What’s in a Name?
How do you come up with the title for your story or book?
Does the story come first?
As it progresses do you come up with a suitable title?
Or are you like me and often have the title before you begin writing?
Titles and character names regularly pop into my head long before I have a story in mind. Mostly, I haven’t got a clue where it all comes from. It just sort of arrives.
Sometimes a news article or broadcast might inspire story ideas, and overheard conversations of course. Anyone who has sat on public transport or waited in a queue must’ve listened – intrigued – by overheard conversations. I’m often tempted to go and ask those in conversation to tell me what they’re talking about. Sometimes it isn’t clear and the mystery writer in me conjures up all sorts of scenarios.
When I sit down to write, the story often writes itself. I know many writers say this, but I find it does.
Only One Woman was interesting. It almost wrote itself. I used lots of old diaries, tour schedules, photos, and even fan letters to help with the facts and events I wanted to include. I think it took me three months to write my parts, later thinking the novel needed another character I asked an old friend and author, Christina Jones, to collaborate with me.
Even though our novel is a work of fiction my experiences as a teenager in the late 1960s, gave me lots of material to plunder for the characters of Renza, Scott, and his band, Narnia’s Children.
I was lucky in that my boyfriend – later husband – was a musician who’d just arrived in England to record and tour with his band when I first met him, and so I was able to garner first-hand experiences and knowledge of what life on the road was like, how recording studios worked, and how fans made their lives hell at times.
For an up-and-coming band working the circuit in the UK, Europe, North Africa, and the Mediterranean, life was hard. They often went without food for days, most of their income went on fuel for their van. They were lucky, in that they had a manager who paid their rent and expenses out of his own pocket in the beginning, otherwise, they’d have had to have given up or starved to death.
They thanked God for Vesta curries and Fray Bentos pies, rice, mashed potatoes, and toast; their basic diet. And cups of tea. Endless cups of tea – how glamorous!
Hunger and cold were constant companions, especially when some of the houses and flats they rented only had a fireplace in the main sitting room. Other rooms and bedrooms didn’t have the luxury of any heating whatsoever. More often than not, they couldn’t afford coal or wood for the fire so they put up with ice on the inside of the windows.
Not very Rock ‘n Roll!
The descriptions in the novel of how the musicians lived, and what it was like gigging every day without time off, travelling up and down the UK, crammed into a transit van, often sleeping in it with all the gear piled up around them, is what often happened.
Bed and Breakfast establishments were often out of the question. Many would not allow bands to stay there, and hotels were far too expensive. Bedding down beside the drums, amps, speakers, and guitars was the only answer.
Mr. and Mrs. McBean outside their famous B&B in Nairn, Scotland. They hosted every band imaginable from Pink Floyd to The Beatles and so many more who were on ‘the circuit’ in the 1960s, including the fictional Narnia’s Children.
Likewise, Christina (Jones) used her experiences as a young woman to write her character, Stella, who was a little older than Renza, and more ‘street-wise.,’ although living in a small village like Renza, her experiences were very different. Stella’s parents were a lot more understanding and kind.
Christina used her experiences of working as a rock/pop journalist on teenage pop, and women’s fiction magazines interviewing the stars of the music world, and writing articles, and short stories. In late 1968 she was employed as the fan club secretary for my boyfriend’s band.
We clicked and became friends and said we’d write together one day. However, she writes bucolic romances and I write mostly crime stories, so how we could do it was always a bit of a mystery. However, we realised we shared a past and experiences, and so we decided to give it a go.
When we put all this together in Only One Woman we discovered we’d written a novel set in the late 1960s which was not only accurately reflecting life in the UK music scene but a social commentary on the lives of teenagers growing up in the height of the Cold War.
It is not strictly a romance, although there is a love triangle at its heart.
Our novel not only references real events amid the fictional, but it is a nostalgic look back at a special decade of the twentieth century and it appeals to men and musicians as well as women. Our reviewers reflect this. Many readers tell us they’ve read our novel more than once.
The first title I came up with, that stuck almost all the way through the book, was my working title, ‘My Boyfriend’s in the Band.’ Not very original, but as the story progressed a song came to mind – my life is littered with songs that remind me of events. I decided that Renza would have a special song for her and Scott, and decided upon The Bee Gees penned single, Only One Woman.
Only One Woman was written especially for the duo, The Marbles – cousins, Trevor Gordon and Graham Bonnet. It set them on a music career which Graham still enjoys today. Sadly Trevor died some years ago.
Graham Bonnet went on to become an icon in the music business, a rock singer of legendary status. He’s fronted – sung with – Rainbow, Blackmore, Alcatraz, Michael Schenker, and his own band, The Graham Bonnet Band, to name a few. Graham was inducted into the Metal Hall of Fame in 2020. He is known to have one of the best rock voices in the business.
I eventually decided to call the novel Only One Woman and asked Graham to write the foreword for Christina and me. He generously agreed. Reading how the song was written and how he and Trevor came to record it with the Bee Gees is fascinating.
Only One Woman is so much more than a love triangle set in the late 1960s UK music scene. It is a powerful commentary about youth, changing attitudes, social upheaval, and how fashion and music influenced the lives of so many in the grooviest decade of the 20th century.
READERS LOVE THIS CAPTIVATING TALE FROM JANE RISDON AND CHRISTINA JONES!
‘Absolutely enchanting book which took me right back to the late 60s…‘ ***** Reader review
‘Loved the characters…loved the story…loved the book!!‘ ***** Reader review
‘WOW WOW WOW absolutely loved this book. So cleverly written…‘ ***** Reader review
‘I loved this book. I loved stepping back in time and the music played through my head as if it was real!‘ ***** Reader review
‘An excellent job, well done, and heartily recommended’ ***** Reader review
Our readers include musicians and guys who love being transported back to another era just as much as our female readers. Nostalgia for a time those of us who experienced it will never forget.
My podcast interview about writing Only One Woman with Christina Jones, our lives in the Uk music scene of the late 1960s and so much more, is featured on a 24/7 loop on Channel 6 of The Authors Show, global network. Click the link to listen in or go to archives and listen there.
What’s in a name? I would say everything.
Pick wisely. You’ll have to live with it.
Only One Woman is available in UK/USA/Canada/Japan/Brazil/India/Germany/France/Spain/Italy in paperback and eBook. You can purchase it in Waterstones and other good books stores.
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Tune in and listen to my interview and reading of a chapter from Only one Woman.