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ABOUT THE BOOK
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.
“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
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
What initially got you interested in writing?
I grew up in an impoverished West Virginian family that didn’t have money for toys or recreation. We didn’t have a working television or a telephone until I was a teen. My father was a war damaged Vet with PTSD who would become enraged when intoxicated. Perhaps dissociative of harsh reality, I began writing stories as a child, often using paper grocery bags. I would read the stories to my younger siblings and share them in the community – gas station attendants, store clerks, neighbors…. It became my primary recreation.
I continued to write, but more to express my frustration and anger as a teen at a tumultuous time in American history – civil rights and the Vietnam War. I started writing poetry, some of it published in alternative political zines. While I continued to write short stories during these years, I was so busy that they were unpolished and rarely shared. I enrolled in college to avoid the military draft and continued to write but added handout for protests and other promotional materials / slogans that were used in local protests. One of my poems was accepted for publication in the 1972 West Virginia Student Poetry Anthology, an annual competition. During graduate school, having serious academic deficiencies from very poor attendance in public school, working two jobs, and with a young son, my fiction writing took second place to school papers, including the dissertation.
I was awarded a Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1977 and specialized in child welfare. It was an evolving time in the field. My writing focused on social service models for helping kids, one of which was accepted into the Child Welfare Resource Center Research Library and another was nationally distributed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Over a forty year career in child advocacy, my writing in the field were research on foster care accepted for presentation in 1983 by the National Association of Social Workers, investigative reports published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I worked from 1982 through 1997, statistical reports on child abuse and delinquency, training materials…stuff that aspiring fiction writers produce.
A little over a year ago, I retired from my most recent job as a psychotherapist for a local mental health center. During this long haul, I never lost interest in writing fiction but never made the move into it either.
How did you decide to make the move into being a published author?
As I mentioned, I accepted a job as a children’s psychotherapist in 2002. It was an intensive day program for children with serious emotional disturbances. Many of the children had been abused, some sexually. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions. One day in 2006 during a session, I met a skinny little girl who became my inspiration for pursuing my life-long dream of becoming a published author of fiction. I named her Lacy Dawn, my protagonist.
While always an avid reader within all genres, I was totally naive about the world of books and believed that all it took to become an author would be to write a great novel. Without conducting much research, I found Duotrope, it was free back then, and began submitting short stories that I’d written after work. Three were subsequently published in Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction Magazine. I received token payments. Since it was fun and easy, I started on what would become my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow.
When I felt that the manuscript of the novel was ready, I started looking for publishers and agents. A new traditional eBook publisher was listed, owned by the Acquisitions Editor for the University of Michigan’s Library. I submitted and for the next six months we mailed the paper manuscript back and forth. I had to learn what the little symbols that she had written in the margins meant. I week after the release of Rarity from the Hollow, this publisher went defunct. The owner sent me a few hundred dollars and apologized before fading into the sunset. While I didn’t realize the significance at the time, the best thing about the experience is that the novel had received glowing reviews by The Missouri Review and Baryonline (a highly regarded science fiction book critic) and blurbs by Piers Anthony and David Gerrold, famous authors, as well as a few reviews and blurbs by lesser known poets and authors.
Reality hit. For the next almost six years, almost every evening after work, I searched for publishers, posted on social media, emailed agents, and almost gave up after Robert Stephenson, an Australian agent who believed that he could place Rarity from the Hollow with Tor, suddenly died. Fortunately, somewhere along the way, I met Adam Lowe, owner of Dog Horn Publishing, a traditional small press. Based on the adversity that I’d experienced, I dedicated half of any future author proceeds to child abuse prevention so that I would never be tempted to give up again. A reedited Rarity from the Hollow was published on Amazon for the first time in 2012 and, wiser, I began anew. However, this edition had a serious formatting problem – the italics for the internal dialogue were missing. There has been an assortment of other barriers and successes with this novel since the first edition by Dog Horn, some of them related to my inexperience and some of them because small presses, while incurring all costs, do not have marketing budgets or adequate staff.
Despite the formatting problem, the first edition was awarded two Gold Medals by major book review organizations, was named one of the best releases of 2015 by a Bulgaria book critic, and received twenty-six five star reviews and forty-three four star reviews by independent book review bloggers. An unsolicited Top 100 Amazon Reviewer found:
“Rarity from the Hollow written by Robert Eggleton, to be fully honest, was much more than expected and a great read – semi-autobiographical literary work full of beautiful and ugly things, adventure, romance, pain and humor….”
Another reviewer of the first edition found that the writing style was one-quarter turn beyond that of the famous author, Kurt Vonnegut. http://electricrev.net/2014/08/12/a-universe-on-the-edge/ While I’m flattered by this comparison, please note that the novel was found by the editor of Atomjack Science Fiction Magazine, to be “laugh-out-loud funny” in some scenes. Long-time book critic, Barry Hunter, closed his review, “…good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” http://thebaryonreview.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2012-01-01T00:00:00-05:00&updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00:00-05:00&max-results=50 Vonnegut, Douglas Adams (i.e., Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), or Tom Robbins (i.e., Another Roadside Attraction) are also close examples by subgenre. A former Editor of Reader’s Digest found that, “Rarity from the Hollow is the most enjoyable science fiction that I’ve read in several years….” http://warriorpatient.com/blog/?p=58 Recently, the novel was referred to as a Hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and awarded a gold medal by Awesome Indies: “…Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate….” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/ More recently, with respect to the story’s treatment of tough social issues, this reviewer said: “…I was hesitant to accept. I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go….” http://www.onmykindle.net/2015/11/rarity-from-hollow.html A book reviewer from Bulgaria named Rarity from the Hollow as one of the best five books that he had read in 2015. http://codices.info/2015/12/top-5-for-2015-ventsi/ On January 20, 2016, Rarity from the Hollow was awarded a second Gold Medal by a popular book review site: https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/rarity-from-the-hollow. Additional praise of the first edition has been posted by book bloggers on Amazon.
The second edition of Rarity from the Hollow was released on November 3, 2016: http://www.lulu.com/shop/robert-eggleton/rarity-from-the-hollow/paperback/product-22910478.html. The eBook version was released on December 5, 2016: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017REIA44/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk.
There are still barriers that will hopefully be resolved, such as the Look Inside on the paperback version on Amazon not being correct. But, I’ve learned a lot by struggling to become a published author with a debut novel. Mostly, I’ve learned to not give up. Instead, I think about the determination of the real-life Lacy Dawn – to find herself a permanent loving home, to achieve empowerment so that what the meanest daddy on Earth did to her is kept in the past. And, I remind myself about how if this novel ever does well that it will benefit a lot of maltreated kids.
What advice would you give to people you decide to make the move into being a published author?
After sharing my story, my advice would be to never give up, to invest what you can and make responsible decisions in pursuit of your dream.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
Primarily, the mission of Rarity from the Hollow is to sensitize readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment through a comical and satiric science fiction adventure. There’s other social commentary in the story. The content addresses: poverty, domestic violence, 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.”
There’s also political allegory in Rarity from the Hollow. You would have to read the novel to find out how Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, convinced Mr. Rump (Bernie Sanders) to help talk Mr. Prump (Donald Trump) into saving the universe. The political allegory includes pressing issues that America is fighting about today, including illegal immigration and the refuge crisis, extreme capitalism / consumerism…. Mr. Prump was a projection of Donald Trump based on the TV show, The Apprentice. Part of the negotiations in the story occur in the only high rise on planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall and the center of economic governance, now more easily identifiable as Trump Tower. There is no political advocacy in the story, other than sensitizing readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment, but the allegory is much more obvious now that Donald Trump is a household name.
However, while there is a strong literary element, there is nothing preachy in the messages. Each of us must find our own truths in life. What one reader takes away from having read Rarity from the Hollow will likely be very different for another. I do hope that people think about the novel long after the last page has been turned.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
The act of creation is reward in itself. However, I do believe that the most beautiful painting never hung is not truly art. Appreciation of one’s work is the most rewarding, since I was a child.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Self-promotion and finding a balance between it and writing is the most challenging for me. I want to write, write, write, but, given my values on appreciation, I feel compelled to promote, promote, promote.
What ways can readers connect with you?
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