Author Interview With Robert Eggleton

11:43 AM

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

Synopsis:

Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn't great. But Lacy has one advantage -- she's been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It's up to her to save the Universe.
 
To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. Some of these courses tell her how to apply magic to resolve everyday problems much more pressing to her than a universe in big trouble, like those at home and at school. She doesn't mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.
 
Will Lacy Dawn's predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?
 
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.

Q&A:
Where are you from?

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1951, but I grew up around Charleston, West Virginia. Shortly after I was born, my father graduated from television repair school in Cleveland. My family returned home to West Virginia. Even though I didn’t remember living in Cleveland, during my childhood I would brag to my peers that I’d been out-of-state since I was born in Ohio. It boosted my social status because very few of my peers had been anyplace other than their own ghettos.
Similar to the protagonist’s father in Rarity from the Hollow, my own father had PTSD caused by World War II traumas that he treated with alcohol. Before I started elementary school, he had become so dysfunctional that my mother would run him off. He would return when sober, “fall off the wagon” and my mother would run him off again, and again. Since we couldn’t pay the rent regularly, we moved frequently — shacks and dilapidated houses in one impoverished neighborhood after another, into and out of the rural hollows outside of our small town. Typically, I would change schools three or four times a year. Everyplace that we moved, I would brag to my peers that I’d been out-of-state, and they were impressed. Neither fathers, my own nor the protagonist’s, could hold down a job for very long – also incorporated into the story.
In early chapters, the theme, “out-of-state” was prominent in Rarity from the Hollow. The protagonist’s mother, Jenny, begins the story as a down-trodden victim of domestic violence. After an off-planet comical adventure, Jenny doesn’t need to brag anymore about having once gone out-of-state because she had also been born in Cleveland, like me.
“Out-of-state” was also an element of a scene during which Lacy Dawn delivers psychotherapy to classmates at school. In this scene, a boy’s father is unemployed because the coal mine had shut down. The boy is being treated by Lacy Dawn for anxiety related to the family’s intention to move out-of-state so that the father can look for a job in Cleveland.
“Out-of-state” was also used in two scenes involving the android. In the first scene, the android had been assigned by Universal Management to perform a job on another planet. He had to leave Earth, leave Lacy Dawn. At this point in the story, the android was beginning to fall in love and to modify his programming so that he could feel more human-like emotions. In this scene, the android sheds his first tear because he has to leave the Hollow and go “out-of-state” for a new job.
The last scene that mentions “out-of-state” involves the android’s return to the Hollow from the out-of-state job. In this scene, he is introduced to Jenny as Lacy Dawn’s fiancé for when she’s old enough to marry. Following is an excerpt showing, in relevant part, Jenny’s head thoughts at one point in the scene:
“…It’s unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again…They’ve been together for a while and I ain’t seen a mark on her. That’s unusual too. He ain’t got no private parts and that’s another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I‘d better play it smart. I don’t want to lose my baby….”

Tell us your latest news?

Rarity from the Hollow is nearing its 2016 republication. Dog Horn Publishing has the line editing about half finished, the cover was changed a little to emphasize that it’s a children’s story for adults, and an editorial reviews section has been submitted to Amazon. One of my poems recently won first place in an international competition: http://wildcat.wsc.edu/clubs/willycon/zine/poetry/2015/Our_Real_Warmth.php Mostly, I’ve been looking for promotional opportunities to set the stage for release of my next novel, Ivy, and most exciting, I’ve been writing every day.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing as a child, on any paper that I could find, including paper grocery bags, looking back, as an escape from harsh reality. I’ve never stopped writing, but once written, the catharsis had been effective and I lost track of whatever / whenever. As I mentioned before, we moved a lot and paper was the lowest priority to save.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s a tough question, Kaitlyn. I’m still working on it. Once Rarity from the Hollow was accepted for publication, I weighed the possibility that I’m a writer. Every glowing book review reinforces this belief, but every critical review has challenged it.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve worked in the field of children’s advocacy for over forty years. Almost a year ago, I retired from my job as a children’s psychotherapist for an intensive mental health, day treatment program. Many of the kids in the program had been abused, some sexually. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions. One day in 2006 during a group therapy session, I was sitting around a table used for written therapeutic exercises, and a little girl with stringy, brown hair sat a few feet away. Instead of just disclosing the horrors of her abuse at the hands of the meanest daddy on Earth, she also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future: finding a loving family who would protect her. This girl was inspiring. She got me thinking again about my own hopes and dreams of writing fiction, an aspiration that I’d held in since I was twelve years old. My protagonist was born that day – an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe: Lacy Dawn. I’ve been writing ever since about the most powerful human ever to have been born on this small planet. Rarity from the Hollow is her first full-length adventure.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I love the use of internal thoughts. While it could be a little head hopping for some readers, I don’t believe that straight narrative in third person can come close to introducing characters. “…The author has created a new narrative format, something I’ve never seen before, with a standard third-person narration, interspersed, lightly, with first-person asides. This makes me think of Eugene O’Neill’s play “Strange Interlude” where internal and external dialogue are blended….” Affiliate of Fantasy Fan Federation, posted on Amazon.

How did you come up with the title?

The title of the novel comes from a scene in the middle of the story: “Yard Sale in the Hollow.” Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, an empowered victim of child maltreatment, had organized a team to help her save the universe in exchange for the alien intervention that had been provided to cure her family of mental illnesses and distress. The team was still in its analysis of the threat phase when it went to planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall that was the center of universal governance. To establish Earth’s right for continued existence, the team had to compete in a standard event involving the negotiation of the best prices, the biggest discounts for merchandise sold in the planet’s shops. After the shopping trip, the merchandise, most of which had unknown identification or purpose to team members, was brought back to Earth and put in the barn. Lacy Dawn decided to have a yard sale to get rid of it. The yard sale grew up into a “Woodstock” by advertising the event on the internet: Rarity from the Hollow – rare and unique merchandise most attractive to connoisseurs of weird stuff. I picked it among a few other options as the title.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There are many messages in Rarity from the Hollow. I think of it as adult literary social science fiction. The messages will likely not be interpreted by one reader the same as interpreted by another. I don’t write or want to read anything that is “preachy.” Heck, I don’t even think that religious literature, like the pamphlets that one finds on the floors of public toilet stalls, should be so preachy. I wouldn’t want to touch such content, even if it would have been delivered under more sanitary conditions. I want to write about important issues that one person may think support a particular position but the next reader finds the opposite. I don’t have the answers to the most important questions and challenges that humans face.
Rarity from the Hollow addressed: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, Capitalism, and touched on the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.” These messages do not advocate for anything specific. In my opinion, it is critical that such messages be in every piece of literature, even comics and erotica, but each of us have to find truths within our own hearts and minds.
One of my personal truths is that enough is not being done to prevent child abuse / exploitation in the world. Author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia: http://www.childhswv.org/

How is your book different from others like it?

Frankly, I didn’t realize that Rarity from the Hollow would be received as an unusual novel while I was writing it. As book reviews started rolling in, the opinion that my novel was regarded as unique became apparent – most reviewers have used the term “unique” or a synonym in their reviews. One of the most prominent statements about the uniqueness of the novel was by an Awesome Indies reviewer resulting in a God Medal:

“…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them. In fact, the rustic humor and often graphic language employed by Lacy Dawn and her compatriots only serve to highlight their desperate lives, and their essential toughness and resilience….”

Of course, the concept of something being unique is relative. I’m certainly not the first author to use a child’s voice for social commentary. Heinlein used juvenile voice to address serious race and gender issue of his day. All kinds of novels contain colloquial dialogue, i.e. The Color Purple. Maybe Rarity from the Hollow is somewhat more literary than most speculative fiction, but Ursula K. LeGuinn gave folks a lot of food for thought after the last page of her novels had been turned, and even Harry Potter made an antiracism statement when he freed Dobby, the House Elf that is still under consideration by millions of fans.   

How much of the book is realistic?

Most of Rarity from the Hollow is realistic, even the most outrageous fantasy and science fiction. I could have conformed, fit into cookie-cutter, but it would have been so dishonest that I wouldn’t have appreciated my accomplishment – writing a novel that was published by an independent house. Yes, I realize that some readers want a total escape, as if protagonist never use the bathroom, sleep, and, perhaps, are devoid of sexual drive – our procreation. That’s just plain silly to me. If a hero goes an entire novel without addressing basics, that’s unrealistic to me, and I’ll pass on reading it.  

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes, Kaitlyn, all characters in Rarity from the Hollow are based on real-life people, most of them I’ve met during over forty years of working in the field of child welfare, including the android. As I’ve mentioned, the novel also incorporated events in my own life by fitting them into a science fiction backdrop.

I’ll share about the real-life role model for the android. In the story, I named this genderless creature DotCom, a “silly” name that is a recurring pun in the story, but I don’t want to spoil that. In any case, I know a boy in high school who, looking back, must have had autism. Some of the other kids would make fun of him, but I developed a genuine affection for him. Of course, back then nobody had heard of autism, so people thought of Mike as weird. He was brilliant, showed no emotion, would respond to direct question related to facts, but never imitated conversation or relationships – self-absorbed and hyper-task focused. In Rarity from the Hollow, DotCom, prompted by a small spark of love, began to evolve toward humanity and his body followed by developing increasing organic functions:

“…I pooped.”
“Well, did you wash your hands, young man?” Lacy Dawn asked the android.

I’m not saying that falling in love is the cure for autism. On a personal note, the first time that it happened to me, however, it sure prompted consideration of self-improvement. lol

What books have most influenced your life most?

Tom Sawyer was the biggest influence on my life because it was the first book to which I became addicted, a condition which had persisted to this day.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Gosh, that’s a tough question that probably changes with mood – a mentor. Right now, I’m working on improving my puns to lighten serious content so that they are less subtle, so I’ll pick Piers Anthony for a mentor.

What book are you reading now?

As I just mentioned, I’m working on lightening my puns so I’ve decided to again read A Spell for Chameleon by Anthony. I loved it the first time, but his time I’m going to read for more than enjoyment – to study the technique.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

For pure escapism, I just downloaded A Universe Between Us by Gissel Brito. I’ve not started on it yet, and I haven’t actually enjoyed stories which merely entertain in the past but maybe I’ve grown up a little as I get older. I’m interested in giving it a try – something to take my mind off of everything real for a few minutes.  

What are your current projects?

The 2016 version of Rarity from the Hollow should be out soon. I’ve been working with the editor to rework the internal dialogue, and a few other relatively minor modifications. The next Lacy Dawn Adventure is named, Ivy and asks the question: how far will a child go to save a parent from addiction? Of course, it also has a science fiction / fantasy backdrop.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Dog Horn Publishing in Leeds is a traditional small press. It paid for all the upfront costs to make publication of Rarity from the Hollow possible. Without that support, this novel would still be on my hard drive as I simply didn’t have the funds or expertise to move forward on the project. While the press doesn’t have much money for promotions, it continues to be supportive including with the republication of the novel as I just mentioned.

Do you see writing as a career?

I’m a recently retired children’s psychotherapist with over forty years in the field of children’s advocacy. I hope to spend retirement writing and promoting my fiction. Over half of author proceeds have been donated to child abuse prevention. I would love for my work to raise significant funds for that cause, but I’m not sure that I would call it a second career.  

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Every time that Rarity from the Hollow has received a book review I’ve second guessed my writing, the content, etc. Some days I wish that I had done this or that, perhaps to have written a better fit to mainstream titles. As a bottom line, however, I’ve decided that honesty to your own self when writing is imperative and I’ve decided not to make significant changes for the novel’s republication in 2016. Adding it all up, what one reviewer criticized, another has loved. So, I try to remind myself of that fact instead of driving myself crazy trying to please everybody – an impossible goal.  

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’ve written for as long as I can remember. As a child, it was my primary recreation. My interest really took off when others, not family members, would compliment my stories. By the time I was twelve, an entire neighborhood, mostly adults who worked at stores, service stations, etc., near my house would read and comment on my stories.  

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

My biggest challenge when writing has been forcing myself to cut great scenes because they just don’t fit the flow of the story. Especially when it’s a standalone scene that I love, I tend to waste time trying to make it fit.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I read in all genres, so picking a favorite author is problematic. I admire Kurt Vonnegut who, after writing science fiction and being “pegged” in that genre, he spent years proving that he wouldn’t be constrained.

Who designed the covers?

Rarity from the Hollow has had four book covers. Two additional artist have given covers a try. Since the novel is a genre bender, it’s difficult to project the story in a cover – realism, tragedy, comedy, science fiction, fantasy, fantasy / magical realism, everyday horror…. The current cover was done by Adam Lowe, owner of Dog Horn Publishing. It uses a caricature with “a children’s story for adults” at the bottom.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Writing, itself, comes easy for me. As I mentioned before, cutting out great scenes because they don’t fit the flow of a story is difficult. Self-promotion is the difficult but essential part of writing and has become a barrier to my productivity.  

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

You don’t have enough bandwidth for me to list everything that I’ve learned from writing Rarity from the Hollow. I guess the main thing that I’ve learned is that fitting into genre expectations aids marketing. However, just because I’ve learned how fitting in helps get reach readers doesn’t mean that I will pursue that path:

“…beautifully honest. Rarity from the Hollow is different from anything I have ever read, and in today’s world of cookie-cutter cloned books, that’s pretty refreshing… whimsical and endearing world of Appalachian Science Fiction, taking you on a wild ride you won’t soon forget….” -- http://kyliejude.com/2015/11/book-review-rarity-from-the-hollow/

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Well, I’m certainly no expert on writing for publication. I have spent a lot of time looking for self-promotional opportunities for novels on the internet and my primary finding is that tons of authors and book bloggers have gone down – quit. It took Andy Weir a decade of self-promotion on a blog to get The Martian off the ground. So, my best advice to others involved with books is, in a word: persistence.   

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Rarity from the Hollow starts out a little harsh but the early tragedy serves to amplify subsequent satire and comedy. I think this review excerpt sums up what I’d like to say to readers about the book: “a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…. Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.”


Where can we contact you / find you?

I’m easy to find. There’s direct link to my personal email on: http://www.lacydawnadventures.com

I also reply to messages on Facebook:


And, I’m on Twitter:

@roberteggleton1

Do you have any links to where we can buy your book?


About the Author:


Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.

Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

To read an excerpt from Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton, please click here

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1 thoughts

  1. Ooh, this was a super interesting interview! :D I think it's awesome how the author incorporated so many real-life events and experiences into his story! That's AMAZING. It must make the story really stand out and feel real. I'll have to go look it up on goodreads. ;D
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

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