Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?
Hi, Marie. Thanks for the opportunity to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow.
Rarity from the Hollow is an award winning adult social science fiction adventure filled with tragedy, comedy, and satire. The novel sensitizes readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment through a funny story.
In a nutshell, 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 doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.
Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel and follows three short Lacy Dawn Adventures published by magazines. After a period as an Advanced Reader Copy, the final edition of the novel was published by Dog Horn Publishing, a traditional small press located in the U.K., on November 3, 2016 and released as an eBook on December 5, 2016. It can be purchased at most online bookstores, at Books-A-Million, and ordered from Kmart. The eBook is on sale at Amazon for $2.99.
Half of author proceeds are donated to prevent child abuse.
Is there anything else which prompted Rarity from the Hollow? Something that inspired you?
I’ve worked in the field of children’s advocacy for over forty years. During this time, my feelings that something more needed to be done to help maltreated children grew and grew. Do you realize that the United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations in protecting kids – losing on an average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect?
Another embarrassment for the greatest country to have ever existed, twenty-six years ago, 190 members of United Nations passed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but the U.S., along with Somalia, still hasn’t joined by signing it. Weird, huh?
Personally, I think that these realities are too embarrassing to tolerate. In 2015, I retired from my job as a psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was 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 at work 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 forever.
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 a child. My protagonist was born that day – an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe: Lacy Dawn. I began to write fiction in the evenings and sometimes went to work the next day without enough sleep. Every time that I would feel discouraged, when I felt like giving up, I would imagine Lacy Dawn speaking honestly about the barriers that she faced in pursuit of her dream of finding a permanent and loving home.
I still experience moments of discouragement as a writer in this world of books, especially as related to self-promotion on a nonexistent budget to do so. But, so far, envisioning Lacy Dawn standing up and facing the evils of the universe has helped me bounce back.
Part Two of my latest short story (“Stainless”) was just published. Part One is in Issue 28 of Far Horizons Magazine and the ending is in Issue 29, Page 60. This short story is a free Lacy Dawn Adventure.
While related to Rarity from the Hollow, this story is less funny than the novel. It satirizes our children’s mental health systems and prompts thought about the kids who are sometimes trapped there – a child plots to revenge her victimization.
I started writing short stories as a child. I’m the oldest child from an impoverished family. My father was an alcoholic Vet suffering from WWII related PTSD with night terrors and anger outbursts. My mother was downtrodden but very protective of her children. Since there was no money for toys or recreation, not even a television, perhaps to help us all escape this harsh reality, I started writing and sharing short stories to entertain my family, peers, and others in the neighborhood. In the eighth grade, one of my stories won the school’s short story competition. I continued to write until college when I just couldn’t find the time or energy. Then, after I finished graduate school all of my jobs including writing nonfiction related to child welfare: service manuals; policy; investigative reports about systems, institutions, and programs; research and statistical reports…
When I accepted the job as a psychotherapist for our local mental health center in 2002, that was my first professional job that didn’t include the production of written materials. My need to write was unmet and began to gnaw at me. I returned to writing fiction in 2006 to satisfy this need.
I like to read anything with a literary element, not necessarily something high brow, but I’m not into pure escapist fiction – think: The Color Purple. I love some science fiction, such as David Brin, but I’ll read a romance novel that delves into the depths of human relationships. I prefer to read books by unknown authors thinking that I might discover a hidden masterpiece, and I will usually give a book fifty pages to hit a literary theme even when it has been promoted as genre fiction. I don’t read much nonfiction, perhaps because I’ve read so much of it for my jobs.
The last book that I read was Nightly Visits by Stephen Helms, an unknown author. It was a collection of scary short stories. I liked it enough to write a positive review. My favorite authors will show my age: Vonnegut, Piers Anthony, Tom Robbins, Orwell…actually, I have too many favorites to list.
I live in a small house in a lower middle-class neighborhood, in need of further renovation, and that my wife and I bought for $16,000 cash in 1990. The plan at the time was to fix up the house, buy a larger one, and rent this one. But, before we had implemented the plan, our books had babies and more babies. We never moved and today we live in a Library – bookshelves every place, including the basement. It became too much to contemplate moving. I work on an ancient PC located in my living room. Since I’ve retired, I have no set schedule for writing as it is a compulsion too difficult to control, and sometimes I’ll get up in the middle of the night to finish a scene or to self-promote.
As a novice author with personal goals that may not be similar to fellow writers, I’m hesitant to give advice. As I face inevitability at sixty-seven years old, I probably share commonality with others in that age bracket regardless of writing goals – remembrance. Reviews of Rarity from the Hollow helped me achieve that sense of fulfillment:
"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 Cent’s Worth
"...the writing feels timeless, classic and mature...could be read in a college setting both for the craft itself and its unique brand of storytelling. The premise was brilliant." - Tabby A. Fae, My Trending Stories
"...difficult, funny, terribly sad, absolutely true,and extremely well told. It should be the winner of literary prizes..." - Mary Thornburg, Award Winning SciFi Author
I will comment that I’ve observed the struggles of a lot of others similarly situated – big writing dreams but few actual contacts with big publishers (Big Five, traditional houses). I also get several adverts from companies that want me to pay them to promote Rarity from the Hollow. Every time that I get on Facebook, I receive a credit offer from it to pay for a 'sponsored' post to reach many more than would receive a non-paid post. Based on my observations, my best advice to fellow writers would be:
Never give up.
Listen to input and be the harshest critic of your own work.
But, don’t risk betting the family’s interests to pay for the marketing your book.
Or bite on spam from book marketing companies,
even if you’ve produced a masterpiece
that may be discovered in the distant future,
as has been the case with so many acclaimed artists.
It was truly a pleasure! Great trailer there!
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. This novel was written in colloquial Appalachian voice.
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 in 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 exist 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….”
Universal Amazon: https://bookgoodies.com/a/B017REIA44
“The abuse in the book is graphic, but the story arc is hopeful: a family recovering and becoming better together.” - Publishers Weekly
"A fun, sometimes cleverly-gonzo, and even inspiring tale about an undaunted girl's close encounter of the weird kind." - David Brin, Award Winning SciFi Author
“Amusing at times, shocking at others, a touching and somehow wonderful SFF read.” - Amazing Stories Magazine
“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.” - Temple Emmet Williams, Retired Editor, 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, NY Times Bestselling Author
“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” - The Baryon Review
I recently retired after 52 years of
contributions into the U.S. Social Security fund so that I could write and
promote my fiction. I’m a former mental health psychotherapist in West
Virginia. After coming home drained from working with child abuse victims, I
didn't have the energy left to begin self-promotion of this project. Most of
the successes listed above have been achieved in the last fifteen months
following my retirement. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse
prevention program in my home state. A listing of services that are supported can be found
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Eggleton/e/B007K012ZK/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5818055.Robert_Eggleton Google+: https://plus.google.com/b/108662084126982201049/108662084126982201049/posts