Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
This is posted with sincere apologies to Robert Eggleton as, after reading and reviewing his very different and moving adult novel, ‘Rarity from the Hollow‘. I arranged to post an interview with him back in 2015. He had the questions but unfortunately his responses got lost in virtual reality somewhere until he queried if I’d posted it and there were his responses in the attachment delivered with his email. So, with many apologies again, please read on as his responses are definitely worth reading and there’s additional information about the child abuse prevention program he has supported with funds from his sales of this novel.
Where did you get the inspiration for your novel?
Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel. My inspiration comes from my own personal and professional experiences, supplemented by those of troubled children and families that I’ve worked with for over four decades as a social worker and psychotherapist. In 2002, I accepted a job as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day treatment program. Most of the kids had been traumatized, some having experienced extreme sexual abuse. One day in 2006, during a group psychotherapy session that I was facilitating, a little girl sat a few feet away from me, around the table used to complete therapeutic worksheets. When it was her turn to talk, she didn’t stop with mere disclosure of detail about her abuse. She spoke of hope and dreams, a future involving a loving family that would respect her physically and spiritually. Her presentation inspired other victims. It inspired me to pursue my life long dream – to write fiction.
After coming home from work that day in 2006, the day when the project was conceived, my wife and I discussed names for the protagonist. Rita had read my fiction for years and was very supportive. The next day we both went to work as usual but with an assignment in the back of our minds – to name the protagonist. Rita is now a retired Chemist. Maybe she had more down-time at work that day than me because by the time we both got home from work, Lacy Dawn had been born. Rita explained that since the protagonist’s mother didn’t have much money to buy pretty things for her daughter that she would at least give her a very pretty name at birth. Rarity from the Hollow is the first full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure, preceded by three short adventures published by magazines.
After the protagonist had been named, the project became a personal calling. That skinny little girl with stringy brown hair had touched my heart so deeply that I decided to donate author proceeds to child abuse prevention. Talk about inspiration! Of course, I haven’t heard anything from or about the real Lacy Dawn for several years. She would be all grown up now. But, the fictional Lacy Dawn will always be the most powerful kid in the universe.
What is your writing process?
Writing is a process? I’m kidding. Production of Rarity from the Hollow involved a firm structure. My writing process for short stories had been much less structured, and maybe I will loosen up for my next novel, Ivy. Since Rarity from the Hollow was my debut novel, I started with a very general outline consisting of three parts: beginning (bunch of blank space), middle (more blank space), and end. I printed the outline. I then scribbled notes in the blank spaces that I used for reference instead of for control of my writing. I have pens and notepads handy in every room of my house, and even took a copy of the outline as it evolved and something to write with when I went out, such as to a restaurant. My scribbles filled in the blanks of the outline, and were always subject to modification. I went through this process many times, typing and deleting my scribbles, fine tuning one scene at a time, and by using the outline to keep me on course within the preplanned general plot and toward the preplanned end of the story, always subject to improvement. I didn’t deviate much from this process when writing Ivy, but it did feel more relaxed.
I don’t want to give readers the wrong impression. I have fun writing. What I just described almost sounds like work. Maybe writing is hard work, but if I would look at it as work instead of fun, I’m sure that I would be less productive.
Who is your favorite character out of your stories and why?
I have many characters, many more than those introduced in Rarity from the Hollow. Picking a favorite would be like a parent picking a favorite son or daughter. Each character has strengths, weaknesses and attributes…let me tell you about Browne. I love that mutt, but maybe that’s because Brownie is so easy to love. He’s Lacy Dawn’s dog and plays an important role in her plan to save the universe. Here are some of his qualities. Maybe you have a pet like this.
• Defensively Brave
• Unconditionally Loving
• Stupid Exactly at the Right Times
I could go on, but……..
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be and why?
If I could be any character in Rarity from the Hollow, I’d love to be the android with the silly name, DotCom. The name is a recurring punch line in the story that I don’t want to spoil for readers. He represents, “if I knew then what I know now” – the kind of character with all the excitement of coming of age emotionally, sexually, romantically…as he aspires toward humanity. He has access to the Universal Management Database, yet is as innocent as a babe. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, expansive knowledge combined with youthful naiveté?
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
The names of the characters in Rarity from the Hollow were carefully chosen. We’ve already talked about how and why Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, was named. It may be of interest to your readers that this character would get mad at you if you called her, “Lacy.” It would be subculturally disrespectful not to use her full, God-given name. I have a relative just like Lacy Dawn, and who gets “mad as a wet hornet” if somebody calls her by just her first name.
I also mentioned that the android’s name, DotCom, is a recurring punch line in the story that I don’t want to spoil for readers, but the name is satiric. Faith, Lacy Dawn’s best friend who was murdered by her very mean daddy and becomes a ghost early in Rarity from the Hollow was named as a metaphor of declining church attendance and formal religious activity – faith is not dead. Why the mutt was named Brownie is of significant, but the answer to a question about the novel on Goodreads and I’m not ready to give up that answer. Mr. Prump is named as a parody of very well-known public figure and represents capitalism as the Manager of the Mall on planet, Shptiludrp (Shop ‘till you drop). Mr. Rump, the Manager of the underworld on the planet symbolizes common disregard by Americans for anything that sounds like socialism.
All of the rest of the characters: Tom, the marijuana growing neighbor who is skilled at small business transactions and who plays a major role as a consultant on the team to save the universe – he was named after a real person. So were the other characters, including Jenny, Lacy Dawn’s mother, who abused and browbeaten in the early scenes of Rarity from the Hollow, but becomes strong and dynamic in subsequent scenes; Dwayne, Lacy Dawn’s father, a disabled Gulf War Vet, cured of PTSD; and the supporting cast – these are real people with common names and have attributes that I amplified or exaggerated to meet the needs of the story.
I renamed most of the characters in Rarity from the Hollow by using other common names where I live in West Virginia, U.S. Every character is based on a human being who existed or, perhaps, I talked to last night on the telephone. This technique helped me develop the characters correctly. I decided not to pick unusual or difficult to pronounce names for anything in the story, a practice that I find irritating, especially in fantasy fiction. However, nobody will read the story and say affirmatively, “That’s me!” Many people who read the story, whether I’ve ever met them or not, may wonder, “Is that me?”
Thank you so much for agreeing to this – best wishes for your success as an author. I certainly will be looking out for more books written by you in future! 🙂
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.
Public Author Contacts:
Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/
Children’s Home Society Of West Virginia is a private, nonprofit child welfare agency that was established in 1893 and now serves more than 13,000 children, youth, and families throughout the state of West Virginia each year. Author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have been donated to:
My review of ‘Rarity from the Hollow’ is posted here.