It's time from my Travel Thursday blog again and we're in for a treat this week as my guest, Jane Risdon, has some fascinating tales to tell.
Hi Jane, welcome to the blog. Can you tell us a bit about where you live/have lived?
Hi Karen.I’ve lived in Singapore, Germany, and America…I was born in England and I’m English, so I should count England. Here's pic of Singapore, I lived there as a child, and again later as an adult working with a Chinese singer.
Do you like to travel?
I have to say yes. I have been travelling most of my life beginning with a week long flight to Singapore at the age of two back when planes had to refuel several times and there were often over-night stops in several countries. Since then I have travelled to more countries than I can remember or have time to list here including Germany, America Singapore, Canada, Taiwan, Malaya, even Baffin Island near the North Pole, for example.
Long houses in Malacca, Malaysia
What's your favourite means of travel?
This is a hard one. I have to fly but I hate airports and the messing around with security. I’ve been detained for endless hours along with some of my artists (musicians) many times, searched and questioned about nothing at all when it came down to it. At least in a car you are free to go wherever you want without risk of incarceration for no apparent reason. So I think car would be the answer.
What country had made the most impact on you?
That’s a difficult one. I would say most have had a huge influence upon me for so many different reasons. America I suppose would be near the top of the list. I’ve lived there, worked there and I have family there. It changed the way I think I am convinced of that. I tend to think ‘big’ and aim high possibly as a result of doing business with companies who are house-hold names and who wouldn’t consider doing business with someone who didn’t do the same.
Having been in the international music business most of my adult working life I’d say that the experiences gained from working in Hollywood for example, in music, which involved dealing with all aspects of entertainment in some form or other, such as movies, television, radio and the entertainment press, has given me wonderful insight into how things work, and why and this has been wonderful fodder for my writing as you might imagine. I cannot imagine sitting in an office in England doing business with certain ‘family’ members with a gun and baseball bat on their desk as they conduct negotiations with me.
Have you featured any of the countries/places you’ve visited in your novels? Tell us a little about them?
This is a difficult one to answer briefly. Of course many of my experiences living and working abroad, not just in music, have found their way into several of my books and short stories. I can even call upon my experiences working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when I was younger at the height of the Cold War when every day at work was an adventure. Working in music is one long surreal adventure with so many countries and experiences to dip into for inspiration and settings. My story The Haunting of Anne Chambers in the anthology Shiver published by Accent Press, is set in Cornwall in past and present times.
Only One Woman, my co-authored book with Christina Jones, (Published by Accent Press May 2017) is a prime example of a story based on experiences garnered living abroad as well as in London in the late 1960s when London was such a cool place to live. Great material for fiction. My parts of the book are set in Germany and England when music and fashion influenced teenagers. Christina’s parts are set in Jersey (Channel Islands) and England, so I’d say that we’ve both been influenced by our experiences in this places and have found their way into our fiction.
How do you research? Do you use Google or actually visit the place?
I use various means to research when writing, in addition to my own experiences which I can draw upon – some have been unreal when I think back – and yes, Google is one resource. Because I write mainly Crime/Thriller fiction I have a number of people I can go to for ‘inside’ help in matters of Police procedure and the like. I’ve also undertaken several Forensic Science courses (online) with a variety of Universities to further educate myself in DNA, Fingerprinting, Facial Reconstruction, Identifying the Dead, Witness Investigations and Criminal Justice in relation to Forensic Investigations. I have also studied (very basic) Archaeology in order to try and ensure my writing is as accurate as can be. I am constantly educating myself and research is a huge part of my writing life.
Can you tell us the funniest/ most unusual thing that have happened to you while you've been travelling.
As you can imagine most of my life has been spent on a tour bus, plane, or in a car travelling huge distances for long periods each year going from country to country, city to city and with little or no time to register exactly where I might be at any given time. So many countries, so many miles, so many stories. How to pick one experience is hard.
On a flight to San Francisco with a group of teenage/early twenties male musicians, who’d never flown or been out of England before - on their way to record their very first album – the plane suddenly diverted and made an emergency landing on what can only be described as a very large Iceberg. We’d developed an electrical problem so we were told later. The iceberg turned out to be a place called Baffin Island up near the North Pole from whence various Polar expeditions set out. There was a wooden hut and flares lighting a make-do runway on the ice, for us to land and that was it. Nothing. I have never been so cold in my life. We all had to get off the plane and as most people were dressed for the heat of San Francisco, foil blankets were issued to the passengers whilst we stamped out feet and tried not to become hypothermic for the two hours we waited, whilst a female flight engineer fiddled under the cabin floor. The band with us thought it was so cool. You can’t print what I thought. We’d already had a ten hour delay at Heathrow. This same band nearly got us all arrested in San Francisco for shenanigans in a hotel elevator, but that’s another story – one of so many I’m afraid to admit.
Working on the Baywatch set.
Travelling across America with a band is a nightmare I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Travelling with some artists is worse than others. I recall being chased by a utility truck full of Mexican men when on the road in Texas with a duo and just a record company radio station liaison guy who drove our limo. They’d spent a whole night standing outside our motel – sometimes we stayed in five star places, other times in grotty, smelly, mould-ridden motels - staring at our rooms which looked out on a deserted dust yard and a Coca Cola machine. There weren’t any staff at this place and I swore I’d kill the person at the tour agency whose bright idea it was to book us in there. There was nothing for miles but tumbleweed and an endless black sky sprinkled with – cliché description here – diamonds, because that is what it looked like. They watched. We worried, and in the morning when we left they followed us. One of my artist’s was a young female, terrified, and clinging to me. The record company liaison guy took a large gun from the glovebox and checked it was loaded, he’d already shown us his rifle in the trunk, just in case! After a Starsky and Hutch ride for several endless, remote miles, when they came alongside gesturing, shouting, and waving guns, we managed to pull into a gas station – in the midst of nowhere - where we waited until they got bored and left. I was relieved to see our companion put his gun away.
Whilst travelling either alone or on tour I have experienced shoot-outs between cops and robbers, several earthquakes and tornadoes, floods, fires, mud-slides, race riots and most things in-between. So when you ask me about funniest or unusual events whilst travelling. I find it hard to pick something; well, something you can print here.
It sounds like you've lived a fascinating life, Jane.
Jane Risdon has spent most of her life in the international music business. Married to a rock musician, their hectic life didn’t allow for her writing ambitions to be fulfilled, especially when later they went into business together managing musicians, song-writers and record producers. Six years ago she was able to realise her ambition. She is author of short stories, mostly crime/thrillers, with several novels in progress – in various genres.
She is published by Accent Press and her series of novels, Ms Birdsong Investigates – about a former MI5 officer – are almost completed and ready, she hopes, to be published.
She has co-authored - with award winning author Christina Jones - Only One Woman, set in the late 1960s telling the story of two women in love with the same lead guitarist, which is to be published by Accent Press May 2017. Jane and Christina have been friends since Christina, then a rock/pop journalist, was also fan-club secretary to her husband’s band. Only One Woman draws upon their experiences of the music, fashions and world events during the closing days of the Swinging Sixties.
Shiver, the anthology Jane's story The Haunting of Anne Chambers is published in
Thanks for dropping by and sharing your fantastic memories with us, Jane. What an exciting life you've led!
Thanks so much for having me Karen, I have enjoyed recalling some of these memories. I really hope your readers enjoy them too.