Author Interview: Robert Eggleton

rarity of the hollowBack in September 2016 I read and reviewed Mr. Eggleton’s book Rarity from the Hollow (you can read the review here). The following is an interview that I sent him after I had reviewed his work. Due to both parties being busy, I’m happy to publish this interview for him!

Questions:

  1. Mr. Eggleton, are you a full time author? Or do you have another job between writing? When did you start writing professionally?

 

I began writing nonfiction in 1978, shortly after having been awarded a Master’s Degree. Dozens of my works have been published and many are now archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. They cover elements in the field of child welfare: investigative reports, service manuals that were nationally distributed, research…. In May of 2015, I retired from my job as a children’s psychotherapist after forty years in the field. I started writing fiction after work in 1996. Three short stories were published by magazines before my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow. But most of my writing since its release has been self-promotional, such as guest posts book blogs. I would love to say that I’m “professional.” If that term implies profiting from writing, I guess that I would fall into the aspiring category. Half of author proceeds have been and will continue to be donated to child abuse prevention.

 

  1. When did you start writing, not for money but for fun? How old were you, and not just when you started writing for school?

 

Perhaps dissociative of a dysfunctional childhood, I began writing short stories when I was eight or nine years old for escapist purpose. I would share them with neighbors, store clerks, gas station attendants….

 

  1. What format did you start out with? Did you write poetry, short stories, long stories, plays, etc.

 

As I mentioned, I started with short stories. I won my school’s eighth grade short story competition and that fueled my motivation to write. A couple of weeks ago, I found an old box in my basement filled with them – written on a manual typewriter. Of course, none had ever been submitted for consideration by publishers. I also found a bunch of poems in that box. Especially during the tumultuous time of the late ‘60s and ‘70s, I got into a poetry writing mode, probably influenced by early rock music, including Bob Dylan. One of my poems was accepted and published in the 1971 West Virginia Student Anthology. Last year, one of my poems won first place in an international poetry competition. http://wildcat.wsc.edu/clubs/willycon/zine/

 

  1. Did you start out writing satire, or did you write in a different genre? Is satire or science fiction you’re preferred genre, if so, why? Have you written in other genres before?

 

I’ve written in most genres…Like a rough-cut lumber doorframe surrounding a highly polished door, I love to write in contrasts. “Satire” can be easily misrepresented as a concept. I love puns and humor, but do not want my writing to come off as condescending of any values.

 

  1. Where do you normally write? When do you find that you are the most creative?

 

In 1988, my wife and I bought a small house in a low income neighborhood a few notches about the housing project where I grew up. It’s not ideal, but since I don’t have an office, my desktop is located in the living room. A while back, my son bought me a laptop and I have used it, such as in a park, but I can’t seem to move as fast using it. Maybe my fingers are too fat. lol

 

  1. When did you become published? And were you self published or did someone publish for you? What was your first published work?

 

My stories were published in magazines, two of them print-only, and for which I received small payments. The very first edition of Rarity from the Hollow was published in 2006 by a new traditional eBook company that when down within a couple weeks of its release. I did receive royalties. Dog Horn Publishing, a traditional small press, picked up the project and just released its new edition of the novel. I’ve never been self-published. But, I’ve always been responsible for almost all of the marketing. As the costs of self-publishing seem to continue to go down, I may consider that option in the future.

 

  1. What gave you the idea to write Rarity from the Hollow? And why did you write it like a children’s story but for adults?

 

In 2002, I accepted a job as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day program that served kids with mental health problems, many of them having been abused, some sexually. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions. One day in 2006 during a session, I was sitting around a table used for written therapeutic exercises and a little girl with stringy, brown hair sat a few feet away. Instead of just disclosing the horrors of her abuse at the hands of the meanest daddy on Earth, she also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future: finding a loving family who would protect her.

 

1-rarity-front-cover-web-2This girl was inspiring. She exemplified resilience. She got me thinking again about my own childhood hopes and dreams of writing fiction. My protagonist was born that day – an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe: Lacy Dawn. I began to write fiction in the evenings and sometimes went to work the next day without enough sleep. Every time that I would feel discouraged, when I felt like giving up, I would imagine Lacy Dawn speaking honestly about the barriers that she faced in pursuit of her dream of finding a permanent and loving home. This girl inspired the creation of Rarity from the Hollow.

 

On of my all-time favorite songs is “Changes” by David Bowie: “…and these children as you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through….” At the point in my career that I decided to write a novel, I had become disheartened by adults telling kids how to view the world, what was best for them, and the kids saying, “No, that’s not what I meant!” For my first full-length story, I wanted to come as close to the child’s voice as possible.

 

  1. Where did you get inspiration for your characters? Were they based on real people, completely your own imagination, or maybe a combination of both? Why did you want to write about misfits?

 

Most of the characters in Rarity from the Hollow are more real than not. I envisioned composites and enhanced attributes of people that I’ve met during over forty years of working as a children’s advocate. The Mr. Prump character came from me watching Donald Trump on The Apprentice and by enhancing attributes. Mr. Rump is a similar character based on my view of democratic socialism, such as exemplified by Bernie Sanders. The android, DotCom, came from me having received so much spam in my personal email and by reversing its personality as a fictional solution.   

 

  1. I’ve heard some authors talk about how hard it was to write about a main character of the opposite gender. Did you have any trouble writing from Lacy Dawn’s perspective?

 

I’ve met so many Lacy Dawns that I felt competent to write her story.

 

 

  1. How long did it take you to write the book? Did you run into any problems while writing/publishing?

 

Writing the book was the easy part – it just flowed for about six months after work. Yes, everything after finishing the story has been filled with challenges, including self promotion and when editing the new edition just released. Based on reviews of the ARC that circulated for a couple of years, the editor and I toned down some of the strongest language and scenes without diminishing the essences of the story. It was very hard. Of course, self-promotion is the hardest part about being an author.

 

  1. What was your inspiration for the outer space you created in Rarity of the Hollow?

 

Planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop) is a giant shopping mall and the center of universal governance. There are two living areas: the surface filled with one shop after another and primarily occupied by shopkeepers and stringently vetted visitors of diverse origins, except that all visitors are wealthy and prominent; and, the sewers occupied by workers who live under a socialist regime and perform the essential function of discharging the planet’s waste into the atmosphere. In many respects, outer space in Rarity from the Hollow is similar to any upscale shopping area on Earth.

 

  1. What was your favorite part in the book or while writing the book? Any fun memories to share?

 

I loved writing Rarity from the Hollow in its entirety.

 

  1. What was the hardest part about writing this book? Or just writing in general?

 

Scene three was hard to write. It’s a scene of domestic violence and the only scene that actually comes close to being graphic. When you think about it, there were no serious physical injuries experienced by characters. Nevertheless, my eyes would tear up and my vision would blur every time that I reworked that scene. 

 

  1. If you had any advice about writing, what would it be?

 

My best advice to writers would be to stay determined. There are so many stories and books produced now with the advent of technology and self-publishing, that rejection no longer necessarily reflects on the quality of your work. Sure, some of the stuff that has been published probably should have been better edited, but to a lesser extent that’s true of works that are accept for publication by traditional magazines and publishers as well. Rejection may very well be that the slush pile is simply too huge or that the first read editors are overwhelmed. Keep on keeping on.

 

  1. You mentioned that the next edition of this book will have more references to the current politics going on in America, specifically about Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. What made you decide to add this? And what were the original inspirations of Mr. Prump and Mr. Rump?

 

You may be interested in this press release:  http://www.pr4us.com/pr-2618-trump-presidency-predicted-in.html. Only a couple of lines were needed in the new edition to make the political allegory more obvious now that Donald Trump has become a household name: Mr. Rump apologizes for calling Mr. Trump a “capitalistic pig” and Mr. Prump later apologized to Mr. Rump for calling him a “socialist.” People would have to read the novel to find out how Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, convinced them to join to save the universe. The political allegory includes pressing issues that America is fighting about today, including illegal immigration and the refuge crisis, extreme capitalism / consumerism…. However, there is no political advocacy in the story, other than sensitizing readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment, but the allegory is simply more obvious now. A similar press release: http://www.pr.com/press-release/695122 . Some readers are still not going to “get it” but, with respect to political allegory, I’m very proud of the first review of the new edition. It was published by a book review who is also an Engineer and has twenty-one years working for NASA.

 

  1. Can readers expect any more stories about Lacy Dawn and her ragtag crew? Or is this the only story we’ll get from her?

 

roberteggletonGod willing, yes, you can expect more Lacy Dawn Adventures. I’m going to give the new edition a little more time on self-promotions and then concentrate on the next. Its title is Ivy and applies satire to the very serious social problem of drug addition.

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