When a book is released, we hear all about the story, so with Pen2Publish, we’d like to find out more about the process, and the people who helped it along the way.

Why are we featuring this book?

I read this book and found it a fascinating insight into the swing sixties. Jane was part of the music scene back then and was able to draw on her experiences around that time.

Hi Jane, welcome to Norns Triad Publications, please tell me the name of your book and a little about the story.

Thanks for inviting me to take part in Pens2Publish, I am excited to be taking part.

The book I’d like to tell you about is Only One Woman (Headline Accent) which I co-wrote with lifelong friend and best-selling, award-winning author, Christina Jones.

Our novel follows two teenage girls in the closing years of the 1960s who meet and fall in love with a lead guitarist, whose band has moved to mainland England from Jersey in the Channel Islands, to tour and record. Set in the UK music scene it is an authentic depiction of the vibe that was Swinging Sixties, enjoyed by guys and gals, and especially musicians. The Cold War, social change, the fashions, food, music, and more are all featured in a nostalgic look back at England when its youth culture influenced the world. You’ll end up with earworms, guaranteed.

When did this story first make itself known to you?

Chrissie and I have always wanted to write together. She was a Rock/Pop journalist when my then boyfriend’s band came to England and needed to take on a Fan-club secretary. She saw the band performing and their manager asked her if she’d like to take on the job.

Time passed and she went on to enjoy an amazingly successful career as an author, and I married my musician and eventually went into International Music Management. An opportunity to write together never transpired.

I later took up writing (mostly crime) and her books are what she calls, Bucolic Romances, so we could never think how we could write something together.

After my husband and I retired from our music careers we decided to return to England and downsize, selling our UK home. In doing so I was tasked with disposing of the clutter. After being together since 1968 you can imagine what that was like I’m sure. We’ve had homes in the USA and UK and so there was lots to dispose of.

As I went through our things I kept coming across tour brochures, photos, posters, music, and fan letters, from my husband’s performing days. I have always kept diaries and I lost loads of time thumbing through them and reading excerpts. As I did an idea began to form and I was inspired to write a story about the 1960s, and a rock group who came to England and what happened to them. Somewhere in my imagination, I decided it would involve a murder – naturally! 

I made notes and then set about writing the book. Well, all the best plans… about halfway through I realised I was writing a love story. How did that happen? I’d never even read a love story so writing one came as a shock. The love story of Renza and Scott — lead guitarist with Narnia’s Children — who’d arrived from the Channel Islands to tour and record before heading off to Europe. I couldn’t fit a murder in. I found myself telling the tale of the life of a band on the road in England and Europe, performing onboard a cruise ship, and the various venues in the UK where bands such as The Beatles performed. I included food, fashion, and the music of the era, but something was missing.

I sent what I’d written to Chrissie and asked her to read it. She was so excited she wanted to co-write it with me. I said yes. She wanted to add another character and soon Renza, Stella, and Scott’s love-triangle came into being — Only One Woman.  We were both signed to Accent in our own right before this book was published, so we knew we had a publisher.

Roughly, how long did it take to write, and what was the process after the first draft?

Only One Woman took me (personally) about 3 months to write from beginning to end. Chrissie took longer because she was in the midst of another novel for our publisher.

Our novel only had one draft before it went to the publisher, Accent Press — later Headline Accent (Hachette). It went in at 100,000 words. The editor took over and after a few changes of wording we were asked to write more chapters each, and it ended up at 165,000 – 500 pages.

I don’t know Chrissie’s process, but we had so few changes to make it was unreal. She is an award-winning, bestselling author in her own right and has been writing for almost 50 years, so she is a master at her craft. I just wrote from the heart and it seemed to work.

Chrissie sent my finished book and her contribution to the publisher once she’d completed her character, Stella. I know it’s odd, but I hadn’t read what she’d written, let alone discussed it with her until it was sent to me by the editor. So, she’d read my story and I had never read any of hers before then.

I think we exchanged a few confirmations of dates and names of venues before she started.

Because the book is in diary format each author has a diary entry for their chapters. Renza and Stella lived in different countries for most of the story and Scott, their love interest, moved around with his band. Scott and Renza would meet up when Renza came to England now and again, and Stella and Scott were together quite a lot when he was in England and Renza was back in Germany. So, their diaries were easy to write because only some facts overlapped.

Renza didn’t know about Stella, but Stella knew all about Renza.

Did you have to do any research? Tell us a little about that.

As I said, earlier, Only One Woman was my idea and story, and I did all the research for it and the background. Actually, it didn’t need much because the story was basically autobiographical in the facts relating to life on the road with a rock band, living in the late 1960s with the threat of the Cold War erupting into Nuclear War at any moment. The fashions, the food, the way of life described, and the music references threading throughout the story are authentic and have been experienced. Musicians and guys love the book because of its authenticity, and how it captures the vibe of the era.

I went through dozens of diaries which I have kept since a teenager and with tour schedules, posters, photos, and fan letters, including letters my husband and I had written to each other. There were newspaper cuttings, music magazines, and the UK Charts that I consulted. Plus, my own memories and those of my husband and his band. Research was easy but thorough.

I have no idea what Chrissie did regarding research. However, our memories were similar in that she was fan-club secretary to my then boyfriend’s band, and she was also a journalist for Pop and Teen magazines such as Jackie. She’d interviewed many rock and pop bands as part of her job, so I imagine her memories, like mine, helped her write her part of the story, which is also autobiographical to some extent.

Who are your main characters? Tell us about them.

Renza is the main character and the story is from her POV mostly. She is 16 and is a bit of a drudge to her family of five siblings, all much younger. She loves music and dreams of escaping from her family. About to move overseas for 3 years she becomes aware of a rock band moved in nearby.  She is shy and inexperienced, not allowed out with her few school friends who are never allowed inside the house, so visit rarely. She is beautiful, quiet, and naive in many ways. Her life is home, housework, childcare, and school. She is about to move and is dreading it.

Narnia’s Children arrive from the Channel Islands (Jersey) to tour and record, and they move into a flat near Renza’s house. Scott, 18, sees her and immediately falls in love with her. They eventually go on a date. Renza falls for him. He is constantly gigging, and they see each other rarely. The band go on a cruise performing for the rich and famous whilst waiting to record, their manager wants them earning until the big money comes in. When they come back Scott proposes to Renza, and she accepts but soon after has to leave for Germany. They vow undying love and plan to marry when she returns.

Enter Stella, 19, and street-wise.  She is fed up with her boyfriend who is only after one thing.  Her family is close and loving and she lives at home, an only child, happy but wanting more out of life than a job in the Civil Service.  Stella is outrageous, her fashions are unique, as she makes her own clothes. She is music mad. She is about to face major surgery and is convinced she won’t survive. Her friend takes her to a gig where she and Scott’s eyes meet over the stage and there is an amazing chemistry between them. Stella and Scott date and they fall in love, but, what about Renza? He has a dilemma. He loves them both. He is torn.

Scott, 18, from Jersey, music is his life. His band is in the UK to tour and record and soon they are part of the music ‘scene,’ moving in the same circles as the rich and famous. His career is about to take off. He comes from a broken family and is a loner. He has plenty of girlfriends, but no-one special until he spots Renza on her way back from a rare evening out with school friends. She’s been to see The Equals at the Top Rank in Reading. For Scott, it is love at first sight.

He introduces Renza to a whole new world full of musicians, and their weird and wonderful lifestyles.

Once your story is complete, did you send it to an editor? If so, tell me about them and how they enhanced your story.

As I mentioned before, Only One Woman went straight to the publisher and was edited in-house. Luckily, they didn’t do much editing, and so for Chrissie and me, it was a relief. Except we were asked to write another 65,000 words. That meant adding in chapters (diary entries), which I, for one, had left out due to the word count before I sent my story to Chrissie. Obviously, she had to read what I’d written to be able to write her additional chapters. It was a bit of a struggle because we’d both ‘ended’ our parts, and although the book ending remained the same, we each had to add to the story and ensure that what we wrote fitted in seamlessly, helped it flow, and didn’t stall it at all.

I have used outside editors for other stories and books, and I try to get the story as near to perfect before I send/submit it to anyone. It can work out expensive otherwise.

Now tell me about the formatting, who does that? And how did you decide on your book cover?

After the book was sent to the publisher and editing was complete, the publisher sent it to the printer who I imagine also formatted it. I have never formatted a book, even Undercover: Crime Shorts, which I paid someone to do for me.

Once the printer had done his work, the publisher sent a copy through to us both to check word by word, line by line until we were happy. The publisher also did this. Once we were all happy, we discussed covers with their graphic department, and they sent several ideas through to us and we sent our ideas to them. Chrissie and I wanted something to reflect the 1960s and the look of artwork back then. They came up with the cover we have, although it was minus the transit van which is on the cover now. I asked for that to be added because the group had a transit van when Renza met them, and it plays a huge part in the story.

Meanwhile, I asked iconic rock singer, Graham Bonnet, if he would read the book and write a foreword. Only One Woman is the title of his hit song of 1968 written by The Bee Gees, for him and his cousin, Trevor Gordon, when they performed as The Marbles. I’d already asked Barry Gibb’s management if we could use the title. Graham’s foreword sums up the book and the era brilliantly. Graham went on to have (still has) an amazing career singing with Rainbow, Alcatraz, Michael Schenker, Ritchie Blackmore, and many other legendary rock bands.

How long did it take from conception until the publication of Only One Woman?

You’ll wish you never asked.  I finished the book in 2012 and sent it to Chrissie the same year. She wrote her part, and we sent it to our publisher in 2013. We were asked to write additional chapters. I completed mine right away and sent them off. The publisher set a date for publication, 2014, and waited for Chrissie’s additional chapters in order to prepare for the chosen date. However, Chrissie didn’t complete her chapters or send them in until much later. Several dates were rescheduled for publication that came and went and eventually the publisher set another date, 2017, for the eBook and it was published at last. The print copy came out in 2018. Rights were sold in USA and Australia and Canada and Audio Rights were also sold. However, right in the middle of all this, the publisher was sold to Hachette. All authors who went with the company were placed into Headline Accent, and we all had to wait for the change-over, the business side of the sale to go through, and then reorganisation regarding all Accent authors. This had an impact on the marketing of course, and eventually, the Audio rights were not included in the new deal. But we managed to keep it selling well all throughout that time and it still is. So, although the book was ready for publication in 2013 we had to wait until 2017 and 2018.

Why do you think readers will like this book?

 I think that if you read the reviews on Amazon and GoodReads you will see the majority of readers love it. Some say they’ve read it more than once. Even guys and musicians love it. Only One Woman is not a ‘girlie’ book — it has something for men also.  It is like a memoir.

A love triangle with an insight into the late 1960s music scene, and life in general for teenagers growing up with the British influencing the world with music and fashion, the Cold War, Moon Landings, Free Love, Student riots in Paris, and Russia invading Czechoslovakia, the Vietnam War, and the clash between youth and the generation whose parents grew up during World War Two, will find it interesting and enjoyable I’m sure. The teens whose parents experienced the Korean War and conflicts since will get it. Germany was still divided by the Berlin Wall when Renza moved there. Reminders of the war are everywhere. Life and attitudes were about to change, and England would never be the same.

Only One Woman has something for everyone. Nostalgia for those who lived through the era, and an exciting insight into the 1960s for those who were too young to remember it, but are fascinated by it.

There is an Only One Woman Page on Facebook, and Renza and Stella each have their own playlists on YouTube to accompany the book, with some of the songs they mention.

Thank you for allowing us to learn more about Only One Woman and about you.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge myself in talking about writing Only One Woman co-written with Christina Jones. We hope your readers will discover the book for themselves.

Lastly, please tell us about your hometown or city. Apart from being famous for having such a talented author living there, 🙂 what else is it famous for?

Goodness me. Where to begin. I don’t actually have anywhere I call home anymore. As a child, I spent many years living overseas. My father was in the Army, and later the Ministry of Defence, and we lived in so many countries, I cannot recall them all, Singapore, Germany, and others.

Later, married to a professional musician, we didn’t stay anywhere that long, constantly moving. I should write a book about life on the road after Only One Woman!!

Eventually, going into the business side of the industry we continued to move around the world, living in Hollywood, Taiwan, Singapore, and so I cannot call anywhere my hometown. I don’t feel an affinity to anywhere. We’ve not been back in the UK that long and have moved several times since selling up.

We’ve been privileged to have known and worked with so many talented people over the years, in many different countries, that I am at a loss as to how to answer your question other than to say that I’ve spent my whole life packing and unpacking.  I think I would have to call ‘the World,’ my hometown. And it is full of interesting people and places.

Jane Risdon holding a copy of Only One Woman

Book Description

Two women, one love story.

June 1968. Renza falls head over heels for heartthrob guitarist Scott. But, after a romantic summer together, they are torn apart when Renza’s family moves away.

December 1968. On the night she believes to be her last, Stella meets Scott at a local dance. He’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and if this one night is all they have, she’ll take it.

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

Link with AUTHOR on Social Media.

Playlist for Renza on YouTube
Playlist for Stella on YouTube
Jane Risdon Website
Jane Risdon Twitter
Jane Risdon Instagram
Jane Risdon Books on Amazon
Jane Risdon on Facebook