business first hand, not only as the girlfriend and wife of a musician, but later with her husband as a manager of recording artists, songwriters and record producers, as well as placing songs on TV/Movie soundtracks for some of the most popular series and movies shown around the world.

Writing is something she has always wanted to do but a hectic life on the road and recording with artists kept those ambitions at bay. Now she is writing mostly crime and thrillers, but recently she’s collaborated with award-winning author Christina Jones, on Only One Woman. A story they’ve wanted to write together, ever since they became friends when Christina became Fan-club secretary for Jane’s husband’s band.

Christina Jones

Here’s a little information about Jane’s co-author, Christina Jones…

Christina Jones, the only child of a schoolteacher and a circus clown, has been

writing all her life. As well as writing romantic comedy novels, she

also contributes short stories and articles to many national magazines and

newspapers.

Having successfully written short fiction for the teenage publications, while still at school Christina became a teenage rock/pop music journalist for Romeo and Jackie magazines, interviewing many 60s’ chart stars – including the Stones, the Move, Amen Corner, the Herd, the Foundations, Alan Bown, Argent, the Zombies, Unit 4+2, the Walker Brothers, Simon Dupree, and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch among many others.

She has won several awards for her writing: Going the Distance was a WH Smith Fresh Talent Winner; Nothing to Lose, was shortlisted and runner-up for the Thumping Good Read Award with film and television rights sold; Heaven Sent was shortlisted in The Melissa Nathan Comedy Romance Awards and won a Category Award; Love Potions won the Pure Passion Award; The Way to a Woman’s Heart was short-listed for the Rom-Com of the Year; and An Enormously English Monsoon Wedding won The Reviewer’s Choice Award.

She has written 21 romantic comedy novels:

Dancing in the Moonlight; Going the Distance; Running the Risk; Stealing the Show; Jumping to Conclusions; Tickled Pink; Nothing to Lose;

Walking on Air; Lavender Lane; Honeysuckle House; Forever Autumn; Summer of Love; Hubble Bubble; Seeing Stars; Love Potions; Happy

Birthday; Heaven Sent; Moonshine; The Way A Woman’s Heart; Never Can Say Goodbye and An Enormously English Monsoon Wedding.

She has also written and/or contributed to 11 e-book-only novellas/short stories/compilations: Those Lazy, Hazy Crazy Days; Mitzi’s Midwinter Wedding; Bucolic Frolics; Happy Ever After; Snippets; Shiver; Holiday Fling; Wishing on a Star; Chicklit Lovers Vol One; Chicklit Lovers Vol Three; Milton St John Box-Set.

Her latest novel – the love and peace and rock’n’roll 1960s story: Only One Woman – co-authored with Jane Risdon, will be published in November 2017.

All Christina Jones’ novels are currently available, either in paperback or e-book format, and after years of travelling, she now lives in rural Oxfordshire with her husband and several rescued cats.

Author Twitter handles: @bucolicfrolics (Christina Jones) and @Jane_Risdon (Jane Risdon)
***

Thanks ever so much for dropping by today!

Happy reading,

Jenny. xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post from Jane Risdon: Life gets in the way

Today I’m welcoming a fellow Accent author to my site- the lovely Jane Risdon.

Over to you Jane…

Hello Jenny and everyone, thanks so much for this opportunity to introduce myself and to chat about my writing and blogging with you. I really appreciate it and I hope you will find something here of interest which might lead you to delve into my work a little further.

A little about myself for those of you who have not already made my acquaintance. I came to writing a little later than I had wished. I’ve always wanted to write, but you know how it is, life gets in the way.

Jane Risdon

When I was young – still at school – I met a young rock musician whose band came to live next door whilst they were in England touring; it was love at first sight but I was due to go overseas and so it was four years later, and a lot of trips back and forth to England to visit him, before we got together long enough to get married. By this time I had a career in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London – I got a posting from Germany where I was working with the Ministry of Defence, to be near him eventually — so at least we got to spend some time together in the same country, and town, and sometimes even the same building now and again. Though we did share a house with some of his band in the early days. If you have a vivid imagination, let it wander….you won’t be far off the truth. My dreams of writing were put on hold. Someone had to have a regular income.

Later we ventured into the Music Business on the other side of the desk, and went into Artist Management, Production and Publishing. We managed Recording Artists, Song Writers, Record Producers, and Actors, for our sins, and we worked, travelled, and lived all over the world but mainly in Singapore, America, and Europe. So you can imagine touring with rock bands and spending months on the road, then months in recording studios trying to babysit a bunch of eighteen years olds, isn’t really conducive to writing, or anything else for that matter. Life as I knew it went flying past as I spent my time working hard to create and sustain success for our artists. Writing? Well, that was something I’d get round to one day.

I guess one of the good things to come out of my life experience working in the FCO and various other government-related jobs and within the International Music Business, is a wealth of stories. Stories about life on the road, and stories inspired by my time working within the corridors of Whitehall and stories about life in Hollywood living and working with the movers and shakers in the Movie and Music Industry. We worked with some of the most iconic people in those businesses and yes, I admit it, Pamela Anderson kissed my cheek and everyone told me not to wash for a week, and working on Baywatch was a blast; the guys liked it anyway. David Cassidy was a babe, Alice Cooper was a real gent, Gloria Estefan a star, Weird Al was a laugh, and working with the guys from Queen, was, well, an experience! Just name dropping a few to get you in the mood.

Having survived earthquakes, tornadoes, race riots in LA, fires, floods and mudslides, I am waiting for the plague of locusts, knowing my luck they are sure to come. So I knew that there was something out there, keeping me alive, so I could write.

I’ve always been an avid reader of Crime, Thrillers, Mysteries, and Espionage, so it is little wonder that when I eventually got the chance to have some time to myself, I found myself writing Crime stories, sometimes with an Espionage edge, and often with a musical theme as well. Write about what you know, right?

If it hadn’t been for an old friend, someone who is now a very successful writer in her own lunch-time, I might never have had the courage to go naked with my work. She was originally my husband’s Fan Club secretary – well, the group’s – and she was also a rock and pop journalist working on music magazines, interviewing rock stars, and writing for Jackie and Romeo and the like as well. Later she wrote books which became a huge hit with fans of romance and comedy, and she still is.

We got chatting about my stories and she was kind enough to read a load of them, and she loved them, some made her laugh, others made her cry and some made her nostalgic for the good old days of Rock n’ Roll. The cool thing is she encouraged me to carry on, and because of her I am now writing full time.

I started off with online publications in writing blogs which went down well with readers, so I even ventured into Flash Fiction which I must say I really love. Anyway, eventually some of my short stories were Pod-cast and soon people were asking me to write stories for anthologies in aid of various Charities. They were published in print and e-book formats and were well received. I was chuffed to bits. I have written for a couple of online magazines too. In the past the only magazines I’d written for were Music related.

You can find some of my Short Stories and Flash Fiction with Pod-casts, over on Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog:

http://wp.me/p18Ztn-4ID Follow this and you’ll find links to my other work or just type Jane Risdon into Morgen’s search bar and lots of my work will pop up.

I don’t want you to think I just write short stories; I don’t, but more about that a little later if you haven’t dropped off and gone into a coma.

Blogging came to my attention and so I thought I’d have a bash at it as a means of reaching potential readers and also because I love writing. I get to write about anything I want and I do. I love photography so I try and add a few photos taken when I’ve been out walking, or visiting places. Last time I looked over 2,000 people were following me on WordPress. Get a load of that!

My WordPress Author Page is at: http://wp.me/2dg55

I also have a Facebook Author Page where the numbers are creeping up to 1,500, so I think I am doing something right.

My Facebook Author Page is at: www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2

Through my blog I got to know another crime writer who is also an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing in the USA. She has been a wonderful support to me which I appreciate so much. In 2013 she asked me to contribute two crime stories to her anthology In A Word: Murder, which had to be set in the world of publishing.

ina-word-murder-cover - Copy - Copy

In A word: Murder is in print and e-book – UK/USA links:

http://www.amazon.com/In-Word-Murder-An-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00GFXNZYE/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1383674275&sr=8-8&keywords=in+a+word%3A+murder

http://www.amazon.co.uk/In-Word-Murder-An-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00GFXNZYE/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1383674321&sr=8-12&keywords=In+word+Murder

Various award winning authors were contributing as well, so you can imagine the trepidation I felt putting my work alongside theirs.

To cut a long story short – I can hear the huge sigh of relief – my stories were well received. Dreamer – about a London based rock band in 1989 about to hit the big time when the big money was about to roll in, with a super-star American manager wanting to sign them, who wrote what suddenly becomes an issue, leading to murder. (Extract below!)

Hollywood Cover Up – about an English girl working as a PA to a big Hollywood mover and shaker who witnesses something at an Industry bash involving a Presidential candidate, and is fired from her job. Unable to find work she decides to write a novel based on her experiences, and soon she and her publisher are in mortal danger, not just from the Politician and the Hollywood elite, but from the Secret Service too, all wanting to prevent the publication of her book.

Shiver

My work came to the attention of various publishers in 2014 and after a lot of thought and consideration I am now published by Accent Press Ltd.   My first outing with them was in their Halloween Anthology, Shiver.

Shiver – links: http://t.co/qw98OdKs9C

Shiver on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUofhdwu8JE

My story ‘The Haunting of Anne Chambers,’ has been really well received with some fab comments on Amazon which has cheered me no end. This was my first real attempt at a Ghost Story and I set it in Cornwall where I’ve worked over many years with some of my artists. It’s about Pirates (privateers) Anne and Andrew who are lovers. They’re planning to run away together to a new life after one last raid. But when Anne is knocked out cold, she comes round to find that the world has changed disturbingly.

Wishing on a Star

Wishing on a Star followed Christmas 2014 with my short story, ‘Merry Christmas Everybody,’ included.

Wishing on A Star – links: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wishing-Star-seasonal-collection-stories-ebook/dp/B00PQL5H3I/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416250379&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Wishing+on+a+Star+by+Accent+Press+Ltd

This story is based on true events with names etc., changed to preserve the dignity of those involved. There are tensions in the studio when Twister record their new album. The band members are at each other’s throats and someone is messing up their recordings. The band blames their producer, but it soon becomes clear that someone unexpected is trying to get a message of festive goodwill through to them….

If you haven’t dropped into a coma I shall add some further detail here about the full length books I am writing. As I said before I write mainly Crime/Mystery stories, although I have ventured into other genres from time to time. For the last couple of years I’ve been working on a number of projects, all in various stages of completion. I know, I know, I get it. I see many other authors publishing one, two, three books a year and here I am plodding along year after year without a full length book published. I’d hoped to have completed all my projects early last year but a fall down the stairs, Christmas 2012, put paid to that. I’ve been unable to spend too long writing as a result of breaking my shoulder and collar bones in a peculiar way. My consultant, a professor who is also an Army Colonel, says he’s never seen injuries like it on a lady of any age, and usually only on soldiers in combat or young lads coming off their Harley’s after doing the ton. When I do something, I do it well. Hence things are a little slower than expected. And following my operation saga, I am now having physiotherapy to get mobility and strength back in my left arm and shoulder.

Back to my main project. Ms Birdsong Investigates is a series I am working on. Lavinia Birdsong is a fortyish former MI5 Officer forced into ‘voluntary retirement,’ following a disastrous mission which included her now ex-lover and partner, on secondment from MI6. He got sent to Moscow and she ended up in The Vale of the White Horse, in the fictional village of Ampney Parva, where she is trying to keep a low profile, hiding from her enemies and her ex-lover, whilst also trying to make a life for herself. She can’t help herself, old habits die hard and soon she has her fellow villagers under surveillance, nothing heavy, just curiosity, causing her to keep notes on them and their activities. Lavinia soon finds herself investigating a missing woman. From the shifty playboy Solicitor to the Russian Oligarch in the early stages of Alzheimer’s; nothing is what is seems. Murder is afoot. Lavinia is in her element.

Ms Birdsong Investigates and a couple of other books I am working on in the series should, I hope, be finished later in the summer ready for publication, if my publisher likes the end product of course. You can find some information about my projects and writing, on my WordPress blog and of course the books I have been published in are available via Amazon. Sadly one book I contributed two stories towards, Telling Tales, in aid of charity, is no longer in print, but the other three are still on sale. Both books for Accent are available also. If you buy/read anything do please leave a comment on Amazon and my blog, I would really appreciate it and so would the other authors. I have an Author Page on Amazon with links to my work as well.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

I Guest Blog often and have been interviewed several times, and also written articles and you will find links on my Author page. I have a regular Guest Blogging spot on Creative Frontiers where I have 300 words, every fortnight, to come up with stories about my life and experiences in music. If you find yourself over there, do check them out and let me know what you think; they have a comments section.

Creative Frontiers: Parts 1: Snore Poison so I’ll remember it:

http://creative-frontiers.com/blog/writing-desk/snore-poison-ill-remember/

Creative Frontiers: Part 2: The Auditions:  http://wp.me/p3YvQS-14Q

Creative Frontiers: I must have a criminal mind:

http://creative-frontiers.com/blog/profiles/must-criminal-mind/#comment-20529

I’ve got a blog spot over on Chill with a Book:

Chill with a book, blog spot:

http://chillwithabook.blogspot.com.es/2015/02/wishing-on-s

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I Am Woman-vol-1-

I have also contributed to the anthologies, Telling Tales Anthology by Writers for Welfare (http://www.lulu.com) and I Am Woman Anthology vol 1 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Am-Woman-Anthology-Anthologies-ebook/dp/B00817P8DI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427798013&sr=8-1&keywords=I+am+woman+volume+1)

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Extract from my Short Story Dreamer published in In A Word: Murder.

Dreamer

(c) Jane Risdon 2013

No-one spoke, they couldn’t look him in the eye; instead they fidgeted and stared at the floor, the mixing desk, anywhere rather than register the hurt and shock on his face; anywhere other than confront the affect their duplicity had upon their now former band mate.

‘I formed this band, at school. I asked you to join me!’ Jake nearly choked, his throat tight and dry. He stared at his three best mates in the world, his band, disbelief all over his face.

‘Why?’ he almost sobbed, ‘What the hell’s going on?’ He held his Gibson to his chest as if it would comfort him, he never felt whole without it in his hands.

‘Nothing personal mate, you gotta believe that, we can still be mates.’ Bozz, pretty-boy lead singer, and last to join the band all those years ago tried to brighten his voice as if it would soften his words.

‘Nothing bloody personal, what is it then, eh? Tell me what’s not fuckin’ personal about being sacked from my own fuckin’ band?’ Jake’s voice broke and he turned away, fighting tears welling up.

‘They want someone more, well, you know, sexy.’ Rab said bashful all of a sudden. He carried on restringing his Warwick bass, determined not to see Jake’s hurt.

‘Sexy! Fuckin’ sexy? What the fuck?’ Jake couldn’t help yelling. ‘Don’t I pull enough is that it?’ He was outraged. ‘I get totty, more than plenty. What’s it gotta do with them or the friggin’ music anyway?’

‘The record company won’t sign us if you’re still in the band.’ Mickey twirled his sticks as he spoke. He was always the ambitious one and he was damned if he’d let personal allegiances get in the way of his chance to hit the big time. If the label wanted Jake to go, Jake had to go.

‘More of a showman sort of thing; the girls like that,’ whispered Bozz, ‘a proper axe-man.’

‘Won’t sign the band? Are you friggin nuts? I write the bloody songs.’ Jake towered over Mickey, the Gibson now resting against the SSL mixing desk, his fists at his sides, ready to strike. ‘Not enough of a …..? They saw the festival video; they loved it, that’s why they wanted us they said.’

‘They think you’re too static, you don’t move enough, and I think they’ve got a point,’ Mickey smirked, ‘you just ain’t sexy mate. As for pulling, well, you pull all right but you’re too scared to do anything about it, it doesn’t look good; you’re almost married, it’s not cool.’

‘I don’t fuckin’ pull…what about you then, eh Mickey? Who do you pull eh?’

Jake grabbed a nearby mic stand, swinging it at Mickey who ducked down in his seat just in time, ‘Hey, man, cool it!’

‘Seems they want us, Jake, not you,’ Rab looked up sheepishly, ‘and the video convinced them you don’t cut it live mate. They want a real axe-man, like Page or Townsend or Slash even…’

‘Yeah, sorry mate, after coming to all the gigs, that video did it,’ Bozz shrugged at his friend, glancing at the others, ‘they don’t think you’ve got it, we tried to change their minds, didn’t we?’

‘Right! I just bet you friggin’ did.’ Jake shook his long blonde curls and grabbed the mic stand again. ‘So what’s the deal then? Who’ve you got just happened to be waiting in the wings then, eh? Not that fucker from Dawn Treader?’ Jake stuck his face right into Mickey’s. ‘Yeah, that’s about right, that wanker’s always hanging around you isn’t he, Mickey – got well in has he?’

‘Cool it Jake.’ Their engineer/producer Bo Baldacci came into the studio, DAT copies of the final mixes for their label financed demo ready to hand over to the A&R manager at Gypsy Records. ‘Take that shit outside; I don’t want any aggro in here.’

‘So you’re some sort of bloody Freddie Mercury or Robert Plant, are you Bozz? That’s a friggin’ laugh! And don’t forget our ultra-sexy bass player, what a joke! Of course we’ve got Moonie on the drums, or is it John Bonham?’ Jake fumed.

‘If I’m out the band you can’t use my songs, so hand over all the mixes Bo, let them write their own fuckin’ songs, see how far they get then.’ Jake made a grab for the DATs and Mickey leapt up and smacked Jake in the face with his unopened can of Stella.

‘They’re not just your songs you pillock, we co-wrote them, you agreed; four-way splits on all the songs, so they’re not YOUR bleedin’ songs anymore!’ Mickey ducked as the mic stand headed his way again.

‘But Mickey, we never did…..’ Bozz didn’t finish as the mic stand whooshed over his head.

‘I’m taking them back; you’ll get nothing without them, nothing without me. I can prove they’re mine, you can’t.’

‘Cut it out!’ Bo shouted grabbing the mic stand as it narrowly missed his head as well. ‘Jake, haul your arse out of here, now!’

Jake held his face where Mickey had bashed him; eyes filled with hatred he grabbed his guitar case and placed his beloved Gibson inside. He took his book of lyrics off the desk and shoved it inside his back-pack. Bozz stared at the floor, totally gutted at what had just happened to his childhood mate. He really didn’t like this one bit. Rab shook his long brown hair, his face in his hands, seriously freaked by it all. But neither would rock the boat, ruin their chances, and miss out of the chance of a lifetime, however distasteful.

Only Mickey seemed to be fine with things, he glared at Jake, and then sat back down tapping out a rhythm on the arm of the sofa with his new Zildjian sticks. The band was getting sponsorship deals for their gear, arranged by the record company; lots of perks were coming their way. And not just perks; there were the advances from the record deal and the publishing to look forward to. Why should they lose out on all this because of Jake? Nope, he wasn’t going to miss out because of that stupid bastard. No way.

‘Go home Jake, I’ll get your stack to you and the rest of your gear tomorrow.’ Bo held the control room door open.

‘This isn’t the end, you bunch of shits; you’ll come crawling back when you need new material. Well screw you, screw the fuckin’ lot of you!’ Jake kicked the desk as he passed Bo…

***

A taster from my Short Story, Dreamer, which is included in In A Word: Murder and is available on Amazon. The anthology is in memory of Crime Writer, Editor and blogger Maxine Clarke and all proceeds go to The Princess Alice Hospice where she passed away.

I really hope you enjoyed my Guest Blog and the sampler from my story. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Thanks so much Jenny for allowing me this opportunity to connect with your readers. I really appreciate it.

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Wow!! What an amazing life!!! Thank you ever so much for visiting today Jane.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

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