Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Eggleton, the author of Rarity from the Hollow. His book has won two gold medals, and is not one to miss. Read the interview below to learn more about Robert and his writing journey!
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: Perhaps as dissociative of harsh reality in an impoverished family with a sometimes abusive when intoxicated father, I began writing as a child. It didn’t show a profit until I was eight or nine years old, and has never directly made much money. When cutting grass, shoveling snow, raking leaves…door-to-door solicitations, I would have a folded piece of paper with a handwritten story, usually comedy or horror, in the back-pocket of my pants. If hired to do a job, I would ask the neighbor if she wanted to read a story that I’d written as, for example, cut the grass was cut. I believe that this strategy always resulted in being paid much higher than the asking wage for the job in tips.
Q: What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse?
A: Frankly, inspiration to write has been a little overwhelming during my lifetime — too much! What I would benefit from as a writer is inspiration to self-control and to focus on productivity, especially including promotions. I’ve been fortunate to have benefited from personal association with several muses. I’ll skip naming the great authors, leaders…who have influenced me because I interpret your question as more personal, so I’ll tell you about one: Mr. Miller, the Chief of the St. Albans, West Virginia Fire Department.
After returning home from working — passing out promos for a motel at an exit on a turnpike, when I got home I went to a gas service station to see if I could cut the little bit of grass around it to earn a little more money. Halfway through the job, at dusk, I noticed a glow in the sky that turned out to be my house. My father was inside — having been allowed there by my mother since he had stopped drinking alcohol (for a minute). I ran home, tried to climb the stairs to the second floor where I knew that he had passed out intoxicated on a couch. An instant later, Mr. Miller grabbed me by my jacket collar and pulled me out.
An hour or so later, house smoldering, Mr. Miller put me in the cab of the fire truck and kindly spoke. I went home with him that evening and stayed for a couple of months ending when my mother got it together with a new place to live after my father had died. During this period, I met a true muse — a great husband, father, and someone who knew the value of honor despite rules or regulations of the fire department or the state. Decades later, he called me at work to say goodbye, impending his death. I have and will never forget the lessons that Mr. Miller taught me and can only aspire to become as great a muse to young people as was he — always do what is right and it will turn out alright in the long run.
Q: Tell me about your book, Rarity from the Hollow. What is it about?
A: As the author, it seems to me that different readers have focused on different elements of the story to fit it more neatly within a standard genre: fantasy, psychological thriller, magical realism, adventure, comedy, satire…. I wholeheartedly agree with one common finding: Rarity from the Hollow, despite the colloquial adolescent voice of its female protagonist, is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.
While Lacy Dawn, occupies the body of an eleven-year-old, and sounds like one, she has evolved under the supervision of Universal Management for hundreds of thousands of years. She is not a typical little girl, and if you think of her as such, you may be shocked.
She lives in Appalachia with her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who’s becoming very skilled at installing fiber optic cable. Her android boyfriend, for when she’s old enough to have one, has come to the hollow with a mission. He was sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop ’till You Drop) to recruit this version of Lacy Dawn to diagnose and resolve an imminent threat to the economic structure of the universe. Will her predisposition, training, and magic enable her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own dysfunctional family?
Q: What was the original idea behind Rarity from the Hollow?
A: I’m a recently retired children’s psychotherapist and have worked in the field of children’s advocacy for over forty years. In 2002, I went to work for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day program for severely emotionally disturbed kids, many of whom had been maltreated and were experiencing related traumas, some related to sexual abuse. Part of my job was the facilitation of group therapy sessions. One day in 2006, a skinny little girl not only disclosed detail about her victimization, but continued to speak of her hopes and dreams for the future. Her resilience was inspiring to everyone. Before the end of that work day I had a protagonist and an outline for Rarity from the Hollow – a powerful female protagonist, one who doesn’t have an ounce of sex appeal, doesn’t carry a sword or light saber, and who is destined to save the universe, her own family first, of course. While Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, is a composite of many children that I’ve met over the years, her core is the little girl who sat around the table from me during group therapy that day in 2006.
Q: What do you want readers to take away from Rarity in the Hollow?
There are many messages in Rarity from the Hollow. I think of it as adult literary social science fiction. However, the messages will likely not be interpreted by one reader the same as interpreted by another. I don’t write or want to read anything that is “preachy.” Heck, I don’t even think that religious literature, like the pamphlets that one finds on the floors of public toilet stalls, should be so preachy. I wouldn’t want to touch such content, even if it would have been delivered under more sanitary conditions. I want to write about important issues that one person may think support a particular position but the next reader finds the opposite. I don’t have the answers to the most important questions and challenges that humans face.
Rarity from the Hollow addressed: 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 touched on the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.” These messages do not advocate for anything specific. Each of us have to find truths within our own hearts and minds.
One of my personal truths is that enough is not being done to prevent child abuse / exploitation in the world. It was the intent of Rarity from the Hollow to sensitize readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment through a satiric and comical science fiction adventure. Author proceeds have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia: http://www.childhswv.org/ This nonprofit agency was established in 1893 and now serves over 13,000 children and families each year. I used to work there in the early 1980s and stand behind its good works.
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: I don’t have a message that conveys what the world, or even that a single person should “know” but I do have a reminder: humans, despite the conflicts in tastes, preferences, religions, politics, cultures…we have much more in common than that which is different. Deep inside, I believe that we all know that acknowledging commonality will increase survival of our planet.
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