Hi Angel. Thanks for the opportunity to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, an adult literary science fiction novel. The final edition was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016. Half of author proceeds are donated in support of the prevention of child maltreatment, so it is not only a good book, it’s a great cause, as well.
What inspired your current story?
I’ve worked in the field of children’s welfare for over forty years. During this period I’ve met so many victims of childhood maltreatment who have survived horrific circumstances, who went on to make great lives for themselves despite all the odds against it. In 2002, I accepted a position as a children’s therapist for our local mental health center. It was a day program which served children at high risk for hospitalization or even institutionalization because of behavioral problems. Many of the kids had been abused, some sexually. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy exercises. One day in 2006, a skinny little girl with stringy brown hair sat a few feet away from me around the table used for written therapeutic exercises. Instead of concentrating on her victimizations, she spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future – finding a permanent loving family that would protect her. She inspired me to consider my own hopes and dreams – to write fiction, an aspiration that I’d held secret since winning the eighth-grade short story contest. My protagonist was born that day – Lacy Dawn, an empowered victim who saves the universe.
What authors/books influences your work?
I’ve loved the work of several authors, and it’s a little hard to compare what I write with a specific author because my reading tastes have been so eclectic. I love Mark Twain’s use of colloquialism, and the way that type voice was treated in The Color Purple by Alice Walker made a huge impression on me. Of course, with respect to child victimization in fiction, a topic that I’m experienced in addressing, Charles Dickens was the master. On the other extreme, I love the zaniness of Douglas Adams in Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, and the puns that Piers Anthony incorporated into his novels, especially the Xanth series – well, he was a role model. I understand that Xanth is being turned into film. I can’t wait to see them! Stephen King’s use of everyday horror, especially in contrast to slasher-type stories, also impacted my writing. And, of course, Nora Robert’s romance novels are a little hard to put out of one’s mind. As a short list, maybe my eclectic reading tastes is why my debut novel turned out to be a genre bender, with a science fiction backdrop.
How does your story stand out from the crowd?
If you check out the book reviews of Rarity from the Hollow on Amazon posted by independent book bloggers, one very common finding is that my story is unique. My mission when writing it was to sensitize readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment through tragic, comical, and satiric literary science fiction adventure. One of the reviews that I’m most proud emphasized how it stands out from the crowded book marketplace:
“a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…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…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. 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 sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/
Also, Rarity from the Hollow is the first, perhaps the only, science fiction adventure to specifically predict the rise of Donald Trump to political power. I don’t want to give your readers the wrong impression. There is no political advocacy in the story, one side or any other. In parody, the story does include social commentary about some of the issues that are being debated today: the refugee crisis, illegal immigration, sexual harassment….
Last, since Rarity from the Hollow is literary, and because the early tragedy amplifies subsequent comedy and satire – a fun read – unlike some books that are quickly forgotten after the last page has been read, mine provides food for thought to enjoy for a long time – another common finding by book reviews on Amazon.
What are you working on now?
The next Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy, an almost forgotten Appalachian town and the semi-military base for a most unusual alien invasion of Earth, also full of zany yet heartbreaking characters. It’s very close to being ready for editing, but I’ve been concentrating on the promotion of Rarity from the Hollow to the point of ignoring my first love – creative writing.
What process did you go through to get your book published?
Rarity from the Hollow is a traditional small press publication. Essentially, call it luck or fate, but I met the editor in an on-line chat group and talked him into checking out my manuscript. Dog Horn Publishing paid for everything, and that’s a very good thing because I’m living on a fixed Social Security Retirement income and have inadequate technical skills to self-publish without paying for expensive assistance.
If you had a superpower or ability, what would it be?
I would love to have the superpower of a Lacy Dawn, my protagonist. Without the need for a sword or light saber, never considering using sex as a weapon and without an ounce of sex appeal, she had superior logic in facilitating opposing forces to communicate with empathy. I don’t want to sound like a repeat of the famous Rodney King line, “Why don’t we just get along?” But, the current political climate, not just in the U.S. with families having been torn apart, worldwide, is toxic. I don’t want to spoil my story for readers, so I’m not going to tell you how Lacy Dawn influenced Mr. Prump (Donald Trump) and Mr. Rump (Bernie Sanders) to resolve their longstanding family feud about political ideologies. It is totally funny, though, and I would love to have a similar superpower to facilitate conflict resolution between humans, irrespective of their differences.
Which character would you party with?
First, I want to explain that marijuana is not legal in West Virginia. So, my answer to this question is pure fiction, like Rarity from the Hollow. Two characters in my story smoke pot and drink beer. There’s no other substance abuse, including no harder alcohol, and no outrageous scenes of intoxicated behavior.
Dwayne, Lacy Dawn’s father is a war damaged Vet who is symptomatic of PTSD in the beginning of the novel, including night terrors and anger outburst – rages during which he becomes violent. There’s only one such scene in the novel, and it’s rather mild by standards comparable to many Young Adult novels and video games that include vampires, blood, guts, and gore. In any case, Lacy Dawn negotiates with an android that was sent to Earth to recruit and train her to address an imminent threat to the universe. She doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her friends and family come first. Using advanced technology, similar examples are actually on the cutting edge of medical science in real-life, the android implements treatment plans for Lacy Dawn’s parents. Dwayne is cured and he becomes a fun person to party with as a result. I sure wouldn’t want to hang out with him before then – all of the neighbors were afraid of him for good reason.
The only other character who I would consider partying with would be Tom. He’s a back-to-the-Earth businessman who relocated to the hollow because he concluded that the stress of big city life was bad for his Bipolar Disorder. While Tom owns several legitimate businesses in the story, he also grew and sold marijuana. Tom stopped taking his meds to stabilize his mood swings and uses marijuana to self-medicate. Yes, I realize that the role of medical marijuana is rapidly expanding, including as administered by school nurses for treating students with ADHD. Still, since the research is out on using marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, I’m not sure that I would want to become a party animal with Tom. He seems cool, especially kind in part of the story, and seems stable at the end of the story, but it might be best to wait for a while longer before establishing such a relationship with him.
In reality, instead of partying, reading and writing are my favorite pastimes. Now, when I was younger…. Let’s not get into that. lol
Thanks for the great interview, Angel. If you or your readers have any questions, I’m easy to reach on social media.
About the author:
Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. Locally, he is best known for his nonfiction about children’s programs and issues, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997. Today, he is a retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome maltreatment and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines. Author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment.
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.
“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
—Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for 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, New York Times bestselling author
“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” — The Baryon 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’s Two-Cents Worth
Except Chapter 13
…..…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. “So?” 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. “Okay, Mommy.” “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….”
Excerpt Chapter 32
Excerpt, Chapter 32: “The First Sexual Harassment Complaint on Shptiludrp”
Scene Prologue: Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, is a most unlikely savior of the universe. An android named DotCom (a recurring pun in the story) was sent to Earth to recruit and train Lacy to fulfill her destiny. She changed the android’s name to “Bucky” to cover-up its true nature, assembled and prepared a team to diagnose and address the threat, and took her team to planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall and the center of economic governance for the universe. The following scene is the team’s first meeting with the Manager of the Mall and takes place in the only high rise office building on the planet, now easily identifiable as Trump Tower. …Lacy Dawn scanned across a desk larger than her bedroom and lowered her gaze until just above the desk top. In an oversized swivel chair behind the desk sat a humanoid…. Mr. Prump stood up…. He extended a small hand with six fingers, each of which had at least two overly large golden rings. “It’s very nice to meet you, Lacy Dawn,” he ignored the others…. “He looks almost just like that short guy on those taxi cab reruns,” Dwayne whispered. “What’s that actor’s name?” (Dwayne, Lacy’s father, is an Iraq War damaged Vet who suffered from PTSD, night terrors and anger outbursts until cured by the android since he had refused treatment by the VA hospital. Dwayne, an expert used car salesman, plays an important role on the team and worked very hard to save the universe in an effort to achieve Lacy’s forgiveness for his past abusive behaviors.) “Shhhh,” Lacy Dawn glared. “I have a complaint to make,” Lacy said to Mr. Prump. “Oh?” Mr. Prump sat down, opened a drawer, and shoved a form across his desk in her direction. “Please call me Mr. Prump.” Hospitality has been extended to her entourage. The form ran out of momentum half-way across the desk. Lacy Dawn extended and retracted because it stopped well short of her reach. That’s too far regardless of obligatory respect. “I was not aware of any dissatisfaction of any type, sir,” Bucky reverted to his role as DotCom in the presence of his long-term authority figure. Lacy Dawn gave him The Look and trumped. “Your elevator operator just told me that I have a nice ass,” she said. Dwayne started for the office exit to get the offender. Lacy Dawn pushed him toward one of the chairs in front of the desk. Tom grabbed Dwayne’s arm. (Tom is Lacy’s neighbor. He is a wealthy “back to the land” marijuana dealer who relocated to The Hollow when he concluded that city life aggravated his Bipolar Disorder.) Then, Tom and Lacy Dawn had to restrain Bucky’s attempt to go after the offender. Lacy and Jenny stood alone in front of the desk while the males sat. Jenny moved to her daughter’s side. (Jenny is Lacy’s formerly downtrodden mother whose self-esteem had been enhanced after the android had replaced her rotting teeth with new ones.) Brownie growled. So did Bucky. (Brownie is the family mutt and the only member of the team with enough empathy skills to communicate with, at this point in the story, vile invaders of the universe.)…. Mr. Prump shoved another form in her direction with the same result. The complaint forms were the only papers on the desk…. “Tree says that to me all the time,” the receptionist said from the doorway. “Would anybody like something to drink or a snack?” Nobody responded except Mr. Prump. He extended a cup that had been on his desk, but the gesture was ignored. “That’s different, you…” Tom started but Lacy Dawn’s look cut him short. “The females of those people got no figures at all — straight up and down,” the receptionist said. “I wouldn’t take it personally, Lacy. All males from that planet become infatuated with any curve on any body that they think is female. He’s a nice person once you get to know him.” “Regardless, it was inappropriate for him to tell me that I have a nice ass.” “Yeah,” her team said in unison. DotCom was the loudest except for Brownie’s bark followed by another growl. “I ought to kick his ass for talking trash to my little girl,” Dwayne said. I’m such a juvenile. Lacy glared at him again. “Sorry,” Dwayne hung his head. “Further,” Lacy Dawn continued. “I’m not about to do business with any planet that permits the sexual harassment of its visitors or employees to go undisciplined.” Jenny sat down. “Yeah,” the receptionist said. Mr. Prump sank deeper into his seat…. “I’m never going to sit on your lap again unless I want to,” the receptionist said. “And, as for anything else, you can just forget it from now on unless you take care of this. Take care of the whole problem on the whole planet — equal respect for all people — within their financial means, of course.” “Take a memo to Division Managers with a copy to All Staff.” Lacy Dawn stood alone before the desk. He dictated the memo and she listened. It’s pretty good. There’s procedure for making sexual harassment complaints, investigation, due process, and penalty. “That’s all for now. I’ll contact you tomorrow to begin negotiation of terms,” she said. Mr. Prump asked her what time but she didn’t answer. Lacy Dawn had concluded her first meeting with the most powerful being in the universe and had beaten him in negotiations.