Welcome to my Q and A series. Today I’m thrilled to be featuring Robbie Cheadle and her book – Through the Nethergate. Robbie is a multi-genre author who writes children’s books with her son Michael in the Sir Chocolate series, poetry and chilling thriller/horror stories and is a prolific blogger, baker, among many other talents.
I am an author who has recently branched out into adult horror and supersupernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my young adult and adult writing, these will be published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first young adult supernatural novel, Through the Nethergate, has recently been published.
I have two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre as well as three short stories published in Death Among Us, a collection of murder mystery short stories by 10 different authors and edited by Stephen Bentley. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.
Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.
In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.
With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.
Excerpt – Through the Nethergate
Can you Feel it?
As Margaret followed Grandfather down the steep stairs, the evil surged up to greet her. It filled the shadowy cellar with its thick flint and stone walls like thick mist, its menacing fingers swirling in the dimness.
Margaret hesitated on the last step. Something was watching her, its red eyes glowing fiercely.
“Come on, Margaret,” Grandfather called, striding forward in his usual purposeful way.
What is wrong with me? There is nothing down there. Grandfather would know if there was, he’s lived here his whole life.
A pretty and slender girl with thick, flaxen hair arranged into two braids that hung down her back, Margaret took a deep breath and plunged forward. Her gorge rose, burning her throat, as the cloying smell of age and decay assaulted her. There was another rank smell underlying the muskiness: the stench of a wild animal’s den mixed with the offensiveness of rotting meat and old blood.
This cellar is ancient. Of course it smells. Swallowing hard in an attempt to settle her nausea, she gave herself a mental kick in the ass.
Still wearing the faded jeans, colourful checked shirt and running shoes she had travelled in, she looked small and sensible. Her unsophisticated attire and plain hairstyle made her look younger than her actual age of sixteen years.
Grandfather had collected her from the Norwich Station an hour ago and offered to take her on a tour of the Inn immediately. Tired from her long trip, Margaret would have preferred to have gone straight to her room to freshen up, but Grandfather obviously wanted to show her around her new home. His pride in the Inn her family had owned for many years was evident in his tone and actions. Margaret had smiled and undertaken her private tour with good grace; disappointing him wasn’t an option.
A product of his rigid Victorian upbringing, Grandfather ran his business and his family in an authoritarian and patriarchal manner but, underneath his crusty exterior, he adored his family. Margaret could not upset him by allowing her horror to show.
She gazed around the cellar, her eyes large and luminous. Why am I so scared and anxious? Mother grew up here, serving drinks and snacks to customers in the large bar upstairs. I don’t recall her ever mentioning that she was scared or that the cellar was creepy.
Tears filled her eyes at these thoughts of her mother. She quashed them quickly. She did not want to remind Grandfather of their shared pain. Let him enjoy the distraction of showing her around the Inn. As a historian, he was knowledgeable about the building and its long and dark history so the tour was interesting.”
Time to get to know a little more about Robbie:
If you’ve published more than one book, do you find or notice your writing changes or evolves with each new book?
My first attempts at writing evolved in my place of work, an auditing firm, and were non-fiction. I have been involved in corporate finance and transaction advisory work for many years and over that time I started preparing guidance documents to help my work colleagues. Corporate finance work is chunky, and you have periods of being insanely busy and working all hours of the night and over weekends as well as periods when you are not as busy. During my quieter periods, I started looking into the drivers of investment into Africa to keep myself busy and interested. This interest resulted in a series of publications about listing in Africa, the African debt market and the preparedness of African countries, individually and cumulatively, for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
My interest in writing gradually changed and I started writing poetry and the Sir Chocolate rhyming verse books to entertain my own children and other people’s children too. From this beginning, my writing has grown into what it is
today. I currently have six published Sir Chocolate Books, one Silly Willy middle school book, one young adult historical fictionalized autobiography, one young adult supernatural fantasy book and four anthologies containing my short stories.
D.G. – You are so multi-talented Robbie, it amazes. I don’t know how you do it all!
What prompted you to write in your chosen genre?
I do not write in one specific genre. I have written non-fiction, young children’s picture books, middle-school and young adult. My fiction books have generally either been fantasy or historical in their content. I never thought about writing supernatural and/or horror books and stories until I saw a short story competition on author, Dan Alatorre’s, website. I liked the topic and a few ideas came to me, so I decided to give writing a few horror short stories a go. This effort resulted in The Willow Tree and The
Haunting of William, both of which were published in Dark Visions, horror anthology last year.
I discovered that I really enjoyed writing darker stories and I decided to continue writing short stories in this genre. That was the beginning of Through the Nethergate. I had an idea to write a series of linked stories about the twenty or more ghosts that were believed to haunt a famous local inn in Bungay. As the stories of these ghosts revealed themselves to me, the idea of a girl who had the power to reincarnate the ghosts and help theme escape their lives as ghosts came to me. The stories started
linking together, both through the location of their hauntings and through Margaret. It was quite a strange experience, but as I went along writing this book, it just revealed its path to me. It sounds a bit odd, but that is how it was. I wrote and ideas came, and they formed themselves into a proper and full length story.
I have found it easier and easier to write dark stories and prompts and have dozens of ideas for short stories. I have started storing them in a separate folder, so I don’t forget them. I have limited time to write.
D.G. – Like I said before, you are a wonderment! And yes of course, we must file all our ideas because if anyone is like me – a moment of brilliance evaporates if it is not written down.
How do you promote your work? Do you find marketing and social media overwhelming?
I love social media, especially blogging. I love it so much I must be very disciplined with myself about it. I blog in the mornings between 5.30am and 6.45am and again in the afternoon from 6.30pm to 8pm. I must have time for writing, reading, work, and, most importantly, my family. My boys are teenagers now and so they don’t need as much of my time and attention as they are busy with schoolwork, sport and their own social activities during the evenings and parts of the weekend. That gives me plenty of
time to do my thing on my blog, social media and to write. I have three blogs now, and I love them all so I can’t see that changing in the short term. I have robbiesinspiration for baking, fondant art, children’s books, lighter prompts and poetry and robertawrites for my dark writing and horror/supernatural books promotions. I have robbiecheadle.co.za which is my new flagship website which I use for travel stories and promotions about my books.
D.G. – Unbelievable how you can keep up with all those blogs, besides writing and reading books, social media and real life. Kudos to you Robbie!
Do you prefer to only read books in your genre?
I read books in every genre and for all age groups. Over the past two months I have listened to three dystopian novels, 1984 by George Orwell, and The Running Man and The Long Walk by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman. I have read two poetry books, four children’s books with a Halloween or spooky theme and two tales of espionage, one from the Chinese point of view and one from the British point of view. I also read a book by Stevie Turner called No Sex Please, I’m Menopausal, which is an
amusing take on menopause and also a peep into modern dating. It seems that I have not read one book in this period that is in the supernatural/paranormal/horror genre which is the one I have been writing a lot of lately. I have been quite into dystopian novels recently and also read Fahrenheit 451 and have Animal Farm and The Handmaid’s Tale on my TBR.
D.G. – Thanks for sharing your ultra busy life with us and what you’ve been up to Robbie. I loved your mother’s memoir you wrote – When the Bombs Fell, and look forward to reading Through the Nethergate.
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