I’ve another spotlight interview for you today with Robert Eggleton and his novel Rarity from the Hollow. Enjoy!
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Sure. I earned a Master’s degree in Social work in 1977 and have worked in the field of child advocacy for over forty years. A few months ago, I retired from my job as a children’s psychotherapist in an intensive mental health day program for severely emotionally disturbed kids, many of whom had been abused, some sexually. While I’ve had considerable nonfiction published over the years, all in my field, I didn’t start writing fiction until 2006. Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel.
2. What inspired you to write ‘Rarity from the Hollow’?
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 winning the eighth grade short story contest at school when 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 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 home. I’ve continued to write about Lacy Dawn and her science fiction adventures when facing real-life barriers to success and happiness that many others face in real-life.
3. What is the genre?
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction. Let me explain because your readers may not quick identify with such a story. I write adult fiction, not because of its sexual or violent content, although there may be a little here or there, less than in many YA novels, but because the themes, especially the satire, comedy, and social commentary, are for grown-ups.
The term literary refers to the type of story that doesn’t end after the last page of a novel has been read. I admire the writing of Charles Dickens in this regard. He felt that a novel should do more than merely entertain, but his did, very well. Rarity from the Hollow addresses child maltreatment, poverty, PTSD experienced by war veterans, substance abuse…. However, there is nothing preachy in the novel – I don’t take sides on issues and that leaves something up to the readers to contemplate about their own views and feelings. The novel has received some glowing book reviews and the one comment that has cause me to feel most proud has been: “…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them… it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” Awesome Indies
The term science fiction is well known and has two broad categories: hard and soft. In the 1970s, Ursula K. Le Guin coined the term “social science fiction” and Rarity from the Hollow may fall within that subgenre better than any other. The science fiction is used as a backdrop in the story. It is not hard science fiction that has a lot of technical details, but it is also not convoluted with lineage and unusual names for characters the way that some soft science fiction and fantasy books employ. It is written in colloquial adolescent voice comparable to The Color Purple or the well-known film, Precious that Oprah Winfrey backed into fame, and based upon the 1996 novel, Push by Sapphire (Ramona Lofton). However, again, the tragedy in Rarity from the Hollow is used to amplify subsequent satiric and comedic relief.
4. What draws you to this genre?
I selected the literary science fiction backdrop for this story because it was the best fit by process of elimination. The novel also has elements of horror, mystery, romance, self-help, and thriller. It is not a good example of the historical or western genres, although the social issues that we talked about before have been present throughout history, including in the Wild West.
In today’s reality the systems in place to help maltreated children are woefully inadequate. I felt that the literary, biographical, nonfiction genres wouldn’t work because the story would have been so depressing that only the most determined would have finished it.
I felt that the story had to be hopeful. I wanted it to inspire survivors of child maltreatment toward competitiveness within our existing economic structures, instead of folks using past victimization as an excuse for inactivity. I didn’t think that anybody would bite on the theme of a knight on a white stallion galloping off a hillside to swoop victims into safety, like in the traditional romance genre. That almost never actually happens in real life, so that genre was too unrealistic as the primary. There was already enough horror in the story, so that genre was out too. What could be more horrific than child abuse?
The protagonist and her traumatized teammates needed fantastical elements to achieve empowerment. But, as in life, one cannot overcome barriers to the pursuit of happiness by simply imagining them away. That’s where the science fiction came into play. It provided a power source. I tied the science fiction to Capitalism because in today’s reality it will take significant financial investment by benefactors to significantly improve the welfare of children in the world. Our governments are unlikely to do so in the near future because of the politics.
5. How did you develop your plot and your characters?
I’ve already mentioned how I wanted Rarity form the Hollow to be hopeful, and how I felt that a depressing story would not achieve the higher purpose of not only sensitizing readers to child maltreatment, but also motivating them toward actually doing something about it – in their own families and communities, as parents and citizens. So, my plot just had to have a happy ending. That was a given from the first word that I wrote on its outline.
I used an outline for the plot with modifications as the story progressed. All of the characters are based on real-life people that I’ve in my service to child victims over the years, with accentuated attributes.
6. What inspired your protagonist?
I’ve also mentioned Lacy Dawn, and how a child in mental health treatment was my inspiration, my role model for living my own life. I love female strength because it has been so undervalued in history.
7. How did you get in touch with your inner villain?
I’ve never met my inner villain, but if I do I’ll commit suicide rather than inflict the meanest daddy on Earth, ever, to continue beyond my own imagination of Rarity from the Hollow. No, wait a minute, I might do worse….
8. What was the hardest part to write in the book?
The third scene of Rarity from the Hollow, Roundabend, was hard for me to write. It is the only violent scene in the novel and so true to life that my eyes would tear up as I worked it – my view of the monitor blurred every time – domestic violence about which I am all too familiar from childhood.
9. What was your favourite part of your book to write?
I love writing, so all of this art is a favorite for me. My favorite of all part of writing was when scenes “magically” come to a wonderful close. I love mini closure, and dislike novels that just title chapters and begin the next as if it was a new chapter just to give readers a place for a bookmark.
10. Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
Since I’ve retired from my job as a children’s psychotherapist, I have more time to write. However, I’ve mostly been spending my time on self-promotions. I think that I’ve become a more or less full-time amateur publicist without any funds to do so. I would love to become a full-time writer.
11. What are you currently reading?
I’m reading a highly acclaimed book on how to write novels, LOL, a little after-the-fact, except Rarity from the Hollow has received highly significant accolades, so…. Still, I want the next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure to be based on current thinking in this crazy business.
12. Who would you say are your favourite authors?
I read in all genres, so my favorite authors would be a list so long that it would use up your bandwidth (and your reader’s attention span). I admire Vonnegut above most.
13. How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
- Hitchhiker’s Guide by Douglas Adams (just cool speculative).
- Wind in the Willows by Richard Adams (totally sweet adventure).
- The Serpent Garden by Judith Riley (romance).
- Dominion by Bentley Little (horror).
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (LGBTQ).
Of course, this list is totally off the top, including genres, and subject to change momentarily.
14. What are your future projects, if any?
The next Lacy Dawn Adventure, Ivy, has been pending for a while and is subject to my success, or lack thereof, in introducing the prospective series to the world. It asks the question, “How far will a child go to save a parent from addiction?” Of course, I always have several short stories and poems in the works at any given time. In a few minutes after we finish this interview, I’m getting back to finish a fun short story about intergalactic poverty and which I’ll submit to a magazine before its deadline in a few hours. One of my poems, “Our Real Warmth,” just won an international competition (2017 WillyCon, SciFi Fantasy Club) :). I have other to submit with the exact same title (LOL) because real warmth is so personal. Actually, I have so many future projects that it would be impossible to list them all and to not bore your readers. I hope that I live long enough to realize most of them to acknowledgement.
15. What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
I love personal email, and there is a link on Lacy Dawn Adventures. I’ve always replied, but it is getting somewhat time consuming. I can also be reached at:
Lacy Dawn Adventures Facebook
You can also tweet:
16. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
My best advice to aspiring authors is to start young and to stick with it. Since I’ve started on this wild ride to introduce Rarity from the Hollow to the world, I’ve found so many aspiring authors who have given up, never to be heard from again. The process of competing with mainstream conglomerate publishing houses can take a very long time, a platform full, and the most powerful antagonist has less to do with one’s talent than with one’s perseverance. Stick with it, and maybe….
Thank you to Robert for allowing me the chance to interview him. I highly recommend seeking out his novel! – Leticia