1. Did you know Caroline sung backing vocals for a jazz funk band back in the 80s?
2. Did you know Caroline currently has nine published children’s books along with a complete brand of merchandise and greeting cards for her cartoon character Rufus.
3. Did you know Caroline has worked for a top Premier League Football Club for the last ten years and still doesn’t know the offside rule!
4. At her first week at work she called former England manager Terry Venables, "Keith" after mistaking him for a BT-engineer.
5. Caroline has had her wildlife artwork exhibited back in 1998 alongside elephant artist David Shepherd.
6. Caroline based one of her children’s book characters Bertie on her own son who was two at the time. He’s now thirty-one years old and is still embarrassed about it!
7. Did you know Caroline reads tarot cards and is a great believer in anything supernatural after having seen a real life ghost when she was young.
C.R. Sztaba is the pen name of fifty-one year old Caroline Mabey. Caroline is an experienced writer/illustrator. She started off in children's books but like another great writer, Roald Dahl, she found she had the ability to scare and frighten people with her stories.
Horror is her true love; she loves horror movies and longs to have a film script made from her work.
Caroline first had her work published in 1986 by Bertie Books - Bluebell Publishing, under the name Carol Burt. 180,000 books were sold and the Co-Op food chain featured them in their stores in Northern England. Her inspiration for the books was her,then two year old, son Grant; something she takes great fun in reminding him to this day, even though he is in his thirties.
Since her series of Bertie books she has spent the last twenty-one years concentrating on her career as an executive PA. However, she now feels it's the time to start showing her work again. Her artistic medium is mainly pencil/pastels and ink.
Caroline recently had a children's book published called the Adventures of Rufus and Friends which she also illustrated.
She hasn't been at Kensington Gore Publishing long but already she feels at home "It's a dream come true to sign for a publisher who is willing to help me develop my writing to the next level, also I get such a positive vibe from them and that inspires me to have more confidence in my writing."
Her husband Steve, is now her manager and together they have set up Rufus Design Works Ltd.
Here is a full list of her many children books on Amazon:
But it is her horror, love to scare and to write a story with a twist in the tale, that is her true calling. Her dream is to give nightmares and not many do it as well as she.
She loves to see where her imagination takes her and how she can control her characters and think of more and more gruesome ways to kill or scare them.
C.R. Sztaba is the new name in horror, a beautiful face, a lovely person but a warped, dark twisted mind.
She switched to her screen applications and moved to her inbox. When she opened the message it was actually addressed to her as personal from a Solicitors office she had never heard of. She became intrigued and began to read…
Dear Miss Alicia Michala,
We write to you with some very important news. Because of the sensitive nature of this situation, we request that you come to our offices at your earliest convenience.
Robert R. Armstrong
Partner - Armstrong, Roberts & Dupuis Solicitors
Alicia wondered if it was one of those scam emails that were often sent. The ones where they say you have millions of pounds waiting to be collected but you had to give your bank details first, then the scam artists fleece your account for every penny. However after reading the email again she realised that normally the scammers wouldn’t give their address or ask to meet. She looked at the address again. 31 Great Portland Street. It wasn’t far from where she was working. She could probably go there in her lunch hour (if her monster of a boss actually let her out of the office).
She pressed reply and began to type…
Dear Mr Armstrong,
I am a little puzzled by your request. I know of no relatives that have recently died and coming from a very small family, I can’t think what you would need to see me about. However, as I work nearby I will come to see you tomorrow at 1pm if that’s convenient.
Alicia pressed the send icon and sat back thoughtfully.
She didn’t have to wait long for a response. Almost immediately, a reply came back stating that they would be happy to see her tomorrow afternoon.
Alicia smiled. A small butterfly in her stomach began to flutter. It was the feeling she got when something really exciting was going to happen. She hoped whatever news these people had, was going to be good.
The next day Alicia put on a dark blue tailored suit. She wanted to look smart for her visit to the solicitors. Her dark hair, shone in the morning sun as she walked to the railway station. She felt confident and calm. It was like her life was going to change. She didn’t know how she could know this but she had keen instincts and they had never let her down in the past.
The morning seemed to drag on forever, but Alicia refused to let even the constant moaning from her boss get her down. She stated quite firmly to him that she intended to take her full lunch hour, and even when he started to protest she raised a hand, and told him that it was an important appointment she couldn’t miss and if he made an issue of it, she would take it up with Human Resources.
For once, that shut him up.
Alicia left the office at 12.30pm anticipating the walk to Great Portland Street would take little more than twenty minutes. Once she reached the front doors of the Solicitors office (located over a furniture shop) she rang the bell once.
The door buzzer went and she pushed the door open and began to climb the flight of stairs directly in front of her to the first floor. There was a large sign on the reception door stating the Solicitors name. She walked through and smiled at the receptionist. After Alicia had given her details she was asked to sit down and wait.
She sat nervously and looked around her. The office was like any regular solicitor’s office. The walls were a mundane cream colour with wood panelling on the bottom half. Grey filing cabinets were standing like sentinels along one wall and on the other, behind the receptionist’s desk were a couple more cabinets and piles of dishevelled paperwork. ‘Someone hasn’t been doing their filing’ Alicia thought, immediately looking at the receptionist who was quietly painting her nails, occasionally glancing up to see if any senior personnel were about.
Suddenly one of the heavy wooden doors in the reception opened and a middle aged man, with greying hair and neat goatee, looked her way. Walking over, he extended his hand in greeting. He introduced himself as Robert Armstrong. His handshake was firm but friendly. Alicia felt immediately at ease.
He showed her into his office and closed the door. His leather chair squeaked as he fashioned himself into a comfortable position behind his mahogany desk. The smell of new leather was overpowering. Alicia sat in a smaller leather chair at the front of the desk; legs crossed primly, her hands on her lap, waiting expectantly.
“Well, Miss Michala, I’m glad you were able to come and see me at such short notice. No doubt, you must be very intrigued about all this,” he said. He pulled a manila envelope from one of the side drawers of his desk and began to take out the contents. “I’ve been instructed by my client to contact you with the utmost urgency about a delicate matter concerning your father.”
Alicia’s heart sank; she suddenly felt that perhaps they had the wrong person and that her life wasn’t going to change at all.
“My father’s dead Mr Armstrong. He has been for the last fifteen years.”
The solicitor continued, “Your father was Adam Bartosz Michala? Born in Warsaw Poland 1930, came to England in 1945 and married your mother Consuela Marquez-Migajon in June 1946? You have a sister called Annabeth. Your father died of pancreatic cancer in 1995? Am I correct so far?” Robert Armstrong looked at her with grey watery eyes, his face looking for some reaction from Alicia.
“Yes that’s correct,” she said. Suddenly, the butterflies returned but this time, instead of feeling something good was going to happen, she felt a cold wave of apprehension wash all over her. Also, why were her sister and mother not present at this meeting if this was about her father? The questions raced around her head fervently.
Robert Armstrong continued “Please understand that what I am about to tell you, is in no way intended to sully your late father’s memory in any way.”
Alicia fidgeted in her chair. She didn’t like the sound of this.
“I believe your father had several affairs whilst he was alive. I also believe your mother was aware of them, my client informs me that your father never attempted to leave his family, so I assume you had a fairly happy upbringing?” Robert Armstrong posed the question, but continued before Alicia had a chance to reply “It seems it was one of these affairs that he met my client’s mother. Apparently, she was quite taken with your father and even asked him to live with her. My client’s mother came from an extremely wealthy family and she was quite happy to pay your mother a fair amount of money for her to let your father go. Needless to say, your mothers answer to this request was, well, less than ladylike!”
Alicia sat with her mouth agape. This was a story she had never heard before. She knew of her father’s past infidelities, however she never knew about one of the women actually confronting her mother. The solicitor continued his dialogue.
“Your father told my client’s mother that he wasn’t going to leave his family under any circumstances, so with a heavy heart she decided to move to America. Unknown to your father, she was carrying his child. She had a son who she raised entirely alone. She never married but was a very loving and doting mother. Your father was completely unaware that he had a son. Your brother grew up without the knowledge of his secret siblings in England. It was only recently when my client’s mother passed away that a letter was given to him, notifying him of events. He suddenly realised he was not entirely alone. He engaged our services to track you down, and here we are.” Robert Armstrong concluded his speech by sitting back in his chair.
To say Alicia was gobsmacked would have been an understatement. She couldn’t believe her ears. A brother? How could this be? Why didn’t Robert Armstrong contact her mother? Surely, she had every right to know.
“Why have my sister and mother not been told about this? They should be here too.”
“I’m afraid my client only wanted you to be notified. He has no interest in meeting your mother or indeed your sister. It is you and you alone, that he wishes to see.” Robert Armstrong picked out an A4 photograph from the manila envelope and handed it to Alicia.
The face that stared out at her almost made her cry out.
The hair was dark, almost black but streaked with grey strands around the temples. It was layered and hung just below his neckline, long and wavy. The eyes were bright Green; they almost glowed in contrast against his olive skin. There was a faint hint of a five o’clock shadow which did little to hide a small scar on the left side of his upper lip.
Alicia stared at the familiar face. It was the face she had seen all her life in her dreams. He was real. He was her brother!
Robert Armstrong watched Alicia’s reaction to the photo with amusement. It was almost identical to the reaction his client had when he first showed him a photo of his long lost sister. Robert Armstrong had hired detectives to track Alicia down and when they finally located her, they watched her for several days, taking pictures without her knowledge. When Robert Armstrong had first given the news to his client he was ecstatic, and immediately gave him a £10,000 bonus. Robert did not question his client’s motives for wanting to find his long lost sister, he was just happy getting paid. When his client saw the image of his sister for the first time he visibly looked shaken, almost like he half expected what he was seeing but couldn’t quite believe it.
Robert Armstrong’s client was called Michael Samuel Cortez. He was fabulously wealthy, most of the wealth being inherited from his late mother. Armstrong had heard rumours about Cortez from other lawyers who had dealt with him in the past. The man was ruthless and it was said that even though he didn’t need the money, he regularly dealt in drugs and prostitution on a very big scale. It was common knowledge Cortez would think nothing of killing a man as soon as look at him, and Armstrong couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for Alicia, in that she really had no idea what sort of man she was letting into her life. Armstrong also got the impression that Cortez wanted his sister for a specific reason. The fact that he wasn’t interested in his other sister dismissed the idea that Cortez was looking for a family.
Alicia left Robert Armstrong’s office a little after two o’clock. She knew she would be late back to the office but it meant little to her. Her feelings were a mixture of excitement and maybe a little apprehension? Before she left, Armstrong had arranged another appointment for her to come to his office, this time to meet Michael Cortez for the first time. She had the picture of Michael in her bag. It was as though the image was burning its way through the leather. She had the uncontrollable desire to take it out and look at it again but decided against it. She would wait until she got home that evening.
That evening Alicia arrived home at 7.30pm. Her boss did his usual and made her work an extra hour for being fifteen minutes late. Bastard! She kicked her shoes off as soon as she entered her small two bed room flat, and walked to the small kitchen to put the kettle on. As she waited for the kettle to boil she spooned two sugars into a cup and popped a tea bag in. After making her tea she went into the living room.
It was nicely decorated, and was obvious to anyone who visited, that a woman lived there alone. There were fresh flowers on the small table by the window with flowery curtains hanging aside sash windows. There were cute cat pictures on the pale peach walls and there were several framed photos of her sister and mother dotted about the place.
Alicia sat down on the floral settee and almost disappeared into the large voluminous cushions. She opened her bag eagerly and took out the A4 picture. The bright green eyes stared out, almost taunting her. The feeling of butterflies welled up inside her once again and… something else? Nausea? She studied the face again, this time more carefully. Every line on his face was exactly as she imagined. The thick dark lashes framing the eyes. His nose was straight and regal. His face was chiselled to perfection with a strong jaw line. To say he was handsome was an understatement. He could have easily have been a model she thought. Maybe he had been in his earlier years? There were so many questions she wanted to ask him, but knew when the time came she would clam up. She touched the photo gently with her finger tips, tracing the outline of his face.
She thought she could see the faintest trace of a smile appear on his lips.
To read the rest of this amazing debut novel by fab horror writer C.R. Sztaba go to these links:
The fate of the world is at stake…
Alicia is a woman who discovers after many years she has a secret half-brother. He is handsome, mysterious and rich.
However, when he insists she move to Geneva to live in his lavish Chateau, she discovers he has an ulterior motive for seeking her out after all these years.
This story uncovers the secret world of the Nephilim. A race of half human/half angelic beings. The story follows the ensuing battle between the golden angels of heaven and the dark army of Lucifer to take over the earth and destroy the human race. This book covers romance, drama and horror with nail biting twist and turns throughout. The book takes the reader to unimaginable places where the characters in the book visit heaven, and even hell.
It is a story with a difference that will leave the reader wanting more with every turn of the page.
A new horror fantasy classic brought to you by Kensington Gore Publishing.
Tales From The Book Of Dark Magic is a collection of short terrifying stories by C.R.Sztaba.
"The new name in horror" from Kensington Gore's Hammered Horror publishing company.
Read, if you dare," The Unicorn Surgeon". A story about a man who likes to operate on his victims in the most diabolical way.
Or, "The Little People". the creepy tale of a family who discover with terrifying consequences that their new home has unwanted guests hiding in the cellar.
These stories will have you checking every room in the house and every dark corner of your mind.
"Mister Sandman" might never let you sleep again.
On reflection will you be able to look for the secret behind "The Mirror Never Lies."
C.R. Sztaba's Tales From The Book Of Dark Magic contains eighteen terrifying, gruesome and glory tales to make sure you never sleep without the light on ever again.
What made you want to sign for Kensington Gore Publishing?
C.R. Sztaba: It was lovely to sign for a publisher who is willing to help me develop my writing to the next level. Also I get such a positive vibe from them it inspires me to have more confidence in my writing.
How do you see this changing your writing career?
C.R. Sztaba: I would very much like to write full time. I have plenty of ideas and would like to write more full length novels.
What inspired you to write in the first place?
C.R. Sztaba: Horror Films! I love watching horrors, and have done so since I was a kid. Hammer house of Horror were my favourite films and Tales from the Unexpected were big inspirations for me.
What made you write your latest book?
C.R. Sztaba: I wanted to write a full length novel after completing a book of short stories. It started as a short story but I basically got carried away and didn’t stop writing. Before I knew it I had done over 200 pages!
Who is your favourite writer?
C.R. Sztaba: OOOO so many to choose but my favourites are Graham Masterton, Shaun Hutson and James Herbert. Also the great Stephen King.
What's your favourite book?
C.R. Sztaba: Night Warriors and The Mirror both by Graham Masterton. He is a total genius!
Do you read a lot? If so what are you reading right now?
C.R. Sztaba: I haven’t read a lot recently as I have been busy doing my own stuff. But I’ve just finished the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (not the sort of book I normally read but I had to see what all the fuss was about!)
Where do you see yourself and your writing in five years time?
C.R. Sztaba: I see myself writing horrors full time (with possibly doing a film script?) and illustrating children’s book which I also currently do.
What do you like most about writing?
C.R. Sztaba: You can disappear into another world. You can start writing and before you know it hours has passed. You can literally be and do and be anything in books and with your imagination there are no limits, unlike TV. So to engage your reader you need to be as exciting and descriptive as can be.
What one writing tip would you share?
C.R. Sztaba: Always write reminder notes on your characters. It’s easy to get through four or five chapters and then realise your character has dark hair and not the dirty blond you’ve just described!
C.R. Sztaba: What would you say to inspire young writers?
Keep writing and sending it out. It won’t happen overnight but there is definitely the right publisher out there for you. You can only get better the more you write.
What if you were the only person in the world who knew that the apocalypse was coming? Or knew the identity of the one person who would bring about this catastrophic event? What if you knew that he was actually living among us? Going about his daily business, with one intention in mind, to destroy everyone on earth!
Alicia knew all this. She always had. However, she didn’t know it at the time. To her, he was an image in her mind. Ever since she was a child, she had dreams about him. Of course he was young in her visions. A similar age to her, however there was no mistaking the bright green eyes, the dark raven black hair and the dark olive skin.
Even in her youth, she wondered if this person actually existed, or whether it was just a fantasy. Someone she made up in her mind, which she used as a blueprint for her ideal man.
She was about to find out.
Alicia Michala was an independent woman. She had been involved in several long term relationships, and had two disastrous marriages under her belt; unfortunately things never quite worked out for her. She hadn’t had children, and now at the age of thirty-eight she knew it was probably too late start a family. A little regretful that motherhood had eluded her; she consoled herself with the fact that she was destined for greater things.
Alicia worked in an office as a lowly paid secretary to a buffoon of a boss, whose only redeeming quality was that he was never in the office long enough to make her life a complete misery.
She knew her working relationship with her boss wasn’t going to work out quite as she expected, when one day, at the usual Christmas office party, he decided to confront her with rather lewd suggestions, in which she promptly threw her red wine at him, drenching the front of his £2000 Armani suit jacket. After that, he made sure her life was unbearable in that late nights and working lunches were part of her every day duties.
It was one lunch time, when she had the rare opportunity of being able to take a five minute break (her boss off on one of his 3 hour lunch appointments) that she decided to surf the internet. She looked at the usual sites. Clothing stores, shoe stores etc. Suddenly a small yellow envelope appeared at the bottom corner of her computer screen, notifying her that an email had been sent.
Keep a brest with C.R. Sztaba in the news and media.
Click on the link below to read C.R. Sztaba's festive Q&A's.