Chatting to Sahara Foley about writing and getting inside a character’s head…
Author interview with Jane Risdon
Today, I have Author Jane Risdon on my blog. Welcome.
Thanks so much for asking me here, it is a delight to join you.
So, let’s get started. What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always wanted to write. Even as a child I used to make up stories – in my head at first – and when I could write properly I scribbled them down. I kept them secret for fear of ridicule.
Because my career in the international music business kept me busy 24/7 I had little time to write and so I had to wait until I retired to seriously begin to write full-time.
What’s your favorite book you’ve written and why?
All my books are my favourites: Only One Woman and Undercover: Crime Shorts – I love them all of course I do!
I have 5 more waiting to be published and I have to say that of all my books it would have to be Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder in Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka, which is the first in the series of novel about a former MI5 Intelligence Officer, Lavinia Birdsong, who is drummed out of the Intelligence Services after a joint operation with MI6 goes belly-up.
What are the best and worst aspects of writing?
I enjoy reading the finished product, I hate writing it and editing it before my editor gets her hands on it. I don’t mind the last stages of editing ready for publication as I can see an end in sight.
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?
It is difficult. Even with a publisher involved, it takes up far too much time these days and it is exhausting, I find my imagination is used up thinking of ways to engage new readers by the time I have to create a story.
Are you an Indie Author or are you part of a publishing house?
I am traditionally published for novels by Accent Press Ltd., but I also have the freedom, where collections and novellas are concerned, to publish elsewhere. The best of both worlds and I have recently self-published for the first time a collection of a few of my 100 shorts stories, Undercover: Crime Shorts.
What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Getting my hands on a paperback copy of my writing, seeing it in a store or online; from my head to the pages of a book never ceases to thrill me
Do you read books in the genre you write?
I read crime/thrillers and espionage mostly. I have never read romance yet I have written (with Christina Jones) a novel Only One Woman, which is deemed to be romance and fits into Women’s Fiction.
I have written for 15 anthologies and many of my stories are in a variety of genres so I think I can be described as multi-genre, with an emphasis on crime writing.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to recharge?
I write full-time, but I love to walk and visit places of interest and take photos. I blog about these trips which I call ‘jollies,’ and I research family history. I read a great deal.
Besides being an author, do you have a second job?
Not any more, as I said I was in the international music business for most of my life, managing singers, musicians, song-writers, record producers and placing music into movies and on TV soundtracks amongst other things, so writing is like relaxation for me now.
What makes you laugh?
Oh cripes, don’t ask. I hate comedians and rehearsed humour. I laugh at sheer wit, at those who can say something funny on the spur of the moment. I can find humour in almost any situation which can be somewhat unfortunate.
What (not who) would you take to a lonely island?
A computer with WiFi and a supply of tea and liquorice.
Who would you like to invite for dinner?
No-one. I’ve been there done that and having spent my life having to entertain people for business – some famous people included – I’d rather eat alone unless it is with my husband and son and his family. A case of been there, done that sadly.
Okay, it’s time to meet one of your characters. Which book is your character from?
Undercover: Crime shorts – a sampler from Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matroyshka.
Who are you and what is your name?
I’m Lavinia Birdsong
Are you a fictional or historical figure?
What should we know about you?
I’m ‘around’ 40, I’ve been part of the British Intelligence Services MI5 for 20 years. Until recently I was an Intelligence Officer and partnered with MI6 Officer, Michael Dante, in a joint operation between the branches of our Secret Intelligence Services. We were an ‘item’ for 4 years, but not since I got the sack. I moved out of our shared flat in London to a rural location in Oxfordshire to a premature and forced retirement – he got posted to Moscow. If I have my way it won’t be for long!
I like good wine, I’m a fan of heavy rock music and I enjoy the occasional bag of liquorice but I have to watch my figure, so sadly I cannot indulge that often. I make the exception for wine. I must have my wine.
Tell us about your story. When and where is your tale set?
It all started when I got the heave-ho from MI5, I decided to move to Oxfordshire, to the Vale of the White Horse. I have links to the county. My story is set in 2016 in the village of Ampney Parva on the Berkshire Downs in the Vale of the White Horse.
Recently a young woman, with whom I am casually acquainted since I moved to Ampney Parva, Ali Yelling, went missing and her son, Vinnie, asked me to help find her. Little did I know what lay ahead as I began to investigate her disappearance thinking it was simply a case of her spending the night with a lover and over-sleeping the next day.
Whilst searching for her I have come into contact with Michael again, met a handsome policeman, Luke Wareham, who, if he played his cards right might be in with a chance, and I have also landed right in the midst of a Russian Mafia people trafficking gang working alongside Ukrainian gun and drug traffickers who are funded by Pro-Russian factions wanting to occupy the Ukraine. It’s like old times and I love it. I’ve missed chasing down ISIS suspects and Islamic extremists, but there is the problem of Michael versus Luke – they are both acting like schoolboys over me – and of course, I need to find what happened to Ali Yelling. The juices are beginning to flow again.
Is Ali really dead, or is she working with the gangsters? During my search for her I’ve discovered she has links with a couple of them; innocent links or something more sinister?
What is your personal goal? What do you ultimately want?
I want to get back into the Service and I’ve been trying hard to find a way. Poor Ali has offered me an opportunity if I can solve her disappearance and possibly, if there is something sinister and terrible going on in Ampney Parva, I’ll sniff it out and solve, or help solve, the case, I might be in with a good chance.
I hope that my specialist skills will allow me to work with Michael and Luke in tracking down and nailing this gang which I feel will lead to me discovering what has happened to Vinnie’s mother.
Life is certainly far from quiet in this rural village after-all, but I do miss London and my former, exciting life. I miss Michael but don’t tell him that, he is conceited enough.
What is standing in your way? What conflict(s) do you face?
The Service can be harsh, but I know now and again they bend the rules and allow someone with special skills back in, and I have those in abundance. You wouldn’t want to cross me – that is a fact.
Once Michael realised I was involved with looking into Ali’s disappearance, he warned me off, told me to keep out of it. Well, anyone who knows me – and he should know better – knows full well that warning me off is like a red rag to a bull. Luke telling me to back off is just music to my ears. I cannot stand being told not to do something, especially by a man!
Of course, I won’t back off. I am going to find Ali, investigate what is really going on with the Russians and the Ukrainians – I have my suspicions that a local Solicitor who has been involved romantically with Ali knows more than he is telling, and there may well be a link between him and the gang.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. How do my readers get a copy of your book?
Sahara, many thanks for having me over to answer your questions. I hope your readers will din them interesting and will tempt them to read my writing. ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates – first of a series – is not published yet. I hope it will come out next year. However, there is an extract from the novel in my short story collection, Undercover: Crime Shorts. I’ve called the extract, Undercover.
How do my readers connect with you?