Today we take a step outside of the norm for us and bring a book a little different . We’re open to many genres. We might not be able to review every book, but we hope we can at least spotlight those we cannot. As the reader, you get to decide what appeals, but you have to know what’s available first!
A big thank you to author Robert Eggleton for giving us some insight into his complex and unique book Rarity from the Hollow.
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. The content addresses social issues. It’s a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, fainthearted or easily offended.
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.
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, for when she’s old enough to have one, has come to the hollow with a mission. He was sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop ’till You Drop) to recruit Lacy Dawn to save the universe from an imminent threat to its economic structure. In exchange, Earth would be designated as a planet that is eligible for continued existence – granted immunity. Will Lacy Dawn’s magic enables her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own family.
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….”
Meet 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.
In Good Conscience by Robert Eggleton:
After fifty-two years of paying into the U.S. Social Security fund, I had to make a deal with my conscience in order to feel okay about retiring so that I could concentrate on writing fiction. Here’s the why and how my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, helps to prevent child abuse.
I was born into an impoverished West Virginian family in 1951. I started working as a child to help support it. My father was a WW II Vet, disabled with PTSD and night terrors. My mother did the best that she could to protect us four kids from his drunken rages – great guy when sober, but he couldn’t hold down a job. My mother’s love instilled a sense of duty, honor, hard work, caring about others….
Looking back, I guess that I was raised to be a social worker – to try to make the world a little better place. So, predictably, I got into civil rights, antiwar, poverty issues and other social causes as a student, and earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1977. Afterward, my background and education directed me into child welfare where I have served as an advocate of children’s rights, especially a child’s right to be free from abuse, for over forty years.
During this period, many emotionally charged situations have tugged my heart strings so hard that child welfare became more than my job, more than a cause. It became a calling. In 2002, I accepted a position as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. I worked in an intensive day program for severely emotionally disturbed kids, many of whom had been abused. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions.
One day at work in 2006, around the table used for written therapeutic exercises, sat a skinny little girl with stringy brown hair. Rather that just disclosing her traumas caused by a very mean father, she went on to speak about her hopes and dreams for the future – finding a loving family who would protect her spiritually and physically. This girl was inspiring to me, and to everybody else who met her, staff and kids alike.
I’d not talked about it much, but I had a dream, too. Since winning the eighth grade short story contest, I had dreamed of becoming an author. I came home from work that day and told my wife that I’d decided to start writing fiction. We discussed themes. By the end of the next work day, my protagonist had a name – Lacy Dawn – a highly intelligent and powerful girl, an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe.
My wife named her Lacy Dawn because since the protagonist’s mother couldn’t afford to buy her daughter pretty things, she was determined to give her a pretty name at birth.
After experiencing some success in writing – three short stories published in magazines – I became increasingly torn between the two callings: writing fiction and ongoing commitment to help needful kids. I tried both by staying up late and submitting my fiction while going to work exhausted the next day. I knew that I needed to do something before I turned into a crispy critter. I had to either give up on my dream of writing fiction or on helping needful kids.
In 2012, I started rewriting my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow. I had gotten a publisher interested, a traditional small press in Leeds. I could no longer use the excuse that I didn’t have enough money to self-publish. I drafted social commentary with a science fiction backdrop that was based on decades of my work in the field of social services:
Child maltreatment, including the meanest daddy imaginable;
Mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder;
Satiric political ideology on Capitalism and Socialism, especially apt in America right now as Trump on the Republican side and Sanders for the Democrats pursue the Presidential primary election; And, touched upon the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.”
I was determined that the messages in the story would not advocate for anything specific because each of us have to find truths within our own hearts and minds.
I model the flow of the story after a mental health treatment episode:
harsh and difficult in the beginning as therapeutic relationships are established and disclosures are made; cathartic in middle chapters with more detailed disclosures; and, increasingly satiric and comic toward the end through an understanding that it is “silly” to live in the past, that demons, no matter how scary, can be evicted, and that nothing controls our lives more so than the decision that we, ourselves, make.
I know that it sounds weird, but I imagined victims benefiting from having read a science fiction story. Maybe I was trying to rationalize a balance between these two competing interests – writing and social work. In hindsight, maybe my idea wasn’t so off-base after all. Four book reviewers of Rarity from the Hollow have privately disclosed to me that they were victims of childhood maltreatment, like me, and that they had benefitted the story. One of these people publicly disclosed that she was a rape victim in her glowing review of the novel. http://kyliejude.com/2015/11/book-review-rarity-from-the-hollow/
Anyway, the novel was published but after working with abused kids all day, I was too exhausted to do much in the way of promoting it. The small press that had published the novel didn’t have an advertising budget, so very few people were hearing about the existence of Rarity from the Hollow. This wasn’t my dream – to work all day and then stay up half the night trying to figure out how to market a novel. It sucked raw eggs, so I began again to look for a solution – to write fiction without turning my back on maltreated kids.
After talking about it with my wife, I came up with a solution to the dilemma. I would donate at least half of author proceeds to prevent child abuse. And, that’s what I have done and will continue to do for as long as I live. A little over six month ago, I retired from my job as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center so that I could concentrate on literature. I’ve been working more than full-time marketing the novel, such as obtaining and advertising book reviews that it has received. I’ve even started the second novel, Ivy, which is almost ready for ready for editing.
Rarity from the Hollow has received several absolutely glowing reviews and a couple of weeks ago it was awarded a Gold Medal by Awesome Indies, a major book review organization:
“…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy….” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/
This and other book reviews have caused me to feel proud, but the best aspect of the entire situation is that I made a great deal with my conscience: I can continue to pursue my dream of writing fiction and still contribute to the welfare of abused kids just like always.
Author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ It’s a nonprofit agency that was established in 1893 and now delivers services to over 13,000 children and families each year. I used to work there in the early ‘80s and stand behind its use of donations as intended: to help the kids who need it the most.
More information about this project is available upon inquiry. Just contact me though any of the links posted right here.
Connect with the author:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/robert.eggleton2