Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have Jane Risdon sharing a multi-act creative journey that has spanned six decades across three continents.
I’ve always wanted to write but a move overseas with my family in my mid-teens, put paid to that, even though I had an offer from a friend’s father who was an editor on the Sunday Times, to work under his guidance as a ‘cub’ reporter. I ended up leaving school and sitting at home in Germany for a year doing housework and child-minding for my parents.
A year later and I was ‘found’ a job at the local British Army Base – Ministry of Defence – in the small village where we lived. I went to work in an office filled with elderly Germans who had worked for the Army since the end of the War and none of them wanted to speak to me in English. I had learned shorthand and typing at school in French, but not in German! I managed typing in German all day – somehow – and vowed to get away as soon as I turned 18 and could get a Passport in my own right.
An avid reader of The Lady in those days, I spotted an advert for the Office of Information in Whitehall, one of the Government Ministry departments. I applied for it, thinking I could spend all day writing and living it up in London in the ‘Swingin’ Sixties.’ It meant I could be with my musician boyfriend too. We hadn’t seen each other since I’d left England, and because his band was constantly touring, communications between us were hit and miss.
I didn’t get the job, but I was invited to London to sit on an interview board with a view to joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall, a more prestigious post and I found out later, and hard to get a job with. I jumped at it because I was desperate to get away from Germany. I sat on the board – several men stared at me over a long table as I sat marooned in the middle of a huge room on a chair facing them. They fired questions at me. I left thinking I’d failed.
Several months later I got a letter telling me that after extensive PV (Positive Vetting) I had the job. Within weeks I was ensconced in a Civil Service Hostel in Lancaster Gate on the Bayswater Road and working in the FCO in their Personnel department. At last, I could see my boyfriend.
I worked for the FCO and later many other Government departments as my boyfriend became my husband, and his band grew more successful. Many years later we decided enough was enough and we decided to go into business together putting what we had learned during his career to use managing recording artists, singers, songwriters, and record producers internationally. We also found music for TV/Movie soundtracks.
We lived and worked overseas mostly, in USA and SE Asia and got to know how Hollywood and Bollywood worked. We were successful and enjoyed working with music and movies.
However, there comes a time when it all gets too, too much. Babysitting testosterone fuelled musicians and PMT stressed females is not much fun after a while, and after many years in the business we decided to retire.
At last, I could write. And I did, non-stop for about 3 years. I was first published in 2012, and signed to a traditional publisher in 2014, with a co-written novel with Christina Jones, Only One Woman, published in 2018. In-between I was published in many anthologies and magazines – both print and online. My collection of short crime stories, Undercover: Crime Shorts, was published in 2019.
In December 2020 I was taken on by an agent, Linda Langton of Langtons International Literary Agency in New York City, USA. So, another chapter in my life opens and I am excited to see what transpires.
I almost gave up the dream of being a writer. Life and work got in the way. Having to work for a living and go for security of income when my husband and his band were struggling in the early years meant that I had little time to myself. Someone had to earn regularly. I kept thinking, ‘one day…’ Later working with other musicians, managing their careers, meant there really wasn’t time. During our 50 years of marriage, we have never even had a holiday together.
I would tell anyone with a dream to hold on to it and try to plan the road ahead. I couldn’t plan because life became too complicated early on: marriage, child, and career in music got in the way. I loved what I did, but it was not conducive to writing. Trying to find time to myself whilst constantly on the road, in planes, and recording studios, surrounded by demanding artists is not the right atmosphere. Their careers took precedence. Thanks goodness we retired, and I was able to write to my heart’s content.
I never thought about publishing my work; I was approached by my publisher. I never sought an agent. Again, I was approached by one. It took me a year to accept her offer. I wonder what opportunities I could have seized had I been that much younger when achieving all this. I’ll never know.
My advice to anyone seeking a career in writing would be to go for it and not wait. I wish I’d begun writing 30 years ago, but it was not to be. However, I look back at my younger self and wonder: would I have been able to write, and would a lack of life experiences back then have made my writing vastly different from what it is today? But I do wish I had not waited, I wish I had more time to write everything I need to, but sadly I cannot change that. If I’d had an idea of my future and could have planned it, I would have. But most of us live a day at a time and suddenly, like me, wake up and wonder where all the time has gone.
I advise anyone thinking of writing to seize the day – Carpe Diem. Good luck.
Only One Woman and Undercover: Crime Shorts are available at Waterstones, Blackwell’s, Amazon and other digital platforms. International territories, too.
My regular music series, In the Mix is available in print and online from The Writers and Readers Magazine. The Writers and Readers’ Magazine is available from Amazon and Magazine Heaven. You can buy it in print or for Kindle etc. packed full of articles, poems, short stories and more. My regular series In the Mix is there as well. Submissions always welcome, the deadline is 21st January.
Also available in print and on subscription here.
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 and writing for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine and The Writers and Readers’ Magazine.
Jane’s collection of crime stories, Undercover: Crime Shorts, was book of the Month on 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, chatandspinradion.com and The Brian Hammer Jackson Radio Show.
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 movies and television series.
Jane is represented by Linda Langton of Langtons International Literary Agency, New York, USA.
Where to find Jane…
MYVLF video interview: Meet me in MYVLF.com watch my video interview and those of many well-known authors. Free Book of the Month, festival and so much more. I’m chatting about Only One Woman, Undercover: Crime Shorts, the music business, working in the Civil Service in the late 1960s, touring America, and so much more. The inspiration for my writing is all there…