Today’s author lives in England, but when she contacted me, she mentioned her featured book was being used by a class at Western Kentucky University. Which is located ten minutes from me. It’s a small world, my friends. She’s also experienced some hair-raising moments with figures in her peripheral vision. Making her debut at BMR, welcome Jane Risdon!
Hello Teri, thanks for hosting me on your fab blog. I hope your readers my answers to your questions.
Have you ever had a Tarot card reading?
Actually, I’ve had many. Years ago, when I was still working in the international music business we (my husband and I) were asked to get involved in a series for the new and revolutionary Satellite television which was all the rage. One production company asked us to put together a show about Mediums, Clairvoyants, Spiritualists, and Witches – it was in return for some favours.
It involved us spending a year going the length and breadth of England interviewing all manner of people and during many such interviews, we—of course — had Tarot card readings.
Some readings were hilariously ridiculous but one or two were rather hair-raising. Suffice to say we filed it all away for the programme, which sadly, didn’t transpire because the production company lost their funding. But from our point of view, we put it down to experience. We are still waiting for what the cards told us, to come true.
Do you ever see figures in my peripheral vision?
I haven’t seen any for many years but when I was first married, we had a grotty flat in an old Georgian house — my husband’s band was still struggling back then – and the flat was all we could afford, especially with a new baby, and many landlords back then refused to entertain allowing babies and children in their accommodation; I used to see many figures out of the corner of my eye. Shadows walking out of a cupboard and across the room, a feeling of not being alone when I knew I was.
Prior to my experiences at the flat, I had also had an experience when I was pregnant and lived in another flat, also in an older property, when I used to get the feeling that someone was watching me while I slept. My husband and his band were way on tour, and I was alone. I was often woken by sensation of being observed and a few times I opened my eyes to see an old lady, dressed like an Irish crofter, leaning over me staring. In fact, when my husband returned from tour, she appeared again, and he saw her too. I went into labour the next day.
Candy Apple or Candy Corn?
In England we call an apple covered in toffee, a toffee apple, and I gather that is what you mean. Although I have lived and worked in America, I have never had candy apple or candy corn, so I cannot say yes to either. I have had toffee apple, but not for many years. I value my teeth.
In response to your questions, Teri, I’d like to talk about my latest — as yet unpublished novel – Ms. Birdsong Investigates, which is the first in a series and is out with my agent now.
Would you and your main character get along?
Ms. Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva, is the title of my series about a former MI5 Intelligence Officer who has been forced into early retirement due to a joint operation with MI6 — involving the Russian Mafia and Ukrainian people traffickers — going pear-shaped. Lavinia Birdsong tries to find her way back into the Security Services when a local woman goes missing and she has the opportunity to investigate her disappearance, hopefully inveigling herself back into the Security Services.
I think Lavinia and I would get along really well. We both love rock music, and good wine. She is an intelligent woman, and she is a martial arts expert and a crack shot — and that is where we part company — I am most definitely neither. She does not tolerate fools gladly and has a wicked sense of humour. Lavinia is a true patriot, a ruthless opponent with a keen sense of right and wrong.
I am fascinated by the secret world of spies and criminals where Lavinia Birdsong has spent most of her adult life. I know we’d get on like a house on fire.
A ‘taster’ chapter can be found in my crime collection – Undercover: Crime Shorts which is available now.
If you decided to write a spin-off character, who would you choose?
I’ll stick with my new series, Ms. Birdsong Investigates for this. My spin-off character would be Michael Dante, MI6 Intelligence Officer.
Lavinia has worked at MI5 for twenty years and during that time she has worked in several areas of the Security Services, including being on secondment to MI6 for some years. She met Michael Dante, whilst working with a team of MI5/MI6 officers sent on a mission, Operation Matryoshka.
Michael is her former lover when my books begin, but he is a great candidate for a spin-off character. Michael and Lavinia have unfinished business in the series, and who knows what might happen, but he would be good to follow in a spin-off series throughout his career and his investigations as part of MI6. He is a determined man, ruthless in his pursuit of terrorists and criminals just like Lavinia is. He has a strong love of country and justice.
What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?
I am a crime writer mostly, and my writing often features my past career in the international music business and also my earlier career working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Both careers are a gift to a crime writer for so many reasons. However, I have also written Women’s Literature (Only One Woman with Christina Jones) which is available now, and in various other genres which can be found in many of the anthologies I’ve contributed toward with short stories, and my experiences in music and in public service have definitely influenced my writing and how I mould my characters.
Using my experiences and memories from those times in most of my writing, it is easy for me to get inside the heads of my characters because I have worked in these areas, have met people similar to my characters and observed them. I know what makes most of them tick. I can put my experiences and knowledge into my work because of my past careers. And I know where to look for information, and I have detectives I can call upon to assist me if I get stuck.
In order to ensure my writing is as accurate as it can be, and to ensure that I don’t have Lavinia or any of my characters in any of my books do something which is wrong or impossible — when tracking and investigating terrorists or criminals — I decided some years ago to educate myself in the basics of Forensic Science and Criminal Justice. I took several courses especially designed for crime writers who want to ensure their writing is as correct and accurate as it can be. These courses also helped me get inside the heads of my characters, not only the investigators but the perpetrators too.
I read a lot of crime novels, thrillers, and mysteries, as well as watcing True Crime on TV too. This helps me with writing my characters and trying to see events from their point of view.
This has been fun Teri, once again, many thanks for letting me loose on your blog.
Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.
Author Bio and Social Media
Jane Risdon is the co-author of ‘Only One Woman,’ with Christina Jones (Headline Accent) and ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies. She writes for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine, and The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine.
Undercover: Crime Shorts was the February Free Book of the Month on the virtual library and festival site, MYVLF.com, and her live video interview features in their theatre. She is a regular guest on international internet radio shows such as theauthorsshow.com, chatandspinradio.com and The Brian Hammer Jackson Radio Show, as well as podcasts and online video interviews including Donnas Interviews Reviews and Giveaways and Be Bold and Break the Mould.
Undercover: Crime Shorts is being used by Western Kentucky University, Kt. USA, in an Intro to Lit Class for second year students Autumn 2021. Jane will be doing a Zoom Q&A session with the student in October 2021.
She is the Lead Panellist, next March (2022), for an online discussion of The Intersection of Literary Fiction and Women’s Literature at LitCon, an author’s conference out of New York USA.
Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers. They also facilitated the placement of music in international movies and television series. In her early life Jane worked public service at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Ministry of Defence and other government departments.
Ms. Birdsong Investigates has her own private Facebook Group and you can join her here:
You can find Jane on: