Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the four hundred and thirteenth, is of cross-genre author Robert Eggleton. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Robert Eggleton was born into an impoverished family in 1951, the oldest of four children. He grew up in low income neighborhoods surrounding Charleston, West Virginian, U.S. His alcoholic and occasionally abusive father suffered from PTSD, called “shell shock” back then – night terrors caused by WWII traumas – and had difficulty holding onto a job. Robert’s mother did the best she could, but Robert had to begin working himself as a child to feed his family. He started paying into America’s Social Security fund at age 12, dreamed of a brighter future, and has worked at various jobs for the next fifty-two years.
In the eighth grade, Robert won the school’s short story contest. The award made his dreams concrete – A Writer. As it often does, life got in the way of his dream. The Vietnam War motivated him to go to college to avoid the draft. As covered by local press, Robert organized antiwar protests while attending college. Except for a poem published in the state’s student anthology and another poem published in a local alternative newspaper, his creative juices were spent writing handouts for antiwar activities and on class assignments. He graduated in 1973 with a degree in social work and with no student loan debt.
Robert worked in the field of adolescent substance abuse treatment as he attended graduate school at West Virginia University. His dream, creative writing, continued to be “on hold.” After earning an MSW in 1977, he focused on children’s advocacy. He helped establish a shelter for runaways, a community-based residential program for high risk youth as an alternative to putting kids in huge institutions, and a state-wide network of family-like emergency children’s shelters. His heartfelt need to write fiction was dissipated somewhat by the publication of nationally distributed social service models, grants, and research on children’s issues.
Robert’s dream of becoming a creative writer continued to take a back seat to nonfiction when he accepted a job as a juvenile investigator for the West Virginia Supreme Court. He worked in this role from 1984 until mid 1997. During this period he was the primary author of dozens or investigative reports on children’s institutions, and statistical reports on child abuse and delinquency published by the Court, and now archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
After running a small nonprofit agency that served people with developmental disabilities, Robert went back home to direct services. He accepted a position as a Therapist in an intensive outpatient children’s mental health program. Most of the kids, like Robert, had been traumatized, some having experienced extreme sexual abuse. One day at work in 2006 it all clicked together and the Lacy Dawn Adventures project was born – an empowered female protagonist beating the evil forces that victimize and exploit others to get anything and everything that they want.
Robert soon found out that it takes much more than good creative writing to become an author. It wasn’t like in the 8th grade when his hand-printed story had won the school’s contest. He was naive about the protocols within the marketplace. Technology was in a period of rapid advancement with publishers presenting a mixture of electronic and traditional submission guidelines and publication formats. Robert was lost. A day after he registered for his first ever science fiction forum experience, he was banned for life due to what the moderator said was self-promotion of his debut novel.
The next day at work, Robert reassessed his life-long dream of becoming a creative writer. During a group therapy session, he looked into the kids’ faces as they disclosed the horrors that they had experienced. It fueled his determination to make his own dream come true and he dedicated half of any author proceeds to a child abuse prevention program.
Subsequently, three short Lacy Dawn Adventures were published in magazines. Robert then found a publisher for his debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow – a traditional, small press located in Leeds. Since the publisher was willing to bear all upfront costs, Robert signed the contract and Rarity from the Hollow was released in 2012 as a paperback and an eBook by Dog Horn Publishing.
Robert then learned that release of his novel was the beginning of a long journey called marketing. His novel has received glowing reviews, most notably by long-time book critic Barry Hunter and by the Missouri Review, award winning authors Darrell Bain, and Piers Anthony, and others, Robert’s writing was compared to that of Vonnegut by the editor of the Electric Review, A Universe on the Edge. A retired editor of Reader’s Digest published that Rarity from the Hollow was the best science fiction that he had read in several years.
Four months ago, Robert retired from this job as a children’s psychotherapist for the local mental health center so that he could concentrate on writing and promoting Rarity from the Hollow. He is holding off on the release of the next Lacy Dawn Adventure, Ivy, until he achieves greater name recognition. Shorter works are pending consideration – two poems and a short story have been submitted to magazines. Another very short story has been entered into a contest. Robert is finally pursuing his life-long dream of becoming a full-time creative writer, but he may need to get at least a part-time job in order to pay his bills in the meantime.
And now from the author himself:
My work utilizes science fiction cross-genre as a backdrop. I do not write hard science fiction and I include elements of fantasy, everyday horror, a little paranormal, true-love type romance, mystery, satire, comedy, and adventure in my stories.
The content of Rarity from the Hollow, for example, addresses several social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, Capitalism, and touches on the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.” In the 1970s, Ursula K. LeGuinn coined the term “Social Science Fiction” and my work fits within that subgenre better than any other.
Similar to the use of juvenile voice by Robert Heinlein, a grandfather of science fiction,
I use an adolescent voice in most of my writings. Heinlein addressed racial and gender issues of his day. At first glance, Rarity from the Hollow reads like young adult literature because of its use of a colloquial adolescent voice. However, this novel and most of my stories are not intended for children, the prudish, the faint-hearted, or anybody who is not open-minded. My writing in this regard, was influenced by Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The protagonist of Rarity from the Hollow is Lacy Dawn. In this Lacy Dawn Adventure, she is an eleven year old, but the same protagonist has been different ages in other stories that I’ve written. She has evolved for hundreds of thousands of years, so she can fit flexibly into plots. My use of a skinny, little girl as a protagonist is a rebuttal to the stereotypical use of physically strong males as protagonists, including in modern romance and epic fantasy novels.
Rarity from the Hollow feels so serious until through tragedy, or perhaps because of it, laugh-out-loud comedy erupts to move the plot forward toward outrageous scenes filled with satire, and even potty humor. Similar to the use of puns by Piers Anthony, famous fantasy author of the 1980s, and the use of satire by Kurt Vonnegut, I incorporate fun into thought provoking content:
After Lacy Dawn’s father is cured of his mental health problems and stops being so mean to Lacy Dawn and her mom, Lacy Dawn next arranges for her to mother get her rotten teeth replaced, pass her GED, and to get a driver’s license. The mother feels so much better about herself that she also joins the team. By this time, the android has fallen so deeply in love with Lacy Dawn that she has him wrapped around her little finger.
Add a pot head neighbor who sells marijuana and has a strong sense for business transactions, Brownie, a dog who proves to have tremendous empathy for the most vile occupants of any planet, and Faith, the ghost of Lacy Dawn’s best friend who was murdered by her own father — the team is ready to embark on a very weird off-world adventure.
Working together, the team figures out how a few greedy capitalists had made such a mess of the entire universe and how to prevent its destruction without intentionally killing one single being.
“…You will enjoy the ride with Lacy Dawn, her family and friends, but don’t expect the ride to be without a few bumps, and enough food to last you a long time.” — Darrell Bain, Award Winning Author
The title of the next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy. In a nutshell, it is a comical and satirical story about the lengths that a child will go to save a parent from drug addiction. The story includes backdrops that speak to the commonality of religions around the world, the influence of extra-terrestrial alien intervention on human cultural evolution, and the questionable practices of U.S. Military Recruiters during our war on Terrorism.
Thank you, Robert. It was great meeting you. You can find more about Robert and his writing via…
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