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Monday, April 24, 2017

Interview with author Robert Eggleton




Rarity from the Hollow: A Tragic, Comedic, and Satiric Science Fiction Adventure that Supports the Prevention of Child Maltreatment


1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
Thanks, Brian, for inviting me 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. Most of my writing has been nonfiction: nationally distributed social service models for serving youth in the community as opposed to sending them off to giant institutions; research on foster care drift with children bouncing from one home to the next without ever establishing permanency; dozens of investigative reports published by the West Virginia Supreme Court on systemic issues affecting child welfare; statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency…. These documents are now archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

Over the years, I’ve been exposed to or directly involved in hundreds of situations involving traumatized kids – experiences that tugged at my heart strings, hard. In 2002, I went to work at our local mental health center. It was a day program for kids with serious mental health concerns, many having been maltreated, some sexually abused. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions. It was the type of job that I brought home after work, and the first job that I’d held since college that production of written work was not part of my job description. The need to write started churning inside me. I’d dabbled in fiction and poetry as a young man, having won the eighth grade short story competition and a few poems had been published, including one in our state’s Annual College Student Anthology, so I started writing fiction again. Initially, my reemergence into fiction writing was in pursuit of psychological relief from work stress rather than to produce anything meaningful for others to read.  

One day in 2006, I met a skinny little girl during a group therapy session. Instead of merely disclosing the horrors of her maltreatment by one of the meanest daddies on Earth, she also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future. My protagonist was born that day, Lacy Dawn: an empowered victim who confronts the evils of the universe. I started writing fiction after work, sometimes late into the evenings. It was exhausting, but when I felt so discouraged with the condition of the book marketplace that I was about to give up, I found another source of inspiration. I decided to donate half of author proceeds to the prevention of child maltreatment. After identifying a worthwhile recipient,  http://www.childhswv.org/, this inspiration continues to sustain my drive to write fiction.

2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
In a nutshell, Rarity from the Hollow is a story of victimization to empowerment filled with tragedy, comedy, and satire. A most unlikely savior of the universe organizes a team of zany characters to address an imminent threat to the universe. Due to its social commentary and political allegory, not because of sexual or violent content, the target audience is adults who are not prudish, faint-of-heart, or easily offended. 

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
My hope is that readers of Rarity from the Hollow will be sensitized to the huge social problem of increasing child maltreatment in the world and its potential impact on civilization. There is nothing preachy in the story. It was written for enjoyment as a strategy to provide food for thought to last a long time, as opposed to a tragedy that one wants to push out-of-mind as quickly as possible. Its political allegory does not advocate for one position or any other, pure parody of both extreme capitalism and democratic socialism based on my understanding of positions held by Donald Trump back when he was on The Apprentice, and those held by Bernie Sanders. Some readers of my novel may question the logic of President Trump’s proposed budgets cuts of domestic spending, as will affect child welfare services, while others may not. But, I hope that all readers of my novel will at least give serious consideration to the impact regardless of their politics. Further, I hope that readers of my novel will consider making charitable contributions to programs that prevent child maltreatment among other worthwhile causes when they are in a position to make personal donations.    

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
As a novice to the fiction marketplace with only a debut novel and a few published stories, I’m no expert. I have noticed that a lot of debut novelists seem to put everything, perhaps to a fault, into their creations, and soon seem to fade into the sunset. My best advice to fellow writers would be to look at the long haul. It is not likely that one will be discovered like Elvis singing on the porch stoop of an apartment in a low-income neighborhood. Do not bet the family farm that you will be discovered as an author just because you are a great writer who has produced a remarkable piece. Be patient with ongoing persistence. Keep writing and submitting with conservative expectations and investments. 

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
Again as a novice, I see the book world and industry heading toward increasing standardization. Despite the advent of self-publishing which was expected to open-wide the doors of free speech and creativity, our culture seems to repeating the same themes over and over again. Beat Poet Ferlinghetti warned about the impact of the conglomeration of publishers. In my opinion, his warning was prophetic. I hope that I’m wrong. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve read that Big Five publishers spend tens of thousands of dollars promoting a single title. I’m not highly well-read in the most popular Young Adult and Romance genres, but of the several that I have read, they feel cookie-cutter. Like everybody else, I receive email spam. The other day, I received an advert for a software program that, essentially, writes your book for you after you plug in details, like character names, etc. Indie authors who strive to produce avant-garde works, even though publication is more possible at a lower cost today than ever before, face stiff competition. Due to their proliferation, books are now the cheapest form of entertainment available – many for free or 99¢. Competition by other forms of entertainment, enhanced by technology, such as special effects in movies and video games, seems to have reduced readerships. Perhaps related, action-based plots in genre fiction seem to be dominating more literary techniques. In the field of science fiction, which I love, for the last couple of years an organization named the Sad Puppies have protested in favor of pulp fiction at the Hugo Award ceremonies. Again, these are my observations as a novice author, mostly a reader and lover of books.    

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
The only major challenge that I experienced with the actual writing of Rarity from the Hollow was when cutting great scenes that just didn’t fit the story. I struggled with debate over either cutting them or revising the story to make the scenes fit because they were so good. My challenge has been with promotions after the book was finished. It is a traditional small press publication. This was great because I’ve never had to spend any money on anything to get it published, but small presses have next to no advertising budget. I’ve spent much more time promoting my debut novel than it took to write it.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
As the author, I recommend that prospective readers buy Rarity from the Hollow because it is a fun read with meaningful content that is enough food for thought to last a long time. Early tragedy in the story feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire. This means that readers will get a bigger bang for their time spent reading than if they had selected a book quickly forgotten after the last page. 

About the author:
Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. Locally, he is best known for his nonfiction about children’s programs and issues, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997. Today, he is a retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome maltreatment and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines.  Rarity from the Hollow

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs

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