Lacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. She lives in a hollow with her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who's becoming very skilled at laying fiber optic cable. Lacy Dawn's android boyfriend has come to the hollow with a mission. His equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth's earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. 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 within a universal economic structure that exploits underdeveloped planets for their mineral content. Lacy Dawn’s magic enables her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own family.
Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton (354 pages) is adult literary science fiction. It reads like YA because of its use of adolescent voice, but it is not intended for younger youth, or anybody of any age that is not open-minded about social issues. In the 1970s, Ursula K. Le Guinn coined the term, "social science fiction" and this novel fits better within that standard subgenre than any other. Please read the excerpt below. The colloquial voice is comparable to Heinlein's use of juvenile voice to address serious gender and race issues of his day.
The protagonist, Lacy Dawn, occupies the body of an eleven year old, and sounds like one, but she has evolved under the supervision of Universal Management for hundreds of thousand of years. She is not a typical little girl, and if you think of her as such, you may be shocked. An unsolicited Top 100 Amazon Reviewer found:
"Rarity from the Hollow written by Robert Eggleton, to be fully honest, was much more than expected and a great read – semi-autobiographical literary work full of beautiful and ugly things, adventure, romance, pain and humor…."
Piers Anthony, best selling fantasy author during the '80s and '90s, found that my novel was “…not for the prudish.” Kevin Patrick Mahoney, editor of the once noteworthy site, Authortrek, found that my story was, “…not for the faint hearted or easily offended….” An early voice in the first chapter speaks about things that no child should know. It is that of a traumatized child – a voice most of us never listen to, or want to hear, but in real life is screaming. This passage is mild in comparison to some of the stuff that kids have said during actual group therapy sessions that I have facilitated over the years. By child developmental stage, it is similar to the infamous early adolescent insult in E.T.: “penis breath.” It is tame in comparison to the content of the popular television series, South Park, which was devoured by millions of teens. My story does include marijuana smoking, but that subject has been frequently broadcast in the news when legislation is introduced or debates emerge.
Except for a scene involving domestic violence in the third chapter, there is no violence or horror -- no blood, guts, gore, vampires, werewolves, but there is one comical and annoying ghost. There are no graphic sex scenes in the novel. The renewed romance between the protagonist’s parents does include off-scene sexual reference, but nothing that is beyond real-life typical teen exposure. The android coming of age during his pursuit of humanity is reality based. Any boy above thirteen years old would attest. However, Lacy Dawn never lets the android get farther than to kiss her on the cheek, once. The android expresses no interest in sex. He falls in love, all consuming love by the middle of the story. The “F word” is used twice, but there is no other profanity. There are two mild sex scenes past the middle of the story that could disturb some folks with conservative values on the subject, but one of the scenes is comedic and the other involves the habitation of a maple tree by the ghost mentioned in this paragraph, so Rarity from the Hollow is not erotic. It has a HEA ending like a romance novel.
As prominent on the front cover, Rarity from the Hollow is "A Children’s Story for Adults."
What would you be doing right now if you were not an author?
Mandy, this is a great question that most of your readers may not have given much thought. If I weren’t an author, right now I would be writing fiction. Let me explain. The most time consuming part about being an author is self-promotion. From the most prominent authors under the wings of big publishers to the least known indie authors, once a novel has been published the promotions phase kicks in. It is so daunting that some talented writers could just give up. I’m not. Still, if Rarity from the Hollow had never been published, right now I would be writing fiction, my most favorite activity.
5 years ago: what were you doing?
Five years ago I was working as a psychotherapist in the intensive children’s mental health component of our community mental health center. I spent the weekend helping my son build a house that we had started from the footers up. I was still dreaming about writing fiction, but was to exhausted most of the time to pursue my dream.
Do you have a certain writing ritual?
Before I sit down to begin writing, I just have to have my other responsibilities taken care of first. It sounds silly, but I do my chores, make sure the pets have water and food available, have taken care of any errands, you know, just regular stuff like that. If I don’t take care of whatever needs attended to first, it blocks my flow of creativity, resurfaces until I get up and attend to whatever I should have in the first place. Otherwise, I don’t really have any rituals to get going. My big issue is stopping once engaged in writing so that I get sleep, eat, and those activities that support basic survival.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I like criticism, as long as it’s honest. The toughest criticism for me to take has been false reviews of Rarity from the Hollow that hurt its overall rating on Amazon and Goodreads. The vast majority of book reviewers and book critics have given the novel five stars or four stars. I’ll tell you about two reviewers who didn’t and which were a little tough to just let roll of my back. I did.
One book reviewer wrote two lines in her review of Rarity from the Hollow and the review was subsequently deleted by her on Amazon. However, her low rating still stands and affects the overall average score of the novel. This reviewer simply said “…I don’t like war stories….” The only thing gunshot in the novel was an imitation Barbie doll by neighbor boys – a metaphor of the impact of poverty on children. There was no war. Rather than starting one in cyberspace with this reviewer, it was tough, but I had to accept the review. Actually, I liked the situation better before the reviewer deleted her off-the-wall comment because at least then others could read and discount it. Now that the text of the review has been deleted, there is nothing there for prospective readers to consider.
More recently, another book review was tough to handle. I emailed a copy of Rarity form the Hollow to this book reviewer one evening at a little after 11:00 p.m., EST. The next day, she posted a ‘Did Not Finish’ review on Amazon with a one star rating and her review stated that she had tried to read it. Maybe so, but I sure don’t know when she would have tried because there was no gap between my email with the copy attached to the posting of the review. I’m still working on letting that review roll off emotionally, but there really is not choice.
The vast majority of book reviewers is honest, hard-working, dedicated, and make a significant contribution to not only literature, but to society as a whole. I guess in any bunch, there will be a few bad apples. I always share both positive and critical reviews on Facebook, but I skipped these two because I felt that they were not honest or helpful to prospective readers. They were tough to take, however.
Is there an author you'd like to meet?
I would love to meet Kurt Vonnegut. I emailed a representative of his sales team, a relative I think. I’d previously emailed Piers Anthony, another very famous author from the ‘80s, about Rarity from the Hollow and he read it and wrote a blurb that is on the book cover. I figured, “what the heck” so I wrote to Vonnegut too. He didn’t reply (so far) and who knows if he ever personally received my email. A book critic had said that my writing was “another quarter turn beyond Vonnegut.” It was worth a shot as an opener to try to get his attention.
Vonnegut’s works were so outrageous and his politics were so apparent. I would love to meet him just to know if his writing was reflective of his personality off-stage. Personally, my writing takes me places that do not necessarily reflect who I am in daily life. Maybe this is a terrible place to disclose it, but I’m pretty boring: I work on cars and the house, sometimes go to church, love my family – you know, just regular stuff like most Americans. I’ve commonly wondered if some celebrities were their personas in the public eye, or if “we” were presented with only the parts that fit an advertising scheme. Take Molly Cyrus, as an example….
Biggest writing pet peeve?
My biggest writing pet peeve has to do with proof reading. I hate typos that I subsequently find in any written document. I tend to read what I intended to write instead of what is actually on the page. It is totally irritating to me. My wife helps try to catch them most of the time, but some still slip through. Maybe all authors would not agree, but I desperately need an editor for anything that is widely released to the public. Rarity from the Hollow benefited from having been professionally edited twice and there are still a few typos. Oh, well. The second edition of the novel will come out soon, and will correct the typos as well as make minor modifications to some of the text based on input from great book reviewers. Thanks all!
Do you read other's reviews of your books?
Yes, I’ve read all book reviews of Rarity from the Hollow, some of them over and over again. Fortunately, almost all book reviews have been positive, several have been glowing reviews. Reading them causes me to feel proud. It motivates me to continue with editing the sequel, Ivy. We’ve already talked about a couple of examples of the ones that were hard to handle, but I’m still glad that I read them. I understand that some authors say that they don’t read reviews. I’ve never been someone to stick my head in the sand, regardless, because I want to know what’s going on, good or bad.
Fav Color: Green because it reminds me of spring after a long winter.
Fictional Character you'd like to spend the day with: Tom Sawyer because he knew how to get the job done and still have time for adventures.
Fav food: Pinto beans and cornbread because it reminds me of family meals during childhood.
Fav song and/or singer: “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison because it reminds me of the first time that I fell in love.
Guilty pleasure: Making silly faces at infants in line at grocery stores and getting them to giggle.
Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate 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. Today, he is a recently retired psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia. 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/
Excerpt (.doc): From chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:
…..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.
I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me?
“Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.
Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.
I will always love you guys.
Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.
Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front.
Jenny looked to the left of the path.
There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is.
She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face. Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.
“All right, you mother f**ker!”
“Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."
DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner. Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.
"Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny. It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house. It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate. No one moved. The spaceship’s door slid shut.
“Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”
“You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.
Stay between them.
“Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.”
“You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.
“MOM! Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”
Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.
He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.
“DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”
Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.
“Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”
I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.
“Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”
Jenny's left eye twitched.
DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…
…(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”
"He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.
“What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know. You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”
“Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.
Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.
A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.
"What's that?" Jenny asked.
She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.
“But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.
“Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”
“Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more….
It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on her. That's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby.
“What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.
“I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”
“My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said.
They both glared at him.
"Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.
“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.
“I love you too,” DotCom said.
Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.
Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up. My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”