I’m so thrilled to be able to talk about Only One Woman – the just-about-to-be-published novel, co-written with the amazing Jane Risdon – at last! At last!!!! As Jane has already explained so well on another post, this book has been a good five years in the making. I’m not going to duplicate her well-documented reasons for this – but must say I think there was a time when neither of us believed it would ever happen…
So – co-authoring… something we’d wanted to do for years, but as we always felt that Jane’s dismembered bodies and axe-wielding maniacs would add very little to my froth-and-bubble rural idyll villages, neither of us had a clue how we could achieve our dream…
And then – the light-bulb moment – the realisation that we, Jane and I, friends for years, had shared a past, a love of all things 1960s, we’d experienced the music, the fashions, the world-changing events… and from that, Only One Woman was born.
Again, I know Jane has already told you about how the idea fermented and grew, how we were lucky enough to be teenagers in the most exciting decade ever, how we decided to write a two-hander from two different view-points, and how we decided the only way to make it work as we weren’t living close to one another at any time, was by whizzing it back and forth through the ether.
So Jane became Fictional Renza, and wrote the first draft of her part from start to finish, then emailed it to me – I became Fictional Stella, and filled the first draft of Stella’s story into the gaps and sent it back again.
We were so 21st century! We used email and texts and messenger and mobiles and all the social networks could offer by way of communication to write Only One Woman. A far cry from poor Renza and Stella who had to rely on the public phone box and the postal service for their contact with the outside world.
We worked like this, on and off, for ages. There were many more drafts; more stories added; more complications thrown into the plot. We had a publisher waiting – but no written-in-stone delivery date – we both had other commitments, and life – and death – interrupted the flow on several occasions.
I filtered a lot of my own 1960’s memories into Stella’s world, to give it authenticity – and both Jane and I were meticulous about making sure we checked and double-checked information; we researched the days/weeks/months, the weather, the music, the fashions, the politics, everything – not simply relying on our own mistily-remembered experiences or the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia.
My desk was littered with old diaries and calendars, pop music charts and cinema magazines. We both had reams of notes on every aspect of the years of 1968 and 1969 which formed the basis of the story. We would ring one another to make sure everything synchronised, also making sure that we hadn’t duplicated anything – leaving nothing to chance.
It was so much fun!
But the most fun of all was creating Stella and living in her world. Stella had some fabulous experiences; some pretty grim times; she laughed, she cried, she loved – she was a real child of the Sixties. She became the other half of me, and by the time I’d finished writing Only One Woman I felt as though Stella and I had been friends for ever.
Jane and I have loved writing this book; Renza and Stella have leapt off the pages and had a pretty good time too – so all four of us hope that you’ll enjoy reading Only One Woman as much as we have creating it.