Author Interview: ‘Rarity from the Hollow’ by Robert Eggleton

About the Book:

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 is hard. She has one advantage — an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It’s up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.

What people are saying:

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.” – Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest

“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.” – Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

“…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” – Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)

“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” – Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)

“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” – Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author

“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” – The Baryon Review

“…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” – Marcha’s Two-Cents Worth

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Lulu

Dog Horn Publishing

 

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist with over forty years in the field of children’s advocacy. I grew up in impoverished communities outside of Charleston, West Virginia. As my primary form of recreation, I’ve written stories ever since I learned how. As a child, I would share my stories with family members, store clerks, gas station attendants long before self-service became the model, peers, just about anybody that I could hook into reading them. In the eighth grade, I won our school’s short story writing competition. During the tumultuous decades of the civil rights and antiwar protests, I switched to poetry that I still dabble in. I earned a master’s degree in 1977 and began to focus on writing nonfiction in my field:

  • Therapeutic exercises for troubled youth involved in group psychotherapy;
  • Research into foster care drift – kids bouncing from one foster home to the next, never finding permanency;
  • Social service models, including one accepted into the Resource Library of the Child Welfare League of America and another distributed nationally by the U.S. Department of Justice;
  • Investigative reports on children’s institutions and legal systems of care published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I worked from 1983 through 1997;
  • And, statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.

In 2006, I returned to writing fiction. Three short Lacy Dawn Adventures have been published in magazines and preceded the release of Rarity from the Hollow to Amazon on December 5, 2016.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I retired from my day job in May 2015. It was a very hard decision as my passion for helping needful kids runs deep. Since then, I’ve spent a great deal of time promoting Rarity…. After retirement, I ran on the same schedule. Today, I write at any times that strike, including after getting up from sleep and punching out a scene to polish later, sometimes based on a dream.  

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Most of what I write is more real than not and the ideas are based on everyday observations. Even the aspects of Rarity from the Hollow that several reviewers have described as zany actually came from watching Donald Trump on television, The Apprentice. For example, the long-standing feud between extreme capitalism and democratic socialism parodied in the story is actually little more than a civics lesson from junior high triggered by that show. The harsh realism, tragedy found in early chapters of the story – I lived those experiences in my personal life and through my work as a children’s advocate.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Whether its nonfiction or fiction – a story, novel, poem, or essay – I always start with an outline. However, I’ve found it impossible to fight creative thought, so I regard the outline as adjustable. I then think about and fully consider any modifications to that outline leading to a final decision.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel. It is adult literary science fiction. I write adult fiction, not because of its sexual or violent content, although there may be a little here or there, less than in many YA novels, but because the themes, especially the satire, comedy, and social commentary, are for grown-ups.

In my opinion, the term “literary” refers to the type of story that doesn’t end after the last page of a novel has been read. I admire the writing of Charles Dickens in this regard. He felt that a novel should do more than merely entertain, but his did, very well. Rarity from the Hollow addresses child maltreatment, poverty, PTSD experienced by war veterans, substance abuse…. However, there is nothing preachy in the novel – I don’t take sides on issues and that leaves something up to the readers to contemplate about their own views and feelings. The novel has received some glowing book reviews and the one comment that has cause me to feel most proud has been: “…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 humour without trivializing them… it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/

The term science fiction is well known and has two broad categories: hard and soft. In the 1970s, Ursula K. Le Guin coined the term “social science fiction” and Rarity from the Hollow may fall within that subgenre better than any other. The science fiction is used as a backdrop in the story. It is not hard science fiction that has a lot of technical details, but it is also not convoluted with lineage and unusual names for characters the way that some soft science fiction and fantasy books employ. It is written in colloquial adolescent voice comparable to The Color Purple or the well-known film, Precious that Oprah Winfrey backed into fame, and based upon the 1996 novel, Push by Sapphire (Ramona Lofton). However, again, the tragedy in Rarity from the Hollow is used to amplify subsequent satiric and comedic relief.

I selected the literary science fiction backdrop for this story because it was the best fit by process of elimination. The novel also has elements of horror, mystery, romance, self-help, and thriller. It is not a good example of the historical or western genres, although the social issues that we talked about before have been present throughout history, including in the Wild West.

In today’s reality the systems in place to help maltreated children are woefully inadequate. I felt that the literary, biographical, nonfiction genres wouldn’t work because the story would have been so depressing that only the most determined would have finished it.

I felt that the story had to be hopeful. I wanted it to inspire survivors of child maltreatment toward competitiveness within our existing economic structures, instead of folks using past victimization as an excuse for inactivity. I didn’t think that anybody would bite on the theme of a knight on a white stallion galloping off a hillside to swoop victims into safety, like in the traditional romance genre.  That almost never actually happens in real life, so that genre was too unrealistic as the primary. There was already enough horror in the story, so that genre was out too. What could be more horrific than child abuse?

The protagonist and her traumatized teammates needed fantastical elements to achieve empowerment. But, as in life, one cannot overcome barriers to the pursuit of happiness by simply imagining them away. That’s where the science fiction came into play. It provided a power source. I tied the science fiction to Capitalism because in today’s reality it will take significant financial investment by benefactors to significantly improve the welfare of children in the world. As exemplified by President Trump’s proposed cuts in domestic spending, our governments are unlikely to adequately address child welfare in the near future. Again, however, I don’t want to close my answer to this question by leaving your readers with an inaccurate impression. The political allegory in Rarity from the Hollow is parody of both, all, sides and doesn’t pick one side on any issue more so than any other.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

I realize that she just got voted off of Dancing with the Stars, but, given her background as a foster child raised by her grandmother, I believe that Simone Biles would make an excellent Lacy Dawn in a movie. After winning all of those Gold Medals in the 2016 Olympics, I watched her being interviewed on television. I loved the way that she spoke colloquially and I felt that her talents exceed the physical. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her entering the field of acting in the future.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.

I love to read, but haven’t been doing as much as I’d like to. I have a list of books on my TBR pile, such as the newest release by Dr. Bob Rich, a prominent Australian psychologist turned fiction writer who is about my age. I’ve been working on rereading the Autobiography of Mark Twain because he’s one of my heroes. I also have a couple of Piers Anthony novels on my headboard that I pick up for a few paragraphs of puns before sleep. I read literary and in all genres, including romance. My list of favorites would be too long, so I’ll summarize by one: Kurt Vonnegut.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I’ve read and admired many self-published authors. IMO, some are as good as or better than Jeff VanderMeer or John Scalzi, since SciFi is prominent as I answer your questions. Unfortunately, and I don’t want to identify it, I’m struggling to finish what sounded like great novel that suffers from too much mainstream influence. It’s not the writing style, but this novel is so cookie-cutter that it sounds amateur and is boring. I’m determined to read it to the last word, and I won’t (ever) post a negative review. Instead, I will give my input to the author, and I’m hopeful that the story takes a turn for the avant garde. If it does, my review will become public record.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

The Color Purple is my favourite book. It’s a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker, but if you ask me this question ten seconds from now the answer would likely be different. I love it for its excellent application of colloquialism, a skill that some authors try to obscure with the overuse of adjectives and adverbs in their works.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

My best advice to aspiring authors would be to find your own path. What worked for successful authors today might be a total flop, outdated for you tomorrow. This is a rapidly changing business with no hard and fast rules except to always change your underwear. I’m kidding. I recommend that aspiring authors start when they are young and don’t give up when it doesn’t feel fun anymore, and it will likely feel “not fun anymore” for many aspiring authors. The marketplace is highly competitive, possibly cutthroat, and if you sink to such a level your first keystroke of your first story may have been a mistake. Authorship is one of the most distinguished roles in society, and I believe that aspiring authors will find the balance between work and play when honouring the profession.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Website: www.lacydawnadventures.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Lacy-Dawn-Adventures

Twitter: @roberteggleton1

Google plus:

plus.google.com/b/108662084126982201049/108662084126982201049/posts

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/robert-eggleton

 

 

Excerpt from Chapter 10, “One Moment, Please”

Scene Prologue: In this scene, Lacy Dawn stands up to her abusive father for the first time. Dwayne is a disabled Gulf War Vet who suffers from PTSD, night terrors and anger outbursts. Her mother, Jenny, is downtrodden and weak-willed. Lacy Dawn has just returned home from the android’s spaceship. At this point, her powers were evident but not fully matured. She had been negotiating extraterrestrial assistance to cure her parents of their mental disorders, but rushed home after sensing an emergency there…:

 

…Three minutes later, Lacy Dawn stood on the back porch. She was keen to hear a whisper. The yells could be heard half-way Roundabend. She peeked through the kitchen window. Her mother was on the floor with her back propped against the gasoline can that hid her GED study guide. Jenny’s nose bled.

“WHAT THE HELL ………GIVES YOU THE RIGHT ………………TO THINK ……….…………….that you can THROW AWAY …something that is MINE?” her father screamed.

Jenny adjusted her position. So did Lacy Dawn to get a better view through the window.

“Where’s my SWITCH?” Dwayne left the kitchen.

Lacy Dawn felt for her knife.

I hope Mommy runs for it.

Jenny moved the gasoline can to cover a corner of her study guide that stuck up. Dwayne had put the can in the kitchen two winters ago after he cut firewood. At the time, snow on the path to the shed had been deep. Jenny didn’t complain about the can in the kitchen because it turned into her best place to hide her GED book. It was convenient and the mice stayed away because of the smell. When her GED book was hid behind the refrigerator, it lost a corner to the nibbles. She repositioned her bra so that everything was contained.

If it’s okay with him, I’ll take it right here with my arms over my face. God, I wish I’d worn long pants today. If he finds that book he might kill me. Maybe that’d be better. I can’t handle anymore anyway. Welfare would take Lacy Dawn and put her in a group home. She’d have friends and stuff to do and decent clothes. That’s more than she’s got now. Who am I kidding? I’ll never get my GED or learn to drive. I’d be better off dead. She’d be better off. I ain’t no kind of decent mom anyway.

Jenny pulled out her GED study guide. Lacy Dawn burst into the kitchen and, at the same time, Dwayne appeared in the opposite doorway from the living room. Lacy Dawn and Dwayne stood face to face.

“She didn’t throw away those magazines, Dwayne. I burnt them all!” Lacy Dawn looked him in the eyes.

I’ve never called him Dwayne before.    

“Well, here’s my switch, little girl, and you can kiss your white ass goodbye because it’s gonna be red in a minute.”

“I told Grandma that you had pictures of naked little girls my age kissing old men like you.”

“Well, your grandma’s dead and gone now and it don’t make no difference.”

Dwayne grinned at Jenny and resumed eye contact with Lacy Dawn. Jenny did not move. The GED study guide was in the open. Lacy Dawn straightened her posture.

“Not that grandma — the other one — your mom. I tore out a page and showed her. She said the Devil must’ve made you have those pictures with naked girls way too young for you to look at. She told me to burn them to help save your soul before it was too late and you ended up in Hell.”

Dwayne raised the switch to waist level. Lacy Dawn took a step forward.

“I was sick of them being in the trunk under my bed anyway. I did what Grandma told me to and now they’re gone.”

“That was my Playboy collection from high school. I bought them when I used to work at the Amoco station before I joined the Army.”

Dwayne lowered the switch and leaned against the door frame. Jenny sat up straighter and slid her GED study guide back behind the gas can. Lacy Dawn maintained eye contact.

He’s starting to lose it. Where’s my new butcher knife?

Dwayne looked to the side and muttered something that she did not understand. He raised the switch and then lowered it.

“But, Mom knew I had them when I was in high school and never said nothing. Hell, those girls were older than me back then. I bet they’re all wrinkled now — with tits pointing straight to the ground, false teeth, and fat asses.”

Dwayne muttered again. Lacy Dawn maintained eye contact.

I must have hit a nerve. He always mutters when he’s thinking too hard.

“Anyway, you’re both still getting switched even if Mom told you to do it. But, I won’t make it too bad. She wouldn’t like it.”

He paused. The point of the switch lowered to the floor.

Damn. I can’t think of a new name.

“Tammy, bammy, bo mammy…” Dwayne sang. (Dwayne named all of the switched that he used on Lacy Dawn and Jenny to discipline them.)

“If you even touch me or Mommy with that thing, I’ll tell everybody about Tom’s garden. (Tom is a neighbor who grows marijuana.) I’ll tell Grandma, the mailman, my teacher after school starts, and the food stamp woman when she comes next week for our home visit. I’ll tell Tom that I’m gonna tell the men working on the road at the top of the hill. I’ll tell all your friends when they come by after the harvest. And, I’ll call that judge who put you in jail for a day for drunk driving if Grandpa will let me use the phone. I swear I’ll tell everybody.”

“Oh shit,” Dwayne said.

I knew this day would come — ever since she brought me those DARE to Keep Kids off Drugs stickers to cover up the rust holes on my truck….

“Lacy Dawn, drugs are bad. I don’t take drugs and hope you never will either.”

“Cut the crap, Dwayne. This ain’t about drugs. The only thing this is about is if you even think about switching me or Mommy, that garden has had it — period.”

“But smoking pot is not the same as taking drugs,” he let go of the switch. Thirty seconds later, Lacy Dawn picked it up and hung it in its proper place on her parents’ bedroom wall.

“I love you, Daddy,” she said on the way back to the kitchen.

Dwayne went out the back door and walked to his pick-up. The truck door slammed. It started, gravel crushed, and the muffler rumbled. He floored it up the hollow road.

Things will be forever different.

Lacy Dawn sat down on a kitchen chair, did her deep breathing exercise, smelled an underarm and said, “Yuck.”

Things will be forever the same unless DotCom can help me change them. (DotCom is the name of the android, a recurring pun in the story.)

Jenny got off the floor, sat on the other chair, scooted it closer beside her daughter, put an arm around her, and kissed the side of Lacy Dawn’s head.

The muffler rumbled to nonexistence.

“Asshole,” they screamed out the open kitchen window at the exact same time without cue.

“He used to be a good man,” Jenny giggled and hugged…. (This phrase is an intergenerational familial saying that Lacy Dawn turned into a chant and used to magically elevate above the ground, and to travel back and forth between her home and the spaceship without getting her tennis shoes muddy.)

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.
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