Genre: Science Fiction
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 isn't great. But Lacy has one advantage -- she's been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It's up to her to save the Universe.
To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. She doesn't mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.
Will Lacy Dawn's predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I grew up in an impoverished household and would write stories to entertain myself and others. It was free recreation for me and my family. I shared my stories with others in the neighborhood, such as clerks in stores and service station attendants (gas stations used to employ people to pump the gas – lol). In a way, I guess that it was an early model of networking. My stories got better and my audience grew. In the eighth grade I won the school’s short story writing competition and began to dream of getting my family out of poverty by becoming a rich and famous author.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel. It took about six months writing after work to finish to the point of being ready for professional editing. Of course, the editing took longer than the writing and continues to this day. The second edition of the novel is scheduled for release next month, so I guess writing is a never ending process until one moves on to the next project. The next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy. It took a couple of months to write but is pending the long process of editing until I build greater name recognition and feel comfortable with its release.
3. What do you think makes a great story?
What makes a great story is very personal. For me, the most wonderful stories are those that find the perfect balance between literary and genre – escapism with strong meaningful content that creeps into one’s consciousness long after the last page has been read. I’m usually disappointed with stories that are total escapism or that are so heavy that they are no fun to read.
4. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist. For the last year or so, I’ve worked harder on my fiction than if I was working a full-time job. However, most of this work, unfortunately, has involved self-promotion. Rarity from the Hollow is a traditional small press publication. This means that while I didn’t pay for anything related to its publication I am responsible for almost all of its promotion. If I don’t, it doesn’t really matter how great a story that I’ve written because nobody will have heard about it and won’t read it. I don’t have a set work schedule, but that might be a good idea because I feel exhausted. I work until I’m tired or hit a roadblock, take a break, and then start again at all hours of the day and night. Thanks for the suggestion – a work schedule – I believe that such may increase outcomes.
5. How do you balance family and writing?
I’ve been married for forty-five years next month (help me remember my anniversary, please, lol). We have one grown son. Both are one-hundred percent supportive of my writing, but I still have to do my chores, like take out the trash. I’m a goal-oriented person. For me, this means that if I have something that needs to be taken care of, it interferes with my concentration until I’ve met my responsibility. Usually, I’ll divide it into smaller tasks, accomplish a piece, like part of dinner or cutting a parcel of the lawn, return to fiction writing or promotions, then take care of another part of the task. It’s hard to imagine how in the world some younger authors balance writing with family responsibilities, especially if they have younger children.
6. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I am so full of ideas for books that it sometimes feels annoying, possibly presenting an impediment to productivity. Looking back, as a debut novel, I believe that I tried to put too many ideas in Rarity from the Hollow. It includes serious social commentary about poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, substance abuse…treated with satire and comedy. While the novel has been well-received, a couple of book reviewers have found that it had too much content. On the other hand, the same thing was said about Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. Galaxy reviewer Floyd C. Gale gave it a mixed review, saying "the book's shortcomings lie not so much in its emancipation as in the fact that Heinlein has bitten off too large a chewing portion."
I had a vivid childhood – impoverished with a war damaged father; a dramatic adolescence = antiwar protests and corresponding incarcerations; and, over forty years in an emotionally charge field – children’s advocacy. My ideas come from my personal and even more personal professional experiences.
7. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book/s?
I was surprised by two aspects of finally pursuing my dream of writing a novel: first, the words flow sooooooooooo easily; secondly, it is sooooooooooo hard to stop them.
8. How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel. I love it, so have a bunch of other people, and I would love to say it is my favourite. A top Amazon book reviewer found:
"Rarity from the Hollow written by Robert Eggleton, to be fully honest, was much more than expected and a great read – semi-autobiographical literary work full of beautiful and ugly things, adventure, romance, pain and humor…."
But, my favourite novel that I’ve written is Ivy, the next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure. I hope that it will be your favourite, as well. It is less convoluted and simply asks, how far will a child go to save a parent from addiction?
9. Are your characters based on anyone you know?
All of my characters are based on real-life people. I accentuate attributions for effect. Some are personal friends, most of having passed on to the great unknown. Other characters are based on my professional experience as a child advocate for over forty years: weak and powerful; victims and perpetrators; lovers and haters….
10. Do you have a favourite place you love to write?
I’m not sure that I would call it a “favourite” place to write, but I write best in the living room of my small house in a lower class neighbourhood. It’s where my computer is located. I’ll draft notes on a laptop when I go to parks, restaurants…. I can imagine a hundred better places to write, but, the proof is in the pudding. Do you know from whence that phrase originated? Email me and I’ll tell you what my grandma said that it means.
11. How hard is it to get published?
In my opinion, except for self-publishing which requires an author to make an investment, something that not every talent can afford, there is no publishing industry. So, given no actual industry, it would be next to impossible to get published in today’s marketplace. Sad.
12. What do your family and friends think about your books?
Also sad, I don’t have a large family and most of my friends have passed. I remember going to parties in my youth and when a step in any direction that was more than an inch would be on someone’s toes. In contrast, some authors, especially high school students, have a zillion friends who buy and submit book reviews to Amazon whether they have read the book or not. I waited too long to begin my journey into fiction for such an advantage.
Every member of my family, mostly nieces and nephews, is proud of me, but not necessarily because I wrote an award winning novel. They love and respect me for my contributions to family. As is youth, I’m sure that they would be more impressed if I had created an award winning video game.
13. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love vegetable gardening – can’t wait for my tomatoes to harvest – tons! I have an old Dodge truck that I’m enjoying as I rebuild it. (It was mentioned in Rarity from the Hollow.) Reading in all genres is a passion. I’m looking forward to WVU football, then basketball afterward. That’s just a sample. I like a lot of stuff.
14. Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers better themselves and their craft? If so, what are they?
I’m a novice with only one novel under my belt. I’ve read a couple of books on the craft of writing, as have most other aspiring authors. The phrase, “show don’t tell” keeps me alert when writing. With respect to the craft of writing, I believe that fine tuning the show structured under a headline is the art of the craft. For me as a reader, it would have to be an exceptional story to entertain me if it would be simply told.
15. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I was a weird kid. I never dreamed of being an astronaut or superstar when I grew up. When I was twelve, I went to work part-time working in a drug store. The first career aspiration that I remember was to become a pharmacist, but I think that was because Mr. Knight was the kind manager of the store who gave me the job. Frankly, and I have many fond memories of my childhood, I was a survivalist focused on doing what I could day by day to help my family stay together. With much regret, I kind of zoned out during school, which I mostly regarded as an obstruction to earning a little money. I went to college to avoid the military draft during the Vietnam War, fell in love in my sophomore year, and for the first time envisioned a brighter future. As an angry young man, I majored I social work as the best fit for “fixing the world.” From that point forward, with a goal in mind, I made perfect grades. I was awarded a Master’s degree in 1977, have been married for forty-five years, forty of which have involved a very successful career in child advocacy.
16. What are your favourite books and which authors inspire you?
I’m not sure that you have enough bandwidth for me to make a complete list of inspirations and favourite books, so here’s a few. Ferlinghetti, the poet of the Beat Generation, showed me how to enjoy my anger about political and societal issues. Similarly, Vonnegut’s anger in Breakfast of Champions helped me stay strong as a children’s advocate and as a writer, and how to experiment with my writing style outside of commonly accepted structures and formats. Nora Roberts knows how to get me in a romantic mood. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series reinforced my faith in the potential of adolescent morality and the future of the world. Watership Down by R. Adams was such a sweet adventure that some of this element just is a necessary ingredient of even the scariest, saddest, or most erotic story. The versatility in cross-genre and the use of humour by Bradbury had to have been a subliminal inspiration, especially now that I think about it. Dean Koontz has been masterful. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by D. Adams and Another Roadside Attraction by Robbins pushed me into the wilder side of writing regardless of censorship, as did the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics. And, Stephen King’s use of everyday horror convinced me that alarming scenes can be created by using almost anything as a prop. Piers Anthony sure knew how to write a goofy pun and has always gotten me to giggle. There’re a lot more books and authors that I hold dear, a lot more.
17. For an aspiring writer what do you feel are certain do's and don’ts for getting their material published?
My recommendation for self-publishing is to never release anything without professional editing, or as close to it as one can afford. I believe that premature release has been the kiss of death for a lot of talented writers. It seems like a zillion come and go almost every month.
I’m not sure that there is a “do and don’t” list for achieving publication by a traditional publisher. They each have submission guidelines and warn that violation will result in discarding, but I have no reason to believe that it’s true, or that compliance with guidelines improves the odds of recognition. I’m a novice, so if anybody has a successful strategy, please le me know. I’ve read a lot of success stories, struggling authors like George Martin finally getting a break, and it mostly seems to boil down to luck. As I said before, I’m trying to gain greater name recognition before pitching my next novel.
A few authors, including a former Editor of Reader’s Digest who found that Rarity from the Hollow was the best science fiction novel that he had read in several years (http://warriorpatient.com/blog/2015/05/18/58/), have advised me to publish more books. Dog Horn Publishing, the traditional small press that I’m affiliated with has requested my next novel. I’m hesitant. If you spend ten minutes on Amazon, you’ll find a dozen authors that you’ve never heard of with huge backlists and low sales ranking. I’ve decided to take a little different path.
18. What are you working on now?
I’ve been spending a lot of time on self-promotions of Rarity from the Hollow. This has involved writing several articles and guest posts for book blogs, with a couple of assignments pending. Based on my experience marketing Rarity over the last year, I’m rewriting Ivy, the next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure, so that it will be a little less controversial. There’s only so much shock that most readers can handle.
I’m putting finishing touches on a set of poems that I plan to submit. One of my poems won first place in a international science fiction poetry competition a few month ago. http://wildcat.wsc.edu/clubs/willycon/zine/poetry/2015/Our_Real_Warmth.php
I’ve submitted an academic styled essay on child maltreatment in fiction to a journal that is pending and a short story, close to YA, to a magazine.
And, I’m putting together a group of original psychotherapy exercises for teens that will either be a self-help book or a manual for professional who work with kids – I’m still deciding how to play it.
I’m always got a bunch of stuff on my plate. Thanks for asking and for your help by allowing me to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow.