Recently here on the blog I’ve been featuring books that support charities or good causes. Today I’m introducing ‘Rarity from the Hollow’ by Robert Eggleton which is published to raise money to help prevent child abuse.
You can buy Rarity From The Hollow here.
Rarity From The Hollow
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
About Robert Eggleton
Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.
Today, he is a recently retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns.
Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.
An Interview with Robert Eggleton
Hello Robert. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.
Hi, Linda, and thanks for the opportunity to tell you a little about my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, myself, and how a science fiction story helps to prevent child abuse.
Why don’t you start by telling us about your book?
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction that includes serious social commentary presented satirically and comically. I know. It sounds impossible to address topics like child abuse without sounding preachy or serious. Nevertheless, that was my goal – to write a story that tugs heart strings, hard, but that is also a lot of fun to read.
The protagonist in Rarity from the Hollow is Lacy Dawn, a skinny eleven year old who speaks in colloquial voice, but if you think of her as a kid you may be shocked. She is a true daughter of Appalachia who lives in a hollow with her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who becomes very skilled at laying fiber optic cable.
Lacy Dawn’s 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): he must recruit Lacy Dawn to save the Universe in exchange for the designation of Earth as a planet which is eligible for continued existence. Will Lacy Dawn’s magic enable her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own family?
I understand that you recently retired from the field of children’s mental health. Why did you decide to start writing fiction?
Since winning the eighth grade short story contest in 1964, I’ve dreamed of being a writer. Instead, I went to college and graduated with degrees in social work and have been a children’s advocate for over forty years. Except for a couple of poems published in the early ‘70s, I supplanted my need to write fiction by concentrating on publishing nonfiction related to my work: social services manuals, research, investigative, and statistical reports, you know – the stuff that sidetracks the dreams of aspiring fiction writers.
In 2002, I went to work as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day program for severely emotionally disturbed kids, most of whom had been abused, some sexually abused. One day in 2006 I was facilitating a children’s group therapy session at work. A couple of seats from the head of the table where I sat, a little girl began to disclose the horrors that she had experienced. But, she didn’t stop at mere disclosure, she continued with hopes and dreams for the future, finding a permanent loving family that would protect and love her. It was inspiring to everybody. She inspired me to pursue my own dream to write fiction. Before the end of that session, I had a protagonist and the seed of a recurring story – victimization to empowerment – Rarity from the Hollow.
After I got home from work that day in 2006, I told my wife about my interest in writing fiction. Rita was very supportive. By the end of the next work day, my wife had named the protagonist — Lacy Dawn. Rita explained that since the mother, a downtrodden victim of domestic violence who quit school in the eighth grade because she had fallen in love and had gotten pregnant – couldn’t afford to buy Lacy Dawn pretty things, she was going to give her a very pretty name at birth. That’s how Lacy Dawn was born and why I started finally started writing fiction.
Lucy Dawn does sound inspiring, but why did you decide to use the science fiction genre as the underpinning of the novel as opposed to another genre?
I selected science fiction as a backdrop for Rarity from the Hollow because it was the best fit by process of elimination. The novel also has elements of horror, fantasy, magical realism, mystery, romance, adventure, self-help, and thriller. It is not a good example of the historical or western genres, although the social issues that we’ve talked about, child abuse, sexism, domestic violence, have been present throughout history, including in the Wild West.
In today’s reality, the systems in place to help maltreated children are woefully inadequate. I felt that the traditional literary, biographical, nonfiction genres wouldn’t work because the story would have been so depressing that only the most determined would have finished it.
I felt that Rarity from the Hollow 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?
Lacy Dawn 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 would take financial investment by benefactors to significantly improve the welfare of children in the world.
Your book is also, in part, a satire. Was that to offset the more stark aspects of Rarity from the Hollow?
The satire was both a natural process of writing and consciously inserted to lighten sections. I’ve always loved to read the puns, the double entendres, and satire in the works of others, such as Piers Anthony and Kurt Vonnegut. I’m sure that’s had a big impact on how I write. Some of the satire in this novel evolved as a natural process, while other sections were inserted because I had found the narrative in need of a lighter tone to offset stark aspects. If I found a place during the drafting of the story that I felt was too “heavy” for me to read as its writer, I figured that it would be way too much for the reader. I would look for ways to address the issues honestly, but maintain the novel as a fun read.
What did you find most challenging about writing Rarity from the Hollow?
Writing comes easy for me, but the third scene in the story was challenging. It depicts domestic violence that triggered my own psychological distress, and this is the only graphically harsh chapter in the novel. According to Childhelp, a national fundraising program for the prevention and treatment of child abuse, six million American kids are reported as having been maltreated each year. As a child, I could have been a statistic too. Maybe you or some of your readers experienced some type of childhood maltreatment. It’s more common that most of us want to admit, or even to think about.
When writing the third scene, tears blurred my vision of the monitor each time that I reworked it. For readers, it is a powerful but necessary scene in order to grasp the upcoming empowerment in the subsequent chapters – its harshness amplifies the satire and comedy. The only other challenges that I faced when writing Rarity from the Hollow were the typical ones that all writers of anything experience, such as proofreading what you intended to write instead of what was actually written on the page. So, except for that one harsh scene, I didn’t face any significant challenges when writing the novel.
You mentioned that you wanted to tell us about how a science fiction novel helps to prevent child abuse. What did you mean by that?
Half of author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia (CHSWV) for its child abuse prevention programs. Established in 1893, this nonprofit agency now serves more that thirteen thousand children and families each year. I worked for this agency in the early ‘80s and am familiar with its track record. Unlike some charities which have high salaried executives that may allocate your donation into its administrative costs, I stand behind this agency. The name of the Executive Director is Steve Tuck. We’ve been acquaintances for over thirty years. He’s a good guy. The program is honorable.
CHSWV provides an enormous range of supportive services for families and children. If you would like to find out more about CHSWV or to contact the agency, visit their web site.
Thank you Robert for talking about this important topic with us. I’m even more glad I had the kind of parents and upbringing the children you’ve worked with could only dream of.
Thank again, Linda. If you or anybody has any questions about Rarity from the Hollow, I’m available and will reply to email.