Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton ** author interview **

Today I am welcoming Robert Eggleton to Books, Life and Everything to talk about his book, Rarity from the Hollow. Robert describes it as an adult literary novel with a social science fiction backdrop. Dealing with difficult subjects concerning child abuse , the author has chosen to donate some of the proceedings to a child abuse prevention program.

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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.

***************************************************************************** Welcome to Books, Life and Everything. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing. 
Would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself and how you started as a writer?
Thanks for the opportunity to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow. I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist with over forty years in the field of children’s advocacy. I grew up in impoverished communities surrounding Charleston, West Virginia, and began writing short stories at a very early age, including one that won the eighth grade competition in 1964 at my school. During the tumultuous times of civil rights and antiwar protests, I mostly wrote poetry. One of my poems was accepted in our state’s 1971 University Poetry Anthology. After completing graduate school in 1977, I wrote nonfiction related to my field that was published by social service and governmental agencies, much of which is now archived by our State Division of Culture and History.  


  • Therapeutic exercises for troubled youth involved in group psychotherapy;
  • Research into foster care drift – kids bouncing from one foster home to the next, never finding permanency;
  • Social service models, including one accepted into the Resource Library of the Child Welfare League of America and another distributed nationally by the U.S. Department of Justice;
  • Investigative reports on children’s institutions and legal systems of care published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I worked from 1983 through 1997;
  • And, statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.


In 2006, I returned to fiction. Three of my short stories have been published in magazines and preceded publication of my debut novel. The final edition of Rarity from the Hollow was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016. 

What is it about the sci-fi genre which attracts yu? Are there any other genres present in your book? 

Although I'd worked odd jobs, cutting grass, shovelling snow..., before then, I was twelve when I got my first official job that I got paid by check with my name on it, social security deduction and all ( 52 years worth). I worked at a drug store after school and on Saturday. Back then, stores were closed on Sundays (Blue Law) as it was the day of worship. The manager of the store would let me borrow paperbacks off the shelf if I returned them in same-as-new condition. The covers of mostly pulp science fiction attracted me and I grew to love it. Yeah, go ahead, laugh. I admit that it was the scantily clad women used for the covers that caught a boy's eye, but.... I love the opportunity to create power sources that impact reality, and that is a big attraction to science fiction for me.  

However, I read literary fiction and books in all genres. I call Rarity from the Hollow literary science fiction because the story includes social commentary, food for thought after having read the last page. The science fiction is used as a backdrop. It is not hard science fiction and the story includes elements of fantasy, everyday horror, a ghost -- so it's a little paranormal, true-love type romance, mystery, political allegory / parody, and adventure. The most prominent issues are : 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 the story touches upon the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.”    

Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about Rarity from the Hollow.

Sure. In a nutshell: 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. Bristling with intelligent life that has coexisted in harmony for millennia, few people realize that the Universe is in imminent danger, especially not the folks who live up the impoverished Appalachian hollow.  


Lacy is a most unlikely saviour of the universe, an eleven year old human victim of child maltreatment. To prepare her for the task, an android was sent to Earth to school her daily on every known subject via direct downloads into her brain. Her powers gain strength as she comes to grip with the reality that she is not just a kid, that she is many thousands of years old and much more mature than her android boyfriend for when she’s old enough to have one. Some of the courses tell her how to apply magic to resolve everyday problems much more pressing to her than a universe in big trouble, like those at home and at school. She doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.


As a condition of her involvement in the project, the android uses advanced medical technology to diagnose and treat her parents. When they have regained a semblance of mental health, Lacy assembles a zany team: her best friend's ghost, annoyingly comical and pessimistic as always; her mutt Brownie, the only member with enough empathy skills to communicate directly with a vile enemy; her now employable father who has cut way down on drinking beer and has resumed his status as the best auto trader in the hollow; a stoner neighbour who is highly skilled in business transactions and who got so rich from selling marijuana that he moved to the country because it is better for his Bipolar Disorder; and her mother with greatly improved self-esteem now that she has new teeth and a G.E.D., except she has fallen so deeply back in love with her now much healthier husband that it sometimes blinds her from thinking straight.


With a great team like that, what could go wrong? It's simple. Save the universe and Lacy can get back to the sixth grade where life's real challenges are faced by most kids. But no, entrenched management of any organization, including the universe, never makes anything that simple, nor does falling in love.      


Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?
You use humour in your writing. How do you manage the balance between comedy and more serious issues as you write?


As conceived, in large part because of my own emotional heartaches having experienced masterpieces like Push by Sapphire (1966) that was turned into the box office hit movie backed by Oprah Winfrey, Precious (2009), there’s only so much pain that one can take before relief is demanded. I made a decision on what I wanted to create: tragedy to comedy and satire. While the humor just came out when it did as I wrote Rarity from the Hollow, I believe that it inserted itself when needed to lighten the load based on my own need for pain relief.         
There are some serious themes in your book including child abuse. Have you any comments as to why you chose to include these? Are you hoping to have a wider effect beyond the book?


Yes, the mission of the project is to sensitize readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment thru a comical and satiric adventure. My original intent was a tragedy for that purpose, but it matured from there. The prevention of child maltreatment is personal and much more significant to me than being an author. Over the years, I’ve been involved in fund raising for kids programs. Combining my love for writing with my passion for the cause was a logical choice for someone my age – the best of both worlds. Half of author proceeds are donated to a child welfare program, a nonprofit agency where I worked in the early ‘80s, one that I stand behind its good works and that now serves over thirteen thousand children and families each year. http://www.childhswv.org/

Is there anything else connected with the book that you wish us to know?


I hope that your readers don’t take this as bragging, and all but one reviewer of the advance review copy of Rarity from the Hollow missed it, but my novel was 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 Dawn, the protagonist, 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, an issue that several European commentators have compared to cockroach infestation; extreme capitalism / consumerism vs. domestic spending for social supports; sexual harassment…. Mr. Prump in my 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 as I wrote the story. 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. The allegory was not addressed by ARC reviewers of the novel because so few people worldwide considered onald Trump to be a serious political contender until the primary elections in the U.S. The political allegory in the novel is obvious now that Donald Trump has become a household name.

Do you have any plans for future books you can share with us?  
  
I’m finishing up a satirical essay, and then I’ll get back to the next Lacy Dawn Adventure, Ivy. It has been very close to the editing stage for quite a while but self-promotion of Rarity from the Hollow has been very time-consuming. The traditional small press with which I’m affiliated covers all costs of publication, but doesn’t have much of an advertising budget. So, telling people about my novel has mostly been my responsibility. I’ll be so glad to get back to finishing Ivy. It’s another literary science fiction novel that focuses on the social problem of drug addiction, with satire and comedy, of course. West Virginia has the highest overdose rate in the U.S., so that’s another topic about which I’m familiar, and a correlate of child maltreatment – addicted parents with kids take second-place.




Thank you for joining us today to explain all about Rarity from the Hollow and for telling us a little about about yourself. I will be posting an extract from the book on May 22nd 2017.

                                                                       About the Author 

 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 its 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. http://www.childhswv.org/ A listing of services that are supported can be found here: http://mountainrhinestones.blogspot.com/2015/06/review-giveaway-rarity-from-hollow-by.html.  

You can connect with the author  on Twitter,  Facebook    Goodreads    Google Plus   Linkedin  and his Website 


For the next few weeks, the e-book will be on sale at $2.99





 

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