At the Bar with Robbie Cheadle – SoCS

Welcome to the bar at No Facilities. We have a special guest with us today, so I’ll add the necessary disclaimer. Although I am writing this in an SoC style, as we try to handle Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness prompt, quite a bit of planning was required.

“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is ‘drive.’ Use it any way you’d like. Have fun!”

If we were having a beer you would be eager to meet our guest.

“Where is she, Dan?”

“She’ll be here soon, David, she’s coming from South Africa, it’s not like she can hop in the car and drive.”

“Are you guys having a guest today?”

“Yes, Skippy. Roberta Cheadle will be joining us shortly.”

“Wasn’t she here when you had that party? I hope this isn’t another day like that, that ran me ragged.”

“Skippy, a two-beer order on the patio runs you ragged. I’d like a John Howell’s Special, I’m sure Dan would like a Corona, so off you go.”

“I think our guest has arrived, David.”

“Hi Dan, and you must be David. I’m Robbie.”

“Dan mentioned that you were coming, Robbie. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“OK, bourbon, seltzer, ice, Corona, lime, cherries. You guys really need to tone this down.”

“Skippy, Dan’s lime slice is in my bourbon.”

“Sorry. Ma’am, can I get you something to drink?”

“Why yes, Skippy, is it? Do you have any hard Apple Cider?”

“We have ‘Wild Thing’ from the Artifact Cider Project in Springfield, Massachusetts.”

“That sounds interesting. Let’s go with that.”

“Robbie, you must get this question a lot, but you work for a firm that I used to work for. Unless they’ve changed, and it doesn’t seem like they have, it’s a demanding job. How do you find time to write and read and bake and raise a family?”

“I do get this question often, Dan. Corporate finance is very demanding, but it is also a feast or famine type of job. You are either killing yourself working long nights and weekends, or you are doing administrative stuff and proposals. My work arrangement is that I work a 30-hour week. Of course, during the busy months [about 8 months of a normal year], I work 45-hour weeks and longer as weekend work is often required, but I get to ‘take’ these extra hours back as leave days instead of bonuses. This arrangement works for me as my time is precious and I am horribly bad at administration. It is much better for other people to do the administrative parts of my job and leave me to write my publications, articles, and books.”

“Here’s your cider Ma’am.”

“Mmm that is nice.” Thank you, Skippy.”

“No problem.”

“Robbie, since Dan said you were going to visit, I did a little homework. You write in a wide variety of genres. Do you have a favorite?”

“I have a busy mind, David, and restless spirit and I am happiest when I am completely absorbed by a complex and time-consuming project. It is for this reason I write. Writing is something that draws me in, completely taking over my mind and free time. It is for this same reason I write in a lot of genres. I love to learn and enjoy interesting research. I am always finding new research passions and these interests manifest themselves in my books and stories.”

“I should mention that I even bought one of your books, ‘While the Bombs Fell.’ I have a good friend in Ipswich.”

“Thank you, David. While the Bombs Fell was written by me but told my mother’s childhood stories. My mother did have a lot of veto rights with that book and exercised them frequently. I didn’t mind and writing this book with her taught me a lot more about her life as a girl and also her family.”

“Robbie, you say in the poem, ‘What Drives me to Write’ that ‘It’s my personal attempt To make some sense of this world.’ – Is that working?”

“I do believe it does work, Dan. When I write, I have an opportunity to sort out my thoughts, emotions, and experiences in life and translate them into words. It certainly helps give me greater understanding. The books you see, except for my poetry which is raw emotion and thought, have been through an extensive editing process and a lot of my strong opinions end up being removed. That is a good thing; ‘killing my darlings’ results in a more balance presentation and a better book, but the process of the initial writing and flood of thoughts and emotions is healing for me.”

“Speaking of that raw emotion, your poem ‘Sudden death’ captures in a very few words the emotion and sadness that literally could fill a book. It’s a very powerful poem. Would you share the backstory?”

“Sudden death was written about a few deaths that I experienced within a six-month period. One of my work colleagues, an up-and-coming young man of great potential, was murdered in a police station in Alexandra Township in Johannesburg. He had taken his young niece there to lay a charge against her abusive boyfriend who was an ex-policeman. The boyfriend followed them to the police station and shot and killed our colleague. It was a tragedy and waste of life.”

“That is a tragic story.”

“Around about the same time, the only son of a client of mine was killed in an aeroplane crash. It was a small private plane and the young man, and his colleagues were going to inspect a factory for work purposes. The father was left with no heir, and this was also a great tragedy.”

“I’m going to share one particularly sad stanza, and then the end of the poem. It might help David understand the poem.

A drug addict’s child
always left alone,
of starvation dies
he’s skin and bone.”

At first a death is so surreal,
it’s permanency so unreal.
The first few days they go so fast,
the funeral in a flash it’s past.

Harsh reality
when people leave,
and left alone
your loss you grieve.

Life is fragile
not guaranteed,
make sure each day
is gladly received.

“The stanza about the drug addict’s child was also a real case but the baby survived and was adopted by a friend of my sister.”

“I am glad to hear that. Thanks for sharing the end of that poem, Dan. You’re right, Robbie, life is fragile.”  

“It is, David. I realised then, and again recently after experiencing a few deaths in my community, that once the first shock of death has passed, most people move on with their lives very quickly. It is not in the immediate aftermath of a death the family need the most support, it is afterwards, when its permanency sinks in.”

“Skippy.”

“Yes, David.”

“I think we could use another round; I know I could.”

“That’s a good idea, David. Robbie, I don’t mean to focus on the dark aspects, but you have several poems about poverty. Hartford, about eight miles south of this bar, is the poorest city in Connecticut, so we hear a lot about poverty and your poems spoke to me. I’m sure, as here, the pandemic made the situation in South Africa worse.”

“Certainly, the pandemic has increased poverty in South Africa. The job losses here have been terrible, and the government aid is limited by funding constraints. Education is the only way to uplift people and the lockdowns impacted heavily on schools and learners as many South African children don’t have access to technology at home so on-line learning was not an option.”

“Is there any hope for these people?”

“There is always hope. I am part of my work department’s Community Service Initiatives team, and we organise donations of money, physical items, and time to aid various identified early learning organisations. At the end of last year, our small department donated 100 school bags, stationary packs, and sweet packages to children at one school who were going into grade 1 this year. Michael and I also donated 100 of our Sir Chocolate books to this initiative.”

“Before Dan drags us into needing yet another round, I have a general question about writing.”

“What would that be, David?”

“Poetry seems to me to be a very precise form of writing. Do you find it easier or harder to write poetry than historical fiction?”

“For me, writing poetry is a strong emotional reaction to something I see, experience, or hear about. My rhyming and freestyle poems usually come to me in a wave of words, and I just grab a pen and write them down. My poetry is intense and heartfelt, and I rarely change it extensively during an editing process. In my opinion, my poetry is best left in the initial presentation of that strong feeling and not messed about with through too much editing.”

“That’s interesting, sort of a burst of emotion. But your historical fiction must require a good deal of research.”

“I finished A Ghost and His Gold, which at one-hundred-fifteen-thousand words, many of which are historical, required enormous research and effort.”

“Do you enjoy the research?”

“I am fanatical about my research and check the facts to many different sources. When researching A Ghost and His Gold, I discovered a discrepancy in the way the Second Anglo Boer War was perceived and recorded by the British and the Boers which is why I had two ghostly soldiers, one from each background and persuasion. This tool allowed me to present both points of view through the eyes of my characters, Robert, the British solider, and Pieter, the Boer farmer and patriot.”

“Robbie, I enjoyed reading ‘Open a New Door’ and your entries in the collection ‘Poetry Treasures.’ Will you be continuing to publish your poetry? Are there other projects you’re working on?”

“I’m glad you enjoyed my poetry, Dan. I do like to write poetry although it is not something I do consistently. I must be moved emotionally in order to write poetry. I have been living quite an isolated life lately due to covid. My parents live with us, my in-laws are elderly, and Michael is high risk, so we stay at home most of the time. This means, I haven’t seen the things that inspire me to write poetry. I have, however, been inspired to write some darkly humorous twisted nursery rhymes and limericks about covid and pollution/global warming. These poems, together with some poems about my family, death, and my favourite topic, corporates, will be published soon in a small collection of unusual poems called Behind Closed Doors.”

“Now, ‘darkly humorous twisted nursery rhymes’ sounds like poetry I would enjoy.”

“I hope you do, David.”

“Are you working on any other books?”

“I am currently writing a book about the fourth industrial revolution and climate change. I had started this pre the pandemic and have given it an overhaul to bring in the changes and anticipated changes caused by the pandemic and lockdowns. This book is essentially dystopian fiction. I am planning two sequels for this book.”

“I’m looking forward to those. Robbie, I am so glad Dan invited you to join us today. This has been fascinating.”

“Thank you, David, and thanks Dan, for this wonderful opportunity to chat to you. I rarely drink because alcohol loosens my tongue and I talk far too much as I have done today.”

“Well, we enjoyed this.”

If you are interested in purchasing any of Robbie’s books, you can follow the specific links in the post or you can visit her Amazon author page, here.

138 comments

  1. Count me in for dark and twisted nursery rhymes… though I found Artifact’s Wild Thing a bit too tame. But thank you for the veritable bunny bonanza…. my favorite way to start the day.
    😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love Robbie’s description of her writing process. I can certainly relate to it. She sounds like a fascinating woman with a great deal to say. I’m glad you shared her with us today.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dan, thank you so much for this post and exposing us to Roberta’s life and talent as a writer. Roberta, congratulations on your career and devotion to family and writing.

    “I must be moved emotionally in order to write poetry.”
    For me, this is poetry…putting strong emotions into words. When you feel it, you write, and sometimes all it takes is a flower bud or cat’s meow to make that happen.

    Have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. A good look at the connection between living and writing. Also some interesting thoughts on editing. I wonder if hard cider would loosen a pen as well as it loosens the tongue. If yes, I’d put in a supply. The squirrel and the cat got me laughing — those captions fit so well! The dogwood is gorgeous.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It was a pleasure to meet you Roberta. You are an exceptionally interesting and talented girl. I definitely have to check out your books. I don’t know how you juggle it all in addition to family concerns and Covid 19. I’m still trying to figure out what to fix for dinner!

    Thank you for having her join us at the bar today. This has started my day off on the right foot. The gallery is great. The bunny picture is outstanding. Love seeing Maddie deep in sleep on her deck. And I love the “Pup Stop”. What a great idea. I see lots of dogs being walked here and some of them are almost walking on their own tongues on hot days.

    Have an enjoyable, relaxing weekend Dan. May the three M’s enjoy many belly rubs, brushings, scritches behind their ears, and treats with Murphy’s compliments!
    Ginger

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ginger. I’m glad you enjoyed this visit with Robbie. I’m with you, in awe of how much she’s able to do and how well she’s able to do it. I follow a lot of poets, but hers is the first book of poetry I’ve bought in a long time. Reading a lot of poems by the same person got me wondering. Fortunately, Robbie was happy to answer the questions I had.

      Maddie was such a jerk the day I took that picture. She pretended to have to go out on business, but she clearly wanted me to take her. I tired to get the Editor to take her, but Maddie would have none of it. When we stepped out, she dragged me straight to her porch and plopped. She knows she can get me to sit.

      Everyone is inside being lazy today as we watch the rain. I hope you’re having a nice easy weekend, much nicer in the 70s than the 90s. Everyone sends Murphy a scritch back.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great conversation this was! And David spoke more than I remember him ever before. Robbie’s entire writing process was quite fascinating to me–the different mind sets for writing a book vs writing poetry. ‘darkly humorous twisted nursery rhymes’–oh, that sounds fun! I always enjoy Saturdays at the bar, but this one was really special. Dan–that pinecone photo–you should frame them. They are little gems. Enjoy the weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this, Lois. David’s namesake, as you might remember is a dear friend of mine who lives in Ipswich, in England. I became interested in Robbie’s writing when she released “While the Bombs Fell” which I gifted to his wife for Christmas. She loved the book. I thought it was appropriate to give David a larger role, and to be a little kinder to him than I sometimes am.

      Those pine cones are just too amazing to pass by. Maddie must wonder why I stop, but I can’t resist.

      I hope you have a great weekend.

      Liked by 2 people

        • David (at the bar) is fictional, but there is a real David who lives in Ipswich and his wife loved your book. When I started this series, I just used to refer to “my buddy.” When I wanted to name him, I asked my friend if he would mind. He agreed as long as I never called him “Dave.” My buddy, is a composite character based on several male friends, one of whom is the real David.

          Like

  7. Thank you for this very interesting and relatable interview. In spite of all the tragedy, ““There is always hope.” I’m looking forward to checking out, While the Bombs Fell, since I’m writing a family history from my parents’ perspectives. I love the photos of honeysuckle, the reaching dogwood, and of course the pinecone.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great interview with Robbie today, Dan! I liked the poem shared in the piece. The nursery rhyme book she’s working on sounds like it will be worth checking out. Thanks for putting her and her work on my radar!

    I LOVED your Dogwood image and the way you filled the frame with those beautiful blossoms. LOVED IT!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. That was such a fun way to interview Robbie. I don’t know how you got her all the way to New England from S. Africa, but I’m glad you did. I’ve enjoyed Robbie’s books and poetry and now I’m reading A Ghost and his Gold. I can vouch for the depth of her research and the wonderful way the two opposing points of view work. A fun post. :-)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Applesauce! I’m glad we’re at the bar, because a definitely need some giggle water. Dan, thanks so much for hosting Robbie. It’s always lovely to get to know more about her. She’s such a terrific part of the blogging community. What a remarkable and talented woman. Wishing her every success. Hugs to you both.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    I am over at the bar with Dan Antion from No Facilities blog having a chat about writing and poetry. Dan Antion has a lovely blog with lots of interesting information and photographs. Dan also hosts the popular Thursday Doors challenge. Do go over and have a look around.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Really a great way to present an interview!
    As informative as interviews are, many are dry and I get bored quickly.
    I read as many as I can, because I do support all of the wonderful writers out here on WP.
    Not that I need a picture book, but reading an actual book creates pictures in my mind.
    Robbie, I adore that you do a lot of research. When designing costumes for a period movie, I would do a lot of research.
    Knowledge is valuable. I also have taken to heart what you said about writing poetry, the initial emotion and not over editing. I’ve written some emotional pieces that seem important to me. Then I edit and edit.. rhymes, times and words and more. Then I don’t like what was written anymore.
    SO, from now on when inspiration strikes… just write and put the darn thing away. Then read it later.
    This was great. Robbie, I’ll see you on your Youtube channel! You have a fab voice.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this, Resa. This is my preferred way to talk about authors and books. It requires more work, I think, from the author, because I need enough answers to write for SoCS. But I liked how this turned out. Robbie was a joy to work with.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It is interesting, Dan, that you say it is more work for the author, I was thinking how much work you put in to put these posts together. I know it takes time and effort to put posts together and one like this is even more. I love what you created from my bits of information.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t do these very often, Robbie but you’ve been so kind with your support, I wanted to give something back. When I have guests, it’s my pleasure to do the work.

          Like

    • Hi Resa, I have seen other poets who have edited their work extensively and I invariably like first attempt best. I like the raw emotion that is expressed before people whittle it all away. I can imagine that period dress design requires a lot of research. It is not always that easy to find out what people war at a certain point in history either. Some of the information available lacks a lot of detail. Youtube is a new undertaking for me and I am enjoying the different medium.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Hi Dan – I enjoyed this barstool intereview with Robbie. (Hi Robbie!) I have “known” Robbie through our blogs for quite a few years, but I learned a lot of new things today. Best wishes, Robbie, in all your creative pursuits! Your varied interests give you unlimited outlets for expression.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. What a great interview with Robbie. I have read her poetry book and The Ghost and his Gold and enjoyed them both. Some of these questions really elicited some sad answers. I did not know all of this and I am always in awe of this wonderful author, mother, wife, baker, and so on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this. The questions maybe were focused a bit on some dark topics, but I was moved by those poems. Robbie is amazing. All she does, I get tired thinking about it. I’m so glad she agreed to the visit.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carla, it is great to see you here. I appreciate your support and I’m glad you enjoyed my poetry book and A Ghost and His Gold. Life is full of happy and sad moments. Without one or the other, we could not experience either fully. With all the ups and downs I have with my two sons, I would not change anything for the world. They are just so precious.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I have know Robbie for about a year and admire her amazing work ethic and ability to merge the work in finance with a flair for creative expression. Thanks for the in-depth questions, Dan. Robbie is amazing indeed! :-)

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Such a wonderful post, Dan. I follow Robbie’s blog closely and knew a few things about her background, but your conversation about poetry and her sharing of the background to one of her poems was very powerful. She is a fascinating person and a multi-talented writer and baker. Stay well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this conversation, Olga. I, too, find Robbie fascinating, and I enjoy her writing. I love poetry and it was interesting to get inside the poems.

      Like

  17. Hi Dan – thanks for having Robbie by … her thoughts reminded me of my days in SA – devastating at times … close for me – I often think of them. I’ll be over to join her blog …
    It is an extremely interesting conversation … personal thoughts and aspects, that are difficult to communicate to others, unless they’re on the same wave-length …
    I was interested in her thoughts on poetry … I must at some stage – pay more attention to that genre.
    Stay safe both of you – Robbie: you and your family and friends in SA … I lived there for 14 years – coming back in 1992 … but it still resonates heavily … with thoughts – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you enjoyed this, Hilary. I don’t know much about South Africa, but I’ve learned a lot from Robbie’s answers (I have more answers than I had time to share). I enjoy poetry, but I hadn’t bought a book of poetry for years.

      Liked by 1 person

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