Meet the Author

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Robbie Cheadle appreciation

Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle has been an author with TSL since early days when she started the Sir Chocolate series. For anyone following Robbie’s blogs and writing, you’ll know she’s a prolific writer across a range of genres as well as illustrator. Sir Chocolate is illustrated with fondant characters and settings while her most recent book about Neema the Misfit Giraffe and not published by TSL Publications, shows off Robbie’s new hobby – painting.
This may strike you as strange coming from a publisher – promoting a book not published by the publisher – but that’s the TSL way, especially when we’ve been on the journey together. There comes a time when a book or series’ journey requires it to go in different directions. The opportunity presented to Robbie to publish Neema as she has came about through a South African that had to be embraced. Great going Robbie! and Michael, who co-authors with her.
From discussions I’ve had with Robbie over the years, we’ve both found the experience of working together, and also separately, invaluable in terms of market knowledge and the intricacies of the publishing world.
I don’t need to spell out the value of the Sir Chocolate series. The fact that the South African Department of Education has asked for copies of her books to go into primary schools says it all… and also says volumes about the connection Robbie has with young people – helped of course by son Michael.
Of Robbie’s other books, TSL has published While the Bombs Fell, co-authored with her mother Nancy Hancy Eaton and under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle, the book tells of her mother’s experience of growing up in England during the Second World War (compare with Ray Wooster‘s experiences).
Then, there’s A Ghost and His Gold – an adult novel set in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 as well as the present – a mystery surrounding buried gold. Get taken back in time to explore a significant aspect of white South African history and how it plays out in the 21st century.
Ghosts and things supernatural feature in other writing by Robbie too – Haunted Halloween Holiday is another children’s book, while Through The Nethergate is for older readers again. While the supernatural is not top of my preferred reading list, I appreciate the setting or context and the development of the story, recognising the supernatural elements are a means to facilating the action. A well-told story is always worth reading.


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Geoff Brown – appreciation

Geoff Brown

Geoff Brown joined TSL not long after I had visited Watford Writers, of which he is a member. He was looking for a publishing home for his novel Cruel Deflections, set in Puglia in Italy and London.
Cruel Deflections is a thriller mystery involving the mafia over four decades and two countries. I enjoyed the suspense and anticipation of what was to unfold. The familiarity of London locations contrasted with unknown Italian locations – although a number of readers have messaged in to say they enjoyed the memory lane trip back to Italy at a time they worked with Geoff. For a well-crafted engaging read, I recommend reading Cruel Deflections.

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Mary Moore Mason – appreciation

Mary Moore Mason

Another author to join TSL thanks to Arnie Wilson, has been Mary Moore Mason, a travel writer of US American origin. I’m regularly reminded of the incredible experience and life TSL authors have led. Mary is no exception.

Her memoir, Goodbye Hoop Skirts, Hello World! tells of her growing up as a Southern belle before making the transition into a male dominated world which journalism was at the time. Mary was there to interview the neighbours after JFK’s assasaination and was involved with the launch of Pan-Am and its inaugural flight to the UK. Spanning a period of five decades, one can see how travel journalism has changed, yet Mary or Mary Moore to her US American readers remains an energetic force, continuing to edit Essentially America which she launched in 1994 and to travel. It’s quite easy to see how she came to chair the British Guild of Travel Writers without being British. Be inspired, take a read!

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Johannes Kerkhoven – appreciation

Johannes Kerkhoven

Johannes Kerkhoven joined TSL following a recommendation by Arnie Wilson. The first Johannes publication to come to TSL was his State of Guilt – a story set at the end of World War 2 in Holland, where he grew up. He was 8 years old at the outbreak of war in 1939. State of Guilt is a moving tale of action in the heat of the moment, the repercussions of which play out in years to come. This was a refreshing different take on the war compared with that usually recounted in the UK and USA. It reminded me a bit of Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky.
Next came a collection of short stories – Stuffed – and an anthology of poetry – Frivolous Verse. Both these publications showcase Johannes’ creativity and humour. They also reflect his experience of having lived in numerous countries, including Australia. One of my favourite poems of his is ‘Crumbs’. Johannes is also an accomplished artist who until recently was still selling his work in Brighton.

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David Stroud appreciation

David Stroud

David Stroud, linked with writers in Pinner and Harrow, has four publications with TSL – all quite different, despite three being scripts.
His monologue Wenglish introduces the reader to Wales through a play on language mixing Welsh and English resulting in a light-hearted take on life.
His short story, Night Duty, was converted into a 1-Act play by fellow TSL author Barbara Towell. The play, set in a Welsh hospital, was recently performed by East Lane Theatre Company as a double bill with a play by Jane Lockyer Willis, another TSL author but not for her plays.
Team Building, another script, takes us to Spain where a mental-health care group go on retreat for a weekend.
Finally, his novel, Albatross, take us to the seas, Norway, and to London as a teacher who gets himself into trouble.
While there is diversity in David’s work, there is a strong theme of individuals getting themselves into sticky or difficult situations. The are all realistic with David dealing with them in a sensitive, yet direct,manner, getting to the heart of the matter without shying away from the awkward bits. Of his pieces, I found Albatross most engaging – I don’t think it’s meant to be an enjoyable, uplifting read – and Wenglish for its clever play on words.

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Dave Robson appreciation

Dave Robson

I’m intrigued that so many think sailing is easy, but maybe that’s more to do with my personality and the books I’ve read.

Over recent years, a number of books about the ordeal of sailing have been published, a few of which are listed below. So, it was with some kind of relief when Dave Robson approached TSL with How to be a popular crew. It doesn’t tell you how to sail, but it does give good advice for the social side – crucial when a number of people, possibly strangers are living in such close proximity to each other. It’s also well worth a read if you want or need confirmation that life in a restricted moving vessel is not for you despite the allure of new places, beautiful calm blue waters and dreams of relaxing in exotic locations. And if you’re still not sure about sailing after reading How to be a Popular Crew, then try Dick Allan’s Sailing my Dream (2016) or Martinique Stilwell’s Thinking up a Hurricane (2012).

Another feature of How to be a Popular Crew is that at heart it’s about people being considerate and how to work together effectively – all skills needed whether sailing or not. In tackling these issues, the examples Dave uses (keeping anonymity of all) are helpful in developing, or confirming, a sense of self-awareness. Dave’s abililty as a coach/facilitator of life skills are clearly at play in his writing.

Since we published How to be a Popular Crew, Dave has gone on to write a young person’s book about a Shire horse Ben who is lonely and needs a friend. Ben’s Amorous Adventures, inspired by the horse next door called Ben who sadly died not long after, tackles issues of loneliness and friendship. Again, it’s a book which works on two levels – adult and young person. Dave explains more on his website where you can also see what else he has published and does.

As I write this, I await Dave’s next book for publication – keep an eye open. It’s bound to be something different which again works on multiple levels.

TSL books by Dave and some involving boats and sailing:


A version of this post was first published on 19 June 2018, this appreciation is 2024

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Naomi Young-Rodas

Naomi Young-Rodas

I got to know Naomi Young-Rodas through the United Reformed Church. She had three books she had written in earlier times which were requiring a fresh launch and the TSL model worked for her. Naomi’s books are hard-hitting getting to the essence of life and human action/reaction.
It if Falls, a novel, was inspired by her time in Guatamala when she was involved in the search for Manuel Saquic and the appeals for justice.
Right of Possession, another novel, considers the life of a woman caught in an abusive relationship and how she gets out of it with the assistance of a friend. This is not an easy read, partly because of its topic but more so due to the frankness with which Naomi approaches the issue. It’s a book worth reading, although I’m not sure how much someone going through a similar experience would be encouraged by it to take the intiative to leave such a relationship.
Her final novel published through TSL is Detroit Debris, set in Detroit. If murder and crime are your genre, then this is the book for you. It all happens here as a retired cop makes links between his last unsolved case and various new murders and a young journalist out to make a name for herself. All happening in a Detroit which is suffering economically.
Throughout Naomi’s books are themes of justice, developing a sense of self, and humanity.
I hope to see more from her in time.

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Peter Sternberg appreciation

Peter Sternberg

I have never met Peter Sternberg. His books have been posthumously published under the watchful eye of his wife Hermoine.
Peter’s two books, one a memoir – From the Reich to Rhodesia – and the other a history of Gatooma library provide insights into what was then Rhodesia, today Zimbabwe. Gatooma, or now Kadoma, has a library which is over 100 years old. Peter charts its history, the final edits undertaken by Sheilagh Barton as Peter was unable to do so. Alongside this is Peter’s memoir of his childhood, spending his early years in Germany and then emigrating to Rhodesia as a four-year-old as the family escaped Hitler’s clutches. What I found most fascinating were the hurdles placed in the way of those seeking to leave Germany, yet more so, the hurdles they had to overcome to get into another country. How so many managed it is incredible when these financial requirements are considered. Aside from this, Peter shares how he settled into life in Rhodesia as a young lad and it’s this grounding that develops into a love of the town and desire to capture the history of the library.
Peter’s books are not the only books TSL has published concerning Rhodesia – the British South Africa Police Association UK Branch have their backcatalogue republished as well as more recent books. In some of these Gatooma features to varying degrees. Knowing Peter’s experience of the town and seeing it through his eyes adds another dimension to the policing tales.

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Gideon Masters appreciation

Gideon Masters

It’s really difficult to write about someone who uses a pseudonym to maintain anonymity rather than distinguish between their writing personas (John Samson/RJ Whitfield; Robbie/Roberta Eaton Cheadle). However, as this is a focus on writing, it’s fairly easy. Gideon Masters has written books I would not have read had I not been the publisher.
Known as the Lucifer’s Child trilogy, the three books, Lucifer’s Child, Ovum and Gestation tell of a struggle for the world and mind of humanity. It was once described to me as esoteric dystopia.
Essentially a tale of survival and good vs bad, Gideon brings together various religious perspectives, teasing out aspects of different beliefs and religious practices. Discussing these over a cup of coffee with Gideon, and subsequently restoring some order to life is always a pleasure.
Understanding the background enabled me to remain relatively objective; very necessary given the graphic (but not gratuitous) descriptions especially in Lucifer’s Child which is the most vivid and brutal.
Over coffee, we’ve explored ways to promote Lucifer’s Child but short of creating a whole other human persona to market the books, the task will remain more difficult.
While I’ve valued, and value, our coffee chats touching on themes in Lucifer’s Child, Ovum and Gestation, the books themselves are worth a read to see how Gideon unravels two, if not more, parallel and intersecting worlds. The interplay and movement between worlds fascinates me as does the alternating personas: There’s no shortage of either in this trilogy.
For someone, like me, who is firmly rooted in past reality, my mind boggles and somersaults at Gideon’s imagination and creativity, even more so when I know he was taken over by the story (as some authors are) rather than being the crafter.

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Francis Beckett appreciation

Francis Beckett

Francis Beckett joined TSL after I’d given a talk to Player-Playwrights in Kilburn, London. His joining TSL was rather a surprise – he’s been around the block a few times, especially in the world of theatre. But, as he explained – TSL Drama fills a gap which few other publishers do.
The challenge for script writers getting published is that most publishers want tried and tested scripts whilst producers and directors often want new material. This leaves fringe theatre and similar playwrights in limbo getting their work published. It’s this gap that TSL fills.
Better known for his reviews and columns in The Guardian these days, in years gone by, such as when I was teaching A-Level History, Francis was better known as an author on British Labour. So, it’s no surprise that he has a play based on Clement Attlee – who, when Prime Minister of Britain, oversaw the introduction of the welfare state and NHS.
Francis’ political stance is clear – if yoy need further evidence, try his England’s Trump Card, a collection of short stories taking a sideways (or other angled) look at British politics around the time Donald Trump was president of the USA. You don’t need to have a particular political view to enjoy the humour and quirky takes in England’s Trump Card, although a basic awareness of how politics works would be more helpful than not.
While most authors these days want images on their script covers to ‘catch the eye’ or make the script stand out from the others, Francis prefers the traditional approach – and one I fully understand – let the title do the talking. Some traditions are worth keeping, and this is one.
In addition to helping us see the humourous side of politics, Francis has supported other authors in their journey – finding the best fit for their work (some have joined TSL as a result) and assisting with marketing. A true gentleman- a characteristic shared with most male TSL autbors.