Saturday 20 January 2018

Guest Author Robbie Cheadle of South Africa

Robbie was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books. Robbie is also the author of the new Silly Willy series the first of which, Silly Willy goes to Cape Town, is now available.

Why did I publish the Sir Chocolate books?

I have always been a great reader. I learned how to read when I was four years old and that was the beginning of a wonderful voyage of discovery. I read everything I could get my hands on; Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, L.M. Montgomery and a myriad of classical authors. I went on adventures up the Faraway Tree, anguished over the death of Beth in Little Woman, explored the prairies of America with Laura Ingalls Wilder, flew with Wendy and her brothers in Peter Pan and grew bigger and smaller with Alice in Alice in Wonderland.

By the time I was ten years old I had exhausted all the books in our local library and the school library. I had seven library cards, four were mine and three I pinched from my younger sister. I used to ride my bicycle to our local library twice a week and take out seven books at a time. I used to read, curled up in a chair in my room while snacking on Marie biscuits dipped in milk.

I was attending a convent in George in the Western Cape at this point in my life, one of the fourteen schools I attended, and I had a wonderful teacher, Sister Agatha. Sister Agatha started providing me with some very unusual and interesting books. The ones that I remember most notably were I am David, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Fattifpuffs and Thinifers, The Diary of Anne Frank, Child of Satan, Child of God (a personal account by Susan Atkins of life and death with the infamous Manson family), Mafeking Road: and other stories by Charles Bosman (a book that gives insight into Afrikaner life in the late 19th century) and, eventually, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

These books made a deep impression on me and I have never forgotten any of them. I have copies of these books in my adult home and have re-read all of them as an adult. My son, Gregory, a big reader in his own right now, has read some of these as well. I can still remember sitting and reading A Tale of Two Cities with a dictionary. I used to look up the words I didn’t know and write them down in a notebook. One word I have always remembered looking up was “countenance”.  Who was to know that this interesting word meant face?

 I developed a love of classical books and went on to read most of Dickens’ books, Great Expectations is my favourite, the creepy old lady in a wedding dress spending her days among the decaying cake and remnants of a wedding feast bored into my young mind. I also discovered my three favourite classics, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Journal of a Plague Year by Daniel De foe and Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.

During my youth there seemed to be so many wonderful books to read and most of them were inspirational. They showed you people to be hard working, brave and adventurous and highlighted respect for faith, family and friends as being very important.

So, what has my reading journey as a child and young adult got to do with my own writing? Two things.

Firstly, I was inspired to start writing down my thoughts, little poems and other ideas because of reading L.M. Montgomery’s trilogy about Emily of New Moon. This book depicts a young girl who loses her mother at a very young age and then her father when she is ten years old. Emily loves to write and, although writing, and especially poetry, is considered to be a frivolous waste of time by the elderly maiden aunt relative who takes her into her home, she continues to write, expanding into poetry and short stories. The book is partly a journey of Emily’s development as a writer and poet and I found it very inspiring when I read it on entering high school when I was twelve years old. I recently acquired the audio book of Emily of New Moon and my younger son, Michael, was totally entranced by this story. He listened to all twelve hours of this book in a week and that is pretty impressive for an eleven-year-old boy.

If a book can make such a big impression on someone’s life, then surely books are very important items and deserve to be treated as such. The content of books must be such that it encourages the best in our impressionable children.

The second reason that I decided to publish Michael and my Sir Chocolate books was linked to the first reason in that I became very disillusioned with modern children’s books.

When I had my own children, it gave me great pleasure to read to them when they were small. We revisited all my old favourites and some of them we just about wore out with re-reading. A favourite of Michael’s was the Faraway Tree trilogy by Enid Blyton. I think I could recite those books for you. Gregory learned to read by himself very quickly, but Michael took a bit longer so when we had exhausted all the books I had read as a child, I set about trying to find some new books for us to read together and for me to continue to read to Michael.

I was disappointed and saddened by the content of many of the modern books I bought. A lot of these books seemed to poke fun at the things I deemed to be important like family. The youngsters were portrayed as being rude, precocious and devious to their parents and authority figures. They were also disloyal and deceitful to their friends and teachers. I did not like the concepts embedded in a lot of these books, and so I started writing little stories with Michael to read to him and his cousins who frequently visited. Over time, we started illustrating the stories with fondant creations as baking and fondant art was another hobby we used to do together, and I started reading these books to the children at my Church.

One of my friends knew a small publisher of books and she suggested that I submit my books to Anne Samson from TSL Publications to see if she was interested in them. She was and so Michael and my publishing journey began. Like all things in life, writing and illustrating a book for children seems to be about 10% talent and 90% hard work but we have persevered and are pleased to see some interest being generated in our books. We included five simple recipes in each of our books with the aim that our little story and cook books would encourage baking activities and other imaginary play between caregivers and their children. Our fondant artworks can be reproduced in plasticine or play dough and I have even seen on industrious little boy try to make a cake out of mud.

Of course, there are plenty of wonderful modern children’s books. I absolutely love the Winnie the Witch series of books. I have also discovered Indie books over the past few years and this has also opened a whole new reading world for me. I have found some marvelous book series to read with Michael which both of us enjoy and which have messaging that I am comfortable with. It is a great thing that there are so many wonderful children’s authors out there writing amazing books for children.

Thank you, Allan, for providing Michael and I will this opportunity to visit you at The Scribbler and share some of our thoughts on reading and writing.

It is our absolute pleasure having you as our guest this week Robbie. It's been fun to read about the development of your books and characters. We wish you continued success with your writing.



Monday 1 January 2018

Part 2 of "Night Index" by Guest Author Ryan Madej -.

.....and here's the rest of the story!

There has been a terrific response to Ryan's story when I posted Part 1 on Saturday past. If you missed it then pleased scroll down to the end or go HERE!

My name is Ryan Madej and I began writing in my teens. Just this past summer I finished my fourth book entitled The Threshold and the Key, the final volume in a novella/memoir cycle that I’ve worked on for the past 20 years. My style is in the experimental vein because I find that playing with form in the fragmented way that I do plays to how I think memory works. The short story I’m submitting was originally published in Infinity’s Kitchen no 6, that showcases works to an American audience. It’s my pleasure to show it to my fellow Canadians.

Night Index....continued,

  H: Halcyon
Where the fuck is he? What is taking him so long? But I digress. I find comfort in the past as most people do by drowning in the familiar. Over the course of the last few months a kind of bomb has gone off in my mind. A time bomb. Literally a bomb that erases the present, insofar as only the immediate is of any interest to me, and the rest of my days are spent living in situations that are only tangible through the lens in my head. One piece in particular has been floating around as of late, taking me back into that deep fluorescent gray sphere of my memory. I must have been about ten years old at the time, wandering around in the garden trying to catch those cabbage butterflies with a makeshift net, feeling only the deep swell of well being that is common amongst most kids, only there is something wrong with the scene as it progresses. The longer I play the wind picks up, the clouds gather, and I come to realize that perhaps this didn't happen at all. My idea of memory is only a disguise for imagination, and the longer I wait for him to come see me, the more I know that what I see through that lens, the more it needs actualization. 

I: Icicles  
I'm surprised she hasn't texted me yet. Perhaps I'm just taking my time in order to push her buttons. The streetlights have just come on and I realize I'm running late, knowing that she will be pacing back and forth in her apartment pissed off that I'm not in her arms. Good.  As we draw nearer, the more my feelings for her linger in an odd space between strong affection and coldness. If nothing else I've achieved a sort of control with her. I can hang over her now like those icicles on the eaves of houses...
J: Jealousy
Third cigarette. I decided to open the bottle and drink a little in order to calm my nerves. Maybe he has decided to forget me and fuck some other girl. The topic did come up once when we were lying naked on the bed and turned away from another, me looking out the window of my bedroom, and his eyes gazing into the mirror in the corner, perhaps staring at the curve of my back. I asked him if he would ever tire of the games we played with one another. Without turning over, he said in a soft, almost boyish voice that he didn't know but that every game, no matter how intricate and pleasurable, would inevitably end with one side being defeated.  I asked him what he meant. All he did was chuckle.   
K: Kabuki 

As I walk over the High Gate bridge, brightly lit and empty, I feel a void inside me. Nothing. Odd that she wouldn't make an effort to try to contact me in order to see where I was. Perhaps our relationship is different from others—yes, definitely different. But different how? What is it about us that make us unique? The way she looks at me when I touch her is more the look of a little girl than a woman, and perhaps that is what I find to be the most appealing aspect about her. How she wriggles beneath my hands as I stroke her skin or touch her breast as though she is resisting me. It is responses like that—subtle and intensely erotic—which make me believe they hide something about her. I will never know. Like a kabuki dancer upon the stage acting out the movements of a story, she covers her inner world with beautiful make-up.

L: Letters, Lies
We were having a drink on a rooftop bar during the summer—a night suffused with a sticky heat and a growing mutual drunkenness—when I think he asked me if I had ever received a love letter from someone. My head swimming with whiskey, I asked him to repeat the question. Instead he produced a folded piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to me, his eyes three quarters closed and his breath thick with the smell of Bombay gin. Leaning back in my chair and lighting another slim cigarillo, I put the letter up to the dim patio lantern and began to read: Funny how in this age of distances and isolation I came to find you across those great distances on a computer screen. Lonely is no longer a word I know since I found you. I remember laughing. I also remember how incredibly empty his words sounded. But again, I found him interesting despite his tacky lies. When I looked over at him again something silver flashed in his hands. He smiled and showed me the tiny knife he was playing with in the growing moonlight. 
: Millennium 
I see her apartment off in the distance, the pallid light coming from the living room in thin streams. Pausing in the street, more deserted now than before, I lean against a lamppost taking a flask from my coat and sip slowly. Looking up at her balcony I have the feeling that I won't return here after tonight. Just call it a hunch. Maybe I have grown tired and bored in much the same way when we entered this new century and realized I have gone nowhere but inward away from the light. Many people claim to know where they are going and how they will get there.I've just let impulse drive me to where I need to be. I throw the flask into the street.

N: Nihilism  
I'll be ready once he does arrive. After all this time together I've finally learned how to see, and by opening my eyes wider than ever before, I understand what I must do. In order to move forward, one must break the mirror and walk barefoot over the
pieces. Only then can I truly understand what I've been trying to destroy all these years without regret. Perhaps deep down he even wants me to do it for him, because maybe he is thinking the exact same thing. Nothing left. 
O: Origins  
Someone once said that this universe is possessed by war and games. I would go so far to add that in the midst of that great miasma of energy that brought us here to this point in time, death would have to be the third.


P: Pipe dreams
Images change in my head. Moving away from those of his beautiful face and into that place where butterflies play and roses bloom. Some call that paradise. I call that an impossibility, even though the images are so clear and alive. I step outside onto the balcony and breathe in the emerging night air, all cool and dead, and look westward seeing only the faint glimmer of the day that passed...That and what I thought was real with him.
Q: Questions 
I ask myself: Where did this all start going wrong? Answer: When our eyes met under the glare of those black lights. 

R: Rain

Why is that when we are so close to the end of a given situation that our minds give way to distant memories? Even now, especially now, I remember the presence of rain as that natural process stirring my thoughts as the vivid darkness set in. The sting of leaving this apartment in the middle of the night when the streets were still and filled with deep puddles, mysterious unwanted tears matching the landscape, always indicated I was heading somewhere I didn't want to go. Not this time. Tonight the cycle is broken. Tonight I act. Tonight I transcend.

S: Snakes

The lobby has several chairs that sit beside a small wall fountain whose vertical ripples remind me of a dream I had of snakes, or rather of one snake in particular. The room— it always tends to be a room with no windows or doors for quick escape—is dimly
lit and the snake lies coiled near a slow burning candle, rearing its sleek head as I approach. We study one another in way that is uncanny as though we share some sort of symbiosis, then the mouth opens. Only then do I accept that I will not survive...I
close my eyes and smile.

T: Tears 

Turning off the lights, I sit down with my head pressed to the door, listening for the elevator door to open and his soft approach down the hall. My bitterness has turned to tears. Large, salty tears that run down my cheeks and neck into my cleavage. I can almost feel his fingers there, and I shudder to think that he touched me so many times. I try not to breathe deeply so any tiny sound reaches my ears, even my heartbeat which seems dangerously slow. Somehow, I knew this night would be memorable.


U: Unicorn 

As I ride up in the rickety frame of the elevator, the sounds of Vangelis flood my ears—Memories of Green, Blade Runner soundtrack. And as the sounds give way to the scrutiny of memory, the vivid image of Decker's unicorn comes to mind in
much the same way it did to him, almost like a dream. Just as he may have thought the image was not really his, but planted there by those who created him, I begin to think that nothing has ever really been mine...even her.

V: Vendetta 

One can only assume what they will do in any given situation until they are actually  confronted with that situation. Now, as I hold the blade in my hand, I give in to what I've always felt: a desire to see an ending.

W: Walking

I like to walk in silence, for in silence one comes to know the slow moving current of the universe and the dynamics of change. Someone told me that once. It might have been her, actually. Sounds like something written on a fortune cookie, but a
grain of truth nonetheless.  The hallway is still; I must tread lightly so I don't destroy what I have just created. All I have to do now is walk through her door.


X: X-rays

Once the mirror is broken, the reflection is gone and one can truly see the other. Or rather, one can now see through the other.

Y: Y chromosome

My hand grazes the doorknob and my breathing slows. She never locks the door, for she is the inviting type and I'm always welcome. The man, or in this case insect, drawn into the web of the widow spider, suddenly paralyzed and put to sleep. How tired I've become. She has sensed my fatigue and prepared a bed for me to lie down in. Thank you for everything.

Z: Zenith 

I can almost taste him now. Lightly licking the edge of the blade, my hunger pangs reach their peak. Tonight, I dine alone.

Thank you Ryan for sharing your story. Well done!
For any of you readers that want to reach Ryan, send him an email at

Please leave a comment below and/or your name for a chance to win a copy of Wall r War to be drawn for January 31/2018.