I received a review request for this second edition and remembered having reviewed the book some time back. Here’s that original review:
When you imagine a young girl who will save the universe, you will never picture Lacy Dawn, who is back country poor, the daughter of a soldier with PTSD and his sweetheart, now beaten down and almost broken by life. These are people who would be described in a non politically correct way as white trash.
Lacy Dawn is a bewildering mix of brilliance and childhood innocence. She has a boyfriend named DotCom, a dog named Brownie and a ghost friend named Faith. She is eleven at the beginning of the book.
There is humour in the book, there is discussion of sex and drugs and abuse. It is also a book about hope. What Lacy Dawn wants more than anything in the world is to fix her parents. I found the first part of the story a bit on the slow side, but it picks up pace gradually until you suddenly realize you’re flying down a gravel road at insane speed in a pickup truck held together with duct tape and chewing gum. It is a heck of a ride.
I recommend the book for people who don’t mind some real life intruding on their sci fi and can handle the rough and raw edges that are a large part of this book’s charm.
Lacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. 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 has come to the hollow with a mission. His equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth’s earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. He was sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop ’till You Drop): he must recruit Lacy Dawn to save the Universe in exchange for the designation of Earth as a planet which is eligible for continued existence within a universal economic structure that exploits underdeveloped planets for their mineral content. Lacy Dawn’s magic enables her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own family.
Excerpt from Chapter 13
…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.
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 inCharleston, 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. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/
Congratulations on publishing Rarity in the Hollow’s new edition. How do you feel about publishing this book? Does it feel different from releasing the first edition?
Thanks, Alex, for the opportunity to share my feelings about the new edition of Rarity from the Hollow. Yes, having the new edition published feels very different than when the original edition was published. As you are aware, it’s my debut novel.
I’ve been on a learning curve within the world of books for a few years. I guess that I’ll always be on the learning curve. I was ecstatic when the original edition was published, but I quickly crashed. Having worked with two editors for months, I tried to move into the self-promotion phase immediately upon release of the original edition after coming home from my job as a children’s psychotherapist. I didn’t even check out my novel. Between not knowing what I was doing and exhaustion from having worked with abused kids all day, my progress was very slow and frustrating.
On 5-29-15, a glowing review of Rarity from the Hollow was published on a beautiful blog: http://www.errantdreams.com/2015/05/review-rarity-from-the-hollow-robert-eggleton/ However, it reported “confusion” in the early chapters. A few days later, a paper-only magazine posted a similar glowing review: Tales of the Talisman volume 10, issue 4. This review specifically mentioned an attribution problem with the head thoughts in the story. I opened my novel.
What I found was disturbing. The italics for the internal dialogue were not there. I notified the publisher: http://www.doghornpublishing.com/wordpress/books/rarity-from-the-hollow Adam Lowe, the owner, was shocked, as well. He posted on Amazon and in an email to Talisman that there had been a formatting error affecting the original edition of Rarity from the Hollow. From that point forward, I marketed my novel as an ARC and explained that the italics were missing — an embarrassment.
I digested every book review along the way. The original edition of Rarity from the Hollow received twenty-five five star reviews by independent book bloggers, and forty-three four star reviews likely influenced by the missing italics for the internal dialogue. The critical reviews that it received appeared to be related to comfort zones despite the info in my pitch that described the novel as not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended. The first edition was awarded two Gold medals by major review organizations: http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/ and https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/rarity-from-the-hollow. It was picked along with The Martian by Andy Weir and Revival by Stephen King as one of the five best books of 2015. http://codices.info/2015/12/top-5-for-2015-ventsi/ Still, I felt hollow. Forgive the pun. The formatting error in the original edition continued to eat at me. I knew that the book’s potential had not been realized.
Over a period of several months, I worked with the editor on the new edition. A new edition was produced which not only restored the missing italics and a few other errors that were discovered, but incorporated findings from book reviews. On December 5, 2016, the new edition was released on Amazon. I felt overwhelmed. My ecstasy returned like when the original had been published. I had authored a book that I could be proud of holding in my hand. A few days later, a review of the new edition was published. The closing lines were: “…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.” https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/5-stars-for-rarity-from-the-hollowby-robert-eggleton/ As I face death, as we all must, I feel comforted by having achieved something that may outlive me.
Tell us more about yourself. What else have you published?
I’ve paid into the U.S. Social Security fund for fifty-two years, the last forty working as a children’s advocate. I’m best known locally for investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I 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. Over a hundred of my reports have been archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. I also contributed to one book that contained group therapy exercises for youth living in out-of-home residential settings and authored a research project that was presented at the 1983 National Association of Social Workers conference.
Except for a couple of poems, one published in a zine and another in a journal of a state competition for college students, I have a very limited history in the world of fiction. Last year, one of my poems won first place in an international poetry competition: http://wildcat.wsc.edu/clubs/willycon/zine/. Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Most of my writings since have been articles posted on various topic and published by dozens of book blogs with a common purpose – promotion of the novel.
I’m going to give Rarity from the Hollow a little more time with self-promotions, and then I hope to write, write, write, and write some more fiction.
Rarity in the Hollow is the story of a young girl growing up in what would be considered horrible conditions, yet she remains positive and makes a significant contribution to the world and community. What inspired you to write this story?
In 2002, I accepted a job as a children’s therapist 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.
This 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.
What are your favorite kinds of stories to read and write?
I like to read and write genre fiction that has a literary element. I love clever metaphors, allegory, and witty puns. I’m no longer into pure escapist fiction – life is too short and I don’t want to miss anything by getting sucked into an escapist story. I never did read erotica, not that I’m moralistically opposed to it. I just never felt the desire to substitute reading about sex instead of engaging in it. Otherwise, I’ll read and hope to write in many genres.
What is your writing space like?
Despite having a Master’s degree, I’ve never been paid a very high salary in my career. In 1988, my wife and I bought and fixed up a small house where we still live. It’s located in a lower class neighborhood a few notches above the housing projects where I grew up. I don’t have an office, so my computer is in the living room. My desk is a multipurpose mess, but I’m very good at focusing on-task. It’s okay.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’ve written a couple of stories that should be touched up and submitted. Most of the time since Rarity from the Hollow was originally published has been spent on self-promotions. Shortly after its release, however, I was so energized that I wrote the next Lacy Dawn Adventure: Ivy. Based on my experience, I want to rework and update it before I send it to the editor. It has a science fiction backdrop, as well, and asks the question: How Far Would a Child Go to Save a Parent from Addition?
Part of the proceeds of sales are going to prevent child abuse. Tell me more about that and why you made that decision.
Yes, half of author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow have and will continue to be donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ After talking about conflicting interests with my wife, writing vs. ongoing children’s advocacy, there wasn’t much choice in the matter. Even though I hope that my novel sensitizes readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment, to keep me from giving up in this highly competitive marketplace, I needed a stronger motivator, something to help justify my retirement in May 2015. Frankly, I doubt that I could be productive as a writer if I felt that I’d turned my back on needful children to write fiction.
How did you come up with the character, Mr. Prump, in your story?
I was watching The Apprentice on television. I was already familiar with Bernie Sanders as a politician and supported his interest in social activism. Having worked in underfunded social services for years, governmental support and struggling fund raising, I began to imagine a world in which extreme capitalism and democratic socialism met in the middle, at least to protect maltreated kids. Thus, Mr. Prump and Mr. Rump were born for my novel.