Scribbler’s is thrilled to welcome multi published award winning author, Christina Jones to Write Life Wednesday!
Bio: – Christina Jones is the only child of a schoolteacher and a circus clown. She has been writing all her life. As well as writing romantic comedy, she also has contributed short stories and articles to a wide variety of national magazines and newspapers. After years of travelling, she now lives in rural Oxfordshire with her husband and several rescued cats.
Welcome to Scribbler’s Christina!
Hello Bobbi and thanks a million for inviting me – it’s really great to be here.
What would you like your readers to know about you that they would not find in your official bio?
Oooh –well, I’m a rubbish liar so I think my official bio is pretty transparent…. However… there are a couple of things that might have gone unsaid… ok, here goes…. one) I was part of an acrobatic dancing troupe for many years…. And two) I trained and qualified as a teacher. I taught in London and in Berkshire, briefly. I was the worst teacher in the history of the known world!
Tell us Scribbler’s a bit about your story, Only One Woman.
It’s a novel set in the late 1960s, with all the music, fashion, excitement and world-changing events of that vibrant decade as a back-drop – told from the viewpoint of two narrators, Renza and Stella. Renza and Stella are very much girls of the 60s. They don’t know one another and are light years apart, geographically, socially and emotionally. However, they do have one thing in common: they are both in love with drop-dead-gorgeous rock guitarist, Scott…
Who came up with the first inspiration of the story, you or Jane? What was that very first idea?
Oddly enough, I think Jane and I were both toying with the same idea at the same time but hadn’t mentioned it to one another. We had wanted to write together for years but the idea for Only One Woman really emerged when we met at a library event. Jane said she’d recently moved house and unearthed letters and postcards and memorabilia from the late 60s and had started jotting things down in a fictional diary format… and I said I’d had this very similar idea rattling around in my head for a while – and we sort of looked at one another and went “kerr-ching!!!
How deep a back-story do you work out for your hero/heroine before you ever sit down to write?
I never work anything out. I never seem to have to. I’m definitely a punster. My characters
seem to be living inside my head, fully formed and alive… I think I may be a bit bonkers….
When brainstorming a potential story idea, do you begin with character or plot?
Goodness – I was going to say plot… but that’s not strictly true… neither is character. Again, the whole thing seems to be playing out in my head like a film – I just think of a background or theme and then the characters just seem to appear – see – this is why I’d be rubbish at being a writing tutor. I have absolutely no idea how I write or why it happens the way it does…. Sorry.
What traits are necessary for a character that will keep the reader turning the page?
They have to be interesting, definitely; they have to be engaging; they have to be real; and I think they have to be likeable… My readers will identify with them and be rooting for them. I know Scarlett O’Hara, for example, was seen as an unpleasant heroine – but I loved her! I admired her, liked her and thought/hoped I’d act in exactly the same way given her situations… That’s how I hope my characters come across – as real, warts and all! Characters are quite often flawed – but not in a depressing way (I don’t write sad stuff ever) – but hopefully
Would you share an excerpt form Only One Woman?
Of course. Delighted…. This is an excerpt from Stella’s diary on the night she goes to a local dance with her best friend Vix, and first meets Scott.
Stella’s Diary: Saturday 7th December 1968 continued…
In St B’s hall, the dusty green curtains were pulled closed across the stage in the gloomy, moody darkness. Tiny lights twinkled in the ceiling and from one of the deepest, darkest corners, the DJ was playing an early Monkees hit. St Barnabus always put on a good night, and certainly knew how to create an atmosphere.
The place was packed. Most people had nabbed one of the chairs that were lined up round the outside of the floor, claiming them with handbags and drinks. A few mini-skirted girls were dancing – always the same ones – in front of the stage. Vix and I grinned at each other. We called them the Dolly-Rockers and we knew they’d be the ones trying to get off with the group’s singer later – even if he looked like Quasimodo’s much uglier cousin.
Vix and I found a couple of vacant chairs right at the front to the left of the stage.
‘Fab. We’ve got ringside seats for when the group – what are they called – oh, yes, Narnia’s Children - comes on.’ Because she knew how ill I felt, Vix was fussing round me like a mother hen. ‘Now, you don’t need to move all night, unless you need the lav of course, if you feel awful. Do you? Feel awful, I mean?’
‘No,’ I shook my head. ‘The pethidine has kicked in nicely – and honestly if this is my last night out I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. It’ll be just my luck that the group is rubbish tonight.’
‘They won’t be,’ Vix grinned. ‘They always have good bands here – even the ones we’ve never heard of like – um – Narnia’s Children.’
The DJ – who was actually Mr Fisk, St Barnabus’ science teacher, who always played records between the live acts and acted as Master of Ceremonies at the Saturday dances – had replaced the Monkees with the Tremeloes. The Dolly-Rocker girls in front of the stage all posed and pouted and pushed each other and danced a bit more wildly.
Then the music stopped, and Mr. Fisk left his record deck, and scampered up on the stage, beaming in the spotlight, clapping his hands for silence.
‘He really thinks he’s Bruce Forsyth,’ I giggled. ‘And this is Sunday Night at the London Palladium.’
The girls pressed closer to the foot of the stage.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls!’ Mr Fisk yelled into his microphone. ‘Lovely to see a full house tonight! Now, let’s give a big, big St Barnabus welcome to your sensational band for this evening! All the way from Jersey in the Channel Islands! Let’s hear it for - Narnia’s Children!!!’
Everyone clapped and cheered and whistled and stamped their feet.
‘Blimey,’ Vix said. ‘No wonder we’d never heard of them. They’re foreign.’
The green curtains swished back and the footlights mingled in a smoky haze with the overhead criss-crossing spot-beams; the towers of speakers, slender spikes of microphones and snakes of cables transformed the stage from a school hall to a full-blown rock show; and Narnia’s Children roared into ‘I Get Around’ by the Beach Boys.
‘Wow…’ Vix mouthed, looking at me, wide-eyed. ‘Just wow…’
Just wow, indeed…
It was too loud to speak, to say anything, so we just stared at them – and each other.
The four boys – Narnia’s Children – on stage weren’t just brilliant musicians and sexy movers – they were definitely four of the most devastatingly gorgeous blokes we’d ever seen.
Tall, lean, long-haired and out-of-this-world-stunning, wearing skin-tight, brightly colored flared trousers, and black skinny-rib sweaters that didn’t even attempt to hide their incredible tanned bodies, they rocked into another belting Beach Boys hit, followed by early foot-stomping Beatles, and then The Hollies – all very loud, fast-paced and brilliantly close-harmonized. They could play and they could sing…
West-Coast rock-pop at its best.
The Dolly-Rockers were no longer dancing in front of the stage. Instead, they were pressed, three deep, against it. Just gazing up in total and complete adoration.
I laughed at Vix, leaning close, my mouth to her ear. ‘I think the Dolly-Rockers want to eat them.’
‘I don’t blame them,’ she yelled back. ‘They’re mega, mega cool, totally brilliant – oh, and not to mention the sexiest blokes Harbury Green has ever seen… I’m going to book a holiday in Jersey if that’s what the boys are like.’
Me too, I thought, if I wasn’t going to be annoyingly dead in 48 hours… because I’d just tumbled instantly and stupidly head-over-heels for the beautiful boy on the guitar; the boy with the long silky black hair falling into the amazingly turquoise eyes.
The most beautiful boy in the world…
Is there a secondary character you feel may deserve their own story?
I think Scott should be asked to tell his side of the story!
What is your typical writing day like?
Messy and a bit chaotic… Ok – I probably start writing at around 8 a.m. – I write in the dining room which looks out over the village green so I’m easily distracted by everything outside my window! I write straight on to my laptop. I write flat out, fueled by coffee, until about 1 p.m. – and that’s it unless I’m nearing a deadline. Afternoons are for going out, shopping, walking and meeting friends, housework… And evenings are family time – again unless there’s a deadline looming.
Some Fun questions:
Favorite word? Jostle
Least favorite word? Death
Favorite curse word? Buggeration
If you were to give only one tip to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
Write from the heart; write what you want to write; write the story you need to tell. Write for yourself – don’t follow trends. Enjoy it!
What books or other projects to you have coming up in the future?
I’m starting a new series of my Bucolic Frolics (lighthearted romantic comedies set in Berkshire villages) – with some new villages and villagers – and a cluster of heroines with flower names – Marigold, Poppy, Iris and Violet… the first of these, Marigold’s Magical Mystery Tour, is scheduled for publication September 2018.
To Keep up with Christina:
Only One Woman: http://amzn.to/2xlUldr