Today we sit down with author and retired children’s psychotherapist, Robert Eggleton. Robert is from West Virginia and is going to share his writing and some information about him with us.
DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?
RE: Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction.
DM: Can you summarize your book in one short sentence?
RE: Rarity from the Hollow is the story of a traumatized little girl who learns to be the savior of the universe with the help of an alien boyfriend, for when she’s old enough to have one, and her mentally ill family and friends.
DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
RE: Rarity from the Hollow is an adult literary science fiction novel, not for the prudish, easily offended, or faint of heart. The targeted readership is those who enjoy involvement outside of mainstream fiction and who expect more from a book than simple escapism. That audience should give this novel a try because it comes highly recommended by notable book reviewers of different genres, including two Gold Medals.
Awesome Indies found: “…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 fans of sci-fi will thoroughly enjoy.”
Rarity from the Hollow was awarded a second Gold Medal by another popular book review site, Readers’ Favorite: “…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity From the Hollow 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….”
Most reviewers have referred to the novel as “unique” or a synonym, so if readers are interested in something a little different, a genre bender, Rarity from the Hollow would be one to check out.
DM: How did you come up with the title?
RE: 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 when 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 on the internet: Rarity from the Hollow – rare and unique merchandise most attractive to connoisseurs of weird stuff.
DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular artwork?
RE: A good cover for Rarity from the Hollow has been problematic because it is cross-genre and speaks to readers in an adolescent voice but it is an adult novel. The current cover is the fourth attempt and has been the best received, a caricature image that doesn’t attempt to reflect the actual story. The second cover was done by Jag Lall, pro bono, an English comic book artist. It was great, but only captured the early tragedy in the story, leaving out the satiric and comedic impression. The third cover is almost the same, but the phrase, “A Children’s Story. For Adults.” was centered to draw more attention to the fact that Rarity from the Hollow is not a young adult novel. Adam Lowe, the owner of Dog Horn Publishing, the traditional small press in Leeds that published the novel, designed that cover. Subsequently, two other artists gave a new cover a shot, but decided that their work didn’t meet their hopeful expectations to capture the story in its entirety. One of these artists produced abstract and the other was impressionistic.
DM: What are your biggest writing influences?
RE: I’m not sure that you have enough bandwidth for me to make a complete list of inspirations and favourites, so here’s a few. Ferlinghetti, the poet of the Beat Generation, showed me how to enjoy my anger about political and societal issues. Similarly, Vonnegut’s anger in Breakfast of Champions helped me stay strong as a children’s advocate and as a writer, and how to experiment with my writing style outside of commonly accepted structures and formats. Nora Roberts knows how to get me in a romantic mood. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series reinforced my faith in the potential of adolescent morality and the future of the world. Watership Down by R. Adams was such a sweet adventure that some of this element just is a necessary ingredient of even the scariest, saddest, or most erotic story. The versatility in cross-genre and the use of humour by Bradbury had to have been a subliminal inspiration, especially now that I think about it. Dean Koontz has been masterful. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by D. Adams and Another Roadside Attraction by Robbins pushed me into the wilder side of writing regardless of censorship, as did the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics. And, Stephen King’s use of everyday horror convinced me that alarming scenes can be created by using almost anything as a prop. Piers Anthony sure knew how to write a goofy pun and has always gotten me to giggle.
DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
RE: I have many favorite characters, many more than those introduced in Rarity from the Hollow. Picking a favorite would be like a parent picking a favorite son or daughter. Each character has strengths, weaknesses, attributes…but, let me tell you about Browne. I love that mutt, but maybe that’s because Brownie is so easy to love. He’s Lacy Dawn’s dog and plays an important role in her plan to save the universe. Here are some of his qualities.
Maybe you have a pet like this:
- Defensively Brave
- Unconditionally Loving
- Stupid Exactly at the Right Times
I could go on, but……..
DM: How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
RE: My least favorite character in Rarity from the Hollow is Faith’s father. Faith is Lacy Dawn’s best friend and plays an annoying and comical ghost most of the story. This man, the father, is only mentioned a couple of times but that is enough to recognize the meanest daddy on Earth. I didn’t give him a name because he didn’t deserve one.
DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
RE: What a question! There’s a million things that I would change about Rarity from the Hollow, but the number one would probably be a line in the first chapter – the first chapter was too soon to acknowledge that Faith, I’ve mentioned her just a minute ago, was the ghost of a sexually abused child. I probably needed to introduce her better, to share her comedy and satire before full disclosure about her background of having been murdered by the meanest daddy imaginable.
DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book?
RE: Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel and the first in a prospective series, Lacy Dawn Adventures. A couple of fun facts about the novel pertain to the android’s aspiration to achieve humanity. His name is DotCom, a parody of that which markets what is least needed. It was fun for me to think back about potty training my son and incorporating it into the story: “…I pooped….” Similar to my son, DotCom had a hard time, after so much work to achieve social expectations, flushing it down the toilet…. Lol Another fun fact was writing about the android adolescent sexual development – recurring spontaneous erections like I remembered from junior high, a total embarrassment.
DM: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
RE: As I mentioned before, Rarity from the Hollow has been referred to as “unique” or a synonym by several book reviewers. However, one reviewer, Awesome Indies, the first of two Gold Medals, found that the novel was a “Hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” That’s one of my favorite all time stories, so I took it as a high compliment. An affiliate of Fantasy Fan Federation, an international organization that has been around since the 1940s and holds an annual fantasy fiction contest, said in his review, “…begins with some rough stuff, hard to read, involving child neglect and child abuse. But it soon turns the corner to satire, parody, and farce, partaking a little of the whimsical and nonsensical humor of Roger Zelazny or even Ron Goulart….” Elements of the story have also been compared to writing by other authors:
“…His frank and honest portrayal of poverty in rural Appalachia is reminiscent of Stephen King’s use of “everyday horrors I look forward to reading more from this rare, original author.” — J. D. Nelson
“…The mixture of sci-fi, gritty reality, humour, and the mode of thriller reminds me a great deal of Dean Koontz’s writing, and Robert Eggleton may indeed have the potential to follow in Dean Koontz’s footsteps.” –Kevin Patrick Mahoney Authortrek
Again, however, my novel is cross genre so while it may have similar elements to several other books, it wouldn’t be fair to say that it is similar in its entirety to others.
DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
RE: No, I don’t think that I have any unique talents. I’m just a regular guy who works hard and does his best with successes and failures. I collect LPs, especially obscure psychedelic music, as a hobby.
DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?
RE: One place that I think would be very cool for people to check out would be an article that I wrote about the prevention of child abuse – it comes from my heart so it’s revealing. Author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have been donated to child abuse prevention. The article is here:
I have a website. It’s basic and never up-to-date, but there is a link to my personal email on it and I welcome inquiries:
Folks can say hello on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robert.eggleton2 or https://www.facebook.com/Lacy-Dawn-Adventures-573354432693864/
Or, if your readers would like to check out some book reviews of Rarity from the Hollow: http://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/dp/B017REIA44 .
And, if you have heard enough to want to support a traditional small press with a purchase directly from the publisher:
DM: What can we expect from you in the future?
RE: The next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure is called Ivy. It asks the question, “How far will a child go to save a parent from addiction?” While this topic sounds very serious, similar to how child maltreatment does when thinking about Rarity from the Hollow, I’m working on the satire, puns, and dry humor to make it a fun read. One of my poems recently won first place in an international science fiction / fantasy competition:
Another one will be published in a magazine in a couple of weeks. I’ll post about it on Facebook. I’ve always got one or more short stories pending in a submissions process, but, you know how that is, nothing definite yet.
DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
RE: The most significant way to contribute to the success of Rarity from the Hollow would be for readers to tell others about it, in person and online. Of course, I would love to have more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, likes and shares for my posts about it on Facebook, and retweets on Twitter:
I’d also like to pitch child abuse prevention one more time. Please check out the article that I mentioned and join the movement to ensure child welfare, internationally and beginning in your own communities.
DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
RE: Well, I’m certainly no expert on getting published. Honestly, I feel that I just got lucky by finding Dog Horn Publishing when I was about to give up. I recommend that writers with debut novels also first look around for traditional small presses that might be interested in your genre. These outfits have gone down faster than seals in an oil slick, so finding one might be increasingly difficult, but it would certainly be worth a shot – free professional editing and no upfront costs. I guess that my best advice if you are thinking of self-publishing would be to get an independent editor, someone who will give you an honest assessment of your work before you invest any money into having it published. An investment in editing, especially if your work is found to have major problems, would likely be better than publishing something that wasn’t ready and, thereby, risking the loss of a future readership. That’s just an opinion. I don’t think that there is a magic carpet ride to successful publication and corresponding sales. I’m working on it myself.
DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue and tantalize us?
From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:
…..…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 Robert Eggleton
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.