Today’s Interview features Roberta (Robbie) Eaton Cheadle, who is a South African author. She has worked in finance since 2001 and she also writes fiction and poetry. In addition to having short stories and poems in numerous anthologies, Robbie has published ten children’s books and two novels:
Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy
A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.
Now most readers of the Priorhouse blog know that I don’t read horror stories and I stay away from paranormal material – (just my preference for personal and spiritual reasons)- but Robbie and I still connect through a variety of topics! And I am glad to have been blog friends with her for many years now!
Robbie blogs about books, shares her poetry, features authors, and provides book reviews. She recently provided an excellent review, here, about The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. She also posts about food! I enjoy her recipe posts because they are hearty and often include real meat! She often includes a little backstory to why she made the dish or how she modified the recipe.
That leads to our first question in this interview – it relates to food and what you would bring to a potluck.
Priorhouse: I am reading a literary trivia book from Mental Floss (2021), which had a section on what famous authors liked to eat and what they “might” bring to a literary potluck.
- Sylvia Plath: Tomato Soup Cake
- John Steinbeck: Posole (can of chili and can of hominy)
- F. Scott Fitzgerald: Turkey Leftovers
- Harper Lee: Crackling Bread (made with pig skin)
- Pearl S. Buck: Sweet and Sour Fish
So…. what would Robbie bring to a literary potluck?
Robbie: I would bring finger foods: mini quiches as a savoury and chocolate dipped citrus short bread as a sweet. Also, this is a fun idea. Some of the famous author responses are interesting.
Priorhouse: Yes, interesting indeed. I think I would bring a crock pot of tortilla soup (it used to be my top travel meal for small groups) but it would depend on the venue and season. Or maybe I would bring my version of your “lamb shanks in red wine sauce” – the recipe you made for Father’s Day (here)
Robbie: I always prefer meals that involve cooking meat in a sauce until it is soft and tender to those that involve baking meat in the oven. Here is one of the videos I made if readers want more information.
Can you tell us more about your experience with writing and publishing?
Robbie: I am a qualified chartered accountant and have seven professional publications with that.
- Since my early teens, I have always written descriptive passages and poems and in 2014 I started writing poems again. Around the same time, I was helping my youngest son, Michael, learn to read and write and we started making up short stories about a little man made of chocolate who lived in a land where you could eat everything.
- I read these little stories to the children in my Sunday School class and one of the other mother’s recommended I submit them to a few publishers for consideration. I did that and in April 2016 TSL Publications responded that they would like to help me publish the 7 books in the Sir Chocolate series Michael and I had written.
- After some discussion, we decided that I should illustrate them with my cake and fondant artworks and also include 4 or 5 recipes for children to make under the supervision of a caregiver. Our idea was to have a first cookbook with a lovely story to go with it.
Sir Chocolate and the Strawberry Cream Berries story and cookbook was published in August 2016 and Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook in March 2017.
I started a blog, Robbie’s Inspiration – here– in October 2016. It was through blogging that I met a lot of other writers and poets and gained the confidence to make the plunge into writing for an adult audience.
TSL Publications has helped me tremendously with all aspects of my writing and publishing. I am very grateful to Anne Samson, who is a wonderful person.
Anne is also a historian and her knowledge of, and interest in, history is helpful to me when she reviews and edits my work.
Works in Progress
Priorhouse: What are you currently working on?
Priorhouse: Robbie, you have a knack for getting SO much done!
I know your readers tell you this often- but sometimes we just do NOT know how you manage to get so much done! Wow.
Do you have any tips for writers? What works for you?
Robbie: The only advice I can really give is to keep writing. The more you write, the more you practice and learn and the better your writing becomes. I can’t say it gets easier because I don’t think it does, but the quality improves.
- I follow a lot of blogs that give advice about writing, poetry, and publishing and this interaction with the writing community has been invaluable to me. Other authors and bloggers encouraged me to make jumps forward with my writing, specifically when it came to transitioning from writing for children to writing for adults.
- My children’s books are time consuming because I create all my own illustrations and develop the included recipes.
- My adult books are time consuming because I do an enormous amount of research for them, and then I spend a lot of time polishing the prose and editing.
- My poetry is easier, and I don’t spend nearly as much time writing it or polishing it. My poetry is a bit of a mind dump in syllables or verse and comes into my head, more or less, fully formed. I know some poets spend a lot of time editing their poetry but I’m usually happiest with my first attempts, baring any spelling and other language errors.
Priorhouse: I only recently discovered that you have been writing poetry for a long time. Can you tell us about the book with Kim Blades?
Robbie: I am fond of Open a New Door as it includes the poems that I wrote long before I thought about getting anything published and provides a window into my thoughts and beliefs about these pivotal aspects of my life.
Priorhouse: What is one of your favorite poems?
Robbie: My favourite poem is “The Beggar’s Child”, which I wrote about a real woman and her small son. Everyday I used to see them in the same place, and I formed a habit of giving the mother gifts of food. One day, they disappeared, and I’ve never seen them again.
Priorhouse: While I was trying to find that poem on your blog, I found this fun post here – where you shared that your mother called you a “people collecter” because of the way you easily make acquaintances and do outreach with those in the community.
Robbie: My mom is a wonderful ally, and she is my co-author for While the Bombs Fell, a fictionalised biography of her life growing up in a small town in Suffolk, UK during WW2. My mom reads all my novels and short stories and provides strong critics. She is my ‘ordinary reader’. After she has given me her input, I re-edit my books and then they go to a developmental editor for further feedback. That process also results in significant changes and re-writes, although these are reducing – I take as a positive sign that I am improving as a novelist.
Priorhouse: Can you tell us about your family life?
- Compared to many people, I have an ordinary family life.
- My husband is also a chartered accountant, and we work for the same firm.
- It works well for us, and we often help each other with technical queries.
- My husband is a calmer, more rational and reasonable personality than I am so he often must ‘talk me down’ from a state of intense emotional upheaval about work or personal matters.
- I wrote a metaphorical poem that highlights our different personalities called Contrasting Colours. It is included in my poetry book, Behind Closed Doors.
- I also have two wonderful sons, Gregory, and Michael. Michael is my co-author for the Sir Chocolate series and created the entire fantasy world of Chocolate Land and many of the characters. He is a very creative young man and is now embarking on his own fantasy novel. I am impressed by his world building and characterisations.
- Gregory is my scholar and has recently started at university. He is studying for a Bachelor of Science degree specialising in computer science. Greg helps me from time to time with editing my YouTube videos.
Can you tell us something about you that is unique or not well known.
What is your secret sauce to staying alive and staying fresh?
Follow Robbie Cheadle
Please leave any feedback in the comments.
And what would you bring to a literary potluck?