Winner of two awards as a readers’ & Awesome Indies favorite: “A children’s story for adults”.
Genre: Sci-fi, Literary
Available: Amazon & Doghorn Publishing
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. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.
- What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction, but I’m not stuck in that genre. I read and dabble in most genres. I do intend to continue to write stories that prompt reflection about life and its issues, rather than pure escapist entertainment. Personally, I most enjoy reading material that I digest, sometimes for years afterward, and I hope to produce the same.
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Before winning the eighth grade short story competition in 1964, I didn’t dare admit to myself that I wanted to become a published author. Afterward, I became so consumed with school and working for a living that writing took a back seat. While I’ve always wanted to be a writer, it wasn’t until 2006 that I acted upon my ambition.
- Who or what was your inspiration for writing?
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 our small planet. Rarity from the Hollow is her first full-length adventure.
- What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to read, but with spring here I’ve been preparing the garden and doing yard work. It probably sounds weird to some, but I enjoy physical labor which has outcomes, including building construction. I listen to music, especially old psychedelic albums from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and an occasional movie.
- Where do you hang out online? Website URL, author groups, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc?
I goof off on Facebook, Twitter, and updates about my work can be found on my website, which needs an update, but I can be reached at my personal email address. I also post project updates and respond to messages on Google +.
- What books are currently on your nightstand?
I’ve sometimes read three or four books at the same time, but I’ve decided to discipline myself to concentrate on one book at a time. Right now I’m reading The Morwich and the Dragon by Jennifer Redmile. So far, it’s a typical YA teenage angst, that, mostly, I want to read for greater understanding about the genre. So many adults have fallen for YA novels and I feel compelled to try to understand the phenomenon.
- Do you remember the first novel you read?
Sure, I’ll never forget the first novel that I read cover to cover: Tom Sawyer. The experience has had a lasting impact on my life and my love for reading. I’ve been hooked ever since.
- What would you like readers to know about you the individual?
I would like readers to know that a great deal of Rarity from the Hollow is based on life experiences.
- Who are your favorite authors and why?
Since I have eclectic reading interests, I have a very long list of favorite authors. Typically, my favorite author of the moment is whoever wrote what I’m reading at the time – I fall in love easily. With some psychological dissonance in place, Vonnegut, Richard Adams, Douglas Adams, Tom Robbins, Steven King, and Piers Anthony pop up as favorite authors, subject my mood.
- Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
Despite having a master’s degree with over eighty graduate hours and a 4.0 g.p.a., I’m poorly educated. Due to family turmoil, I believe that I dissociated through most of my public schooling and missed out on grasping a lot of the basics. Plus, I worked while going to school, including a full-time job through most of high school when antiwar activities also became more important than geography or history. I graduated high school after going to summer school to make up an American history class in 1969. My diploma was a gift. I believe that most readers would be surprised to learn that I consider myself intelligent but stupid. I was lucky, though. I married a woman who had learned all the stuff that I’d missed in school and I’ve been in remedial education for over forty years of our marriage.
- Where are you from originally? Family?
I’m from the hills and hollows of West Virginia, an impoverished state in the U.S. On my father’s side, my grandpa was a low-income, hard working farmer. My mother’s side of the family was poor, with a few family members having been incarcerated for petty crimes, a few became welfare dependent, and a few took the Hillbilly Highway someplace else for jobs, and made a somewhat decent living. I stayed in West Virginia and have worked on civil rights, as a child advocate for the last several decades. Looking back, while I would have appreciated the opportunity to travel and to become familiar, first-hand, with different cultures, I’ve never regretted my commitment to stay put and fight.
- Is there anything unique about your upbringing that you’d like to share with readers?
No, I don’t think that there’s anything unique about my upbringing. I wish that there were unique aspects because that would indicate a reduced prevalence of childhood poverty and maltreatment, perhaps improved mental health services for Veterans, and other progress. Currently, more than 22% of all children in the U.S. live in poverty.
Your Writing Process
- Why do you write?
I write because I need to. It’s a constructive outlet to express anger and dissatisfaction with injustice. Constitutionally protected, I won’t go to jail for writing — the way that I have when younger and expressing protest in another manner. I’m too old to handle incarceration, so writing is, probably should have been, a better alternative, but only a higher power than me will possibly assess performance. A world-wide movement against child maltreatment is in order. Did you know that the U.S. and Somalia are the only two member nations who have not signed the U.N. proclamation on children’s rights?
- What excites you about writing?
The prospect of having an impact upon reality through fiction is exciting. Otherwise, the process itself is tedious.
- What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I used to write fiction after having worked with abused kids in a mental health program all day, and on weekends. It was draining, but surprisingly effective. I retired about a year ago and its become even more draining. Since I don’t have a set work schedule, I write, mostly self-promotional pieces like this one, at every opportunity. I wake up to pee, check messages, write a few lines, try to sleep, get up…. It’s ridiculous. Plus, my house needs attention. We live in a little house in a low income neighborhood that I’ve neglected. Frankly, I need to fix a small roof leak, paint…. That’s just reality, folks, when one doesn’t have the money to hire out.
- What would you consider is your favorite part of a book to write? The beginning, the middle or the ending?
To reach an ending of a story that ties everything together is fabulous. Of course, to remain realistic, some aspects of life do not have closure. With respect to Rarity from the Hollow, a couple of fiction reviewers have expressed dissatisfaction that the child maltreatment issues were not resolved. There is only one internal thought when the father acknowledged guilt. This was intentional and based on my experience as a psychotherapist. In most cases of successful closure the perpetrator never admits – it is understood. A much better life can go on once the maltreatment stops even if there is no expression of remorse like fiction lovers love. Sorry, but I just had to be true to the story.
- Is there any other genre you have considered writing in?
Yes, I’m considering every genre, including self-help and academic nonfiction, such as instruction manuals for therapists working with kids. As I mentioned, before I’m studying a young adult novel to understand appeal. However, I would not be interested in producing pure fan-fiction to make money.
- Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing?
I sometimes listen to music when I write. I used to change LPs on my turntable, one after another to keep the music flowing, but Facebook has improved to the point that old rock songs from YouTube are posted regularly, and I sometimes will start one as I’m writing, but when its finished I no longer feel obsessed to find the next.
- How long does it take you to finish a book from start to submission?
- Have you ever had one of those profound “AH-HA!” moments while you were writing? Would you be willing to share it?
Profound AH-HA moments can be positive and negative. I tend to write the first draft a little “out-there” in left field, too wild for the average reader. So, my AH-HA moments often pertain to toning down the content toward a more mainstream product. But, I love it when an AH-HA moment occurs magically when writing, such as the metaphor in Rarity from the Hollow: Faith is not dead. Faith is the name of a character in the story, picked because of commonality with the subculture. Somehow, it grew to a ghost and then into a metaphor about life. Actually, that first name for a character originally was simply a reasonably common name that matched the content and subculture – magic!
- What was the most uplifting moment you’ve experienced during your writing career?
The most uplifting moment of my writing experience was while reading an email indicating the first acceptance of a short story by a magazine. It “all” looked so impossible and that broke the chill.
- How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel. If its acceptance continues to justify, I’ll move forward on the next of a few that I’ve written.
- What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?
The next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure is titled, Ivy. It asks the question: how far will a child go to save a parent from addiction? This is especially relevant to West Virginia where I live as our state has the highest heroin overdose deaths of any in the U.S. However, I’ve always got more “irons in the fire” than I can keep track of with respect to submissions of short stories to magazines. Based on responses, it feels like some slush piles are so deep that one’s story is not read before rejected, so it’s kind of like playing the lottery – luck counts.
- Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
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, he 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:
“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
- Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?
I like to use simple and common names for characters. It’s possible that my prejudice against complex or multi-syllable first names came from reading the Bible as a child. I’ve read several, especially fantasy novels, that have turned me off by using what appeared to be an attempt at clever names for characters. I’ve already mentioned the best friend in Rarity from the Hollow, Faith. My wife named Lacy Dawn – if the mother can’t afford to buy her pretty things during life she would give her a beautiful name at birth.
- Have any of your characters ever haunted your dreams or woken you up during the night demanding attention?
Yes, it is common for a character to be on my mind when I awaken in the middle of sleeping. I get on the computer, finish a scene, and then go back to bed. I dream stories constantly and they include a host of characters. When science invents a way to record one’s dreams, I’ll be one of first to invest because that way I won’t feel as compelled to record them before going back to bed.
- Do you make a conscious decision to write a certain type of character with a certain occupation, or do the characters decide for themselves what they want to be?
I believe that one’s occupation in life is a result of several factors within and outside of self determination, aptitude, opportunity, and intelligence. For example, Dwayne, the protagonist’s father in Rarity from the Hollow was a football star in high school who dreamed of a pro career. Instead, he enlisted in the Army after graduation to obtain a steady job, was afflicted wit PTSD from war trauma, and ended up on disability and fixing up used cars to supplement his income. On the other extreme, Lacy Dawn, a maltreated child from an impoverished family is the last person that you would expect to accept the occupation of savior of the universe. The characters in fiction have to match the realities of existence for me to proceed with reading or telling the story.
- Is there a character from one of your books that resonates deeply with you?
Any character that I would take the time to write about must deeply resonate with me. There’s a piece of me in every character in Rarity from the Hollow. Lacy Dawn: victimization to empowerment. Dwayne, her father: damaged but determined. Jenny, her mother: willing to accept the worst to protect the people that she loves. DotCom, the android: inspired by love to let himself feel emotions. Brownie, the family mutt: empathetic duty despite. Tom, the neighbor: pathetic capitalist looking for true connection. Mr. Prump, the manager of universal governance: still trying to accept his barriers despite success. Mr. Rump, the socialistic manager of the planet’s sewers: forever in pursuit of higher meaning to life. It’s hard to imagine writing about anybody that I don’t know well enough to love. Like them or hate them, I hope that my characters will resonate with readers.
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. More about Lacy Dawn Adventures….