Interview with Robert Eggleton Author of Rarity From The Hollow

Hi Scott. 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 live in an impoverished state in the U.S. – West Virginia. Perhaps I’m best known for my investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included 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.

Publication of Rarity from the Hollow follows three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. The second edition of Rarity from the Hollow was released on November 3, 2016 as a paperback and on December 5, 2016, as an eBook. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.

When and why did you start writing?

I am the oldest child from an impoverished family with an alcoholic father who had WWII-related PTSD and who would have anger outbursts when intoxicated. Perhaps dissociative, I began writing as a child to escape a harsh reality. I won the school’s short story contest in 1964 and that prompted a dream – to become and rich and famous author.

Shortly thereafter, however, I got sucked in to the civil rights and antiwar movements of the day and it influenced this aspiration – political memes published as handouts for demonstrations and in hand-delivered zines. I also started writing poetry, most of it published in zines but one of was published in our state’s annual college student poetry anthology.

After graduate school, except for never-finished short stories, most of my writing was related to my work in children’s services. In 2002, I accepted a position in our local mental health center – an intensive day program for kids with serious mental health concerns, most of who had been abused, some sexually. One day in 2006 while facilitating a group therapy session, I met a skinny little girl with long brown hair. Instead of simply disclosing about her victimization by the meanest daddy on Earth, she spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future – finding a loving permanent family who would protect her. This girl inspired me to revisit my own dreams of becoming an author.   

What inspires your writing?

Writing is a compulsion for me.  After some initial easy success, however, I do get discouraged by the barriers within the fiction marketplace. Self-promotion is especially difficult for me – balancing time between promotions and actually writing fiction. I was smart and lucky, however. I dedicated half of author proceeds to a state child abuse prevention program where I used to work in the early ‘80s. Any time that I need a little extra inspiration, all that I need to do is to think about this wonderful cause and program and it kicks me in the butt enough to keep me working in pursuit of my dream.

How would you define creativity?

For me, there is a huge difference between a craft and an art. One can be a great craftsperson yet not produce art. One can be a great artist but have poor skills in craft. Creativity is the production of newness, whereas a craft is a replication of improvement of an old.

Do you have any writing rituals to get you in the mood for writing?

Except for coffee, I don’t have any rituals built of stone. I sometimes listen to psychedelic music; sometimes get up in the middle of the night to finish a scene….

If you could, what would you go back and tell yourself as a writer starting out?

I would tell myself to listen to all advice, but to not accept any as “gospel.” I no longer believe that anybody has any magic maps that guide along the road toward success, not even the ones who have been successful. We each must find our own paths and hope for the unlikely best.

What do you believe makes for great writing?

In my opinion, great writing always has a literary element, especially genre fiction. I don’t regard cookie-cutter clones, regardless of popularity, to be great writing.

Which writers have influenced your writing?

Vonnegut, both Richard and Douglas Adams, Tom Robbins, Bradbury…it’s a long list.

How do you measure success as a writer?

There is a commercial aspect to success as a writer. The most beautiful paining that is never hung is not art. The greatest poem that is never read is not art. Success as a writer involves getting your work out there to be appreciated, not necessarily financially rewarding, but appreciation is an essential element of success.

Have you ever hated something you wrote?

I love and hate everything that I’ve written. These emotions go hand-in-hand with the process.

What’s your biggest fear as a writer?

My biggest fear as a writer is dying with a load of manuscripts under my bed or on my hard drive and that I’ve made adequate effort to see through to production. This fear drives me toward the ugly side of writing – submissions, promotions, and a presence in cyberspace for those purposes.

What traits do you feel make a great writer?

Determination is the foremost trait of a great writer. Just think about all the times that Robert Heinlein was rejected before he eventually became the grandfather of science fiction. Of course, there are several ancillary traits of importance to great writing, but without determination, perhaps more so that ever before, determination is the key.

Describe your latest book to our readers

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary social science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy, and satire. The first edition was awarded two Gold Medals by prominent book review organizations and was named one of the best books of 2015 by Codices. Until Donald Trump became a household name, most readers have been affected by the social commentary. The mission was to sensitize them to the huge social problem of child maltreatment through a fun-to-read science fiction adventure, with the early tragedy in the story amplifying subsequent comedy. Most recently, the political allegory has been recognized. The original © was 2006. 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. I’m hopeful that readers will now recognize both elements of the story.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?

As I mentioned, Rarity from the Hollow is a marriage between literary and genre fiction. I expect readers to think about the story long after the last page has been turned. But, what impresses one may be very different than how it impacts someone else. Overall, I want readers to take away that Rarity from the Hollow is:  “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.”  

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

During recent years, I have seen so many writers (and book bloggers) emerge and then fade into the sunset. My best advice would be to “give it your all” but don’t invest it all at the same time. Think the “long haul” rather than a sprint.

Can you give our audience a writing prompt to help get them writing?

“It was as it always has been, except….”

What’s next for you?

The second edition of Rarity from the Hollow just got released, so, it’s my duty to tell the world about it. While I’ve never spent any money on having it edited, published or promoted, Dog Horn Publishing is a traditional small press with no advertising budget.

The next Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy. Frankly, it’s been ready for editing for quite a while, so long that I’ll probably take everything that I’ve learned through my experience with the first adventure and rework it. I’ll tell you more about the story when it’s time, but, for now, it asks the question: how far will a child go to save a parent from addiction?

 Rarity from the Hollow 

by Robert Eggleton

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 isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.

About the Author

Scott Mullins is a freelance writer and digital content manager. When he’s not finding ways to distract himself from writing his novel he writes killer copy for companies all over the world. Connect with Scott on Twitter @ScottMullins86 or LinkedIn. He’s always looking to connect with other writers.