This morning I pick up this week’s featured author and ask him where he wants to go for the interview.
“A beach,” he says.
He shrugs. “Doesn’t matter. Any beach?”
“Tahiti? Florida? California?”
So, I set the controls for ‘beach’ and soon we are there, enjoying the sun, the sand, and the surf. Let’s chat.
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
Thanks, Stephen, for inviting me to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, including your willingness to interview me on the beach, the only place that I fully relax. This environment, the sounds and view that defines our humanity as a mere speck in the universe, make me feel much less concerned about life’s personal issues.
Well, I’m not the most fascinating person in my city, far from it. I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist, once prominent as the spokesperson for children’s rights having participated in dozens of interviews by newspaper reporters, and having appeared on television talk shows and the radio. But, that was yesteryear.
I am, however, to the best of my knowledge, the only traditionally published fiction author in my city. Of course, there are a few authors who have self-published some good work. A couple of old friends of mine from the ‘60s had history books published recently. Very cool!
Today, I’m retired, living on a modest Social Security income in a small house in a low-income but nice neighborhood, and spend my days writing and reading. With some exception, my neighbors don’t even know that I wrote a book, one that would be outside of their interests if they even read novels. Truthfully, I’m not very fascinating.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
Much of my life has been played in the public eye, so this is a hard question except many of my old friends have already passed. News coverage of my activities began with the anti Vietnam War protests and, as mentioned above, has continued until recently. I’m active on Facebook where I share, among many other topics, such as jokes and music, my opinions on current issues. I guess one thing that people might be surprised to learn would be that I made bad grades in public school and dropped out a few months before I was scheduled to graduate. Looking back, I probably need counseling or something. I had a very problematic family life until my father was killed in a house fire when I was in the eighth grade. I’ve worked since childhood to support my family, my first official tax paying job was at twelve – clean up and stocking shelves in a pharmacy after school and weekends. I worked the 11:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M. shift in a motel renting rooms during most of high school. Education just didn’t feel very important to me. I regret that I missed so much of it, and college, where I made excellent grades, including a 4.0 in graduate school, didn’t make up for the general education that I’d spaced out on in public school. Some people think that I’m smart but I’m not, at least I’m not very well educated, and that may surprise some people.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as an insurance underwriter?
I consider myself to be an advocate of children’s rights first, before being a writer. I started writing short stories in childhood to help escape from distressing situations. I shared the stories with my family members and with people in the neighborhood, such as clerks in stores and gas station attendants. The positive feedback that I received was an encouragement. In the eighth grade, before my father died, I won the school’s short story competition. At that point, I began to dream of becoming a rich and famous author. However, except for a few poems, published in a college student anthology and in alternative zines, and a few short stores, most of my writing has been nonfiction in the field of child welfare, some nationally distributed, accepted into the Library of the Child Welfare League of America, and investigative reports published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I worked through the ‘80s and most of the ‘90s. I returned to writing fiction in 2006. A few of my short stories have been published in magazines. Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel. Today, I’m retired and hope to continue writing fiction, my first love. Half of author proceeds are donated to the prevention of child maltreatment.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
I would love to have dinner with Kurt Vonnegut. First, I would love to thank him for, through his writing, teaching me how to control and redirect my anger into a positive and motivating force for good. Secondly, especially in this day and age of cookie-cutter mainstream novels, I would love his views on defying conventions in fiction writing and getting by with it to the point of achieving name recognition and accolades.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book be great company?
Well, I wouldn’t want you to miss the call for your flight when it became available, so…. One book reviewer of my novel complained that she had missed the subway on more than one occasion because she was reading it. However, no book is for everybody. Consider The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guinn. Some people just don’t “get it” even if they read the book over and over. It a modern masterpiece bound to influence literature for generations to come. Some people hated Vonnegut, something that I’m sure he would mention if we did have dinner. If you are a reader who would appreciate Rarity from the Hollow, I could recommend it during a layover or if stranded on a desert island, because it would endure and each time that you reread it you would find something that you had missed before.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
For Rarity from the Hollow and for the upcoming next novel, Ivy, I began with a general outline that I constantly referred to as I wrote. The outline wasn’t built in stone but I did delete sections that I’d written when they didn’t fit the outline. Much of my writing, the literary content, was based on my experiences as a children’s advocate for over forty years. The characters are more real than not. Now that I’m retired, my wring schedule is flexible, compulsive. Yes, I Google for accuracy as I write. Perhaps the most influential was about emerging medical technologies for the treatment of PTSD, depression Biplar Disorder… which was incorporated into Rarity from the Hollow. For Ivy, which includes a pawn shop as a setting in parts, I’ve learned a lot about older weaponry. Rarity form the Hollow was professionally edited three times. It took many months, longer than the writing of the novel. I’m just glad that it was a traditional small press publication and that I didn’t have to pay for the editing.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
My best advice would be to write from the heart, but don’t fall so much in love with the product that you lose objectivity – cut, cut, cut.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
Life is soooooooo short. When young, it seems like “forever” before this or that, such as getting a driver’s license. Looking back, it was a whiz. Personally, I most enjoy looking back about my good ideas. Too much caution in living one’s life may result in regret, like you somehow missed out on experiencing important stuff. My basic philosophy about life is that you get what you sow. I guess its kind of a karma thing and I don’t believe that bad karma has a time period, or that its impact is even necessarily noticeable by others.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
My next novel is Ivy. It’s another literary story with a science fiction backdrop that asks the question: how far will a child go to save a parent from drug addiction? When I stop writing is not up to me. I would continue forever, but death is ultimate, maybe. Samuel Goldwyn, a big time with MGM, said: “I don’t think anybody should write his autobiography until after he’s dead.” That sounds like a plan to me.
Sure, I get discouraged. After a ton of 5 and 4 star reviews, Rarity from the Hollow just received the worst review that could be written about any book, posted on Amazon. Frankly, I think that the woman must have been somebody mad at me on Facebook for posting pro Medicaid, but I’m not sure. She didn’t buy the book and I didn’t send it to her for a review. Her other reviews are of mainstream romance novels. Who knows? Then, my novel got another 2 star review that bummed me out. This woman was sent a review copy but apparently didn’t read my pitch because she only read part of my novel and all of her criticisms could were very well addressed in the pitch – she clearly didn’t understand my novel or its mission. I felt like replying to her review with a couple of on-point excerpts of other reviews:
“…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…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/
“…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity From the Hollow sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved… Robert Eggleton is a brilliant writer whose work is better read on several levels. I appreciated this story on all of them.” https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/rarity-from-the-hollow
But, I won’t. There is no winning way for an author to address incompetent book reviews. It is sometimes depressing but I won’t stop writing because of them.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
Public Author Contacts:
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow.
Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage — an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It’s up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.
“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
—Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest
“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”
Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review
. “…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” — Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)
“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” —Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)
“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author
“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” — The Baryon Review
“…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” — Marcha’s Two-Cents Worth
“…I know this all sounds pretty whack, and it is, but it’s also quite moving. Lacy Dawn and her supporting cast – even Brownie, the dog – are some of the most engaging characters I’ve run across in a novel in some time….” — Danehy-Oakes, Critic whose book reviews often appear in the New York Review of Science Fiction
“… The author gives us much pause for thought as we read this uniquely crafted story about some real life situations handled in very unorthodox ways filled with humor, sarcasm, heartfelt situations and fun.” — Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ Magazine
Half of author proceeds are donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia for the prevention of child maltreatment.
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. Author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment.