We have the pleasure of meeting Lacy Dawn, a character from Rarity from the Hollow.
We'll get a chance to talk to the author, Robert Eggleton, in a bit, but now we have on the stage...Lacy!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Lacy. Please have a seat.
Character Lacy Dawn: Hi, Marie.
Marie: Great to have you here! We're going to start out with some simple questions, okay?
Lacy: All right.
Marie: So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
That’s a complicated question. I’m a student going into the 10th, but I got double promoted, so I would be in the 9th , except for that. After my best friend, Faith, got herself murdered by her daddy, I didn’t have to worry about her keeping up in school, so I went ahead and let them jump me forward. In the 6th, I got a job working on Tom’s farm. Then, he promoted me to Manager because I did such good job. All the boys were jealous, that’s why I liked the job so much. He mostly grows pot and I’m good at that. I know a secret micronutrient and I sure know how to tell boy from girl plants. Boys and girls are sooooooo different. So, I guess that’s why Tom liked me so much.
Then, this guy, well, he’s sorta a guy, anyway, he and his boss hired me to save the universe. I got this team together and we saved it. His boss, Mr. Prump, wants me to do other work for him on other planets, but I mainly want to just concentrate on making friends and, maybe, going to school dances, regular stuff like any other kid.
Marie: Wow! So much has happened to you.
Tell us...what is your family like?
I’m an only child. My daddy got totally messed up in the Gulf War and used to switch me and mommy all the time. Do you want to see an old scar? I guess some of them will never go away. Did you know that American soldiers are still dying in Iraq? It never ended like my daddy thought when he joined the Army. I guess that he felt tricked. He used to have night terrors and anger outbursts, but he’s a lot better now. My boyfriend, kind of a boy and kind of a friend, he taught me how to fix daddy. It took a giant database, medical technology that we don’t have yet on Earth, and a lot of love. After we got home from saving the universe, daddy was wonderful for a long time – lots of hug and kisses – but something seems to be going on now with him and I haven’t figured it out.
Mommy used to feel like a piece of crap. She cried a lot. I had to protect her from daddy’s rages, and that seemed to make her more depressed since I’m just a kid. But, as part of the deal that I made to save the universe, she got new teeth to replace the ones that were rotting out, got a few shots of ego boost, ended up getting her G.E.D. and driver’s license, fell back in love with daddy, and now she’s totally cool. Except, she’s kinda worried about what’s going on with daddy too.
I’ve got a dog named Brownie. He’s part of my family the same. He worked hard digging a ditch for a fiber optic cable to fix daddy and as part of the team that saved the universe. He has so much empathy that he could communicate, once he was programmed how, with cockroaches! Everybody else, including me, hated them. I feel differently now, once I got to really know a few. They aren’t that much different than the rest of us. Brownie is still on another planet helping finalize things, but he’ll be home soon and I am so ready for a ton of licks on my face by him. I emailed Brownie last night.
Marie: Whoa! Okay, let's try something else.
What did your childhood home look like?
We live up the hollow. Everything around our house was beautiful, well, not the outhouse. But, used to not have a bathroom door, holes in the walls – yes, I punched a couple of times – we mostly used well water because the faucet didn’t work right, the paint was peeling and some of the wood was rotten. I didn’t feel embarrassed because everybody else’s house up the hollow was about the same. After daddy finally got a job, he started fixing a bunch of stuff. My bedroom now even has a door, with a lock! Then, we got rich from saving the universe and it is a wonderful house now. Daddy had a foundation put in so it doesn’t tilt, new siding, lots and lots of home improvements. But, the house doesn’t look that much different on the outside. We decided that it wouldn’t be cool to let people know that we had gotten rich. After all, it hasn’t been that long since mommy was taken to court for food stamp fraud.
Marie: I see.
Do you have any hobbies, Lacy? What do you enjoy doing?
Enjoyment is a new idea for me. Sure, I’ve had moments of it all my life, but they were very brief. Even though daddy was a messed up dude, he was still a hard worker who mostly enjoyed doing a good job that other people complimented him about. I think that I learned that from him too good and now I’m trying to learn how to enjoy life in other ways. I goof off online, of course, but I never use my real name – too risky. I can’t tell other kids that I’ve got a cell phone yet, so…I’m open to recommendations.
Now, what is your greatest dream?
My biggest dream has already been accomplished, a good mommy who feels like one and a daddy who loves us, shows it, and treats us right. Without that, I’m not sure that I could have cared enough to save the universe no matter what my destiny was supposed to be. Mainly, my biggest dream for now is just to fit in with other kids my age at school. Yeah, I know that I’m different, but I can fake it and be super cool if they give me half of a chance. One day, I want to go to the school prom with a date and, then, when I’m old enough get married to DotCom, my man or whatever since he's actually an android trying to become human because he learned how to love me too. It’s taking him a while, but that’s my greatest dream.
Marie: (Nods.) I can see where you're coming from.
Let's try a different question.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
I wish that I could be the type of person who relaxed every now and then. Maybe it’s from where I had to always be on guard, growing up when daddy would get drunk and hurt me and mommy, but it seems like I’m hyper-vigilant all the time even though he doesn’t do that anymore. I don’t know what’s stopping me. Maybe I need therapy.
Marie: Well, I am actually impressed with how you've handled everything! ;)
So...if it's not too painful or personal, can you tell us one thing? Who was your first love?
His name is DotCom...pretty weird, huh? It comes from his function when originally manufactured – to spam planets with advertisements about that which was not most needed but profitable to manufacturers. He’s changed, a lot. I first fell in love with him when I was in the 1st. Somehow, using a broken clock radio, I understand how now, he told me to hide inside a trunk that had contained my daddy’s Playboy collection so that I didn’t get switched. He knew that I’d burned those magazines and the trunk had room. When I met him, back then he didn’t have any private parts; not even a little bump. It was the best part of him, my love grew but I didn’t tell anybody, especially not him. Kids fall in love for the first time a lot younger than parents want to admit and that’s what happened to me. DotCom must have fallen in love with me too, because he started to want to feel emotions. I still love him, forever and ever.
Marie: (Sighs.) I love a good love story!
What's the most terrible thing that ever happened to you, Lacy?
Actually, this question is pretty easy compared to the rest of the ones that you’ve asked. It’s not me getting hurt, not even my mommy getting hurt, or my best friend getting murdered. The worst thing that ever happened to me was when DotCom was called back to his home planet and came back a fake. He looked the same except he no longer showed emotions in his face or gestures. I cried and cried and cried. Then, I got pissed and demanded that his boss restore all prior programming or I would refuse to accept the job to save the universe. It worked and now DotCom is protected by contract, at least if he ever hurries and grows up.
Marie: All right. I'm so sorry for those tough times you went through. :(
Let's try another question, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved that dream, why not?
I mostly had bad dreams until mommy and daddy were fixed. Yes, I achieved that dream, except daddy is acting kinda weird now that we got home from Shptiludrp. That stands for Shop Until You Drop – it’s a giant shopping mall.
Marie: Wow! That mall sounds awesome! (Whispers.) Shopping is my weakness.
Well, I want to ask you something else...
Who is your role model, Lacy?
I had never heard of him before the mission to save the universe: Leon Sullivan. He worked in West Virginia and should be more famous, really, than Martin Luther King. He totally understood about how poor people can still use money power to change the world.
Marie: All right.
So, is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Don’t tell him. I pretend to like Mr. Prump, the Supreme Being of the Universe. He’s like Donald Trump, totally narcissistic. I have to pretend to like him, though, or I would lose my job.
What is your deepest desire?
My deepest desire is for my man to become one. Even though the contract includes replacement parts for and him me forever, I’m not confident that he will ever be able to get me pregnant when I’m ready. I love kids, so I want us to adopt a bunch from very different species, and through love, help them learn to love each other.
Marie: Sounds like a plan! I'll probably have to adopt as well.
Let's try another question.
What is your greatest fear, Lacy?
I ain’t afraid of nothing. Never have been and never will be.
Marie: I certainly appreciate your candor. :)
Well, it looks like we're running out of time, Lacy. Thank you for visiting us today.
It was so interesting getting to know you. (Waves at her guest as she heads off the stage.) Now, let's shift over and get the author's perspective. We have Robert Eggleton on the stage today!
Author Robert Eggleton: Hello! Glad to be here!
Marie: (Smiles.) Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!
So, we just got to talk to a male character from your story...Lacy. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?Robert:
Lacy Dawn is an empowered survivor of child maltreatment. The extent to which her reality is a hallucinatory byproduct or real is up to the readers to decide.
Marie: Okay, so I see where the 'social science' part of your sci-fi story comes in...
So, tell us.
So, tell us.
What are your character's greatest strengths?
Her greatest strength is resiliency.
Marie: Survival is definitely a test of character!
So, what are her greatest weaknesses?
Her greatest weakness is an inability to express empathy. Her relationships with other characters in the story is not cold, but extreme practicality.
Marie: I did some research on this when I was writing my romantic drama collection, which I published last year. Survivors of trauma often block out their emotions, and compartmentalize everything.
Pinto beans and cornbread, fried potatoes, home-grown tomatoes, greens, especially collards.
Marie: (Chuckles.) Well, I'll agree with some of those! It's definitely a menu my Southern grandma would approve of. ;)
What's a positive quality that your character is unaware he or she has?
Lacy Dawn has maturing sex appeal. Despite positive attributes, she has never considered the impact of intelligence on sexual attractiveness.
So, will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Several prominent book reviewers have loved the character, Lacy Dawn, but a couple of reviewers have not connected. I don’t know why reviewers did or didn’t like the character; it’s of little concern to me, since the character is based on a real-life child that I met when facilitating a children’s psychotherapy session. I care about the accuracy of my representation.
Marie: I certainly respect that! I try to be accurate in my books too.
Well, now that we have a real taste of Lacy, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Rarity from the Hollow?
I’m a retired children’s advocate with over 52 years paying into Social Security, the last 40, at least, were in various profession social services position. During these years, I’ve met a lot of kids with amazing resilience. In 2002, I accepted a job as a psychotherapist for our local mental health center. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions. Most of the children in the program had experienced maltreatment, some had been sexually abused. In 2006, around the table used for group therapeutic exercises, sat a little girl with stringy brown hair. Instead of just disclosing the horrors of her abuse by one of the meanest daddies on Earth, she spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future – finding a loving family to protect her, forever and ever. She was inspirational to me and everyone who interacted with her. I named her Lacy Dawn as she became the role model for the protagonist in Rarity from the Hollow. That’s when I returned to writing fiction, a life-long interest that had been neglected for decades.
Marie: That is inspiring! Isn't it cool how our books evolve? ;)
So, what is your writing style like, Robert? Are you a pantster or plotter?
I love third-person omnipresent so that I can share the inner thoughts of main characters in a story. Rarity from the Hollow was written via an outline that I adjusted as needed to accommodate, including in response to reviews received from book reviewers of the Advance Review Copy. The 2018 Edition is available for any eReader here. The new paperback is coming soon.
Marie: Yes, an omniscient narrator provides an interesting perspective.
Well...I'm throwing this one in for our aspiring writers.
Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Rarity from the Hollow, or getting it published? What would you do differently next time?
Yes, while I lucked out landing a traditional small press in 2012 to advance this project, Dog Horn Publishing is no longer operational as a press for new publications. However, I’m not sure that I would have done anything differently, given the totality of the circumstances that I faced as a debut novelist.
Marie: I'm sure you did your best!
It was such a pleasure having you on Writing in the Modern Age, Robert. We hope you can come back sometime soon!
Robert: Thank you for giving me, as well as Lucy, a chance to visit your blog.
Marie: Of course! :)
Readers, here is the blurb for Rarity from the Hollow.
Lacy Dawn's father relives the never-ending 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, but her family and friends come first. Rarity from the Hollow is adult social science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.
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 reader link: https://books2read.com/u/4XKgY9
Print link: https://bit.ly/2K2j3cd
What People Are Saying About Rarity from the Hollow:
"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
"...In the space of a few lines we go from gritty realism to pure sci-fi / fantasy. It's quite a trip." - The Missouri 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 Fox, Retired NASA Engineer and SciFi Author
"...utterly compelling...a chilling, engaging verisimilitude that deftly feeds on both the utter absurdity of the characters' motivations and on the progression of the plot.... In the spirit of Vonnegut, Eggleton takes the genre and gives it another quarter turn." - Electric Review / Midwest Book 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)
"The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in several years...." - Temple Emmet Williams, Author, Retired Reader's Digest Editor
"...There is much here worthy of high praise...Eggleton reminds me very much of Robert Heinlein at his peak...." - SF Crowsnest
"...psychologically disturbing at a different level to what I have seen before...."
- The Reading Rose
“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
“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
This books sounds intriguing! Readers, don't forget to pick up a copy of Robert Eggleton's adult social science fiction tale, Rarity from the Hollow! :)
About Robert Eggleton:
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/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-eggleton-909b154b?trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/roberteggleton/