Interview with Robert Eggelton

RarityHello! As December 25th draws closer and it comes time to release the second Faerie Court Chronicles book, I thought I share the love and feature some other great authors from around the net. Our first guest is an author that pretty much set the bar for me when it comes to indie books with his smart writing, brilliant story, and original take on the modern fairy tale: Robert Eggleton, author of Rarity from the Hollow.

Thanks, Tay, for inviting me to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel.

 

First, for those who haven’t read my review of your book, could you give us a basic idea of what it’s about?

You wrote a great book review of my novel and I hope that everybody reads it. Lacy Dawn begins the story as an eleven year old victim of child maltreatment. Her 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. But, she has one advantage – an android named DotCom (a recurring pun) was inserted into her life and works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.

To accomplish her mission, Lacy assembles a team – the android who had been going through a gradual humanization process, the increasingly functional parents, the ghost of her best friend, a marijuana growing neighbor who has Bipolar Disorder, and the family mutt, the only member of the team with enough natural empathy to communicate with a vile enemy. Sensitizing readers to victimization, early tragedy in the story feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire during zany trips to planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall and the center of economic governance of the universe.

Rarity from the Hollow is an adult literary novel with a social science fiction backdrop. The content addresses social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder – capitalism, and touches on the role of Jesus. “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.” It’s up to readers to decide which scenes are dissociative as a result of Lacy’s severe traumas and which scenes are pure fantasy and science fiction. I hope that readers take away the sense that action empowers one to overcome any real or imagined tragedy.

In addition to your review, another review of my novel that I found particularly astute was by Awesome Indies. I believe that it will give your readers a good overview: “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/

The novel was also the first, perhaps the only, science fiction adventure to specifically predict the rise of Donald Trump to political power – parody with no political advocacy one side or any other. Readers find out how Lacy convinced Mr. Rump (Bernie Sanders) to help talk Mr. Prump (Donald Trump) into saving the universe. The allegory includes pressing issues that are being debated today, including illegal immigration and the refuge crisis, extreme capitalism / consumerism vs. domestic spending for social supports; complicated U.S. tax codes, and sexual harassment. Mr. Prump in the story was a projection of Donald Trump based on the TV show, The Apprentice. The counterpart, Mr. Rump, was based on my understanding of positions held by Bernie Sanders. Parts of the negotiations in the story occur in the only high rise on Shptiludrp, easily identifiable as Trump Tower.

Rarity deals with some very real, very heavy material. What made you want to tackle these issues through science-fiction rather than contemporary fiction?

I selected the SF/F backdrop for this story because it was the best fit by process of elimination. The novel also has elements of horror, mystery, romance, magical realism, self-help, and thriller. It is not a good example of the historical or western genres, although many of the social issues addressed in the story have been present throughout history, including in the Wild West.

I felt that the straight literary, biographical, nonfiction genres wouldn’t work because the story would have been so depressing that only the most determined would have finished it. 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, such as the upcoming tax statute that cuts domestic spending and which could hurt local efforts to prevent child maltreatment. Since half of author proceeds are donated to a nonprofit child welfare agency, I wanted to produce something that would be fun to read and hopefully sell.

What was the biggest challenge while you were writing the book?

Writing comes easy for me. The hardest scene to write was the third, the only actual depiction of physical domestic violence, and even in this scene nobody was seriously injured. Tears blurred my vision of the monitor every time that I reworked the scene.

By far, the biggest challenge has been the promotion of the novel. I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist and had no ideas about book marketing when I was published. Neither I, nor the small press that published Rarity from the Hollow, have funds to advertise it, so I’ve spent many hours on the internet trying to generate interest in my novel.

In the Lacy Dawn universe, who is your favorite character? Why?

I have a love / hate relationship with each of the flawed characters in Rarity from the Hollow, except for Brownie, the mutt. He’s my favorite, especially as he moved toward humanization in the story, because of his strong empathy skills and his sense of humor.

When I first received a copy of Rarity to review, I took a glimpse at the Amazon reviews for the book, like I do with most titles I review, and this one definitely has one of the most diverse reactions I’ve seen. What are the most common things that people like about the book? What are the most common things they don’t like? Why do you think that is?

Almost all of the reviews of Rarity from the Hollow on Amazon were posted by independent book bloggers. Also like you, I had no prior relationship when requesting a book review. This speaks highly as to the objectivity of the reviews of my book, but on the other hand, it’s disappointing that readers other than book reviewers have not been posting reviews. Eighty percent of the reviews are very positive; some of them are glowing praise. Ten percent are critical.

One of the most common themes of the positive reviews appears to be that my novel is unique in contrast to mainstream cookie-cutter releases. Some of these reviewers focused upon the realism, while others seemed impressed with the satire. Only one, a customer review, hit the political parody square on the head http://amzn.to/2xTqKqP), but this is not surprising as some of the reviews were written before Donald Trump and the emerging issues became household topics.

Here’s an excerpt of one review that is not on Amazon but which I believe illustrates my general analysis of the positive reviews that are posted there: “…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….” https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/rarity-from-the-hollow

Of the ten critical reviews, frankly, two of them are questionable. One of these reviewers stated that she didn’t like war stories, but there is no war in the novel. The only thing gunshot is a Barbie doll, a metaphor of the impact of poverty on the self-esteem of children. The other questionable review was posted by a blogger that I emailed the novel one evening and then discovered her review on Amazon the next morning. I apologize if I sound critical of these two critical reviews. So, let me get off the hook here by saying that the most common theme of critical review was “it’s not my cup of tea.” I recommend that potential readers check them out and decide if they are helpful reviews or not when making a decision on what to read next. One review of my novel was the most critical review of any book that I’ve ever read in my life. I can’t explain that one.

I’ve reviewed two editions of the book. What was the biggest factor in your decision to go back and tweak the story a bit?

The first edition of Rarity from the Hollow that you reviewed had a formatting error. The problem was discovered after its release. The italics for the internal dialogue (the thoughts of the characters) had been inadvertently left off in the final typesetting. We didn’t discover the problem until it was called to our attention as a mention in an otherwise glowing review, and then by another glowing review in Tales of the Talisman Magazine. The missing italics caused a problem with attribution – who was thinking what – and that resulted in head hopping for some readers. This problem was fixed in the next edition that you reviewed.

I take all reviews seriously. Based on comments in reviews, especially the otherwise very positive four star reviews, the connection between the tragedy and the comedy was strengthened with a new closing line that reached emotional closure of Lacy’s maltreatment. The sexual references were toned down a little. Actually, there are no sex scenes in the novel and Lacy is an old-fashioned traditional role model of virtue for girls because she vowed not to have sex for the first time until after she was married and did not even experience her first real kiss by age fourteen when the story ends. But, some of the punch lines appeared to be a bit much for some reviewers. There were a couple of typos, etc., but otherwise it’s the same story with not much revision.

Can you tell us what’s next for Lacy Dawn and her family?

I’m hopeful. After Christmas, the publisher is going to make the next deposit of author proceeds into the nonprofit agency’s account for the prevention of child maltreatment. Millions of American children will spend this holiday in temporary shelters. Having once been the director of emergency children’s shelters in West Virginia, it is still heartbreaking to think about children not having a “real” family during Christmas. I remember the faces, the smiles and thank yous for the presents from staff, but….

Depending on this outcome, I will either continue the Lacy Dawn Adventures project or I will return to writing for my own enjoyment. Self-promotion has been very difficult and a barrier to my writing interests because it takes so much time and energy. I’m not sure that I have a strong aptitude for marketing. One of my short stories was published in a magazine recently (part two of the story will be in the next edition). Writing it was the most fun that I’ve had in too long a time. It’s free if your readers want to check it out: “Stainless” in Far Horizons Magazine https://farhorizonsmagazine.wordpress.com.

Do you have any other books or series in the works currently?

Yes, the next Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy. I thought that it was ready for final editing a while back, but I got so wrapped up in self-promotion of Rarity that based on my experience, I’ve decided to tweak it again. It is another adult literary adventure with a science fiction backdrop. The story is about an almost forgotten alien invasion of Earth set in an almost forgotten abandoned small town filled with disabled Veterans. The compelling question of the story is how far will a child go to save her parent from drug addition. It was inspired by the fact that West Virginia has the highest opioid overdose death rate in the nation.

Thanks for joining me today, Robert! 

Thanks, Tay, for this wonderful opportunity to tell your readers about my fiction. If any of your readers have questions or comments, there is a link to my personal email on: http://www.lacydawnadventures.com

Purchase links:

https://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton/dp/190713395X/

http://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/dp/B017REIA44

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rarity-from-the-hollow-robert-eggleton/1118420669#productInfoTabs

http://www.doghornpublishing.com/wordpress/books/rarity-from-the-hollow 

Public Author Contacts:

http://www.lacydawnadventures.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32993259-rarity-from-the-hollow

https://www.facebook.com/Lacy-Dawn-Adventures-573354432693864/

https://twitter.com/roberteggleton1

https://plus.google.com/b/108662084126982201049/108662084126982201049/posts

https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-eggleton-909b154b?trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

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. http://www.childhswv.org/

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