RIU: Hi, Robert! Welcome to Rising
Indies United. Please tell
us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, Shannon. Thanks for the opportunity to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow. I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist and didn’t begin writing fiction until recently. Locally, I’m better known for published nonfiction: investigative reports about institutional practices, especially those which adversely affect children’s rights, research, and statistical reports on child abuse and delinquency. For over forty years, I devoted my career to helping kids. Author proceeds from my fiction writing have been donated to child abuse prevention, so I really haven’t changed very much, except the content of my writing.
RIU: When did you first begin writing? Did you find it daunting or did you just jump in feet first?
I’ve been writing for most of my life, but despite having aspirations as a teen to become an author after winning the eighth grade short story competition, I’ve concentrated on nonfiction until recently. I don’t want to bum anybody out, that’s no way to promote a novel, and I believe that even the most horrific story must be something that people want to read -- not something depressing, there’s enough of that going around. My early stories were written on paper grocery bags, before plastic, and as an escape from my own early childhood realities. That’s why I won the eighth grade competition. Nobody else had any experience writing stories. I’d done it for years.
In 2006, I created the Lacy Dawn Adventures project – literary science fiction stories with a theme of victimization to empowerment. Three short adventures were published in magazines and Rarity from the Hollow is my first full-length adventure. The next one is titled, Ivy – “how far will a child go to save a parent from addiction?” Lacy Dawn has been the protagonist of all the stories. Yes, writing fiction has been both daunting and exciting.
RIU: Tell us about your latest 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 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 not a mainstream novel. This has been acknowledged by several book reviewers. The novel has won two Gold Medals and I’m very proud that I stuck with my instincts and wrote what was in my heart, outside of typical YA. However, I would love to see thousands of young adult inspired by my novel to stand up strong against the maltreatment of children. In tribute to Charles Dickens, a novel must do much more than merely entertain. And, “…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/
RIU: Where do you find inspiration? And can you tell us about one or more of how you were inspired to write your book?
My biggest inspiration for caring about others was my mother. She told us kids that no matter how little that we had, it was enough to share with others who may need it more. This must has stuck well because I majored in social work in college. After earning a master’s degree in 1977, I specialized in children’s service – the types of jobs that tugged at your heart strings.
In 2003, I accepted a job as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day program for severely emotionally disturbed kids, many of whom had been maltreated. One day in 2006, during a group therapy session that I was facilitating, a skinny little girl with stringy brown hair sat a few feet away from me around a table used for therapeutic written exercises. Instead of merely disclosing the horrors that she experienced at the hands of the meanest daddy on Earth, she spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future – finding a loving family that would protect her, forever. She inspired me to pursue my own childhood dream of becoming a fiction writer.
I would write after work and on weekends, sometimes going to work the next day with inadequate sleep. Of course, my creative inspiration was based on my experiences of working as a child advocate for over forty years. When I got discouraged I would think about that little girl’s resiliency and determination. But, it took more than that. My wife and I talked about the situation and decided to donate author proceeds to the prevention of child abuse, an inspiration that combines my heartfelt interests in both child welfare and writing fiction.
RIU: Who have been your biggest supporters?
In addition to my own family, dozens of people, like you, who blog about books have contributed to the Rarity from the Hollow project. I have yet to find a big-name supporter, such as an Oprah Winfrey who championed the movie, Precious, but a lot of wonderful people have posted something about this project on there book blogs. Thanks again for joining what I now call the Lacy Dawn Adventures movement.
RIU: What is the hardest part of writing? What is the best part?
Writing, in and of itself, is very easy for me. However, part and parcel with writing is self-promotion. It is the hardest part, probably for every writer except those under contract with a Big Five Publisher which has an advertising budget to pay for fancy book reviews and promotions. Did you know that there are only five publishing conglomerates that produce the vast majority of traditionally published book in the English language? Five!
For me, the next hardest part of writing is to cut out a great scene simply because it doesn’t fit the story. I’m always tempted tor try and make such a scene fit, so it’s a struggle. Logic usually prevails, but there is one scene in Rarity from the Hollow that really didn’t fit the story. It’s called “Welfare Fraud” and probably should have been cut. It’s a great scene, and several people have complimented it, but the fit wasn’t great. That time, the scene won the editing contest, but I’m getting stronger – regardless of how great, if a scene doesn’t fit it has to be cut.
RIU: Who has been your biggest influence?
I read in all genres, so I’ve had many more influences than I could tell you about. Consequently, Rarity from the Hollow is a genre bending story, with romance, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, magical realism, experimental, satire, comedy…. Charles Dickens was a huge influence on the content of my writing by taking Tiny Tim all the way to Broadway. I love how Orwell also envisioned a higher purpose to fiction and incorporated political satire. Piers Anthony’s use of puns…there are so many influences, but before I quit listing them I have to at least mention Vonnegut and Douglas Adams. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite novels.
RIU: What is your writing process?
I told you before how I pushed myself to write Rarity from the Hollow by working long hours after work and on weekends – sheer determination. I also told you about how I hate self-promotion but I don’t think that I mentioned that the biggest reason that I hate it is because it is a barrier to writing fiction.
I start with an outline of a complete story, write a first draft and then cut, cut, and cut some more. I have many more stories than will ever see the light of day. If I get stuck on a scene closure, I move on but that place seems ever present in my brain until the scene has a proper ending. It bugs me, becomes invasive into my dreams, and I’ll wake up in the middle of sleep, turn on the computer to finish a pending scene. Now that I’ve retired from my job and have a more flexible schedule, I no longer have sleep deprivation to push through when writing. In a nutshell, I don’t believe in waiting until the mood hits and then to begin writing. I believe in productivity leading to increasing creativity, then cutting to fit.
RIU: What advice would you give a new writer?
My best advice to a new writer would be to start when young, much younger than I did, and to stick with it. Other than that, I don’t think that there is a magic strategy and what worked for someone else may be irrelevant. Literature is changing so fast, as is its marketing, and its especially tough to get the attention of a traditional publisher. The last piece of advice that I would give is to grow a hard shell. The world if full of trolls and naysayers who could have ulterior motives for putting you or your work down.
RIU: If you could have dinner with any 5 writers (dead or alive) who would they be and why?
Five writers around a dinner table would be a disaster! I pick one, Kurt Vonnegut, and a bottle of good wine that he pays for, of course. I have one question that he would likely take all evening to answer, but that I would wait forever to hear him expound upon: “Does creativity flow through an artist as a life force of its own, or does it come from within the artist and represent a part of the person?”
RIU: What can we expect from you in the future?
Health cooperative, you can expect me to write fiction until the day I die. I’ve already told you about the next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure, Ivy. I’m putting the finishing touches on a sci-fi story that I’ll submit to a magazine just under the deadline. I’m also working on two nonfictions: a Self-Help Guide for Troubled Teens (title pending) and a collection of group therapy exercises for use in mental health treatment settings. One of my poems just won first place in an international competition, the annual WillyCon Sci-Fi Club, so I’ll continue to write poetry, as well.
RIU: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. Much continued Success!
providing this opportunity to tell your readers a little about myself and my
debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow. Whether
you realized it or not when you agreed to publish this interview, you have now
joined a growing number of bloggers who believe that a science fiction novel
can change reality for maltreated children.
‘Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother has lost her teeth, and her best friend is killed by her own father. Life in The Hollow in West Virginia isn’t great. But Lacy Dawn has one advantage - she’s been befriended by a semi-organic semi-robot (DotCom, alias Buddy) who works with her to ‘cure’ her parents. Buddy wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to Lacy Dawn to save the universe.’ - Books for a Buck.
Robert Eggleton's humorous science fantasy follows in the steps of Douglas Adams, Tom Holt and Terry Pratchett.
…..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.
I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me?
“Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.
Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.
I will always love you guys.
Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.
Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front.
Jenny looked to the left of the path.
There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is.
She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face. Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.
“All right, you mother f**ker!”
“Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."
DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner. Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.
"Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny. It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house. It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate. No one moved. The spaceship’s door slid shut.
“Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”
“You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.
Stay between them.
“Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.”
“You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.
“MOM! Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”
Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.
He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.
“DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”
Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.
“Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”
I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.
“Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”
Jenny's left eye twitched.
DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…
…(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”
"He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.
“What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know. You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”
“Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.
Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.
A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.
"What's that?" Jenny asked.
She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.
“But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.
“Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”
“Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more….
It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. 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.
“What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.
“I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”
“My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said.
They both glared at him.
"Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.
“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.
“I love you too,” DotCom said.
Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.
Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up. My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”
About the Author:
Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate 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. Today, he is a recently retired psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston , West Virginia . 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/
Public Author Contacts: