1. What is your favorite writing and reading genre?
I read in all genres and have tried to write in several. Adult literary seems to intrude. However, since this genre typically seem less than hopeful about humanity, my most successful writings have incorporated fantastical elements. I’m not a big fan of pure escapism. I think that it’s a rip off of true enjoyment, like the short-term high from playing video game. I aspire to write stories that can be truly enjoyed long after the last page has been read, sneaks up on readers again and again. I’ve labeled my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, as adult literary science fiction. But, more accurately, it’s literary fiction with a science fiction backdrop. I’m certainly not stuck on this genre because, as I mentioned, I’ve enjoyed stories that fit many other genres.
2. Where and how did you get your idea for your book?
I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist. During over forty years as a children’s advocate, I’ve experienced many characters that would be perfect as characters in fiction. In 2002, I accepted a job at our local mental health center, a day programs for kids with serious mental health issues. Part of this job was to facilitate group therapy sessions. One day in 2006, I met a skinny, little girl who had experienced severe trauma at the hands of one of the meanest daddies on Earth. As she disclosed in that session, something wonderful happened. She spoke not only about her abuse, but also about her hope and dreams for the future -- a confidence that a loving family would someday protect her as she finished growing up. My protagonist, Lacy Dawn, was born that day: an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe.
3. If a movie or TV show would be created for your books, which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead roles for your books?
She’s not an actress, but I think that Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in American history, would make an excellent Lacy Dawn in a movie or on TV. Ms. Biles’ background as a foster child, her hard work paying off with excellence, would be a perfect fit. I’m sure that Ms. Biles could be an accomplished actress if she so chose.
4. When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve written short stories for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until after I won the short story writing competition in the eighth grade that I began to dream of becoming a rich and famous author. For decades, I suppressed this ambition until in 2006, given the inspiration that we’ve just talked about, I decided to pursue my dream of writing fiction.
5. How did you get your book published? How long did it take for you to get it published?
Rarity from the Hollow, my debut novel, has a very long history. After six months of writing it, it was accepted for publication within a month. I spent another eight months working under the direction of an editor, mailing paper manuscripts back and forth. A month after its release in 2006, the first publisher, Fatcat Press, an innovative traditional eBook company, went defunct. My novel was out-of-print for the next few years until Dog Horn Publishing, a traditional small press, took an interest in the project in 2012. The next edition Advance Reader Copy (ARC) was published within a few months following another round of editing, this time by email. At the time, I was working full-time as a children’s psychotherapist, coming home drained after serving victims of child maltreatment all day. The ARC circulated for an extended period of time, gathering much praise, including two Gold Medals by major book review organizations and was named as one of the best of five books in 2015. The ARC had a significant formatting problem – the italics for the internal dialogue were missing and this affected some reviewers. In May 2015, I retired after spending fifty-two years contributing into the U.S. Social Security fund. The final edition of Rarity from the Hollow was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016. So, in reality, it took a decade to present it to the world, but the final product benefitted from a great deal of input from independent book reviewers along the way.
6. Do you ever get writer's Block? If so, which book did you get the worst while writing?
No, I’ve never experienced what I would consider to have been Writer’s Block. I have experienced short-lived episodes of exhaustion during which my productivity decline, both before and following my retirement from full-time employment. My next novel has been almost ready for editing for quite some time. Recently, however, most of my writing has been articles and guest posts for blogs which have served to promote Rarity from the Hollow. In this competitive marketplace, authors try all kinds of ways to get projects off the ground when they work outside of Big Five publishing which employs high-priced publicists to promote one’s work. I’ve decided that if Rarity from the Hollow doesn’t establish name recognition, there is less point to pursing another venture. I will always write, but my interests include nonfiction, short stories in several genres, poetry…as well as, novels within speculative fiction.
7. What is the average time for you to write a book?
Since I’ve only written one novel and most of the next, my best guess would be that I could write a novel in about six months, but the editing process may take longer and its self-promotion is the most lengthy commitment.
8. For your own reading, do you prefer kindle or paperback books?
It took me a while to get used to Kindle books. Now, I prefer eBooks for two reasons. I live in a small house filled with paper books to the max. It feels like I live in a Library. I’ve run out of room. Secondly, as I’ve aged, so typically, I now wear reading glasses. The font on paper books is so small that some are now difficult to read without the annoyance of wearing glasses of varying strengths. Electronic books enable me to enlarge font, which is much more convenient. Plus, wherever I go I have a library at my finger tips in case my reading mood changes.
9. How are the covers made for your books?
Rarity from the Hollow has had four different covers over its life time. The first was created by Fatcat Press, the original, followed by a cover donated by Jag Lall, an English comic book artist. After it took over the project in 2012, the cover was created by Adam Lowe, owner of Dog Horn Publishing. The final and much improved cover, I love it, was also created by Adam. I’ve had nothing to do with the covers other than commenting, and frankly, I’ve been so grateful for help in this department that I’ve not been picky since I’ve never spent a penny on anything to do with publishing my debut novel.
10. What advice would you give writer wannabes and future/young authors?
I don’t feel competent to give advice to aspiring authors. During my protracted experience in the world of books as an aspiring author myself, I can say that I’ve witnessed a lot of others enter this world. Many, if not most, are long gone after a short blast. It seems like they gave it all they had, burned out, and faded into the sunset, book bloggers and authors alike. My best advice would be to stay determine, recognize that it could be a long haul, and don’t invest the “family farm” in less than likely short-term success. I do wish that I had started writing for publication when I was much younger, so my advice would be most applicable to youthful artists.
11. What do you do during your free time, how do you relax?
I have a lot of interests, such as vegetable gardening, reading, rebuilding antique cars and trucks…. To be frank, however, twenty-five years ago my wife and I bought a small run-down house. We fixed it up ourselves. Today, there’s a lot of stuff that needs redone, such a painting and replacing aging improvements. So, I’ve mostly been concentrating on construction related stuff when not writing or promoting Rarity from the Hollow. I’m much more relaxed about construction now than when I was younger. I enjoy seeing practical improvements after I get a piece of it redone. We have four cats and a dog. That sure keeps us busy, as well.
Thanks, Anne, for providing an opportunity to tell your readers a little about me and my debut novel. It’s been fun.
(Me too! Thanks again for letting me interview you)
ABOUT 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 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. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. The Advance Review Copy of Rarity from the Hollow received considerable praise through Robert learning about the world of books as a novice. The final edition was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016. 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 worked for this agency in the early ‘80s and stands by its good works. He continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group psychotherapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.