Name , Robert Eggleton
Where are you from:
Charleston, West Virginia in the U.S.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc.:
I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist. I worked for over forty years as a child advocate during which time I wrote nonfiction: investigative and statistical reports, service models, etc. – the stuff that many aspirating fiction writers have published. I’m married with one grown son and have a wonderful extended family that has been very supportive of my writing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, after having won a Gold Medal from Awesome Indies was just named as one of the top five reads of 2015 by a prominent book reviewer in Bulgaria – a long way from my home.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
With respect to fiction, I’ve written it for as long as I could write, but I never finished most stories and never considered having any of it published. Part of my job at the mental health center that I retired from was facilitation group therapy sessions for children with diagnosed mental health concerns, some of whom had been severely abused. One day in 2006, an eleven year old girl disclosed not only about her traumas during a therapy session, but went on to speak of her hopes and dreams – finding a permanent loving family that would protect her. It inspired me to reconsider my own hopes and dreams of writing fiction. I started writing and haven’t stopped.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In 2006 when I sold my first piece to a magazine: “I Found God in Cyberspace,” a satirical essay published by Wingspan Quarterly, a now defunct print-only magazine.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
As I mentioned before, taking my writing from a recreational level to a level that involved aspirations to have it published was inspired by a traumatized child during a group therapy session that I was facilitating. More than that, this kid, and others like her, became a role model for the development of my protagonist: Lacy Dawn. After my wife bought into the project of writing a novel, and we decided to donate author proceeds, if any, to child abuse prevention, inspiration is too mild of a term to describe the resultant determination to get Rarity from the Hollow published by a traditional press.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I enjoy including serious social commentary in what I write, but treat it with satire. Not every reader gets it, but the ones who do have been highly complimentary. I like plot driven with dialogue and the elimination of as many adverbs or adjectives as possible, except in colloquialism – real life language of today. Otherwise, what I write has just come out “magically” but I’ve started reading a book on writing, so maybe I’ll learn something for better or worse productivity and reception.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The original title of Rarity from the Hollow was Rarity from the Holler. However, the editor thought that enough prospective readers wouldn’t understand the colloquialism. I pick a one word working title and then finalize the title by tying it to a particular scene in the story. In this case, the scene was a yard sale in the Hollow that grew into a Woodstock type event, with marijuana, music, and all. The items sold during the yard sale had been obtained off-world – hence were “rare.”
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Similar to the writing of Dickens or Orwell, I only want to write literary fiction. I’ve read a lot of mainstream YA titles with nothing more than an action plot and simplistic story. If I never read another it will be too soon for me. There are many messages in Rarity from the Hollow and related to maltreated children, poverty, mental health concerns, economic development of rural areas…. However, I don’t want anything to sound “preachy” so I do not include my own personal findings about life in what I write. The messages are open to interpretation and what one reader concludes may not be what another finds.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
While outrageous science fiction / fantasy, over half of the scenes in Rarity from the Hollow are realistic, or magical realism.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The characters in the novel are amplified versions of real-life people who I’ve met in my personal and professional life, including hundreds of troubled children, their families, and the cast of characters that influenced their lives. I grew up in an impoverish family in West Virginia. This was center in Rarity from the Hollow and my own victimization was a gift to portray to others.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I’ve already mentioned Dickens and Orwell as influences in my writing interests. However, I wanted the comedic and satiric element, so Douglas Adams, Piers Anthony, and Tom Robbins were also big influences. Piers Anthony wrote a blurb for Rarity from the Hollow.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
With my own reading, I’ve gotten myself in a “pickle” by paying attention to Charity Rowell-Stansbury. She’s a prominent book reviewer, one of the best in my opinion, and I now own five novels that she has recommended. I’ve started each of them and this was a mistake. Your question, just now, forced me to decide and stick with one until I’m finished: Lacy’s End by Victoria Schwimley. She’s written some romance novels that I’ve not read, but his one covers domestic violence, so I decided to give it a try based on the reviewer’s recommendation. I read in all genres, including romance, but those stories seem to have less impact on me as I get older. LOL
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’m watching Temple Williams to see if he comes up with the masterpiece that he has dreamt about writing for the last six decades. Mr. Williams is a retired editor of Reader’s Digest. He wrote a glowing review of Rarity from the Hollow: “…the best science fiction that I’ve read in several years…” and that’s how we met. I followed up on his review to thank him. Mr. Williams wrote an award winning medical reference inspirational type of book, Warrior Patient, that was excellent and then his first fiction was published: Wrinkled Heartbeats. It was good as a regular novel – beginning, middle, and end type of story – but I have a feeling that it is not the one which rotates around in his mind and soul. I’m wishing him, and me, the best of health, and hope that Mr. Williams gets the real one out before he fades away as we all do. His determination as a late bloomer is inspiring to me.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’d love to give you a long list of projects, and it is a long list, but, honestly, I’ve been focusing on self-promotion of Rarity from the Hollow to the point of exhaustion. The name of my next novel is Ivy. It asks: “How far will a child go to save a parent from addiction?” By analogy, I don’t want to tune up a car that has a bad transmission. It makes no sense, unless I plan on also replacing the transmission, which would not be cost effective. It makes no sense for me to move forward on having the publisher edit Ivy if Rarity from the Hollow does not become a bigger success. I’ve seen self-published authors chuck out one after another title, none of them going anyplace. For me, life is too short. Maybe I’ve heard wrong, but it is my understand that it took three years of self-promotion before Andy Weir got the first good bite on The Martian.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No, I’m not so much interested in writing as a career as I am in raising funds for the prevention of child abuse. Author proceeds have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Sadly, the Rarity from the Hollow project couldn’t possibly solve such a huge social problem as child maltreatment. There will always be kids in need of some help. I do see myself as maintaining an interest in that cause until I die.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
A second edition of Rarity from the Hollow is in the works right now. There are two lines, ones added just before this edition was published, that I’ve bounced back and forth about deleting. Both are sexual references, one to abuse, and a little over-the-top for some readers. The first line is in the first chapter and a pun made by a character who plays a ghost for most of the story. Her name is Faith (metaphor: “Faith is Not Dead”). While studying for tomorrow’s spelling quiz at school, Faith intentionally misspells the word, armadillo, and a bonus word. She spells it A,R,M,…A…D,I,L,D,O. What do your readers think? Is that line too much?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a child I would make up worlds to live in that were better than the one where I actually existed. In the eighth grade, I won the short story contest and that win nailed down and formalized my interest in writing fiction.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’ve almost finished another essay, but, again, it’s for promotion of Rarity from the Hollow. This essay is about the inclusion of child maltreatment in fictional works by others – a history.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Self-promotion totally sucks. It is a necessary ingredient, part of the whole. The way I look at it, if a writer is not willing to spend much more time promoting one’s writing than actually writing it, please don’t add to the clog in cyberspace by publishing it yourself. Self-promotion is the biggest challenge in writing, followed by “making friends” on forums and Facebook – part of self-promotion. I’m, personally, not very good at chit chat, and that holds me back from promoting my writing. As to the actual writing part of writing, proof reading is a challenge. I tend to read what I intended to write instead of what is on the screen. Maybe everybody does, I don’t know. I such (suck) at proof reading.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’ve already given log answers to your questions. If I would start listing my favorite authors, it would use up all of your band width. I’ve mentioned a few authors already and I mostly want to find a fresh new voice to become my next favorite.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, I can’t afford to travel and have never been to a con or convention. Lacy Dawn, the protagonist of Rarity from the Hollow has been all over the world in cyberspace: several blogs in the U.S., the U.K., India, Mexico, Taiwan, Bulgaria where the novel was named as one of the best five reads of 2015, Finland, and Belgium.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Adam Lowe, the owner of Dog Horn Publishing in Leeds, just redesigned the cover, a very minor change, for the second edition. He did the current cover, as well. The cover has received both high praise and less well-received comments. Currently, an artist is working on her impression of the story – impressionist. There were two other covers before the current. One was by Jag Lall, a prominent comic book artist in the U.K. All of the covers have been produced pro bono.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Until I recently retired, I would write all night and then go to work exhausted the next day. It didn’t seem to affect my scenes or my work, but I would drift off of the outline for the plot and end up cutting good stuff that didn’t fit. I would love to tell you that all of that good stuff was easily accessible on my hard drive and ready to be put into story form. Unfortunately, I had a crash and lost part of it. Plus, I have been so involving with Rarity from the Hollow that my organizational skills have declined. It’s hard to remember what I named documents that I’ve saved, so that’s another hard part of writing – naming files so that it jobs memory and they can be found. Clearly, I could benefit from improved organizational skills.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
One thing that I learned is that point of view must remain straight within each scene. It can become confusing for readers if the writing feels like head hopping, even if writing that way is fun.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice to other writers would be to start when you are young, unlike I did, and, more importantly, stick with it. It appears that the number of writers who start then quit far outnumbers the ones who had more determination. The same could be said about book blogs. There are probably more dead book blogs than live ones today. Stick with it!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope that readers will support traditional small press publications.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
A book of Bible stories given to me by a neighbor was the first book that I remember having read. We didn’t have books in our house except for the Bible, and it was daunting for a five year old. For my grandmother, most worldly activities were sins. She read the Bible nonstop, so I wanted to be like her and Bible stories were okay.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh and cry easily, while watching movies, on Facebook, …. Anything that has to do with mistreated children, or children in some type of trouble really gets to me. I laugh mostly at sarcasm or satire, including political satire on Facebook.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I would love to meet Kurt Vonnegut. Is he the genius that has been presented in his works, or has he been faking out the entire world as an everyday Joe that has moments of extreme brilliance?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
The biggest compliment for a headstone that I could think of would be: “He was a hard worker.” This probably comes from my blue collar admiration of others. The one thing that I don’t want to die with would be that I failed to do everything that I could to promote Rarity from the Hollow as if I’d gotten lazy in caring about abused kids.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Honestly, I’ve not been doing as much as I used to since I started writing fiction. My most consuming hobby would be reading. I enjoy building construction, especially if permanency is envisioned, such as building with stone, concrete, brick…. I work on cars and own a ’66 Dodge truck that I tinker with sometimes and that I find fun. I always have a vegetable garden each year and that’s rewarding because good food is hard to find. There are a lot of other hobbies that I used to enjoy, but writing has kind of taken over. I have thousands of LPs and always hope to discover an old psychedelic band that I’ve never heard of before. However, I’m not into fan-fic or similar interests in music – the art has to overpower the personalities, the persons who produced it. I would never read, for example, a People magazine because I feel that the person through whom art flows is usually irrelevant. The individual is merely a channel used by a higher force.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
While it was a big hit, Avatar was a political statement for me and that doesn’t seem to get talked about very much. I’ve gotten a little immune to new special effects in movies, especially 3D ones like The Force Awakens. I enjoy any show or movie that has deeper meaning about social issues, politics, gender relations, etc. I especially love “silly” shows that have higher truths, irreverent ones with metaphors and allegory that some people miss.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music:
I have eclectic tastes in music, but lean toward classic rock. A lot of what is called Indie sounds to me like remakes of prior works, and I really like some of it, a lot. I love the idea of foods that are organic, but, honestly can’t taste the difference unless I’ve grown it. Green beans that have been picked and go straight from the garden into the pot is one of my all-time favorite foods.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
My career was in children’s social services. If I hadn’t decided to retire to write fiction, I would still be in that field. I have no regrets even though I’m a little broke on Social Security because jobs in this field pay so little.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I have a basic website, Lacy Dawn Adventures, that needs to be updated. It is part of a free service from my ISP and was written in Word. One of these days maybe I’ll become competent enough in technology to learn how to blog. There is a link to my personal email on the website. Check it out and feel free to contact me at: www.//lacydawnadventures.com
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 Lacy Dawn to save the Universe.
To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. Some of these 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.
Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.
About the author:
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, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he 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. 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 in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. 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.