If you type the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle into the computer, up comes details of her ghost story ‘Through the Nethergate.’ Now that is impressive. And then we are treated to details of her early life growing up in South Africa – fascinating!
But the wonders don’t stop there. Take Robbie’s early reading list: L.M. Montgomeery (Anne of Green Gables), The Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge, Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (although strangely he is now always referred to as Tolkien, no using the JRR). Nothing odd about any of those, a typical diet for a young girl starting out on her reading journey. Even after exhausting all the children’s books, which Robbie had by age 11, her diet was still very acceptable: Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and the Bronte Sister’s … that is until she discovered her mother’s books, which she was forced to read secretly while hiding behind the couch…
And behind the couch is the reason Robbie now writes about ghosts and things that just might go bump in the night. Because that is where she discovered Stephen King among others.
This is what Robbie says about herself: ‘I found I was drawn to books in the paranormal, mythical creatures and supernatural genres.’
No ghosts here!
But for a while the ghosts had to stay in the closet with the doors shut, because the real world beckoned with its need for a job and income. Her studies to become a chartered accountant left Robbie with little time for reading (or ghosts), except for dull treatise required by her studies. Moving into Corporate Finance in 1999, her only writing for the next fourteen years was to do with corporate finance and investing in Africa. But then everything changed…
Fascinated Read On
… when Robbie’s love of history and research was put to good use, but not yet…
First came the Sir Chocolate series of children’s picture books, 500-600 words, which Robbie co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle. In the questions I asked, I am almost sure Robbie said she was no longer writing those because her son, Michael, who co-authored the series, was now too old. Don’t worry Michael, I can promise you will be reading them to your children one day but for now, Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies Story and Cookbook published in 2020 is most likely to be the last in the seven-book series.
Now writing under her full name, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, and a specialising in historical, paranormal and horror novels, and short stories the influence of such famous authors including Bram Stoker, the Bronte sisters, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough is notificeable throughout the recent body of work. She has published a number of anthologies and has two published YA books, While the Bombs Fell and Through the Nethergate, and a series of short stories based on real events. This is what Robbie says about these. Every single one of my stories is based on the facts of a true crime or set of circumstances and I would like to emphasise that. In my opinion, it is pointless to turn away from a story because it is too disturbing and dismiss its message if it is based on true events.
Now meet the ghost!
A Ghost and his Gold is her first adult novel and is partly set in South Africa during the Second Anglo Boer War.
In Robbie’s own words: A Ghost and His Gold started life as a short story [as did The Soldier and the Radium Girl]. My mother read it and her comments and advice resulted in the short story growing into a novella of 30,000 words. I then sent the story to Esther Chilton for a round of developmental editing. Esther’s advice was wonderful, and the story grew into a novel of 116,000 words. It wasn’t that Esther gave me decisive inputs to grow and change the story, it was more a case of “but what about this?” or “this style [diary] could work well in your story.” Esther’s advice taught me how to open my mind to possibilities with a story and plot and that was another hugely valuable lesson.
This is the blurb:
After Tom and Michelle Cleveland move into their recently built, modern townhouse, their housewarming party is disrupted when a drunken game with an Ouija board goes wrong and summonses a sinister poltergeist, Estelle, who died in 1904.
Estelle makes her presence known in a series of terrifying events, culminating in her attacking Tom in his sleep with a knife. But, Estelle isn’t alone. Who are the shadows lurking in the background – one in an old-fashioned slouch hat and the other, a soldier, carrying a rifle?
After discovering their house has been built on the site of one of the original farms in Irene, Michelle becomes convinced that the answer to her horrifying visions lies in the past. She must unravel the stories of the three phantoms’ lives, and the circumstances surrounding their untimely deaths during the Second Anglo Boer War, in order to understand how they are tied together and why they are trapped in the world of ghosts between life and death. As the reasons behind Estelle’s malevolent behaviour towards Tom unfold, Michelle’s marriage comes under severe pressure and both their lives are threatened.
And this is a taster … the opening paragraphs:
“These sausage rolls are amazing.” Carl stuffs another one into his large mouth.
“Thank you, Carl,” Michelle smiles brightly.
The evening is going well, and Carl’s appreciation of her cooking skills pleases her. A strange sense of foreboding about this house-warming party has bothered her all week. There is something strange about this house, she thinks. I’ve seen such weird things since we moved in; shadows of people who aren’t there, flickering movements with no apparent cause, and that hair. Yuck! A shiver ripples up her spine, causing her hands to tremble slightly. Nothing untoward has happened so just relax.
Tom bounds over. His shoulders, usually slightly hunched with stress, are relaxed and his grin is boyish and charming. “She’s a great cook, Carl.” He grabs a few of the delicious home-made pastries from her tray.
Michelle returns his contagious grin. She’s absurdly pleased that her distinguished husband has praised her catering, especially in front of his best friend and long-term colleague. Carl and Tom are both partners at the prestigious auditing and advisory firm, Kellerman, James & Thompson.
“I love what you’ve done to this place.” Sue takes a large sip of her wine and makes an expansive gesture to incorporate the room. “You are very creative, Michelle.”
“Thank you,” Michelle laughs. “It’s my night for compliments.”
Glancing around, she also thinks the room is attractive. Against the right-hand wall is an antique sideboard. Michelle recalls her delight when she found it in a local antique shop soon after their move. She’d questioned the owner about its origins.
“It is believed to have belonged to Pieter van Zyl, one of the original Boers in this area,” the shop owner told her. “It comprises two pieces. A large kist, originally used to store clothing and linen makes up the bottom piece, and a glass fronted display cabinet makes up the top piece.”
She pointed at the legs of the kist which ended in the large paws of a lion. “Just look at the beautifully carved legs of the kist, such wonderful detail.”
A Ghost and His Gold Give Away
Each stop on this five-day book blog tour will offer the opportunity to win a $10 Amazon gift voucher. (*Winners must be able to retrieve Amazon US gift vouchers.) Author Roberta Eaton Cheadle will also give away 2 paperback copies of A Ghost and His Gold. All you have to do to enter is drop by each tour stop and leave a comment!
Extract from A Ghost and His Gold
The bluffing tactics, which had been improvised on the spot by B.P. and his officers and which had utilized every bit of available material, were impressive.
Warner Goodyear pointed out areas on the outskirts of the town which were marked with warnings for the townspeople and cattle herders to stay clear of them.
“The Colonel discovered that the Boers have a great fear of landmines,” he said. “He incorporated this knowledge into his design for the defence of the town. He ordered the preparation of a whole lot of metal boxes filled with sand which the people of the town were asked to carry to these sites. Our officers visibly issued them with dire warnings not to drop or bump them. The boxes were buried, and the affected areas marked as dangerous. The new mines were even tested, and the townspeople were warned to stay inside while the tests were undertaken.”
Richard Johnson was standing next to Robert while Warner narrated this story. Emboldened by Robert’s clear amused interest, he shared the details of the fake testing.
“Major Panzera and a colleague went out into the minefield and stuck a stick of dynamite into an ant-bear hole. They lit the fuse and ran for cover. My father and I were watching from the railway station when the dynamite exploded. It made a tremendous roar and threw up a huge cloud of dust. We heard later that a man on a bicycle was cycling past just at that moment. It’s generally believed that he’ll have carried the story of the dangerous mines surrounding the town over the border of the South African Republic to the gathering Boer forces.”
Robert laughed at Richard’s story and the boy blushed red with delight. I have an admirer, Robert thought. The idea pleased him. Robert came from a big family of eight children and Richard reminded him of his younger brother at home.
For lovers of history, A Ghost and his Gold will prove a fascinating read, like looking through the keyhole onto one of Alice’s adventures. I haven’t yet read past the opening chapters but am looking forward to discovering the identity of the phantoms and hearing their stories. Among the many characters referred to is Colonel Baden Powell. And, yes, of course I know who he is but nothing more and was again fascinated by Robbie’s research.
About Colonel Baden-Powell
Affectionately known as BP by hismen, Colonel Baden-Powell was the British Army officer in command during the siege of Mafeking in the Great South African War.
This siege attracted significant attention from both the Boers and international medial because Lord Edward Cecil, the son of the British Prime Minister, and Lady Sarah Wilson, daughter of the 7th Duke of Marlborough and aunt to Winston Churchill, were besieged in the town.
His successful and resourceful defence of this railway town on the Bechuanaland (modern Botswana) border, from the 14th of October 1899 to the 16th of May 1900, fired the British imagination.
Cunning deceptions, many devised by Baden-Powell, were utilised in defence of the town, including the planting of fake minefields and the pretend avoidance by his soldiers of non-existent barbed wire while moving between trenches.
During the siege, a Mafeking Cadet Corp consisting of boys below fighting age, was used to stand guard, carry messages, assist in hospitals, and perform other necessary tasks. After his return to the United Kingdom, Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts movement in 1908 and was co-founder, together with his sister, Agnes, of the Girl Guides movement in 1910.
I have always been interested in Colonel Baden-Powell because he and I share a few similarities. His birthday is on the 22nd of February and so is mine. His father’s family hails from Suffolk in the UK, as does my mother’s, and we both lost our biological fathers at a young age.
Photograph by Taylor of Mafeking during the Siege of Mafeking (1899-1900). https://collection.nam.ac.uk/detail.php?acc=1965-06-77-1
Other books by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Through the Nethergate
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.
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